July 17, 2012 11:32 am •
By Jim Cross Press-News Reporter
Merle Hoffman, of Toeterville, purchased something no else wanted, a piece of history that was literally in pieces, until now.
In 1967, at auction, Hoffman purchased the original kerosene chandelier that once hung from the ceiling of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Toeterville.
The chandelier now hangs in the atrium of the historical museum. The chandelier will be formally dedicated this Sunday, July 22, at 2:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend the dedication.
"It was literally in pieces laying on the hayrack," said Hoffman. "No one would bid on it, so I purchased it for $10."
He said that for many years it had been in the attic of the minister's house.
It hung in the original 1884 St. Peter's Lutheran Church that was located on a tract of land one mile east and a half-mile north of Toeterville.
The chandelier measures six-feet high and four-feet wide. It has a large 10-sided kerosene tank in the shape of wagon-wheel spoke with a fill cap. On top of the tank are 10 burners with chimneys. Above that is a large tin and glass 10-sided reflector piece that is four-feet wide. Above the reflector are two more round tin ornamented pieces which are all held together with 18 chains.
Most of the chandelier, including burners, chimneys and reflectors, is all original, with the exception of a few of the chains had to be replaced.
The church would have been originally located directly across from where Merle and his wife Deloris currently live.
According to church history, in 1907, the congregation decided to move the church into Toeterville.
It took a team of horses 10 days to move the church into town.
In regards to the actual move, it is also noted in church history that the church's organist Ella Geffert, assisted by her younger sisters, Emma and Eloise pumping the bellows, played hymns as the church was moved west across farmland and into town.
When electricity came to town, the chandelier was packed away in the parsonage attic. It remained there until purchased by Hoffman.
After visiting the Mitchell County Historical Museum with his son Dennis, Hoffman said, "I decided the museum was the place it needed to be so everyone could enjoy it.
"How beautiful it must have been when lit during an evening service."
"We are so thankful to Merle and Dennis for this wonderful gift," said Ellen Elsbury, Museum Chairperson.