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Nearly Spring

Technically it is Spring but it doesn’t feel quite warm enough just yet, or look quite green enough just yet. Although there are a few hardy crocuses coming up at Sally’s, and the lilacs at the old schoolhouse have tiny buds, I do believe most of us are tired of winter by this point.

But things are shifting into the new season at the Historical Village. The Rendezvous Days celebration is scheduled the end of April which means on April 30th the Historical Village will be filled with vendors and people, the museum buildings will be open, and the Friends of the Library will be having their book sale in the back of the community building there.

The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is set for August 6th – and you know what an amazing event that is as the Historical Village fills up with hundreds of quilts. Even Shakespeare in the Parks is already on our calendar, when they perform “Twelfth Night” on August 18th in the Village.

Of course a lot will surely happen before mid August! The museum officially opens for the summer on May 29th which means every day until September, the buildings will be open at the Historical Village from 1:00 – 5:00pm. Friendly and knowledgeable volunteers will be on hand daily to answer questions, point out things of interest, and suggest places to get a good dinner in town. Oh – and the museum in the Fewkes Store building will have delightful things on sale including pine needle baskets, handmade quilts, books by local authors, postcards, and much more.

We are all looking forward to Spring and spending more time outside. And as we wait for the temperature to go up a bit more, you can stop by the old schoolhouse any Friday until mid May to visit the quilters and see the handmade items for sale. We have some amazing quilts we finished this year that you might just need to purchase for a wedding gift or to spruce up your own home as you get ready for Spring.

Many hands

As with any large endeavor, it takes many hands to do all that needs to get done. And that is certainly the case at the Historical Village. Five acres, eleven buildings, archives to maintain, bills to pay, questions to answer about the Tobacco Valley’s history, funds to raise. And yes, this has all been going on since the mid 1970s!! On a gray early-winter’s day, if you happen to be driving pass the Village, or ambling through on your way to the River Walk, it might look quiet and serene there. It might look like nothing much is happening. But typically, not a day goes by that someone in our community isn’t putting in volunteer time to help maintain this special place.

Robin and Dave keep the Village looking sharp, repairing things that break, gathering up trash, trouble-shooting. That tree limb over the First Cabin is causing a problem with the roof, so they get the tree trimmed, patch the roof. Someone donates a cherry pitter that has been in her family for years. The Tobacco Valley Board of History acquisition committee gets all the information about it’s history, fills in paperwork, takes photos, enters the data into our archival records that are meticulously maintained by Cathy, and then puts the pitter into the museum where it will be on display next summer. Jane, our new treasurer, heard the quilters would dearly love to have a light in the storage closet where fabric is kept. They typically would go in with a flashlight to search for a piece of flannel to make a baby quilt or whatever the latest project was. It happened that Steve, Jane’s husband, is an electrician. The next week when the women arrived to quilt, there was a light with a motion detector in the closet! And a light bright enough that we can all see which boxes contain the baby flannels and which are the cottons with holiday motifs (as it is getting to be that time of year after all). We haven’t even met Steve in person yet, but we certainly appreciate his expertise and, we comment on the light every time we hunt for fabric without a flashlight.

When there are questions about history or someone is looking for a photograph from the early days in the Valley, Darris or Cathryn are always there to help. When our online story opened, Jan and Carmen quickly make dozens of beautiful Christmas ornaments, and scrubbies in a rainbow of colors. Cathryn crafts her priceless pine needle baskets, and Lynda cranks out jars of huckleberry jam (sorry but the jam has already sold out). Sally pieces fabric with her artist’s eye for color that the women quilt and then sell. And yes, those Friday quilters are remarkable, showing up every week in all sorts of weather from September to May, to stitch. We currently have eleven quilters which is very exciting – especially when you see the list of quilts waiting to be done!

Is it even possible to list all the things volunteers do to maintain the Historical Village, as well as when their efforts go beyong the valley? Through a grant from the Montana Historical Foundation, volunteers put together a history trunk filled with treasures about quilting that is lent to schools in Lincoln and Flathead Counties. Fabrics, notions, books, patterns, and ideas for teachers are a wonderful treasure that extends our work to younger people. People in New York, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Washington have over the years come to know the Historical Village and the quilters. We package items they order from our online store to send them. We appreciate hearing their questions about which quilts are for sale. And we always enjoy hearing from them with news from these far-flung places.

The list goes on. There is Bev who keeps the schoolhouse tidy as the quilters tend to have piles on every flat surface, and she manages the museum docents in the summer. There is Michelle who just began quilting on Fridays but already helps with the online store. People donate fabric and items for us to sell. Carmen’s husband, Al, sends treats to the quilters (quilting for five hours takes a lot of energy). Dianne maintains our membership list and leads the annual membership drive which we depend on. Renata makes delicious cakes when there happens to be a quilter’s birthday. And, of course, there are the docents who keep the museum open everyday in the summer.

But please don’t misunderstand! Even though there are so many great people helping, there are still things that need to be done. Old buildings need a lot of TLC – storm windows for the schoolhouse, new footing for the caboose, repairs to the boardwalk are on the To Do list. In the meantime though, be thankful for this wonderful piece of history in our town, the volunteers who maintain it, the donors and members who help us pay the bills. Stop by the schoolhouse any Friday to visit, to buy items from our Christmas bazaar, or to quilt with us. We look forward to seeing you.

As the leaves turn…

The seasons are shifting. Soon the Historical Village museum will close for the summer. Volunteers will cover the exhibits until next Spring when the museum opens again. But the museum closing for the winter months doesn’t mean there isn’t activity in the Historical Village. As you can imagine, there are plenty of things happening.

On Friday, September 3rd at 10am will be the Board meeting for the Tobacco Valley Board of History in the old schoolhouse. Please feel free to drop by to learn more about what we are doing and/or hear about ways you can help us maintain the Village.

Friday, September 10 from 10am to 3pm is when the quilters meet and will continue to get together every Friday through the winter to hand quilt. It is a wonderful group and open to new people whether you are an experienced quilter or just starting out wanting to learn more. Bring a bag lunch. We have needles and thimbles to loan and, of course, have the coffee pot on. This gathering takes place in the old schoolhouse.

With the museum in the Fewkes Store closing for the season, our online store will open up again. Quilts, pine needle baskets, books about the Tobacco Valley, scrubbies, paintings of the Historical Village and much more are available online. You can pay by credit card and then arrange to pick up your purchases or we can ship them to you if you live out of the area. Just go to our website https://tobaccovalleyhistory.org/ and click on ‘shop’. The online store will open on September 10.

A shout out to all the wonderful volunteers who helped this summer. Docents kept the museum open seven days a week throughout the summer under the superb supervision of Bev and Darris. Robin and his crew made repairs to make sure everything in the Historical Village was in working order. Alice gathered a wonderful group who replaced the screen cages in each of the buildings as well as painted the interior of the old schoolhouse. Thanks to everyone who put in time to keep this very special place in good condition and accessible to the public.

Thanks

A hearty thanks to all of you who supported the Historical Village this year. We weren’t entirely sure when we decided to switch to an online shop from our typical holiday bazaar, what might happen. We certainly didn’t expect such an outpouring of generosity from those who purchased our handmade items, and hard work from those who made all the items. Cathryn’s pine needle baskets sold so fast she had to make a few more (which also sold very quickly). Lynda’s huckleberry jams disappeared in a few days as did the special dog treats. The quilters were thoroughly delighted to sell three quilts (two of our tied flannel ones and one lovely hand stitched one that Sally pieced). And you probably missed Renata’s blue starry quilt that was bought up in a flash. There was a run on embroidered dish towels and Jan and Carmen’s lovely Christmas ornaments. Cathy’s spicy peach jam was a big hit as were the hand felted pouches that Carol made. Proceeds from all sales go to the maintenance of the Historical Village. So as you wrap the baby quilt or the toasty scarf that you bought from our online store – you are actually giving twice. Once to the fortunate recipient of your gift, and once to the Historical Village. When you see the old church being painted or a new roof going on the Baney House, please know you are part of making that happen. Oh – and just in case you need a last minute gift, the online shop is still up and running and the quilters are at the old school house every Friday for you to pick up your purchases.

We so appreciate the support from the community. And that was another delight we discovered from having an online store – how far our community actually reaches. Orders came in from Seattle, New York, Kentucky and Israel! It is truly heartwarming to see how many people far and wide appreciate the Historical Village and our efforts. Thank you very much. May you and yours enjoy this season and all we look forward to in 2021.

https://tobacco-valley-board-of-history.square.site/

This Year’s (online) Bazaar

We were tempted to post a photo of a dog rather then the table laden with wonderful items made by the women at the Historical Village. We seriously thought of boasting about old dogs learning new tricks but decided it made more sense to just tell you about the awesome bazaar we’ve set up for you.

Follow the link from the Tobacco Valley Board of History website to our spanking new online store (it says Shop at the top of our Home page). Yes, it will have everything you typically enjoyed at our annual holiday bazaar. Cathryn Schroeder’s pine needle baskets, scrubbies, lovely potholders, embroidered dish towels, and yummy jams. Of course there are quilts – baby quilts, tied flannel quilts, quilts with vintage tops, and quilts hand stitched by the Friday quilters. Actually you should just go to the store now to see everything we have because…..well, there is a lot!

It is truly an online store where you pick out things you want to purchase, and then click on the little shopping cart to check out. The store takes credit cards so that makes it easy. You pay online for your items and then any Friday that is convenient, between the hours of 10:00am and 3:00pm you can stop by the old school house in the Historical Village to pick up your order. Do you work between 10-3 and can’t make it to the Village? No problem. Get in touch and we will arrange an alternate pick up time. And guess what? The online bazaar officially opens November 20 so that gives you plenty of time to purchase those lovely items you want to send to friends and family. And because its an online bazaar, you can shop 24/7. Insomnia? Not a problem – get your shopping done anytime while supporting the Historical Village.

Because as always, 100% of these sales support the Historical Village. So with every purchase, you help us maintain the grounds, keep the buildings looking great and pay the bills. So thank you for your purchases! And if you happen to be a minimalist who really doesn’t want anything more (although the upcycled wreaths Lynda made are really fun), its even possible to make a donation to the Tobacco Valley Board of History from our online store.

We are so excited about this endeavor. But to be clear, we are unable to gift wrap and/or ship items you purchase. We are a small group of volunteers and making all these beautiful items (did we mention huckleberry preserves and Cathy’s spicy peach jam?) and managing the online store is what we are capable of now. We are confident you can wrap your own gifts or support our local UPS store if you need any help with shipping. If you live out of the Tobacco Valley and want to purchase something, get in touch with someone you know locally who can pick your items up and arrange to get them to you.

Always a treat to see the Historical Village stretch into the 21st century! Look forward to helping you find perfect delights for everyone on your list. New things will be added weekly so be sure to check back (the cute catnip toys and homemade dog treats are available now!).

https://tobacco-valley-board-of-history.square.site/

We call it home

Recently the quilters at the Historical Village got some press. There was a wonderful article in Montana Arts Council’s State of the Arts quarterly newspaper. Locals who saw the articles were thrilled. And even some folks from out of the area read about these hard-working women. There were various follow-up conversations about the quilters and what they do, which got us thinking more seriously about why we are excited for the press, what exactly is our story?

There have been women quilting at the Historical Village since the mid 1970s. It would be hard to imagine how many stitches have been done in that amount of time. Let’s just say countless. Of course, the women enjoy getting together on Fridays to quilt, share ideas and laughter, but they also realize their goal is to preserve the Historical Village. They do this with the money they raise through their quilting, with the information about the valley they share with each other and the visitors who stop by, and with maintenance of all the archives under the care of the Tobacco Valley Board of History.

And this is what they have been guardians of for nearly fifty years. So if you stop by the Historical Village today, you see buildings that have been well maintained. You can ask for photos and we will go through our files to find one that shows Fortine in the early 1900s or the first saw mill in the valley. You can bring your children to the museum in the summer to see examples of things you or your parents or your grandparents used. And recently we updated our collection of over two hundred oral histories (taped interviews and some written transcripts). You can think of us as the Keepers of the Hearth.

But is that our story? Or is that just who we are? The story for us at this moment in time seems to be a mystery – who will continue to keep this hearth burning bright in the future? There is lots of support for our membership drive and we are very appreciative of the money people donate to help the Historical Village with expenses. But there needs to be a treasurer to handle that money, and a secretary to deal with paperwork. Who can arrange for ground maintenance in the summer, shovel snow in the winter or find volunteers for trash pick-up? Are there individuals who want to sit around on Fridays listening to stories so they will be able to pass them on thirty years from now?

If you read our story, it involves searching for clues, talking with a stranger in some dark cafe, tracking down information to solve the mystery of who will be the keepers in the future of this place we call home. Do we follow bread crumbs? Take hints from Lois Lowry’s young adult novel, The Giver? Perhaps find clues in Robert Putnam’s lament about the decline of social capital? Any help to solve this mystery will be greatly appreciated.

Summer in the valley

It is not a typical summer by any stretch.  But if you stop by the Historical Village, you can still laze in the cool grass under the trees appreciating a bit of calmness as the children swing nearby.  Although the museum buildings aren’t opeIMG_8556n to the public this year, the grounds beckon.  Locals hang out there with picnics and to have a lovely space for children. Visitors from out of the area stop by to stretch their legs and look at the old buildings, learn a bit about at our community’s history.

Since the museum isn’t open this year, it means less income from sales and donations to maintain the Historical Village.  We are currently in the midst of our annual membership drive, which this year is more important than ever.  If you received our letter in the mail reminding you it is time to donate, please know your generosity is much appreciated.  If you are new to the area and are interested in being a member and want to make a donation, please send your contact information along with you check to:  Tobacco Valley Board of History   PO Box 1452  Eureka, MT 59917.

Thank you.

 

Changes

Well, let’s start with what’s not happening at the moment and then move on to current activities.  Our winter fundraiser scheduled in March with the awesome Canadian band, The Wardens, was cancelled as the diligent thing to do considering all the factors.  Although we were very sorry to miss the opportunity to have these musicians perform here in the Tobacco Valley, it only made sense for them to be home and for us not to be gathering.  Friday quilting has been postponed for the foreseeable future and this is Jessquiltingcertainly a tough one to accept.  It made all of us realize that although one reason we sew together is to raise money for the Historical Village, a bigger part is sitting with this remarkable group of women, sharing stories, sharing laughs, offering each other love and support.

Despite the challenges of missing our Fridays together, there are things we are doing even while observing social distancing.  Cathy organized sewing face masks for the local medical clinic and a number of quilters helped on this.  Carmen shared her delicious tamales which makes any day seem much brighter.  Sally is busy getting seedlings and such ready for May gardens.  Lydna has a new puppy.  Cathryn took the quilt we had been working on home (the one we fondly call ‘piano keys’) so it wouldn’t feel bereft alone in the old school house. Despite the gray, snowy weather that we’ve been getting, flowers are starting to push up their first tender leaves.  And the lilac bushes at the Historical Village actually have buds.

No doubt we will be very appreciative when we get back together again.  Perhaps there will be so much talking that very little quilting will get done at first.

Things happening

It might seem a bit dreary in northwestern Montana but we are feeling cheerful at IMG_1894the Historical Village.  Besides Friday quilting which is something you should consider visiting, we are planning projects that will come to fruition in the spring.  All the buildings in the Historical Village are owned and maintained by the Tobacco Valley Board of History except one. That one, the small squarish white concrete building, is owned by Lincoln County and has housed various organizations over the years.  Currently the Lincoln County Library uses the back space in that building for their used book sales.  The front area is rented by TOPS for weekly meetings. The Eureka Chamber of Commerce which used to be housed in that building had a large sign frame in front of the building.  Over the years, the sign weathered and after the Chamber moved to their new location, the county told the Tobacco Valley Board of History they could use the sign frame if they wanted.

Now we are working hard to come up with information for a new sign that we hope will be beneficial for locals as well as tourists. We are going through our extensive photo archive to find pictures that will support the new text.  Our goal is to have a beautiful sign ready and up by Rendezvous Days in April. Fingers crossed!

We are also getting ready for our next big fundraiser.  The Wardens will perform in Wardens-Promo-3_Credit-Ray-SchmidtEureka on March 14th starting at 4pm at the Community Hall (Lodgecraft building), tickets at the door.  This is an easy way to support the Historical Village. Any of you who experienced the Wardens at their Trego show in 2018 know they are one fabulous band – both their music and their storytelling. We believe it will be a sell out event so plan to get there early on March 14th and grab your seats.

try something new

It does seem the ideal time to think about trying new things.  No doubt there are people out there who make New Year’s resolutions to learn a new language or take up skiing or make Cha Siu Bao (pork dumplings) and actually manage to do it.  We can take this as a sign that it is never too late to learn a skill, to take a different path, to try something new.  Many of our quilters are fine examples of this.IMG_2068

Recently we began to set up the next quilt we will be working on.  We had carefully put together the frame and measured to be sure to center the fabric for the quilt back.  Tacked the fabric all around and then realized the back had been pieced.  There was a seam down the middle but it hadn’t been ironed flat.  A detail we were determined to correct despite numerous sighs that this would require untacking the fabric in order to take it off to iron. Then Cathy and Lynda had the brainstorm to iron the backing while it was on the frame.  Although some of us scoffed at this idea, they actually managed to do it and do it well.

Although we have been around long enough to realize that not everything is possible – there are quite a lot of things that are which are worth trying.  As we begin 2020, we hope you consider trying something new to support your community and help yourself along the way.  We all certainly have a lot of potential waiting to be put to good use.

Upcoming events:

January 3 10am at Historical Village – Board of History meeting. Public welcome

March 14 4pm at Lodgecraft Building (Eureka) The Wardens Concert!

Quilting every Friday 10am – 3pm at the old school house in the Historical Village.