May 28, 2024

Christmas at the Museum

It may seem a little early for Christmas but at the museum decorating for the Christmas Tree Festival is in full swing.  It takes many workers and many hours to set up and decorate over 100 trees. We are fortunate we have such a great group of volunteers.

One of the favorite displays each year is a nativity set made by Gerhard Laudick (b. 9-26-1853, d. 5-19-1912) for his grandchild’s first Christmas.  Richard C. Mueller (b. 9-23-1911, d. 12-02-1993) was the first child of Gerhard’s daughter, Clara Gertrude Laudick and Arthur “Art” Mueller.  As you can see from the dates, Gerhard died 8 months after Richard was born. The original lighting for the crib was with coal oil lamps, but it was converted to electricity around 1923.  Some of the little figurines actually date from 1888.  This nativity set has been a cherished part of the Mueller family’s Christmas for almost 100 years and we are extremely fortunate that they choose to display it at the museum each year so that others may enjoy it.

Another item which has a long history is the feather tree, which was usually made out of green-dyed goose feathers  The trunk of the tree was a plain wooden rod and the branches were made of stiff wire that had  the feathers were wrapped around them.  Red berries or candle holders were placed at the ends of the branches. Because of the danger of candles, these trees had more space between their branches than today’s Christmas trees, a fact which caused one man at the museum to comment that it looked like a “Charlie Brown” tree. The earliest feather trees in America were brought by German immigrants so it is not surprising that the museum has one in its possession.

And what would Christmas be without a sleigh, The one at the museum is a one horse open sleigh, which was donated by the families of Richard Kimmet and Arthur Hoersten. This style of sleigh is also known as a “cutter” because it is lightweight, has gracefully curved runners and a decorative body, and usually holds only two people.  Sounds just like our sports cars doesn’t it?  And as with sports cars, men liked to race their cutters as evidenced in the fourth verse of “Jingle Bells”:

Now the ground is white,
Go it while you’re young,
Take the girls to night
And sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bob tailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack, you’ll take the lead.

Our tree festival is open every Saturday and Sunday beginning November 27 and ending December 19.  Hours are from 1 to 4 p.m. We will also be open for the Hometown Christmas on December 3.  Won’t you join us?

Printed in the Delphos Herald November 20, 2010 by the Delphos Canal Commission.

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