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Churches In Kittson County


Grace Zenchyshyn

Senior High Division


Religion goes back to the days of Adam and Eve. Religionis in everyone's life in some form or other. Every time something is saidor done, this can be related to religion.

Many people have different kinds of religions. Some canbe Protestant or Catholic, Mohammedans, Hinduism, or Judaism, and each ofthese persons requires a particular church, either Lutheran, Methodist,or Catholic or some other kind of denomination. Everyone has the choiceof his religion. Some choose to attend regular organized services whileothers choose not to go to a regular church but hold their meetings in homesor public buildings.

One of the many churches that meet in their homes is the"Non-Denomination." This organization holds its church servicesin the homes of many people. Each Sunday, meetings are held at a differenthouse. Each family drives to that particular home just like some drive tochurch. The meetings are about the same as all other Protestant servicesexcept that each person reads a selection from the Bible and they all singtogether. The services in most churches are about the same only a pastor,minister, or priest reads from a Bible, but whatever church one belongsto, it is all a form of religion.

In the Red River Valley, the Catholics were the first missionariesin Kittson County. Then the Lutherans came. They were mostly Scandinaviansettlers.

In Northwestern Minnesota, religious history dates fromlater exploration periods. Among the early church workers, two Catholicbishops established two Catholic missions in Lower Red River Valley earlyin the nineteenth century. Father Belcourt, a Catholic priest was activein Kittson County, particularly prior to 1845 when he established a missionin Pembina. A geologist who accompanied Father Belcourt on his long expeditionto Pembina said, "God, what beautiful land!" They came to Pembinain 1833. Later, the Catholic headquarters, which had been stationed in Pembina,moved to Fort Douglas in Winnipeg.

Religious activities were not only confined to Catholicchurches. The Protestant ministers with some Selkirk settlers who had ministeredto the colonists, helped to lay foundation for the Protestant church. Theministers labored chiefly among the Indians because at this time, whitewere scarce. Missionary Spencer and his wife traveled to Walhalla, NorthDakota, where his wife was attacked by Indians and killed. She and anotherwere buried. The epitaph on the graves says, "Martur's of St. Joe's."(2)Walhalla was named "St. Joseph."

By 1880, the Swedish Lutheranism had become a vital religionin this part of Minnesota. The first pastor, Reverend Cavallin was instrumentalin building the church in the county. By 1892, much was accomplished andreligion was serving all parts of the county.

The following churches have represented the religious lifein northern part of Kittson County.

The North Star Presbyterian Church of the Joe River Communitywas established in 1901. A church was built in 1902. The first ministerwas Reverend Atchinson. Later the building was remodeled. It served thecommunity as an active church until 1973.

Poppleton Baptist Church was organized in June 24, 1883.For 28 years, the congregation held their services in various homes andschool houses. Preaching was done by the men within the church except whena missionary would visit to preach the sermon. In 1910, Mr. B. Sundbergdonated land four miles east of Lancaster, MN and the following year, thechurch was built. The first pastor was Reverend Jacobson, in 1915, but poorhealth made him only last one year in the church.

St. Anne's Catholic Church of St. Vincent was similar tothe parish in Hallock. St. Vincent can trace its beginning father back thanHallock, because of Fathers Belcourt and Provencher. The parishes firstmembers were chiefly French voyageurs and Cree and Chippewa mixed-bloods.One pioneer member of a later period was the late John Ryan. A buildingwas purchased and converted into a church in 1913 and the priest in Hallock,Reverend McAleer served both in Hallock and St. Vincent. The trustees ofSt. Anne's were Zeb Gooselaw and Andrew Ryan.

The Hallock Mission Covenant Church was formally establishedin November 11, 1895. It was patterned after the Swedish Christian Mission.It began as a Sunday School. Later this nucleus grew into the organizedchurch.

In the early days, many preachers came to Kittson Countyand held their services in public places and visited with the people.

The Humboldt-St.Vincent Methodist Church was organizedin 1899 by Reverend Robert Forbes when the region was discovered to theNorthern Minnesota Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. At thetime, there was a building in Humboldt but none in St. Vincent. ReverendForbes immediately began services and received favorable response. In October,1899, at a conference in Minneapolis, they decided to begin a building inSt. Vincent.

A half century nearly passed since Hallock PresbyterianChurch was organized. The circumstances and conditions surrounding the organizationwas beautiful. They blended together in the spirit of the pioneer, the loveof faith; binding them close to the church's history. In 1882, the KittsonCounty Enterprise said that a band of Presbyterians were here, apparentlyfrom the report of services being held in a variety of homes. J. Henry Longwas not only pastor but proved to be the builder. In 1883, he supervisedits construction and did much of the work himself. The old church was soldto the modern woodmen, who remodeled it and not much later, it was destroyedby fire. Two men need special recognition, James Davnie and H. B. Cameron,because they were leaders in the church.

The records show that the Hallock Episcopal Church wasthe meeting place where the American British Communicate met and merged.The first pastor believed to have been Reverend T. H. M. Villiers Appleby.The church was founded in 1887 and before that it was held in homes andpublic places.

Very little is known about the history of the NorthcotePresbyterian Church. Some pioneers say that a Sunday School was organizedin 1881. In 1897, when a reorganization of the church was held, a new boardof elders was ordained. After the meetings were no longer held in homes,the No. 4 District School House was a meeting place for worship. In NorthcotePresbyterian Church, the first baptism was on May 14, 1882, daughter Mayme,of John and Annie MacFarlane. The first marriage was November 5, 1883, RoryMurray and Christian McEdwards. Very slowly the people left the communityand the congregation finally had to join with the Hallock Church. In 1974,the congregation is still attending the church in Hallock.

It is a rewarding thought that the pioneers have broughtus together by building us churches in which to worship.

(1) Bouvette, J. E. & Sons, Published of Kittson

County Enterprise, Fiftieth Annual Number. Established1881.

(2) Gaer, Joseph, "How The Great Religions Began",Dodd, Meady & Co., New York, 1966


Bouvette, J. E. & Sons, Publisher, Kittson County Enterprise,Fiftieth Annual Number, Established 1881.

Compton's Encyclopedia, Volume 12, copyright 1967, by F.E. Compton Co.

Gaer, Joseph, "How the Great Religions Began,"Dodd, Meady & Co., New York, 1966

Fitch, Florence Mary, "Their Search for Ninth PrintingGod", October 1962

Twamley, Ann, Interviewed, January 23, 1975, St. Vincent,MN


Ninth PrintingGod", October 1962

Twamley, Ann, Interviewed, January 23, 1975, St. Vincent,MN