Venersborg Church celebrates a century of anchoring rural community

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Venersborg — Barbecue, antiques on display, live music, old cars and tractors, photos of yesteryear and an audiovisual walk through history were all part of the Venersborg Church's 100th anniversary celebration, held on July 4. The history of the area, seven miles east of Battle Ground, involves some fairly typical trickery: just-arriving Swedes were seduced by posters advertising idyllic farmland, which they bought sight-unseen, and then showed up to discover the reality was rocky, hilly and not great for farming. The undeterred settlers planted fruit trees, and the community flourished. The old building "has continued to function as an independent conservative Evangelical church," according to a statement, although fewer than 10 descendants of the original settlers are on hand these days. The Fourth of July was chosen as the 100th anniversary celebration date in order to underline the arriving Swedes' love of freedom. One pioneer settler noted his daughter's graduation from college with the words: "Only in America could a serf's daughter achieve this."