Cook County Illinois Genealogy Trails

Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church

from a souvenir album issued by the church and printed in 1915
Transcribed and Submitted to Genealogy Trails by ©LeRoy Sundin

Swedish Evangelical Church in the Old Englewood neighborhood, Chicago, IL
6 June 1915
Swedish Evangelical Church
Old Englewood neighborhood

The church was organized by a group of Swedish Lutherans living near the Rock Island Railroad shops in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago on June 5, 1875.
The church was located on LaSalle Street near 56th Street. The building was completed in 1877. The name
"The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church" was selected.


C. O. Lindell

Fredrik Nibelius

Geo. E. Youngdahl

Martin Noyd

G. S. Ohslund

Mrs. Ohslund

H. E. Sandstedt


From The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Bethlehem Congregation
souvenir album 6 June 1915

The Dorcas Society is as old as the congregation itself, being organized in 1875 and known as “Syförengen” . The women who started this society believed that sll the important work in the congregation should be left in the hands of Paul and Peter, but also to Dorcas with her needle. The first meeting was held in the home of Mrs. Lovisa Anderson, 327 Maple street, now West 60th Place. Mrs. Anderson also acted as the society’s first president.
Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church Dorcas Society

Nine members were enrolled and each member donated $1.00 to be used for the purpose of material which was afterward to be made into sundry useful articles. An auction was generally held each year in the fall, when these articles were sold to the highest bidder. The meetings were held in the different homes of the members, and although the members were few in numbers, they had the pioneer’s spirit, for they worked hard and labored faithfully and their efforts were crowned with success. About $3,400.00 was gathered by them for the benefit of the church during its 14 years of activity, which surely was a great help in establishing the Bethlehem Congregation.

On the 26th day of September 1889 the society met at the home of Mrs. C. A. Engstrom, 8741 Fifth Avenue. Eighteen ladies were present and at this meeting it was decided to re-organize the society: and that all resources and liabilities be transferred and assumed by the new society: and that each member pay a fixed membership due of 25 cents per month, which system is still in force. On the 28th of December 1889, the members met in the home of Mrs. N. P. Nelson, 231 W. 58th Street, and at this meeting it was decided to call the society “Dorcas”. Rev. Geo. E. Youngdahl was elected its first Chairman, Mrs. Geo. E. Youngdahl, Secretary, and Mrs. N. P. Nelson, Treasurer. Rev. Geo. E. Youngdahl held office of chairman until June 2, 1897, when he resigned. Mr. Anton J. Carlson, then a student from Augustana College, who had temporary charge of the congregation, acted as chairman until September 29th, 1897, when Mrs. M. Noyd was elected. She held office until December 18th, 1907, when Mrs. N. A. Nelson was elected President, which office she still holds. The other officers are as follows: Mrs. G. S. Ohslund, Vice President: Mrs. August Johnson, Secretary: Mrs. Victor Bovik, Financial Secretary, and Mrs. H. E. A. Olson, Treasurer. Meetings are now held on the last afternoon of each month in the chapel of the new church. These meetings as a rule are conducted in the Swedish language.

Dorcas was organized for two specified purposes, - to assist the congregation and to aid in mission work. Some of the things which Dorcas has paid for are as follows: Assisted in building the parsonage; paid dues for two years to Illinois Conference; paid for street improvements around the church; paid for carpets and gas fixtures in old church, also assisted finance Committee in paying old debt; assisted with $5,000.00 cash in building new church, also paid for pews, pulpit and altar ring. The total amount which the society has aided the church with since 1889 is $13.901.25; in addition, $510.82 has been paid out for the mission cause, and a few hundred dollars for other purposes. The sum total of all contributions since the organization of the Church exceeds $18,000.00. The society has a sick and flower committee, the object being to visit sick members and to leave them a bouquet of flowers.

The Society generally gives a concert in the fall of each year which always proves a grand success.

The membership of Dorcas has steadily increased until today we have a membership of 171 active, loyal and faithful members. The society has been a great blessing not only to the church but also to individual members: it has been the means of bring many persons to the church and as a result to their Saviour. That God has richly blessed our humble efforts is ever manifest, and our hearts turn to Him this day in thanksgiving and praise for all that has been accomplished, and may He lead and guide us in the future to do His will and to lend a willing hand in development of His Kingdom on earth.
Mrs. N. A. Nelson, President
Bethlehem Congregation

Bethlehem Choir and Choral Society

Bethlehem Choir and Choral Society

A group of Luther Leaguers

Luther Leaguers

Swedish Evangelical Church - Bethlehem Congregation


The history of this Society extends over a period of twenty-five years. Under the supervision of Pastor George E. Youngdahl, the Society was organized October 3rd, 1889, and was called the Young Ladies' Sewing Society. The officers were: Pastor Youngdahl, President: Miss Anna Lundahl, Secretary: Miss Emelia Brandt, Treasurer.

The aim of the Society was to keep our young ladies together in church work, and to aid the church financially. To accomplish this latter aim, the members served at each meeting during the year, and on Thanksgiving day an auction sale was held, which netted annually about $200.00.

In the year of 1902 while Pastor Martin Noyd had chargeof our church, we decided to adopt a new name and a new plan by which the Society could meet its financial obligations instead of by auction sales. The new name the Society adopted was the "Bethlehem Star Circle," signifying: Bethlehem - Our Church Home: Star - A shining light: Circle - Chain of Friendship. The Circle held their meetings every other Wednesday evening, and a membership fee of ten cents was paid at each meeting. The Circle met at the homes of the members and other friends of the church, while good instructive programs, pleasant social talks and delicious refreshments were among the enjoyments of the evening.

In 1906, The Circle decided to hold all their meetings in the church parlors, where they would be entertained by two of its members, unless an invitation to the home of some friend of the Society had been accepted. In May 1908 the Circle welcomed our present Pastor, Rev. G. S. Ohslund, into our midst. Under his leadership the Circle has been very progressive and successful.

In 1910 the Circle decided to hold their meetings on the second Wednesday evening of each month. The membership dues were changed to twenty-five cents per month. During the year the Circle pledged $3,000.00 towards the New Church Building Fund, and the members have used every effort and sacrificed both time and money to pay this pledge.

Our unique method whereby the Circle raised several hundred dollars was the "Corner Stone Fund" plan. Each person paying one dollar or more was granted the privilege of having his name recorded in a booklet placed in the Corner Stone of the New Church. Two banquets have been given, which were unusual in that only ladies were present. There was however one exception, and that was our Pastor. Both these banquets were very successful, socially as well as financially. The last payment of our $3,000.00 pledge was made at the close of 1914.

The Circle has always responded generously to many appeals for charitable causes. The Inner Mission work and especially the Foreign Missions of Porto Rico and India have repeatedly received our support. The Circle gives annually a Spring or Midsummer social, and a Thanksgiving day sale and supper. A birthday bank provides the Flower Fund for our sick members. A scout committee, who are always on the look-out for new members, serves efficiently.

The Society of young ladies all through our church history has been characterized by one word "harmony," which has given courage and strength. Since the organization of the Society more than $8,000.00 has been received into the treasury. About half of this amount was paid toward the debt, repairs and other expenses of our former church building. The balance constitutes the paid pledge of $3, 000.00, and many other incidental expenses.

The membership roll at the present time reaches seventy. Of the members who are still with us the following have in previous years held office: Mrs. Ellen Johnson Anderson; Miss Selma A. Turnquist; Mrs. Jennie Larson Young; Miss Anna C. Johnson; Miss Mildred Nelson; Mrs. Esther Anderson Kellman; Miss Ella Holtsberg. Mrs. Andrew Anderson, who served the Circle as its president the greatest number of consecutive years, is one of the charter members and is still with the Circle. Our Pastor is the President ex-officio of the Circle. The officers for the present year are: Miss Hilda Carlson, President; Miss Nellie Mattson, Vice-President; Miss Evalyne Mattson, Recording Secretary; Miss Edna Stigberg, Financial Secretary; Miss Esther C Olson, Treasurer; Miss Marie Colgren, Pianist.

Hilda C. Carlson

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