October 23, 2014

Old Memorial Church and Cemetery to be rescued

By Jerry W. Kram

The old Memorial Church and Cemetery south of Parshall have been a fixture of the region for nearly 90 years, even if their location hasn’t been fixed. The church and cemetery were originally located in Elbowoods, but had to be moved when that community was flooded by the rising waters of Lake Sakakawea.

Ed Hall said members of the community tried to make it in the area, but eventually most migrated to Parshall, Mandaree or New Town or left the area entirely. The remaining congregation eventually moved their services to a church in Parshall.

"They moved people around but there was no plan," said Hall. "There were no jobs and no nothing out there. Pretty soon they had to leave. They put housing in Parshall so they all moved to Parshall and left that church vacant."

The old church and cemetery have suffered from neglect over the decades as older members of the congregation passed away and younger members moved to other communities. Hall said cattle have gotten into the cemetery many times and toppled over tombstones and the original concrete markers placed after the cemetery was moved are decaying and getting hard to read. Hall said the church and cemetery are historically important and must be preserved.

"The Reverend Hall and his wife and brother and the Reverend Case and his wife are all buried there," Hall said. "Then there are all the old tribal members who are buried there. They were all moved from Elbowoods. It really is a historical place."

Hall said a small group have tried to keep the grass mowed and repair vandalism and other damage, but there hasn’t been any kind of planning to preserve and maintain the facilities. Hall said he has been working on obtaining funding for the maintenance and preservation of the site.

Hall said the first step in maintaining the cemetery has been to put up a fence. The vinyl fence will keep the cows out and make the area easier to secure. The fence was completed earlier this month at a cost of $23,000. Hall is seeking more donations to make other improvements in the area.


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