The original St. Mary's Church. A fund for restoration has been started for the building.

This church was established in the year 1881. Delegates were selected to go to Santee, Nebraska to obtain permission to build a church and they were successful. The church was built in 1882. The Rev. Edward Ashley D.D. from Aberdeen, SD was the first minister of this Episcopal mission.

The first school house on the reservation was built in 1870 on the Moses Renville land which was south of the site of the church. At that time there was no church and the building was also used for services for many years.The first Christmas was held in this school house in 1881. The picture below is of this school.

Sampson and Eli Renville were the first children baptized by Rev. Ashley.

The present pastor of this congregation and other Episcopal churches throughout the area is Rev. Ron Campbell.


"The agent gave land and from women in the east came money to build a chapel. On June, 1881, the Rev. Edward Ashley arrived and began his work with a membership of thirteen.

Ashley whom the Sisseton called, "Psehtecin, (Ashwood) had come to Dakota Territory from England in his teens and worked as a carpenter, and later, as a teacher at the Yankton (SD) mission. He studied on his own and was ordained deacon in 1876. Bishop Hare sent Ashley to Seabury Divinity School, Faribault, MN, where he studied for two years. After his graduation and ordination to the priesthood, Ashley held the first service in St. Mary's Church at the Agency in 1882. In 1884, he reported to Bishop Hare, ' I have gained one thing which is a satisfaction to me, the confidence of the people. There is a considerable ignorance and apathy to overcome and it is uphill work, but then it is God's work and in His own good time He will give the increase of our planning and watering.' Ashley made progress and in 1885, St. James in Waubay was built, in 1886 St. John the Baptist was established west of Browns Valley and in the same year, St. Lukes of Veblen was built.

In 1889, Ashley was transferred to Fort Bennet, on the Cheyenne River reservation."

This information was taken from "That they May Have Life", the Episcopal Church in South Dakota.

Photo credits: John LaBatte and Valerie Hill

The first schoolhouse on the Reservation was also used as a church.

It is located about four miles southwest of Peever

St. Mary's Church and cemetery. The new church is the brown building in foreground.

The Pow Wow grounds are a short distance east of here.