Today, I begin a series of posts on the religious history of North Dakota. This series will not be a straight-forward history of first this and then that. Rather, it will be more of a historical collage–a collection of historical people, places, and/or events that have helped shaped North Dakota. I am unsure at this point as to how many posts will be in this series, but my intention is to write something each week, hopefully being published between Monday and Wednesday. Many of these posts will contain links to other sites and information that most any person could have acquired online on his/her own, but given how busy we all are, I suspect that most of what I find even that way will be of news to most of us. I hope in doing this, I will provide something that will be of use to anyone from North Dakota, moving to North Dakota, descended from North Dakotans, or simply interested in North Dakota.
Since Fargo is on the border with Minnesota and the Red River Valley is in both states, I may also develop a similar series concerning Minnesota. For now, I’ll keep this one on North Dakota going.
For my first post, I wish to highlight some religious “ghosts,” if you will. I begin with Haymarsh’s St. Clemens church and school. They are highlighted on a neat site dedicated to North Dakota ghost towns, but what stands out about this particular entry on their site is not only the pictures (they do a great job with those in all their posts) but also the interview with the nun who taught at the school (which closed in 1964 at the end of that school year). Her story captures well how just a couple generations ago, North Dakota was still very much a frontier enterprise. It is easy to forget, with our electronic 4×4’s (still amazed I don’t have to turn the hubs on my F150) and instant weather checks from our phone (though can’t we just walk outside?). Yet, there it is, a vignette from a nun about fetching water in the midst of a blizzard: