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Eteläkarjalainen maisema
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sunnuntai 5. maaliskuuta 2017

History of a demolished Finn Church in Lead, South Dakota

The Black Hills Weekly, June 9, 1971

This is a story of now demolished Finnish church and defunct congregation in Lead, Black Hills, South Dakota. I have written one article about this congregation and Snoma Cemetery some years ago. I have got new information for this short article from the local newspapers and in Calumet, Mich., published Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti (American Finnish Journal). I have also got some copies of congregation's church books. The main source has been an article in Black Hills Weekly, June 9, 1971. 
The old Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church, whose history was nearly as old as the town of Lead itself, was planned to be razed (in June 1971) to provide additional parking area for the visitors to the Black Hills, who tour the surface workings of the Homestake mine.
Births in the Lead Apostolic Lutheran Congregation,
Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti 05/30/1888

Located just above the Homestake tour guide house on Mill Street, the white wooden church was situated on Homestake ground and through the years has been the recipient of assistance from the mining company for its maintenance. Although extremely active during the years when a good percentage of the citys population was Finnish, the churchs congregation was gradually dwindled through the years until it could no longer afford to support a resident minister but depended upon visiting clergymen or laymen preachers. No services had been held in the church for the past year (1970). Although the church was not first incorporated until February 14, 1898, the congregation converted a log school house in the Washington addition of Lead for its services. Located on McCloud Street, the building was purchased June 18, 1888 from an L.R. Graves. But even earlier in 1887, was recorded the first birth in the congregation. In Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti (American Finnish Journal) the first congregational information related to the Apostolic Lutheran church in Lead was in May, 1888. It was given by Reverend Nels Pietila.
Layman preacher Matt Rivinoja's and his wife's
headstone at Hope Cemtery, in Newell, SD.

Signing the first incorporation papers were Henry Kirkila/Kiekila/Kickala. I. D. Pilda, Jacob Ojala, Gust Abramson and Jacob Korpela. The first records of minutes were dated February 4, 1895

The first pastor hired by the congregation was a Rev. Henry Jankala and some of the members names in 1898 included Matt Larson, Benjamin Hastie, Abe Lehto, Isaac Jeremiason, John Hikkela (Heikkila?), Sackari Seppala, Abner Kivijarvi, Aate Pelto, William Johnson, Fred Kangas, Lars Jacobson, Matt Rautio, Auti (Antti?) Tahti, Henry Buskala, Gust Abramson and Fred Niemonen. The secretary was Matt Larson and presiding trustee, Benjamin Hastie.[1]

The Mill Street church building was purchased from Mr. and Mrs Maurice Walsh of Spearfish for $3000 in January, 1909, and was formerly a store. Trustees at that time were Benjamin Hastie, Frank Anderson and John H. Frimodig. Pastor Nels Pietila was the pastor from around 1902 until his death in 1927.[2] He married, baptized and confirmed many members of families in the area. Birth records show names of towns, which like many of their residents are no longer alive, such as Perry, Brownsville, Horse Creek and Snoma. The services were all conducted in Finnish. Members of early-day congregation recalled that Pastor Pietila wore a beard and was a saintly-appearing man. He held the respect of the youngest Sunday School pupil to the oldest members.
Layman preacher Matt Aijala

Matt Rivinoja, a shoemaker by trade, served as a layman preacher until his death in 1932 and from then on the congregation secured visiting ministers and missionaries whenever they were available.  Rivinoja lived in Newell. Two other members served congregation as lay preachers, at times, in addition to Pietila and Rivinoja. They were Benjamin Hastie and Charles Aarni. The Rev. Raymond Tulkki of Michigan served as pastor years 1941 1942. He was followed by Matt Aijala, layman preacher, who came from Moose Lake, Minnesota. He served until his death in 1961.
Pastors from neighboring states held services, for several years, often in private homes as the congregation became smaller and smaller with the passing of older families. Some of these included Benjamin Hastie, John H. Frimodig, Charles Aarni, Andrew Autio, Isaac Fors, Konola, Rantanen, Kermu, Ahonen and Lagg familes. The congregation filed for incorporation March 26, 1948, after its first 50-year charter expired. A group of five Lead residents obtained incorporation papers. They were William Rautio, John Harju, Lempi Kormu, Fannie Lomheim and Mary Jacobson.

[1] In Amerikan Suomalainen Lehti appears also following names: William Wuopio, Isak Fardig, Henry Hiltunen, Matti Ojala, Johan Koskela, Abram Kiwijarwi, Esaias Pekkala, Johan Fredrik Niemi, Isak Kermu, Henrik Haka, Kalle Perttula, Kustu Ojala, Abram Luukkonen

[2] Nels Pietila was lay preacher/pastor in the congregation already from the year 1886.

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