Unexpected Visitors and Harvest Home Sunday

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, September 9, 1913:  We got company today for a wonder. It was Alma and her folks. They took us by surprise.

Ruth and I went up to church this evening. They had Harvest Home services.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Alma was Grandma’s cousin—as well as a friend. In August Grandma visited Alma for three days.

A hundred years ago many families–including the Muffly’s–didn’t have phones, so if people wanted to let someone know that they were coming to visit, they needed to send a post card or letter.

Back then it was considered much more acceptable to just drop in than what it is now. . . and Sunday was considered one of the best times to go “visiting.”

Harvest Home

Harvest home Sunday was an annual event that churches held in the fall to celebrate, and to thank the Lord for, the bountiful harvest.

Often people decorated the church for the service with fruits and vegetables from their farms and gardens. After the service the food would be given to a needy family. Did Grandma and her sister Ruth take any produce to the service?

24 thoughts on “Unexpected Visitors and Harvest Home Sunday

    1. It’s also my memory that people would just stop in to visit when I was a child. I’m not sure why it’s no longer done. . . maybe because people can easily call, email or text ahead today. . . though everyone had phones when I was growing up so that doesn’t completely explain it.

  1. My daughter’s church has a harvest service every year and the members share the bounty of their crops with each other. Those who don’t garden, purchase items to bring. Since my daughter does very little cooking, I reap the harvest…Unexpected guest were part of a quite Sunday afternoon. I dare not go visiting without setting up what feels like an appointment to me, and there needs to be a purpose for the visit.

  2. I have been singing the hymn, “Come Ye Thankful People Come” for 60 years and never knew until this post that “Harvest Home” was a specific event. The last line of the first verse is, “Raise the song of harvest home.” I always thought it was an odd collocation of words. Wikipedia has nothing but a stub about the hymn, and no mention of the specific festival. We sing this song regularly at Thanksgiving time. Any more data on why it is called “Harvest Home?”

    1. When I read your comment I googled “Harvest Home Sunday” and the Wikipedia article on Harvest Festivals popped up. It said, ” . . . Harvest festival is traditionally held on the Sunday near or of the Harvest Moon. This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox (about Sept. 23). In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home or Harvest Thanksgiving. . . ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_festival

  3. The Methodist church I grew up in held a Lord’s Acre Sale each year in October and still does today. The concept was for the farmers to bring the value of one acre of what they raised on their farms/ranches to the church to be auctioned. Each year you’d see hay stacked by the church, baskets of corn, bales of straw, feed made up for cattle, beef that had been butchered, etc. Inside a large church gymnasium, on row after row of tables there’d be home baked goods of every discription and hand made items of intricate detail. As the farmers and their wives aged, the finer crafts started becoming more and more elaborate. While I was still a child a homestyle dinner was included in the evenings activities and over the years the meal alone drew people from over 200 miles away. This church located in the middle of a farm cummunity, no supporting city, was the most active Methodist church in Kansas for a many years. The members were consistent in being active in the church, etc., but I digress. As the years went by and I left home, I always tried to arrange one of my trips home to visit my parents to be at the same time as the annual Lord’s Acre Sale. Over the years, the bidding has become fierce over some of the handmade items and one year the minister’s pie brought $175.00! All money raised at this event went back into the church’s budget and they in turn, put the money back into the community.

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