Letter: A gem of a poem tells of Pioneer Village

By Jacoba Nagel, Chair, Nobles County Historical Society Pioneer Village Committee, Worthington Visit the Gem on the Prairie -- Pioneer Village in Worthington. This has been a great historical site for almost 50 years. Recently, as I was cleaning...

By Jacoba Nagel, Chair, Nobles County Historical Society Pioneer Village Committee, Worthington


Visit the Gem on the Prairie - Pioneer Village in Worthington. This has been a great historical site for almost 50 years. Recently, as I was cleaning in the office at Pioneer Village, I came across this great poem written by Ardis Lebens and donated to Pioneer Village by Ray Darling. I wanted to share this with Globe readers, as this is too neat a poem to keep hidden a drawer.


We stand here today


A dream to complete.

May Pioneer Village prove a blessing

Here at County Fair Street.


We single out for special honor

The heart of all our living -

The church; who every need supplies

And never ceases giving.



A parsonage, lacking worldly things,

But filled with faith and love.

Nothing is ever found wanting

When smiled on from above.


The depot stands dignified and proud,

Early symbol of communication;


Rails united a scattered people

Into this - the greatest nation.


A doctor’s office, much the type

In “Gunsmoke” on T.V.

Bless those country doctors

Who served often without fee.


A land office graced the village

Of a land rich and nutritious,

Where dealings made many dream come true -

though, ‘tis said, some deals were vicious.


The old general store of yesterday

Had something a supermarket lacks,

That’s the selling of old fashioned fellowship

In its cartons and its sacks.

A harness shop most authentic.

With equipment worthy of boast.

Yesteryear ‘twas a farmer’s must,

Today, an Elskamp’s toast!


A pioneer claim house

That witnessed smiles and tears;

Though conveniences were lacking,

Family ties cemented through the years.


The print ship, whose every edition

Did the pioneers’ life enhance,

Is immortalized in Pioneer Village

through efforts known as “Vance.”


The law office ever processing

Many deeds and claims;

Distinguished by its power,

More distinguished by pioneer names.


The barber shop, cuspidor equipped,

Unknown shag cuts or crews -

Where beards were trimmed, mustaches curled,

And a sharing of the news.


A carriage house far different

than a vehicle knows today,

But a “surry with the fringe on top”

Rivals a Rolls Royce in every way.


The pioneer farmhouse

Knew husking and quilting bees.

It took a “heap” of living,

But togetherness was born in these.


There’s an agricultural museum

With its priceless display;

Another chapter written

In a book called “Yesterday.”


The little old schoolhouse

Is a cherished memory,

For indeed it was the birthplace

Of our true democracy.


If there are any clues or answers

About our village that need unsnarling,

Visit the information village

Donated by friend, Ray Darling.


In 2017 this Gem on the Prairie - Pioneer Village - was visited by 974 adults and children during the summer from 30 states and five countries. A total of 1,154 students, teachers and chaperones from 16 schools in the tri-state area toured the Village, and 3,671 people enjoyed special events on the Fourth of July, Halloween Trail and Old-Fashioned Christmas. Also, the Barn and a few other buildings are rented on weekends for weddings, receptions, birthday parties and graduation parties.


A special thanks to everyone that has helped in the past in various ways, and an early thanks to those who will volunteer to help now. Without your assistance, Pioneer Village would not be the Gem on the Prairie that it is.


We are always looking for more volunteers to help with events, to be in the PV office during the summer, to clean and repair buildings, to keep up the grounds and to donate for the upkeep of the buildings. During special events, we welcome anyone who would like to demonstrate a craft or activity from days gone by such as needlework, shelling corn with a hand sheller, making curtains out of newspapers, butter making, clothes washing with the old Maytag-type washer or shocking grain.


We want to preserve our Gem on the Prairie for another 50 years and can do so with help from those who also want their descendants to have the opportunity to enjoy Pioneer Village.


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