Bancroft News

New church in 1908, struck by lightning in 1912


Ted Haug was the speaker at the Presbyterian Church on Sept. 5. Mrs. Haug played for the singing as well. Thank you, both, for your service to us.

Mr. and Mrs. Dale Martens of Aberdeen visited his mother, Rose Grothe, on Thursday afternoon. They enjoyed supper at a local cafe before the visitors left for home.


Continued from last week. One of the most significant actions was taken under the Rev. George Heaton on Oct. 4, 1936, when the church united with the Presbyterian Church of America, now known as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Following this action, a court trial ensued, and the church property was awarded to the Presbytery of Huron of the Presbyterian Church, USA. The congregation purchased the church building and the manse from the Presbytery of Huron for $1050.

A partial list of the pastors is as follows: G. W. McKinney, George B. Reid, M. E. Chapin, George E. Gilchrist, George W. Heaton, F. W. Stump, H. S. Morrison, Foith, J. P. Anderson, G. F. Sheldon, H. P. Carson, French, S.H. Aten. W. A. Cook, Leeper, A. E. Dearson, Evans, W. S. Meyers, J. W. Proper, G. W. Heaton, A. C. Gordon, D. Van Houte, M. B. Nonhof and R. D. Sander.

On July 22, 1900, the St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran congregation was organized in Spirit Lake Township. This church for some time was also called the German Lutheran Church. The congregation was served by Pastor Paul Volrath of Bryant who served the St Paul church there. The first members of the congregation were Rolf Dirksen, Wm. Rusche, Weert Weerts, George Bauman, August Steinke, E. Bauman, E. Dickman and their families. Because of few members, only one officer, Rolf Dirksen, was selected the first year.

Since the small congregation had no separate house of worship, five acres of land were purchased in Spirit Lake Township from R. Doeden in 1902. The new church was built that year, size 24' by 32'. Until the structure was completed, the Rev. Volrath conducted services in the Spirit Lake Schoolhouse.

The first church at Spirit Lake was built by a Mr. Schellerman who also built the pulpit. Early confirmation classes were held in the George Smith home served by the Bryant pastor. In 1907, it was decided to sell the church to its present members, the Spirit Lake Presbyterian Church, and move the congregation to Bancroft. The church was sold for $1000.

A new church was built at Bancroft in 1908 and serves as its present home. The building was built by Eilt J. Claassen.

One of the first casualties of the new church was when lightning struck it in 1912. The interior of the church was especially damaged.

In the spring of 1917, the Rev. R. H. Eilts became the pastor, and St Johns was no longer served by Bryant. The Rev. Eilts also served the congregation at Belle Prairie.

In the fall of 1918, Pastor Senst came to serve both congregations and resided in Bancroft in the parsonage (present home of Mr. and Mrs. Walt Zell) which was purchased from W. Weerts. The worship services were now held in English. The parsonage was remodeled in 1921. (continued next week). 

Taken from “Bancroft South Dakota 1889-1971” by Gary Lee Jerke


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