browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.



St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1907-present.   In 1907 the first church building was moved from a town called Dirkstown, which was southwest of Reliance. It was moved across the prairie by 32 head of horses. St. Mary’s was organized on March 18, 1911. In 1913 the cemetery was moved from the north end of Reliance to its present location 1¼ miles north of Reliance. A new church and hall were built after a fire destroyed the church in 1918. The present church/hall was built in 1985. The church is now served by the pastoral team housed in Lower Brule. (shortened from story by Red McManus-1989).

Trinity Lutheran Church, 1817-present  Trinity Lutheran Church started in 1917, six miles southwest of Reliance. The church officers at that time were: Wm Rohrbuck, Ed Schelske, Fred Drafahl, and Jacob Hoffer.  The founders were listed as Fred Drafahl, Jacob Doctor, John Frey, John Kindopp, Wm. Kindopp, Wm. Rohrbuck, Ed Schelske and Frank Tuenge. The first confirmation class  in 1921 included: Carl Rohrbuck, Adolph Rohrbuck, George Hoffer, Lydia Hoffer,  Barbara Hoffer, Elsie Schelske, Brunhilda Schelske, Martha Frey, and Frieda Drafahl. Services were entirely in German until 1936, even then only every third service. The present church in Reliance was dedicated in 1954. (source-p. 133, Of Rails and Trails- 1989)

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Ft. Hale, 1879-?   This church seems to be the first one in Lyman County. The cemetery is still in use. (source-Early Settlers in Lyman County-1974-p. 7)

United Methodist Church,1907-present   Before becoming a Methodist Church in 1915, the church was Congregational. In 1907 the church was built using lumber from an old creamery in Dirkstown. Volunteers doing the building were the Barthalow, Russell, Tillotson, Lester and Humphrey families. Isaac Rockafellow donated the first lumber for the building. Additions include remodeling in 1965, new fellowship hall in 1968, new church in 1985 and moving the church east to its present location.(source-p. 135-Of Rails and Trails-1989). For further marriage and baptisms when Reverand Bonney was pastor check further in this site.

Lower Brule:

St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Lower Brule, founded in 1923:  From 1896 the Native Americans and white settlers for miles around were served by the Benedictine Monks residing at Immaculate Conception Church, Stephan (north of Ft.  Thompson). These early priests faced unpredictable weather, non-existing roads, and a river. In 1923 the Priests of the Sacred Heart were assigned to Lower Brule. They also started a church, Ft. George, which was west of Lower Brule in Stanley County. The priests were helped through the years by catechists, Indian men like Highmore Plays With Iron, Dick La Roche and Eugene Pretty Shield. A 1923 Christmas collection of $2.30 was more than usual. In 1963 when Big Bend Dam flooded the old town of Lower Brule, the church and cemetery were moved. A new hall was built at that time. The old church was replaced with a new one in 1977. In 1989 a new concept, called team ministry, began. The church celebrated 100 years of service to the area in 1996. The pastoral team serves six parishes (Kennebec, Lower Brule and Reliance in Lyman County) in 2003.

Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, 1896-present The Episcopal Church was here when Lower Brule moved from its original location near Oacoma. Luke Walker, a Santee Sioux from Nebraska, was the first minister. After his retirement he made his home with Amy Carpenter, and was buried in St. Alban’s Cemetery, Ft. Hale. Two early marriages were George Estes and Annie Driving Hawk and Mitchell Quilt and Helen Old Lodge, possibly in 1894. This church and cemetery were again moved when Big Bend Dam was built in 1963. There was also Holy Faith Church at Cedar Creek (west of Lower Brule), Iron Nation Messiah Church in 1915, the church was Congregational. In 1907, the church was built using lumber from an old creamery in Dirkstown. Volunteers doing the building were the Barthalow, Russell, Tillotson, Lester and Humphrey families. Isaac Rockafellow donated the first lumber for the building. Additions include remodeling in 1965, new fellowship hall in 1968, new church in 1985 and moving the church east to its present location.(source-p. 135-Of Rails and Trails-1989). For further marriage and baptism records from when Reverend Bonney was pastor check the categories in this site.


Lyman Methodist/Episcopal Church, 1920-1942   This parish was organized in 1920 with pastors coming from the Reliance or Kennebec congregations. Some of the families in the church were: Miller, Johnson, Porterfield, Herb, Ed and George Lester. In 1942 the members went to either the Reliance or Kennebec churches. The building was bought by the Reliance Methodist Church.  (source- p.134-Of Rails and Trails-1989).


Congregational Church, 1893-1962   The Congregational Church of Oacoma was organized in 1893. In 1902 attendance averaged around 60. The original building burned in 1933. This building was bought and moved to the Old West Museum. It now belongs to the Chamberlain Area Historical Preservation Association, Inc. It can be seen at Graceland Cemetery, exit 260 along I-90.  (source- p. 132-Of Rails and Trails-1989).


United Methodist, 1901-present  In the early 1900’s the congregation was served by a Circuit Minister, then Rev. Tommy  Black, who came by ferry from Bijou Hills (Brule County). Records found that the congregation started in 1901, which led to a centennial celebration in 2001. In 1909 a church was built on land donated by Frank Walker. The church grew and prospered, then as often happened, the settlers died or retired and moved away. The  congre-gation seemed  doomed. Then either a tragedy or a miracle happened on December 24, 1949, the day after a Christmas program. A fire, fanned by strong winds, burned the church to the ground. Saved were the piano, pews , dishes and a few books.  The congregation knew that they wanted to build again. The present church was built in 1951. The church now is served by a pastor from nearby Gregory. (source- page 134-Of  Rails and Trails-1989 and p.60,Lyman County Early Settlers, 1974).


St. Michael’s Catholic Church, about 1906-present   The early records from this church were destroyed by fire. It is believed that the first  Mass at Kennebec was 1906. Before this there were visiting priests from Kimball and  White Lake. The land for the church was donated by Hugh and Anna O Connell. In  1927 the church was renovated and rededicated in 1928. A new church complex, including church, rectory and hall, were first used for Twila Sundall s funeral December  24, 1974. The church now is served by the Pastoral Team, who live in Lower Brule.  (source-p. 131-Of Rails and Trails -1989)

Evangelical Lutheran Church, about 1890-present
On August 16, 1890 a meeting was held, believed to be the first such meeting in the west  river country of South Dakota, to organize a congregation at Medicine Valley. The meeting was held at the Ole Vik home. The first trustees were A.M. Lien, C.  Hellickson,  Otto Hanson and O. Torkenson. This congregation was from the Presho- Kennebec area. By 1895 the members of this congregation were meeting in what was first the “meeting house”, later known as Earling Church, located west of Kennebec.  The Earling Cemetery was also there. Both were part of the landscape until 1934 when  a storm destroyed the church and all records of the early pioneers. As early as 1923, plans  were laid for having a Lutheran church in Kennebec. In 1930 the Ladies Aid bought a lot  in Kennebec and the next year building began. The first baby baptized was Christina Manger. In 1961 the congregation became the American Lutheran Church.  Improvements have continued through the years as needed.  (source- p.132, Of  Rails and Trails, article by Doreine Anderson).

United Methodist Church, 1893-present  As early as 1893 the early settlers met for worship in a log school building built just east  of Louie Kuckleburg’s home. In 1905, Methodist Sunday School and church were held upstairs over the bank. In 1906 they met in the Kennebec depot.. A church was built in1908. Names found as volunteer workers were Wolfe, Hovey, Lerum and Roeser.  Among those married in the early years were Henry Lien and Orpha Roesner, Herbert Ashcraft and Grace F. Marquire, and Mr. and Mrs. Will Houchin. The first president of the Women’s Missionary group or Ladies Aid was Mrs. Robert Countryman. In 1911- 1912 the group made extra money by making and selling sunbonnets, night shirts, dust caps, corset covers, quilts and comforters. In 1956 Ethel Rosencrance was honored as the only original charter Ladies Aid member present. After a change of name to United Methodist Church, the Women’s society of Christian Service was formed with Veva  Copeland, president; Fonda Reumann, vice president; Flora Larson, secretary; and Irene Koepnick, treasurer.(source-taken from original story written by Irene Koepnick). For Reverand Bonney’s marriage and baptisms when was pastor check further in  this site.


Presho American Lutheran Church,1890-present Evangelical Lutheran Church of America  The early history of this church involved the Norwegian pioneers who organized a church called Medicine Valley. The first pastor, Rev. Henrik Solum homesteaded east of Presho. The church was called the United Lutheran until 1915. It was located north of the tracks. Early church rosters included Andrew Brakke Sr., Isaac Hellikson, Jake Matson, Martin Moe, Mikolai Nelson, Gilbert Bingen, Hels Howe, Peter Jacobson, Ludwig Dybing and Torger Johnson.
The first marriage in the records is that of Claude Van Horn and Sophia Hellikson on March 24, 1892; Chris Hellikson and Marie Sorgen, Isaac Hellikson and Nellie Nelson in 1893; Ole Byre and Raghilda Johnson in 1898; Gus Anderson and Nora Van Horn in 1898; Andrew Brakke and Anna Overgaard in 1900; B.R. Stevens and Jennie Dahl in 1901. Listed among the early baptisms are: Ida Lien, Rachel Vik, Jennie Bingen Johnson, Walter Van Horn, Arthur Lien, Mabel Jacobson, Hilda Moe Smith, Margaret Garnos Sletto, Susie Van Horn and Myrtle Brakke. Some early members who have passed away are: Ole Kittelson, Jorgen Boe, Sven Halvardgaard, Hendre Halgrimson, E.K. Sletto, Chris Knutson and Anton Sather. (source Lyman County Herold, August 25, 1955)
The Synode church was organized by charter members: Peter J. Hilmoe, John Hilmoe, Sven Hilmoe, Rasmus Moller, Lauritz Elstad, Hellik Syverson, Ole Vinger, Anna Fosness and Karsten Enang. In 1917 the three Norwegian denominations became the Norwegian Lutheran Church, later changing to Evangelical Lutheran Church and in 1960 to the American Lutheran Church.
In 1943 plans for a new church building were made by the committee including Sander, Sletto, Carl Kittleson, Alfred Boe, Adolph Fosness, Mrs. Ole Severson, Andrew Brakke, Rev. Smeby, and Alice Sather Stewart Summer. Completed in 1951, the first marriage was Fern Howe and Kenneth Monroe. Verne Brakke was the first baby baptized. On June 1, 1952 the first confirmation class included James Vernon, Esther Ericson, Jean Ann Boshee, Deanna Lillibo, Maye Johnson, Diana Boe In 1971 the old Presho American Lutheran bell was installed in the Chapel of the Hills, in Rapid City. (taken from Early Settlers in Lyman County, page 68, 1974)

Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church,1909-present Zion Lutheran Missouri Synod  This church really began when the mission board sent Rev. Gustaf Steffen to Draper  in 1909. When he went south of Draper he located the following families:  Alfred Anderson, Paul Pitan, Emil Wilske, and south of Vivian were R.P. Juhnke and R.  Prahl. In the Hilmoe and Sweeney area he found John Bredohof, Fred Faber, George  Schaller, John and Daniel Wisenberger, Henry Laumbach, Max Sparr, Grover Prickets,  Adams, Charles Blanke, Donrad Mundlein and Mike Schulz. Even occasional services were a blessing to these early Lyman County residents. Arrangements were made to  hold services in the school, located 15 miles southwest of Presho. December 25, 1910 a  children s Christmas program found the building packed with people. Five young people  and three adults (Mr. and Mrs. Grover Picket and Mrs. Charles Blanke) were confirmed  March 10, 1910.
On June 19, 1911 the group became Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem,  signers of the articles of incorporation were Konrad Mundlein, John Bredehoft and Mike  Schulz. It seems that services were held as needed. For a time the group used the old  Norwegian Church across the tracks in Presho. In the early 1900 s the area north of Presho, the families of Henry Ehlers, Carl Dittman and Will Johns, were served by  Presho pastors who traveled by horse or buggy. In those days you would find people a attending church where it was held regardless of denomin-ation. Church services were  held in Vivian from 1915 to the early 1930’s. Families there were Bessman, Prahl, Koester, A. Kettleson and C. Kettleson. Also during this period the Swinson school, 20  miles southwest of Presho served the R,P. Juhnke, Drew, Laumbach, K. Winchell and  Erickson families.
October 1920 found the organization of the church in Presho near. The signers of  the constitution were Fred Faber, Emil Gloe, Karl Neiden, Carl Gensel, Mike Schulz,  Henry Glyhm, Albert Sturn, Theo. Boschee, Konrad Mundlein, Henry Studt, William  Hoffert, Henry Ehlers Sr., Charles Blanke, Joh Schulz, Joseph Hoffert, Herman Deihm,  R.P. Juhnke, R.F. Prahl, Henry Laumbach, John Drews, Otto Studt, Herbert Hoffert.  Rev. Hemenway was the first member of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Presho to become an ordained minister. At the ordination service were these members of his confirmation class: Helen Hemenway Louder, Joyce Bowman and Larry Diehm.  (source-p. 72-Early Settler of Lyman County).
On October 15, 1995 the church  celebrated the 75th Anniversary. A reenactment of the original signing were: Rev.  Janssen; Ray Herman, George Mundlein representing their grandfather, Konrad  Mundlein; Don Sturm representing Albert Sturn; John Studt representing his  grandfather, Henry Studt; Robert Ehlers and Dwight Lamb representing their  grandfather, Henry Ehlers, Sr.; Rich Oller representing his father, John Drews; and  Trusty Mertens representing his great grandfather, Fred Faber. (source, p. 495, Winds of  Change, 1997)

Holy Angels Church, .about 1906-1934  Early Catholics in Lyman county found Catholic churches in Dirkstown (northwest of  Reliance) and Sweeney (south of Presho) or in homes when a priest would visit. The  first resident priest was Rev. J.B. Kelly who arrived in 1906. In the spring of 1907 services were held in the new church, on the present Catholic church location. Original  incorporates of the Church of Holy Angels were the Most Very Rev. M.J. Noelson, the  Rev. A.M.J. Bishop, pastor; W.E. Sweeney and Charles Mc Allister. In 1925, on the  Sunday after Christmas the church was destroyed by fire. A new church was dedicated October 21, 1926. The first wedding was Raymond Brodrecht and Amelia Hemesath.  The first funeral was Basil McKim, October 1926.

Christ the King Catholic Church, 1934-present  On August 21, 1934 Holy Angels Church became the Church of Christ the King. The Holy Rosary Study Club met from 1949-1974. The last baptism in this building was Jennifer Daylene Young; last wedding was Mr. and Mrs. Steve Anderson(Cathy  Schoulete); last funeral was Mrs. Henry Kotz. Since February 24, 1973 the congregation has been holding Mass in the new building. The first wedding was March 10, 1973,  Ronald Schaffer and Brenda Beckwith.  Julie Ann Hendrickson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rod Hendrickson (Colleen Sweeney) was the first to be baptized,  June 24, 1973. The funeral of B.A. McAreavey was the first  funeral, held October 30, 1973.

Hilmoe White River Lutheran Church,1906-1971  The Hilmoe Synodical group retained their membership at Presho until the organization  of the Hilmoe-White River Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1906 Rev. Alfred Nelson  homesteaded southwest of Enangs. There was no division between the groups but there were two groups meeting, one in Presho and the other formed in the Hilmoe community.  The last recorded meeting of the two groups was 1916. In the fall of 1915 the Hilmoe  and White River groups bought the Christian church in Presho and moved it, 15 miles  southwest of Presho. Sven Halvardsgaard used his two tractors and many teams of  horses to complete the job. The first recorded meeting of the Young People’s Society  was 1915, at the Jorgen J. Boe home. Miss Marguerete Grevsad was elected president and also directed the first choir. In 1931 the Society helped with funds to remodel the  church. By 1971 services were held only twice each year. The remaining members joined churches in Vivian or Presho. (source, page 59,Early Settlers of Lyman County,  1974)

United Methodist Church, 1906-present  The Methodist Episcopal Church began services in February of 1906. Attending the  first official board meeting were Rev, J.R. Payne, Rev. W.O. Romick, Mrs. George W  Bedford, Tillie D. McLain, Mr. and Mrs. A.H. Cobb, T.B. Kidder, Mr. and Mrs. C.T.  McGilora, S.R. Marsh, Mrs. O.A. Wilson, Mrs. M.E. Griffith, Joseph Huffman and W.H.  Swartont. In 1906 the Ladies  Aid organized with officers, Mrs. George Mitchell, Mrs. Charles West, Mrs. Charles Chamberlain and Mrs. A.N. Louder. There were 20 members. In 1923 a basement containing a furnace room, auditorium, kitchen and  restrooms was added. In 1940 the Methodist Episcopal Churches united. New walls were added in 1954. Another church merger in 1968 produced the United Methodist Church.  Construction on the present church began in 1973. (sources, p 77, Early Settlers of  Lyman County, 1989)

Sweeney Catholic Church, 1904-?   The church was located southeast of Presho. It was moved to its present site, Lyman  County Historical Society Museum in Presho, in 1976. After extensive fundraising the church was restored to nearly its original condition in 2002. The steeple was removed, renovated, and reset in place. It will now be a center for gathering and displaying county church histories, stories and pictures.


Sacred Heart Catholic Church, about 1920-1971  Father LaFluer served the mission church in Vivian. In the 1920’s Draper and Vivian  were served by the same priest, Father O’Bryan. In 1947 the church in Vivian was destroyed by fire. In 1952 a church from Okaton was moved to Vivian. Services there were discontinued in 1971, when the congregation was merged with the Presho church.(source, p. 130, Of Rails and Trails, 1989)

Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1893-present  As early as 1893, Lutheran settlers were coming into the Vivian area. Among these were: Sletto, Lintvedt, Rogstad, Torson, and Berull. Services were held at the school and in homes. The first ordained pastor was Rev. Lars Scherven in 1904. The church was organized in 1906 by Mrs. K.K Sletto, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Lintvedt, Mr. and Mrs.  E.K.Sletto, Mr. and Mrs. Ole Sletto, Mr. and Mrs. Ole Rognstad, and Carl  Lintvedt. The first wedding was Carl Lintvedt and Bessie Sletto. Ingar Sletto was the  first baby baptized, in 1906.
In 1920 the church was built five miles west of Vivian.  The church began as the Norwegian Lutheran, became the Evangelical Lutheran in 1928  and  American Lutheran in 1961. Before 1928 the services were all in Norwegian.  By 1932 all services were in English. In 1928 the church was moved into Vivian.  The first wedding in the town church was Mary Strom and Orville Tatge in 1942.  The last  wedding in the old church was Margaret Moore and Ronald Juhnke in 1950. The first baby baptized was Delford Juhnke in 1928 and his daughter, Kathy Caslin was the  last baby baptized in 1951. The present building was completed in 1951. Arla  Lindquist and Don Bisson were the first couple married there. The first baby baptized  was Melanie Anderson in 1951. (source, p. 133, Of Rails and Trails-1989

Vivian, Hope Valley and Stony Butte Methodist Churches, early 1900 s -1978  The first meetings of the Vivian Methodist Church were held in a schoolhouse. Early Wesleyan records in Mitchell indicate that in 1904, Rev. Potter may have served in  Vivian, Hope Valley and Stony Butte. The first local pastor, Rev. W, Minty, homesteaded ten miles north of Vivian. The Hope Valley church was given to the  congregation in Vivian in 1913. In 1911 a new church was dedicated at Stony Butte and a new parsonage was built in Vivian. In 1978 the Vivian church became part of the  Presho Methodist Church. (source,p.135, Of Rails and Trails, 1989)