Our Sources. The pioneer era churches in Wyoming have left very few records. Dr. Bryant D. Badger wrote about the later history of the Disciples in Wyoming and presented a few hints about the very early churches. Historian James DeForest Murch offers a few sentences about Wyoming churches and people. From there, the researcher must look to congregational histories, libraries and historical societies. Over time, families will write to us with information and photos, rounding out the saga of the past.
The church began in 1886.
This congregation began in 1888, making it much earlier than the present First Christian Church that dates from about 1925. The earlier group, established by E. L. Allen, likely did not have its own building, but rented facilities. From May 1897 to June 1898 the minister was O. A Slapter.
The new church may not have lasted many years because F. E. Blanchard of Sheridan wrote in the Christian Evangelist of 1905 that Cheyenne did not have an active congregation.
At it beginning, this group had just three members. They are to commended for moving ahead with establishing the church.
The Laramie Christian Church was established in 1888 by William Richards and his son Eli. There were nine members. By the following year, they had grown to thirty-four members. Charles O. Rowe recently of Nehema County, Nebraska came to minister to the church and finished his earthly sojourn in Laramie in 1893. There are interesting incidents in his life on this link.
Mr. Rowe wrote in 1889,
We had 3 confessions yesterday, one to baptize tonight, expect others. Our Sunday-School attendance yesterday was 85, and great interest by the children. Our hopes are bright just now.
Sometime early in the 1900, the group stopped meeting.
James DeForest Murch reports that the church was established by L. I. Mercer.
A local observer wrote:
Beckton, Sheridan Co., July 24.—The last six months we have enjoyed the best of sermons. Bro. Mercer, a young minister from the Christian denomination, has been ministering to our spiritual needs, and we have been greatly blessed thereby. Last February he began a series of meetings in this neighborhood. Everybody was glad to come to meeting, and night after night the house was crowded and right in the coldest weather of the year. Fifteen sermons were delivered. As a result, 10 were baptized.In the nearly itinerant population, the gains did not hold. An evangelist wrote:
I have just returned home from Beckton, Wyo., where I conducted a two weeks' meeting. I found an old church of nine members, organized by Bro. Mercer, four years ago. At the conclusion of twelve nights' meeting we were able to reorganize with nineteen members, seven of which number being baptisms. Many others seemed deeply impressed.
A congregation was established in 1892.
The following year, the plans became reality. J. A. Banta was minister at the time. (One source says the building was dedicated in 1906.)
This group was established in 1897 by Christians from Newcastle.
Two families, hotel keeper James E. Grant and William and Esther Kilpatrick, settled here and engaged M.F. Redlein to evangelize the community. This was about 1897. Within three weeks a church of forty members was organized. The first services were held in a tent. Mr. Redlein moved on to Tacoma, Washington by 1899.
Later, under the leadership of A. Sanders, the church rented the City Hall. They also reached out to the coal mining camp at Cambria, seven miles north.
By 1907, the little church had been able to build a building of its own at E. Warwick Street and N. Sumner Avenue. The building was on the SE corner of the intersection. It was 16 feet at the eaves, but the belfry reached to 40 feet, kerosene lamps were the source of light at night and stoves were used for heat.
Four years earlier, preacher J. S. Becknell had written,
We have completed our church building here. even to the painting, and aim to have our dedication services the fourth Sunday in September. Our Sunday School is doing well for this place, and other services as well.
Ten Sleep Map
A congregation was formed in this Big Horn Valley community in 1897, but disbanded in 1899 or 1900.
This congregation dates from 1900.
Wyoming historian Bryant D. Badger writes about the beginning days of the church:
In 1902, James F. Ewers came to Sheridan from Missouri and went into the grocery business with his father. There was no Christian Church in Sheridan and, as he was out soliciting business for the store, he came in contact with a great many people in the area and found that there were a good many who had a Christian Church background. He saw the possibility of starting a church and began the work of assembling a congregation.
The first minister was F. E. (or F. A.) Blanchard. Among the men sent into ministry from Sheridan was Errett Barber. In 1929 he baptized his nephew Burton W. Barber. Burton was born in Sheridan and lived there some years. He was best known for his years of teaching at Midwestern School of Evangelism in Ottumwa, Iowa. This is a link to B. W. Barber's memorial page.
Little is known about this church that began sometime prior to 1906. J. A. Banta wrote from Ten Sleep that he was beginning a meeting with the church soon (1906) and that E. W. Sewall of Thornton, Washington would be assisting. The plan was for Sewall to remain following the meeting. Banta was then to hold meetings in Thermopolis and Lost Cabin.
Back to Pioneer Menu