Primitive Baptists in the State of Montana

Brief Historical Sketch of Montana

The territory which became the State of Montana was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Montana was admitted to the Union (became a state) on November 9, 1889, by presidential proclamation, the 41st state. Prior to becoming a state Congress made Montana a territory (a part of the U.S. not included within any state but organized with a separate legislature) in May 1864.

Primitive Baptist Labors in Montana

Elder William R. Welborn, of North Carolina, traveled to the far west in 1889. He came to Chestnut Valley, Montana, in July 1889, and remained over five months, suffering many hardships. He (with others who had come with him from North Carolina) held services there, near the Missouri River, in Cascade County, but no church was organized.



Friendship Church was organized on Saturday before the first Sunday in September, 1892, at the Phipps school house on Middle Creek, Gallatin County, Montana, seven miles southwest of Bozeman, on the Northern Pacific Railroad. This was the first church of our faith and order in Montana. The church was gathered by Elder George W. Murray, of Friendship Church, Winchester, Illinois. Elder Murray remained in the area for at least three weeks, during which time the congregations increased from just a few until there was a full house.

Among the members of Friendship Church, near Bozeman, when it was organized, were Deacon C. M. Walker, formerly of Sherman, Texas, and Deacon Lewis Lay, formerly of Martinstown, Putnam County, Missouri, and W. E. Thompson.

In 1894 Elder Nicholas Sheplar made a visit to the area, and helped ordain Bro. C. M. Walker to the gospel ministry. In 1896, Elder Sheplar, who was a member of Murrayville Church in Morgan County, Illinois, moved to the Bozeman area. Elder Sheplar's wife died in 1897, and his health failed by 1911, and he lived with his daughter Mary Sheplar, until his death in 1917.

Scattered Brethren and Sisters in Montana

Other brethren and sisters living in Montana included:

Frank S. Young and wife, Sarah Young (from Liberty Church, Sidney, Iowa); they were located at Hawarden, Mondak, and Geraldine, Montana, at different times between 1911 and 1916. J. H. Culley (formerly of Liberty Church, Sidney, Iowa), also located at Hawarden, Montana. John L. Killion, and Joseph Killion, and their families, all from Goshen Church, Saline Co., Missouri. They were living in Carter, and Genou, Montana, respectively. Nancy V. Copeland McMahan, from Goshen Church, Saline Co., Missouri, living at Red Lodge, Montana. Jeda Epperson Sears, from Chariton Church, Callao, Missouri, living at Roundup, Montana. E. O. Morin, from West Union Church, Orrsburg, Missouri, living at Broadview, Montana. J. M. Salsbury and wife, from Hazel Creek Church, Greentop, Missouri, living at Java, Montana.

In 1913, Elder W. T. Branson made a trip to Montana and held meetings for some of these scattered brethren named above, but no church was organized as far as we know.

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