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Schools, churches part of display at Pioneer Day

Pierce County Historical Association President John Norquist last week showed a map of the many school districts which used to exist in the county. “Early Rural Schools and Historic Churches of Pierce County” is the theme for an exhibit inside the River Bluffs History Center at Bay City, to be a highlight of this Saturday’s annual Pioneer Day. Photo by Bill Kirk.

BAY CITY—Few people haven’t attended either a school or a church in their lifetimes and, for most, it’s probably both.

So what could be more fitting for those interested in the past than the theme of a main exhibit at this year’s Pierce County Historical Association (PCHA) Pioneer Day—“Early Rural Schools and Historic Churches of Pierce County”?

The display, undertaken this spring and previewed at an open house earlier this month, is just one part of Pioneer Day festivities scheduled for Saturday, June 29, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the River Bluffs History Center in Bay City. Wednesday, PCHA President John Norquist credited Pat Wiff and Pat Mory of the organization for putting together the exhibit.

“They threw out some ideas,” Norquist said, mentioning other themes for past exhibits have included historic barns. “They researched old plat books,” he added, noting a favorite historical topic of his own is transportation.

The president admitted to a fondness for churches, especially aware of several which existed in his home area, Diamond Bluff. He said an Episcopal church there claimed a Norwegian-Danish heritage, with preaching done in both languages for special services until 1904. He thought the church might have originally belonged to a Minnesota conference; it kept its heritage intact until 1934.

There was also the Freewill Baptist Church in Diamond Bluff, which first met in that community’s school, he said. Oak Grove was home to a past Presbyterian church in the southern section of that town, while St. Mary’s Big River Catholic Church was originally quartered in a log cabin, he understood. Diamond Bluff’s United Methodist Church, now in the process of closing, had another claim to fame.

“It’s the oldest church in Pierce County,” he said.

For more please read the June 26 print version of the Herald. 

Bill Kirk

Bill Kirk was editor of the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth, from 1988 to February, 2015 and is now on staff as a reporter. He holds a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He previously worked in the media distribution department at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus and is past editor of The Tri-County News in Osseo, Wisconsin.

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