Church of St. Hubert
By the Sublette County
(click on pictures for a larger view)
Before 1941, the town of Bondurant did not have a church in their community. The Church of St. Hubert the Hunter was built in 1941 as a memorial church with money obtained by the sale of a diamond.
The Church of St. Hubert the Hunter is located in the picturesque Hoback River valley in Bondurant, Wyoming, set against the Gros Ventre Mountains as a backdrop. Bondurant is a small ranching community, population 100 in 2001, between Jackson and Daniel, Wyoming. The church building, and the adjacent library which was built in 1943, are located on a one-acre parcel of land which is now Bridger-Teton National Forest via a Special Use Permit issued in 1940.
In the 1930s, Bondurant did not have a church or community center. In 1937, Bishop Winfred H. Ziegler, Episcopal Bishop of Wyoming, found himself stranded in the little town one winter. Local ranchers and their families made him feel welcome and extended their hospitality to him until the winter storm passed. Some time later he got the opportunity to help Bondurant get the church and community center they wanted. While talking with Bishop Perry, presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, he learned the story of a woman who had given him a diamond some years before her death. Mrs. John Markoe gave him her cherished heirloom with the request that he sell the stone and build a memorial church with the proceeds. When Bishop Perry approached jewelers about the gems worth, they offered only half of what he knew the value to be, so he kept it for some time in a safety deposit box. Bishop Ziegler immediately thought of Bondurant, Wyoming, and discussed the idea of using the money from selling the diamond to build a church there. Both Bishops agreed that Bondurant really needed a church and that same week Bishop Perry sold the diamond for $1,400.
When Bishop Ziegler returned to Wyoming and Bondurant, he rounded up volunteers in the community to help build a church and community hall. In late March or early April of 1939 Bishop Ziegler, two other priests, and some twenty-five ranch men formed a group to set on the task of cutting logs for the new church. With the snow still deep on the ground, the group crossed the high, cold water of the Hoback River with a team and sled to get to the forest on the other side. As the team crossed the river, they fell through the ice up to their bellies. The sled followed, showering the Bishop with icy water, but he took it all in good humor and the group proceeded on. At noon they built a fire and melted snow to make coffee and had their lunch, then went back to cutting logs. By four that day they had enough logs felled and returned home. The logs were later snaked out of the woods by teams of horses and hauled to the church building site in the valley.
The church had only five rounds of logs up on the walls when the first service was held there, a wedding ceremony, during the fall of 1940. The ranchers resumed their donated time and work to complete the building in the spring of 1941. Money from the sale of the Mrs. Markoe's diamond covered the purchase of the flooring, glass and hardware for the new church.
On August 3, 1941, the first free Bondurant Barbecue was held at the church, with food donated by local families and a steer donated by a Big Piney rancher. Bishop Ziegler, and the Governor of Wyoming, were in attendance and were brought to the church from the Triangle "F" Ranch by stagecoach. Many other people followed from surrounding ranches on horseback. In all, more than 500 people attended the church ceremony, which became the forerunner of today's annual Bondurant Barbecue.
The Ladies Guild of Bondurant, formerly the Crazy Calico Club formed in 1931, took over the responsibility of the upkeep of the church. They planned and raised money for a new library and dispensary, which was erected in 1942. The group held bake sales, raffles of donated items, and anything else they could think of to raise money to maintain the church, including holding the annual Bondurant Barbeque. The ticket prices were kept at $1.50 for adults and $1.00 for children until 1966, when they were forced to raise prices in order to help pay for needed repairs on the buildings. Each year, local ranchers donate the beef and the people of Bondurant cook up the baked beans, home baked cakes, potato and kraut salads and feed some 500-900 people. The Barbeque of 1972 was held in honor of Bishop Ziegler, and he was able to attend and speak at the gathering. The Bondurant Barbeque is now held each year on the last Sunday in June immediately following outdoor church services. Money from the proceeds helps pay for the maintenance of the church and is also donated to area organizations such as the Sublette County Welfare, St. John's Hospital in Jackson, the Bondurant School. Money has also been used to rejuvenate the local cemetery, helped local families in time of need, and to send remembrances to members during times of illness.
The carving of St. Hubert the Hunter was hand-carved in Germany and donated to the church. The collection plate was donated to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Maercklein.
Church remains much the way it was in 1941. Originally a coal shed to the east was separate from the church, but they were connected by a log addition in 1980. Around 1970, a concrete foundation was poured to replace the original log piers. In 1976, a green metal roof was added to cover the original rolled asphalt roofing. In 1979, the plumbing was hooked up in the new kitchen and two restrooms were installed. Regular church services are still held today at the building by the Reverend from the Pinedale St. Andrews in the Pines church, who travels to Bondurant to hold services.
This web page is the companion of a brochure sponsored by the Sublette County Historic Preservation Board that highlights four historic community buildings within Sublette County. Brochure and web site created by Wind River Web Services and Sublette.com in Pinedale, Wyoming.
This project was financed in part with funds granted to the Sublette County Historic Preservation Board from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior. The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office administers these federal funds as part of Wyoming's Certified Local Government program. This program receives Federal financial assistance for identification and protection of historic properties. The contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U. S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, handicap or age in its federally assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, National Park Service, P.O. Box 37127, Washington, D.C. 20013-7127.