Perhaps the psalmist first sang his psalms as he sat in the shade of a tree and played his harp. Many of his psalms were about trees. Trees were important to him. In Psalm one, he described a believer as a healthy tree growing beside the waters.
When the pioneers came to the Dakota prairie, the land was bare of trees. They felt trees were needed so these early settlers dug up cottonwood seedlings growing along the rivers and transplanted them on their land. They planted row after row of them. As these seedlings grew year after year into big beautiful leafy trees, they now had groves. They were so proud of their groves.
The pioneers liked to get together to celebrate the Fourth of July and have church picnics, but without a community gathering place in those days, the people decided to come together in the shade of someone’s grove. Usually they would set up a stand where ice cream and soda pop could be purchased. These events became a way the whole neighborhood could gather together, and it was enjoyed by old and young, and also the children.
Later the three churches in the community held Fall Festival events each autumn. A platform was built, and a piano moved in, and they had music, a program, and speeches. The final Fall Festival was held in my Grandfather’s grove in 1934. I remember how busy Grandpa was, cleaning up his grove beforehand, raking twigs and picking up broken branches.
In past days the groves were the community meeting places. The pioneers were proud of their groves. It gave them an opportunity to get together and sit in the shade of the trees and visit and listen to an uplifting program. Today there are parks in the community where neighbors can gather. Some of these groves are still part of the landscape, but after so many years, some have been cut down and the land is now used for farming.
By Doris Stensland – August 2015