Please enjoy this article from our archives, compiled by
Mary Ellen Honsaker in 2010 for the St. Thomas' Cookbook.
Note that not all information is current!
St. Thomas' through the first 100 years
The Episcopal Church first visited Dubois in 1901 in the person of the Rev. John Roberts from his mission station on the Wind River Reservation. Services were held in various places in town until the church building was finally constructed in 1910.
In 1905 Dr. Welty had donated two lots designated for a church and a ladies' guild. The logs were cut at the tie hack camp and the church was built by volunteers at an estimated cost of $500.
The Wyoming Tie and Timber Company played a large part in the building of St. Thomas'. One of the early stained-glass windows was a gift from Martin and Lydia Olsen. Living in their home called "Dunloggin," Martin managed the work for the Company.
The church truly served as the community church for many years; marrying, burying and baptizing all that were in need. The sacristy and living quarters were built on in 1926, soon followed by the community room in the early 1930s.
Early on, Bishop Thomas, the Wyoming Bishop, sent deaconesses to oversee the little log church day to day, and they lived in the space now used for coffee fellowship after church and for Sunday school rooms. Miss Adeline Ross was the best known of these.
The story is told that, while teaching a Sunday school class, she heard a worker laying shingles on the roof take the Lord's name in vain. Finding the worker later nursing a sore thumb, she told him "My friend, I don't mind damns or hells, but please don't use the name of my friend and Savior that way." It is said that Dubois language was notably cleaned up for quite a while after that!
Miss Ross loved education and used her own money to aid Dubois children in pursuit of higher education. That led to the Women's Guild establishing a scholarship loan
fund in her name that has evolved, through generous donations, into the Adeline Ross Scholarship Fund, each year giving out scholarships and Christian education grants to this day.
In 1946 the beautiful stained-glass window of St. Thomas and Christ over the altar was given by Mrs. Ivan Albright.
Then in 1948 the first Swedish Smorgasbord Supper was organized, based on the Scandinavian origin of so many of the Tie Hacks. The spring dinner became so
popular, with diners coming from as far as Casper, that more and more seatings had to be held.
From 1989 to 2004 the community took a rest from the dinner, but then the Headwaters Arts and Conference Center resurrected the dinner, using many of the old recipes and women with memories of the original days teaching the "youngsters." Girls in the town dress up and do their Scandinavian hairdos to serve as waitresses. Mary Back, a beloved artist and active member of St. Thomas' painted the busy kitchen scene at the early Smorgasbord.
That same year of 1948 the church must have been full of energy for the guild started a Summer Square Dance that has lasted to this day. It is held in the Rustic Pine Tavern Frontier Room now, every Tuesday night from June to September. Ladies from the church manage the fun and noisy evening with many town youth and ranch dudes in attendance, and then they give away the profits to organizations that do service in Dubois as well as beyond.
The other main fundraiser for the Guild was an Annual Fall Opportunity Sale, with donation of items and sorting help from throughout the community. An Ice Cream Social on the Fourth of July later became another successful event for some years.
In 1965 the priest, the Rev. Richard Maddock, made a new sign for the church from redwood and native stone that was left from building the fireplace in the remodeled living quarters, now coffee room. That sign still stands and has just been refurbished for the 2010 Anniversary of the church.
The logs of the sanctuary and other connected buildings are also being refinished and new chinking applied as a facelift for this special year. A new memorial stained-glass window is also planned.
The St. Francis Garden of flowers next to the wall of the sanctuary was lovingly tended for years by sisters Thelma and Edith. Other women took up the garden as their project after the sisters were gone and all summer tourists passing may be seen to pull over and come up for pictures and a visit to the little log church.
The 1990s found the church acquiring the log home next door to the sanctuary and it became home to the church office. In 1998 the Community Food Bank was started in the kitchen of that home and now serves around 25 households on Saturday mornings as well as 20 more from a food closet at the High Plains Senior Center.
Energy grew even more as the year 2000 came. Members of ECW (Episcopal Church Women, formerly the Guild) began a Healing Shawl Ministry, knitting with prayers and sending blessed shawls out through church members all around the country. They are also given to all folks in distress in town.
Rag Dolls to Love also became a ministry, with parishioners assembling and stuffing rag dolls for children in war-torn countries, especially in the Middle East, through a program started by the wife of a former Wyoming bishop.
In 2006 the Food Bank procured a grant to start a Community Garden in an unused and run-down playground beside the Community room, and that led to a small Farmers' Market that same summer on the church lawn. Both the Garden and the Market have grown, and on Sundays noon to 3 p.m., July through September, the Farmers' Market has become an event looked forward to every season by the town folks.
The tradition of a Blessing of the Animals in October to honor St. Francis has also become an annual St. Thomas event in the Dubois town park.
The Opportunity Sale, in the meantime, took root as a dream by a group of women to have a year-round thrift shop. The Texaco station next door was purchased and, with plenty of volunteer help, as in 1910, it was converted into the Opportunity Shop, with a western-style front porch to match the town boardwalks. The grand opening was in 2006, and the loan has already been paid off!
Community support has been amazing. At this time, an additional room for furniture and appliances is being added to the back.
A final quote from Mary Allison's Dubois Area History sums up the 100 years like this: "The church members and their Dubois friends have shown that working together in the love of Christ and caring for one another is essential to the posterity and well-being of the community."