Building the sod church at Dog Ear Lake
Dedication of the Lakeview Methodist Church - August 13, 1911
Lakeview Methodist Church - First sod church in Tripp County
Lakeview Methodist Church was located near Dog Ear Lake in southern Tripp County. It was thirteen miles south and two miles west of Winner. Its early address was given as McNeeley, which consisted of little more than a post office and store.
In July 1909, a group of homesteaders met with two Methodist missionaries, Rev. L.L.Lane and Rev. C.M. Campbell, at the A.M. Bodwell home to organize the first Protestant church in Tripp County. Services were held in a tent in 1909. Hymm books were purchased from the proceeds of the sale of three rattlesnakes to P.O. Beaulieu (pioneer hardware dealer in Winner) for the sum of $5. The snakes were caught by Mr. Bodwell and Earl and Roy Winslow.
A sod church was built and dedicated on August 13, 1911. When the sod church began to crumble, money was raised to build a frame church. which was dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1917. The historic Lakeview Church was closed to regular services in 1974. It was moved to the grounds of the Tripp County Historical Society in approximately 1996.
Sod Church in Tripp County
Methodist Organization at Dog Ear Lake Erects a Large House of Worship.
MITCHELL,SD, Aug. 28.-Special.)-The extension of church work into the new country being opened up in Tripp county is being carried on by the Methodist organization and a unique dedication of a church occurred there under the direction of the district superintendent, Rev. W. S. Shepherd, of this city. At the town of Dog Ear Lake the setters gathered to erect a church, but they did not have the means to build one of a modern character, so they resorted to the methods of the early settlers and built a church of sod, the only one of its kind in Tripp county. The men got together with their plows and turned over enough of the virgin soil to build the walls of the church and it was completed at a cost of $600. Rev. Mr. Shepherd dedicated the church and the people drove twenty-five and thirty miles, bringing their dinners and serving it on the prairie. Rev. L. Campbell has charge of the work in that big district.
[Omaha daily bee., August 24, 1911, Page 2, submitted by RM, Tripp Co. Historical Society And Dan Flynn]
The Rattler and The Sunday School
In December, 1909, when the atmosphere was astir with the live and work spirit of the Christmas season, a minister of the Methodist faith was commissioned by an Iowa conference to go as missionary to Tripp County, South Dakota.
Tripp is one of South Dakota's new counties, and, from its blue. low-hung skies and rich, rolling acres, to its eight thousand inhabitants, everything seems dominated by the “three-g" spirit , - grace, grit, and gumption.
The missionary was immediately at home in this progressive atmosphere. He already had sixty useful years credited to his account, and at the time our story begins was semi-crippled with motor paralysis.
Being a home-loving man and yet without family he proceeded to secure a home of his own by using a hay ladder as a frame and enclosing it so that it would fit the body of a farm wagon, thereby making it convenient to be lifted off and on at pleasure.
The little shack home was furnished for the comfort and convenience of its owner, who, when he had finished working in one district, had it loaded onto a wagon and hauled to another, where he again established a residence.
In whatever locality he pitched his tent, his doorstep became a pulpit from which, seated in a chair, he talked and preached to the people, who with one accord welcomed to their locality the parson and parsonage, the prayers and the songs.
True it is that when Tripp County’s future shall hold beautiful cities, magnificent churches, and wonderful-toned organs, no gladder music will be produced than was that made by the singing of the old sweet songs as rendered by the sturdy first settlers of Tripp County at these pioneer meetings.
In the course of two years several circuits, Churches, and Sunday Schools have been organized by this missionary.
In July, 1910, he effected an organization in the region of Dog Ear Lake - the meetings being held in a farm home. A few months later, the membership having been considerably increased, it was decided to build a sod church, as a frame building could not be afforded.
The men turned and laid sod for a 20x34 feet structure, to be plastered inside and out. It was completed and furnished with eighty chairs and an organ - the entire outlay, cash and labor, amounting to $500, provided by a district of but two hundred inhabitants.
In the spring of 1911 these Church-loving folks entered upon the reward of service and sacrifice by holding a first meeting in the little sod church - the dedication services being held some two months later, and the building christened “Lake View Church." During the first meeting it was discovered that the Sunday School had so increased in numbers that the supply of singing books was greatly inadequate. Money there was none. Everyone had given the bottom dollar to secure the house.
Ways and means were being discussed whereby a new supply of books might be had, when someone stated that a woman in a near-by town, who was keeper of a restaurant, had advertised for a live rattlesnake to place in her show window, and would give a good price for same.
The school immediately voted to supply the woman with a rattler and buy song books with the proceeds. Services were finally dismissed, the people going in various directions to their respective homes. Two young girls, who had gone less than a fifteen minute walk from the church, came upon a big rattler coiled in the road. To the girls he looked not like a rattler but, like a nice pile of singing books. Without disturbing him, one of the girls ran back for help, the other remained quietly on guard. The snake was captured, his fangs removed, and, being a fine specimen, the restaurant woman paid four dollars for him, and also gave a good price for his mate who was caught afterward.
Thus to use the exact words of the missionary, “The snakes were made to praise God.”
[Northwestern Christian Advocate, Vol. 60, June 1912; transcribed by RM, Tripp County Historical Society]