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Death Summons Father Bernard: Pioneer Priest of Fort Yates Died of Cancer Yesterday at Yankton

"Death Summons Father Bernard: Pioneer Priest of Fort Yates Died of Cancer Yesterday at Yankton." Emmons County Record, 17 October 1940.


People throughout the whole Missouri Slope area today mourn the death of Father Bernard Strassmaier, beloved pioneer priest of the Standing Rock reservation who passed away at 9:45 yesterday morning in a hospital in Yankton, S. Dak. Death was caused from cancer of the stomach. In poor health for several months, he was taken to the hospital for the forepart of September. He was 78 years old.

Coming to the Standing Rock reservation 53 years ago, Fr. Bernard dedicated his life to administering to the spiritual and physical needs of the Sioux Indians. He was located at Fort Yates in the early days when there were no priests in this territory and made regular pilgrimages during winter and summer to the homes of Catholics in the Emmons and nearby counties where neighborhood services were held. He officiated at the Baptism, Confirmation and Marriage of scores of Emmons people.

On the reservation he carried on his missionary work among the Indians all thru the half century of his life there. Among the famous chiefs he converted were John Grass, Mad Bear, Grey Eagle, Weasel Bear, Bear Face and Fireheart. His parish today consists of nearly 2,000 members.

A native of Aresing, Bavaria, Germany, Fr. Bernard came to the United States in 1877 and was ordained as a Benedictine priest at Conception, Mo., June 1886. Six months later he came to the Indian territory. He celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Priesthood at Fort Yates in 1936, and again was honored in April this year with a celebration pageant which dramatized his life on his 53rd year of priesthood. He would have celebrated his 79th birthday this coming Nov. 15th.

Funeral arrangements had not been made yesterday, but there will be a Requiem Mass at Fort Yates, it is announced and burial will be at Conception, Missouri.

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