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Valley Home News 2-24-21
Winnie Mullins

This week we pay tribute to those who enjoyed such a great life growing up in Valley Home years gone by! How special it must have been to grow up in this community! I am excited to share some of the memories of former resident Matt Brechwald, who grew up in Valley Home. Matt and his family now live in Kuna Idaho. They have a small farm where they raise pigs, goats and cattle. Their farm is called Thalheim Acres. Matt also hosts an Off-Farm Income Podcast with six weekly episodes about agriculture and the occasional episode about his time growing up in Valley Home. Matt lived in Valley Home and attended Valley Home School from kindergarten through 8th grade graduation. Matt’s family lived in the old Volkman House! One of his most treasured memories is the joy he and his friends got from running along the railroad tracks trying to hop on the caboose of a slow moving train in Valley Home. Way back in the year 1871, long before Matt and his friends were born, our small community was named ‘Clyde’. In 1871 a tiny train stop of the Southern Pacific Railroad was created between Stockton and Oakdale. In 1903 a group of German immigrants moved to the area and created a German settlement. One of those immigrants F.D. Volkman convinced the railroad to build a depot here! This led to many other German families settling here. Later, the town was renamed Thalheim. When translated from German to English it means ‘Home in the Valley’. All went well until about 1914 when World War I broke out! With Anti-German sentiment strong in the United States the residents of Thalheim felt the pressure of such a German sounding name. At the same time they loved their new country and wanted to show their patriotism. They decided to change the name of the town to its English translation ... and the town was named Valley Home, as it remains today! Valley Home is a community rich in history. Many of our current and past Valley Home residents have wonderful memories of their lives in this very special place. Matt Brechwald shares some of his childhood memories with us. Living in the old F.D. Volkman House, Matt could see and hear the trains from his window. The trains would slow down coming into Valley Home ... the train track ran along Valley Home Road. Matt remembers growing up and the thrill he and his friends felt as they chased passing trains, hoping to jump on the caboose! His dream of actually jumping aboard became an exciting goal for Matt. He was convinced that he would become a local legend if he was successful! With his window facing the train tracks he could always hear the train horn blowing, as it approached Valley Home. As much as he wanted to grab on to a handrail on a passing train, he knew the reality was his parents’ punishment for his actions! He decided being a local legend was not worth a spanking with a belt! Growing up in Valley Home also meant spending a lot of time at Ben Aker’s Store. Most of the past and present folks who grew up or spent time in Valley Home have very special memories of the General Store! Those memories of the Ben Aker General Store are shared by many. One such memory is shared by David Cross. David has happy memories at the General Store. He remembers Mrs. Aker telling him about how she would walk across the road to the train station and collect the mail they had brought. She would bring it back across the road to the post office in the store. David tells of purchasing a Gene Autry lunch pail in the old part of the store. There was one more on the shelf so he went ahead and bought it for his little sister. Leroy Aker was running the store then and told him the price was 98 cents! Definitely folks have fond memories of their days in Valley Home ... no matter how old they are or how much time they spent in Valley Home! Today the railroad tracks are gone from Valley Home and the General Store is owned by a wonderful woman named Susan Lee. Thank you, Susan, for keeping the doors open and being such a wonderful part of our Valley Home Community! More memories to come, including more info on the missing Valley Home Bell!


As always you may reach me by phone at 209-985-5233 or by email at Until Next Time ... Happy Trails To All!