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St. Ann's Catholic Church Hebron, ND

Father Jeffrey Zwack

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History of St. Clement’s Church in Haymarsh, North Dakota


In 1878 a mail and freight stage line, known as the Fort Keogh Trail, was established between Bismarck, ND and Fort Keogh near Miles City, Montana.The valley known as Haymarsh is located near the Old Fort Keogh Trail and the Custer Trails that passed through western North Dakota in the area about 10 miles northeast of the city of Hebron.


The first homesteaders, mainly of German or German-Hungarian Catholic descent, came to the Haymarsh area beginning in 1883 from Michigan, Ohio, and Iowa.In 1887, a small 14’ x 40’ wooden frame building served as the first church and also the Post Office. A wooden roof was put over a rock foundation and that served as a church until 1905 when the structure was struck by lightning and burned.


The second church, built on the same rock foundation, was constructed in 1905, as well as a rectory. In 1936, both of these buildings burned from an over heated furnace in the church on a bitterly cold Sunday morning. The present church building was built in 1937, again on the same rock foundation as the original church.


In 1983, with death of their resident pastor, St. Clement’s became a mission of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Hebron. For the following years up until 1992, a weekly Mass was said at St. Clement’s on Sundays. However, only special occasion Masses are held there now. One event that is celebrated annually is their long tradition of having a Corpus Christi Feast Day Mass with an outdoor Eucharistic Procession in the spring. Present and former parishioners as well as other guests come from across the state to pray for good growing conditions and a bountiful harvest.


The past and present church-site property includes several other buildings, including a priest house, a tile-brick schoolhouse, a car garage, a storage shed, and outhouses. Located nearby on the church property, is the St. Clement Cemetery, which contains many interesting stone and metal-cross gravesite markers.Nine families are currently listed on the parish roster.


St. Clement’s Church still stands as a refuge on the North Dakota prairie as a tribute to a rural community who believed in a hard work ethic, who reached out to others in need, and who had a deep faith in their purpose in life. For over 100 years this rural parish was served by the Benedictine monks from the Richardton Abbey, and for forty-four years this farming community provided its children with an outstanding education, not only in secular subjects, but also in their Catholic faith. The fruit of this faith community is over twenty religious vocations that have their roots in Haymarsh.





Saint Clement Cemetery