top of page


Christ With Doctors
Nativity Window
Christ With Children Window
Christ the Consoler Window


1920's Sanctuary
Painting of St. Luke's
St. Luke's Today

St. Luke’s Episcopal Mission was founded in 1884 by pioneers who braved the hardships of the western frontier. Some of the pioneers consisted of ranch families, raising cattle on a large scale on the open prairie, and some were families of army officers stationed at the nearby regimental garrison, Fort McKinney. The young “cow town” of Buffalo had been established for only six years, with statehood another six years down the road. During the 1800’s, the pathways were difficult for visiting missionaries and bishops as they traveled by wagon, buckboard and horseback to bring the Gospel to the wilderness. In the midst of the rugged life and wild frontier, St. Luke’s, with its small beginnings, kept growing and shedding a ray of light into this western community.

The cornerstone of St. Luke’s was laid in 1889 by the members of the Masonic Lodge of Buffalo. The Gothic style church building was built of red bricks made locally. The massive beams in the ceiling were hewn in a sawmill in the Big Horn Mountains and were hauled down the mountain by freight wagons over steep, rugged trails. The furniture of the Chancel, the Altar and the altar hangings were donated by the Vanderbilt family of New York, who were related to an army officer at Fort McKinney. A masquerade ball and a “Pink Tea” were hosted by the ladies of the church to raise money for the building.

All was not parties and teas on the frontier, however. St. Luke’s played a role in history during the 1892 Johnson County Cattle War, which raged between the cattlemen and the “rustlers”, men handy with a rope and a branding iron. When Deputy Marshall George A. Wellman was murdered by the “Taylor Gang”, known as the “Red Sashes”, the outlaws did not want the lawman to have the honor of a Christian funeral at St. Luke’s. The outlaws, however, did not reckon with the courage and determination of The Rev. Charles Duell, members of St. Luke’s and the Masons, all of whom carried concealed weapons during the funeral. The strong conviction of these men prevented further bloodshed.

In 1897, Dr. H.U. Onderdonk moved to Buffalo to become St. Luke’s lay reader. He was ordained in 1900 and served as rector until his death in 1910. The whole community loved “The Little Doctor” who was not only a physician and clergyman, but also a chemist, mathematician, nurse and editor. This “Good Samaritan” was so well respected that the parish hall, built in 1925, was named in his memory. Onderdonk Hall still stands today and is the main meeting place for many church and community functions.

St. Luke’s has seen many changes since becoming a parish in 1919. However, many traditions have been handed down through the generations. The “Pink Tea” is still very popular, as well as the annual “Surprise You Sale”, hosted by the church women to raise money for mission work. The Bread of Life Food Pantry, established in 1986 as Christmas food baskets for the needy, continues as the main mission of St. Luke’s, but has grown to feed 250 to 300 families each month. This parish family is proud of its heritage, but tries to change with the needs of its family. “If St. Luke’s Episcopal Church can give aid, help, comfort and religious training to ‘all sorts and conditions of men’, then the founders did not build in vain, for the above ideas were with them in body, mind and soul.” 100 Years of Worship, 1884-1984: by Lillian Hogerson Baker.

bottom of page