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"Eau Claire County History, 1949"

The History of the Pleasant Valley Ladies Aid

The Pleasant Valley Norwegian Ladies' Aid was officially organized in 1887 although we know meetings wee held as far back as 1882 by Rev. Helsem on his way between Drammen and Strum.  Pleasant Valley then was a Norwegian settlement of a few scattered families living in dirt cellars, small houses and log cabins.  Of the nineteen families who made up the first congregation, Mrs. Christ Sands is the only living member at this time.  The congregation grew steadily although about a third of the members transferred to Eleva when that congregation was organized in 1895.  Some of the earliest meetings were held at the Christ Sands and John Halverson homes.

At these early meetings were called Kvindeforening (Ladies' Aid) we find that the men really took the active parts.  They held the offices, led the devotions if the minister was absent, conducted the business meeting and made up most of the attendance.  One man recalls one time when his mother entertained that only men came from some families.  The ladies had to stay at home with the children.  When the ladies did go, they spent their time listening and knitting and cooking.  For programs they often held  debates on various religious topics and had music from a home-made musical instrument called a salme dikon for accompanying the singing.

Mr. Charles Wester was the first Ladies' Aid president.  Christ Sands, Ole Serum and Rasmus Anderson also served as officers.  Mr. Sands was secretary as late as 1913.

The hostess spent days and weeks in preparation for the event.  Animals were butchered, primost, ganmelost, sylte, lefse and flat bread made, and food prepared for a full dinner which they charged 5¢.  As most of the houses were small, often beds were taken down and other furniture removed to make room.  Those who could afford it used sawhorses and planks to make large tables.  Int he summer they ate outside.  New muslin intended for sheets was often loaned or borrowed for tablecloths.

Our impression of these early members is that they gave wholeheartedly regardless of their means.  Their spirit and faith were indomitable.  They loved to sing and knew many many hymns from memory.  The older folks recall how they sang whether they rode or walked in groups to and from the meetings.  In the summer when the ladies often walked great distances to the meetings they always carried their knitting and knit as they walked.

One lady recalls a meeting she attended one winter.  Her father walked ahead of her and broke a track in the snow until they met someone with a sleigh.  Others were picked up along the way until there was a load.  They arrived in time for dinner as was the custom.  She tells us that all clothing was home made even to their shoes.  She had her first pair of "store" shoes in time for confirmation.  These button shoes were so precious that on dress up occasions she walked barefoot, carrying her shoes until she almost reached her destination.

The first record we have is of the annual business meeting and bazaar held July 4, 1910.  It tells us that 20 meetings had been held during the year and the total receipts were $135.01 of which $50 was given to missions, a note for $74.50 was paid for the congregation and all their expenses, leaving a balance of $5.51.  At this meeting we find some women officers were elected although no feminine president ever presided until recent years.  These officers were as follows:

President - Mrs. Ed Thompson, Treasurer - Mrs. Andrew Monson, Secretary - Christ Sands

It was decided at this meeting that they would continue giving ½ of their income to missions a rule which was followed for many years.  The other half was to be given to the congregation to help with expenses.

The Norwegian language was used up until 1937 when reports were first kept in English.

Some of these accomplishments of the Ladies' Aid included: aid toward building the original church in 1883 and the later three additions, building a schoolhouse for parochial school which was used up until the church basement was built in 1922.  The kitchen was enlarged in 1938 and in 1946 the aid contributed toward the complete redecoration of the church.

Our Ladies Aid has raised its money in the usual way with ice cream socials, bazaars, pancake suppers, dinners, auctions, etc.

The present membership totals 63.  We joined the womens Missionary Federation in 1944 using only Mission Box and Cradle Roll Departments.  Our first mission box offering was $90.  We have 17 on the cradle roll at present.

The Pastors who have served Pleasant Valley are:

1882 - 1904 - Rev. Helsem
1904 - 1909 - Rev. J. A. Erickson
1909 - 1911 - Rev. Wik Waldal and Mr. E. O. Hopland
1911 - 1922 - Rev. Langehough (April 30 - September 10, 1911 - Rev. Norsen)
1922 - 1924 - Rev. Westberg
1924 - 1946 - Rev. Wichmann

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