MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
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History of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints

Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and Surrounding Districts,
Pages 107 - 109

Many of the early settlers of the Lease Country were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As a result some of their first thoughts were concerned with a place to meet. They adhered to Matthew 18:20 "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Materials were scarce and money that was available went for food, clothing, and shelter. Many of the first meetings and Sunday Schools were held in the homes of the members from 1912 to 1916, under the leadership of Eugene Robinson, Tom Wilson, Earl Scoville, and Edward Williams.

In September 1916 an organization took place under the direction of President Edward J. Wood of the Alberta Stake. Andrew M. Spence was chosen as Presiding Elder. They were dependent of the Taylorville Ward.

In 1922 the Branch became independent and Eugene Robinson was chosen as the Branch President. He served for three years and in 1925 Harry J. Orcutt became Branch President with Henry W. Walburger and John R. Wiggill as councilors.

In 1926 Arthur T. Carter replaced Henry Walburger as councilor and was also chosen to serve as Branch President of a newly formed dependent branch at Twin River, with Sam O'Bray and Fredrick Gibb as councilors. William G. Bennett later served as a councilor. The Tom Carter family were very faithful and many times walked a distance of six or eight miles. There was also a Relief Society organized in Twin River on 17 Dec., 1939 with Mabel Jones as president, Maleta Carter as first councilor, Venice Allen as second councilor, and Pauline Sibley as secretary. This branch continued to function until 1940 when they joined the Del Bonita Branch.

Fred Gibb was Presiding Elder over the branch at Rinard and was released July 2, 1933, and Bruno Sommerfeldt was sustained as the new Branch President. He was released in September of 1936 and Harry J. Orcutt was called to preside. At this time church was held in many schools; Rinard, Lens, Twin River, Shanks Lake, and Del Bonita and also in the members' homes. Several families moved away from the district and in 1940 the Rinard Branch was discontinued. They then met with the Del Bonita Branch.

President Harry J. Orcutt was released 14 Jan., 1945 and Elmer P. Carter was called as Branch President. He served until Oct. 15, 1950, when Winslow Sommerfeldt was called to be Branch President.

In 1950, on the advice of Stake President Brewerton, it was decided to move the church building at Kimball to Del Bonita. The estimated cost of moving and renovating was thirteen thousand dollars. The Branch share of the money was raised by the spring of 1953. A site was next chosen and approved and the land was donated by Elder Celdar Collet. Ground breaking began immediately. The excavation of the basement took place in February of 1953, with the help of practically every family in the district. All the cement was poured August 24, 1953 with forty-one men participating. The sisters of the Relief Society served hot meals during these special work days.

Henry Roeloff of Lethbridge received the contract to move the building for twenty-five hundred dollars. Adverse weather and mechanical trouble resulted in the chapel being left on the truck at Taylorville for three months. The building was set on the foundation in the spring of 1954 and then the real work began. The work proceeded rapidly until harvest time and then stopped.

Small projects were undertaken when time permitted. An office and five classrooms were built in the basement. In the spring of 1960 we decided to put forth a special effort to have our building dedicated. After many days and nights of work the building neared completion. Reithman and Hudson came to put on the last finishing touches and the drapes were hung Friday morning August 26, 1960.

President Harold B. Lee, of the Counsel of the Twelve, came to give the dedicatorial prayer. The meeting was to have started at 8 p.m. We waited until midnight for Brother Lee, as his plane didn't arrive in Great Falls on time. Our time was well worth our wait. It was a very spiritual meeting.

Winslow Sommerfeldt was released November 1, 1954, and Hubert L. West was called to preside over the branch. He served until September 12, 1965 when Louis Secretan was sustained as Branch President.

While Louis was in the presidency the Branch was officially transferred from the Alberta Stake to the Raymond Stake, on 9 March 1969. Louis also decided to move to Cardston. He sold his farm and moved in June 1972.

Melvin Thomson was then called as the new Branch President. More yard work was done. New lawn, shrubs, and flowers were planted, and a new sidewalk was put in. Melvin sold his farm and moved to the Aetna ward so Robert Campbell, a school principal at Del Bonita, was called as Branch President, August 24, 1974, and presided over the branch until August 10, 1975, when he accepted a teaching position at the college in Vermillion. George Foggin was sustained as Branch President 17 August 1975.

In the early days the auxiliaries of the church were also organized. Sunday School was always held with the Sacrament Service. The first Primary on record was an organizational meeting held at Julia Wiggill's home in the Rinard district 27 August 1933.

In 1951 there were sixty children enrolled in primary and fourteen were L. D. S.; Mildred Jensen was the president. In 1952 Mabel Secretan was president, with fifty-two children enrolled, twelve of them L.D.S. May 16, 1948 Primary was held with the United Church on Mother's Day. The following year Primary Conference was held in the Foggin Hall. A plant was given to all mothers as this was Mother's Day, May 8, 1949. On 2 March 1980 the primary was discontinued on week days and is now held on Sundays to save on energy and to have mothers in the homes more.

The young men and young women from twelve to eighteen years have M. I. A. They put on one or two act plays and held a Green and Gold Ball each year. Some of the young people participated in the dance festivals held in Raymond, and the Sportsplex in Lethbridge. One year some went to the last dance festival held in Salt Lake City.

Relief Society is the sisters' organization and was started in the early years. Julia Wiggill, Reta Talbot, and Martha Strate were some of the first ones in the presidency in the Rinard Branch. Relief Society has been held throughout the years.

Our church is a missionary church and the following are the ones who have been called on missions for the Del Bonita Branch. In 1933, February, three young people were called from the Rinard Branch on a three week stake mission, Rose Talbot went to Cardston first ward, June Wiggill to the Cardston second ward and Roland Wiley to the Leavitt Ward. LeRoy Rasmussen was the first missionary to be called on a foreign mission and he served in the New Zealand mission from January 1955 to 1957. Gordon West went to the British mission in January 1959. Darwin Carter went to the New Zealand mission in January 1959. Allen West went to Eastern Canada in January 1962. Vernon Carter went to Columbus, Ohio in November 1963. Ronald Rasmussen went to South Carolina in March 1965. Wendel Carter went to London, England in April 1968. Evan Bennett went to the South Texas mission in January 1970. James Holladay went to the Colorado Denver mission in March 1975 and John Holladay went to the Arkansas Little Rock mission in October 1975.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup