The poem, The Church in the Wildwood, was written in 1857 by William S. Pitts following a stagecoach trip. During a stopover in Iowa, Pitts explored the nearby woodlands where he discovered a beautiful valley formed by the Cedar River. He thought it a perfect spot for a church and could not put the idea out of his mind until he had written the poem. Five years later Pitts again visited the valley and discovered that a church had been built there. In time his poem was set to music and has become the folk song known today. Pitts sold his ownership in it for $25. This money was used to pay tuition to medical school where he became a doctor.
The church shown here is not that envisioned by Pitts, but is the church of my boyhood home. The doors to the small sanctuary were first opened in 1880. It has been in use ever since. To meet modern codes and handicap accessibility the building has been modified a tad, but for this painting it was modeled to look as it did when I lived there. Over a century after construction, the site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Link to a YouTube rendition of the song, "The Church in the Wildwood": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRbasj13PII
Very well done painting- history is quite interesting.
Wonderful story, wonderful painting!