Remembering Andrew Henry Nieland 1913 - 2002

— Letter from Ruth Nieland King to Kay Davis, September 2002

The picture with the horse was taken at the William Nieland farm. I think this is the Northeast corner of the house. Walter and Teresa Nieland, who lived on the farm last, replaced the house a number of years ago. Dad [Andrew Nieland] and Walter and Estella used the horse to go to school in Mt. Carmel. Dad spoke about the horse in an interview taped by my sister Alma when she was in college in the 1970's. He said, "Oh that was Doll. That was a nice little western horse. That was a black mare, medium-sized horse, and the second fastest horse going to school there. She could stop dead if she saw something on the road. She just - stopped. If you were on that horse, you'd roll off. She could even hold the buggy back. She was like that." He also told of coming home from school as a tornado approached and racing with the horse to a neighbor's place for shelter.

Photo: Andrew Nieland (left) with two of his siblings, Walter and Estelle at William Nieland's farm.
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Andrew's willow baskets

The picture with the baskets is about a hobby Dad took up in the 1980's. He and his brother Walter were interested in the willow baskets their grandfather Henry Nieland made, and they learned to make such baskets themselves by studying Henry Nieland's baskets, of which they each had one or more. Dad made some willow baskets, but eventually it became hard to find suitable willow twigs, so he experimented with commercial reeds and with grapevines, and finally with corn husks. He made most of his baskets from corn husks. He would gather husks that were in good condition, dry them, and braid them as one might braid rags for rug making. Then he coiled the braided material into shape and threaded it together with heavy thread or cord. He created different styles and sizes, some with handles and some without. He also made cornucopias. He left some of the corn husks natural and dyed some to vary the colors of the baskets. He used brown, black and reddish dyes and made baskets of variegated colors, as you can see form the photos. Dad made at least 340 baskets during his career. He gave some of them away during his lifetime, and at his funeral, family and friends were invited to take a basket with then as a remembrance of Dad.

Photo at left: Andrew Nieland with grandson, Brian Baumhover. Brian is holding a willow basket and Andrew is holding a corn husk basket
Photo at right: Some of Andrew's baskets. The baskets are made of willow, grapevine, corn husk (some dyed) and commercial reeds.
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