Saturday, September 23, there will be a tour of the Pinecreek community for a small group of people who’ve reserved their spot by making a donation to benefit the restoration fund for the Pinecreek Log Church, a project of Roseau County Historical Society. This little building is the oldest known church in Roseau County.
Even though the people in this area had good relationships with the native people, the immigrants were subject to rumors, worries, and misunderstandings about them. One such rumor of upcoming trouble about a year after the first settlers arrived, led the people of Pinecreek to quickly cut logs near their community to build a fort if needed. That scare was soon proven to be a misunderstanding and no fort was built.
Meanwhile, the settlers had been busy creating homes and breaking land for farms and had organized a church by the end of their first full year in Pinecreek, but had to do their worshiping in homes at first. With all those logs lying around, someone came up with the idea to build a church with them. Several of the settlers had very good skills from back home in Norway and they all worked on the logs as they had time, smoothing them with axes and notching the ends for beautiful square corners. By 1894, that log building was finished and being used for church with simple benches to sit on.
The building was also used for school for the growing community. Each family was asked to provide a desk for the school kids and several of the desks are still in existence, although the desk tops, which were attached to the backs of the seats in the style of the day, were later cut off to provide more seating.
Many of the immigrants had big families and small farms, and the population quickly grew as people claimed their homesteads. Homesteaders could claim 160 acres, and so several families could fit into a section of land. Soon the little log church was too small for the congregation, and a new church was built in 1908 with logs cut in Canada. That church is still being used by the Pinecreek people almost 110 years later, but now the congregation would probably fit in the old log church again. There are fewer families living in Pinecreek for many reasons. Smaller families with huge equipment can farm land that took dozens of people in the past. There are many other ways for them to make a living now, and very few young people want to be tied down by livestock and the daily work of managing a farm. So they move away and the old farm sites are gradually taken down by ambitious farmers. This is the situation in most of our local communities.
The only evidence of the large population Pinecreek once had is in the graveyard. We look forward to showing photos and hearing stories from the people on our tour as we drive around the community reminiscing about the old days.