The Odessa Record -

Holiday updates, Christmases past and present, music around the city

Series: Harrington News | Story 11

Last updated 1/10/2019 at 5:59am

[Editor’s note: Since The Record did not publish last week due to illness among the staff, we have included double submissions for the Harrington news.]

Harrington news submission for 12-27-2018


Omission in the News

Last week this writer omitted a piece of information in the article regarding the city council’s budget proposals, which, correctly written, would read: Budget A was based on the purchase of a new mower and the hiring of a summer employee, while Budget B was based on the expense of contracting out tasks for which the summer employee normally would do. No contracts were signed. This was a 2019 budget decision.

Christmas at

Rocklyn Zion Chapel

Friday, Dec. 28, was another opportunity to enjoy the Christmas spirit and celebration of the birth of Christ at the Rocklyn Zion Chapel. The Davenport Times in December of 1989 carried an article relating how 122 members turned out for the reenactment of the 1889 Christmas celebration in their first new church. The founding members had celebrated Christmas at the Gottlieb Mielke home for the previous six years, but in 1889 they completed their first church edifice, dedicated that October. Most of the members were of German descent and in 1889 the worship services, preaching, singing and Bible reading were all in German. Members arrived from many directions walking, riding horseback or traveling by horses pulling wagons or sleighs. Kerosene lamps were their source of lighting. The Christmas tree was decorated with garlands, balls and candles. December 28 is your opportunity to experience “an old-fashioned Christmas” with the comforts of heat, electricity and motorized transportation at the Rocklyn Zion Chapel. Come with expectant hearts, hear a message by Mary Mendenhall of Davenport and share in the singing and celebratory festivities.

Community Forum

The Harrington Community Forum has been re-scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Harrington Nazarene Church. All residents (adult and youth) are encouraged to attend. The purpose of these meetings continues to be sharing of information, activities and projects by each group, club or organization, in which each will briefly describe what their current involvement is. It is hoped that the forum will “bring the public, businesses, volunteers, organizations and groups together to visit, ask questions and have an open discussion. We will talk about accomplishments from 2018 and plans for 2019, in order to limit duplicate efforts and give opportunity for collaboration,” stated Tim Tipton, president of the Harrington Chamber of Commerce.

The first Harrington Collaborative Forum was held April 9, 2015 in the Art Room of the Harrington Opera House with Karen Robertson as facilitator. She established rules for the evening which were: 1) Each speaker was limited to five minutes and signs were shown to inform the speakers of the time remaining. 2) Each was asked to give their group’s mission statement, their current projects and future goals. There were about 25 citizens who turned out for the meeting with the speakers being Allen Barth (PDA), Jim Wilcox (Lions Club), Cassandra Paffle-Dick (Chamber of Commerce), Billie Herron (Opera House Society). Ron Mielke, affiliated with Fire District #6 and with the Alumni Association, was also present. Mayor Paul Gilliland offered the support of the city for projects. At the end of this first meeting, Cassandra Paffle-Dick was selected to host and organize the next forum and determine the time and place and disseminate that information to the groups. The forum attendees seemed content for their meetings to occur twice a year.

The Community Forum that met Oct. 24, 2017 brought in a preponderance of individuals from the school and/or PTA. That group consisted of Justin and Carla Bradford, Mark Kruger, Travis Bradford, Shannon Sewall, Audra Christianson, Heather Slack, Paula Pike, Sharon Kruger, and LaMarr and Susan Larmer. There was a good showing from the Harrington Public Development Authority, Harrington Historic Preservation Commission, Harrington Food Bank, Chamber of Commerce, Golf and Country Club, Lions Club, Harrington Community Church, Harrington Nazarene Church, PEO, Harrington Homemakers, Harrington Opera House Society, Harrington Library Board and Harrington Alumni Association. During this meeting “local interest in making use of the vacant lot on Willis and 3rd became evident.” Concerned individuals present who signed up for the project included Jerry Allen (Hotel Lincoln), Jay Gossett (PDA), Tim Tipton (Chamber), Justin Bradford (school), Susan Larmer (school) and Bonnee Clarke (Nazarene Church).

Christmas 1933

in Harrington

A rather surprising feature of the Harrington Citizen of Dec. 22, 1933 was the Holiday Edition labeled “Magazine Section.” The entire front page was “Wonderful Hours of Christmas” by Charles Frederick Wadsworth with a 1933 copyright, Western Newspaper Union: “What a pattering and scampering of eager little feet! What a look of joyous wonder in the little eyes that stare! Was there ever Christmas morning more exciting, more complete, As the little hands explore the piles of presents everywhere? From the kitchen comes the whirring of the beater in its haste, And the sklop-sklop of the spoon as Mother stirs another cake. With the clicking of the oven as the turkey gets a baste, And a hundred teasing odors dinner preparations make! Now the dining-room is crowded as the folks come trooping in, Take their seats and box in silence as Dad says the Christmas grace, Then the clatter and the chatter and the laughter make a din That’s a tribute from each merry heart and happy, smiling face. As the darkness settles down again the lights upon the tree Seem to glow a benediction on the gladness of the day, Like the star that stood o’er Bethlehem for all the world to see And to lead the Wise Men to the place where little Jesus lay. Sandman brings a little wand to wave above each drowsy head; Time to gather all the trinkets up and put each one away—All except a doll or teddy bear to cuddle up in a bed—Then the nighties and pajamas and the little prayers to say. Such a jolly trip through Dreamland with the streets all paved with pie! Light and phone poles made of candy and the wires of popcorn strings! Lakes of ice cream, cakes for houses reaching half way to the sky, Filled with all the nicest presents that a Christmas ever brings!”

The edges of the front page were artistically showing a banner with various hours up to midnight with caricatures of children, a mother, the family at dinner, the family at the tree, and a child in bed with her doll. The four-paged paper was on faded red with black print. Much ado about Christmas. Other items were: “A Christmas Eve Sleigh Ride” and “The Christmas Fire” by Helen Gaisford, “Gift From the Past” by Bernice Golben, “20 Christmas Trees” by Constance Withrow, “Young Love: A Christmas Story” and “Adventures in Happiness: A Christmas Story” by Charles Frederick Wadsworth, “Santa Claus” by Alice B. Palmer, “The Red Children at Christmastide” by Dr. E.A. Bates and “Cynthia’s Christmas” by Martha Banning Thomas. Large pictures of “Santa’s Address List” and “Letter to Santa” united to cover a full half-page.

Harrington in 1909 had three banks: Bank of Harrington, Harrington State Bank and the First National Bank of Harrington. In June of 1910, the Bank of Harrington and the Harrington State Bank merged under the Old National Bank umbrella, but retained the identity of Harrington State Bank and moved into the Bank Block, home of the Harrington Opera House. During the Depression years, all banks struggled to survive. The First National Bank at Harrington eventually failed and in April 1931 its final assets were sold. Harrington State Bank was closed shortly after President Roosevelt took office and declared a “Nation-wide Bank Holiday” in which “all the conveniences of depositing and paying by check, buying drafts, cashing checks, etc. went on normally as before” but no one could get at this money. However, Harrington State Bank was closed for seven months and reopened in October 1933, more than two months before this Christmas edition was published. At that time, the bank officials were John E. Russell, president; H.O. Gilliland, vice-president, and Jake Hopp, cashier. When the bank reopened, its depositors had lost none of their money.

Harrington News submission for 1-3-2019

Rocklyn Zion Chapel’s Christmas season Hymn Sing was held Friday evening, Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. and was entitled “Old Fashioned Country Christmas.” With the modestly adorned live Christmas tree at the side of the sanctuary, nothing took away from the central vision in the church. Looking up the aisle before the event began, the focus of this little chapel in the country remained as it has since the church building’s inception in 1905, the cross. Atop the altars that separate the chancel from the pew section, were simple red and green floral bouquets. Music filled the air as one entered the edifice, played by Linda Zellmer at the organ and Cheryl Beymer at the piano. They were joined by Barb Curtis on the violin for the prelude medley, “Here We Come A Wassailing—The Gloucestershire Wassail—A Wassail, a Wassail Throughout the Town Christmas in the Morning.” Judy Mielke welcomed an audience, shy of 50, who braved the misty snow. She introduced Pastor Kim Kruger who reminded the audience, “Immanuel, God with us,” and gave the opening prayer. A brief few minutes were given for the audience to greet one another.

The program began with “Silent Night” sung by the Rocklyn Men’s Quartet: Dillon Haas, Kim Kruger, Robert Mielke and Cody Zellmer. With a brief, “We’d like to apologize for those of you that know German,” they sang the first verse in German as the tradition had been as a reminder that the original settlers held all of their services in German for many years. Those first settlers came from Germany, met in Minnesota and planned their migration to Lincoln County to homestead: August Bursch, Ludwig Hoffman and Gottlieb Mielke. Remarks were made that the German Quartet through the modern years generally consisted of Melvin Maurer, George Mielke and Carl Mielke, with the fourth man sometimes the pastor. In the fall of 1889, the quartet consisted of Emil Zellmer, Otto Minger, Rev. Carl Jans and Michael Maurer singing “We’re Marching to Zion.”

The Hymn Sing tradition of “Hymn Picks” by the audience has been a favorite and keeps the musicians on their toes, ready for any song in the hymnal or the Christmas booklet of seasonal songs. Janice Kruger and Robert Mielke led with three guitars added in: Cody Zellmer and Dillon Haas on guitars, and Carolyn Moldrem on 12-string guitar, maracas and harmonica. (It might be remembered that from 1883 to 1889, in Gottlieb Mielke’s church in his home the music was that of the harmonica and the concerto). This music included the following: “The Birthday of a King” by William Howard Neidlinger, “Mary Did You Know,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “The First Noel,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Joy To the World,” “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “How Great Our Joy,” “Away in a Manger” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”

Mary Mendenhall was briefly introduced to present a meditation followed with singing while playing her mandolin, “They Were You.” Her message began with the inquiry as to where each goes to pray—the cross, the throne, the manager followed with the truth that “He came to us.” What happens when He comes to us? Is everyone healed? God is teaching us to be dependent on Him when we are not healed. She concluded “are you a fan of Jesus?” with the admonition “Turn from being a fan into being a real follower of Jesus.” Mary is currently a practicing nurse and holds a preaching license which she uses as a substitute pastor for churches in the area. She worked many years as a medical missionary.

With a crisp clear voice Janice Kruger sang “O Holy Night” to an enthralled audience.

The next item on the program was “Christmas Fun” with Santa being a Special Guest, but alas, Christmas was over for most, and apparently Santa had shaved prematurely, not realizing he had another event! He had games galore. He asked for five volunteers, and each was given gloves to put on, and then handed a balloon. The object was to break the balloon using only your hands, as it was cheating when one pressed the balloon against their body or squeezed it under their arm. Dillon Haas cheated and broke the first balloon. Eventually each of the balloons was broken, but it was not as easy a task, as one might think.

Hymn Picks were resumed with the following numbers selected: “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” “Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming,” “Do You Hear What I Hear” and “I Want to Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

For the second activity three volunteers were chosen to tie a basket around their waist with the basket at their back rather than at their stomach. Three additional volunteers were chosen to pitch an object as one would hike a football between their legs. With about eight feet between the tosser and receiver, the point was to land the object in the basket. Little success was seen until Heather Slack successfully tossed several in a row landing securely inside the basket. The final game event was “Catching a Candy Cane.” In this event, a string was run across between the backs of two folding chairs. Raising one’s arm up higher than their head, the object was to drop a candy cane and have it land and remain on the string. This seemed more difficult as the string began to sag, but when taut, one might succeed.

The finale of this Old-Fashioned Country Christmas was the lighting of the tree, which was a most unique process that allowed several of the audience at a time come and light a candle or two until each that wanted to participate had finished, and the last of the candles were lit while Michelle Knack Wheland played “Silent Night.” Michelle is descended from the line of Herman A. Knack and Louise Bursch, who had seven children, one of which was Elmer Knack. Louise Bursch, it might be noted, was the daughter of one of the three founding men of the church, August Bursch. Elmer Knack was born in 1891, married Elizabeth Bakenhus, and they had four surviving children at the time of their deaths. Those children were Mrs. Wilma Fouke, Mrs. Irene Young, Mrs. Lois Zeimantz and Wallace Knack; Wallace was the father of Michelle. One of the miracles of Christmas seems to be the heartfelt welcome to all who come to Zion, much as in the years from its origin. Come. Participate. Give. Receive. Immanuel with us.

The church history reveals that the original Christmas tree was a pine with four candles on it, which “consisted of homemade tallow. Ed Mielke also stated that each of the following trees have been firs. At the annual Christmas program on Sunday afternoon, December 18, 1983, more historical events were observed including a pine tree with homemade candles. In order to make these candles, a mold was used that was brought to this area by the early pioneers and had been kept by their grandchildren. Also, the traditional fir tree was adorned with candles and sent forth its glow near the conclusion of the program. May this church there on the hill, so close to God, in the midst of wheat fields continue to be a blessing to all.”

Pastor Kim Kruger asked the musicians to play “Joy to the World” and the audience to sing “Amazing Grace” to that tune. Santa handed out goody-bags with treats as had occurred at Zion for more than a century and fellowship with refreshments continued for more than an hour as the candles burned on.


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