The Ovando Community was started by ranchers who came into the valley to raise grain, paying $50.00 to $70.00 an acre. Logging was also an early industry. The loggers would float the logs down the Blackfoot River to a mill at Bonner.
A series of events happened that cut the town down to its present size. The Flathead National Forest Office was moved to Kalispell in 1907 and the railroad was never completed through Ovando. Most of the ranchers went out of business after the drought of 1917 and in December of 1919, a fire started in one of the stores and several buildings were burned and never rebuilt.
Three big forest fires burned over thousands of acres near Ovando. The first fire was in 1910. In 1919 there was a big fire on Ovando Mountain. In 1929 a spark from a donkey engine up Elk Creek near Greenough started a fire which burned all the way to the Wales’ Ranch. That fire burned from July until September.
Fourth of July celebrations about that time were held in the Ovando “Square”. Hitching racks were common and everyone came to town on horseback or in a “rig”. Women and children rode ponies up and down the street. Bucking horses and horse racing were enjoyed by the crowd. The riders were good and put on a real show.
Up until 1920, Ovando had a resident minister and services were held regularly in the little Methodist church. There was also a lumberjack preacher who went around to the logging camps with an organ on his back. At that time Ovando had two stores, a hotel, five saloons, two blacksmith shops, a drugstore, a bank, a jail, a barbershop, a Methodist Church, a post office, a school and a community hall.
In 1921 the Ovando school was a two room frame building in Joe Murphys’ pasture. The building burned down in 1923 and school was held in the church building.
Mail came in by four horse stage from Drummond, stopping at Helmville for lunch. Another driver took the mail on from Ovando to Woodworth.
In the 1940’s the little church on the hill didn’t get much use. The church’s property consisted of the triangle between the streets with the small church sitting on the top of the hill and a piece of the land next to the school with two small houses and a barn. The church had a bare wooden floor and a large wood heater. There was, of course, no electricity. The property belonged to the Methodist Church and when others wished to use it, they had to get permission .
In 1948, an itinerant minister from Chicago decided he wanted to start a work in Ovando. His name was Nelson Kring. He was married and had two small children. He proceeded to hold regular services. He had been a night club saxophone player before he accepted Christ. They stayed about a year in Ovando.
About this time, a Presbyterian Sunday School missionary, Rev. Harry Bessire, included Ovando on his points of call. He also served Potomac and Seeley Lake. He was elderly, but made a quite an effort to get a work going.
A significant change came when several of the churches got together and decided they could more adequately serve the communities if they would transfer property to the church that was best able to serve the area. Since Rev. Harry Bessire was providing service to Ovando, the Methodist Church property was given to the Presbyterian Church. Rev. Bassire continued to serve, but the church felt they wanted more, a full time pastor. In order to determine how much local interest there was, a community picnic was held at the Monture picnic grounds. Over 100 people were in attendance and most of them signed a petition indicating their interest and support in a full time pastor.
The Presbytery assigned Rev. John Barnum to serve the three points of Ovando, Potomac and Seeley Lake. Early in his tenure, the three communities began to work for a unified Blackfoot Church. Rev. Barnum was given approval to attempt formation of the Blackfoot Church. Some of the early elders were Eugene Copenhaver, Katherine Harper, Laura Kilburn, Rachal Grace, Ruth Clark and Verner Bertelsen. After many, many meetings…long and late, they were granted a charter and had the official opening in 1955.
The union of the three communities was very beneficial. When one community seemed down, usually another would e doing quite well and could pick up the slack.
Some of the improvements made to the Ovando Church property were to plant a few trees and build a lawn. The church attic was insulated, reroofed and painted, but most importantly, electricity was installed so an electric heater could be installed with a timer.
On September 18, 1994 the Ovando Church celebrated their 100 year anniversary with a tradition worship service, potluck, games and family activities.
In November of 1998, the Blackfoot Community Church began the expansion of the church. With donations of money, gifted church members and lots of donated hard work, expansion was completed and dedicated November 21, 1999. The church joined the Rocky Mountain Bible Mission in 2005 becoming part of its network of rural churches in Montana and Idaho and in 2017 the name was officially changed to Blackfoot Community Bible Church.