Project Gutenberg's The Church on the Changing Frontier, by Helen O. Belknap

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Title: The Church on the Changing Frontier
       A Study of the Homesteader and His Church

Author: Helen O. Belknap

Release Date: May 27, 2012 [EBook #39814]

Language: English

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Edmund deS. Brunner, Director



















[Pg vii]


The Committee on Social and Religious Surveys was organized in January, 1921. Its aim is to combine the scientific method with the religious motive. The Committee conducts and publishes studies and surveys, and promotes conferences for their consideration. It coöperates with other social and religious agencies, but is itself an independent organization.

The Committee is composed of: John. R. Mott, Chairman; Ernest D. Burton, Secretary; Raymond B. Fosdick, Treasurer; James L. Barton and W. H. P. Faunce. Galen M. Fisher is Associate Executive Secretary. The offices are at 111 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

In the field of town and country the Committee sought first of all to conserve some of the results of the surveys made by the Interchurch World Movement. In order to verify some of these surveys, it carried on field studies, described later, along regional lines worked out by Dr. Warren H. Wilson[1] and adopted by the Interchurch World Movement. These regions are:

I. Colonial States: All of New England, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

II. The South: All the States south of Mason and Dixon’s line and the Ohio River east of the Mississippi, including Louisiana.

III. The Southern Highlands Section: This section comprises about 250 counties in “The back yards of eight Southern States.”

IV. The Middle West: The States of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and northern Missouri.

V. Northwest: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and eastern Montana.

VI. Prairie: Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

VII. Southwest: Southern Missouri, Arkansas and Texas.

VIII. Range or Mountain: Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and western Montana.

The Director of the Town and Country Survey Department for the Interchurch World Movement was Edmund deS. Brunner. He is likewise the Director of this Department for the Committee on Social and Religious Surveys.

[Pg viii]The original surveys were conducted under the supervision of the following:

Beaverhead County—Rev. Charles T. Greenway, State Survey Supervisor of the Interchurch World Movement for Montana. The County Leader was Rev. Thomas W. Bennett.

Hughes County—Mr. C. O. Bemies, State Survey Supervisor of the Interchurch World Movement for South Dakota. The County Survey Leader was Rev. H. H. Gunderson.

Sheridan County—Mr. A. G. Alderman, State Survey Supervisor of the Interchurch World Movement for Wyoming and Utah. The County Survey Leader was Rev. M. DeWitt Long, D.D.

Union County—Rev. H. R. Mills, State Survey Supervisor of the Interchurch World Movement for New Mexico. The County Survey Leader was Professor A. L. England.

In the spring of 1921 the field worker, Miss Helen Belknap, of the Committee on Social and Religious Surveys, visited these counties, verified the results of the survey work previously done, and secured additional information not included in the original study.

Special acknowledgment should be made to the ministers, county officers and others in these counties for their helpful coöperation and assistance in the successful completion of the survey.

The statistical and graphical editor of this volume was Mr. A. H. Richardson of the Chief Statistician’s Division of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, formerly connected with the Russell Sage Foundation.

The technical advisor was Mr. H. N. Morse of the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, who was also associate director of the Town and Country Survey in the Interchurch World Movement.

Valuable help was given by the Home Missions Council; by the Council of Women for Home Missions through their sub-Committee on Town and Country, and by a Committee appointed jointly by the Home Missions Council and the Federal Council of Churches for the purpose of coöperating with the Committee on Social and Religious Surveys in endeavoring to translate the results of the survey into action. The members of this Joint Committee on Utilizing Surveys are:

Representing the Federal Council of Churches

Anna Clark   C. N. Lathrop
Roy B. Guild   U. L. Mackey
A. E. Holt   A. E. Roberts
F. Ernest Johnson   Fred B. Smith
  Charles E. Schaeffer

[Pg ix]

Representing the Home Missions Council and the Council of Women for Home Missions

L. C. Barnes, Chairman
Rodney W. Roundy, Secretary
Alfred W. Anthony    Rolvix Harlan
Mrs. Fred S. Bennett   R. A. Hutchison
C. A. Brooks   Florence E. Quinlan
C. E. Burton   W. P. Shriver
A. E. Cory   Paul L. Vogt
David D. Forsyth   Warren H. Wilson

[Pg x]



[Pg xi]



This book is a study of the work of Protestant city, town and country churches in four counties on the Range. It discusses the effect on the Church of the changing conditions in the Rocky Mountain States, and the task of the Church in ministering to the situation which exists to-day. This survey, therefore, does not attempt to deal directly with the spiritual effect of any church upon the life of individuals or groups. Such results are not measurable by the foot rule of statistics or by survey methods. It is possible, however, to weigh the concrete accomplishments of churches. These actual achievements are their fruits and “by their fruits ye shall know them.”

The four counties studied in this book are Beaverhead in Montana, Sheridan in Wyoming, Union in New Mexico and Hughes in South Dakota. Many considerations entered into their choice. For one thing, it must be borne in mind that this book, while complete in itself, is also part of a larger whole. From among the one thousand county surveys completed or nearly completed by the Interchurch World Movement, twenty-six of those made in the nine most representative rural regions of America were selected for intensive study. In this way it was hoped to obtain a bird’s-eye view of the religious situation as it exists in the more rural areas of the United States. All the counties selected were chosen with the idea that they were fair specimens of what was to be found throughout the area of which they are a part.

In selecting the counties an effort was made to discover those which were typical, not merely from a statistical viewpoint, but also from the social and religious problems they represented. For example, the four counties described in this pamphlet were chosen because they are representative of large sections throughout the Range area.

It is recognized that there are reasons why exception may be taken to the choice of counties. No area is completely typical of every situation. A careful study of these counties, however, leads[Pg xii] to the conclusion that they are fair specimens of the region they are intended to represent.

All these studies have been made from the point of view of the Church, recognizing, however, that social and economic conditions affect its life. For instance, it is evident that various racial groups influence church life differently. Germans and Swedes usually favor liturgical denominations; the Scotch incline to the non-liturgical. Again, if there is economic pressure and heavy debt, the Church faces spiritual handicaps, and needs a peculiar type of ministry. Because of the importance of social and economic factors in the life of the Church the opening chapters of this book are occupied with a description of these factors. At first glance some of these facts may appear irrelevant, but upon closer observation they will be found to have a bearing upon the main theme—the problem of the Church.

Naturally the greatest amount of time and study has been devoted to the churches themselves; their history, equipment and finances; their members, services and church organizations; their Sunday schools, young people’s societies and community programs, have all been carefully investigated and evaluated.

Intensive investigation has been limited to the distinctly rural areas and to those centers of population which have less than five thousand inhabitants. In the case of towns larger than this an effort has been made to measure the service of such towns to the surrounding countryside, but not to study each church and community in detail.

The material in this book presents a composite picture of the religious conditions within these four counties. Certain major problems, which were found with more or less frequency in all four counties, are discussed, and all available information from any of the counties has been utilized. The opening pages of the book, however, summarize the conditions within each county. While this method has obvious drawbacks it is felt that the advantages outweigh them, and that this treatment is the best suited to bring out the peculiar conditions existing throughout this area. The appendices present the methodology of the survey and the definitions employed. They also include in tabular form the major facts of each county as revealed by the investigation. These appendices are intended especially to meet the needs of church executives and students of sociology who desire to carry investigation further than is possible in the type of presentation used for the main portion of the book.



[Pg xiii]


I The Range Country 19
II Economic and Social Tendencies 40
III What of the Church? 56
IV The Church Dollar 71
V To Measure Church Effectiveness 77
VI The Preachers’ Goings and Comings 90
VII Negro and Indian Work 96
VIII Non-Protestant Work 98
IX Seeing It Whole 102
I Methodology and Definitions 121
II Tables 125

[Pg xiv]



[Pg xv]


Big Hole River, Montana Frontispiece
The Town Lock-up 23
Loneliness in Union County 25
After Some Years 25
Two Community Centers 27
A Spanish-American Type and a Typical Adobe House in New Mexico 31
Where Main Street Might Have Run 33
A Wyoming Ranch 35
A Montana Mining Camp 36
When Oil is Found 37
A Farm Bureau Demonstration 41
A Home Demonstration Agent 42
A Truck Farm in Hughes County 44
Fruits of the Earth 45
Up-to-date Reaping on the Plains 47
Wisdom is Justified 49
Camping in Sheridan County 51
A Frontier Celebration 53
A Voice in the Wilderness 57
No Room for Both 58
Episcopal Church and Parish House 64
A Neglected Outpost of Christianity 75
Not a Store but a Church 78
A Case of Coöperation 80
Happy Little Picnickers 85
A Good Time Was Had By All 85
Program of a Community Rally 88
A Parsonage But No Church 94
An Oasis in the Desert 98
Watering Her Garden 103
A Community Rendezvous 104
Mary, Call the Cattle Home! 106
[Pg xvi]Waiting at the Church 107
Hitting the Trail 108
The Family Mansion 110
A Real Community House 114
A Church that Serves the Community 115
Montana and Wyoming 20
South Dakota and New Mexico 22
Church and Community Map of Hughes County, South Dakota 54-55
Community Map of Sheridan County, Wyoming 59
Map Showing Churches and Parish Boundaries Of Sheridan County 59
Church and Community Map of Beaverhead County 60
Map Showing Churches and Parish Boundaries of Union County, New Mexico 61
Community Map of Union County, New Mexico 62
Roman Catholic Churches and Parishes, Union County, New Mexico 99
I Analysis of Protestant Church Members 66
II Churches Gaining in Membership 67
III Active Church Membership 69
IV Churches with Less than 50 Members 69
V Relation of Size of Church Membership to Gain 70
VI The Church Dollar 72
VII Frequency of Church Services 79
VIII Number of Pastors During Past Ten Years 91
IX Residence of the Ministers 93

[Pg 17]



[Pg 18]




[Pg 19]



The Range Country

A vast expanse of endlessly stretching plains, dun-colored table-lands, mysterious buttes against a far horizon, and “always the tremendous, almost incredible distances”—this is the typical Range country. There are a sweep to it and a breadth, and such heavens over the earth! In the East, unless some crimson sunset attracts indifferent eyes, the sky makes less of the picture than the earth. But this is sky country.

Roughly, the Range area comprises the states between the Middle West and the Far West, and includes a wide variety of landscape. Contained in this picturesque area are eight states with parts of others, a million square miles over which are spread four million people about a third less than are crowded into New York City. The four counties here studied, each in a different state, provide fair samples of a great deal of the country. Beaverhead County, in Montana, and Sheridan County, in Wyoming, are not far distant one from the other. Both are partly mountainous, rugged in contour, with wide valleys rimmed by mountains, and miles of undulating range land and low-lying hills traced by rivers. This is the country where “the smoke goes straight up and the latch-string still hangs on the outside of the old-timer’s cabin,” where still the “sage-hen clucks to her young at the water-hole in the coulee ... with lazy grace, the eagle swings to his nest in the lofty pinnacle and the prairie dog stands at his door and chatters.”

Beaverhead is in the extreme southwestern corner of Montana, slightly northwest of Yellowstone Park and straight south from Butte. It is bounded by Rocky Mountain ranges on the west, south and northwest. On the south and west it faces the State of Idaho. The county is well drained and watered by the two principal rivers, the Big Hole and Beaverhead, and by their tributaries, and here, too, the Missouri River has its source. Beaverhead[Pg 20] County embraces 5,657 square miles or 3,620,480 acres. Of this area, 1,365,000 acres are included in the Beaverhead National Forest Reserve scattered over the north, west and southern parts of the county. A small part of the Madison National Forest also extends into the county on the west. The altitude at Monida, in the southern part of the county, is about 6,500 feet above sea level.




Locating Beaverhead and Sheridan Counties.


[Pg 21]The Wyoming county, Sheridan, lies in the extreme north central section of the state, about 110 miles east of Yellowstone Park, Montana forming its northern boundary. Sheridan is about 100 miles long and thirty miles wide, the total area being 2,574 square miles, or 1,647,360 acres, less than half the area of the Montana county, Beaverhead. The Big Horn Forest Reserve covers 383,493 acres of Sheridan County. Rivers and creeks are numerous, the chief ones being Tongue River, Powder River and Big Goose, Prairie Dog and Clear Creeks. The city of Sheridan, the county seat, has an altitude of 3,737 feet above sea level.

The other two counties, Union in New Mexico and Hughes in South Dakota, consist largely of plain lands. Union lies in the northeastern corner of the state of New Mexico, with three states, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, to the north and east of her. Union included 5,370 square miles, or 3,436,800 acres, at the time this survey was made. About one-sixth of the southwestern part of Union County has, however, been added to part of Mora County, to the southwest, to form a new county named Harding which was formally inaugurated on June 14th, 1921. The land consists mainly of dry, level plains and mesas, although there are some mountains and isolated hills or buttes. Aside from the mountainous area, which is wooded, there are scarcely any trees with the exception of a few along the larger creeks and those cultivated around ranch houses. The northwestern corner of the county is the most mountainous. The county is drained chiefly by Ute Creek, flowing southeast through the western and southwestern sections into the Canadian River, and in the northern part by the beautiful Cimarron. There are a number of small streams, but many are dry during a large part of the year. Union has exhilarating, bracing air and radiant sunshine.

 [Pg 22]



Locating Hughes and Union Counties.


Hughes is a small county almost exactly in the center of the State of South Dakota. It has the shape of a right-angled triangle with the Missouri River forming its hypothenuse from the northwest to the southeast corner. It covers 485,760 acres of high and rolling prairie, with river and creek bluffs and bottom lands. Several creeks and small rivers flow directly through Hughes, and it [Pg 23]is on the whole one of the best-watered counties in South Dakota. Pierre, the county seat, is the capital of the state.


Early Days on the Frontier

The story of these counties is bound up with the discovery and subsequent history of the West. It is, as Viola Paradise says, “the story of Indians and early explorers; of hunters and fur traders in the days not so very long ago when the bison ranged the prairies; then of a few ranchmen, scattered at great distances; of great herds of cattle and sheep, succeeding the wild buffaloes; and of the famous cowboy; then of the coming of the dry farmer with his hated fences; and of the crowding out of the open range cattlemen and the substitution of the homesteader.”



This primitive jail at Bannock, once chosen as the capital of Montana, has held some rough characters in its time, but is now abandoned.


It was at Two Forks, in Beaverhead County, near what is now the village of Armstead, that Lewis and Clark, at a critical point in their expedition, were met and befriended by the Shoshones, the tribe of their Indian girl guide, Sacajawea.[2] This was on August 17, 1805. White fur traders soon followed in the track of this famous expedition, and after them came Jason and Sidney Lee, in 1834, the first missionaries to reach Montana.

[Pg 24]The next landmark in the county’s history is the “gold strike” on Grasshopper Creek, in 1862. News of the find spread like wild-fire. Miners rushed to the creek and set up their tents, shacks and log cabins. Unlike Rome, this first town of Montana, called Bannock, was built in a single night. Soon after the gold seekers had settled down to work in earnest, the road agents, a well-organized gang of “roughs” from all over the West, began to rob the stage-coaches travelling between Bannock and Virginia City. “Innocent” was their pass-word; mustaches, beards and neckties tied with a sailor’s knot, their sign of membership. After a succession of miners, homeward bound with their gold-dust, had dropped from sight, never to be heard of again, those who remained decided to elect a sheriff. Their choice fell upon a certain Henry Plummer, who was also sheriff of Virginia City. Plummer, however, never seemed to arrest the right man, a circumstance which was explained later when it was discovered that he was the chief of the gang of road agents. The funeral of a miner who had died of mountain fever, the first man for some time to die from a natural cause, gave the community the opportunity to organize secretly the “Vigilantes,” and finally to round up the road agents, either hanging them or giving them warning to leave the country.

Montana was established as a territory in 1864, Bannock becoming the first capital, and in the sane year the first county seat of Beaverhead County. The capital was removed to Virginia City in 1865, but not until 1882 did Dillon become the county seat. The boundaries of Beaverhead changed very little until 1911, when 938 square miles of Madison County, 600,320 acres in all, were annexed. Men began settling on the land west of Bannock as early as 1862; stock men mainly with herds. A few farmers also began to take up choice bits of land along the rivers. The railroad, then the Utah Northern, entered from the south in 1879. As it was being built, tent towns were established every fifty miles. One of these towns was never moved and grew into the present town of Dillon.

The first attempt to open up to the white man the land along the Powder and Lower Tongue Rivers, in what is now Sheridan County, was made by General Patrick E. Conner on August 29, 1865, and was eminently successful. He attacked the Arapahoe Indians with a force of 250 regular soldiers and successfully routed seven hundred warriors. The next effort ended, however, in disaster. On the twenty-first day of December, 1866, at a point on Sheridan’s southern boundary now known as Massacre Hill, eighty-two officers and men sacrificed their lives to the hostile Sioux and[Pg 25] Cheyennes in attempting to open a road across the country from Fort Laramie to Montana.



The black spot in the center of this not very attractive picture is a squatter’s hut.



In contrast with the top picture is this one of an attractive farmhouse which shows what can be done on the plains of New Mexico.

[Pg 26]The first claim ever taken up in this region was in 1878, on Little Goose Creek, near Big Horn, and the first irrigation ditch was constructed the next year. Big Horn was laid out in 1880, and the first store opened. The first newspaper in the county was the Big Horn Sentinel, and the first agricultural fair was held in Big Horn in 1885. The first cabin was built on the present site of Sheridan City in 1878. Sheridan was laid out in 1882 and incorporated as a city in 1884. Until 1881, the territory contained in Johnson and Sheridan Counties was unorganized and had no county government, but lay within the jurisdiction of Carbon County courts. It became Johnson County in 1881. In 1887 it was divided by popular vote, the northern portion being named Sheridan County in memory of the gallant General Phil Sheridan, whose army, in the 1881 expedition, camped on the site of Sheridan City.

Union County, in centuries past the camping grounds of vanished tribes, is now white man’s country, but it did not become so until the Santa Fé trail opened the great Southwest. With the Rabbit Ear Mountains to guide settlers the old trail came across Union County, untravelled until 1822, and finally, two years later, the first wagons crept slowly westward, facing in that pioneer mood now become historic the hardships of climate and the perils of hostile redskins. In Union County the story survives of a massacre by Indians, which accounts for the tardy white settlements in this region.

In 1870, there were about a dozen homes of white settlers in the whole area. The railroad, in 1887-88, encouraged development which began with Clayton a year later. In February, 1893, the Territorial Legislature incorporated into Union County parts of Colfax, Mora and San Miguel. The original boundaries of Union County were not changed until 1903, when 265 square miles were added to Quay County. Beginning in the northern part of the county and gradually working southwards, stockmen took up claims close to water and used public land for grazing. Up to about 1900, most of the territory remained open range land in which cattle were raised on a large scale, but since that time, it has gradually been homesteaded.

 [Pg 27]



The local store and the school of De Grey community, Hughes County, S. D., the only meeting places for widely scattered “neighbors.”


[Pg 28]The section around Pierre, in Hughes County, was the oldest settlement in the State of South Dakota. Fort Pierre, across the river from Pierre, was established in 1817, and there was continuous settlement after that. At the conclusion of the Red Cloud War of 1866-68, the Laramie Treaty with the Sioux Indians established a great Sioux reservation embracing all the land west of Missouri, from the Niobrara River on the south to the Cannon Ball River on the north and northwest, to the Yellowstone. This reservation lay unbroken until 1876, the year when the Indians surrendered the Black Hills. When the gold rush to the Black Hills began, Fort Pierre was the nearest settled point and the traffic center. Because the railroad had no right of way through the reservation, the line could not be extended to the Black Hills.

The first permanent American settlement in Hughes County was made in 1873, when Thomas L. Riggs established the Congregational Indian Mission at Oahe, where he still continues a church. When the railway reached Pierre in 1881, there came the first “boom” in the history of the county. All sorts and conditions of people took up half sections, and Hughes County was almost homesteaded between the years 1881 and 1883. The second boom came in the years 1899-91, later followed by a reaction and slump. About the year 1903, Pierre was selected as the State capital. All sorts of efforts were made to steal the honor for some other town until in 1905 a bill provided for a capitol building at Pierre which was completed in 1913. The railway began in 1906 to extend to the Black Hills. Thereafter, until 1910, all the region west of Missouri was settled, and practically all of these new settlers came through Pierre. In 1911 the construction was finished, people were out of work, and there came another slump. There was also a drought during the period 1911-12-13.


Transportation and Roads

There is practically no competition between railroads in any of these counties. Each has one main line running through it, along which are located the county seat and other smaller centers. Beaverhead has the Oregon Short Line; Sheridan the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Hughes the Chicago & Northwestern; and Union the Colorado & Southern. Three counties also have small sections of branch lines, and Sheridan has twelve miles of trolley line giving city service, and reaching all but one of the mining camps to the north of Sheridan City. None of these counties has really adequate train service. The distance from markets thus becomes an acute problem in certain parts of all four counties, but especially in Beaverhead, Sheridan and Union on account of their greater distances.

Each county has at least one good stretch of road. A large[Pg 29] proportion of the crossroads have never been improved. Many of them are only trails. Beaverhead has 2,365 miles of roads, of which 1,500 miles are improved and 865 are unimproved. Approximately $278,147.00 has been spent on roads in the last five years. The combined length of public roads in Sheridan County is 796 miles. Five miles are hard-surfaced, five are red shale, seventeen are gravel, 150 are State Highway and 410 are legally established traveled roads, sixty-six feet wide and dragged when necessary. There are also 200 miles of unimproved roads known as “feeders.” During the last five years, approximately $310,000.00 has been spent on county roads, not including the amount spent on State roads. Both Sheridan and Beaverhead are fortunate in their location on highways leading to Yellowstone Park; Beaverhead is on the Western Park-to-Park highway, and Sheridan is on the Custer Battlefield highway.

During the past four years roads in Union County have improved. The Colorado to Gulf highway from Galveston to Denver, enters the county at Texline and continues for seventy-five miles to the Colfax County line northwest of Des Moines. This is graded road and it is maintained partly by the Federal Government, which pays 50 per cent., and partly by the State and county which pay 25 per cent. each. There are 180 miles of State highways in the county for which the State and county each pay 50 per cent. Two Federal Aid projects are also under way in the county at present. Something over 650 miles of roads are maintained by the county, and there are about 2,000 miles of community roads which are dependent upon local care.

The total road mileage of Hughes County is 978, with no hard-surfaced but with four miles of gravel roads, and 175 miles of other improved roads. There are also 799 miles of unimproved road. Forty-five miles of highway have been built by the State between Pierre and Harrold and are maintained by the county.


The People

All these counties were settled chiefly by homesteaders who came from all over the United States, but chiefly from the Middle West and Southwest. Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma are the states most widely represented. A great many are children of original homesteaders.

The breathless haste with which settlers occupied and developed[Pg 30] this great primeval region of the West, rich in natural resources, is shown by the following figures of population:

    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union
1870   722
1880   2,712   262
1890   4,655   5,044   1,972
1900   5,615   3,684   5,122   4,528
1910   6,444   6,271   16,324   11,404
1920   7,369   5,711   18,132   16,680

The greatest period of growth for Beaverhead was from 1870 to 1880; for Hughes from 1880 to 1890; but both Union and Sheridan made their largest increase from 1900 to 1910, while Beaverhead during those years has made a slow, steady gain.

Hughes has had “booms,” and has gained and lost population in succeeding decades. Sheridan and Union, the newer counties, have forged rapidly ahead of the others in population. Sheridan, on account of her city, has made a rapid urban increase, but her rural increase has been slow and steady. Union is a large county with no Forest Reserve area and has been homesteaded rapidly. Although, in 1903, 265 square miles were taken away from Union, the population in 1910 was 11,404, or an increase of 151.9 per cent. during the decade from 1900. The density of rural population per square mile in Beaverhead is 9.8, in Sheridan 3.5, in Hughes 3.3 and in Union 3.

The West has a smaller percentage of foreign-born population than the East or Middle West. In three of the states represented, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota, the percentage of foreign-born has decreased in the last decade. In Montana, it decreased from 24.4 per cent. to 17 per cent.; in Wyoming, from 18.6 per cent. to 13 per cent.; and in South Dakota, from 17.2 per cent. to 12.9 per cent. New Mexico, with the smallest proportion of foreign-born of any of the four states, went from 6.9 per cent. in 1910 to 8 per cent. in 1920.

Sheridan, with 15.9 per cent., is the only one of the four counties studied whose foreign-born population remained constant. In Beaverhead, the proportion fell from 18.1 to 14, in Hughes from 11.4 to 8.1 and in Union from 2.2 to 1.7. The total number of foreign-born in all four counties is 4,670, or 9.7 per cent. of the total number of people. Germans predominate in Union, Hughes and Sheridan. In Beaverhead, the predominating nationalities are Danes, Swedes and Austrians. The New Americans in Beaverhead, Hughes and Union are largely on the land; in Sheridan County, the majority are in the mining camps.

 [Pg 31]




[Pg 32]Less than one hundred Indians are reported in the combined four counties, and the number has been diminishing in every county except Union. Sixty-nine of the eighty-one reporting are in Hughes County, a small section of which is included in the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. But Hughes had 169 in 1910. Spanish-Americans in Union, a cross between Mexicans and Pueblo Indians (the Spaniards brought no women with them for 400 years), equal between one-fourth and one-third of the total population. They live chiefly in the south-central and southwestern sections of the county, and together with their habitations remind one of picturesque Mexico. Sheridan County has the largest proportion of negroes of any of the four counties—147 out of a total of 214; but these western states in general have only a small percentage of negroes in their population, varying from 1.6 per cent in New Mexico to 9.7 in Wyoming. The Chinese and Japanese in the four counties number, all told, less than 150.


Wide Spaces and Few People

County areas ordinarily group themselves into so-called “communities,” where individuals share common social and economic interests centering in a definite locality. In this country, with its scattered pioneer population, community groupings are less definite and permanent than in the East or Middle West. Here they are usually determined by topography, and especially by the rivers and creeks and the railroad. Along the railroad are trade centers which serve the entire county. The majority of these communities are of small population and large area, with a small trading center containing stores, hotel, school, possibly a church or two and some houses huddled together. The county seat largely centralizes the life of each county.

Outside the trade centers and the open country area included within their community boundaries, the counties fall into certain social groupings. Where the land is good, and is being intensively developed, there are well-defined permanent communities. Some have even grown staid and conservative. In other sections the story is pathetically different. One lonely family, a forlorn row of claim shacks along the horizon, are all that is left of a real social life that existed only a few years before. A woman standing at the door of the only habitation in a round of sky and stretch of plain, tells how “all the good neighbors are gone and us left grieving for the fine times we once had.” Transiency is usual in [Pg 33]homesteading country, many people only remaining long enough to homestead their land. In Beaverhead and Hughes, which have been longer homesteaded, there is a larger proportion of residents of more than fifteen years than in the other two counties. But in all four counties, there are temporary groups of people with some social life at present, which may or may not have significance in the future. On the whole, present development tends to be permanent because most of the desirable land in Beaverhead, Sheridan and Union, and all of the land in Hughes has long since been taken up. All community limits are more or less indefinite. For example, a rancher living near the boundary of two communities may go to two or more centers for trade. And a dance or barbecue will bring people from any number of the communities.



The hut of a lonely homesteader.


County interests tend to become concentrated in increasing proportion in the county seat. Dillon, the Beaverhead County seat, is fairly well located in the central eastern section. It is considered one of the best business towns of the state, drawing trade from every point in Idaho. Dillon is a retired ranchers’ town, conservative and wealthy. Community spirit is not manifest. The old settlers run the town and are not friendly to the ideas of others. Even a Commercial Club has found it hard to survive in Dillon. Sheridan City, the county seat of Sheridan County, with a population of about 10,000, is wide-awake and progressive. Although there are a number of growing industries and it is a division point on the railroad, Sheridan is also dependent to a large extent upon[Pg 34] farming. Clayton, the county seat of Union, a town with a spirit of “boost,” informs travellers by means of a bill board that it is “the smallest town on earth with a Rotary.” Clayton’s large proportion of transient population is at once typical of the frontier in its nonchalant spirit, in its cowboys with sombreros, jingling spurs and high-heeled boots that click along the pavements; it typifies the Range country in the canvas-covered wagons, coming in provided with camping outfits and rations to last for several days because “home” is far away. But all this is gradually changing, and Clayton is becoming more of a farming center, less like the frontier and more like the Middle West. Pierre, the Hughes County seat and State capital, is a busy town. It has a number of industries and is the center for an extensive farming and stock-raising region, but the capitol overshadows the rest of the town in importance.


Means of Livelihood

Cattle were once raised on a large scale in this country. That was the day of the cowboy. But with the coming of the homesteader and his fenced land, stock has had to be raised in smaller herds and more restricted areas. In the old days, there was a great deal of open range land. Most of this has now been homesteaded. Naturally the rancher has resented the steady appropriation of his “free range” by the farmer.

While cattle raising is still the chief source of income, there has been a steady gain in the relative value of farming, especially since the introduction of irrigation and dry-farming methods. About half the farm land in both Beaverhead and Sheridan is under irrigation, and there is some irrigated land in the northern part of Union, but practically no irrigation in Hughes County. Some dry farming is carried on in every section of each county. General farming and dairying rank next to stock raising. Hay and forage are the chief crops. Considerable farm land is fit only for range land for cattle; it is too broken or dry for crops. Dairying is comparatively a new development.

Forest Reserve land in Beaverhead and Sheridan is allotted to ranches for cattle range. In Beaverhead National Forest, 10,530 acres have been homesteaded and seventy-five claims have been listed, chiefly in 160 acre tracts. Very little homesteading has been done in the Big Horn National Forest because the entire area is above the practical range of farm crops, and killing frosts occur[Pg 35] every month in the year. In the entire forest, only about a dozen tracts have been taken under the homestead laws, averaging a little over one hundred acres each; all have been abandoned, except a few used as summer resorts.



The home of a well-to-do rancher in Sheridan County.


As is usually the case in frontier country, a large majority of the farms and ranches are operated by owners. South Dakota, at the threshold of the West, has a larger proportion of tenancy than any of the other states represented. The percentage in South Dakota is 34.9 per cent., in New Mexico it is 12.2 per cent., in Wyoming it is 12.5 per cent., and in Montana it is 11.3 per cent. In Beaverhead tenancy has decreased from 10.2 per cent. in 1910 to 7.2 per cent. in 1920. In Sheridan, it has remained about the same, 20.5 per cent. in 1910 and 20.4 per cent. in 1920. Hughes has had a marked increase—from 16.6 per cent. in 1910 to 30.9 per cent. in 1920. Tenancy has increased 11.9 per cent. in Union during the past decade. This has been partly because so much of the land is held by absentee owners who have proved up on the land, moved away, and are waiting for property to go up in value; also because on account of the high taxation some cattlemen find that they make better profits by renting instead of owning.

Beaverhead County is rich in minerals, including gold, silver, copper, lead, ore, graphite, coal and building stone. Comparatively[Pg 36] little mining has been done since the war on account of low prices. A large amount of coal is produced in Sheridan County. Stretching out one after the other in a compact series, there are six large mines north of Sheridan City, set in the midst of an agricultural area and having little relation to the rest of the county. There is also a small coal mine being operated at Arvada in the eastern part of the county. A number of farmers and ranchmen are lucky enough to have small coal veins on their land, and mine their own coal with pick and shovel.




Oil is thought to be present in both Hughes and Union, but very little has been done with its development. There is some coal in the mountains in Union, and building stone and deposits of lime and alum are found in some communities. There are numerous gas wells in Hughes County. Many ranches have wells giving sufficient gas for all domestic purposes.

Each county has a number of smaller industries, such as printing establishments, lumber yards, etc. Sheridan City has several large plants, including an iron works, flour mill, sugar beet factory and a brick and tile plant. All the counties benefit from the summer[Pg 37] auto-tourist trade. The city and towns all have camping grounds for tourists. Sheridan has a tourist building, with a sitting-room, fire-place for rainy days and rest rooms, in her city park. Sheridan also has a park in the Big Horn Mountains. Both Beaverhead and Sheridan have a small number of resorts. Sheridan has three “Dude” ranches, the largest of which is the Eaton ranch, established in 1904.


The Young Idea

Good school systems have been developed in the comparatively short time since these counties were organized and running as active units of group life. Buildings are almost all fairly well built. Teachers receive good salaries. Of course, the schools are nowhere near ideal. The isolation and distances present serious school problems. Small rural schools persist where distances are great. Union is the only county of the four with any consolidated schools. The problem of supervision is great. Each county has local school districts and a local board of trustees in each. The county superintendent, a woman in each county, has a difficult time visiting the more remote schools and does not reach them often. Many roads and trails are practically impassable during the largest part of the school year. Because of the isolation it is[Pg 38] often difficult to find a teacher or to get a place for her to live, when one is secured. School terms vary from five to nine months, the longer terms predominating. Only six communities in the four counties have active Parents’ and Teachers’ associations.



The Snorty Gobbler Project at Grenville, N. M.


Besides the two elementary schools in Dillon, used as model schools by the State Normal which is located there, Beaverhead County has forty-six elementary schools. Two of these, the schools in both villages, Wisdom and Lima, offer one year of high school. The only four-year high school in the county, located at Dillon, has sixteen teachers and a student enrollment of 185. The entire school enrollment in the county in 1920-21 was 2,671; the total number of teachers, 100; the total cost of school maintenance $510,006.00. The State Normal had an enrollment of 561 during the summer of 1920; 190 in the winter of 1920-21 and 620 in the summer of 1921.

There were seventy-four schools running in Sheridan County in 1920-21, not including the city schools. In addition to the Sheridan High School, there are five schools in the county offering some high school training. Big Horn has had a four year course, but this year (1921-22) is sending her third and fourth year high school pupils to Sheridan City in a school bus; Dayton offers two years of high school, and Ranchester, Ulm and Clearmont each have one year. An annual county graduation day is held in the Sheridan High School. It is an all-day affair with a picnic in the park in the afternoon. The total number of pupils in rural schools in 1920-21 was 1,850, the total cost of maintenance, $264,647.21. The Sheridan High School with its enrollment of 522 is the largest in the state. The total school enrollment of the county, including the five Sheridan City elementary schools and the high school was 4,772. There was a total of 173 teachers, of which ninety-six were employed in the rural schools. A parochial school in Sheridan City has an enrollment of about 180 and four teachers. The city also has two privately owned business colleges with a total enrollment of 150.

In Union County, there are 108 elementary schools outside of Clayton, with a total enrollment of 4,500 and a force of 170 teachers. Nine schools have some high school work. Five have a two-year course; two have a four-year course. Several elementary schools have been consolidated within the past few years, and occupy new buildings to which the children living at a distance are transported in motor trucks. Besides four earlier issues of school bonds, totalling $79,000, the people have voted, in this year of hard times,[Pg 39] an additional issue of $88,000. Clayton has four elementary schools with seventeen teachers and an enrollment of 723. The Clayton High School has twelve teachers and an enrollment of 225. It has a new well-equipped building.

Hughes County has thirty-nine rural schools outside of Pierre. Four schools offer some high school work, two offering one year, one two years and one three years. Pierre has three elementary schools. The Pierre four-year high school has 220 students. The total school enrollment of the county, including the schools in Pierre, was 1,530, the total number of teachers seventy and the total cost of maintenance $130,199.35. There is a Government Indian Industrial School located just outside Pierre.

The lack of opportunity for high school training in so large a part of each county, brings about an increasing migration into the county seat for educational advantages. Many families leave their ranches and move in for the winter instead of sending a child or two. Some come in for elementary schools, because of bad roads and the inaccessibility of their country school. This is one of the greatest factors in the growth of these centers. To illustrate the number of pupils from the country, 150 of the 522 pupils of the Sheridan High School are non-resident and all but about ten are from Sheridan County. In Union County, fifty of the 225 pupils in the Clayton High School come from all over the county, the majority coming from ten miles around Clayton. The number of county children attending Clayton schools is increasing at the rate of about 15 per cent. a year. These children have certain marked characteristics. They are older for their grade than the town children, they average higher marks, and are anxious to make the best of their opportunity. In other words, they do not take education for granted, like the town or city child.



[Pg 40]


Economic and Social Tendencies


Growth of the Farm Bureau

No greater laboratory exists for scientific farming than in this western country. A Farm Bureau, popularized through county agents, is an asset of prime significance to a region that will endow the rest of the country with the fruits of its development. Hughes, in 1915, was the first of the four counties to organize a Farm Bureau. Sheridan and Union followed in 1919. Beaverhead County has no Farm Bureau. A County Farm Agent was employed for eight months in 1918, but did not have the support of the ranchers. They felt that an agent, in a stock raising county like Beaverhead where hay flourished without cultivation, was a needless expense. As one rancher remarked, “We did not want some one who knew less about our business than we did.” As an index to the success attending expert farm advice, one entire community in Beaverhead attempted and abandoned dry farming, whereas in other counties where Farm Bureaus and agents have given service and advice no entire community has failed so completely.

The Farm Bureaus not only improve agricultural methods, but are creating local leaders and a community spirit. The Farm Bureau offers a definite program that is rewarding if adopted. It develops in the individual community a spirit of independence and self-respect which must precede coöperation. The Sheridan Farm Bureau records a typical objective: “to promote the development of the most profitable and permanent system of agriculture; the most wholesome and satisfactory living conditions; the highest ideals in home and community life, and a genuine interest in the farm business and rural life on the part of the boys and girls and young people.... There shall be a definite program of work ... based on the results of a careful study of the problems of the county. It shall be formulated and carried out by the members of the organization, with the assistance of their agents and specialists as may be available from the State Agricultural College.”

[Pg 41]Each Farm Bureau has county leaders or a board of directors, each member specializing in and promoting some particular project, as poultry, cattle, marketing of grain, dairying, roads, child welfare, clothing, food and county fair. During 1919-1920 forty-three Farm Bureau meetings were held in Sheridan County, with a total attendance of 1,321. Twenty extension schools or courses were given with a total attendance of 261. Two community fairs were held, and six communities put on recreation programs. The Farm Bureau upheld Governor Carey’s announcement of Good Roads Day by donating $3,300 worth of work on the roads. Seventeen communities were organized; twelve have community committees. Nothing can better create community spirit and enlist coöperation.



The County Agent for Sheridan is making grasshopper poison.


Each community also adopts a program of work of its own under the leadership of the community committee. A community program for Union County, which is inaccessible to the railroad, is as follows:

Program of Work   Goal for 1921   Accomplishments
to Date
  Work Still To Be
Poultry   Market eggs   Letters written for
  Prices not sufficient
to warrant
shipping as yet
Livestock   Organize pig club
Organize calf club
  Two talks
Two leaders secured
[Pg 42]Home beautification   Plant trees, vines
and shrubbery
Road   Fix bad places   Secured county aid.
Got bridge
  Keep at it
Rodent   Rodent poison
  11 poisoned   Eradication
Coyote   “Kill ’em”   Nine put out coyote
poison and killed 48
  Complete it



Here is a Woman’s Club at an all-day meeting in Union County receiving instructions in the workings of an iceless refrigerator.


The Farm Bureau works with the County Agents, the Home Demonstration Agents, and the Boys’ and Girls’ Club leaders, wherever such agents exist. The County Agents are giving themselves whole-heartedly to their jobs, and the demands for their services keep them busy driving through counties for purposes of demonstration or organization. The Hughes County agent reports the following schedule: fifty days on animal disease, thirty-seven and one-half days on boys’ and girls’ club work, thirty-seven days on organization, twenty-three days on marketing and 116 days on miscellaneous work.

Sheridan and Union have Home Demonstration agents, energetic women, who go out over the county organizing groups of women and giving demonstrations and talks. Some of their achievements[Pg 43] in Sheridan County may be cited. Hot lunches were established in six rural schools in coöperation with the Public Health Nurse; some phase of health work was carried on in four communities and in Sheridan City schools a clothing school was held; 200 women were taught the Cold Pack method of canning; four home convenience demonstrations were given; five pressure cookers were purchased; twenty-five flocks were culled; twelve American cheese demonstrations were given, and 500 pounds of cheese made.

Boys’ and girls’ club work is carried on in every county except Beaverhead. The boys and girls all over the county are organized into clubs and work on various kinds of projects. Union County’s record for 1920 is notable:

Kind of Club   Total Membership   Value of Products, 1920
Pig Club   83   $8,107.00
Calf Club   39   1,568.00
Poultry Club   30   367.00
Cooking Club   36   220.00
Serving Club   36   310.00
Bean Club   13   165.60
Maize Club   10   120.00
Corn Club   25   1,765.00
Total   272   $11,622.60

Pure-bred hogs and cattle owned by boys and girls are sold under the auspices of the Farm Bureau. Prizes are offered. In Sheridan County, the county club champions are sent to the “Annual Round-up” at the State University. In Hughes, three teams of three members each were given a free trip to the State Fair as a reward for their efforts and achievements. One member of the Cow-Calf Club won a free trip to the International Live Stock Show in Chicago as a prize for his exhibit at the State Fair.


Development of Coöperation

Irrigation means coöperation, but coöperation in buying and marketing is comparatively a new development. Coöperation, however, is a necessity because so many farmers are distant from the trade centers and shipping points. Coöperation is the prime interest of the Farm Bureaus which, in some counties, undertake coöperative buying and selling. The Hughes County Farm Bureau has been especially effective in promoting coöperative enterprise. Says the County Agent:

[Pg 44]The Medicine Valley Farm Bureau has done considerable work along different lines, but the most outstanding has been the promotion of a Farmers’ Coöperative Elevator. Most of the stock in this enterprise has been sold and work will be started very soon on the building.... The Harrold Live Stock Shipping Association was promoted by the Farm Bureau Community Club south of Harrold. Several meetings were held by this club on marketing. Members were supplied with coöperative shipping instructions and information. At the present time, most of the stock shipped out of Harrold is shipped through this organization. It has proved a success. This community club was also instrumental in the promotion of a coöperative elevator at Harrold ... in addition to the organization projects on marketing, considerable buying and selling in car-load lots has been done by the different Farm Bureau Community Clubs. The Snake Butte Community Club has bought four car-loads of coal for its members, with a saving of at least $200. They have also bought a car of flour, a car of apples and a car of fence posts, all of which has effected a saving of another $200. Three other community clubs have bought supplies by the car-load. These purchases have netted members of the county a saving of approximately six hundred dollars.... (The Farm Bureau through its exchange service has located 4,550 bushels of seed flax, 495 pounds of Grimm alfalfa seed, 200 bushels of seed wheat, 100 bushels of rye and 800 bushels of seed corn.) One thousand, six hundred and eighty-five pounds of wool was also directed to the state pool of the National Wool Warehouse and Storage Company at Chicago, Illinois.




Beaverhead County has three active stock-growers’ associations, the most active of which is the Big Hole Stockmen’s Association which established stock yards at Wisdom and at Divide, their shipping point. They finally induced the railroad to help pay for the yards. This association was founded chiefly to work for a road from the Big Hole over into the Bitter Root Valley. The Forest Service was willing to help build the road if Beaverhead[Pg 45] and Ravalli Counties would also help. Beaverhead County did not favor the project because it feared competition from the Bitter Root products. But the Big Hole Valley wanted the road on account of the business it would bring in. The Stockmen’s Association raised about $7,000 towards it and the county finally put in $3,500. Besides their contribution of money, the members of the Association donated time and teams. One reason why they have held together so well and so long was because they shared the debt. It has been hard sledding, but they have won out. Their wage scale, which is established annually, was successfully operated for the first time last year (1921), when all but two ranchers stuck to the prescribed wage of $2.00 per day for hay hands. They have fixed up the Fair Grounds at Wisdom and give a Pow-wow there every year.



The Community spirit expresses itself in friendly rivalry at Union County Fair.


Largely through the influence of the Farm Bureau, two coöperative organizations were recently started in Union County, the Union County Farmers’ Mutual Hail Insurance Association and the Registered Live Stock and Pure Bred Poultry Association. There is only one other active coöperative at present, a Telephone Company at Mount Dora, capitalized at $3,000. A state-wide marketing association has 280 Union County members who produced in 1920 one-third of all the products marketed through the[Pg 46] organization. Besides the marketing associations, Hughes has a coöperative Farmers’ Lumber Company.

All these counties have coöperative stores. A coöperative store at Wisdom in Beaverhead County has fifty stockholders. Lima had a coöperative store in 1919-1920 which failed through poor management. Two Rochdale Coöperative stores were started three years ago in Ulm and Clearmont in Sheridan County. When the central organization took the surplus earnings of the branch stores to make up failures in other stores in the chain instead of declaring dividends, both the Sheridan County stores withdrew and organized coöperatives of their own in March, 1921. Sheridan City for the past eight years has had a coöperative store in which ranchers and farmers from nearby communities have most of the shares. There is also a Miners’ Store in Sheridan City. Hughes County has one coöperative store with 150 stockholders.


Urban and Rural Rivalry

All the centers are service stations for the farmers. In some places the old, deep-seated antagonism between town and country is noticeable. There is the feeling that the merchants overcharge, that big business sets the prices, that capital is to be distrusted. Most of the merchants have been of the old individualistic type which places the dollar higher than the community, an idea which the Commercial Clubs are altering. This is especially noticeable in Union County, where the feeling between country and town has been very bitter. The farmers unfortunately are unfriendly to and distrustful of the merchants and business men. Each group is really interdependent, but ‘such’ a feeling retards progress and development. As one leading farmer put it, “The prejudice between the farmer and business man must be overcome. There is no limit to the results if we can just get together.”

The farmers feel that the average merchant in buying farm products has not discriminated between a good and a bad product so far as price goes. In short, the honest farmer does not want to sell bad eggs or sandy maize, but he doesn’t like to get a poor price for a good product. Farmers feel that the merchants have overcharged them for goods and obtained high profits and they are undoubtedly right to some extent. The farmers believe that the fact of their charging goods on credit with the merchant gives the latter an unfair advantage over them, that the merchant thinks he can pay any price he wants when purchasing from the farmer.

[Pg 47]Chambers of Commerce and Commercial Clubs are working toward a better understanding. Get-together meetings have been started. The first Union County meeting prepared the farmers by letters and visits, in order to suggest a more friendly and constructive meeting ground. In Sheridan and Pierre, the Commercial Clubs have been very ready to coöperate in any movements that would benefit the farmer. An example of happier relations between farmer and merchant is the rest room for farmers’ wives maintained in Dillon by the Good Government Club.



Answering the World’s Prayer for Daily Bread.


Hard Times

In the history of this Range area the last three years have been the most difficult for farmers and ranchers. They have suffered acutely from the sharp drop in prices of stock and farm products. Part of the Range section has had a severe drouth. Beaverhead has had several dry years. Last year (1921), thousands of dollars’ worth of hay had to be shipped into the county as feed, and much livestock had to be sent out of the county to graze. In addition to drouth, grasshoppers, fairly plentiful before, became a scourge in part of Sheridan the summer of 1921. The farmers, helped by the Farm Bureau, worked hard to exterminate them with poisoned oats. Simultaneously with the drouth and grasshopper scourge in certain sections, the decrease in prices has[Pg 48] led to hard times and much suffering. Whereas a rancher was “well off” a few years ago, he now considers himself lucky if he is “in the hole” for only a few thousand. The farmers are bitter. They feel that something is wrong with the “system.” One can hardly blame them when crops bring no profit, while taxes seem to be higher than ever. The hard times have made ranchers and farmers do more serious thinking about taxes, farm conditions, and the marketing of farm products than they have ever done before.

E. T. Devine, writing on “Montana Farmers” in The Survey Magazine, gives the farmers’ position:

Montana farmers are much like other American producers, urban and rural, but they are even harder hit than most of their fellow countrymen, except, of course, unemployed town workers. They share in the general calamity of relatively low prices for agricultural products and they have also just passed through several years of unprecedented drouth. Freight rates are high and burdensome, and the things the farmers have to buy are still high in proportion to the prices which they get for their grain and stock. These farmers are therefore in debt, and are borrowing more than they can. They are actually and not merely in a chronically distorted imagination, having difficulty in paying their interest and taxes; and if their equity is small they are losing it.... The farmers are not seeking fundamental or permanent solutions. What concerns them is to get immediate and appreciable relief from taxes.

Hard times, as in Union County, usually strike our best assets. The county first had a County Agent in 1915, a Home Demonstration Agent in 1917, and Assistant County Agent in 1918 and a Club Leader in 1918. Unfortunately, the hard times forced upon the country a program of retrenchment. In 1920 the Assistant County Agent and, early in 1921, the Club Leader were removed. At present, there is a determined effort in some quarters to dispense with the other two workers.


Social Agencies

Country folk keep track of things. County papers as well as outside newspapers are read in all communities. These outside newspapers come from Denver, Kansas City, Butte or Omaha, depending upon location. Four newspapers are published in Beaverhead, two in the county seat, and one in each of the two villages. Rural Sheridan prints but one newspaper, The Tongue River News, at Ranchester. Two dailies are published in Sheridan City. Three communities in Union, and three in Hughes County, publish their own papers. The town of Clayton has the Examiner and the Tribune, as well as a paper printed in Spanish. Grenville and[Pg 49] Des Moines, two villages in Union, also have local papers. In Hughes County, Pierre has two papers, and Blunt and Harrold one each. The editors are almost all progressive and up-to-date, and vitally interested in the welfare of their communities.

More and better libraries are an urgent need of all these counties. Sheridan, Pierre and Dillon all have splendid Carnegie libraries. The majority of the schools have small school libraries. But there is only one public library in Beaverhead County, besides that in Dillon, in the community house of Wisdom village. Sheridan has no other library in the whole county. The only libraries in Union County are a collection of books for public use in the office of a village lumber yard and a small travelling library. Hughes County has a town library and three circulating libraries.



The Community House at Wisdom, Beaverhead County.


Good leadership is always essential to progress. Every one of these counties is fortunate in having some splendid county-wide leaders who are devoting themselves to their county’s progress. Wherever a county has a Farm Bureau, leadership is developed by that organization. But in rural sections where distances prevent people from coming together, leadership is wanting. Each ranch is a small isolated world and by the very nature of things there are few community undertakings. The development of local leadership, especially in remote sections, should become the concern of this country. As Hart says in his book, “Community Organization,” “the destiny of civilization is wrapped up in the future of[Pg 50] community life. If that life becomes intelligent, richly developed, democratically organized, socially controlled—the future of civilization is secure.... The determination is largely one of leadership.”


Community Spirit

Red Cross work, during the war, did a great deal toward bringing about a unified spirit. The Farm Bureau is working in this direction. When real needs arise, a community spirit is born, and unsuspected qualities of loyalty, coöperation and leadership develop, as happened in one community in Sheridan County, when that community wanted the State highway: they canvassed every load of wheat that went to Sheridan City from their community to show how much their road was used. Another splendid example of community spirit was the pageant staged by Armstead Community, in Beaverhead County, to celebrate the anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Every one in the community, even the babies as Indian papooses, took part. About half of all the communities have a real community spirit, i.e., a willingness on the part of the people to work unselfishly, coöperatively, for the best interests of the community. This spirit, fostered by the Farm Bureau or by war work, has directed communities to concern themselves with their roads, schools, methods of farming and the creation and strengthening of all community bonds and interests.

The results of this spirit are shown in social and educative agencies like Lodges and the local branches of the Farm Bureau. Of the sixty-eight Lodges only seventeen are for women, and their total enrollment is about 7,000 members. While women have fewer Lodges their attendance is more enthusiastic and regular than in the case of the men. There are Commercial Clubs in the city and towns, and in a number of the villages. The American Legion has five branches in the four counties. Eight communities have Literary Societies meeting regularly. Then there are the many clubs and societies which are purely social. These include sewing clubs, card clubs, athletic clubs and similar organizations which are found in the city and towns, and in about one-third of the other communities. There are musical organizations in seven communities, and four communities have community singing. These organizations, together with the schools and churches, give the inspiration for most of the social life.

 [Pg 51]



The colored cook, at least, seems to delight in her surroundings.

 [Pg 52]

“Movies,” Motors and the Dance

All the larger centers have moving-picture theatres. With the coming of the “movie,” and the general ownership of cars, there is a growing tendency to go into the centers for amusement. Dancing is the most popular recreation. If an event is really a success, it ends with a dance. In many communities a dance is the only thing that will “go.” One reason for this is the lack of leadership; a dance needs no planning to speak of, which is not the case with other forms of indoor recreation. Dances attract people from great distances and are generally held on Saturday night, lasting until Sunday morning, with a feast at midnight. Perhaps the Farm Bureau has an exhibition during the day, and there is a community dance in the evening. It is held in the hall over the poolroom. An orchestra of three army veterans plays good lively jazz. The latest tunes and dances of the city are as familiar in these remote communities as are the latest modes and fashions. No country square dances here; nothing older than the very latest dancing, and the most modern of ear-capped coiffures! Whole families attend, and parents take the floor along with the young folks. There is a great friendliness. The young men are well set-up, muscular and tanned, and some of them even wear spurs which clink together as they dance. Feminine noses are not as white as they might be, though powder puffs are here, very properly concealed. Most of these girls ride horseback as well as their brothers, and both young women and men, with their athletic supple figures, their innate sense of grace and rhythm, might put to shame our tired, anæmic city dancers. At midnight, there is a supper of fried chicken, sandwiches and real cake brought a few dozen miles more or less by team or car. Everything tastes good because it is made at home. Afterwards, the tireless feet continue the intricate, graceful measures. But outside the brightly lighted hall, and beyond the sound of laughter and music broods the silent, mysterious night of a spacious country. How many city dancers know the homeward drive through a big country, the moon perhaps lighting the river, the contours of plain and butte, and the sleeping hamlets?

The most popular forms of outdoor recreation are the community barbecues, frontier days and pow-wows. Only those who live this free, healthy life in the heart of nature have appetites worthy of a barbecue. At noon the delicious beef, roasted all night over a deep trough of coals, and basted with real butter, is a social meal that many of us envy. There are frontier field[Pg 53] days with sports belonging to ranch life, such as horse racing and broncho busting. The day usually ends with a big dance. Even the “dude” ranches in Sheridan hold Frontier days, and great events they are, too, with many spectators. In sections of Sheridan and Union Counties, but especially in Beaverhead, there is the beauty of the country which furnishes recreation in itself. Nature has lavished upon them every gift of line and color. The mountains and the streams, the woods and the canyons, hold a hundred delightful possibilities that are within the reach of almost every one. It is a playground as varied as it is perfect. On Saturdays and Sundays in the summer, car after car, packed with camp equipment and home-made delicacies, head for the health-giving hills and mountains.



The Barbecue is an institution typical of the Range Country and is attended by settlers from far and near.



[Pg 54]

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 [Pg 55]

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[Pg 56]


What of the Church?

What country landscape is complete without the church spires? In this spacious western region, in the heart of awe-inspiring natural scenery, the church spires are guideposts to almost 50,000 people. This land is new. It has been the changing frontier. Tremendous developments have been in process. The country is in a transition stage between the stock-raising past and the agricultural future. Population has increased rapidly; population has been shifting. The whole background has been kaleidoscopic. The Church has faced bewildering changes and growth. The burden of increasing its service and equipment has been heavy; it has not been able to “keep up” with the pace of civilization.

The story of early church growth in the cowboy country is one inspiring loyalty since it eloquently traces the faithfulness of a few in a country where God was easily forgotten. One of the first things to be read of rough-and-ready Bannock, among the earliest mining towns on the Range, is that church services were held there. The Church migrated with its congregations. Missionaries from the East came through with the fur trappers and preached the word of God. When the land began to be taken up by settlers, impromptu meetings were held, and Sunday schools were started in many places which had no ministers. Some of these points of worship gradually developed into organized religious bodies so that at present there are churches which have grown up with the country.


A Difficult Field

The Church in this frontier country has always faced great difficulties. Chiefly, there is the vast area of it, with a scattered and transient population. Homesteaders are a restless, uncertain, human quantity. Some are engrossed in getting a start. Others move on as soon as they have “proved up” on their claims. All are poor; there is always an economic struggle going on. The old frontier spirit of “let have and let be” survives from the cowboy[Pg 57] days. This free and easy spirit says: “Boys drinking?—well, boys have to have their good times. Streets weedy?—well, they might be worse.” The same spirit says: “No churches?—well, we’re just as well off and our money is better in the bank than paying for a minister who never gets out and does an honest day’s work.”

“Good-bye, God, we’re going to Wyoming,” said a little Boston girl as the family was starting west. This typifies what happened as people from the East and Middle West moved out to the frontier. In the desperate struggle for existence homesteaders had little time for Christian enterprise. Because of the great distances and scattered population, adequate church ministry has been difficult if not impossible. People had for so long lived without a church that indifference developed. The longer they stayed the less they took the church for granted. The older the section, one finds to-day, the less likely it is to want church ministry. Newer homesteaders, recently come from other parts of the country where the church was more available, are more eager for church and Sunday school.



The M. E. Church at Mosquero, Union County, N. M.


Development and Distribution

The differences in religious development and psychology according to the time of settlement are well illustrated by these counties. Generally speaking, Beaverhead grew up before the Church had[Pg 58] made much headway. It is conservative. The general attitude is the wary one of “Let the Church alone.” Men class churches among those feminine luxuries with which a real, red-blooded man has little to do. On the other hand, Union, the most recently developed county of the four, still has a marked “church consciousness.” The majority of the people have not yet broken with the habits and customs of the more closely settled and churched Middle West from which they came. The other two counties combine these two conditions. Part of Sheridan is like Union, a region newly homesteaded. Part of it is like Beaverhead, old and settled with frontier habits. Hughes, on the threshold of the West, retains the frontier sentiment of all the other counties.



The Presbyterian Church at Melrose, Montana, and its next-door neighbor, a deserted saloon.


Church work has been going on in these counties since 1867, when Protestant work was started at Bannock, in Beaverhead County. Churches were organized in the other counties in succeeding decades. The first Protestant church was organized in Hughes between 1870 and 1880, in Sheridan and Union Counties between 1880 and 1890. In this comparatively short time, some churches have gone under. Beaverhead has had nine Protestant churches, of which six are now active. One church, located just outside the border of the county in Melrose, a small hamlet, is included in this report. Dillon, the county seat, has four churches, or one Protestant church for about every 675 persons. Outside Dillon, the habitable rural area of the county has two Protestant churches, or one church for about every 1,800 square miles and for about every 2,300 persons. Roman Catholics have two organized churches in the county, Mormons have one active and one inactive church, and there is one Christian Science church.

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[Pg 63]Sixteen Protestant churches have been organized in Hughes County, all but one of which are now active. Pierre, the county seat, with six of the churches, has a Protestant church for about every 535 people. Outside Pierre and the section occupied by the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, the rural area of the county has one Protestant church for about every seventy-three square miles, and for every 300 persons. There are three Catholic churches outside the Indian Reservation.

Sheridan County has had twenty-two Protestant churches, of which seventeen are now active and two are inactive. The city of Sheridan has nine Protestant churches, one church for about every 1,020 persons; outside Sheridan, the habitable area of the county has one Protestant church for about every 220 square miles, and for about every 1,130 persons. The county has five Catholic churches, a Mormon, a Christian Science, and a Theosophical organization.

The newest county of the four has the most churches. Thirty-nine Protestant churches have been organized in Union County, thirty-one of which are now active. Clayton, the county seat, has four churches, one for about every 625 persons; outside Clayton, the rural area of the county has one Protestant church for about every 280 square miles and for about every 525 persons. There are five organized Catholic churches.

The four counties now have a total of seventy active Protestant churches representing eleven different denominations, but there is an acute need of a more strategic distribution. Churches located in the city of Sheridan will henceforth be referred to as “city” churches; churches located in the towns of Dillon, Pierre and Clayton will be referred to as “town” churches; those located in villages, a classification applying to all centers with a population of 250 to 2,500, will be referred to as “village” churches; and those located in hamlets of less than 250 population or the open country will be known as “country” churches. Classified in this way, nine, or 13 per cent. of the total, are “city” churches; thirteen, or 19 per cent., are “town” churches; fourteen, or 20 per cent., are “village” churches, and thirty-four, or 48 per cent., are “country”[Pg 64] churches. Other than Protestant churches will be discussed in a separate chapter.


God’s Houses

A live church organization should have a building of its own. It is hard, indeed, to preach the reality of religion without a visible house of God. Yet nearly one-third of the organizations have no buildings and must depend on school houses, homes or depots. Some of these churches, located in strategic places, acutely need buildings and equipment if they are to hold their own in the future. For others, however, the possession of buildings would be a tragedy, since they would thus become assured of a permanency which is not justified. All the city and town churches have buildings, as well as twelve of the fourteen village, and fifteen of the thirty-four country, churches. In addition, two inactive organizations have buildings which are available and are used to some extent.



Beaverhead County, Montana.


The majority of the buildings are of wood; fourteen are of brick, cement or adobe. Unfortunately, the Range has no typical pioneer architecture of its own. Most of the buildings are reminiscent of New England forbears. Many of them look barren and unkempt. Standing forlorn upon the plains, most of the open country churches are unrelieved by any sign of trees. Little or no effort has been made to make them attractive. Thirty buildings[Pg 65] are lighted by electricity. Twenty-two churches are of the usual one-room type, eleven have two-room buildings, four have three rooms, three have five rooms, six have six rooms or more. A few possess special facilities for social purposes. One town church has a parish house. Nine have extra rooms and some special equipment, including three gymnasiums. Stereopticon outfits have been installed in one city and in two town churches. One other town church borrows a stereopticon once a month from a public school, and one town church occasionally borrows the county moving-picture machine.

A new kind of community house was built last summer by the Sheridan Presbyterian Church. It is a summer camp on a mountain stream not far from the Big Horn Mountains, about twenty miles south of Sheridan. The building is used for kitchen, dining room, rest room and general headquarters. Each family brings its own tent when using the camp. The purpose is to make it a place for tired people, and especially for those who have no cars or other means of taking an outing during some part of the hot weather. The community idea expresses itself in a plan whereby those owning cars shall sometimes transport a family that otherwise might have no outing.

Church property is valued at $592,323, and it is noteworthy that the churches have acquired property of such value in so short a time. The fact that church growth is a present-day phenomenon is illustrated by the two splendid buildings erected since this survey was made, and the preparations for a third which will cover an entire block. The highest value of any city church is $70,000, of any town church $75,000, of any village church $7,000 and of any country church, $4,000. Twenty-eight churches have parsonages, their total valuation amounting to $61,300, or an average value of $2,189.

About one-third of the churches carry some indebtedness on their property. Twenty-five churches report a total debt of $57,695, of which amount $28,500 was borrowed by six city churches, $21,700 by four town churches, $2,905 by five village churches and $4,590 by eight country churches. The money was spent for new buildings, new parsonages, repairs and, in one case, for a garage to hold the preacher’s Ford. Curiously enough, instead of being a hardship, working to pay off a debt often brings church members together into a unified working group. The interest paid ranges from 4 to 8 per cent.

 [Pg 66]

Church Membership

Even more important than the material assets of the churches are their human assets—their members. The total number enrolled in Protestant churches in the four counties is 5,820. Active members number 3,956, or 68 per cent., while 1,013, or 17.4 per cent., are classed as inactive, i.e., they neither attend church services nor contribute to church support, and 851, or 14.6 per cent., are non-resident. The country and city churches have the highest proportion of non-resident members—16.9 per cent. and 16.6 per cent., respectively; the town figure is next at 11.7 per cent., and the village percentage is 9.83. These people have moved, or else live too far away to come to church services. In addition to the enrolled membership, there are members of distant churches who have never transferred to local churches. They are scattered through all these counties, and their number is, of course, not known and cannot be estimated. Some may have been asked to join local churches, but it is certain that some have not, and that no one knows or seems to care if they have been members of some church elsewhere. They may attend local churches occasionally, but it is more likely that they do not. Some of them feel like the little hard-working ranch lady who said, “I was a church member out in Iowa, thirty-five years ago, but I’ve never done lifted by letter and I’ve been here so long now, I guess I never will.”




[Pg 67]The Protestant church member who moves away is not followed up by his church as a general thing. This is partly due to frequent ministerial changes, partly to the lack of well-kept church records, and partly to lack of interest. Of course, the fault is not only with the churches on the Range; it is a shortcoming of the churches everywhere. Since, however, a transient population is characteristic of this country, it would seem to be a matter of prime importance for churches to keep track of the movements of their members. This matter concerns not only local churches and their denominations, but also calls for coöperation among different denominations.




Most of the churches are in the larger centers. Of the total resident church membership nearly 43 per cent. belong to city churches, 28 per cent. to town churches, 11 per cent. to village churches and only 15 per cent. to country churches. As the center decreases in size, the more it draws from the surrounding country. Thus, 93 per cent. of the total resident families of city churches live in the city and 7 per cent. live outside; 87 per cent. of the total resident families of town churches live in the town and 13 per cent. live outside; 62 per cent. of the total resident families belonging to village churches live in villages and 38 per cent. live outside.

Somehow the Church has failed to appeal to the men. A prominent man who never came to church in one of the towns in the counties studied, said to a minister: “Here is a hundred dollars. For God’s sake, don’t let the church go down!” This man realized that the community needed the church, but he chose[Pg 68] to help from the outside. This is the prevailing attitude: the men are not antagonistic, but they are indifferent. All the counties have a higher proportion of men than of women in the population; each has a higher proportion of women than men in the church membership. Beaverhead, preponderant by 58.3 per cent. in males, has the lowest proportion of adult men in the church membership, 23.8 per cent. Union has the highest proportion of men, 32.7 per cent. For all the churches of the four counties, 30.5 per cent. of all church members are males over twenty-one, 8.6 per cent. are males under twenty-one, 47.5 per cent. are females over twenty-one and 13.4 per cent. are females under twenty-one.

A larger proportion of young people are enrolled in the city and town churches than in those of the village and open country. City and town church memberships have 9 per cent. boys, and 14.36 per cent. girls. Villages have 6.75 per cent. boys, and 12.26 per cent. girls. Open country churches have 8.19 per cent. boys, and 9.26 per cent. girls. One reason for the small number of young people is that many grew up without the Church. The children now growing up have better church opportunities. The hope of the Church for the future is to reach the children.

The small church prevails on the Range, the average active membership being only about fifty-seven. For the various groups, the active membership is as follows:


    Country   Village   Town   City   Average
Beaverhead   8   6   81       49
Hughes   8   39   109       59
Sheridan   33   62       185   117
Union   16   33   66       24

The country churches have an average of eighteen, the village churches thirty-five, the town churches ninety-one and the city churches 185 members each. Forty-nine of the seventy churches have fifty active members or less, and thirty-six, or 51.4 per cent., of these have less than twenty-five each. Twenty-one churches have each more than fifty active members. Forty-four out of the forty-nine churches of less than fifty members are either in villages or in the open country. All the churches of more than 100 members are either town or city churches.

 [Pg 69]





It is an acknowledged fact that the size of membership has a good deal to do with church efficiency; in a word, that the small church is a losing proposition. Until the present, the small church on the Range has been a necessity because of the small and [Pg 70]scattered population. It is only the larger centers that have been able to support good-sized churches. Even with the coming of irrigation, this Western country will never be as thickly populated as the East or Middle West. Nor can a fair comparison be made between the churches in the larger centers in the Middle West and far West. A different policy is likewise needed here because many of these centers in the West are surrounded with large unchurched areas and on that account their churches should be strategic centers for a radiating religious work.




In the matter of gain or loss in membership, it is to be noted that, during the last year, a little more than half the churches made a net gain in membership, sixteen churches broke even on the year and seventeen showed a net loss. Thus, 3 per cent. of all the churches remained stationary, 24 per cent. lost in membership and 53 per cent. gained. Of the churches with 50 or more members, 82 per cent. gained; of those with less than 50 members only 33.3 per cent. gained.

Seven hundred and sixty-four new members were taken in during the year. Forty per cent. of these were taken in by letter, the rest on confession of faith. This gain by confession was about 13 per cent. of the previous net active membership. Gain was distributed according to sex and age as follows:

Adult male   31.0%
Adult female   42.4%
Boys   11.7%
Girls   14.9%



[Pg 71]


The Church Dollar

One way, though by no means the only way, that the Church can judge of its successful work is by the financial support that it receives. In this Range country nearly all of the Church dollar is raised locally, except about twelve cents donated toward church work by denominational boards. Various methods are used by the local church for raising the other eighty-eight cents. Half the churches use a budget system. That is, they set down at the beginning of the fiscal year an itemized budget of the amount which they need, on the basis of which amount subscriptions are obtained from each church member or family. Twenty-five churches finance all their work this way and ten churches budget only their local needs. Thirty-two churches make an annual every-member canvass, i.e., every member is asked regularly each year to contribute something toward the church. Weekly envelopes, in single or duplex form, are used in twenty-four churches. Forty churches can be said to have a system of regular, frequent payments. The rest of the churches depend upon various combinations of quarterly or annual payments, plate collections at services, bazaars and other money-raising devices.

Incidentally, the Ladies Aid and Missionary Societies are real stand-bys in the matter of church upkeep and benevolences. In fully half the churches, women’s organizations undertake to raise some part of the church expenses in various ways, from regular weekly contributions to distributing bags to be filled with pennies for every year of the contributor’s age, or by making gayly colored holders at three cents each.

Nearly one hundred thousand dollars were raised by the 3,956 active members in the year of the survey. This is the “real thrill” of the church dollar. The total amount of the budget raised on the field by sixty-eight of the seventy churches[3] was $97,571.98. Of this amount $70,910.74, or little less than three-fourths, was procured by subscriptions; $9,464.24, or slightly less than [Pg 72]one-tenth, by collections, and the balance of the $17,197.00 by miscellaneous means. This is an average amount per church of $990.25. Here again it is clear that the larger the membership of a church, the greater the impetus from within for further growth and activities. This condition is evident in the various church campaigns. The city churches raise more than twice as much as the churches in the town, village or country, but with their larger membership there is not a corresponding drain on the individual. Thus, the city and village church members give about the same, $24.87 and $24.47 respectively per year; the town members give $29.63; the country members, with fewer buildings, fewer services, and less resident ministers to maintain than the members in the centers, pay $16.12 each.



Figures refer to total amount raised and spent, including Home Mission Aid.


Considering that nearly half the churches raise their money haphazardly, the average contribution per church and per member, in these four counties on the Range, is most encouraging. Of course, it must be borne in mind that 1919-1920 came at the end of the fat years, and hard upon this prosperous period followed the lean one of high freight rates and low prices for farm products. Church finances depend in part upon the practical presentation of the financial needs of the Church, and upon education in Christian stewardship—i.e., in learning the value of church work at home and abroad. But there is another side to the question which is quite as vital. Is the Church rendering a real service to the community, and has it an adequate and worth-while ministry? After[Pg 73] all, people cannot be expected to give more than they receive in service.

Not quite all the money was spent. In each group there was a small surplus; $85.00 for the country churches, $64.24 for the village, $64.00 for the town, and $365.89 for the city churches. Of the total amount spent, $41,268.79, or about 43 per cent., paid salaries, $24,657.55, or 25 per cent., was given to missions and benevolences, and the remaining 32 per cent. was used for local expenses and upkeep. The total amount given to benevolences averages $6.27 a year. All the money spent averages $24.67 per resident active member, a good record indeed for a homesteading country.

The question of benevolences is important because many churches offer no other means to their members of learning and practising unselfish giving and service. One of the standards adopted by the Interchurch World Movement was that the amount given to benevolences should at least equal 25 per cent. of the total amount spent. The proportion of all money raised which is used to pay salaries and local expenses is higher in country and village churches, while the proportion given for missions and benevolences is lower than in the town and city churches. In other words, the country and village churches have less surplus over and above their running expenses. Benevolences receive 14.3 per cent. of all money raised by the country churches, and 12.75 per cent. of all money raised by the village churches. Town churches, on the other hand, give 23.84 per cent. of their receipts to benevolences, and the city churches give 33.65 per cent. The finances of city churches are well proportioned, almost an equal amount going for salaries, missions and all other expenses.


Home Mission Aid

It has already been stated that about twelve cents of the church dollar come from the denominational boards in the form of Home Mission aid. The total amount given to the local churches in the year preceding the survey was $12,937.50, which went to forty-one churches in amounts varying from $50 to $750. Two more churches would have been receiving aid if they had had a pastor, and still another church had there been a resident pastor. Of the forty-one churches receiving aid, two are city, seven are town, seven are village and twenty-five are country churches.

Of course, some of these churches, in their turn, hand back money to other boards in the form of missions and benevolences.[Pg 74] All the city churches give $13,382.04 in benevolences and missions and receive $2,100; all the town churches give $8,304.96 and receive $3,035; the village churches give $1,650 and receive $3,650, and the country churches give $1,320 and receive $4,152. By counties, Beaverhead gets back 46.8 per cent. of what she gives, Hughes gets back 47.3 per cent., Sheridan 37.2 per cent., while Union is the only county which receives more than she gives—24.4 per cent. The churches which receive aid send back to the boards $2,872.79. In a word, the churches send money to the church boards, who in turn remit this money. This would seem a strange story to some one not versed in church ethics and denominational procedure. But giving and serving is one of the fundamental ideas of the Christian religion, and money given for missions and benevolences is good training as well as definitely a service to humanity.

The Range has always been Home Mission territory; justifiably too, because homesteaders have not been able to pay for religious ministry. A homesteader’s “bit” is hard earned enough, and seldom adequate to his needs. Nevertheless, the problem of financial aid is always a serious one. Subsidization of persons as well as institutions must be wisely handled or moral deterioration is likely to set in. The Y. M. C. A. never subsidizes a county for its rural work. If the county cannot pay, it must do without the work. Ordinarily, several counties combine for rural Y. M. C. A. work and have one secretary among them.

An excellent grading system for their aided fields has been worked out by the Presbyterian Home Mission Board.[4] One of the first questions considered is the prospect of self-support. How far has it been the policy of the Boards to help a church to a status of self-support? Forty-four of the seventy active churches have had aid during the last thirty years. Only four of these churches are now self-supporting. It has already been pointed out that three churches did not receive aid during the year preceding the survey because they lacked pastors. Development toward self-support has evidently not been a criterion of the Boards in granting money.

Another test is whether the field is a “strategic service opportunity”—either allocated to this denomination or a field presenting a unique need. Some of the churches fall within such a classification. A total of about $207,170 has been received, given by eleven denominations. City churches have received $40,850, town churches[Pg 75] $67,465, village churches $47,430 and country churches $51,425. Of the total amount, $44,980 has gone to fifteen strategic service churches. In addition, four of the aided churches receiving $27,000 serve special groups of population, of which one is Swedish, one Norwegian, and two are German Lutheran churches. There remain thirty churches receiving $136,190. Three churches, receiving $6,830, are the only ones in their community. All the rest are in communities with other churches, at least one of which in each case is aided.



A village church in the center of a large unevangelized area, served by a minister living thirty-five miles away.


Aid Misapplied

Some aid has very evidently been granted without a definite understanding on the part of the board as to whether other churches were concerned, whether the community could really support a church, whether, after all, it was good sense to assist a church in that particular situation. Not very much money has been spent. More could have been used to advantage. As H. Paul Douglass says in “From Survey to Service,” “It is in the nature of the case that the conquest of distance by the Gospel will take very disproportionate amounts of money compared with other forms of missions. It can be cheap only when it is adequate.” The policy has too often been to help keep alive a great many struggling churches which did little to justify support, rather than to develop a smaller number of churches in greater need of help in a poorly[Pg 76] churched area. In other words, the policy has been one of denominational expansion rather than of denominational concentration and demonstration. Home Mission aid too often creates futile competition within a community by supporting a church for selfish denominational purposes. Some of these churches were better dead, and they would have died of natural causes but for Home Mission aid.

There are good and bad instances of denominational help. One denomination has aided three churches for thirty years, but has not helped any one of them for the last ten years. They had reached a self-supporting status. But, when a denomination lavishes $18,000 of Home Mission aid in keeping alive a church in a village of 150 population, where there is also another church, and when the village is situated near to a large, well-churched center, such aid is wasted. The same denomination fails to give with liberality to a far needier case, the only Protestant church in a small village, a railroad center, located fairly in the center of a large unevangelized area. In one of its valleys, a resident recently remarked that they had heard no preaching for twenty years. This instance of neglect is in Montana, and the territory has been allocated to this denomination since 1919, so that other churches are keeping their hands off. Yet this church, which had a resident pastor until two years before the time of the survey, is now being served by a pastor of a town church living thirty-five miles away who preaches there on a week-day night. No preaching on Sunday, no pastoral work, obviously no community work in the village and no touch at all on the districts outside of the village! How well could the lavish aid of $18,000 have been put to use in this churchless area! This desperate condition needs as much aid every year as all the Boards give all forty-one aided churches at present. Instead, this church has been allocated to one denomination, and is now getting less attention than before. This case constitutes an abuse of the principle of allocation.



[Pg 77]


To Measure Church Effectiveness

Add members contributing to the support of an organization to a probable minister and possibly to a building and you have the ground-plan of the average church in this Western country. What, then, is the church program? How are the churches attempting to serve their members, and just how much are they contributing through their program and activities to the life about them, toward bringing about a genuine Christianization of a community life? Religious values, it is true, are spiritual and cannot be tabulated in statistical tables. This fact is as fully recognized as the corollary that circumstances often limit ideals. What the churches are doing, however, ought to be a fair test of their underlying purpose. In a word, then, what do they consider their job and are they “putting it across”?


Opportunities for Worship

All the churches have services for the preaching of God’s word, but it has already become evident in the preceding pages that in certain sections of the Range country the Church, even as a social factor, is regarded rather as a curiosity by the men. An amusing story with a Bret Harte flavor is told of an early meeting in Beaverhead County. The hall in Glendale, a busy place then, with banks, restaurants, even a paper, was filled with a rough-and-ready audience of miners and cowboys listening to a lantern lecture. Vastly delighted over the trick, one man after another quietly rose from his seat and stepped out of the window. When the preacher ended his talk and the hall lighted up not a soul remained but himself. The next day, however, his audience made it right. They passed a hat and collected $300 for him.

As has been noted, more than half of the church buildings are adapted to preaching and nothing else, nineteen churches, of necessity, holding their meetings in school houses. The frequency of services varies. The larger centers have an abundance of church meetings. All but two of the town and two of the city churches have two preaching services each Sunday. But only three country[Pg 78] and two village churches are so fortunate. Two additional churches, one a village and one a town church, have the advantage of two services a Sunday because they unite regularly with other churches near them, both of which hold two services a Sunday.



Christian Church at Des Moines, Union County.


Forty-five of the seventy churches have less than two services a Sunday. Of thirty churches, twenty-five country and five village churches, each has less than four services a month. Those located in the larger well-churched centers have an ample number of services, while the majority of churches with less than two services a Sunday are country churches. Yet most of these are holding the only service in their community. Seventy-three and five-tenths per cent. of all the country churches have less than four services each month, and 44 per cent. have only one service or even less. All but one of the eighteen churches with only one service or less per month are country churches. Ten churches hold special musical services. Mid-week prayer meetings are held by sixteen of those which have two services each Sunday, but by only one of the forty-five churches in the group holding the fewer number of services.

Except in winter, the chief handicap to attendance in Beaverhead and Sheridan lies in the rugged landscape. Country members in all the counties have real difficulty in getting to church throughout the year. Most of them have long distances to go, and the roads make travel difficult in winter and early spring. In summer, haying is carried on very generally seven days of the week, and church [Pg 79]attendance is a problem even if the church service is held at night. The aggregate monthly attendance is 18,337 and as the total number of services is 286, the average attendance per service is about sixty-five persons, low enough, but higher than the average active membership per church, which is about fifty-six. Average seating capacity, active membership and attendance compare as follows:




Average seating capacity   129[5]   177[6]   285   436   233
Average active membership   18   36   91   196   56
Average attendance at services   34   37   72   112   65

It is evident from the table above that the churches are only about one-fourth filled on the average. Nothing is more disheartening than a church three-quarters empty in which the echoes of the minister’s voice reverberate over the vacant seats.


Union Services

Tangible evidence of coöperation and good-will among churches of different denominations is found in “union” services, which thirty-eight churches might reasonably hold in these counties. Just twenty-one of these churches do unite, the majority for Thanksgiving Day services and in fewer instances, for Chautauqua, Baccalaureate, Memorial Day, and summer evening services. In two[Pg 80] instances, two churches, Methodist and Presbyterian, are uniting for services and Sunday schools, their other organizations meeting separately. Since the time of the survey, two churches, located in an overchurched hamlet, have also temporarily put this plan into effect.



The M. E. Church at Blunt, S. D., which being pastorless joined with the Presbyterian Church for preaching services.



A greater portion of the evangelistic work is done through revival meetings, although less than half of the churches hold them. Of all the members admitted on confession of faith by all the churches during the year, 76 per cent. were converted in revival meetings, and joined one of the churches holding such a revival. Thirty-one of the seventy churches held or united in thirty such meetings, one being a union meeting of two churches. Pastors conducted fifteen meetings, in three of which a neighboring pastor or evangelist assisted. Fourteen meetings were held by visiting clergymen. The meetings were well attended, extending from seven to thirty-five days, the average meeting lasting thirteen days.[Pg 81] Eighty-seven per cent. of the 385 converts and the thirteen who were reclaimed joined the churches holding the revival. This gain amounted to 72 per cent. of the total gain in membership made by these same thirty-one churches during the entire year. Forty-four per cent. of all the churches held revivals, and while they represent only 45 per cent. of the total harvest by confession and letter, yet three-fourths of all the gain made by confession of faith were obtained by these churches.

The country churches held seventeen meetings, averaged four new members each, and made 20 per cent. of the total gain. The village churches held five meetings and the town churches held four meetings, both averaging five new members each, the village churches making 8 per cent. of the total gain and the town churches 6 per cent. The city churches held only four meetings, averaged about fifty-seven new members each and realized one-third of the total gain made.


Children and the Churches

Sunday schools are the big hope of this country. Young people and older people are not so much interested in the Church and religion because so many have grown up without it, but the children have had more chance to know the Church. Sunday schools are to-day the most frequent form of church work in these Western counties. They are especially hopeful because so many of them over-ride denominational lines and unionize; also because they persist when all other church spirit seems to be dead.

Fifty-six churches have Sunday schools of their own, and one city church has a mission Sunday school in addition to its own. Two groups of two churches each combine their Sunday schools. Only three churches neither maintain their own Sunday schools nor help with a union school.

Thirty-seven union Sunday schools are being carried on in the four counties, nine of which have the assistance of church organizations meeting in the same building. Three are located in mining camp villages, the rest in small hamlets or open country. These union schools have a fourth of the total Sunday school enrollment. People on ranches and far from town start Sunday schools under local leadership without waiting for churches to be organized. When a newcomer sends his children to Sunday school it is often the only contact made with religious activity in the new country. The independent Sunday school has, therefore, in a sense, a greater responsibility than the church Sunday school.

[Pg 82]The importance of the Sunday school is brought out in a comparison between Sunday school enrollment and resident church membership.

    Country   Village   Town   City   Total
Number of churches   34   14   13   9   70
Number of Sunday schools   56   14   12   10   92
Total resident church membership   745   563   1,389   2,272   4,969
Total enrollment of church Sunday schools   897   731   1,430   1,475   4,533
Total enrollment of all Sunday schools   2,373   829   1,430   1,475   6,107
Average enrollment of all Sunday schools   42   59   119   147   67
Average attendance of all Sunday schools   28   40   79   104   50

The enrollment of church Sunday schools is larger than the total church membership in Union County, and larger than resident church membership in Beaverhead, Hughes or Union. The total enrollment of all Sunday schools is 23 per cent. higher than the total resident church membership. Without the Union County Sunday schools this enrollment equals only 91 per cent. of the resident church membership. Thirty-five churches have a larger Sunday school enrollment than resident church membership; all nine churches helping with Union Sunday schools have a smaller membership than the Union school enrollment. This discrepancy is high in some churches. For example, a country church has thirty-five enrolled in the Sunday school and only eight church members; a village church with sixty-five enrolled in its Sunday school has seven church members; a town church has fifteen church members and 150 enrolled in its Sunday school.

Country and village Sunday schools show the best record. The total enrollment of all country Sunday schools, including the Union schools, is more than three times as high as church membership. The enrollment of all village Sunday schools is about 47 per cent. higher than village church enrollment. There are no Union Sunday schools in the towns or city. Except in the city the average Sunday school enrollment exceeds average resident church membership, the advantage being twenty-two for the country schools, nineteen for the village, and twelve for the town schools. The average city church membership, however, exceeds average Sunday school enrollment by 105.

When Sunday school enrollment is higher than church membership, it is ordinarily encouraging as a promise of future growth. But the large discrepancies between village and open country church membership and Sunday school enrollment, coupled with the low[Pg 83] percentage of young people in their church memberships, show that these churches are not recruiting new members from their Sunday schools as they might. Nor are the churches relating themselves to any extent to the separate Sunday schools in outlying sections. This can be done, and is most successful in a few cases. For example, the Apache Valley Sunday School, which meets on Sunday afternoons at a schoolhouse in Union County, is being “fathered” by two ministers from Clayton, six miles away, who go out on alternate Sundays. This Sunday school is live and flourishing. It maintains a high percentage of attendance and carries on various activities.

Attendance in general is good. The percentage of enrollment represented in the attendance on a typical Sunday varies from 66.7 per cent. for the town to 70.8 per cent. for the city schools. Yet only twenty-five schools make definite efforts to increase their attendance. The various methods used are contests such as a competitive Boys’ and Girls’ day, a fall Rally Day, cards, rewards and prizes, a Banner Class, a Look-out Committee and the Cross and Crown System.

During the year preceding the survey, 168 pupils joined the churches from the Sunday schools, and there were seven probationers at the time the survey was made. Decision Day was held in four country, one village, five town and four city schools. The results were meager. Only thirty-five declared for church membership. Nine town and city schools have classes to prepare for church membership, eight schools have sent twenty scholars into some kind of Christian work during the last ten years. A country Sunday school in Hughes County has shown what can be done in this respect. It has sent five young people into Christian service during the last ten years, and five more in the whole history of the school. It is significant that one consecrated pastor has served this Sunday school and church during this entire time.

Cradle Rolls are another excellent method of enlistment. Yet these are kept in only twenty-six schools. The total enrollment is 473. One of the greatest needs of this country is more local and better trained leadership, not only for Sunday schools but for the community at large. The only definite training for leadership is eight Teacher Training classes, held in two city, four town, one village and one country school.

Mission study is carried on in seventeen schools more or less frequently, several additional schools annually presenting the cause of missions. One city school has a four-day institute for the study[Pg 84] of Sunday school methods and missions. Twenty-nine schools make regular missionary offerings, and seven take them once a year. Twelve schools have libraries with an average of seventy-three volumes each. Eighty-three schools give out Sunday school papers. There are 507 classes, an average of about twelve per class.

Proper preparation is one of the greatest needs of the Sunday schools in these counties. Much of the instruction is haphazard and indifferent. Men teach 123 classes and 26.6 per cent. of the total enrollment. Ordinarily, the man teacher, if there is one, takes the adult class at the expense of the growing boy who needs him more than the adults. Graded lessons are used exclusively in ten schools and twenty others use them in some classes. Seventeen schools have organized classes. Sixty-six schools are open throughout the year. The pastor is superintendent in six schools, teacher in fifteen, substitute teacher in one, “helps” in nineteen, is a student in two, and in one reports his job as “superintendent; teacher and janitor.”

Social events for the Sunday schools mean picnics, class parties, and sometimes a real ice cream sociable. About one-third of the schools have a reasonable amount of social activity, while sixteen report a great deal. Fifty-seven schools have picnics, and great events they are, too, with more cakes and pies and goodies of all sorts than the community is likely to see again for another year. One or more classes have socials, parties and “hikes” in seventeen schools (four village, nine town and four city). The “Anti-Kants” is an interesting class of young women. Every time one of the class becomes engaged, there is a party and a shower, called a graduation. Twenty graduations have taken place in the history of the class. About half of the schools have programs for special days, especially for Children’s Day, Christmas and Easter. One Union school has an Easter picnic and egg-hunt. Nineteen schools have mixed socials, such as parties, indoor picnics, ice cream suppers and entertainments. One town school has a weekly social. The only special Sunday school organizations are a Choir Association and Sunday school athletic teams in three town churches which play competitive games. Twenty report no social life of any sort in connection with their schools. They do not even have a picnic to liven things up.

 [Pg 85]


The Baptist Mission at Kleenburg, Wyoming, does good work for the kiddies.



A Sunday School class picnic in Union County.

 [Pg 86]

Other Church Organizations

Various other organizations have been developed within the churches for business, educational and social purposes. Women have a great many, men have very few. Fifty-six women’s organizations are carried on in thirty-seven churches, of which nine are village and nine country churches. There are twenty-eight Ladies’ Aids, thirteen Missionary Societies and various Guilds, Circles, Auxiliaries, a Manse Society, a King’s Daughters, an Adelphian and a Dorcas. The total enrollment is 1,682, or about 70 per cent. of the total female resident church membership over twenty-one, and 17 per cent. of the total female population aged from eighteen to forty-four, in the four counties. The attendance averages about twenty-one to each organization.

In sorry contrast to this array, men’s organizations number only seven, and all are connected with city or town churches in Pierre, the county seat of Hughes County. The enrollment is 300, or 27 per cent. of the total resident church membership in city and town of males over twenty-one years of age, and only 3 per cent. of the total male population between the ages of eighteen and forty-four in the four counties. Men and women have two organizations in common. One is a missionary society which, contrary to custom, shares its endeavors with men, the other is a dramatic club for any one old or young who has dramatic ability. This interesting organization gives a splendid amateur show every year. A former professional actor, who also coaches dramatics in the high school, is the coach.


Boys Left Out

There are only eight organizations for girls in seven town or city churches. Two hundred and twenty-two, or 42 per cent., of all the girls under twenty-one in the town and city resident membership are enrolled. One is a Friendly Society, and the rest are various kinds of guilds. But boys are the most shabbily treated of all. There are only four organizations especially for them, all in town churches and two in one church, so that only three churches have special clubs for their boys. The enrollment is sixty-nine, or about 21 per cent. of all the boys under twenty-one enrolled in city and town church membership. Boys and girls together have two organizations in two town churches with a membership of seventy-three. One is a Junior League, and the other a Junior[Pg 87] Baptist Young People’s Union. Young people have twenty-eight organizations in ten country, three village, nine town and six city churches. Eight of them are Epworth Leagues, eight are Christian Endeavors and the rest are various Young People’s Societies, Baptist Young People’s Unions, Mission Volunteers, Young People’s Alliances, two Choir Organizations and one Purely for Fun Club. Their total enrollment of 834, together with the membership of the mixed boys’ and girls’ organizations, equals 84 per cent. of the total church resident membership under twenty-one.[7]

More people in the community are reached through the meetings of these organizations than by any other single church activity, with the exception of the celebration of special days. These meetings are often community affairs, especially in the case of the women’s organizations. In twenty organizations, the attendance exceeds the enrollment. The men’s clubs work for the church, and several do practical community work. Their programs in all but two cases include dinners, either at every meeting or at special banquets during the year. One club puts on a Father and Son banquet every year.


Men’s Forum and Ladies’ Aids

The most interesting outcome of the work of any of the men’s organizations is the Men’s Forum, recently developed in Sheridan by the combined Men’s Clubs of the Congregational and Protestant churches. This was the first open forum held in Wyoming. The attendance at the meetings averaged 400. The principles of the forum are as follows:

The complete development of democracy in America.

A common meeting ground for all the people in the interest of truth and mutual understanding, and for the cultivation of community spirit.

The freest and fullest open discussion of all vital questions affecting human welfare.

Participation on the part of the audience from the Forum Floor whether by questions or discussion.

The freedom of the Forum management from responsibility for utterances by speakers from the platform or floor.

Among the subjects presented have been “Community Problems,” “The Church and Industrial Conflict,” “The Golden Rule in Business: Is It Practicable?” “The Farmers’ Movement in America,” “Bolshevism,” “Feeding the World: Is It America’s Job?” There[Pg 88] is no more encouraging sign of community interest in public questions, and a conscious effort on the part of the Church to develop a public opinion on social, economic and religious problems.




The Ladies’ Aid is often the only woman’s organization in the community. Most of these clubs meet once or twice a month, with regular programs for Bible study or missions, organize sewing and quilting bees, and bazaars, etc. The help they give in church finances has already been appreciated. Any such common interest and responsibility holds many an organization together. Several promote social welfare work. One organized a Teachers’ Training Class to improve material for Sunday school teachers. One village has a community Ladies’ Aid which works for the church, although[Pg 89] only a few are church members. The community woman’s club in a small hamlet is studying missions as a part of its program. In one community, the Ladies’ Aid of the only church, which is pastorless, meets regularly and holds a yearly bazaar to pay the occasional supply preacher and keep the church in repair. At the “Frontier Day” given by a Dude Ranch, the Ladies’ Aid from a nearby hamlet had a booth for selling hamburgers and lemonade. In one of the mining camps, the Ladies’ Aid of the Mission church sent out invitations for an afternoon tea to raise money for a new piano for the Kindergarten. It turned out to be a great social event attended by women, many of them foreign, from all the camps in the vicinity. Here is another Ladies’ Aid, the only organization in all that part of a sparsely settled country, and many miles from town which holds eight socials a year and every social is a supper. Those suppers bring out whole families, and are the biggest annual events. Is it any wonder? The woman on the Range has a lonesome time of it. Ranches are far apart. She rarely sees her neighbors and less frequently goes to town. This woman needs social activities more than her town sister. Yet only nine out of thirty-four country churches have women’s organizations.

Young People’s Meetings are generally held Sunday nights, and the majority hold an occasional social. One town Young People’s organization has a successful Bible Study Class. The Purely for Fun Club, as its name implies, is purely social and meets twice a month. It has a special garden party once a year. This club is one of the activities of a M. E. community church located in a new dry-farming community which is having a struggle to make both ends meet, but is doing good work in that community. The people are loyal, even enthusiastic. There is not, however, even a church building, let alone any equipment for social activities. A building is desperately needed for church and community center, nor can the members provide it themselves. Cases of this kind represent possibilities for the most effective sort of home mission aid.



[Pg 90]


The Preachers’ Goings and Comings

This is a field that challenges a preacher. The love of a new world has drawn his potential flocks and with them a pastor may come to new pastures where the satisfaction of creative pioneer work is not its least attraction. Settlements have grown up almost over night. People have come from all over the East, Middle West and Southwest. Many families live far from their neighbors. Leadership is the challenging need and it is primarily the task of the Church to furnish and develop it. The initial handicap is that here people, from a matter of habit, do not yearn for church ministry as they do in other parts of the country. Their traditions do not include it. It is the preacher who must “sell” the idea of religion and the Church. No one else will do it. He must be a “builder of something out of nothing—a pioneer of the Gospel, creator as well as evangelist.”


The Vagrant Minister

One of the most startling facts brought out by this survey is the degree to which the ministers have been transient. Always a detriment to effective work, this lack of permanency is especially unfortunate in a country of such rapid growth and so transient a population. It takes more than average time to win people’s confidence because they do not accept the Church per se. There are problems enough to be met when a preacher “hog-ties,” as the Western slang puts it, meaning when he stays on the job. But the preachers have come and gone along with the rest. Three of the forty-five churches organized for ten years or more have had the same preacher throughout the period, and five more churches have had only two pastors. But seven churches have changed pastors three times, ten have changed four, seven have changed five, six have changed six, five have changed seven, one has changed eight and one has changed nine times during this period. About half of the country and village churches, 38 per cent. of the town, and one-fourth of the city churches have had five or more pastors[Pg 91] during the last ten years. Of the churches organized within the last ten years, ten have had one pastor, eight have had two, one has had three, three have had four, one has had six, one has had seven and two have had no regular pastors during the entire time. These men have indeed had the spirit of wanderlust. They have scarcely stayed long enough to get acquainted with their task.




Lapses between pastors are revealed. The changing has meant loss of time to three-fourths of the churches. Thus, of the group of churches organized ten years or more, city churches have been vacant 2.5 per cent. of the ten years, town churches 6 per cent. of the time, village churches 11 per cent. and country churches 17 per cent. of the time. The churches organized in the last ten years, of which the majority are in small hamlets and the open country, have been vacant 20 per cent. of the time. Again the churches in the larger centers fare better.


Distribution of Pastors

The churches in the four counties are at present being served by forty ministers who have been a long time in church service, but only a short time in their present fields. Their average length of time in their present charge is only two and one-third years. Twelve of the forty-one present pastors have been in their parishes less than a year, and fourteen more have been serving from one[Pg 92] to two years inclusive. Thirty-two ministers give their entire time to the ministry. Eight have some other occupation in addition to their church work. One is a student, and the rest are ranchers. These eight men serve eleven churches in the four counties and eight churches outside. Thirteen churches were without regular pastors at the time of the survey, but five churches were only temporarily pastorless—transiency caught in the act! Four of the thirteen were being supplied by local or travelling preachers, one a woman homesteader. The remaining fifty-seven churches, therefore, were being served by forty regular ministers, and two resident social workers who take care of a Baptist Mission at a mining village in Sheridan County. The regular ministers also serve twenty churches in other counties, making a total of seventy-seven churches, or 1.87 churches per man. This is a slightly lower proportion of ministers per church than the region averages.

How the ministers are divided up so that they will go around is shown in the following table. The sixteen preaching points and missions which these same men also serve are not included because in general they do not take the same amount of time as a regular church.[8]

      Preachers with No Other
with Other
Serving one church   18 (B-3, H-5, S-8, U-2)   3 (H-2, U-1)
Serving two churches   9 (B-1, H-3, S-2, U-3)   1 ( ....., U-1)
Serving three churches   3 ( ....., H-1, S-1, U-1)   2 ( ....., U-2)
Serving four churches   2 ( ....., U-2)
Serving five churches   2 ( .......................U-2)    
Total   32   8

The denominational basis of church organization, as a preceding chapter shows, leads to an uneven distribution of churches and ministers. If it were not for denominational lines, it would be possible to make a better distribution of the ministers so as to give a larger proportion of the communities a resident minister. The centers have an abundance of ministers, but outside the centers there are too few. Thus, thirty-three of the churches have resident preachers, but twenty-two, or two-thirds, of these churches are located in centers which have other resident ministers. More than half of the churches with resident pastors are town or city churches. Only nine communities have one or more resident ministers serving a single church on full time. One of these communities is the city,[Pg 93] three are the towns, one is a village community in Beaverhead, one the mining town with the two social workers, and three are country communities. Only eighteen communities have such full-time resident pastors. Ten other churches have pastors living adjacent to their buildings, but in each case the pastor also serves other churches, or has other occupation. Fourteen churches have pastors living from five to eighteen miles distant, four have ministers living from eighteen to thirty-five miles distant. One has its pastor living fifty miles away, one sixty-five and one 120 miles. Four pastors live outside their counties.




An adequate parsonage is one means of keeping a resident pastor. About half of the churches have parsonages. Of the forty churches with buildings, thirty-four have parsonages and one country pastor has a parsonage and no church building. Three parsonages were not being used at the time of the survey.

The residence of pastors and the distribution of pastoral service have a clear relation to growth. The pastor is ordinarily responsible for the evangelistic success of the church. If a pastor is non-resident or has too large a territory to serve, his personal contribution is lessened. Of the churches having resident pastors, two-thirds made a net gain. Of those with non-resident pastors, only one-third gained.

 [Pg 94]

Pastors’ Salaries.

The question of ministers’ salaries is important. Inadequate salaries have undoubtedly caused some of the restlessness among the ministry. Salaries vary as the minister is on full or on part time, as shown in the following table. The full-time one-church man commands a wage higher than the man with more churches, or the man with another occupation.



The M. E. pastor shown here with his wife and baby has a house but no church building on his circuit. He preaches in three school houses.


    Full Time
with One
  Part Time
with One
  Full Time
with More
Than One
with Other
and More
Than One
Maximum salary   $2,650   $1,550   $3,250   $1,900
Minimum salary   600   840   880   100
Average   1,835   1,195   1,507   610

These average salary figures may be compared with the average salary of the Y. M. C. A. county secretaries for the entire United States which was $2,265 in 1920.


Training of Ministers

Standards of the various denominations as to the educational qualifications of the ministers vary. Eighteen of the forty-one[Pg 95] pastors are graduates of colleges and theological seminaries; six others are college graduates, three are graduates of seminaries or Bible Schools, but have no college training. One minister is going to seminary. Ten ministers have had no special training for the ministry.



[Pg 96]


Negro and Indian Work


Racial Cordiality

In this Range country, there are not many negroes in proportion to the white settlers, and the relations between the races are cordial. Beaverhead County has twenty-eight negroes in Dillon and Lima communities. Sheridan County has a total of about 295. A small neighborhood, Cat Creek, six miles west of the city of Sheridan has about 250 negroes. There are six negro farm owners at Cat Creek with farms of 320 acres each. Considerable community spirit has been developed, which is manifested by increased friendliness and by pride in the farms. The Plum Grove Club has sixteen members, and meets twice a month for discussions on crop welfare and for social times. There is a Sunday school, with an enrollment of fifteen and an average attendance of ten, which is kept going for eight months of the year. Preaching services are held occasionally.

The negroes in the city of Sheridan are hard-working and industrious. They are mainly laborers, but some have small businesses. Organizations include a Mutual Aid Society with fifty members and three lodges which are all inactive at present. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has a local branch with 100 members. A recently organized Athletic Club of fifteen members hopes to branch out into a regular athletic association.


Colored Churches

There are two colored churches—a Methodist Episcopal and a Baptist North. The Methodist Episcopal was organized in 1908; the Baptist in the following year. Both churches have resident pastors, serving but one point each. Each denomination has a church building and a parsonage. The combined value of the church buildings is $3,500, of the parsonages $500. The Baptist church has recently been rebuilt. Both churches use weekly envelopes for[Pg 97] raising their money which amounted to $2,887.14 last year, $1,164.25 of which was by subscription, and $680 by collection. There was no surplus or deficit. From this fund $938.79 was spent for salaries, $142.17 for missions and benevolences, and $1,500.04 for rebuilding and repairs. The Baptist church receives home mission aid of $600.

The Methodist church has thirty-six members, having made a net gain of seven in the year preceding the survey. The Baptist church has twenty-six members whose membership has remained constant. The total net active membership of the two churches is fifty-one.

Each church holds eight Sunday preaching services a month. Both have Sunday schools. The Methodist Sunday school, with an enrollment of sixteen, is kept going the year round; the Baptist Sunday school, with an enrollment of twelve, meets for only seven months. The Methodist church has three other organizations—a Woman’s Missionary Society, a Willing Workers and Ladies’ Aid, and a Literary Society for both sexes with a membership of fifty. The Baptists have one organization, a Christian Aid, with a membership of twelve, to which both men and women belong.

One church has had six, the other five, pastors in the last ten years. The present pastors are graduates of both college and seminary.

A friendly feeling exists between the white and colored people in Sheridan, which is manifested by a willingness on the part of the white churches to help the colored. The colored ministers are included in the Sheridan Ministerial Union.


Indian Missions

Part of the Crow Creek Indian Reservation extends into the southeastern part of Hughes County, and about 70 per cent. of the people living in this section of Hughes are Indians. All are farmers owning their own land.

An Episcopal Indian Mission was established here in 1892. The pastor, who lives in Fort Thompson, conducts one morning service a month. There are twenty-six members, of whom twenty-one are active. There is no Sunday school, but a Ladies’ Aid with five members meets every week and has twice as large an attendance as it has enrollment.

There is also a Catholic Mission located near the Episcopal Mission, which was started about 1911. The priest comes from outside the county and holds one mass each month. There are about fifteen families in the membership.



[Pg 98]


Non-Protestant Work


Roman Catholic

The Roman Catholic work is the strongest non-Protestant religious activity in all the four counties and naturally has a large number of foreign-born and Spanish-American communicants in its parishes. There is a total of twenty-four organized Catholic churches. Beaverhead County has two, Hughes three, Sheridan five and Union fourteen. The city of Sheridan, and each of the towns supports a Catholic church; eight are located in villages, two of which are in Sheridan mining camps, and twelve in small hamlets. Nine priests, seven of whom live in these counties, serve the twenty-four churches. Four churches, two in villages and two in small hamlets, are served by priests living outside the county.



The grounds in which this Catholic Church and parsonage stand make this the only spot of verdure in a barren waste extending for miles on every side.


Each of the twenty-four churches has a building. There are six priests’ houses, valued at $21,000, and two parochial school buildings. The value of church buildings is estimated at a total value of $98,800. The total value of church property, including[Pg 99] land, is $211,025. None of the churches have any social equipment. The total receipts of all the churches last year amounted to $23,157.56 and this amount was spent largely on salaries and church upkeep. The only churches receiving aid are two in Union, each of which received $500. The average salary is $892.


Larger Image



[Pg 100]The total membership is about 5,152, which is within 668 of the total Protestant figure for seventy churches. The average total membership is 215 per church. Only three of the twenty-four churches have as few as fifty members or less.

Thirteen churches have Catechism and Confirmation classes, with a total enrollment of 416. Attendance is high; it equals 77 per cent. of the enrollment. There are seventeen other organizations, three for men, ten for women, one for boys, one for girls and two for young people. The total enrollment is 771. The church in Sheridan has a parochial school.

Catholic church membership increased more rapidly than the Protestant in Beaverhead and Hughes and less rapidly in Sheridan from 1890 to 1916, according to the United States religious census. In Union, from 1906 to 1916, the Protestant membership increased more rapidly than the Catholic. Catholic membership is greater than Protestant membership in every county but Hughes. There are a total of nineteen Catholic mission centers in Union and Beaverhead.



There are about five groups of Penitentes in Union County, with an average of twenty-five members each. No women belong. The Penitentes are all Spanish-Americans and are largely sheep and cattle herders. Their small adobe and stone buildings are called “morada.” Meetings are held in Lent, on the last three days of Holy Week. During the ceremonies, members inflict personal punishment, often carrying it to an extreme. This sect, which was at one time distributed over the whole territory of New Mexico, since 1850 has retreated towards the north. As to their origin, Twitchell in his “History of New Mexico” says: “It is possible that the Penitentes, particularly by their scourging themselves with whips made of cactus, come from the order of Flagellants which was a body of religious persons who believed by whipping and scourging themselves for religious discipline they could appease the divine wrath against their sins and the sins of the age.” The Penitentes are not recognized by the Catholic Church.

 [Pg 101]

Latter Day Saints

Dillon, in Beaverhead, and the city of Sheridan, each have a Mormon church. There is a church building in Dillon, and the one in Sheridan is now being erected. There is also an inactive church at Lima, organized in 1900. The Mormon membership is eighty-five in Dillon and thirty-six in Sheridan. Both churches have Sunday schools, with a total enrollment of seventy and relief societies with a total membership of thirty-five.


Christian Science

There are two Christian Science churches, located in Dillon and in the city of Sheridan, both organized in 1919. The Dillon church meets in an office, but the Sheridan church has a building valued at $2,500. The church membership is about 170. Both churches have Sunday schools, with an enrollment of about thirty in Dillon and about fifty in Sheridan.



The city of Sheridan has a Theosophical Society which meets in a real estate office. The membership is seventeen. Six new members were taken in last year. Meetings are held every Friday night. Two meetings a month are for members only, and two are public lectures.



[Pg 102]


Seeing It Whole

The Range, our last real frontier, has grown up. Round-ups are miniature and staged. All the land is fenced. The cowboy is passing, if not gone. Even “chaps” and a sombrero are rare, unless worn by a “Dude” from the East. The last 100 years have seen a remarkable growth and change in this country. The cattleman and the cowboy have largely given way to the homesteader, and he in turn has become a regular farmer or, as he prefers it, “rancher.”


The Land of the Homesteader

The cowman used to insist that no one could make a living on the semi-arid Range. For many years “there was no sign of permanent settlement on the Plains and no one thought of this region as frontier.” Then the Homesteader came. “And always, just back of the frontier,” says Emerson Hough in “The Passing of the Frontier,” “advancing, receding, crossing it this way and that, succeeding and failing, hoping and despairing, but steadily advancing in the net result—has come that portion of the population which builds homes and lives in them, and which is not content with a blanket for a bed and the sky for a roof above.”

Homesteaders are good stock upon which to build a civilization. Many of them are sturdy folk who have come to the West to establish homes and with determination are doing so. Of course, there are the habitual drifters who have always been failures because they never stayed long enough anywhere to succeed. But they prove up on their claims and then go elsewhere, drifting still. Others leave, holding their land as an investment, because they have not found the land or the circumstances up to their expectations. The free land has gradually been taken up, so that there is very little of it left in any one of these counties. The population is becoming less transient on this account. More people are staying because there is no more free land, and no other newer frontier.

What, then, has the survey shown of the Range? How has it fared in its 100 years of growth? What are its assets as well as[Pg 103] its needs? In a word, what has it made of itself? The very presence of real farm-houses on dry farming land and mesas speaks in itself of a small world conquered. Of course, there are farm-houses in the valleys. But sheer grit is all that achieves a house and a barn and a wind-shield of trees out on the mesa. Lumber is expensive and must be hauled from the nearest market. Trees, so wary of growing there, must be watched, watered and carefully tended every day for the first five years. A home on the plains means more sweat and toil and effort than a home anywhere else in our country.



This homesteader of ten years’ standing has succeeded in cultivating an attractive garden patch even in the thirsty soil of New Mexico.


Self-Help the Rule

The development of the Range has been haphazard. Any Land Company has been able to work up a “boom” at will. Not even misrepresentations and uncounted, unlimited hardships have stirred the Government to form and follow any better colonization policy for its unoccupied lands than its “Homestead laws.” The western farmer has never been cherished by his Government as has been[Pg 104] the Canadian farmer. Until the comparatively recent development of county agent services and the Farm Bureau, he has had to work for everything he got with very little help from any one.

An intense economic struggle is behind the homesteaders. They begin from the bottom up. Some are just now beginning, but for the majority the difficulty of getting a start is over. But the last few years have been hard for every farmer and rancher on the Range, old settler and new alike. No part of the country can afford to have the men on the land as hard pressed as these men have been. Too large a proportion of the farms have been mortgaged for the economic well-being of a nation.



Often the general store is the only gathering place for neighbors miles apart.


Made up largely of people from the Middle West, this country has taken on some of the characteristics of that region—in the development of small and large centers, and in the improved roads and schools. But on account of the nature of the soil, it will be many years before the Range becomes a second Middle West, if ever. The land will not support as many people per square mile. Much of the area will remain, for years to come, a land of large distances and comparatively few people. The future of the Range is not to be summed up by saying, “Go to, this country will soon become a second Middle West. Just give it time.”

“If you want to see neighbor Adams, you’ll find him in town on Saturday afternoon, most like round Perkins’ store.” Such will be the advice given in regard to meeting almost any farmer living[Pg 105] in almost any part of these counties. As roads have improved, and autos have come to be generally used by the farmers as a means of transportation, the trade centers along the railroads, especially the county seats, have increased greatly in size and importance. This growth of the centers is characteristic of the whole United States. Until after 1820 less than 5 per cent. of the American people lived in cities of 8,000 population and over. In 1790 there were but five cities in the United States having a population of 8,000. Now a majority live in the cities; but the West does not yet have the urban development of the East.


Importance of the County Seat

As the county seats are coming gradually to have more of a direct relationship to the country around them, they should assume more responsibility toward their counties. Through their organizations and Civic Leagues of business men, these centers are just waking up to the fact that the towns are dependent upon them. As one farmer in Union County said, “There is no permanent prosperity except that based on the farmer. If our town is big and top-heavy and the farmers are taxed heavily to keep the town up, it is killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. The 1,000 farmers tributary to Clayton must pay the bills of everything brought in because, ultimately, the products of the farm have to pay for everything. When conditions are bad, the farmer has to pay the bill and keep going besides.” If the development of the future is to be sound each side will do its best to understand the other.


A Centralized School System

School systems are becoming better. People realize the advantages of education. More and more young people are being sent to college. But as distances are gradually being overcome, schools should be administered wholly from the county seat. The County Unit plan does away with the local school district boards. This system equalizes burdens and advantages, minimizes dissension, and conduces to economy and efficiency. The average school board has no standards by which to judge an applicant for teaching. One disadvantage of the district system is that so often daughters are put in as teachers. The county unit plan means centralized control. The county superintendent, who is selected solely because of education, training and successful experience,[Pg 106] takes over most of the duties which the various districts now have. This means a comprehensive and efficient plan of education for the whole county.


Social Needs

Other great needs are a better organized social life and more recreational activities. Outside the larger center, there is a great lack of social life. Social organizations are fairly abundant, but they are almost all city or town affairs. Living on the land is a more solitary affair for women than for men. The men drive to town, but the women stay home week in and week out with few diversions. A postmistress in Montana told about two women living on large cattle ranches about six miles apart, a small distance in that country. She said to one of them: “There is Mrs. Denis at the door just going out. Did you see her?” The other lady answered: “Yes, but I hardly know Mrs. Denis.” They had lived there for more than ten years, near neighbors for the Range country, and yet barely acquainted!



But this “Mary” is a homesteader’s wife and the Range is a long way from the Sands o’ Dee, and “Mary” herself is usually a long way from anywhere.

 [Pg 107]

The Part of the Church

Finally, there is the duty of the Church. “The churches performed an inestimable social function in frontier expansion,” says John Dewey. “They were the rallying points not only of respectability but of decency and order in the midst of a rough and turbulent population. They were the representatives of social neighborliness and all the higher interests of the communities.” The Church has played an important rôle in the past, but its position in this same country to-day is disappointing. For some reason it has not become essential to the landscape.



A Christian Church in Union County which draws its congregation from a wide area.


The immense distances and scattered population have, of course, been a great problem. All the country west of the Mississippi makes up 70.9 per cent. of the total area of the United States, while the western area has only 30 per cent. of the total population. In 1850, it had only 8.6 per cent. of the population. The average density per square mile in the United States is 35.5 persons. Illinois has 115.7 people per square mile, but Montana has an average density of only 3.8, Wyoming of 2, New Mexico of 2.9 and South Dakota of 8.3 persons.

Much of the Range has never had the chance to go to church, and one result of the lack of church facilities in the past is that it is difficult now to create a church spirit. Homesteading is no fun. It means being away from doctors and comforts, getting ahead little by little, facing set-backs, discouragements and loneliness. Of course, a homesteader is absorbed by his place. Unless he is simply proving up on his claim for the purpose of selling it,[Pg 108] he must be absorbed if he is to succeed. He broke with most of his home ties before he came and, after arriving, has not had time to go adventuring for any but those simple things which he must have. “Church” is one of the things he left behind. Church services have rarely followed him, and generally he has been too busy to seek them. Even if he were minded to hunt them out, it takes more than average courage to be “different” when one’s neighbors are largely of a common mind. So the absence of church has become a habit.



Will this settler find a church welcome in his new home?


But probably the greatest hindrance to church work has been the shifting population. Churches have trained lay leaders only to have them leave “en masse.” Out of the fourteen churches which have been abandoned in these four counties, nine have gone under because their members melted away.

The carrying over of the care-free frontier spirit often makes for a general slackness. This spirit has in it the freedom of the West, the perfect democracy of the cowboy, and is essentially individualistic. If directed into right channels, it should be an asset instead of a drawback.

 [Pg 109]

What the Frontier Church Is

Five sentences sum up the Church on the Range. It is a church of the center. It is, in the main, a church of the middle-aged. It has been a church with haphazard leadership. It is a church of past achievements and of unlimited future possibilities, provided it has an inspired and sustained leadership. It is a church which needs a social vision.

It is natural that, where the centers along the railroad have been the only “sure” things in a country of constantly shifting settlements, the largest number of churches have been established in such centers. But these churches have not reached the great unevangelized areas around them. The “isolated, unattached Christian,” who lives perhaps only a few miles from town, has been neglected by the church in the center.

It is natural, too, that this should be largely a church of the middle-aged. What is there to attract the young people? Many of the church organizations have no buildings. With few exceptions, buildings are equipped for little else but preaching and listening. Nearly half of the churches have less than four services a month. The Sunday schools are not well organized. With the start the Sunday schools now have, possibilities are unlimited if they can be conducted on a more business-like basis. Yet these young people and children are the great hope of the church. No more wide-awake, vigorous young people are to be found. “If only the Church could work out something that would last through the week,” said one of them, “it would seem more real.” But in many communities the women’s organization is not only the sole organization in the church, outside the Sunday school, but the only one in the community.

The work has been haphazard. Home Mission aid has been spent out of all proportion to fitness. The same amount now received would go further, eventually, if spent in fewer places. With means and leaders adequate for a small area only, the general idea of some denominations has been to hold, but to do little with a large area. There has been some unnecessary over-lapping of work. With their large fields, the ministers cannot be expected to do more than they are doing at present which is, in most churches, occasional preaching. A missionary pastor said, concerning one of his charges in a neglected community in Union, “The second time I went to preach no one came. Do you think I’d go back?” Under the present system of many points and long distances, this pastor could hardly[Pg 110] afford to use the time to go back. Yet, to succeed, church ministry must be steadier and more long-suffering.

There are some New Americans in each county, but they are in larger numbers in Sheridan and Beaverhead. A large number of the Spanish-Americans in Union are not provided for by the Catholic church, and the only Protestant work for them in the county, a Spanish American Mission in Clayton, has been given up. In Sheridan County there is great need of a comprehensive program that shall include all six mines. There should be at least two community houses built with organized social activities and evening classes; the staff to include a domestic science teacher. With the exception of one class for half a dozen Italian mothers in one of Sheridan’s mining villages, no Americanization work is being done in any county. The churches should enlarge their vision so as to include the New Americans.



With the family and the Union County doctor in front of it. The family is Spanish-American.


What the Frontier Church Can Be

It is possible for the Church to serve this kind of country with its scattered people. It is difficult but it can be done. Certain denominations have succeeded with what they call a “demonstration parish.” The plan is exactly the same as that of the experimental farms conducted by the Government. A comprehensive seven-day-a-week[Pg 111] plan, which has in mind the whole man, mind, body and soul, in place of the old circuit-rider system, is the program of the Congregational Demonstration Parish in Plateau Valley, Colorado. Six thousand feet up on the western slope of the Rockies, this valley is shut in on three sides by rugged, white-capped mountains. It is thirty miles long, from one to six miles wide, and contains about 150 square miles of territory. This is a small world in itself, self-contained by the nature of its environment. Of the 3,500 people, 750 live in the four small villages of Collbran, Plateau City, Melina and Mesa. The one great industry of the valley is stock-raising. Farmers have devoted themselves chiefly to raising beef cattle, but an interest in dairying is increasing. Pure-bred stock is now the goal of their efforts.

This beautiful mountain valley was chosen as a “model parish” to show what could be done by the Church throughout a large, thinly settled area. Although there were five church buildings in the valley, the church-going habit seemed to have been lost or never acquired, possibly because religious privileges had been meager and not altogether suited to the peculiar needs of the people and the country. It is doubtful if 250 people living in the valley were church members or attendants, while not more than 200 children went to Sunday school regularly. Few persons, however, were actually hostile toward religion or the Church. Here was the opportunity and the challenge.

The work centers in Collbran village, where there is a Congregational church organization and building. There are two men on the staff. The pastor has charge of the church school, the Christian Endeavor, and the work with men and young people in Collbran village. He also does visiting throughout the valley. The Director of Extension Work has the responsibility for establishing and maintaining out-stations, financing the local budget, and supervising the activities and the building of the Community House.

This Community House is to be the center and great achievement of the modern socio-religious program. The completed building will have rooms and equipment for an ideal church school, kindergarten, game room, library, rest-room and men’s club. The gymnasium will have a floor space seventy-five by forty feet and a gallery; it will also serve as an auditorium, while a stage, dressing-rooms and a moving-picture booth form part of the equipment. The basement will have billiard room, bowling alleys, lockers, baths, dining room and kitchen. The entire cost of the building will be approximately $25,000, to be financed in part by the Congregational[Pg 112] Church Building Society and in part by local pledges. This is Home Mission aid well spent.

The first and second units were completed and opened for use on Christmas Day, 1921. The first unit is the auditorium. The second unit contains the library, assembly room, men’s room, women’s room, large billiard room and two offices which are to be used as headquarters for the boys’ and girls’ organizations. The third unit will be completed in the summer of 1922. The pastor and extension man have office hours in the morning. In the afternoon, the women’s rest room, with its easy chair, lounge and cribs for babies, and the men’s club are open. The billiard and reading rooms are open from one to five-thirty and the library is open from three-thirty to five. This library already has 1,200 books, and there are shelves for 3,800 more. The library service is probably the most appreciated part of the work for it fills a long and sorely felt need. In the evening, the men’s and women’s rooms are open, and the reading room and billiard room are open from seven to nine. The privileges of the Community House are for each man, woman and child in the valley irrespective of church or creed.

So far as possible, everything enjoyed at the center is to be taken to the furthest circumference of the valley. The equipment for the extension work consists of a truck, auto, moving-picture machine and a generator. The community truck is used to furnish group transportation and to promote inter-neighborhood “mixing” in competitive and other ways. The Extension Director is organizer, social engineer and community builder. He has a regular circuit of preaching appointments and Sunday schools. His program includes a one-hour visit to four schools every week. Ten minutes are used for physical exercises, thirty minutes for public school music with the coöperation of the teacher and twenty minutes for religious education. He takes out library books and Sunday school papers to the teacher, and once a month shows educational moving-pictures.

The people are already responding to this constructive program. Within four months, the Collbran Church School has increased nearly 150 per cent. in average daily attendance. The Christian Endeavor Society includes practically all the young people of the intermediate age. The Scouts and Camp Fire organizations are very active and recently held a dual meet with the Mesa organizations. Wrestling, basket-ball, hog-tying and three-legged races were some of the events. Within the year, thirty-seven members were added to the Collbran church, among whom were the leading[Pg 113] lawyer, banker, doctor, contractor, editor, merchant and rancher.

The other two denominations in the valley, the Methodist Episcopal and Baptists, are coöperating in the effort. The small Methodist Episcopal church at Plateau City has come into the movement by arrangement with the Methodist Episcopal Conference, and has become part of the larger parish. This church and community will unite with the Congregational church on a common budget for the support of general work. There is now Methodist Episcopal work in the extreme end of the valley, Baptist in the central part, and Congregational in the extreme west. Each church sticks to its own territory; each urges members of its own denomination to work with churches in other sections. But the larger parish equipment serves all in the extension program.

The work is only begun. The larger purpose is to break down distinctions between neighborhoods, as well as between village and country, and to weld all people living over a wide area into one large community with community spirit and a common loyalty. This cannot be done by the Church alone; doctors, visiting nurse, school teachers, county agent and farm bureau will gradually be called into a coöperative team play. This, then, is the Church not merely aspiring to leadership, but utilizing its opportunity with a real program. Asking no favors because of its divine origin, it is determined to make itself a necessity in the community by virtue of what it does. It is the Church “actually practising a religion of fellowship, giving value for value and serving all the people and all of their interests, all of the time.”


The Larger Parish Plan

This Larger Parish plan is the old circuit rider system brought up to date, and given an all-around significance through the use of modern means of transportation and an equipment suited to a religio-social program. The minister is no less a preacher and man of God because he is a community builder. His measure of “success” is his ability to work out with his people a genuine program of rural and social service.

With its community church and program, the Larger Parish plan seeks to make the church both a religious and a social center. Under its own roof, if necessary, or better, with an adjoining community house, it has equipment which provides for ideal worship, a modern church school and well-supervised social and recreational activities. It amounts to a church that offers advantages like those[Pg 114] of the Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. By means of this program, the rural church puts itself at the center rather than at the far circumference of rural life, and becomes one of the most active agencies in the community.




Members of this Presbyterian Church at Sheridan building their own community house under the leadership of the pastor. The women of the church provided the eats.


[Pg 115]This plan remedies a characteristic disability of the average rural minister and his church—the neglect in farmstead visitation. Especially on the plains, isolation and loneliness persist despite modern improvements. There are country homes near to villages or towns into which no minister or church visitor goes from one year’s end to another. Within reach of almost any church on the Range, and over great stretches of country, children may be found who are growing up without any religious training. In the face of this need and its challenge, the Larger Parish plan need not wait for people to come into the Church. By means of a well-equipped extension program the Church, and everything it stands for, is taken to all who need its ministrations.



The M. E. Church and parsonage at Clearmont, Wyoming.


Preaching is essential. But when a minister and congregation can “brother” scattered peoples, they are most helpful in bringing the Kingdom of God to rural America. There may be some justice in the excuse that “the farmer and his family might easily come in to services in their automobile,” but it is true that a “house-going minister makes a church-going people.” The Larger Parish plan furnishes the minister the equipment and help to do just this thing. It views the church as a service institution.

 [Pg 116]

The Montana Plan

It is even possible for a whole state to make a united plan for church work. Montana has had its area, community by community, county by county, or valley by valley, “allocated” to the religious care and undisputed responsibility of one or more denominations. For this new and progressive policy the people of the State were themselves responsible, and its development will be watched with intense interest. Unfortunately one of the fields in the only Montana county in this survey is not receiving the attention it should from its “allocated denomination.” This is the work in the southern part of the county, now served by a non-resident pastor. A glance at the map will show how effectively the larger parish plan could be applied.

Two tasks face the churches in these counties: First, to increase and enlarge the work of the churches already established, and, secondly, to reach and serve the great unevangelized areas. The former is a problem for the individual church and community. The latter is a problem demanding the coöperation of all religious forces on the field, for “there is religious need enough to tax the best energies and resources of all.” The churches in this new western country must keep pace with their rapidly changing environment, and with elastic yet inclusive programs really become community churches.

The county seat towns should assume more responsibility for their surrounding areas; in other words, they should plan and develop larger parishes. Especially in Beaverhead and Hughes, this area is unchurched and to a great extent neglected. While the social and economic life of these “centers” naturally overshadows a great portion of the county areas, yet the churches minister very inadequately to their needs. The church parishes on the map represent few members. The centers are growing, their influence is ever widening, so that the Church, in building up her work at the center with the idea not only of serving the people at hand but of reaching just as thoroughly the people in the surrounding areas, will naturally fulfill her destiny.

To reach areas outside the influence of the church work at the centers, colporteurs should be employed. A Sunday school missionary could give permanence to all Sunday school work and help to organize new schools in Union and possibly in Sheridan County. Some additional churches should be established; others might very well be closed. But it is chiefly up-to-date, educated,[Pg 117] resident pastors that are needed, with a belief that the rural task is worth their lives.


Coöperation the Solution

The psychological and religious differences in these four counties have already been shown. All should not be treated alike. Every county is different. Every county demands individual study and treatment. Such conditions call for the survey method and for intensive coöperation. This is the key to the whole situation. Business, though still competitive and on an individual basis, combines for the community good, as in the case of Rotary and Civic Clubs. The churches might well emulate this example in organization. There are competent Ministerial Unions in Pierre and Sheridan City. What is needed now is a Council of Religion in each county with a program enlisting every minister and every church, and including every square mile of occupied land in the county. All problems are related. The causes of church ineffectiveness lie in non-coöperation. Ministers have stayed too short a time to relate themselves to their parish and their people; denominations in establishing new churches have not been curious enough about the lay of the land; the various component parts have been unrelated—the preacher to the church, the fringe areas to the church in the center and, finally, the Church to the people.


The Frontier of the Future

Yesterday the Range population was busy settling down. To-day it is haphazardly here, and still coming. And what of to-morrow? Franklin K. Lane wrote at the end of his term of service in the Department of the Interior: “We are quickly passing out of the rough-and-ready period of our national life, in which we have dealt wholesale with men and things, into a period of more intensive development in which we must seek to find the special qualities of the individual unit whether that unit be an acre of desert, a barrel of oil, a mountain canyon, the flow of a river, or the capacity of the humblest of men.” Here is fertile ground for well directed and progressive development.

The East is crystallized into its habits and customs. The West is more plastic because it is in the social making, and is willing, at need, to change its ways. The social baggage of the eastern states is only partly unpacked in this region. The young West is[Pg 118] developing a flexible social and institutional life in keeping with its phenomena of time and place.

Great possibilities are ahead. A real welding process has begun during the last few years as the population tends to become more static, or as it learns to coöperate in such agencies as Red Cross work during the war and the work of the Farm Bureau. A new social spirit is developing. The Church has counted for a great deal on the Range and has done some good, fundamental work. But in order to keep abreast of the new development and to help bring to the Range a “satisfying community life which is profitable, sociable, healthful and full of culture and charm and, above all, full of God,” the Church must make its ministry broader, steadier and more available.



[Pg 119]



[Pg 120]


[Pg 121]


Methodology and Definitions

The method used in the Town and Country Surveys of the Interchurch World Movement and of the Committee on Social and Religious Surveys differs from the method of earlier surveys in this field chiefly in the following particulars:

1. “Rural” was defined as including all population living outside incorporated places of over 5,000. Previous surveys usually excluded all places of 2,500 population or over, which follows the United States Census definition of “rural.”

2. The local unit for the assembling of material was the community, regarded, usually, as the trade area of a town or village center. Previous surveys usually took the minor civil division as the local unit. The disadvantage of the community unit is that census and other statistical data are seldom available on that basis, thus increasing both the labor involved and the possibility of error. The great advantage is that it presents its results assembled on the basis of units which have real social significance, which the minor civil division seldom has. This advantage is considered as more than compensating for the disadvantage.

3. The actual service area of each church as indicated by the residences of its members and adherents was mapped and studied. This was an entirely new departure in rural surveys.

Four chief processes were involved in the actual field work of these surveys:

1. The determination of the community units and of any subsidiary neighborhood units included within them. The community boundaries were ascertained by noting the location of the last family on each road leading out from a given center who regularly traded at that center. These points, indicated on a map, were connected with each other by straight lines. The area about the given center thus enclosed was regarded as the community.

2. The study of the economic, social and institutional life of each community as thus defined.

3. The location of each church in the county, the determination[Pg 122] of its parish area, and the detailed study of its equipment, finance, membership, organization, program and leadership.

4. The preparation of a map showing, in addition to the usual physical features, the boundaries of each community, the location, parish area and circuit connections of each church, and the residence of each minister.

The following are the more important definitions used in the making of these surveys and the preparation of the reports:



City—A center of over 5,000 population. Not included within the scope of these surveys except as specifically noted.

Town—A center with a population of from 2,501 to 5,000.

Village—A center with a population of from 251 to 2,500.

Hamlet—Any clustered group of people not living on farms whose numbers do not exceed 250.

Open Country—The farming area, excluding hamlets and other centers.

Country—Used in a three-fold division of population included in scope of survey into Town, Village and Country. Includes Hamlets and Open Country.

Town and Country—The whole area covered by these surveys, i.e., all population living outside cities.

Rural—Used interchangeably with Town and Country.

Community—That unit of territory and of population characterized by common social and economic interests and experiences; an “aggregation of people the majority of whose interests have a common center.” Usually ascertained by determining the normal trade area of each given center. The primary social grouping of sufficient size and diversity of interests to be practically self-sufficing in ordinary affairs of business, civil and social life.

Neutral Territory—Any area not definitely included within the area of one community. Usually an area between two or more centers, and somewhat influenced by each, but whose interests are so scattered that it cannot definitely be assigned to the sphere of influence of any one center.

Neighborhood—A recognizable social grouping having certain interests in common, but dependent for certain elemental needs upon some adjacent center within the community area of which it is located.

Rural Industrial—Pertaining to any industry other than farming within the Town and Country area.

 [Pg 123]


Foreigner—Refers to foreign-born and native-born of foreign parentage.

New Americans—Usually includes foreign-born and native-born of foreign or mixed parentage, but sometimes refers only to more recent immigration. In each case the exact meaning is clear from the context.


The Church

Parish—The area within which the members and regular attendants of a given church live.

Circuit—Two or more churches combined under the direction of one minister.

Resident Pastor—A church whose minister lives within its parish area is said to have a resident pastor.

Full-time Resident Pastor—A church with a resident pastor who serves no other church, and follows no other occupation than the ministry, is said to have a full-time resident pastor.

Part-time Pastor—A church whose minister either serves another church also, or devotes part of his time to some regular occupation other than the ministry, or both, is said to have a part-time minister.

Non-Resident Member—One carried on the rolls of a given church but living too far away to permit regular attendance; generally, any member living outside the community in which the church is located unless he is a regular attendant.

Inactive Member—One who resides within the parish area of the church, but who neither attends its services nor contributes to its support.

Net Active Membership—The resultant membership of a given church after the number of non-resident and inactive members is deducted from the total on the church roll.

Per Capita Contributions or Expenditures—The total amount contributed or expended, divided by the number of the net active membership.

Budget System—A church which, at the beginning of the fiscal year, makes an itemized forecast of the entire amount of money required for its maintenance during the year as a basis for a canvass of its membership for funds, is said to operate on a budget system with respect to its local finances. If amounts to be raised for denominational or other benevolences are included in the forecast and[Pg 124] canvass, it is said to operate on a budget system for all monies raised.

Adequate Financial System—Three chief elements are recognized in an adequate financial system: a budget system, an annual every-member canvass, and the use of envelopes for the weekly payment of subscriptions.

Receipts—Receipts have been divided under three heads:

a. Subscriptions, that is monies received in payment of annual pledges.

b. Collections, that is money received from free will offerings at public services.

c. All other sources of revenue, chiefly proceeds of entertainments and interest on endowments.

Salary of Minister—Inasmuch as some ministers receive, in addition to their cash salary, the free use of a house while others do not, a comparison of the cash salaries paid is misleading. In all salary comparisons, therefore, the cash value of a free parsonage is arbitrarily stated as $250 a year, and that amount is added to the cash salary of each minister with free parsonage privileges. Thus an average salary stated as $1,450 is equivalent to $1,200 cash and the free use of a house.



[Pg 125]






    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union
    1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910
Approximate land area (acres)   3,620,480   3,020,160   485,760   485,760   1,647,360   1,648,000   3,436,800   3,436,800
Land in farms (acres)   637,009   461,315   284,907   165,069   625,796   421,543   2,515,522   814,011
Improved land in farms (acres)   270,603   275,530   144,237   62,531   113,385   95,368   273,748   72,630
Woodland in farms (acres)   7,142   3,088   7,032   2,521   8,741   7,269   51,634   1,854
Other unimproved land in farms (acres)   359,264   182,697   133,638   100,017   503,670   318,906   2,190,140   739,527
Per cent. of land area in farms   17.6   15.3   58.7   34.0   38.0   25.6   73.2   23.7
Per cent. of farm land improved   42.5   59.7   50.6   37.9   18.1   22.6   10.9   8.9
Average acreage per farm   992.1   860.7   784.9   440.2   643.8   527.6   948.5   423.3
Average improved acreage per farm   421.5   514.0   397.3   116.7   116.7   119.4   103.2   37.8

The average acreage per farm in Beaverhead and Sheridan has increased very slightly in the past ten years, while the improved acreage per farm has decreased. In Hughes and Union, however, there is a decided increase in both the acreage per farm and the improved acreage per farm.

 [Pg 126]



Farms Operated by Owners   Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union
    1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910
Number of farms   559   456   245   308   734   626   2,282   1,891
Per cent. of all farms   87.1   85.1   67.5   82.1   75.5   78.3   86   98.3
Land in farms (acres)   490,453   324,248   151,684   124,686   455,057   302,076   2,043,800   716,506
Improved land in farms (acres)   214,638   194,592   69,052   45,675   68,729   63,631   216,881   70,047
Value of land, buildings (dollars)   12,753,847   6,021,007   6,291,101   3,136,356   10,454,136   6,742,704   22,052,531   3,973,909
Number of farmers owning entire farm   506   439   165   219   591   503   1,670   1,822
Number of farmers hiring additional land   53   17   80   89   143   123   612   69
Color and Nativity of Owners
Number of native whites   385   305   187   224   595   519   2,241   1,809
Number of foreign-horn whites   174   151   47   64   131   105   38   77
Number of non-whites   0   0   11   20   8   2   3   5
Farms Operated by Tenants
Number of farms   46   55   112   63   198   164   344   22
Per cent. of all farms   7.2   10.3   30.9   16.8   20.4   20.5   13   1.1
Land in farms (acres)   42,489   43,196   117,163   34,283   86,147   108,233   292,004   14,305
Improved land in farms (acres)   18,536   25,565   65,200   16,136   28,832   28,922   37,362   1,705
Value of land and buildings (dollars)   1,410,170   1,056,695   3,459,605   933,680   3,663,700   2,616,525   3,424,668   88,840
Color and Nativity of Tenants
Number of native whites   37   38   396   57   173   150   289   20
Number of foreign-born whites   9   15   141   6   24   12   54   2
Number of non-whites   0   2   0   0   1   2   1   0
Farms operated by managers
Number of farms   37   25   6   4   40   9   26   10
Land in farms (acres)   104,067   93,871   16,060   6,100   84,592   11,234   179,718   83,200
Improved land in farms (acres)   37,429   55,373   9,985   720   15,824   2,815   19,505   878
Value of land and buildings (dollars)   2,900,920   1,520,630   352,500   103,560   2,483,650   240,200   1,834,472   306,210

As is usual in districts that have been homesteaded, the proportion of ownership is high. But because of absentee ownership, land companies operating over large areas and high taxes, the rate of tenancy is increasing.

 [Pg 127]



    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union
Cereals   1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910
Corn           10,740   4,352   292   200   51,077   3,220
Oats   4,118   15,255   2,891   3,684   2,916   8,043   2,819   431
Wheat   2,157   763   4,499   3,761   11,466   9,898   14,094   377
Barley   903   225   1,560   131   801   1,601   552   3
Rye   47   96   962   96   93   224   618   10
Hay and Forage
All tame and cultivated crops   36,243   26,996   4,667   827   35,067   35,766   7,925   2,688
Special Crops
Potatoes   198   408   219   272   267   808   619   157
All other vegetables   9   87   25   132   35   367   142   365
  Dollars   Dollars   Dollars   Dollars   Dollars   Dollars   Dollars   Dollars
Value of all crops   $3,883,480   $1,529,830   $1,141,939   $ 225,315   $1,655,937   $1,108,967   $5,198,986   $ 295,293
Cereals   200,733   414,539   539,471   78,654   335,719   368,205   3,050,879   84,410
Hay and forage   3,597,990   1,080,093   505,323   103,592   1,036,246   596,473   1,092,554   152,494
Vegetables   80,421   33,622   49,673   15,336   109,670   110,087   110,700   18,687
Dairy products   64,083   41,176   71,379   29,162   174,759   85,512   313,632   18,230

The most important crops are hay and forage in Beaverhead and Sheridan; in Union cereal crops; in Hughes, both in nearly equal proportions. Dairying is a comparatively new development.

 [Pg 128]



    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union   Total
Distribution of population:   1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910   1920   1910
Rural population   4,668   6,446   2,502   2,615   9,007   7,916   16,680   11,404   32,857   28,381
Rural increase 1910-1920   27.6%   -4.3%   13.8%   46.3%   15.8%
Urban population   2,701       3,209   3,656   9,175   8,408           15,085   12,064
Urban increase 1910-1920   -12.2%   9.1%   25%
Total population   7,369   6,446   5,711   6,271   18,182   16,324   16,680   11,404   47,942   40,445
Total increase 1910-1920   14.3%   -8.9%   11.4%   46.3%   18.5%
Density of population per sq. mile:
Rural density   .8   1.4   3.3   3.4   3.5   3.1   3.1   2.1
Total density   1.3[9]   1.4   7.5   8.3   7.1[9]   6.3   3.1   2.1
No. of dwellings   1,832   1,493   1,301   1,419   4,169   3,376   3,768   2,961   11,070   9,249
No. of families   1,937   1,561   1,387   1,492   4,492   3,186   3,956   3,093   11,772   9,632

 [Pg 129]



    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union[10]
  Number   Rank   Number   Rank   Number   Rank   Number   Rank
Total population   7,369   5,711   18,182   16,680
Native White, Total   6,261   5,155   15,058   16,376
Native parentage   4,454   3,752   11,454   15,512
Foreign parentage   1,024   778   2,314   414
Mixed parentage   783   625   1,290   450
Foreign White, Total   1,035   462   2,895   278
Austria   69   7   15   9   90   12   5   14
Canada   150   1   49   2   126   9   26   3
Czecho-Slovakia   11   14   4   11   90   12   7   12
Denmark   121   2   42   3   44   17   6   13
England   98   5   38   4   194   4   19   5
Finland   23   11   3   12   66   13   0
France   17   12   6   10   51   16   5   14
Germany   107   3   118   1   541   1   49   1
Greece   11   14   4   11   53   15   10   10
Hungary   4   16   1   14   107   11   10   10
Ireland   106   4   22   6   56   14   12   8
Italy   33   9   3   12   240   3   8   11
Jugo-Slavia   27   10   0       169   7   0
Mexico   0       0       192   5   13   7
Norway   33   9   49   2   38   18   3   15
Poland   2   17   2   13   290   2   11   9
Russia   13   13   20   7   181   6   28   2
Scotland   33   9   3   12   108   10   10   10
Sweden   80   6   37   5   143   8   15   6
Switzerland   43   8   18   8   15   20   6   13
Syria   0       0       0       22   4
Wales   7   15   3   12   22   19   0
All other countries   47       25       79       13
Other than white   73       94       229       26

 [Pg 130]



    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union
  Number   Per
  Number   Per
  Number   Per
  Number   Per
Under 7 years   1,057   ...   847   ...   2,779   ...   3,217   ...
7 to 13 years inclusive   850   ...   790   ...   2,395   ...   2,909   ...
Attending school   789   92.8   714   90.4   2,225   92.9   2,594   89.2
14 and 15 years   213   ...   201   ...   564   ...   700   ...
Attending school   195   91.5   191   95   495   87.8   590   84.3
16 and 17 years   206   ...   216   ...   531   ...   655   ...
Attending school   137   66.5   153   70.8   286   53.9   337   51.5
18 to 20 years inclusive   302   ...   306   ...   829   ...   846   ...
Attending school   68   22.5   82   26.8   147   17.8   140   16.5

The proportion of children in school is high through the age of sixteen. Beyond that age the ratio of attendance falls off rapidly, Sheridan and Union having a smaller proportion in school than the other two counties.




    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union
Ten Years and Over   Number   Per
  Number   Per
  Number   Per
  Number   Per
Total   5,950   ...   4,520   ...   14,320   ...   12,123   ...
Illiterates   59   1.0   20   1.4   437   3.1   668   5.5
Native Whites   4,863   ...   3,982   ...   11,284   ...   11,830   ...
Illiterates   13   .3   2   .1   33   .3   652   5.5
Foreign Born Whites   1,023   ...   460   ...   2,828   ...   276
Illiterates   29   2.8   9   2.   393   13.9   14   5.1
Negro   14   ...   23   ...   131   ...   12   ...
Illiterates   3   ...   1   ...   4   3.1   1   ...
16-20 Years Inclusive
Total   508   ...   522   ...   1,359   ...   1,501   ...
Illiterates   2   .4   1   .2   9   .7   44   2.9
Illiteracy 21 Years and Over
Males   42   1.4   8   .5   276   4.2   211   4.6
Native Whites   11   ...   ...   ...   16   ...   205   ...
Foreign Born Whites   18   ...   5   ...   252   ...   6   ...
Negro   2   ...   ...   ...   3   ...   ...   ...
Females   15   .8   11   .7   148   3.2   350   9.2
Native Whites   1   ...   1   ...   9   ...   341   ...
Foreign Born Whites   10   ...   4   ...   137   ...   8   ...
Negro   1   ...   ...   ...   1   ...   1   ...

The rate of illiteracy is higher in Sheridan and Union than in Beaverhead and Hughes.

 [Pg 131]



  Total Number
Number Now
Number Now
Number Now
  Total Number
Number Now
Number Now
Number Now
  Total Number
Number Now
Number Now
Number Now
  Total Number
Number Now
Number Now
Number Now
  Total Number
Number Now
Number Now
Number Now
Period of organization:
1871-80 1 1 .. ..   1 1 .. ..   .. .. .. ..   .. .. .. ..   2 2 2 ..
1881-90 7 4 3 ..   8 7 1 ..   3 2 1 ..   1 1 .. ..   19 14 5 ..
1891-1900 .. .. .. ..   1 1 .. ..   5 5 .. ..   3 3 .. ..   9 9 .. ..
1901-10 2 2 .. ..   1 1 .. ..   7 4 1 2   15 9 5 1   25 16 6 3
1911-20 .. .. .. ..   5 5 .. ..   6 6 .. ..   21 18 3 ..   32 29 3 ..
Total 10 7 3 ..   16 15 1 ..   21 17 2 2   40 31 8 1   87 70 14 3

About one-sixth of all the churches which have been organized are now either abandoned or inactive. Population has shifted; communities have changed; the churches sometimes have not survived.

 [Pg 132]



    Churches in
Denominations   Country   Village   Town   City   Total
Baptist, North   0   1   2   1   4
Baptist, South   3   1   1   0   5
Church of Christ or Christian   0   1   1   1   3
Church of Christ (Unprogressive)   2   1   0   0   3
Congregational   3   0   1   1   5
Evangelical Association   0   0   1   0   1
Norwegian Lutheran of America   0   0   1   0   1
German   0   0   0   1   1
Swedish   0   0   0   1   1
Polish   0   1   0   0   1
Others   0   1   0   0   1
Methodist, North   13   6   3   1   23
Methodist, South   6   0   0   0   6
Nazarene   1   0   0   0   1
Presbyterian in U. S. A.   3   2   1   1   7
Protestant Episcopal   0   0   2   1   3
Seventh Day Adventist   1   0   0   1   2
United Brethren   2   0   0   0   2
Total   34   14   13   9   70



Denominations   Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union   Total
Baptist North   1   1   2   0   4   } 9
Baptist South   0   0   0   5   5
Church of Christ or Christian   0   1   1   1   3
Church of Christ (Unprogressive)   0   0   0   3   3
Congregational   0   2   3   0   5
Evangelical Association   0   1   0   0   1
Norwegian Lutheran of America   0   1   0   0   1   } 5
German   0   0   1   0   1
Swedish   0   0   1   0   1
Polish   0   0   1   0   1
Others   0   1   0   0   1
Methodist North   2   6   5   10   23   } 29
Methodist South   0   0   0   6   6
Nazarenes   0   0   0   1   1
Presbyterian in U. S. A.   3   1   1   2   7
Protestant Episcopal   1   1   1   0   3
Seventh Day Adventist   0   0   1   1   2
United Brethren   0   0   0   2   2
Total   7   15   17   31   70

With so many denominations at work in the field, every square mile of inhabited area ought to be reached. But large areas and many people are not even touched by the church.

 [Pg 133]



  Churches in
  Country   Village   Town   City   Total
Net active members 616   497   1,178   1,665   3,956
Inactive members 129   66   221   607   1,013
Non-resident members 152   60   186   453   851
Total enrollment 897   623   1,575   2,725   5,820
Average per congregation 26   45   121   303   83




  Churches in
  Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union   Total
Net active members 345   884   1,988   739   3,956
Inactive members 96   74   646   197   1,013
Non-resident members 94   108   496   153   851
Total enrollment 535   1,066   3,130   1,089   5,820
Average per congregation 76   71   184   35   83

The non-resident member is an “unattached Christian” and no one looks out for him.




    Country   Village   Town   City   Total
Churches with a net active
membership of:
25 or less   26   7   2   1   36
26 to 50   7   4   1   1   13
51 to 100   1   3   5   1   10
101 to 150   0   0   3   1   4
Over 150   0   0   2   5   7
Total   34   14   13   9   70




    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union   Total
Churches with a net active
membership of:
25 or less   3   7   4   22   36
26 to 50   1   2   5   5   13
51 to 100   2   3   2   3   10
101 to 150   1   1   1   1   4
Over 150   0   2   5   0   7
Total   7   15   17   31   70

Scattered and transient population together with denominational competition has resulted in a large proportion of small churches.

 [Pg 134]



  Number   Per
  Number   Per
  Number   Per
  Number   Per
  Number   Per
Gained   12   35   7   50   10   77   8   89   37   53
Stationary   9   27   6   43   1   8   0   0   16   23
Declined   13   38   1   7   2   15   1   11   17   24
Total   34   100   14   100   13   100   9   100   70   100

The gain in church membership increases with the size of the community.




Year   Nine
1910   257   166   1,197   1,012   2,632
1915   303   278   1,385   2,011   3,977
1920   326   271   1,575   2,660   4,852

Village and Country Churches Increased 41% Town and City Churches Increased 92%.




  By Counties
    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union
Men over 21   24%   31%   31%   33%
Women over 21   55%   45%   47%   47%
Young men and boys under 21   8%   10%   9%   7%
Young women and girls under 21   13%   14%   13%   13%

The churches are not winning the boys and girls. They need better recreational methods and broader programs.

 [Pg 135]



A = Beaverhead   B = Hughes
C = Sheriday   D = Union


  A B C D   A B C D   A B C D   A B C D   A B C D
Number of churches with:
Budget for all monies 0 0 5 0   2[11] 3 0 1   0 2 0 1   0 4 4 3   2 9 9 5
Budget for local expenses only 0 0 1 0   1 3 0 1   0 1 0 0   0 0 0 2   1 4 1 3
Annual every member canvass 0 0 6 0   3[11] 5 0 2   0 4 0 1   0 3 4 4   3 12 10 7
Both budget and every member canvass 0 0 6 0   3[11] 5 0 1   0 3 0 1   0 3 4 3   3 11 10 5
No budget and no every member canvass 0 0 3 0   0 0 0 0   0 1 0 4   0 0 1 11   0 0 4 16
Total number of churches 0 0 9 0   4 6 0 3   2 5 2 5   1 4 6 23   7 15 17 31

A fair proportion of the churches are using modern methods of financing their work.

 [Pg 136]



  Churches Located in
Per Cent
Per Cent
Per Cent
Per Cent
Per Cent
Retired farmers   6 5.7   6 5.3
Operating farmers   28 26.6   28 24.8
Farm renters
Farm laborers
Business or professional   51 48.6   2 40   2 66.7   55 48.7
All others   20 19.1   3 60   1 33.3   24 21.2
Total reporting occupations   105 100   5 100   3 100   113 100
Retired farmers   6 2.8   1 1.7   7 2.5
Operating farmers   8 3.8   34 58.7   6 75   48 17.2
Farm renters   12 20.7   1 12.5   13 4.7
Farm laborers
Business or professional   114 53.5   6 10.3   120 43
All others   85 39.9   5 8.6   1 12.5   91 32.6
Total reporting occupations   213 100   58 100   8 100   279 100
[Pg 137]Sheridan:
Retired farmers 16 2.3   16 2
Operating farmers 49 7.2   41 51.8   90 11.1
Farm renters 8 12   15 19   23 2.8
Farm laborers 5 .7   5 .6
Business or professional 179 26.2   6 7.6   185 22.9
All others 426 62.4   49 100   17 21.6   492 60.6
Total reporting occupations 683 100   49 100   79 100   811 100
Retired farmers   1   1
Operating farmers   13 16.4   41 622   46 80.1   100 49.5
Farm renters   3 5.1   3 1.5
Farm laborers   3 5.1   3 1.5
Business or professional   36 45.6   11 16.6   3 5.1   50 24.7
All others   30 38   14 212   2 3.6   46 22.8
Total reporting occupations   79 100   66 100   57 100   202 100

Of the four counties, Union is the only one with a higher percentage of farmers on its rolls than of men in other occupations. Yet over half the churches in the four counties are country churches.

 [Pg 138]



The amount raised by the local churches is $97,571.98.

  Per cent.
Subscription   $70,910.74   72.68
Collections   9,464.24   9.7
All other methods   17,197.00   17.62



The amount spent by the local churches is $96,992.85.

  Per cent.
Salaries   $41,268.79   43.
Missions and benevolences   24,657.55   25.
Upkeep and all other expenses   31,066.51   32.

The entire amount spent for church purposes is $110,080.35.

  Per cent.
Salaries   $54,356.29[12]   49.
Missions and benevolences   24,657.55   23.
Upkeep and all other expenses   31,066.51   28.

Of the entire church dollar, about 12 per cent. comes from Denominational Boards.




  Country   Village   Town   City   Total
From: Thirty-one
Subscription $235.45   $526.51   $1,972.93   $3,824.04   $1,074.41
Collections 57.99   106.57   254.35   358.49   143.40
All other methods 12.96   297.42   458.01   834.63   260.55
Total $306.40   $930.50   $2,685.29   $5,017.16   $1,478.36




  Country   Village   Town   City   Total
From: Thirty-one
Subscription $12.39   $14.07   $21.77   $18.65   $18.04
Collections 3.05   2.85   2.81   1.75   2.41
All other methods .68   7.95   5.05   4.07   4.37
Total $16.12   $24.87   $29.63   $24.47   $24.82

The average active member is generous in the support of his church.

 [Pg 139]



  Country   Village   Town   City   Total
For: Thirty-one
Salaries $220.12   $366.43   $1,247.31   $1,637.50   $625.28
Missions and Benevolences 42.59   117.85   638.84   1,672.75   373.60
Upkeep and all other expenses 40.95   441.63   794.22   1,661.18   470.70
Total $303.66   $925.91   $2,680.37   $4,971.43   $1,469.58




  Country   Village   Town   City   Total
For: Thirty-one
Salaries $11.59   $9.79   $13.76   $7.99   $10.50
Missions and Benevolences 2.24   3.15   7.05   8.16   6.27
Upkeep and all other expenses 2.16   11.80   8.76   8.10   7.90
Total $15.99   $24.74   $29.57   $24.25   $24.67




  Country   Village   Town   City   Total
By: Thirty-one
Subscription $.77   $.57   $.74   $.76   $.73
Collections .19   .11   .09   .07   .10
All other methods .04   .32   .17   .17   .17
Total $1.00   $1.00   $1.00   $1.00   $1.00



  Country   Village   Town   City   Total
For: Thirty-one
Salary $.72   $.39   $.46   $.33   $.43
Missions and Benevolences .14   .13   .24   .34   .25
Upkeep and all other expenses .14   .48   .30   .33   .32
Total $1.00   $1.00   $1.00   $1.00   $1.00

On the average, these churches devote one-fourth of their receipts to benevolences.

 [Pg 140]



A.Promising Field:
 1. Prospect of self-support.
 2. Strategic service opportunity.
B.Problematic Field:
 1. Uncertain of community development.
 2. Denominational responsibility uncertain.
C.Field to be relinquished:
 1. Should be self-sustaining.
 2. Work should be discontinued.

This would be a good test to apply to every aided church on the Range.




Number of Services
a Month
Eight 3   3[13]   12[14]   7   25
Seven 0   0   0   0   0
Six 0   0   1   0   1
Five 0   0   0   0   0
Four 6   6[13]   0   2   14
Three 0   0   0   0   0
Two 9   3   0   0   12
One 12   0   0   0   12
No regular service 2   2   0   0   4
Services in summer only 2   0   0   0   2
Total 34   14   13   9   70

About three hours a week set aside for church services and Sunday school means six days a year; only twenty-five out of seventy churches have as large a number.




    Beaverhead   Hughes   Sheridan   Union
Average seating capacity   197   277   286   160
Average active membership   49   59   117   24
Average attendance at services   52   50   80   67

An average attendance one-third less than the seating capacity means many empty seats.

 [Pg 141]



  Men Women Grown-up Young People Boys Girls Boys and Girls
  Number Members Number Members Number Members Number Members Number Members Number Members Number Members
Churches in:
Country 0 0 9 171 0 0 10 239 0 0 0 0 0 0
Village 0 0 9 166 0 0 3 81 0 0 0 0 0 0
Town 2 74 22 710 0 0 9 314 3 54 5 128 2 73
City 5 226 16 635 2 40 6 200 1 15 3 94 0 0
Total 7 300 56 1,682 2 40 28 834 4 69 8 222 2 73

Women’s organizations are numerous; men have only one-eighth as many. Less than half of the churches have young people’s organizations.




Churches in:
Country 1 1 2 2 2 3 1 0 1
Village 1 1 1 2 1 1 3 1 0
Town 0 1 3 4 2 2 1 0 0
City 1 2 1 2 2 0 0 0 0
Total 3 5 7 10 7 6 5 1 1

The turn-over on the part of the ministers has been high. Two-thirds of these churches have had a new minister every two and one half years or oftener.

 [Pg 142]



    Country   Village   Town   City   Total
Churches with:
Pastor resident in parish   8   8[15]   10   8   34
Pastor resident in community but not in parish   4   0   0   0   4
Pastor resident in other community in same county   12   2   0   0   14
Pastor resident in another county   3   0   1   0   4
No regular pastor   4   4   2   0   10
Supply pastor   3   0   0   1   4
Total   34   14   13   9   70

About half of the churches have their ministers resident among the members.




  Ministers Giving
Full Time to
with other
    With One
  With More Than
One Church
Pastors receiving:[16]
Over $2,000   6   3
$1,501-$2,000   4   3   2
$1,201-$1,500   5   3   0
$1,001-$1,200   2   2   0
$ 751-$1,000   0   3   1
$ 501-$ 750   1   0   0
$ 101-$ 500   0   0   2
$ 100 or less   0   0   1
No salary   0   0   2
Total   18   14   8

With the high cost of living, it is difficult to sustain adequate family life on many of these salaries. It is not strange that eight of the ministers must earn part of their support at other occupations.

 [Pg 143]



Churches with:   Country   Village   Town   City   Total
Resident minister   8   8[17]   10   8   34
Number gaining   4   5   7   7   23
Number stationary   2   3   2   0   7
Number losing   2   0   1   1   4
Non-resident minister   19   2   1   0   22
Number gaining   5   2   1   0   8
Number stationary   17   0   0   0   7
Number losing   7   0   0   0   7

About two-thirds of the churches with resident ministers made a gain in membership; of the churches with non-resident ministers only about one-third show a gain. Fourteen churches were either pastorless or were served by a supply. Six of them made a gain during the year preceding the survey.





Edmund deS. Brunner, Ph.D.

What the Protestant Churches Are Doing and
Can Do for Rural America—The Results of
Twenty-six Intensive County Surveys

Description Publication Date
(1) Church and Community Survey of Salem County, N. J. Ready
(2) Church and Community Survey of Pend Oreille County, Washington Ready
(3) Church and Community Survey of Sedgwick County, Kansas Ready
(4) Religion in the Old and New South Forthcoming
(5) The New and Old Immigrant on the Land, as seen in two Wisconsin Counties Ready
(6) Rural Church Life in the Middle West Ready
(7) The Country Church in Colonial Counties Ready
(8) Irrigation and Religion, a study of two prosperous California Counties Ready
(9) The Church on the Changing Frontier Ready
(10) The Rural Church Before and After the War, Comparative Studies of Two Surveys Forthcoming
(11) The Country Church in Industrial Zones Ready
(12) The Town and Country Church in the United States Forthcoming

They are fine pieces of work and examples of what we need to have done on a large scale.” Dr. Charles A. Ellwood, Dept. of Sociology, University of Missouri.

I am heartily appreciative of these splendid results.” Rev. Charles S. Macfarland, Genl. Secy., Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America.

Published by GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY, New York







[1] See Wilson, “Sectional Characteristics,” Homelands, August, 1920.

[2] A monument to Sacajawea was erected in Armstead in 1915.

[3] Three country churches raised no money during the year and one city church, which tithes, did not have financial figures available.

[4] See Table XXIII.

[5] 17 country churches have buildings.

[6] 13 village churches have buildings.

[7] The membership of the separate boys’ and girls’ organizations cannot be added here because it would involve duplication.

[8] The capital letters in parentheses in the Table indicate the respective counties, Beaverhead, Hughes, Sheridan, Union.

[9] In deriving these figures the Census Board has included the forest reserve territory. The following figures were obtained by excluding this area (with the exception of the inhabited portion of Beaverhead):

Total density per square mile of Beaverhead   2.1
Total density per square mile of Sheridan   9.2

On the Range the development of centers is just beginning.

[10] The Census does not give Spanish-American separately. They are of course native-born and are included under that division.

Per cent. of native increase is 20.7 in Beaverhead for 1910-20
" " " " decrease " 4.1 " Hughes " 1910-20
" " " " increase " 12.1 " Sheridan " 1910-20
" " " " " " 32.2 " Union " 1910-20

In Sheridan, the “New Americans” are in the mines; in the other counties, they are on the land.

[11] Two federated churches have a single budget and a single canvass.

[12] 76.37% of this amount was raised by local churches. The rest came from the denominational boards.

[13] One church in each of these groups unites regularly with a church holding eight services.

[14] One church in this group also has four week day services. One church has its four services on week day nights and has no Sunday services.

[15] One church in this group has two resident social workers.

[16] Including $250 rental value of parsonage if there is one.

[17] One church in this group has two resident social workers.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Church on the Changing Frontier, by 
Helen O. Belknap


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