Standing alone in the Pleasant Valley Church could be seen for many miles and once was the center of life in the Pleasant Valley area.   Vandalism in recent years had all but destroyed both the exterior and interior.


Pleasant Valley Church stood as sentinel sixty years 
Aberdeen Times - April 17, 1975

By Melba Ferguson

The white church steeple which has stood like a sentinel over the Pleasant Valley landscape for the past 60 years is gone. By vote of the congregation the church was destroyed by fire Tuesday morning. The church, located on the North Pleasant Valley Road, 15 miles west of American Falls, was the target of constant vandalism. Several efforts had been made by the congregation to restore it or in some way protect it but the task was becoming too costly.

The newly formed Power County Society was granted time to investigate the possibility of moving the structure into American Falls and restoring it. The venture proved too costly.

The Martin Luther church came into being through efforts of the German-Russian homesteaders who moved into Power County during the early 1900's.

Most of the homesteaders had fled Russia during the time of the Czar and came to America to build a new life. Many had first lived in the Dakota's and Washington and then moved on the Paul-Rupert area before coming to American Falls. The first Lutheran services were conducted in the home of Ludwig Adolf Jr. Plans began to form in 1911 for a church building.

Times were hard and money almost non-existent. From early records, some offerings on Sunday totaled only two or three dollars. The Rev. E. Berthold, from the Ohio Synod conducted meetings in homes in the area in 1910 but the first organized congregation was formed in 1911.

Some of the charter members of the Martin Luther Church were Ludwig Adolf Sr, Martin Radke, John Neu, Emil Martens, Hermann Martens, Ludwig Adolf Jr, Bernard Adolf, Christian Walther, John Henne, John Doktor, George Doktor, August Gerber, Jacob Ills, John Tiede, Henry Burgemesiter, Gottrfreid Funk, Fred Funk, Henry Schlecht, Andrew Becker, Gottlieb Marsch, Gottlieb Meyer, Christian Neu, Henry Meyer, Ferdinand Geske, George Weber, Gottlieb Spies, Conrad Miller, Martin Schritter, Gottlieb Muster.

In 1912 the Rev. George Sprattler of Pendleton and his family arrived to conduct services which by this time had grown so large they were conducted in the Plesant Valley School. Plans were being made to build a church. The present site was selected on ground homesteaded by the Sprattlers and donated to the church to be used for that purpose.

In the event the church was removed, the ground would revert back to the original owners. The small cemetery which already contained graves of early immigrants was owned by Ludwig Adolf Jr and was added to the church grounds.

The cemetery still contains some early residents, including the small daughter of the Rev. Sprattlers.

Building operations were begun in the spring of 1913 with much of the work being done by members of the congregation under the direction of an American Falls architect, a Mr. Wilson. In June of that year the corner stone was laid. It was only recently removed by members of St Johns Lutheran church who were heard to remark "If the people who laid the foundation for the Pleasant Valley church had built the dam, it wouldn't need replacing now."

By Christmas 1913 work had progressed sufficiently to have the Christmas program held in the basement. A coal stove and kerosene lamps were used for heat and lights. It became the task of the nearest member to the church to get the fires going for the soon arriving Sunday School and congregation, a task that fell to the Burgemeister family.

Chances are they got to do the janitorial work, too, if the Pastor's family didn't.

Services were conducted in German and many of the older members never learned their catechism any other way. It wasn't until 1932 that a service was held in English.

Pastors serving the congregation were the Rev. George Sprattler 1912-1922. Rev Ernst Haake, 1923-1927. Pastor Huhn 1928-1929. Rev Gustav Burzzlaff, 1930 to 1935 and the Rev Samuel Lentz 1935 to 1941. Rev Otto Reitz served from 1944 until the church merged with the St Johns congregations in American Falls in 1947. Rev Lentz and Rev Reitz served both congregations with German services at Pleasant Valley.

The first wedding conducted at the Pleasant Valley church was that of Mr. and Mrs. L. K. Adolf in 1915. The last official wedding of the church as a separate congregation was Mr. and Mrs. John Isaak (Leontina Kranzler) in March 1942. Rev Lentz conducted the last official confirmation in May of 1942 with one confirmed Herbert Grischkowsky.

However, during the construction of the new church in American Falls, several services were held at the Pleasant Valley church including the weddings of Mr. and Mrs. Ben Kopp and Mr. and Mrs. Harold Deeg.

The total price of the construction was $4,404. At the time of the dedication, Sunday School enrollment was 120. Seated on hard wooden benches, whispering was held to a minimum by a stern disciplinarian with a large stick. Albert Burgemeister recalled they learned quickly and well.

Seating was definitely not integrated with women and children sitting on one side of the church and men on the other. The ride to church was by buggy and sleigh, some time for many miles.

The congregation dwindled with the coming of automobiles and mobility of people and it ceased operation in 1947. Fond memories will remain for members of the congregation and for those who just like to see the old church stand.


Dressed in Sunday Best, the crowds gathered for the dedication of the Martin Luther church on June 27 1915.  Buggies can be seen over the heads of the crowd and a bicycle propped up against the fence were the common modes of transportation.  The tent-like structure on the right of the picture is where the noon day meal was prepared and served to the many guests.


The interior of the Pleasant Valley church .  Walls and ceiling were lined with embossed metal and the altar, pulpit and baptismal fount were white with gold trim.  The statue of Christ has been placed near the entrance in St Johns Lutheran church in American Falls.  The wooden pews are now being used in the Power County 4H building.


Another newspaper article of unknown date