The development of Nebraska dates from the time that the early settlers first realized the great potential wealth
of the rich prairies. The lands adjacent to the Missouri river, which were highly prized because of the close proximity
of water and wood, were being forsaken for the more productive rolling land, miles from the river. Settlers soon
overcame their hesitency about locating on the open prairie, because some adventurous souls had broken a few acres
of raw land and reported tremendous crop yields. This is the history of the state and of Burt county. As reports
came to the river settlements of Decatur and Arizona, that the land just over the bluffs was more desirable for
farming purposes, a marked movement of settlers in that direction began.
The first recorded settlers in the vicinity of Oakland were, Aaron Arlington, a Philadelphia book seller, his wife
Harriet A. and their children, Mrs. Harriet Pilcher, Mrs. Amelia Blackstone, Mrs. Mary V. Trueblood, Mrs. Emily
A. Cline and Aaron B. Arlington. In 1857 this family located on the west half of Section 36, a part of which is
now included in the Town of Oakland. There is nothing in the records of the county to show that Mr. Arlington filed
on any part of this land, so it is presumed that they planned to make this a home until such time as they might
decide upon a good location for a homestead. Two of the daughters, Mrs. Amelia Blackstone and Mrs. Mary V. Trueblood
are now living and make their home at the Crowell Memorial Home in Blair, Nebraska, and although they were very
young at that time, yet they retain a very vivid picture of the broad expanse of open prairie which now constitutes
the beautiful and prosperous community surrounding Oakland. The overpowering urge of moving onward of the early
pioneer, seemed to be with Mr. Arlington, for five or six years later he moved to the eastern part of the county
and purchased a farm five miles south of Decatur, where he died in 1873.
About the time of the departure of the Arlingtons, in 1863, John Oak came into the vicinity and selected the site
of Oakland on which to settle, probably to take advantage of the abode left vacant by the Arlingtons. This land
having been granted by the Government to the State of Nebraska. Mr. Oak purchased a part of the townsite from the
State in 1871. However most of the land which Oakland now occupies was purchased from the State by George P. Thomas.
The year 1866 saw Erick Erickson, John H. Hanson, Victor Colson, Beng J. Fleck and John P. Anderson come with their
families, oxen and farming equipment to settle on the surrounding land. Other pioneers doubtless came during this
year, but the available records do not give their names. Mr. Anderson drew up a petition which was signed by the
other settlers, requesting the County Commissioners to give the name of Oakland to the precinct, which request
was granted, and the name Oakland first entered the records of Burt county. In the summer of 1886 a post office
was established and Mr. Oak was appointed Postmaster and Mr. Anderson assistant postmaster.
In 1867 Andrew Palmquist, Samuel Fried and Robert Hanson located here and the following year found the community
enlarged by the arrival of J. S. Lemmon, Oscar Samson, Charles and Andrew Beckman, Peter John, George Osborn, Adolph
Palmquist, A. G. Lindquist and Swan M. Lundstrom. Mr. Samson did most of the freighting for the growing community
hauling by ox team from Omaha for a number of years and then from Fremont. There were no bridges over the creeks
and streams and at some places fording was very difficult. A block and tackle used to pull the freight wagons across
troublesome streams was as important a part of a freighter's equipment as chains are today for the trucker.
A true picture of the life of the pioneer comes to us from the early recollections of Victor Colson. In the year
1866, Mr. and Mrs. Colson, J. H. Hanson, a brother of Mrs. Colson, and John P. Anderson left Moline, Ill. for Monona
county, Iowa, in a wagon which contained all their worldly possessions and after a journey of three weeks, reached
their destination. They purchased a timber claim Which contained patches of corn, wheat and sugar cane. From the
cane they pressed one hundred and fifty gallons of molasses which was later sold at a dollar a gallon. In June
of the same year Andrew Young, Eric Ericson, Andrew Johnson and Mr. Colson drove to Omaha to file on homesteads.
John Anderson crossed the river at or near Decatur, looked over the land on the Logan Bottom, and later with Mr.
Oak, went to Omaha, where they all met and selected the sites of their present farms. Nebraska was then a vast
prairie with only a but here and there between Omaha and Oakland. Between the Mission house north of Decatur and
Oakland was only the home of Cyrus Everett, located near where Lyons now stands. Three huts constituted the city
of West Point and a few log cabins comprised the City of Tekamah. In the summer of 1867, these men moved onto their
homesteads, the families of Mr. Colson and Mr. Anderson occupying one dug-out which had been constructed by the
men the previous summer. This was their first Nebraska home and with less than seventy five cents in their combined
pockets they faced the future with unbounded confidence of ultimate success. They managed to keep the wolf from
the door by living on potatoes which they had raised in Iowa and prairie chicken which were plentiful, until the
crop was harvested. The next spring Mr. Colson built a sod-house on his homestead and the family moved with all
their furniture which consisted of home-made stools and beds constructed from logs. The next year Mr. Colson broke
twenty acres of prairie sod and with Mrs. Colson's help planted ten acres of "sod corn". During his spare
time he broke sod for his neighbors for five dollars an acre. The grasshopper came that year and the total crop
Which they harvested consisted of forty bushels of corn. The settlers drove or walked to Decatur for groceries
and all lumber was hauled from that point. The nearest mail delivery was in Silver Creek. Mr. Colson was absent
frequently on long trips for supplies and his wife would be alone for days at a time. The Indians were troublesome
at times, for they followed a trail that led near the house and would steal or beg at every opportunity, or insist
upon being given lodging for the night. One can only guess at the number of sleepless and anxious nights that Mrs.
Colson spent under these circumstances.
In the winter of 1868, Mr. Lundstrom erected the firstnblacksmith shop in the community on a site south of the
old James Askwig house near the corner where the State Highway turns west towards West Point. The early plans for
the City of Oakland contemplated that the main business street of the town would be the road running north and
south past the Askwig house.
L. J. Malmsten and J. P. Rosen came in the year 1869 and engaged in business. A number of others came that same
year, but no definite record of their names can be found. The settlers had to haul their grain considerable distance
to mills, and realizing the possibilities of the Logan Creek for power, the Scandinavians Mill Association was
formed by A. Palmquist, Erie Erickson, A. P. Johnson, Samuel Fried, S. M. Lundstrom, Jacob Hanson, Charles Beckman,
Victor Colson, John H. Hanson, L. Olson, August O. Mogal, Andrew G. Lanquist, C. J. Anderson, A. C. Morello, C.
M. Magnuson, C. A. Fried, John F. Nelson, S. M. Nelson, P. Sonspair, A. Wahlstrom, J. P. Nelson, A. Hans Tunberg,
Petter Wangberg, Charles G. Wahlstrom, J. Sandberg, Peter Young, Andrew Beckman, Peter Ekleen, H. Anderson, P.
A. Anderson, H. Hanson, Andrew Lonson, Alexander Hanson and Wm. Fried. C. A. Fried was elected Secretary. The Association
was incorporated for $10,000.00, but there is no record that any extended work was done at that time towards the
erection of a mill or the construction of a dam.
Mr. Oak resigned as Postmaster in 1869 and Samuel Fried was appointed as his successor and served until 1877. The
year 1870 recorded a considerable growth in the number of families, among whom were James Askwig, George Healea
and Andrew Morello. The influx of settlers created a demand for mercantile firms in the new village, so the firm
of Marks & Ross of Sioux City, Ia., erected the first store, near Lundstrom's blacksmith shop, consisting of
a general merchandise and supplies stock. A short time later this store was purchased by Mr. Morello and Mr. Malmsten
and operated by them for a number of years. The next building was built by Garman & Hawkinson and ten years
later moved to Oakland Ave., where it now stands and is occupied by Swan P. Person, the jeweler. Samuel Fried put
up the next building, and in it conducted a store in which he sold nearly everything from drugs to machinery. This
building was placed south of the east and west road along the south line of Oakland and just north of the buildings
on the Hilma Vane farm. The building was later moved to the present town and placed on the east side of Oakland
Ave., and was at one time occupied by Osterberg Bros., who conducted a general merchandise store. The building
consisted of two stories and Andrew Beckman and A. B. Charde conducted the first real estate business in the Logan
Valley in their offices on the second floor.
The traveler passing along the farms in this vicinity saw only a few acres of broken land, practically no fences,
and farm homes that were built only of sod. Early residents say that at this time there was not a frame building
between Oakland and West Point.
The year 1873 saw many events that were important in the lives of our pioneers. Fred Renard came out from Wisconsin
and built the Oakland mill and dam. Heretofore there had been no mill closer than Fremont and this necessitated
long tiresome trips with a wagon. Shortly after the Oakland mill was constructed, Mr. Everett built a fine mill
at Lyons and the needs of the community were met. Improved farm machinery, the grain rake, the horse power thresher
and numerous other advanced and improved types of machinery was being introduced in the community. The thresher
used a great deal in this community was owned by Mr. L. L. Darling, a farmer near Decatur, and the power was furnished
by horses He reported that during all the years he operated, that very little profit was made and often the entire
season's work showed a loss, which it is understood is a fault common with most threshing outfits in this day.
The most important event of the year in the community life was the establishment of the First Evangelical Lutheran
Church and the First Baptist Church.
There was a farm problem as early as 1873, for Samuel Fried reports that he raised a crop of broom corn and shipped
one car to Chicago, which sold for five dollars, less than the freight charges. Thus early in the life of the Nebraska
farmer appeared his arch enemy, the railroads, who, as the years have passed, has devoured so large a part of his
earnings, and yet the rapid progress and development of this country would have been decades in coming if it had
not been for the rapid extension of railroad lines.
The early records of the Oakland School are very meager, due to the destruction of many records in the fire which
consumed the school building in 1916. On July 19, 1869, the boundaries of the district were established as follows:
Commencing at the northeast corner of Sec. 4, Twp. 22, Range 9, thence west 4 1/2 miles, thence south one mile,
thence west to the county line, thence south 7 miles, thence east to the southeast corner of Sec. 21, Twp. 21,
Range 8, thence north 2 miles, thence east 3 miles and thence north to the place of beginning, containing approximately
53 sections of land. On July 7, 1871, the district was reduced in size and comprised the present district and School
District No. 53, and on February 21, 1880, the territory embraced in School District No. 53 was removed and that
In 1875, Samuel Fried built his store, the lumber for which was hauled from the saw mill at Onawa, Ca. It was considered
a very valuable improvement in the community and the people were confident that it represented the establishment
of a permanent town with a bright future. There Were also many rumors of a railroad coming north from Omaha that
would some day pass through the Village. Efforts were being made by rival communities to induce the railroad officials
to lay the route through those villages and the residents were united in their efforts to promote their towns and
secure a railroad outlet for their products. The spirits of each community rose and fell as the rumors as to whether
it would be a railroad town or not, drifted about. Many traveled down to watch the construction as far as it had
progressed and as they viewed the unbolted ends of the rails pointing north, returned home with a determination
to urge their neighbors to greater efforts to secure the assurance of a railroad for their town. But the pioneers'
experience with the railroad official of that day was such that their operations were viewed with much suspicion
and when the railroads insisted upon receiving a bonus for the construction of the road bed, many opposed voting
bonds on the grounds that it was a commercial enterprise and should finance itself. The sentiment throughout communities
was very much divided on the subject, but Burt county voted to give a bonus in bonds amounting to $105,000.00 by
the margin of 64 votes.
Dr. T. W. Leeper came in 1877 and was the first physician to locate in the town. In the same year a change was
made in postmaster, Samuel Fried resigning and Andrew Morello was appointed to the position which he held until
1885. Out on the west side, a number of people gathered in the schoolhouse of District No. 33, and took the first
steps towards the establishment of the Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church and completed their organization on July
The year 1878 brought a well known figure to Oakland, John P. Rosen, who operated a store continuous until a
few years ago. He purchased an interest in the Fried store and later took over the entire business.
With the coming of the railroad assured, a number of public spirited men subscribed to a fund for the purchase
of the present township site of Oakland. Among those subscribing were: A. M. Peterson and John Wendell of Cuming
county; W. B. White, W. Harrington, Judge Blanchard, Clark Roberts and others of Tekamah; Peter Wangberg and P.
G. Anderson of Bell Creek; and George Osborn, A. O. Mogal, Victor Colson, A. Palmquist, J. P. Anderson, James Askwig,
Fred Renard, Samuel Fried, Less Roberts, and the firms of Charde & Beckman, Morello & Malmsten, John P.
Rosen and Harbor & Lemmon of Oakland. The proceeds of the subscription were turned over to James Askwig and
S. M. Lundstrom in payment for 80 acres of land, which was laid out in the town site. By arrangements with George
P. Thomas from whom Mr. Askwig and Mr. Lundstrom had purchased the land under contract, the deeds were made by
him to the Omaha & Northern Railroad Company. The company later designated Fred H. Davis as their agent for
the sale of lots and Mr. Davis in turn deeded the land to Henry W. Yates, who as trustee for the Railroad companies,
sold most of the lots in the present City of Oakland. A considerable difficulty in connection with title to Oakland
City lots can be traced to the indefinite and complicated transfers of title by these agents of the railroad company,
whose only concern seemed to have been to get as much money as possible out of the sale.
In 1879, Watson Parrish erected the old First National Bank, which was a landmark in the history of Oakland. It
was called the Oakland Bank by its first proprietors, Parrish & Drury. Later the bank came under the control
of Mr. Parrish alone, but he soon sold a half interest to a Mr. Griffin. In 1885, Mr. Parrish retired and Griffin
& Son became the owners and in 1889 the bank was purchased by Beckman & Co. In 1891 the. First National
Bank was organized, and this company succeeded to the interests of Beckman & Co., and continued to occupy the
building until the construction of the new building in 1904.
Valentine and Henry Neumann established a general merchandise store in 1879, which they conducted for a number
of years. The same years also saw the arrival of Ira Thomas, who became the business manager of George P. Thomas
& Co., at Oakland, in the sale and management of farm and town property. At this time the Grace Lutheran Church
was legally incorporated.
We leave the early period of Oakland here and come down to the Oakland of the present day. A beautiful young city,
with pretty homes, well kept lawns and modern business houses. With paved streets, gas for heating and electricity
for lighting, combined with telephone for rapid communication there is nothing lacking here but what could be found
in any metropolitan city, there is no reason for leaving the life of community like Oakland for any metropolitan
city, because with its modern school building and several churches, the industrial, educational and spiritual life
are all equally cared for.
There is one institution here that has made the name Oakland known to many people, and that is its fine tourist
park, which ranks among the finest in the middle west. It is well cared for and provides all desired accomodations
as well as being a center for activities and entertainments for all in that locality. Adjoining the park are the
grounds of the Burt county fair.
The Oakland of today has continued to carry on the spirit of thrift and progressiveness and is known far and near
for its activities, chief among which is its big tourist park lying just west of the city limits, where all conveniences
are to be found to make the overland traveler comfortable. It is beautified and is the pride of every citizen of
Oakland and the surrounding territory. In its midst is a splendid swimming pool that is another big attraction
patronized by thousands during the spring and summer months. West of the pool is a first-class baseball park.
As a livestock shipping center, Oakland claims the distinction of shipping out more stock than any other town of
its size in the United States. Grain is shipped in there in large quantities every year for feeding purposes. The
farmers feed their grain rather than sell it on the uncertain market, thereby making greater returns. The Northwestern
railroad built into Oakland, in September 1880, being the line that extends from Omaha to Sioux City. The Burlington
railroad built through Oakland on its cut off from Lincoln to Sioux City, bin 1907. The Burt County Fair is held
on grounds adjoining the park, where commodious buildings permit exhibitors to display their farm products. Paved
streets, and every modern convenience for beautiful homes and fine business blocks gives Oakland people a place
of which they have a right to be proud. The Independent, is the newspaper. It was established in 1880 by George
W. Brewster. It is now owned by Mrs. Esther Carlton, who is continuing the business of her late husband, C. G.
Carlton, who died in 1926. It is a modern plant in every particular. C. H. Krellie is the business manager. Oakland
is noted for its churches. Its citizens are strongly religious. A majority of the residents are direct from Sweden
or of Swedish descent, and they have continued to carry the religion of the homeland to their new home in America,
and they have inculcated the spirit in their children. The costly church edifices reflect the spirit of the community.
The Lutheran and Baptist denominations have grown with the city, the Methodist likewise have a fine church edifice.
The schools are second to none. A building costing approximately $75,000, gives the best of educational advantages
with a corp of some eighteen teachers.
The Oakland of 1929 has about fifteen hundred inhabitants, and has the undisputed claim of having more beautiful
homes and well kept premises than any other city in northeast Nebraska. Its business section is likewise in keeping
with the surroundings. The three banks, First National, Farmers & Merchants and Oakland State bank, have a
combined deposit of close to two millions of dollars. Oakland is the biggest livestock feeding point in the United
States. Although it is in the richest corn and alfalfa producing region, it consumes all this amount and ships
in more than a hundred carloads for feeding purposes every year. Fifty thousand pounds of butter fat and fifteen
thousand cases of eggs were shipped out last year, which does not include local sales.
A municipal gas and water plant, water system and sewers furnish the city with excellent service. The electric
light and power is furnished by the Iowa-Nebraska Light & Power Company. In 1922 eighty-four blocks of paving
were laid. The Bulington railroad running from Lincoln to Sioux City, built through here in 1907 giving excellent
passenger and freight accomodation together with the Northwestern line which came in 1878.
One of the finest parks in the middle west afford recreation not alone for the people of Oakland and all Burt county,
but for thousands of tourists who stop there every year on their tours from one part of the country to another.
Forty acres of wooded land has been improved to a high state of comfort, providing picnic grounds and a tourist
camp with all conveniences for serving meals; here also is a seventeen thousand dollar swimming pool and modern
bathhouse and nearby is located one of the finest ball parks and athletic fields in the state. Adjoining the park
are the county fair grounds of the Burt County Agricultural Society where commodious buildings have been erected
for the annual showing of farm products and livestock. The spacious park provides an excellent place for accomodating
the huge crowds that gather there every week during the summer and for the three days of the county fair held there
in the past years.
THE WEST SIDE COMMUNITY
The West Side Community is old, about 60 years, and it has a very interesting history, a history of how the
emigrants from the North of Europe came out there, young, hopeful, strong and willing, and conquered the wilderness
and made it a glorious garden. It is, naturally, the same story, that could be told of thousands of other communities,
but it is just as interesting, even if told many times and in different surroundings.
As early as 1870, and even before that, some Swedes ventured out here from Illinois and Iowa and from other Eastern
states. How they learned about the virgin prairies in the rich Logan Valley, we do not know, but here they came,
and here they made their homes. It was pioneer experiences, pioneer work for them, and we, in our late days, hardly
understand what hardships they had to go through. The great prairies were lying unbroken and wild; no houses to
live in, no wells where to get water, no growing crops to supply the needs of the next season. It was to start
from the very beginning, and so they did, gladly, hopefully and decidedly.
Most of those, who came here in the early days, were religious men and women, and it did not take long time, before
they came together to worship. As usual they divided up in several groups. In the South the Covenant Church started,
in North the Methodist. The Baptists and Lutherans went in to the new little village of Oakland to worship. It
is about the Methodist people of the West Side I am to tell in these lines.
In 1870, N. P. Erickson arrived from the East, and the next year his brother, J. Wm. Erickson, came with his family.
They selected land near to each other and constructed their humble dwellings, and soon the first little pieces
of land were broken. A new part of the Western prairie was beginning to be part of the great Western Empire. Nebraska
was growing. Other families followed the first ones, and each new year was a new contingent of Swedish emigrants
moving in. Section after section of land was taken and broken, and the lonesomeness of the prairie disappeared.
The new settlers had many things to fight, and there were many things that could not be fought but had to he taken
as they came. There came hail, grasshoppers, droughts or floods, and devastating storms swept over the wide lands.
In wintertime terrible blizzards would sweep down upon the prairies, and the huge snowdrifts would isolate neighbor
from neighbor. These things had to be endured, to try to fight them would have been futile. But whatever came,
the wilderness was subdued, and the poor men and women who had dared trying to conquer it, were victorious and
prospered, even if it was slow work to commence with.
Sometime between 1870-75 there came a Swedish Methodist Preacher, P. M. Lindquist, and visited the settlement,
preaching the Gospel to the farmer friends. But it was only one visit. He later returned to Sweden, and in 1892
the writer of these lines had the pleasure of hearing him lecture on "The Great West of America", and
he pictured it so romantic and wonderful, that more than one felt the desire to go and see it for himself. In 1875
the lively and powerful Rev. John Linn, one of the pioneers among Swedish Methodist preachers, visited the West
Side. The next year Rev. J. Bjurstrom came to visit. He had been sent as missionary to Nebraska. But not long after
his visit he passed away.
In 1877 John Linn came here again and stayed for awhile. On July 11th that same year he organized the Swedish Methodist
Church of Oakland, and 18 members were enrolled. They were A. J. Sanderson and wife, Theodore Peterson and wife,
J. Wm. Erickson and wife, N. P. Anderson and wife, August Jacobson and wife, (these both were married the same
day), John Talin and wife, N. P. Erickson and wife, J. P. Carlson and wife, Carry Talin and J. P. Jacobson. Of
these charter members there are still left in the church, J. Wm. Erickson and Mrs. Sophia Jacobson.
In September, 1877, Rev. Olin Swanson was appointed pastor of Oakland, with a salary of $125.00. He worked one
year in the new congregation, and several new members were added to the church, among them A. P. Anderson and wife,
Gust A. Nelson and wife, A. M. Peterson and wife, Peter G. Nelson and wife, Peter Arvidson and wife, Gust A. Uppfeldt
and Helena Uppfeldt.
This powerful and gifted pastor moved after only 1 years service, and was succeeded by the young and lively John
Bendix. He was a single man and made his home with the families, moving from one home to another, and as he had
no horse he had to walk between the places, but he did it and did it gladly, giving his best to the church and
his people. During the two years he remained here, more people moved in and joined the church, such as Erick Carlsten
and wife, Andrew Norine and wife, Carl Lofgren and wife, John Lofgren, Charles A. Anderson and Swan Johnson.
So far the services had been held in private homes or in the little schoolhouses, but as the congregation grew
it became evident, that something must be done for a central gathering place. A house of worship must be built,
and in his second year as pastor, John Bendix took up that work. Land was bought and a church building erected.
Those, who are still living of the first pioneers will speak with joy of the glorious old days, and of their happiness,
when the new little temple stood ready in the wildnerness. They were all so poor, and we can hardly imagine their
great sacrifice in building the church. Little they had when they came, prices were very low, and there was not
much to sell. Still they felt, that they had enough for subscribing to the church they loved, for the Master they
Hardly had the new church been dedicated before Bendix had to move. His successor was John Simpson. Among the newcomers
during his time of service were, John P. Henry and wife, C. J. Ringquist and wife, John P. Peterson and wife.
Simpson's successor was H. L. Lindquist. During his time, or 1882, the parsonage was built, and even if it was
small, it was large enough for the pastor and his family. It has since been added to twice, a kitchen in 1890,
and a front-room in 1903. Lindquist was a good worker, and many joined the church during his two years' of service.
We can mention Edward Erickson and wife, John Swanson (a brother of John Bendix) and wife, J. August Johnson and
wife, John M. Erickson and wife, Frank Maurits and Charles A. Johnson. Mr. Johnson became, from the very beginning,
one of the leaders in the church.
J. B. Anderson was the next pastor, and he remained three years on the West Side. Among the new members joining
during his time were, C. H. Willmar and wife, Olof Oquist and wife, N. Wm. Johnson and wife and Andrew Anderson
In 1886 Carl Nord was appointed pastor of Oakland, and worked here for three years. After him came O. J. Swan,
who stayed four years and was succeeded by Carl A. Seaberg, who stayed three years. A. F. Wine11, M. L. Wickman
and C. J. Mellberg came in succession and remained three years each, and J. A. Gabrielson two years. In 1907 John
P. Seaberg came and kept up the work for five years, and in 1912 he was succeeded by the present pastor, now serving
his seventeenth year.
When the church was organized, A. J. Sanderson was elected treasurer, N. P. Anderson and J. Wm. Erickson, stewards;
Theodore Peterson and A. P. Anderson were elected class leaders; P. G. Nelson, Sunday School superintendent, and
Gust A. Nelson, secretary. The first Board of Trustees had as members, A. M. Peterson, Theodore Peterson, J. Wm.
Erickson and N. P. Anderson. One of these trustees, J. Wm. Erickson, is still living.
In 1921 the church was rebuilt, a basement dug, the whole church renovated in such a way as to make it practically
a new building, and it is at present one of the most attractive country churches in the state.
During the 52 years this church has existed, it has been steadily growing, even if the growth has not been so fast.
For a rural church it is impossible to grow like a city church, because the community has not people enough. But
from the humble beginning it has gone forward and counts today about 250 members.
Nearly all of the old pioneers are gone. They lived a
useful life, they made the wilderness blossom as a rose, they built up a great empire where there had been only
a desert, and they left to their children a valuable inheritance, beautiful homes, cultivated fields, growing groves,
a church, where the younger generation could gather and worship the God, who, by his blessings had made it possible
to tame the wilderness. And now the children and children's children of the pioneers are keeping up the work, both
in church and in secular life. It very seldom happens that an emigrant finds his way to this peaceful community,
and if any one comes, he is Americanized so fast that we hardly know that he has come lately. As in all other emigrant
communities the foreign language is disappearing and the tongue of the country spoken; but the spirit of the old
pioneers, the honesty and uprightness of those who came here first are still living in the people, and we believe,
that this rural community has a great future.
In these days, when so much is said about abandoning the rural churches, about how unnecessary they are and about
how easy it is for the farmers to go to the towns and cities to worship, let us state, that the rural communities
with churches are always the most prosperous and successful, and as the church becomes the central point for community
life, the morale grows finer and better, and the people more refined and cultured. So it has been in the West Side
Community, and so we hope and pray, that it shall continue.