Church in the Wildwood
Also known as “The Little Brown Church”.
“Church in the Wildwood” was written by Dr. William S. Pitt in 1857. Pitt wrote the song about a church in Bradford, Iowa.
Interestingly, Pitt envisioned a church being built in the valley in Bradford, Iowa. Pitt couldn’t get rid of the idea of this church. He write the song and “only then was I at peace with myself”. To his surprise, he found a church built in that exact spot seven years later when he returned to Iowa. The church was even painted brown.
The song was forgotten when Pitt sold the rights to the song for $25 to go to medical school. The song had only been sung by Pitt and his music students. Unfortunately, the church in Iowa was closed due to a declining population during the late 19th century.
Fortunately, the Society For The Preservation of The Little Brown Church was founded and in 1914 the church again was opened and services resumed. It was then that the song experienced a revival.
The Weatherwax Quartet was a traveling group that toured throughout Canada and the United States. They used “The Church in the Wildwood” as their trademark song which heightened the song’s popularity.
The actual church remains open and is a tourist spot.
Lauren Morrow, MT-BC