Photo of The Little Brown Church in the Vale, in Nashua, Iowa

Weekly Gem #42 The Little Brown Church in the Vale

Published 10/10/2015

Location: This 'hidden gem' is a short drive east of Nashua, IA (see Clue Me! map). The church was started in 1860 and finished in 1862, and is eerily similar to the song that was written three years earlier about this very spot by a music teacher who was passing through for just an hour or two. A very interesting case of foretelling ... the first verse goes like this:

There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood,

No lovelier spot in the dale;

No place is so dear to my childhood,

As the little brown church in the vale.

There's no indication that the congregation who built the church knew of the song beforehand, since the song was written in Wisconsin, and the songwriter, William Pitts, had remained in Wisconsin. They simply thought the location was a perfect one for a church, and they painted it brown because that particular paint was cheap and a good preservative.

Pitts came through again when the church was nearly finished, went home and found the old song, then had his class sing it at the church's dedication. Over the years, the church has become very popular for weddings, and the song, " Church in the Wildwood," continues to be sung by the regular congregation.


A peaceful place where the spirit can rejuvenate


The Little Brown Church in the Vale

Why It's Interesting

William S. Pitts, a music teacher from Wisconsin, was traveling by stagecoach to Iowa. During a stop for fresh horses, William took a walk in a particularly beautiful wooded valley near the Little Cedar River. He imagined it being a perfect setting for a church. He couldn't get it out of his mind for the rest of the trip, so he sat down and wrote the poem, "The Church in the Wildwood." Five years later, he moved to that area and was surprised to find a church in the very place he had envisioned!

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