St. Boniface Catholic Church/Chapel and Cemetery

Clearfield, SD

Many faithful servants of God have served the Tripp County Catholic communities. Fr. Novak, who rode horse back, celebrated the first Masses at the Clearfield schoolhouse in 1909. A small church was built in 1911 in the area north of where the Community Hall would be later built. A larger church was built in 1920 on land donated by the Henry Heumann family. The old church was moved and remodeled into the church rectory. St. Boniface officially closed in 1994 due to the small number of parishioners. Fr. R.O. Burger was the last resident pastor. The rectory was moved in 1996. Several former parishioners were interested in maintaining the memory filled church as a chapel and Fr. Brian Lane, Catholic Pastor of Tripp County, supported the plan. Several fundraising efforts, along with many memorials and personal monetary gifts, were made to finance the needed renovations. Gary Fast, with help from many people, used his carpentry skills to make the needed repairs. Improvements included a metal roof, vinyl siding, foundation and steeple repairs and tree removals and plantings. The interior was cleaned, repaired and painted and a new lectern was built and donated by Don and Fern Jorgensen. A Memorial Day service is held in the Chapel each year.

St Boniface Cemetery was established in the early years south of the church. As was the custom at that time, the southwest corner was reserved for unbaptized infants; there are several unmarked graves in that area. Improvements have been made to the cemetery through the years which include a wrought iron entrance archway built and donated by Leo Storms, chain link fencing, a small shelter with a permanent box for a guest book, a permanent flag pole and a well and hydrant for watering. Many of the improvements were memorials to loved ones from area families. Burials continue to be held there.

The first military service was held at the cemetery on Memorial Day, 1979, due to the efforts of Gordon Johnson, past VFW Commander. The American Legion and VFW Posts conduct the services. As of September 2007, veterans buried there are John Welsh, Sr., Bill Collins, Joe Volmer, James Diez, Oscar Keierleber and Linus Storms. The observance continues to draw good attendance.

St. Boniface Chapel and Cemetery are points of pride for past and present parish families. It is only through the generous gifts of time, treasure and talent of many people that these symbols of our faithful ancestors remain a part of the Tripp County landscape.

See Heumann's Host Catholic Services

Picture and information courtesy of the
Tripp County Historical Society Archives

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