The first organized religious activity in this community was along in the early eighties. A sunday school was organized and maintained for some time in the log school house in the Ferguson lane, now known Jensen lane. This was about '86. Sometime later this school house was abandoned for Sunday school purposes and another Sunday school organized nearer the center of population which at that time happened to be the Trinneman place, now occupied by Ernest Zesiger. Mrs. Henry Harger was in charge. It was a Baptist Sunday School.
Rev. W. H. Bowler was the first ordained minster to hold services in the Lost River valley. He came here as a Baptist missionary from Bellevue, in '1896, and held services in the Baptist church at the end of the Ferguson lane, on the place now owned by Willard Sorenson. This was near the town of Lost River. The old building still stands and is one of the land marks of the community.
The first Sunday school on the Ferguson lane was conducted under the Methodist denomination. A short time later the Baptists organized a Sunday school and church. The L. D. S. people built a church at the end of what is now the King lane in '1896. In 1906 it was moved to Moore where the structure is still in use. James King was the first presiding elder [Bishop] of the church and Andrew Jensen was the first L. D. S. Bishop of Lost River.
It was a long step, beset with many disappointments, that was made from the old log churches to the present modern edifices that dow the valley. Especially is this true when comparing the first Sunday school and church activities carried on in the log school houses with the preparations that are now being made by the Baptists to Finnish their new $15,000 lava rock structure being built in Arco. [note: this building is still in use as of this date, 2002.]
Coe Hayne, writing in 'Missions' under the title, "A Rider of the Old Fremont Trail," is authority for the statement that it was only because of Mrs. Tom Ferguson and Mrs. Geo. Ferris that the first preacher to arrive in the valley was not egged out of the country. A parson had been asked to come to the valley to preach the funeral sermon for old Matt Boyle.
Many of the cowboys were preparing to leave for the roundup. They had made their threats that no preacher would be permitted to cast his lot on Big Lost River. Fearful that the cowpunchers would carry out their threats, Mrs. Ferguson (who was then Mrs. Gray) invited the boys to a chicken dinner. After they had gathered around the table Mrs. Ferguson asked the boys what grievance they had against a preacher, and she was told that they didn't " want no guy wearing a plug hat and swallow tail to tell them where to get of at." After the dinner hour, the ladies, Mrs. Ferguson and Mrs. Geo. Ferris got them interested in singing old hymns and for more than two hours the boys were entertained in this manner. When they left the boys agreed to prevent their mates from egging the preacher unless he wore a "be any." When the stage arrived a big crowd was in front of the Ferris' store at Old Arco to see what sort of a preacher would be the first to come to Big Lost. An old man, wearing a slouch hat and a long, greasy coat stepped down from the stage. He was a typical frontier parson, and Big Lost took him gratefully to its heart.
The Boyle funeral was held in the school house 10 miles above Old Arco. The next night the cowboys put on a huge carousal and shouted the preacher's text until daylight.
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