Martin & Zelda Capehart Genealogy Website
Martin & Zelda Capehart Genealogy Website
Medicine Rocks, Montana Wesleyan Church
Medicine Rocks Wesleyan Church is located at 200 Medicine Rocks Road, Willard, MT.  It is 1 mile south of Medicine Rocks State Park, 1/4 mile west of MT 7 Highway, 23 miles south of Baker, and 12 miles north of Ekalaka.  Map  My aunt and uncle, Charley & Stella Maude (Morgan) Beeson, and their sons & their wives, Royal & Edna Beeson and Oral & Pearl Beeson and their daughter & her husband, Oliver & Delcie (Beeson) Cretsinger, attended church here.  My uncle Paul Morgan (my mother's brother) also attended the church in his youth.
Photos of the church and bell were taken when we visited the church and nearby cemetery in August of 2007.
There was no church in Medicine Rock territory before WWI, however Sunday School was begun in the Medicine Rocks Schoolhouse in about 1911.  Mr. & Mrs. Albert Johnson, both pastors held Sunday School and services.
L to R: Albert Johnson, Will Cretsinger and Melvina Johnson
In July 1917, Rev. J. C. & Mrs. McGovern of the Dakota Methodist Conference, Rev. Insley and Miss Vera Osborn came to hold a revival.  Miss Osborn played the piano and sang, Rev. McGovern played the guitar and sang bass, his wife sang soprano, Miss Osborn sang alto and Mr. Insley sang tenor.  Services were held in a tent and people came from far and wide by horse, wagon or buggy.  During the revival plans were made for the construction of a church, donations were pledged and work was promised.  Albert Schneider made many trips to Pevna, Baker, Willard, Ekalaka and Beach, ND to help raise money for the building.  Dean Sinclair of Baker was a large contributor.  Land was donated to the church by Stanley & Gertrude North of Willard, MT.  Some of the men who helped with the construction were George Blake (a plasterer), Art Clocksin (main carpenter), Harry Clocksin, Ellis Clocksin & Albert Schneider.  There were many others who helped from time to time.  Lumber was hauled from the railroad towns by 4 or 6 horse teams.  Men would take a load of grain into town, which was a long trip, stay overnight and come back the next day with lumber.
Rev. J. C. McGovern
He was the father of the former senator of South Dakota, George McGovern
Before construction of the church was finished, Miss Gertrude Preston came and held meetings at the home of Owen Gees.  Mr Gees had homesteaded at the "Rocks" and had a home there, a little west of the former picnic grounds.
Gertrude (Preston Clocksin
and her husband, Ellis

Miss Gertrude Preston was the first pastor of the Medicine Rocks Church.  She had just returned from completing her first term of service as a missionary in Africa.  She also taught Sunday School classses adding interest to them by sharing highlights of her missionary work in Africa.  She lived with the George Blake family until she found a small house near the Clocksins.  She married Ellis Clocksin on March 21, 1918.

The construction of the church was finished in 1918.  A dedication service was held in the summer of 1919, with 3 services (morning, afternoon & evening) and a picnic lunch.  About 15 to 30 people were in attendance.  Ministers present were Rev. Harris, Rev. McGovern and Rev. Blake.

Early pioneers who attended this church were Mr. and Mrs. Les Thompson, Glen, Ray, Fay & Ethel; Royal, Oral and Pearl Beeson; Oliver Cretsinger; Peabodys; Maude & Charles Beeson; Albert Schneider; Dan and Mabel O'Conner; Mrs. August Preuss; Archie Judd; Louie Brufford; Mrs. Ebbel; Fred Koehlers; Barton Enos; Harry, Art & Ellis Clocksins; Stanley Norths; Howard Cookes; Scott Mitchells; Walter Anders Sr.; and Owen Gees.
Medicine Rocks Wesleyan Church -- 1934
Photo courtesy of Janet Enos
In the 1960's the belfry was removed from the building and the large bell was later donated to Brainerd Indian School at Hot Springs, South Dakota.  Pastors were difficult to obtain and in the 1970's it looked like the church would close its doors.  Rev. Ben Joachim assumed the pastorate of the church in 1975 and under his leadership, new hope and purpose became the churches battle cry.  A new addition was completed which included a fellowship area, kitchen and bathrooms.  Gladys Mehling deeded land west of the original land site so there would be room for the fellowship hall to be added.
Church in mid 1970's with fellowship hall added
With the new life and new hope being experienced at the church, the church looked more and more incomplete without the bell.  Through David Gowan's efforts, arrangements were made to replace the bell at Brainerd and bring the original bell home.  The fellowship hall and bell were dedicated in May of 1981 with District Superintendent Dean Watson and David Gowan present.
       Pastor's at the Medicine Rocks Church
     1917 - 1992

                 Miss Gertrude Preston (1917-18)      Harmon Vreugdenhil (1948-50)
                 W. J. Edgar (1918 )                          Clyde McCone (1950-53)
                 L. D. Harris (1918-21)                      Walter Kemp (1954)
                 R. J. Eling (1921-24)                         Eugene Gisselbeck (1955-57)
                 Leon Briggs (1927-29)                      Ellis Sollie (1959-63)
                 Arthur Reisdorph (1929-34)              Wilburt Kidd (1964-66)
                 Archie C. Buell (1934-40)                 Wilbur Moulton (1966-69)
                 Ralph Helle (1941-42)                       Adolphus L. Cretsinger (1969-72)
                 T. S. Lee (1943-45)                          David Olmsted (1972-73)
                 Ellis Sollie (1945-47)                         Benjamin Joachim (1975-92)
                 Erwin Anderson (1947-48)


Source: History of the Medicine Rocks Church, Willard, Montana, 1917 - 1987 compiled by Marilyn Hutchenson.  Courtesy of David and Janet Enos, Baker, MT
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Background by Zelda: Photo Medicine Rocks Wesleyan Church August 2007
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