Valley Grove Tapestries: Ladies Aid Woman

Primary images in the second Valley Grove tapestry are the stone church and a Ladies Aid member. Women of the Valley Grove Ladies Aid raised money to remodel the older church for use as a fellowship hall several years after the white wooden church was built. The Ladies Aid ledger notes some of the expenses in 1916. The ledger text is in Norwegian/English (norwenglish?) and doesn’t need much translating! The stone church expenses are on the right-hand page, starting with “lumber for gamle kirken” (lumber for the old church).

I looked through a number of photos from Valley Grove in the St. Olaf digital archives and chose the lady on the left to portray in the Stone Church tapestry.

Of course she is highly abstracted for my billedvev-style tapestry.

Even when it was highly abstracted, her face was was an intricate puzzle to weave in just a few threads. My husband commented, “You didn’t get her smile.” Well, she doesn’t look unhappy!

In reading through the scanned Ladies Aid ledger, covering 1890-1962, it was striking that in the early years they spent most of their funds on helping others. The charities varied widely; examples included “the needy in South Dakota” ($25); the Inner Mission Society ($20); the Children’s Home in Wittenberg ($10); the Indian Mission ($10); the Utah Mission ($10); the Children’s Home in Wisconsin ($15); the Seaman’s Mission ($15); the Pacific Coast (in 1896, $5); the Children’s Home in Africa ($10); the Zulu Mission ($10); a church in New York ($10); the Children’s Home in Wild Rice ($5); Home for the Aged ($10); and the Alaska Mission ($10).

The ledger is an interesting archival document, reflecting the priorities and activities of the Valley Grove women. Typical of many rural Norwegian-American churches, they held lutefisk dinners. The 1920 dinner earned $234.32, which seems like a tidy sum for the time. Perhaps it was because 56 pounds of cod cost $10.40 and 20 pounds of meatballs cost $11.40. Another interesting note is that this treasurer was the last to incorporate Norwegian words in the ledger; whoever took over the duties in 1921 switched to English.

On to the remaining chickens…

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