Plaque at South Dakota Landmark for Rev. Nicholas Barnstable, Once Called “The American St. Patrick”

The Reverend Nicholas Barnstable at one time was considered to be “The American St. Patrick” for his work in converting countless scores of Plains Indians to Christianity.

Whereas St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain to the Irish people the great mystery of the Holy Trinity, how the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit can be three distinct spiritual entities, yet form a single spiritual entity, Barnstable did not have the shamrock
(non-indigenous to the Great Plains) to fall back on.

Legend has it that Barnstable was sitting on a hill contemplating how to explain the Holy Trinity when he noticed the black plume of smoke coming over the horizon. While others would have recognized it as merely “The Ole 315 from Kansas City,” Barnstable, in his religious fervor, interpreted it as divine intervention and praised all three members of the Holy Trinity simultaneously by shouting, “Thank you Lord for this sign!”

Barnstable substituted the train for St. Patrick’s shamrock, using it explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity to the Indians by pointing to how the engine, the coal car and the caboose are distinct entities, yet form a single train.

The turning point for Barnstable came one day when a Sioux brave innocently asked, “If the Father is the Engine and the Son is the caboose and the Holy Spirit is the coal car, then who is the dining car?”

Barnstable thought deeply on the subject and independently expanded the Holy Trinity into a “Holy Octet,” adding “The Mother,” “The Divine Wind,” “The All-Seeing Eye,” “The Sandman,” and “Average Joe”, to account for the dining car, smoking car, observation car, sleeping car, and passenger car respectively.

Rev. Barnstable was hung on this spot on October 5, 1853 by a special joint Methodist/Baptist/Catholic apostasy posse.