homepage logo

A pilgrimage to BE to find his great-grandfather’s church

By Staff | Sep 28, 2009

Blue Earth had a couple of interesting visitors last week. Both were on journeys having to do with religion.

One visitor was here specifically to see the Church of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, now owned by the Faribault County Historical Society.

Forrest Burleson and his wife, Rose, traveled from their home in Pahrump, Nev., just to see the church.

Forrest’s great-grandfather was the first pastor of the church, Solomon Burleson, in 1872.

His great-grandfather was the pastor at many churches, and Forrest is on a historical trek to visit — and photograph — all of them.

Solomon Burleson had given up a lucrative law practice in Wabasha to attend the Episcopal Seminary, and become a pastor. He had been serving as a Sunday School teacher for the church in Wabasha, because the ladies of the church said he was the only person educated enough to do it who wasn’t a drunk.

While in Blue Earth, he and his wife had a son who passed away and is buried near the church tower, and the grave site has a marker.

The Solomon Burlesons had three daughters and five sons who grew to adulthood. All five sons (one of whom was Forrest’s grandfather) became Episcopal priests.

So did Forrest’s father. However, Forrest did not, opting for a career as a pilot in the U. S. Air Force instead.

While he was serving the congregation in Blue Earth, Solomon Burleson also was starting another church in the Dakota Territory to the west, and traveled the 50 miles in a horse-drawn wagon every week.

When Solomon Burleson left Blue Earth, he went to the Green Bay, Wis., area and started a missionary church on an Indian reservation.

Since he had first attended a university to become a doctor before turning to law, and then the clergy, Solomon Burleson had a background beneficial to serving the Native Americans on the reservation.

Forrest Burleson says he has been planning this trip for many years, but was always postponing it. He and his wife are getting to be of an age now that the trip might be impossible in the future, so off they went.

While here in Blue Earth, Forrest took many photos of the church, inside and out, and also of the Burleson baby grave site.

Not many people noticed Forrest Burleson when he was here, but lots of folks noticed Randy Boehmer, the man with the mule-powered covered wagon.

I received a lot of calls alerting me to the fact that he was camped on the east edge of town, then more calls later when he passed through Blue Earth headed west.

I don’t want to complain, because we always appreciate news tips here at the Register. But we have probably never gotten as many calls about one single item as was generated by the mule wagon.

Boehmer’s story is high-lighted in a story elsewhere in this issue. After spending some time with the man on Sunday and Monday, I can honestly say he is a pretty interesting fellow.

While some may think of him as a kook of some sort, he isn’t.

Well, I guess riding around the country in a covered wagon pulled by four mules and talking about Jesus might label one as a little different or odd. But Boehmer is a regular guy who has just decided to simplify his life and concentrate on the essentials, and on the one thing he feels is the most important — spreading the love of Jesus.

After talking to him for a while, I find it hard to disagree with anything he says.

Things are not important, people are. We need to appreciate the world God has created for us.

And we need to have faith in a life after this one.

Sounds like an excellent philosophy of life to me.