The Old Sod Church

Haviland's famous Sod Church, built in 1885 by the Quakers (Friends), served the community as a school and a meeting house. Through the years The Old Sod Church has become a symbol of the spirit of those pioneers who braved blizzards, prairie fires, Indian scares, typhoid, crop failures, grasshopper invasions and all the perils of a new country. These men and women who founded the Haviland community have left a heritage of courage, loyalty, resilience, and faith.


Twas right down there on the corner
Where R. D.'s wheat field grows;
That the old sod church was standing
In the days of long ago.

In the days of the early settling,
When the country was very new,
And the blue stem was a rustling
In the Kansas wind that blew.

It was all a bleak prairie,
Dotted over with dugouts new,
That the minds of all the people
Turned to the One that is ever true.

They said, "We must have a Meeting,
And we must have a Meeting true;
So we'll have a Quaker Meeting,
And then we'll know 'tis true."

They would build a Meeting House
As all good Quakers do;
Where they could teach their children
The good old Golden Rule.

The church was not built by experts,
Or made from stone and brick;
But planned by all the people,
And made from mother earth.

And when they went to build it
They didn't have hired men;
For all the men from round about
Went in and lent their hands.

Though I've roamed about a lot,
And traveled far and wide,
I remember well the dear old church,
Can sometimes almost hear--

B. H. (Albertson) preaching loudly,
And Josiah's soft amen;
And Margaret pleading softly
For sinners to amend.

Then they'd sing the dear old songs
They'd learned in days gone by
Before they came to this dear land,
Where the prairie dog scampers by.

And in the long and balmy night,
When sleep deserts the eye,
You could hear the dismal howling
Of the coyote slipping by.

Then, Dan Ramsey took the stand
And said his message, too,
With such a soothing accent
That Evert could sleep clean through.

And, we'd experience meeting,
When all could have their say,
A tellin' how the Lord did bless them
Along the rugged way.

We didn't have autos then,
Or buggies with high seats;
When we all went to meeting
We took a lowly seat.

In the good old rattling wagon,
By a sturdy ox team drawn,
They didn't scare, no, not a bit,
But moved right along.

They didn't have waxed floors
Or lean back on the plush,
But they trod in on mother earth,
And for spring seats made a rush.

With Nathan Brown just in front of us
A showin' us the way,
For he went and took his family,
And was at his post each First Day.

After church we'd all grasp hands
In the good old Quaker style;
And the Woodward twins would have such fun,
And at all the people smile.

For they were made so much alike
We couldn't tell one from the other;
For sure as life they were identical,
And they were always together.

We'll never forget the old sod church
Where we worshipped so many years,
Where the blessings of the Lord came down
And filled our eyes with tears.

And, though the walls have tumbled down,
And wheat grows on that place,
May the lessons we learned remain in our minds
As we run the upward race.

by Mrs. E. M. (Zora) Pyle, Jr.
Written for the Haviland Friends Church's 50th Anniversary in 1935.