This book, which was first published in 1961, is a biography of Rev. William Wesley Van Orsdel (1848-1919), known as “Brother Van”, a Methodist circuit rider in Montana who made a significant contribution to the spread of Methodism in Montana and the early development of the state’s public institutions. Throughout his career, Brother Van founded churches, universities, and hospitals; he converted and ministered to homesteaders, miners, and Native Americans; he worked with the elites and the poor, the famous and the forgotten in a career that spanned nearly 50 years.
“To paint a word picture of the pioneer preacher and the pioneer territory which captures the real feeling which Brother Van had for Montana and which Montana had for Brother Van is almost impossible. But Bob Lind, a part of the Church which Brother Van helped to establish, has come closer than any writer to date.
“Lind’s picture of Brother Van and his times is reliably accurate, though it was no easy task to detach fact from fiction in giving account of a man about whom stories grew like grass on the Montana prairie. He found in Brother Van’s life so much adventure and color that he only needed to tell the story as it was.
“When you finish reading this book you will have met the best of the early frontier in the Rocky Mountain west. You will follow a man who made a pulpit for preaching the Good News out of the freighter’s or cowboy’s camp, the cabin or the ranch home, the Indian tepee, the barroom or the street corner. And you will see that to all of his congregations, formal or informal, he always gave his best in word and song.”—George A. Harper, Foreword