Elbowoods Memorial Congregational Church
Officially, this church is now known as Susan Webb Hall Memorial Congregational Church. It once served Elbowoods, North Dakota, a town now-submerged under Lake Sakakawea, as part of the Fort Berthold Indian Mission which dates back to the 1870s.
The church was organized in 1899 and this building built in 1926. It was relocated in 1953 to a spot on high ground, nearly eight miles north-northeast of Elbowoods, to escape the rising waters of Lake Sakakawea. It is just off ND 1804, about fourteen miles west of Roseglen, and it is one of a number of structures which were relocated from Elbowoods.
The state historical society has a photo of five young girls standing on the steps of this church in the twenties to forties era here.
Charles Hall, an Englishman with a thirst for spreading the gospel set out for so-called Indian country in 1874. He married his first wife Emma Calhoun, who died a few years later, then remarried Susan Webb, the namesake of this church. The late Reverend Harold Case wrote a book called “100 years at Fort Berthold” in 1977 which tells the story of Elbowoods. Charles Hall died in 1940.
Just inside the front door of this church is a very tight passageway with a ladder leading up into the bell tower.
Terry decided to go up and get a look. He wore a camera while making this climb, so we’ll have video coming soon.
Looking out on the cemetery from the bell tower.
It’s an understandably sensitive subject when you’re talking about people’s remains, but the appearance of this cemetery suggests some of the deceased who died prior to 1953 were originally interred elsewhere, then relocated to this place, presumably to escape the coming flood. I haven’t spent enough time at the library to know the full-story, so please leave a comment below if you know more.
This monument dedicated to the Hall family stands in the center of the cemetery.
It reads: Emma Calhoun Hall. Born 1850 — Died 1881. She was the first to give her life as a missionary for Christ among the Mandan, Gros Ventre and Arichara Indians.
The marker simply reads “Bell Porcupine”
This marker was so weathered, I could only make out the word “died” on the headstone.
It reads: Austin White Duck. Born Mar. 1st, 1903. Died December 24th, 1909.
Photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC