These ornaments are now on sale through the Spring Valley Historical Society.
These ornaments are now on sale through the Spring Valley Historical Society.
Hang a church on your tree.

Its history is wilder than the typical ornament.

The Spring Valley Historical Society is pleased to offer Christmas tree ornaments featuring the hand-painted image of the Spring Valley Methodist Church Museum, which was built in 1876 when James Wilder (whose daughter-in-law, Laura Ingalls Wilder, later penned an autobiographical series of books about her life in the Midwest) and his family were members of the newly-constructed church.

According to the museum's website, "Church records reveal that pastors or presiding elders baptized and performed marriage rites for Eliza Jane and Laura Ann Wilder. Records also indicate that Almanzo and Laura (Ingalls) Wilder attended here in 1890 and 1891. When construction of the Methodist Church at 221 West Courtland began in 1876, James M. Wilder was among the early contributors. His pledge of $50 was one of the largest amounts.

"As early as 1858, the Methodists raised $2,000 toward a building while they continued to meet regularly in the upstairs hall at Parson's Stone Block. It wasn't until 1876 that the lot on West Courtland Street was purchased, and steps taken to build the church. The church's beautiful Victorian-Gothic architecture, with 21 stained glass windows, and the museum's two-floor display of exhibits are just a few of the things that await you here in Spring Valley."

Over the century that the church served its members, it was the site of baptisms, confirmations, weddings and farewell services. As a museum, it features the archives and oddities of a town that has grown up with the Wilders and Richard Sears, founder of the Sears & Roebuck Company, as well as the Conley Camera Company, which would later be sold to Eastman Kodak. It now is a destination for readers of Ingalls Wilder's books, who travel to the five sites the author told of in her series - including Walnut Grove, Minn., Burr Oak, Iowa, De Smet, S.D., and Pepin, Wis., in addition to Spring Valley.

Maintaining the Spring Valley Methodist Church Museum requires the generosity of volunteers and benefactors, since the roof currently needs repairs. The Christmas ornament bearing the image of the church and the words "Spring Valley Methodist Church Museum, Spring Valley, Minnesota" will be sold for $10 as a souvenir and a wonderful gift item ... even though the order for the ornaments arrived more than three months late and after the museum's Memorial Day to Labor Day season, according to society members, it arrived just in time for Christmas sales, perfect for giving to those who are Wilder family enthusiasts, who live elsewhere and want to remember their hometown of Spring Valley, or who are on the baptismal roll, confirmation roll, or were married at the former church. Ornaments with pictures of each Ingalls Wilder site are only available at the respective sites.

The Spring Valley Public Library has ornaments in its display case since the museum's season has ended. Library director Dianne Sikkink is pleased to be able to offer the ornaments for the historical society. Ornaments are also available at the Washburn-Zittleman House Museum and Joe and Rita Bezdicek's during the house tour on Dec. 3 and 4.

For information, contact the Spring Valley Historical Society at 507-346-7659, email society director Julie Mlinar at wilderin, call the Spring Valley Public Library at 507-346-2100, or stop in at the library at 121 East Jefferson Street.