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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.

And summer is here

The lilacs near the old schoolhouse are starting to bloom. The buildings at the Historical Village are ready for summer visitors. The new picnic tables (thank you to the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation) are waiting, ready for your family and friends. And the museum opens on Saturday, May 29 at 1:00pm. It will be open for the remainder of the summer, seven days a week from 1:00pm – 5:00pm. There will be volunteer docents on hand everyday to answer your questions and provide information.

The wonderful Montana PBS “Backroads of Montana” episode that features the Historical Village and our quilters is available to watch either on the MTPBS website or at this link. Thanks to Ray Ekness who did a great job capturing the spirit of the Historical Village and the efforts of the quilters. We very much appreciate being part of the “Backroads of Montana” series, and hope it will inspire new people to join us to quilt this fall.

And a reminder that besides the museum which is open daily, there are also special events happening at the Historical Village this summer. The Eureka Montana Quilt Show is scheduled for August 7th. This is a great event to enjoy throughout the entire downtown. If you want to help, show up that morning around 7:00am to help hang quilts. Or come later in the day to amble along the main street and through the Historical Village to admire hundreds of amazing quilts. For more information, visit the Eureka Montana Quilt Show site.

On Thursday, August 19th, Sunburst Arts and Education brings Montana Shakespeare in the Parks to the Historical Village for this year’s performance of “Cymbeline“. Free admission although donations are always appreciated. Box dinners will be on sale at the Historical Village starting at 5pm. The play begins at 6pm. This event is always a highlight of the summer, creating a bit of theatrical magic in our town.

Moving through February

It might seem like a middle-of-winter and not much is happening time but that is not true at all when it comes to the Historical Village. Despite the very cold temperatures we’ve been having lately in the Tobacco Valley, the women continue to meet every Friday to quilt from 10:00am – 3:00pm. And yes, if you want to join us either as an experienced quilter or as a novice, you are certainly welcome. It has been an interesting season for the quilts we worked on – four tied ones for the staff at Eureka Healthcare, a lovely burgundy and green one Sally pieced which sold to a woman in New York, two art quilts Rita put together for a project on the pandemic, and a beautiful one made with vintage fabrics Kathy Ingram brought in to have quilted.

Besides Friday quilting, members are also constantly adding things to our online store. We decided to keep it open at least until summer so if you are in the market for a baby quilt, books about the Tobacco Valley, bright potholders or scrubbies, hand embroidered tea towels or pillow cases, or even large quilts (either tied or hand stitched), check out our store online. Just go to the Tobacco Valley Board of History website.

And despite the cold temps and gray skies, we are thinking of Spring when more people begin passing through the Historical Village. Thanks to partial support from the Tobacco Valley Community Foundation, we purchased two new picnic tables that will be ready to replace a couple that have seen better days. And now volunteers are working to get storm windows for the old school house building. These will make it so much easier to keep the building warm next winter when the women are quilting. Special thanks to the EMQS Foundation for facilitating that project. And we have an awesome team of new volunteers who will help repair the ceiling in the old church, repair windows in the Baney House, and offered to help repair the boardwalk. Thanks to all of you who stepped up to keep the Historical Village in great shape. In May, it seems the quilters will be featured in a Backroads of Montana episode! This is a wonderful program on Montana PBS. We will certainly get the word out when we know the date and time.

If you want to be part of keeping our community’s heritage alive, don’t hesitate to attend our next board meeting on March 5 at 10:00am in the old school house. We can always use help with a wide range of tasks from social media, to archives, to fundraising.

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.

Another turn

Despite the warm days, one can sense fall slowly approaching. The days are starting to get noticeably shorter and the nights just a tad cooler.  The fields are mostly a dry golden now and the aspen are just beginning to show bits of yellow. The quilters met a few times over the summer for picnics at the Historical Village, sitting out in front of the museum to catch up on IMG_2834each others’ lives.  And it was during one of these summer afternoons that the decision was made to start quilting again in September.  We will put two quilts up on large frames so we don’t have to sit so close together, and of course those who want will wear masks.  Sally pieced a couple tops that will get us started.

With the lack of large events for the Tobacco Valley Board of History, we weren’t able to sell many raffle tickets for this year’s quilt. Then the Lincoln County Fair which is where the winning ticket is typically drawn was cancelled.  So the quilters decided to carry over the lovely blue sampler quilt until next summer.  It will give us an opportunity to sell more raffle tickets and hopefully the fair will be in full swing next August. This is, of course, great news for you if you haven’t bought your raffle ticket yet.  Now you have an entire year to catch up with one of the quilters or to stop by the old school house on a Friday starting in September.

We will take this opportunity to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who submitted their membership to the Tobacco Valley Board of History.  It has been a challenging year and to receive so many memberships that allow us to continue to maintain the grounds and buildings is deeply appreciated. If by chance, your membership form is still sitting in a pile of papers on your desk, it isn’t too late to mail it in.

Lilacs are blooming

Just enough going on that it made sense to let you know.  First a loud ‘hurrah!!’ for selling our beautiful Piano Keys quilt online.  This is the first time we attempted this sort of sale for one of our own quilts, but as we missed our winter fundraiser (The Wardens concert) apianokeys5nd our May rummage sale, we needed to try something new. We announced the quilt for sale on Facebook to see if it would sell. And it did!  It was an awesome experience as there was so much interest – not only in the Tobacco Valley but across the country.  We are encouraged to try in again, perhaps once a year depending on our quilt production.  Sincere thanks to everyone who showed enthusiasm, asked for photos, expressed interest and – to the fine person who bought it.  The photo shows the women quilting during the winter.  Quite the beauty – measured 100″ x 100″ when done.  Very special thanks to CathrynCathryn (pictured below) who finished quilting it after we stopped meeting as a group in March, and to Lynda who did  all 400″ of binding on it.

And as we move into the summer season at the Historical Village, we are being cautious about keeping our community and our volunteers healthy and safe.  We have currently postponed opening the museum, planning to announce dates in June. So please stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful park down at the Historical Village. Please remember to leave it as tidy as you find it. Thanks.

 

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.