Long Valley Finnish Church
One of the most iconic buildings along Farm to Market Road is the Finn Church. In addition to its age and picturesque qualities, the Long Valley Finnish Church is a wonderful, well-preserved example of a simple frame church in an unspoiled rural setting that has been meeting the needs of the community for over one hundred years. The Finnish Church has even greater significance as the best-kept remaining artifact of the Finnish settlement in Long Valley. It is a testimony to the collective efforts of early immigrants to erect and maintain a building where they could meet and hold religious services.
In the early 1900s, Finnish families typically met in various homes for their worship services, which were often lead by elders or by visiting Finnish Lutheran Ministers. In 1904, Rev. William Eloheimo became the local Finnish Lutheran Pastor and with his encouragement plans were set into motion to erect a Lutheran Church for religious services for the many Finnish families living in the upper Long Valley area. It was during the years of 1906 to 1908 that the Finnish Ladies’ Aid was established. This group would lead the fundraising efforts for the new church.
In 1913, Uriel Kantola donated a corner of his property as the location for the new church. John Kumpula sold property for the cemetery across the lane to the church for two dollars.
John Heikila, Nick Ranta, and John Ruska were contracted as carpenters, along with John Lapinoja as the principal builder. Construction costs were just over $1,800.
On several occasions after construction was underway, local farmers and ranchers would gather to assist with work requiring many hands and strong shoulders.
The Finnish Lutheran Church of Long Valley was finally completed and officially dedicated during the summer of 1917. In 1967, the Board of Directors officially changed the name to the Long Valley Finnish Church. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places and still has a functioning Board of Directors and an active women’s auxiliary group: The Finnish Ladies Aid.
The building continues to be used for special religious services, weddings, and funerals.
The cemetery, located just north of the church, is now administered by the Long Valley Cemetery District. The headstones in the cemetery identify many of those early Finnish immigrants and their descendants.
Plans are now underway to erect a Centennial Pavilion on the property to pay tribute to and recognize those early ancestors.
Commemorative pavers are being sold to help fund the project.
Credit: the 100 Years Valley County and the City of Cascade 1917-2017 Centennial Magazine