A Quiet Valley Christmas
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS As a "daughter" of the house, Samantha Krabutler demonstrates what it was like making cookies in the 1890s. "Mama says if you don't fill a wash basket full, you didn't bake enough." She explained that almost all the ingredients come from the farm from the eggs, milk, butter and honey. The grain they raise, her father takes to the mill to have it ground into flour. A visiting tinsmith makes the cookie cutters, like those hanging behind her, even a silhouette of "Grandmother." They made cutouts of fish and hung them on a string to represent the Trinity and hung them on the tree and in the windows. They'd keep a basket of cookies for the Belsnickle, the mythical southern Germany version of Santa Claus.
Many have Christmas traditions handed down to them from generation to generation. Baking cookies, trimming a Christmas tree and caroling are just a few.
When families gather, they often tell and retell their stories of past Christmases.
What if you could relive Christmas days of yore? What would it have been like to have a Christmas tree with no electric lights or to bake cookies in the oven of a wood stove or to work on making homemade Christmas presents by candlelight?
Thanks to the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in Snydersville, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, visitors had a chance to see and experience what an Old Time Christmas was like during two December weekends.
Volunteers dressed in period costumes and spoke to the visitors as if they were members of the original families who once lived and worked on the farm since the 1760s and on.
The tour began with sitting around an open fire as Linda Scott gave a little history of Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm.
The Depper family from Germany settled on the site in the early 1760s. The farm was passed on down through five generations before it was sold outside the family in 1913. Alice and Wendell Wicks bought the property in 1958 from Mrs. Thomas Hess, with plans to develop the land. But when they realized the historic value of the farmhouse, barn and outbuildings, they felt it should be preserved and made available to the public. Along with their daughter and son-in-law, Sue and Gary Oiler, they restored the farmhouse and on July 13, 1963, opened it to the public as Quiet Valley Farm Museum.
Over the years additional farm buildings were renovated and reconstructed including the outdoor bake oven, icehouse, smokehouse, dry house and various smaller barns and sheds. Later as the farm was used more and more for educational purposes, additional storage was built and also a modern education building and a picnic pavilion were added.
Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm has been owned and operated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, educational corporation governed by a board of directors since 1974.
The farm is open to the public daily from June 20th to Labor Day, every day except Monday. Visitors can see how everyday life on a farm in the 1700s-1800s was lived through demonstrations, crafts, the crops that are still raised, as well as the animals that produce milk, eggs, food and labor.
Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm consists of over 100 acres of pasture, woods and fields. Quiet Valley raises a variety of historically appropriate livestock and fowl that are quickly disappearing from the agricultural landscape. Traditional Pennsylvania crops such as wheat, corn and rye are grown.
There are three main events each year: Farm Animal Frolics, Memorial Day weekend and previous weekend; Harvest Festival, Columbus Day weekend; Old Time Christmas, first two weekends in December.
To learn more about Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, log on to www.quietvalley.org or call 570-992-6161.