History of Little Cedar Lutheran Church as written by Hans Jacob Hanson, 1909.
History of Little Cedar Settlement and Congregation. Published for the 50th Anniversary Jubilee of the Congregation by Hans Jacob Hanson, Secretary of the Congregation, Adams, Minnesota. Minneapolis. Augsburg Publishing House Press, 1909. Irene Marguerite Hanson McMurchie had this translated from Norwegian by Dr. H. M. Blegen, Augustana College, 1970. Norwegian original is in the SO library at St. Olaf College.
Dear Little Cedar Congregation!
A little more than two years ago I was requested to make research and write the history of the congregation, and I have now done this very willingly according to the opportunities at my disposal during the busiest season of the year, namely the month of August, 1907.
The history was written, read in public, and then deposited together with a selection of the congregation’s books and papers in the Corner Stone of Adams Lutheran Church during the solemnities of the Corner Stone laying ceremonies which were conducted on the first day of September, of the same year 1907. Even though the project was merely a congregational history, limited to a single account, it was no small task to record the most significant and interesting items selected from a period of time so long that is spanned more than half a century.
I had very little time to gather and record in writing the history of the congregation when I composed my first draft. Never the less it was substantially correct according to my best convictions. However, many additions and elaborations could have been made, and now, that I have more time to think and reflect on the matter, I have made a number of changes and additions in order to achieve a clearer and more harmonious synthesis as well as adding material that more fully and explicitly express the details of the congregation’s history from its organization on November 26, 1859 all the way to its golden jubilee.
To write such a long and exhaustive history of a congregation may seem superfluous, but it occurred to me that I owe the congregation this service in order to show it my gratitude for all the confidence it has shown me during all these years that I have been a member. It will let the congregation understand that I love it very much. It is my hope that this account of a congregation will be read with interest by the generation now living and also the generations of the future.
Wishing the congregation God’s richest blessing and protection in unity and peace based on the foundation of Truth.
From your humble and to the Lord devoted, Hans Jacob Hanson Hovland, Adams, Minnesota.
Hans Jacob Hanson was born on one of the southernmost islands of Bergen diocese Bommeld on the “gaard” (farm) Hovland, August 30, 1846 to Baard Hanson and wife Mikoline Hanson, nee Schram. Baptized by F. Holst pastor for Finaas parish, September 6, 1846. Moved with his parents, brothers and sisters to Bergen 1857. Attended Laxevaag common school until he was fourteen years of age and then became an apprentice in Laxevaag’s mechanical shops.
Confirmed in Field’s church, October 6, 1861 by the Parish pastor, P. Lund. Immigrated to America with his family June 5, 1864 and arrived at Calmar, Iowa, August 13, 1864.
After working at his trade in Decorah and Calmar he went to Chicago in the spring of 1865. In the fall of 1867 he came to Adams and filed on a homestead in the spring 1868. Married Miss Ingeborg Pederson, December 27, 1869 in Little Cedar congregation’s log church, C. R. Clausen, pastor. Became a member of Little Cedar congregation in the summer of 1874 and has been a member and officer since 1875. He was recording secretary of Little Cedar congregation for forty years.
Part I - The first settlers and the first pastors to visit the settlement
The history of Little Cedar congregation since its first settlers in 1855 to the fiftieth anniversary as an organized congregation, November 26, 1909.
The congregation derives its name from the small river that flows from the central and eastern part of the south half of the county, "Little Cedar River” which runs south and east until it joins the “Little Iowa River.”
The migration to the eastern and southern parts of Minnesota began in earnest – 1854, 1855, 1856, - but there were already a few settlers there who had arrived shortly before that time.
The very first settlers in Mower County were the Jacob McQuillen parties. Jacob McQuillen, Sr. and his son Jacob Jr., natives of Ohio with their families from Ohio in July of 1852, and settled in section 1, township 103, range 14. This land is now in Racine Township. Accompanying them as the elder gentleman’s son-in-law, Adam Zedygev. Adams Township was among the first townships in the county to be organized. The first settlers in Adams Township were Norwegians, as early as 18??. They left Dane County, Wisconsin, after a stay there, and came west to Adams by ox team.
Among the first settlers was Tideman Knutson Aaberg (Objor) who came with his parents and his brothers Haldor, Erik and Arne, and a sister Marit, in June 1855.
He settled on his “claim” in section 2, S ½ of the NW ¼ and the N ½ of the SW ¼ and here the first log cabin was erected, 18 feet by 18 feet, and 8 feet high. The roof was thatched with hay and sod and the floor was made from poles of red ash.
That same summer, in July, a company consisting of Rognald Olsen, his mother and step-father, Ole Johnson Holstad, and his brothers, John and Stephan Olsen, his sister Britha, John Olsen Hesjedal and sons, John and H. Johnson and Ole Johnson, two daughters having same name, Anna, and Stephan Christiansen arrived in wagons drawn by teams of oxen. Rognald and John settled on SE ¼ of section 12, where Rognald still lives. Ole Johnson Holstad settled on section 12, NW ¼. John Olsen Hesjedal on section 31 in Clayton Township, but he later moved to SE ¼ section? in Adams Township. John H. Johnson settled on SE ¼, section 2 in Adams Township and Stephan Olsen and Stephan Christiansen took up a “claim” on SE ¼ section 12 but they and their families spent the first winter with Rognald and John D. Olsen.
Adams Township was organized in May 1857. The first town meeting was held under open sky on the bare prairie on section 16. Rognald Olsen was elected as one of the first supervisors, and Ole Jacobson Norbo, the first constable. The township of Adams was settled exclusively by foreign born Norwegians, Germans and Irish, and they are still today the population of the township.
To the Irishman, William Madden goes the credit for naming the Township, Adams, after one of his friends in New York State. The town of Adams includes the congressional town No. 101, north of range 16, west of the 5th principal meridian. It is bounded on the north by the town of Marshall, on the east by Lodi, on the south by Mitchell County, Iowa and on the west by Nevada Township, which has an elevation of 1275 feet above sea level.
The first Norwegian settlers here were immigrants from Valders, Sogn, and Voss, and from the island Holsen in the southern Bergen diocese, and from the island, Fin near Stavanger. The first deaths in the township were those of Stephan Olsen and Stephan Christiansen. The first cemetery was established in section 11.
It is not possible for the present generation to fully comprehend what the first settlers had to endure. No houses, no crops to begin with, no railroad, a long way to markets – long sever winters, poor houses, shabby clothing, and virtually no money. What little one had to sell was very cheap, while on the other hand everything one had to buy was very expensive. Yes, indeed, the pioneers, the frontiersmen, the first settlers encountered many hardships, tasks and obstacles in establishing a new settlement in our country, and especially in this northwest area in the early days. Nowadays the conditions are quite otherwise, for in a later period the railroad followed close behind the heels of the migrating settlers.
Let us consider a little the first two deaths that are mentioned earlier, namely Stephan Olsen and Stephan Christiansen. On the morning of December 8 they set out for “Six Mile Grove” in Nevada Township to procure some badly needed food, for they had completely exhausted the provisions that they had brought along. Since they had harvested a tiny crop produced by the first settlers in Nevada who had arrived as early as the summer of 1856, they were unable to buy a few provisions of food stuffs. But on their way home, they were overtaken by an unusually severe blizzard. They lost their way and froze to death. During the course of the night, the team of oxen had somehow managed to find their way home. The hat of one of the men was fastened to the yoke. The following morning when it became light, several men set out to hunt for them. After a three day search their frozen corpses were found on the LeRoy Prairie, now Lodi Township. Each man left a widow and one child. The first coffins were made of oak. They were buried without any commitment ceremonials in a grave in section 11. In addition to these two, another man Torvald Hermundson also froze to death on the 19th of January 1865, when he was caught in a raging blizzard before he could reach his home on his way home from the woods. His body was found two days later on section 5, only five rods or so from Harold Irgen’s house. Buried beside the first two who froze to death was a daughter of Stephan Olsen, who was born a few days after his death. She was the first white child born and baptized in Adams Township. While we are on the subject of the first births in Adams Township, we might say that the first white child born in Marshall Township was Miss Hannah Osmondsen, now Mrs. Anders A. Widste, born E ½, SW ¼ of section 36. In addition to these three burials in section 11, we can mention those of the first wife of Simon Knutsen, and a son, Ole Mikkel Knutsen; a brother of Simon Knutsen, Knut Tideman Aaberg and a child of Anders Froim.
Since the cemetery in section 11 was not centrally located, a new cemetery was dedicated on a plot of ground in section 3. The first grave dug on this new location was for the body of the first wife of Rasmus Rasmussen Vigness. The next day when the burial was to take place the grave was found to be half filled with water. For this reason she too was buried in the cemetery section 11. The cemetery in section 3 was abandoned for all time. The last person to be buried in section 11 was Jens J. Baargaard. Here, then, repose the mortal remains of several of the community’s original pioneers. The cemetery in section 11 was not clerically dedicated as such.
The first Lutheran clergyman to settle in the township was the German Reverend Christian Hildebrand. He came from Illinois to settle on section 30 in Adams Township in 1858. He died December 1864 and was buried on his homestead. He was later reburied in Mona, Iowa.
The first post office in the township was established in 1859 and its first postmaster was Harold Irgens. The post office was in his own “little log cabin” in section 8. Before this first post office was established in the township the settlers received their mail in the three nearest post offices, Leroy, Nevada and Austin.
Although the pioneers in this area had to undergo many hardships and tasks, they did enjoy one fine advantage in that they had an abundance of timber, fertile soil and good water which are the most important advantages for new settlers who live more than one hundred miles from the nearest market.
There was an abundance of timber all along the water courses, and with few exceptions the pioneers built their homes out of logs.
To begin with these homes were not anything elaborate, but as time went by they were transformed into quite warm and comfortable abodes. The first two churches in the township, a Catholic and a Lutheran, were log structures. Both congregations St. Johannes and Little Cedar were organized the same year 1859, at an interval of five months. The Catholic congregation dates from June 8 and the Lutheran one from November 26. These churches were in use until they were replaced by frame structures. The first public schools were also log houses and were in use until frame school houses replaced them.
Part II – Concerning the organization of the congregation, the building of the first church and the Civil War.
Like all the other communities in new settlements, this one too was considered an unorganized mission congregation, and only at rare intervals enjoyed church services conducted by a visiting pastor. The first clergyman to visit this new settlement and to preach the word of God to the pioneers was the Reverend C. L. Clausen of St. Ansgar, Mitchell County, Iowa. He conducted the first divine services in the summer of June 1856 in the SE ¼ of section 12 in the home of two widows Mrs. Stephen Olsen and Mrs. Stephan Christiansen. The place was later known as the Johannes Olsen Qvale farm. The text of the first sermon was taken from the Epistles for third Sunday after Trinity, First Peter V. 6-14: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” Later the settlement was visited by the Rev. Adolph C. Preus, Pastor of Koshkonong, Dane County, Wisconsin who preached to the settlers here. This second church service was conducted by him in the home of John Olsen Hesjedal, section 31, Clayton Township. The subsequent church services were, as a rule, held in Aaberg’s Grove. As the population increased in numbers, the services were conducted in the open air when the weather permitted, otherwise in Aaberg’s house. It is quite likely that other pastors besides these two mentioned, have visited the congregation previous to its organization, but there is no reliable record of who they were.
Little Cedar congregation was organized by Pastor C. L. Clausen on November 26, 1859, and the first business meeting of this church was held on this occasion in the home of Helge Erickson Floen, who had built the first log house in W ½ SW ¼, section 36.
The original members of the congregation were: the brothers Rognald and John Olsen Holstad, the brothers Tideman and Erick Knutsen Aaberg; the brothers John S. and Harold Irgens; John Osmundsen, John Olsen Hesjedal and sons Ole and John; Simon Knutson Vike; John Olsen Qvale; Hendrik Benson; Helge Erickson Floen; Ole Gulliksen, Tildem and sons Gulik and Tollef; Anders Olsen Alrick; Ole Johnson Holstad; Rasmus Rasmussen Vigness; Nils Finkelson and perhaps others who cannot be listed by name since there is no record of the organizational meeting to be found in the archives of the congregation.
Among the first members elected to the Board of Trustees were Rognald Olsen and John Olsen. Pastor Clausen served the congregation until the spring of 1871.
The first church of the congregation was built in 1863. After a certain amount of disagreement about the most serviceable location on which to erect the sanctuary it was finally agreed to build the church on the site where the present frame church stands*, W ½, SW ¼ section 4. A half-acre plot of land was bought of Rasmus Rasmussen Vigness to use as a location for the church and cemetery.
*NOTE: This history was written in 1909 before the frame church burned down in 1910.
As already mentioned, the first church was built of logs, 30 feet by 40 feet, and 16 feet high. Each member of the congregation was assigned the responsibility of furnishing a certain number of logs. Tideman Knutsen Aaberg, Toris Olsen Flaten of “Six Mile Grove” shaped the timbers and erected the main body of the church, while Ole Thorstad and Arne Johnson Fossen executed the rest of the carpenter work for the interior and so forth.
The first burial in the cemetery number 2 of the congregation was that of Ole Thorstad’s first wife.
Immediately following the organization of the congregation, while the church was still being constructed, the Civil War erupted. This war, among the bloodiest in world history, began in 1861 and did not end until 1865. At every call for men to join the armed forces, proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln, the Norwegians were among the first to respond in great numbers.
Indeed, it has been stated that of all the foreign born immigrants who answered the call in the American Civil War for the preservation of the Union and the liberation of the slaves the Norwegians surpassed all the others in volunteering for service. They fought with distinction on the southern battle fields and with great honor to their group. The population of the United States in 1860 included 43,965 who were born in Norway and 6,005 “first generation” American born parents who were Norwegians, a grand total of some 50,000. There were even so many volunteers of Norwegian extraction that an entire regiment, the 15 Wisconsin regiment of the infantry was composed exclusively of Norwegians and was known as the Scandinavian regiment. When this regiment marched through Chicago to Camp Douglas on their way south to join the Union Army, it numbered about 1100 men, of which practically all, both privates and officers, were Norwegians. Pastor Clausen was called as chaplain and accompanied the regiment through many of its engagements.
In addition to the members of the 15 Wisconsin Regiment there were many Norwegian boys in several other regiments of volunteers from the states of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and others, besides the numerous Norwegian seamen enrolled in the Navy. They have demonstrated to us that in its hour of need the nation has found the Norwegians patriots and loyal to their adopted land.
Among the Norwegians who volunteered from the town of Adams were the brothers Ole and Eivind Helgesen Floen, Gulik Olsen Tildem, Arne Knutsen Aaberg, John S. Irgens and Ivar Hollerud. All of these were mustered into the 15 Wisconsin regiment. Peder Johansen Fossen, Ole Sjursen Sluppen, Gjert Thompson Funde and Harold Irgens enlisted in the 2 Minnesota cavalry.
As the war progressed in intensity so that the number of volunteers was in doubt to meet the call of the president for men, it became necessary to draft civilians. The first draft of citizens in Adams Township occurred on July 18, 1864. Thirteen men were drafted, of which number eight were Norwegians. Four of them passed the examinations and were found to be fit for military service and were obliged to go or by paying a certain sum of money into a fund for hiring substitutes they could be exempted. The four men who were found to be fit for military service, in the Norwegian group, were John C. Johnson Sr., the brothers Rognald and Johannes Olsen Holstad and Halvor Knutsen Aaberg. Each of these paid $300 for substitutes. Later the township reimbursed them for $100 each. The second draft was held in the autumn of 1864. At this time six of the citizens of the township were drafted. In this number were two Norwegians who passed the examination for military fitness. These were Paul Anderson and Hans Olsen Njos. Like their predecessors mentioned earlier, they too paid for substitutes. It is very likely there were other Norwegians in both the first and the second draft, but we have no precise information about them.
The author and publisher of this history was also hired as a substitute, August 14, 1864, the day after he arrived with his parents, brothers and sisters at Calmar, Iowa, having left Norway, and not quite 18 years of age. This was the third draft that faced the citizens of Calmar Township, and Merchant Landing who had escaped the first two drafts was fairly certain that he would have to go at this third one. Since he did not have any desire to go personally, he had hired a substitute in advance, and thus he was enabled to avoid military service in this third draft also. This was in late fall and the war was nearing its end.
The pastors who served the congregation during Rev. Clausen’s absence as a chaplain were Rev. Tobias Larsen, Bloomfield, Rev. Clausen, Spring Grove and Rev. Wilhelm Koren, Washington Prairie who all preached in the church.
The first custodian of the church was Johan Olsen Hesjedal who received a fee of 15 cents from each confirmed member for furnishing the fuel, keeping the church in good clean order, and maintaining a responsible supervision of the church property.
John H. Johnson Hesjedal was the first pre-canter of the church without any specified compensation. Harold Irgens served as the church’s first secretary. The soldiers were mustered out and sent home. John S. Irgens came home with the rank of Lieutenant. Pastor Clausen, himself, resumed charge of his congregation.
Little Cedar congregation paid a fixed sum of $8.00 for each sermon up to the time when a permanent organization of the congregation was effected October 13, 1867.
Part III – The congregation’s parochial relationships and the building of its frame church.
On October 12, 1867 the units of the parish met together in the parsonage of Rev. Clausen in St. Ansgar, Iowa. There were delegates in attendance from all five of the congregations that Rev. Clausen served at the time, namely: St. Ansgar; Rock Creek; Six Mile Grove; Little Cedar and Red Oak Grove. Agreements were reached on the question of uniting to form a single parish, definite number of services and specified salary according to the following:
St. Ansgar Congregation – 27 services annually – Salary $228; Six Mile Grove Congregation – 12 services a year – Salary - $128; Rock Creek Congregation – 10 services a year – Salary $106; Little Cedar Congregation – 12 services a year – Salary $118; Red Oak Congregation – 14 services a year – Salary $150
The total guaranteed salary from the five congregations combined to be $800. This parochial set-up was in force until the spring of 1871.
Pastor Clausen was one of the first to preach the gospel to the Norwegian Lutheran people in America. This giant among the pioneer trail-blazers in church affairs, was born at Aro, Denmark, November 3, 1820, came to Muskego, Wisconsin in the year 1842, moved to Mitchell County, Iowa in the summer of 1853, made a trip to Denmark, 1867, died in Paulsbo, Washington, February 1, 1892, and was buried in Oakwood cemetery, Austin, Minnesota. Pastor Clausen was the first president of the Norwegian-Danish Conference.
On April 13, 1871 a meeting was held in Austin to discuss the matter of dividing the parish. Delegates representing the congregations of Little Cedar, Austin, Red Oak Grove, and Blooming Prairie voted to unite and form one parish, and to send a letter of call to Pastor P. G. Ostby who had been serving as assistant pastor of chaplain with Pastor Clausen for some time. He was to reside in Austin and furnish his own house. His annual salary was set at $700 and this was to be allotted as follows to the congregations:
Little Cedar Congregation - $210; Red Oak Grove Congregation - $150; Blooming Prairie Congregation - $130
The services were to be held at least every third week, and the Sunday services to be apportioned as equally as possible among the churches. This parochial arrangement was in operation until 1879.
It was while Pastor Ostby was serving the congregation that the old log church was torn down and replaced by the new frame church, and also that the congregation was incorporated under the laws of Minnesota, as well as the liquidation of the debts of the conference.
On November 1, 1875 the decision was made to erect the new church on the same site as the old one had occupied. On December 6, 1875, the congregation voted to authorize the trustees to sell the old church to the highest bidder, who turned out to be Johannes Boyum. He paid $75 for the old church building, but the congregation reserved for itself the pulpit, altar, pews, baptismal font and stoves. The building was dismantled, moved to Adams, and there reassembled on the northwest corner of Main and Fourth Street, where the Krebsbach store now stands. For some time the building was used to house the first creamery in Adams, operated by Krebsbach and Schneider. The old church structure had never been consecrated, but the cemetery was consecrated by Pastor Clausen.
Before the congregation built the new church, it purchased an additional half acre of land from John Olsen Hesjdal so that the church grounds constituted a full acre, which was surveyed and duly recorded.
At a meeting February 5, 1876, the congregation adopted specifications regarding the size of the proposed church structure. The main part was to be 40 x 60 x 20 feet, and the sacristy, 16 x 24 x 16 feet in dimensions. The steeple was to be built inside the church foundation on a footing of masonry 2 feet thick of which 18 inches above the surface. The height of the steeple was to be 96 feet, not counting the iron spice which was to be 6 feet in length.
Subscriptions and building of the church.
The settlement was coming of age. It was now more than 20 years old, and the pioneer settling was over. Most of the land was in private hands and cultivated. The congregation had grown to approximately its present size. But now once more there arose a dispute over the location of the church building location. This dispute was solved in a highly satisfactory manner mainly through the influence of Pastor Ostby. It was agreed that three distinct and separate lists of subscriptions would be employed. One for the present site, one for section 3, and one for the town of Adams.
Pastor Ostby himself went about and took up subscriptions for all three of the places mentioned, and the final result was as follows: Of the grand total sum subscribed $3,173.50, there was a sum of $2,917 or more than 75% for the location where the church now stands.
It was a stroke of genius to achieve in such a masterly way the peaceful co-operation of the three factions. The combined total of subscriptions, $3,173.50, was to be paid in three installments. One half by the middle of February, 1876, a quarter of the remaining amount by July 1, 1876 and the remaining amount of the subscription by December 1, 1877. The church was built according to specifications during the summer of 1876 by the brothers Ole and Martin Hermandsen Broheim under the supervision of a standing building committee of five men, namely, Nels Finkelson, Chairman; John C. Johnson Sr., Anders Olsen Alrick; Arne Johnson Fossen; and Anders O. Dahle. In the fall of the same year the church was completed and taken into service while it still lacked every interior furnishing except a pulpit.
That summer while the church was under construction the congregation voted to let Pastor Ostby have the privilege of taking a trip to Norway.
The report of the auditing committee, dated January 1877 reveals the cost of the church in its state at the time and the amount paid in on pledges subscribed. Of the total $3,173.50 subscribed the amount paid up was $1,913.50. Balance unpaid was $1,259.55. Cost of the church without furnishings, $2,222.58, leaving a debt in the amount of $308.63.
The organization of the congregation which included its constitution and by-laws was approved and signed by the members of the Board of Trustees in office at the time: John Anderson; Tollof Olsen and Hans J. Hanson, for record, December 4, 1876, a copy of the same was recorded in the Mower County records of Incorporations as a valid congregation under the laws of the state of Minnesota.
Now the congregation took a breathing spell after finishing a weighty task. There was no progress, but rather retrogression. We shall come back to this later on. Once more there was talk about dividing the parish. Three of the annexed congregations were in favor of partition, but this was opposed by Little Cedar congregation at first. However, after a third request they consented to designate a committee of its members to meet with similar committees from Six Mile Grove, Mona and Lyle in the Six Mile church on October 3, 1877 where an agreement was reached to unite and form one parish.
Mona and Lyle congregations were made a part of Six Mile Grove and St. Ansgar congregations. Pastor Ostby had tendered his resignation from the parish, but the Little Cedar congregation was in favor of extending to him a letter of call. Pastor Ostby was firm in his decision to decline the call, for he was convinced that it was God’s will for him to make a change. Since the president of the conference, Pastor Johan Olsen, St. Ansgar, Iowa, had considerable influence in arranging a settlement in this parish, the congregations decided to call Professor B. B. Gjeldaker from Augsburg Seminary to serve as their pastor and spiritual mentor.
Pastor Gjeldaker had been called from Norway to be the Pastor of Shell Rock and the associated congregations in Worth County, Iowa, and served until he was called to be a Professor at Augsburg. Rev. Ostby served until the summer of 1878, and had Rev. Schonhvod as his assistant the last year. Rev. Ostby rec3eived a call from Bethel congregation, Winnebago County, Iowa and the congregations connect with it Lime Creek and Emmons in Freeborn County, Minnesota, where he still serves.
The Rev. P. G. Ostby was born in Trysil Parish in Osterdalen, Norway, August 12, 1836, and immigrated to the USA at the close of the year 1868, when he immediately enrolled in the seminary in Paxton, Illinois. November 18, 1870 he became Rev. C. L. Clausen’s assistant in St. Ansgar, Iowa. He served as pastor for Little Cedar congregation, first one year as the assistant to Rev. Clausen and then as chief Pastor until the end of March 1878. In 1876 he went to Norway as a delegate of the conference to the general convention of the Norwegian Mission Society departing June 24 and returning September 24. For several years Rev. Ostby has been the visitator for the circuit of St. Ansgar.
Pastor B. B. Gjeldaker received a call from the reorganized parish at a guaranteed salary of $700 a year. He was to furnish his own residence someplace within the parish. The services were scheduled as follows: Little Cedar congregation 23 services a year and a salary of $300, Mona and Lyle congregations, 8 services a year at a salary of $100.
Rev. Gjeldaker made his home in Lyle, where he bought 40 acres of land. He served this parish until the year of 1881.
Being in poor health so that he was not at all times able to perform hi pastor duties, he was authorized by his congregations to call an assistant pastor to aid him in his work. The man he selected was candidate J. B. Lundberg, a theological student at Augsburg Seminary, who served until the pastor was forced to resign because of his steadily increasing illness.
Pastor B. B. Gjeldaker was born in the parish Aal, Hollingdal, Norway, May 15, 1837 to parents who were farmers. As a boy he herded cattle and also worked for his uncle on the farm. He developed an early concern for his spiritual life, and entered Aker Seminary. He taught school in Oslo, studied theology, and passed his qualifying examinations in 1869. Having received a call from congregations in Worth County, Iowa, he was ordained by Bishop Esoendrop and went to America in 1870. July 13, 1885, he was appointed pastor for Hol Parish in Hollingdal, formerly a part of Aal Parish. Is time here was short. While preaching a sermon in Aals he was suddenly stricken. He died October 25, 1885 and was buried at Hol church. In 1875 he made a tour of Norway. Mrs. B. B. Gjeldaker is living still, and resides in Holmestrand, Norway. She was given a widow’s pension by the Norwegian government after her husband’s death.
Once again a pastor must be called, but this time by the same congregations. A committee from Little Cedar, Six Mile Grove, Mona and Lyle congregations met in Pastor Gjeldaker’s house, Saturday, October 8, 1881 to call Rev. J. Muller Eggen of Rock Prairie, Rock County, Wisconsin, who accepted the call at a salary of $700, he furnishing his own house somewhere within the parish. The salary and schedule of services was arranged as follows: Little Cedar congregation: 23 services a year, salary $300; Six Mile Grove congregation: 23 services a year $300; Mona and Lyle congregations; 10 services a year salary $100.
Pastor Eggen began his term of service on January 1, 1882. He conducted his first service as pastor in Little Cedar church on the following Maundy Thursday, a day never to be forgotten by reason of its almost impassable transportation conditions. Rev. Eggen’s home was in Six Mile Grove where he had purchased 80 acres of land.
While Rev. Eggen was serving as pastor for Rock Prairie congregation he visited Little Cedar congregation and delivered a moving and powerful sermon on a text taken from the Epistle of St. James II verse 19, in which he expounded the salvation and sanctification of Faith alone.
Rev. Eggen continued to serve the congregations of the parish and the Little Cedar congregation until the end of the 19th century, a period of 19 years of faithful service which was a record for the parish.
Under Rev. Eggen’s guidance the congregation successfully conducted a campaign for funds for the Professor Lund of the conference, completed the decoration and equipment of the church building dedication of the church and taking the first census of the congregation.
Part IV - The congregation's decline in growth and economics.
As already mentioned, the church did not progress but rather receded both economically and numerically. Especially during the period 1880-1886 there was a marked exodus. Many of the old settlers moved away because of heavy debts incurred during the course of years aggravated by exorbitant rates of interest which were as high as 25 to 35 percent.
Seeing no way out, they were forced to leave their homes which were taken over by loan sharks and bankers. Others left for places where they could obtain free lands by homesteading in Northwestern Minnesota and the Dakotas. Consequently the value of land in this area was relatively cheap compared to the prices of today. Almost no one bought land, however, those who could find a buyer, sold and moved away. Such were the conditions for some time, and this is why the new church stood unfinished without interior equipment for about a decade. The unpaid remainder of the pledges, $1259.55 was left unpaid and remained unpaid.
Yes, indeed we were deeply mired in debts, in both secular and ecclesiastical affairs, and in every way we had to skimp in order to get by.
Part V - Progress in the settlement. The finishing and dedication of the church building.
But there was to be a change. The settlement progressed, and by the great efforts of both men and women, money was collected, the new church furnished and equipped, and then consecrated to its holy purpose during the circuit convention held on Sunday,m March 14, 1886. The former Pastor, Rev. P.G. Ostby of Emmons, Minnesota dedicated the church, using as his text the Gospel for the day, Matthew IV, 1-10. In attendance besides the local pastor, J. Muller Eggen were the Pastors Johan Olsen, St. Ansgar, Iowa; O. Nelson, Northwood, Iowa, and Sven Strand, Blooming Prairie, Minnesota.
So, as already mentioned, ten years after the church was built, it was dedicated. At the time of dedication the church still lacked a bell, an organ and light fixtures. We shall come back to this matter later.
Due to the decline in membership because of emigration from the settlement a census was conducted in February of 1883 in the four districts, and this revealed that there were 100 families and 530 souls. From now on the congregation grew both in numbers and resources. The market changed for the better in the economic conditions was due chiefly to the fact that the farmers were discontinuing the raising of only one crop and were taking to diversified farming. The progress of the community has continued at a high rate.
This is seen in the numerous improvements, the many large well furnished homes, excellent farm buildings, well cultivated farms and fine herds of cattle. These great advances were especially noticed by those who made the 11 and 12 census of United States.
The altar piece is the work of the furniture craftsman, Severin Olsen, Austin, Minnesota, and the altar painting was executed by Alfred Olsen, Austin, a son of the painter and decorator Wilhelm Olsen. Alfred is only 18 years old, a student at Cooper Institute New York. This was his first altar painting, and later he made altar paintings for the churches in Six Mile Grove and Mona. On February 14, 1888 the congregation decided to purchase a church bell weighing 1100 pounds and bearing the following inscription: Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Adams, Minnesota. Pastor J. Muller Eggen 1888. Klokken Kalder Pas gammel og ung, Mest dog pas sjolen trot or tung, Syg for den evige Hvile. - Cast by H. Stuckstrade, St. Louis, Missouri.
The bell was rung for the first time after its installation in the tower for the funeral of arl, son of John and Ida Holstad.
January 29, 1891 the young people of the church voted to apply the proceeds of their social affairs towards the purchasing of an organ for the church. Through the agent Martin N. Clausen, Austin, Minnesota, they bought a Story-Clark Imitated pipe organ. The first elected organist was John C. Johnson, Jr. who was for some time a member of a male choir that sang for the church services. June 9, 1891 it was voted to put on a concert with a lecture, organ selections, and songs to be held in the church and charge admission, the proceeds of which would help pay for the chandeliers. December 8, 1891, it was voted to order the chandeliers. At last by loyal teamwork the church was complete and fully furnished.
Because the church had increased its membership and improved its financial status, and because there was too much work for the one pastor, Rev. Eggen who was getting older and unable to perform at the functions which he faithfully and conscientiously felt his duty to perform it was voted to allow Pastor Eggen to use his own judgement in choosing the time for him to retire. To prepare for this eventuality a standing committee was elected to arrange for a new call. In the summer of 1892 Rev. Eggen was authorized by his congregations to call Olaf Thorseth, a theological student at Augsburg Seminary to come and serve as his assistant. After serving about one year, Pastor Thorseth returned to Norway where he died soon after his arrival.
J. Muller Eggen was born April 20, 1841 to L. Eggen and wife, nee Muller, in Levanger diocese of Trodjhem Norway. He came to America in 1866 and was graduated from Augustana Theological Seminary in 1867. That same year he was ordained on receiving a call from Stoughton, Wisconsin, where he served for four years, and then to Luther Valley for 11 years. He then served in Little Cedar, Six Mile Grove, and Mona from 1882 on. He served Little Cedar congregation for a period of 19 years.
For several years Rev. Eggen was secretary for the church body's missions. He was the author of several books.
The first wedding ceremony held in the parish was conducted in the log church on the 27th of December 1868 for Ole Munson Hesjidal and Hansine Hansen. The first wedding in the frame church was that of Anton B. Asper and Annie Johnson, February 7, 1877.
The congregation vacant for the fourth time required once again the calling of a pastor.
At the meeting held April 2, 1900 the congregation received a delegation from West LeRoy congregation which requested admission to the parish. Now, since the congregation was affiliated with the Bloomfield congregation and had not yet severed their connection with the latter, Little Cedar did not want to enter into negotiations before this connection had been broken definitely. The meeting also postponed action on calling a new pastor, while LeRoy congregation had arranged its affairs with Bloomfield. However, they did vote to invite several pastors to come and give a trial sermon. They invited Rev. A.M. Lunde, St. Helsire, Minnesota; W.A. Rasmussen, Wind Lake, Wisconsin and Rev. S.O. Rondistvedt, Grand Meadow, Minnesota. The secretary was authorized to write to these pastors and inform them of the congregation's decision, and to tell them that their travel expenses would be paid by the congregation. Rev. Lunde came and preached in both English and Norwegian. Rev. Rasmussen also came and preached a sermon, but Rev. Rondistvedt did not come, sending a very courteous reply to the invitation, however at the meeting of the congregation May 26, 1900, there was a tie vote on the motion to call a pastor. There were 16 votes in favor of sending a letter of call, and 16 votes to postpone action until after the general convention. By a unanimous rising vote the congregation agreed to accept with pleasure the request of West LeRoy to join with them as soon as the proper arrangements had been to this effect. June 22, 1900 the congregation voted to call a pastor. There was a good attendance by members of the congregation as well as a good number of delegates from West LeRoy.
Since this meeting was to choose a pastor for the whole group of congregations in the parish, Little Cedar congregation renounced all responsibility with respect to West LeRoy's relationship to the parish, for Little Cedar had been absolutely without success in its attempt to influence any of Pastor Bue's congregations to discontinue their connections with their present status as a parish. But they added that it would not be right to deny admission to those delegates from West LeRoy who came of their own free will without any request from our side in order to ask to join our parish. It was voted unanimously to call Pastor William A. Rasmussen of Wind Lake, Wisconsin. All 52 votes cast were in favor of this motion and for the following specified conditions: Little Cedar, 35 services a year salary $550; West LeRoy 17 services a year, salary $150, making a combined annual salary of $700. The letter of call was dispatched stating these conditions. July 9, 1900 the officers of the respective congregations met in Adams, Minnesota and each congregation sent a letter of call to Rev. Rasmussen immediately.
As mentioned before hand, all the previous pastors of the parish had furnished their own house, and such was the intention of the congregations this time, too, but there was no mention of house in the letters of call. At the meeting of the congregation on September 19, 1900, Pastor William A. Rasmussen was present and also his brother Henry Rasmussen came to the meeting. The pastor who had received the call declared that he would not accept the call without free parsonage. The congregation did not want to give up the call to Rasmussen, and consequently a trial vote was taken to decide whether the congregation should build a parsonage or by subscription raise the funds to help Rasmussen build his own house. The latter was approved by a unanimity of all 35 votes cast. On these conditions Rasmussen accepted the call.
At a meeting November 24, 1900 the congregation voted to pay the rent for Pastor Rasmussen in Carl Anderson's house in Adams for 1 year beginning November 1.
Rev. Eggen preached his farewell sermon on Sunday, December 2, and the congregation remembered their faithful pastor with a farewell collection.
The new pastor of the congregation, Rev. Rasmussen presided at the opening of their meeting held December 10, 1900. After previously taken a straw vote the congregation at this meeting decided by unanimous vote of all 37 members to have the congregation build its own parsonage, and a building committee of seven members was elected. These were Lars Ellingson, Chairman, Nels C. Johnson, Gullik Olsen, Anders A. Viste, Ole A. Bergene, Nels Anderson, secretary of committee, and Ole Anderson.
Plans were drawn and approved and the parsonage was built according to specifications: 28 x 32 - 15 x 26 - 6 x 8. The main structure of 2-1/2 stories with a full basement, 8 feet deep under the entire building. The building committee is to be a standing committee until the building is completely built. The grounds consisted of two parts, 2 lots plus 5 acres of land.
The congregation met February 8, 1901 and voted unanimously to buy the 5 acres of land from Lars E. Slinde of Adams for $450, as was proposed by the building committee. These 5 acres are located in the N.E. corner of N.E. 1/4, section 11-101-16 and lie within the city limits of the town of Adams. The parsonage was built by contractors Anfin Amble of Adams, Minnesota, The total cost of the building, barn, outhouses and land was $3483.93.
Pastor Rasmussen served the congregation for 5-1/2 years, and during this time the following was accomplished: The parsonage was built, money was collected for the relief of the needy people of Finland, granting five morning services to the northern part of the congregation and church census number 2. Pastor Rasmussen resigned to accept a call to Hesper and affiliated congregations of Mabel, Minnesota.
Pastor Wilhelm A. Rasmussen was born in Lisbon, Kendall County, Illinois, February 1, 1863 to Pastor and Mrs. P.A. Rasmussen. He was ordained by the late president Hyme in Madison, Wisconsin, December 11, 1890. Became pastor of Elgin Lutheran congregation in Elgin, Illinois and served there for 2 years.
The pastor for Norway and North Cape congregations Racine County, Wisconsin for more than 8 years accepting a call to Little Cedar and LeRoy congregations he began his service there on the 1st day in Advent 1900, and served there for about 5-1/2 years before moving to Mabel, Minnesota in April 1906 where he is serving in this parish consisting of Hesper, Mabel, and Newburg congregations.
The census #2 shows a total of 151 families with 641 souls, which is an increase in the 22 years between census #1 and #2 of 51 families and 111 souls.
Since Rev. Rasmussen had requested a prompt action on his resignation, it was decided at the annual meeting, December 14, 1905 to accept his resignation, and because of this the congregation was without a permanent pastor during the six month period which the rules specified for resignation notice. At this same meeting it was agreed to name Pastor Chas. E. Sybibrud of St. Paul, Minnesota, as a candidate for the position. He had visited the congregation and preached in both Norwegian and English. An invitation was sent to the LeRoy church to be represented at a meeting on February 6, 1906 where a definitive action would be taken. At this meeting the unanimous decision was made to send a call to Pastor Sybibrud.
It may be of interest to know that this letter of call was the first one in which the congregation had for the sake of order clearly stated in writing all the specific particulars of the contract, both from the congregation's and the pastor's point of view. But to the great disappointment of the congregation, the letter of call was returned. The reason stated was that Trinity congregation, being a mission church, unanimously refused to let Pastor Sybibrud go, and he felt himself obligated to acceded to their desire.
Another meeting was held March 22, to consider the matter of calling a pastor. The secretary was instructed at this meeting, to write to the following candidates: The Pastors Ulsaker, Belsheim, Kleven and Hartman to come and preach since the call was vacant and in need of provisional service. Of these four candidates only Ulsaker came and preached. In the meantime Rev. L.L. Fylling had offered to come and conduct services now and then. Rev. Myers also preached for us twice, once in Norwegian and once in English.
Others who preached in the course of the summer were Rev. M.E. Waldeland of St. Ansgar, who on invitation brought with his Prof. Pamuth to present the cause of the St. Ansgar Academy. On the first day of Pentecost, Prof. J.N. Kildahl came to conduct services in Norwegian in the forenoon, and in English at the evening services.
The offering taken up on Pentecost Sunday was divided equally between the general church treasury and the Memorial Chapel. On August 29, Prof. M.O. Bockman, St. Anthony Park conducted the services. At this time the annual offering, was taken up for the Children's Home of the church body. It was a great joy for the congregation to have the privilege of hearing these capable and distinguished preachers and professors.
All through the interim when the call was vacant the church was visited by excellent preachers, and matters of church activity proceeded regularly in order.
At a meeting May 21, 1909 another vote was taken to choose a pastor. This time the members voted by ballot on three candidates who had visited the congregation. These were Rev. S.K. Ulmaker, Baldwin, Wisconsin; Rev. O.C. Myhre Windom, Minnesota, and Rev. L.L. Fylling, Lakefield Minnesota. The result of the voting was: Rev. Myhre 35 votes, Rev. Ulsaker 3, and Fylling 1 vote, 39 votes in all. Upon motion it was voted to cast a unanimous vote for Rev. Myhre. This was done by rising.
The LeRoy church was not represented at this meeting, but they expressed their willingness to go along and accept the decision made by those who voted for Myhre. It was decided to send a letter of call to Myhre, identical in every detail to the one previously sent to Rev. Sybibrud. Pastor Myhre accepted the call and was formally installed by missionary Rev. J. Skaar on September 30, 1906. Rev. Skaar, a missionary to Madagascar was living in Minneapolis at the time and during the summer he visited the various congregations of the church body to preach the cause of missions.
Part VI - The congregation builds a church in town of Adams Cornerstone Laying. Pastoral Conference. Dedication of the church building. Circuit meeting.
It was the ladies aid that first suggested building a church in the town of Adams. On March 30, 1905 a meeting was held where the congregation formulated the reply that it could not negotiate with the ladies aid on this matter, but that they would take it up with the men in the town of Adams to discuss the building of a church in town. A special meeting was called on April 26, 1905, where the members voted to advise the Ladies Aid of Adams to weigh carefully and deliberate the matter before they go ahead and buy the Adams City Hall and transform it into a church, in order to avoid any possible chance of creating internal dissensions.
The idea of acquiring a place in town for use as a meeting place for the congregation had been proposed, discussed and decided when Pastor Eggen was in charge of the parish.
A meeting was called for April 24, 1898 in Sabel's Hall to discuss the idea of acquiring a meeting place in town, where it was agreed that the house should be 24 x 44 x 16 feet. Plans for the building were adopted and a building committee of 3 was elected. All of these were members who lived in district 2 and since this included the townspeople of Adams who naturally were in favor of having such a building in their midst to use for religious purposes, it was considered prudent to call for a meeting of the congregation to discuss the question on June 1.
At the June second session of this meeting it was voted to elect a soliciting committee to canvas the congregation as a whole for funds to build such a house. However this resolution was never carried out and resulted in nothing.
At the annual meeting December 14, 1906 it was voted to take up action on a petition that the congregation had received from the town of Adams with respect to building a church in town for use by the entire congregation, and asking, that the pastor call a meeting to discuss the proposition.
January 16, 1907 this petition was read again and a straw vote was taken that showed 25 members were in favor of having a church in town for the whole congregation, while 51 were opposed to this idea. This settled that question. Again on February 13, 1907 a petition came from the town of Adams asking for a church in town. After a long and thorough discussion of all aspects of the matter, it was finally voted to build a church in town and that this church be common property with Little Cedar congregation.
This was unanimously adopted, as was also a motion that the church be built by voluntary subscriptions of funds. In accord with this a standing building committee of 7 men was elected: Nels C. Johnson, chairman; A. Torgerson, Nels Anderson; Ole Bergene, K. Snorthum, Anfin Amble and O.J. Thorn. At a meeting on March 18, 1907, the congregation acted on a letter from the members of northeastern part of the congregation and decided that the old church building should be left standing where it was, and with respect to a church building for the northeastern part of the congregation an arrangement be made. Build a church centrally located for the northeastern part, and let it be part of the common property of the Little Cedar congregation . Build a church for whatever funds can be raised by voluntary subscriptions.
As a building committee for this church in the northeast, these men were elected: Anton Asper, Arne Huseby, Erick Hansen, August Anderson, chairman, Jens Olsen, Simon Bohn and A.A. Viste in place of L.E. Teigen.
Building committees and subscription committees for the respective projects were elected and began to act.
The land purchased for the two churches approved by the congregations included 2 lots bought of E.L. Slinde for the church in town, and 2 acres of land bought of A. Sathre in S.W. 1/4 section 4 town of Marshall for church in the northeastern area. Thus both of these large projects with equal rights were approved.
A meeting was held in the Knut Thompson's house, April 1, 1907, as a result of a rumor claiming that these two churches would make the old on superfluous.
In order to forestall the execution of such an idea that would be very disastrous to the congregation, this meeting drew up and adopted a plan to be circulated throughout the whole congregation that the old church be preserved and used for religious services. This was signed by an overwhelming majority of the voting members. At a meeting on April 4, 1907 it was voted that the petition from the western part of the congregation should be read to the congregation. This was done under the deepest silence. Afterwards it was decided to drop the subject. So long as the conditions in the letter of call between the pastor and the members remained unaltered, the specifications of the letter of call and be conducted in the old church.
The chairman of the building committee presented the plans for the new church at this meeting. They called for a brick structure 71 x 54 feet with a basement under the entire building, 10 feet deep. The plans were drawn by architect W.F. Keese and contractor William Donavan of Austin, Minnesota.
The church was built on lot 1, block 1, Krebsbach 2 addition to the village of Adams, which is quite high and commands a beautiful view. The corner stone was formally laid on Sunday afternoon September 1, 1907 by Pastor J. Muller Eggen, Lyle, Minnesota, the former pastor of the congregation who had the longest period of service. He chose as his text the 7th verse of Matthew, chapter 24. Rev. M.E. Waldeland of St. Ansgar, Iowa, delivered the closing address in English on the text, 1-Corinthians 9, 24.
In the cornerstone was deposited the following items: "A Bible, Landstad's Hymn Book, a copy of Luther veren, United Lutheran, Shaninaven, Reform, Adams Review and the constitution of the congregation, list of its officers, and a history of the congregation."
The first services conducted in the new church were by Pastor Rev. Myhre, in the evening of March 22, 1908 on the text Psalms 34, verse 1. "How amiable are they tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts." The first two baptisms were those of the children of buttermaker Alfred Schroeder and of Ole Rudlang the same evening, March 22. The first marriage ceremony in Adams church was performed for Oscar Ellefson and Sina J.O. Stoe on April 22, 1908.
The first pastoral conference held in Little Cedar congregation was that of St. Ansgar circuit which met in the parsonage August 11-13, 1908. The following pastors of the circuit attended: P.G. Ostby, Emmons, Minnesota; N.C. Brun, Lake Mills, Iowa; N.E. Boe, Bristol, Iowa; J. Urness, Osage, Iowa; Prof. Lars W. Boe, Forest City, Iowa; E.T. Rogne, Forest City, Iowa; M.E. Waldeland, St. Ansgar, Iowa and J.A. Ness of Austin, Minnesota.
During the conference, Rev. Urness preached in Adams church on the 12 of August on Phil III, 8 and Rev. Ostby, the former pastor, preached in the church in the country in the evening of August 13 on 1 Corinthians, 18-24. It was the 72 birthday anniversary of Rev. Ostby on the 12th and the congregation remembered him with an offering. The first funeral sermon preached in the church was over Martin Wold on September 14, 1908.
Sunday, morning, October 25, 1908, the Adams church was formally consecrated by president, F.H. Dahl, Minneapolis, president of the general church body on the text 2 Corinthians VIII, 7. In the evening Rev. Otto Schmidt of Decorah, Iowa preached in English on Isaiah XXXV, 1-10. The next two days were devoted to a meeting of St. Ansgar circuit and 16 pastors were in attendance. Rev. N.C. Brun presided at the sessions.
Rev. N.E. Boe and Rev. P.G. Ostby read and explained the theme of the conference. Monday evening Dr. Dahl spoke on the subject, "The Lutheran Church", and Rev. Osmund Johnson, Blooming Prairie on "The Ladies Aid", and Rev. J.A. Noess, Austin, Minnesota on "Our Young People." All these speeches were both edifying and informative. In spite of bad roads the meetings were quite well attended.
Adams church was an excellent piece of work. From the approval of the plans February 13, 1907 to the first divine services March 22, 1908, a year and a month, the church was completed except for the bell and the final finishing of the basement, entirely modern in every respect and paid for by the town's Ladies Aid. It has large stained glass windows commemorative gifts of the following: O.J. Thon; Russell and Ida Lunde; The Busy Bee Society; The Young Peoples Society; O.A. Olsen; J.S. Mattesen, and Martin Wold. Truly well done.
The Norwegian Women of the congregation in the village of Adams, meant business, when they sent a plea to the congregation to be permitted to build a little church. They got a large church which is an honor to the town, a matter of pride and a fine reward for their zealous offering. But, there arose within the church a division that we shall take up later.
Pastor Olaf Carl Myhre, son of Christopher and Marit Myhre was born in Vang, Valders, Norway on January 18, 1868 and baptized at that place March 31, of the same year. In 1882 he emigrated to America with his parents and lived in Goodhue County, Minnesota, where he was confirmed by Rev. J.N. Kildahl in Vangs church, June 3, 1883.
In accordance with his own desires and the advice of the pastor who confirmed him, he entered Luther College, Decorah, Iowa in the fall of 1884, where he remained for three years and then continued his studies at St. Olaf College for three years, then spent two years at the German Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota. In the fall of 1892 he was admitted to the Theological Seminary, Augsburg in Minneapolis where he attended for one year. But when the seminary moved away, he moved with it.
After attending the United Lutheran Seminary for two years, he took his qualifying theological examinations in May 1895. He was called to Windom, Minnesota and Heron Lake congregations in Cottonwood and Jackson Counties and served them for 12 years. On a call from the congregations, Little Cedar and Leroy, he was installed as their pastor September 30, 1906.
Now to return to the northeast area.
The people in the northeastern part of the congregation seemed prepared to go ahead with the project of building as the village Adams had done. The subscriptions to the northeast church were just as large as for Adams according to the respective reports of the committees. They had their architects, they had the plans ready, and the project apparently was progressing just fine.
But, this was not the case! During the building transactions for these two churches there had developed a factional dissension in the congregation. This came to light very clearly as a meeting of the congregation on May 31, 1907, when the building plans for the northeast church were to be acted upon, some member of the building committee made a motion to lay on the table the idea of a church for the northeast. The motion passed.
"In union there is strength, conversely in disunion there is eakness." Such was the case here too. Never the less an attempt was made to get a church and anew petition was drawn up which quite a number of members of the northeastern and western parts of the congregation signed. This was done in good faith but without fore thought.
After mature and objective consideration it became clear that it was impractical to build two large new churches in addition to retaining one old one that was big enough to seat the whole congregation. This would suffice to split the congregation and have dire consequences, but the congregation had reached a state of confusion such as it had never before experienced. This was manifested at the meeting held February 11, 1908, when a well intentioned motion was made that in the interest of friendly unity and brotherhood the congregation should join one of the two existing churches already finished and serviceable. This motion got 29 votes in favor and 25 opposed.
At a meeting March 17, the motion was made that the March 11 motion to rally around the two already finished churches be reconsidered and rejected. At this meeting the resolution of the congregations council was brought up for action, regarding a church for northern and western part of the congregation. There were 13 points to be acted upon one by one and passed. The last meeting on the subject of building a church for the north and west was held in the Roosevelt School house in the town of Marshall March 31, 1908.
It was moved to take up the 13 points approved March 17 to be voted on by the people from the north and east parts. Results: Points 1, 2, 3 approved; 4, 5, 6 and 7 with amendments; "Trustees, assistants, board assessment," approved; 8, 9, 10, 11 approved; 12 relating to confirmation preparation and confirmation, approved; 13 approved; an additional point number 14 approved unanimously by 29 votes. Then it was moved to elect a building committee and a subscription committee. To this committee number 2, the following were elected: Building committee: G.N. Finkelsen, Jens Olsen, Sever Rogne, Ingebrigt Wigness, Anders A. Wiste, Simon Bohn.
Subscription committee: Sever Severson, Erik Hansen, Anton Asper, Lewis Asper. It was moved to instruct the building committee to report as soon as possible on the site for building the church. But, no results were forthcoming and the committees were dissolved.
The congregation has made every possible concession to the north and east part of the congregation on this matter. At the last two calls of pastors, the congregation has approached the Synod congregation in Marshall on the possibility of calling a pastor in common for the two congregations since these two charges combined would contribute one of the finest country parishes among our Norwegian people, with the parsonage in its center, but so far without any success.
As mentioned earlier, the Adams church was dedicated before it had its bell. The bell was installed in the tower February 27, 1909 and was rung officially for the first time on Sunday the 28. It was a personal gift given as a memorial to the Glory of God by one of the wealthiest and most churchly interested citizen and bears in Norwegian an inscription freely translated as follows:
Lord Jesus Christ!/Thou art my Savior,/In Thee alone I trust;/Forsake me not/However unworthy/I am comforted by Thy word so pure/O God grant/That we together may so live/According to Thy commandments/That we may for eternity/In Heaven Abide in holiness/Glory to God in the Highest/1909/Little Cedar church, Adams, Minnesota/Henry Stuckstede Bells and Foundry Co., St. Louis, Missouri. C.O. Myhre, Pastor.
The bell was ceremoniously dedicated Sunday afternoon March 28, 1909. The local pastor Rev. O.C. Myhre made a few introductory remarks on the significance of the church bell, and then Rev. M.E. Waldeland, St. Ansgar, Iowa, preached on the text, Col III, 16. At a meeting held June 21, 1909 it was decided that the old church should be repaired.
The committee elected to effect the reparations was composed of: Lars Ellingson, chairman; Knute Thompson; A.P. Anderson, Carl Lewison, the congregation's secretary will serve as secretary for the committee. The congregation at a meeting June 30 resolved that it would celebrate its 50th anniversary November 28, 1909, and that the next two days be devoted to a program of religious discussions. It was the intention to clean and decorate the old church in preparation for this jubilee celebration and today it stands resplendent. It was to be a joy for the entire congregation and so it must certainly be.
There is something fascinating about this old home of the congregation. Here repose the mortal remains of the congregation's early days, with very few exceptions, and here will be the future resting place for us and the generations to come.
Should we not join in preserving such a a spot before any other? It is a reminder to us of the impermanence of mortal life, but at the same time it represents a glorious hope of meeting again in a joy and glory without end. Yes, indeed, we will as a unified congregation rally to preserve this spot so fraught with silent memories.
Part VII - The Congregation Teachers
No history of a congregation is complete if it makes no mention of its teachers of religious school. From its earliest inception the congregation has defended and protected its most precious treasure, their childhood education that they carried with them from their beloved fatherland to hand on as a valuable inheritance to their descendants.
Throughout the years it has been a substantially regular custom to conduct religious school in all parts of the parish. The congregation has always arranged to have men appointed to take the responsibility, for this purpose. In recent years it has had annually a committee of 12 men, 3 in each district, to supervise the parochial schools.
The first Sunday School was held in John Johnson Shaw's house in section 8 during the spring and summer of 1860. Mr. Johnson gathered the children in his home to instruct them in religion and he was our first Sunday school teacher. The first week days school in religion was held in the home of Rasmus Rasmussen Vigness i section 4 in the autumn of 1864 with Knut O. Wold of Austin as teacher.
The first salaried parochial school teacher was the Dane Marus Walden, followed by Rasmus Egeland, who also conducted devotional services for the people. Mr. Egeland was subsequently ordained as a pastor in the conference. These were teachers when during the time when Rev. Clausen was pastor for the congregation.
The first public school in the English language was also held in the house of John Johnson Shaw by Torwald Irgens in the winter of 1860. The first Sunday school held in the congregation's school house was held during the spring and summer of 1875 in the district 7 school house with Hans Hanson as teacher. He was also the first elected Sunday School superintendent for the congregation.
The positions of teacher and precantor were established at a meeting of the congregation on February 4, 1884.
The congregation at a meeting on April 12, 1877 elected to the position of the parochial school teacher and precantor E.T. Boekkedahl, a student at Augsburg Seminary. He served as the teacher for the congregation as well as leader of the singing for not quite two years. He also conducted devotional meetings in the congregation. Mr. Boekkedahl died only a few years after arriving and was buried in the cemetery of the congregation.
At a meeting held on December 8, 1891 the congregation voted to combine the positions of permanent parochial teacher and precantor into one, and elected Herman H. Ovri who was the teacher at the time. Mr. Ovri had his position for about a year.
A special meeting was called May 20, 1895 to adopt rules and regulations governing the parochial school.
In January 1896 P.P. Houglom, a student at Red Wing Seminary applied for the position as teacher and leader of congregational singing and was hired.
At the meeting held January 12, 1900 Mr. Houglom presented his resignation, which was accepted. The congregation thanked him for his work in the church and wished him good luck and God's blessing in his future location. In addition to teaching the regular classes during week days, Mr. Houglom also taught Sunday school in the church and served as Sunday School Superintendent and leader of devotional meetings. He left for the United Lutheran Seminary and is now a pastor in the body and is serving Wittenberg congregation in Wisconsin and its affiliates.
At a meeting May 26, 1900 the congregation voted to employ as Houglom's successor, Mr. Amandius Mondahl of Frenchville, Trempeleon County, Wisconsin. Mr. Mondal tendered his resignation at the meeting held January 11, 1901. He was urged to remain but did not do so.
It has been a rule of the congregation to require good recommendations from all applicants for membership if they were not already known to them. This combined position has been held by four different men who together served 8 years in a period of 24.
The song leader who has served the longest time is the present one, Ellef Nelson Tannebist. He settled here in the congregation in 1871 in the autumn. He has served as teacher, precantor and secretary sometimes under all our pastors with the exception of Rev. Claussen. He has accordingly served the congregation as a song leader for a total period of 30 years, and has been available whenever his services were needed.
In addition to the many parochial school teachers there were some who when the religious school was over, remained to teach terms in the public schools. Besides Torwald Irgens, the following have taught school in both languages: Hans Boefahl; G. Bie Rovndahl and Ole O. Dingsor. Mr. Boedahl died a few years ago.
At its meeting on December 11, 1888 the congregation voted to advertise for a teacher qualified to teach school in both languages. Mr. G. Bie Tavndahl and Phil from Christianity University who had been in this country a couple of years applied for the position and on the strength of a recommendation from a minister in Norway that he brought with him, he was hired. He held his first term of Norwegian religious school in the fall of 1889 in the district 7 school house. When he applied and was hired to teach the term of public school in English in the same district, and after passing an examination given by C.H. Belden, superintendent of Mower County, he was given a good certificate. Mr. Ravndahl is the first Norwegian having had his preparation in the English language in Norwegian schools to be issued a certificate of competency to teach in our public schools. He left in the spring and for a time attended the University of Minnesota.
He became editor of "Vesten" and later editor of "Syd Dakota Ekko" in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was elected senator from Minnehaha County to the South Dakota legislature and during William McKinley's administration he served as United State consul in Beirut, Syria where he is serving at the present time.
Consul Rovndahl was married to a daughter of Pastor Magelsen of Fillmore county, Minnesota. Mr. Dinsor went to South Dakota and took up land in Roberts County. He has served two terms in the House of Representatives of the South Dakota Legislature
Others who have taught parochial school here in recent years have been the students: Ryland, Rind, Nelson, Leifall, Hellekler and Carl J. Moen. The last three of the above are now pastors in the United Church.
Besides these men the following women have taught parochial school in recent years: The Misses Hulda Hansen, Borghild Hansen, Olava Boekken, Alma Wiste, and Alma Holt. George Nelson has also taught here. Besides these mentioned above, the following men have taught in English: Nels Anderson Kloster, and Anders S. Hukee, and these women: Misses Kari Slinde, Sadie Engelsen, Dora Qvalie, Nellie R., Amanda Anderson and Kari Teigen.
While we are on the subject of English school we can not omit the mention of a historical event that is a part of the congregation's history, since the lady teacher and every pupil with the exception of one boy were members of the congregation.
In 1903 there was held an education contest in all the schools of the state of Minnesota, and school district number 7 of Mower County proved to be in first place among all the country school districts in the state. As first prize they were awarded $100 on December 30, 1903 and in the state educational exhibit displayed at the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904.
The teacher was Miss Dora Qualie and the following were her pupils: Clara Thompson, Eddie Johnson, Edwin Johnson, Mabel Johnson, Ida Johnson, Nora Johnson, Clara Neus, Anna Sorenson, Ben Sorenson, Bertha Anderson, Frank Keifer, Leonard Huber, Bernard Hukee, Willie Eve, Alma Erie, Ella Erie, Alma Teigen and Walter Hanson.
Part VIII - The Societies of the Congregation
The first meeting of the Ladies Aid was held in Ole Starksen's house, Section 5, January 25, 1875. Mrs. Sonneva Thompson was elected president of the society. Later this society developed into circuit societies when the congregation was divided into circuits. These congregation's Ladies Aid Societies have collectively performed achievements of great blessing in both the internal and external fields of church service. They regularly conduct monthly sessions in various homes on invitation.
The little girls organization, "The Busy Bee Society" was organized in Theodore Bagstad's house, section 36, town of Marshall on November 28, 1903 by Mrs. Bagstad who is still president of the society. These girls meet once a month on invitation. Their purpose is to work towards the support of the children's homes and they are performing a blessed work for the benefit of orphans and homeless children.
The Little Cedar young peoples society, the first youth society met in the McKinley school house, town of Marshall, on May 3, 1906, and was organized by the teacher Miss Borghild Hansen, Decorah, Iowa, with Miss Amanda Anderson as president. They meet twice a month on invitation. These young people have made a very substantial contributions to the churches of the congregation and to other fine causes in the short time they have been organized.
These congregations are conducting their meetings with devotions since the pastor is their leader. The ladies aid is the oldest of the organizations in the congregation, but there have also been several other societies worthy of mention throughout the years.
The congregation at one of its meetings held April 5, 1886 started a local branch of the Central Society of Israel Missions with 16 members participation. John J. Johnson was president.
The congregation has also taken part in the combating of the abuse of alcohol and gradually took steps to do away with certain customs that the immigrants brought along from their old country such as the serving of liquor at funerals or other social gatherings.
To fight the liquor evil the congregation in 1892 organized The Little Cedar Temperance Society with both men and women as members and almost 100 joined. This society held regular sessions every week in various school houses. When the weather was favorable these meetings were well attended, and held programs consisting of lectures, debates and lively discussions on a variety of themes.
There was also organized in the winter of 1889 a group of farmers into "The Little Cedar Farmers Society." Through the guidance of the teacher, Mr. Ravndahl this society started a library. Each member contributed $1.00 to purchase a selection of books, and various members made donations of books from their private collections so that the society acquired about 100 volumes in this library. These were entrusted to the care and control of a hired librarian and each book was numbered and cataloged.
Each book was loaned out for a period of two weeks and circulated among the membership of the society. When the librarian left the community, the books were securely packed in a box and stored in good condition in Mrs. Wilson's store in Adams.
Later the box was removed from Mrs. Wilson's store and disappeared without trace. The only souvenir of this library to be preserved consisted of two volumes. The president and the secretary of this society fervently desire that these books may be found and returned to the society.
Part IX - Men of the Congregation in Politics
The congregation has had several of its men prominent in the political arena. In the autumn of 1867 the first railroad came through the county in the form of the Chicago Milwaukee, St. Paul, also know as the Minnesota Central. John Irgens was the first station agent in Adams, and his brother Harold, was his assistant. They came from St. Ansgar, Iowa, where they had been in business for a short time, and took up land in Adams Township, section 8 in 1857.
The post office was moved to Adams, where for a short time it was located in the depot. Later, the mail was distributed in Skotland and Olsen's store, the first general store in the town of Adams. William Davis of Davis Brothers succeeded Harold Irgens as postmaster.
John S. Irgens was depot agent for about three years. In 1870 he was elected to county treasurer and held this office two terms, for four years. In 1875 he was a representative from the county for the southern district in the Minnesota legislature. In 1875 he was elected Secretary of State, and re-elected in 1877 with a majority of 1800 votes over his opponent. He has been considered the best Secretary of State in the history of Minnesota.
In 1878 he moved to Dakota to take up a homestead and lived there for three years. He moved from Dakota to Claremount, Virginia where he was in business for three years. Then he moved to southern California, near San Diego, where he bought a ranch not far from the Mexican border and dies there not many years ago. Mr. John S. Irgens was one of the pioneer members of the congregation and as mentioned earlier, its first secretary.
The next member of our congregation to hold a public office is John C. Johnson, Jr., who grew up in our congregation and has always been interested in all its activities. He, too, has served as secretary of the congregation. In 1894 he was elected sheriff of the county, and re-elected for five successive terms.
His ten years service is evidence that he was a good man for the office. He now resides in Austin, Minnesota, where he is in business. He is a Republican. He was the first organist for the congregation.
The next man from our group to hold public office is John R. Johnson, a brother of the preceding. He served as county commissioner, being elected to represent the 4th district of the town of Marshall. He is very much interested in the activities of the church, and has served as its secretary and is a member of its Board of Trustees.
Part X - The Congregation and Church Affairs
From its origin the congregation has constantly seen to it that the word of God and the Sacraments have been duly administered and that the children have been reared and instructed in christian principals by maintaining a parochial religious school. In spite of its many weakness, lacks, and faults it must be stated never the less, that the congregation has been a church going group of people. Through out the course of its years it has served excellent and competent ministers. It has at all times taken part in contributing to the various activities of the church, towards its growth and welfare, both in and outside the congregation's boundaries.
In the period of ecclesiastical strife this congregation has been spared from internal dissensions. During its half century of existence the Lord has bountifully blessed our church in both temporal and spiritual ways, so that today we can in its golden jubilee see with gratitude two beautiful churches and a magnificent parsonage and grounds in our midst.
Yes, we have indeed, enjoyed a great progress, but the essential progress of chief significance in the days to come is that the congregation may be preserved in complete unity and peace.
True human happiness is possible only where a mutual love for one another prevails. And where love is lacking it is because we are lacking in the true mind of Christ Jesus.
May God grant us success in our aim that all Lutheran Christians in this place work towards a common goal, which is an eternal goal, the Heavenly Glory and Joy, the salvation of our souls and sanctifications.
With this I close my humble work with a prayer that the merciful Lord will for his Son's sake bless us all to the end, that when our life here below in the church militant is over, we may, if possible, all meet again with God up there in the Church Triumphant: Amen.
Part XI - The Pastors and officers who are now serving the congregation.
O. C. Myhre - Pastor
J. R. Johnson, Nels C. Johnson, Knute Rudlong, and B. P. Haugen - Trustees
H. J. Hansen, John Mathsen, J. P. Satre, and Sven Hegge - Deacons
H. J. Hanson - Secretary of congregation
A. Torgerson - Treasurer of congregation
P. A. Anderson, A. Satre, Otto Halverson, John Lasseson, O. J. Njos, Knute Alrick, Ben S. Knutsen, John L. Huber, M. A. Neus, E. S. Wenes, B. M. Hanson, A. S. Knutson, and A. A. Wiste: Superintendents of the parochial schools of the congregation.
Ellef F. Nelsen, Leader of singing
Miss Ida Anderson, Organist
Knute Thompson and O. H. Njos, Janitors
H. J. Hanson and O. H. Njos, Ushers