The Bell





Snaasen Pioneer Cemetery: General History

The following information is from an old Estevan website

General History of Snaasen Church and Pioneer Cemetery

The Snaasen Congregation was first formed in1903, in the North West Territories, where early settlers had claimed lands. Pastor S. Peterson, who traveled with horse and saddle, came from North Dakota, as a traveling Missionary and assisted the early settlers.

In 1904 two acres of land was purchased from the North West Territories with the intention of establishing a Church and grave yard site.

The official organization date was October 23, 1904. The first pastor who served the parish, was Reverend O.B. Sanders. It consisted of Wilcox, Midale, Macoun, Lac Qui Parle and Zion, (which joined later in 1919). Church services were held in the homes or schools, and services were only periodical as there were six locations to serve. The first language of the congregation was Norwegian, and later services were in English.

The Snaasen Congregation flourished and plans were made to erect a church 14 miles N.W. of Estevan, which was built in 1919, and dedicated in 1920. (Norwegian Lutheran Church and Cemetery). A six hundred pound (600) cast iron bell was placed in the steeple, manipulated by a strong rope. The tones of this bell could be heard over the prairies whenever it was rung.

Over the years there were 110 baptized, 64 confirmations, and at least 62 burials performed. The first burial was in 1910, and the last in 2002.

Changes were brought about by weather, the depression, decline of membership or family relationships. Weather took its toll on what had been a church building. The last service was held in the farm home of the late Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Hildahl in December 1954.

In 1956, the remaining members decided to sell the church, but, at the suggestion of the late Mr. Clarence Davidson, retained the bell. The church building was sold and moved to Lampman. The Snaasen members transferred to the Trinity Lutheran Church in Estevan in 1956. In 1974, the old Snaasen bell was re-dedicated to the Estevan parish, where it is electrically manipulated by a switch and its tones are heard in the city, reminiscent of days gone by.

Gone is the Snaasen Church building, the bell and its many memories of baptisms, confirmations, Christmas programs, church services and funerals. The cemetery, where 62 people of many ages are buried, is the only remaining part. Nature took over and it became a forlorn and sad place, and over the years the lilacs, caraganas, weeds, buck brush, etc. grew rampantly, almost undisturbed. It was a most barren and forsaken place and when people would come to visit the graves of their loved ones, it was not easy to enter.

Then, in 1978, a few of the former Snaasen members formed a committee to try to refurbish the grounds. The tangled brush was difficult to remove, so a man with a tractor equipped to remove most of it, and chemicals to destroy the roots were needed.

After the buck brush, lilacs, caraganas and weeds had been cut down in the cemetery plot, more weeds branches, etc. had to be cleared away. Harvey and Nora Ross hauled away many loads in their truck. They also assisted Irene, Myrtle, & Edna Hildahl and Herman Brovold to do hand picking of weeds - a big task. Later chemicals were applied to help control the weeds.

Everett and Edith Hildahl spent a great period of time as general caretakers.

Eventually Ted and Mary Lindgren were able to plant several pine trees. A fence was erected around the grave site and a billboard was erected by Edith and Everett Hildahl which gives the names and dates of those buried there. A name sign with a planter was also installed. All these accomplishments led to the placing of a guest book which includes a recording of manual service given to this cemetery.

In 1981, 1984, and 1991, our committee decided to have open air Remembrance services placing wreaths and flowers in memory of all the loved ones buried there. Invitations were sent out to all relatives and next of kin to attend . These were made possible with a loud speaker system, tapes for music and the former members leading the singing.