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Cutter sleigh is new showpiece for Kenmare Pioneer Village

One of the newest exhibits at Kenmare’s Pioneer Village may also be one of its most charming.

7/08/09 (Wed)

 

One of the newest exhibits at Kenmare’s Pioneer Village may also be one of its most charming.

 

A two-person horse cutter sleigh donated by Silas Naas Jr. of Alexandria, MN, and formerly of the Kenmare area, has delighted visitors and volunteers at the Village who have already seen it. “It’s in spectacular condition,” said Shirley Christensen. “I just fell in love with it!”

 

Shirley and her husband Delmer cleaned up the cutter during the Join Hands work day held at Pioneer Village in late May. The couple had planned to help in one of the buildings when Lake County Historical Society president Bryan Quigley found them.

 

“He came over and said, ‘I have a special job for you two,’” Shirley said. “When I saw the cutter I thought, would I love to get my hands on that!”

 

She and Delmer did just that, spending over three hours with the treasure. The couple started by vacuuming the interior of the cutter, especially the emerald velvet seat and matching carpet on the floor. Then they settled in with mild soap and water.

 

“We scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,” said Shirley. “We were even laying on the deck, washing underneath [the cutter] and going around each part. It took a few buckets of water, but it was really a joy to work on it.”

 

The cutter arrived in Kenmare after Christmas last year, delivered by Jamie and Heather Livingston after their holiday trip to Minnesota. Naas received the cutter from Randolph Ellefson. According to research done by Naas and a friend, Clifford Knutson, Ellefson’s mother Lillie Simonson Ellefson, born in Minot, first owned the cutter.

 

Later, the cutter was in the possession of Ellefson’s aunt in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, where Ellefson found it under a pile of hay as a young man. He took the cutter home with him to Willmar, Minnesota, and used it to court his soon-to-be wife Thelma.

 

Ellefson, who died in 2007, was related to the Naas family and had stayed at Silas’ parents’ farm near Kenmare during visits to the area. He was aware of Silas Jr.’s interest in horses and offered to give him the cutter, which he and his son Mark delivered to Naas in Alexandria in 1988. Shortly after receiving the sleigh, Naas had the seat redone with new velvet and padding by the Yoder Carriage Company of Bertha, Minnesota. A small brass plaque installed on the back of the seat recorded that restoration work.

 

Naas did not have the wood or metalwork repainted and believed the cutter to be in mint condition, as evidenced by the gleaming green paint trimmed with red dots and pinstripes. The runners were painted a contrasting red, with black dots and pinstripes. A shiny brass whip holder is bolted in place on the driver’s side of the cutter. Because Ellefson’s mother lived to be 100 years old at the time of Minot’s Centennial celebration in 1987, the cutter itself is judged to be over a century old.

 

Now, after being washed and polished by the Christensens, the cutter is displayed in the Niobe Hall at Pioneer Village. Shirley Christensen encourages Pioneer Village visitors to make certain to see the elegant sleigh. “It’s really something,” she said. “It was worth whatever they did to get it here!”

 

Pioneer Day July 12th

The Niobe Hall and the rest of the Pioneer Village exhibits will be featured on Sunday, July 12th, for Pioneer Day festivities. The event starts with the popular hymn sing at the Hartland Church at 4 pm, followed by old-fashioned kids’ games at 4:30 pm and the second annual log-cutting contest at 5 pm.

 

Guided tours of Pioneer Village will be offered throughout the day, along with the sale of baked goods, candies and jellies, an antique tractor exhibit and a scavenger hunt through the Village for all ages.

 

Supper is served at 6 pm, when a plate of roast pork and all the trimmings can be had for a free will donation to Pioneer Village. “Old time” music will be performed live by guest musicians, and the lucky winners in the Lake County Historical Society’s raffle will be announced at 7 pm.

 

Step back in time for a few hours on Sunday and enjoy the past, as shown at Kenmare’s Pioneer Village.

 

For more information about Pioneer Day, contact Bryan Quigley at 467-3444 or Alice Pausig at 385-3355. Regular hours at Pioneer Village through Labor Day are Wednesdays through Fridays, 4 to 7 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 5 pm.