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The Gospel Messenger — Offering #1

More About the Great North-West.

Kimball, a railroad point, and one of the highest points between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, is a place noted for artesian wells.  They bore down 1,000 feet, and find a good quality of water, which flows out at a temperature of sixty degrees.  One well, flowing a four-inch stream, forms a small lake covering ten acres, now filled with different species of fish.  A strange range of hills are found here, called "Bijou Hills."  They form a range from east to west, averaging from one to two miles in width, and from 100 to 250 feet in height.  In some places plenty of rocks are found, and the country has the appearance of an upheaval having been there. Large boulders are found rolled down part way.  Then, again, some rocks are found standing edgewise; others are lying loosely across each other.  Perhaps in some early period of the world there was an upheaval, and those rocks have been thrown out to the surface. [NOTE: He is describing glacial "moraine" action.]

Crossing the Missouri river westward, those "Hills" can be seen for many miles.  In fact, on a clear day, I am told, the naked eye can easily see them sixty miles distant.  They run westward for two hundred miles, and connect with the Black Hills.

Dakota is a large Territory. It would make three States, probably, as large as Indiana.  The supposition now is that the Territory will be admitted as two States, called Southern and Northern Dakota, making the division line on the 46th parallel. By the best information I could get, there are no Brethren living in the extreme northern part.  Brethren who wish cheap homes, a pleasant climate in summer, a place to raise the best wheat east of the Rocky Mountains, good railroad privileges, etc., should come and see this part of the world, before locating elsewhere.  By all means go and see the country before moving.

Dakota has three organized churches, about eighty-five members, three ordained elders, three ministers in the second degree, two in the first degree.  Brule church has the largest membership.  This church district is located in Brule Co., fifty miles north of Nebraska, and about one hundred and twenty miles west of Minnesota.  Brethren Jacob Murray [1834-1922] and Wm. G. Cook [1841-1921], are its elders, assisted by brethren John McLean and John Albright [1864-1951], ministers in the first degree, with a membership of about forty.

The next organized church is north of Brule, and east about eighty miles.  It has but one minister,—Bro. B. F. Miller [1835-1915], and a membership of twenty-five or thirty. This district is called the Alpena church, and is yet in its infancy. Bro. B. F. Miller is an ordained elder, and has much church work pressing upon him.

The third organized District is about two hundred miles north of Brule church, and is called the Willow Creek district.  Those members are living in Brown Co., near the forty-sixth parallel.  I think there are three ministers there.  Brethren James Evans [1825-1891], Wm. E. Horning [William W. 1828-1915] and J. M. Mansfield [1847-1913] are the ministers, with a membership of, perhaps, from fifteen to twenty members.  The Brethren, at present, are not organized into a State or Territorial District.  The opinion of some of the brethren is, that they belong to Northern Iowa, but others say such is not the case.  It does seem to me they should belong somewhere, so they could be represented at our General Conference.  They seem to be anxious to be represented, and I think they should be. It would be an advantage to their church work.  Churches like those in Dakota, need the sympathy and united work of the whole Brotherhood.  The Brule church has no place to hold services but school-houses.  These being too small for the purpose of holding a series of meetings, the brethren concluded to hire the town hall in Bijou Hills.  The hall is twenty by fifty feet, and seems to be a convenient place to hold services.  Their love-feast was held the evening of Oct. 30. It was a pleasant meeting. There were forty-two communicants, with a nice, orderly congregation of spectators.  Some members drove, by private conveyance, fifty miles. Those members have not heard preaching, by our people, since last February.  Oh what joy the feast was to those hungry souls!  Bro. B. F. Miller and wife, and Bro. Posey and wife drove eighty miles, by private conveyance, to meet with those of like precious faith.  After the communion services were over, there seemed to be general rejoicing, that I had come to Dakota to visit these isolated churches.  I believe more tears were shed at that meeting, than at any communion meeting I ever attended.  Oh, how glad those members feel when they can see some brother from the East!  Brethren, if you can, and are so circumstanced, will you not come West, visit the churches and break unto these people the Bread of Life?

Most of these members are in limited circumstances, and can not do much financially, but they have warm hearts. Were my arrangements East so I could do so, I would stay all winter, and help build up the cause here.

While at the above meeting, the waters began to be troubled, and some were baptized.  At first we went to a lake some six miles away, but the dry weather caused the water to be too low for convenience.  Two were baptized at that place, but the next two who made application were taken to the Missouri river, ten miles west.  While standing on the banks of the river, opposite the Indian Reservation, viewing that scene, my mind was carried back to the scene on the banks of the river Jordan, where Christ by his example, pointed out the way. Our meeting closed with five accessions.

J. H. Miller.

Bijou Hills, Dakota.

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