FERTILE | Thirty years ago Doug Carlson and Judy Cummings were married at the tiny Chapel Hill Church in rural Fertile. 

Their little daughter, Emily, was baptized that same day at the church.

On Oct. 7 of this year, Emily got married there.

She said part of the reason she and her fiance, Brandon Hood, chose the location is because her dad, a Forest City High School graduate in 1973, died of complications from cancer 16 years ago.

Even though he couldn't be there physically for the wedding, Emily said having it at the same church where he and her mother were married meant "his presence would be there."

Not many weddings are held at the nearly 90-year-old building, which has just four small pews and is considered an historic building rather than a church. 

Emily and Brandon, who live in Austin, Texas, were married on the front steps of the church — just like Emily's parents were 30 years ago — while the guests gathered in front of the building.

It was a special day for the family, said Emily's aunt, Carolyn Cox of Forest City. 

Relatives came from California, Texas, Tennessee, Iowa and Minnesota to attend.

The North Iowa family members "were just thrilled that she had her wedding up here with us and we could all attend it," Cox said. 

The church was built in 1929 for the priest at the Sacred Heart Catholic Parish in Manly.

The tiny building was modeled to look like a rural church from the 1800's. 

Tom Fretty bought the little church from the parish. In 1982 he donated it to the Worth County Historical Society. The church was moved from Tom's Old Towne, the miniature village Fretty established, to the Leo Oswald farm. 

The church was moved to Chapel Hill Cemetery and restored. 

Su Evans, a member of the Worth County Historical Society, said she believes only three weddings have been held at Chapel Hill Church since it was restored.

Cox remembers the day in 1987 when her brother, Doug, was married and Emily was baptized at the church.

"It was a beautiful day," she said. "We were just all excited."

Doug's mother, Stella Carlson, was in remission from leukemia in 1987, so she was able to attend her son's wedding.

Stella died just four months later. 

Emily and Brandon got engaged in June of this year. 

They decided to hold a small family wedding within just a few months rather than waiting until next year because of Brandon's father's health issues.

"It's crazy how the stories are so similar," Emily said.


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