Cottonwood County Minnesota
Religious Denominations of the County
Source: History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties, Minnesota, Volume 1, Illustrated; by John A. Brown; B. F. Bowen & Co. (1916) Chapter XI; transcribed by Vicki Bryan
While the early settlers were largely made up of returned Civil War soldiers and immigrants from lands beyond the seas, yet they did not forget their religious vows and early training in their native sate or country, for it is found that in every community in the county, as soon as there were a sufficient number of any one religious faith to organize a church, it was done, though sometimes there were but a few charter members in such societies. Private houses were used for many of the first religious services. Later, school houses were used for meetings and usually all denominations of the Protestant faith would hold union meetings. Eventually, each of the regular denominations found ways to raise money and built neat churches, in villages and rural districts, and since then have maintained regular services. In fact, the minister was about to as early as any of the settlers, and in some instances he, too, was a "homesteader." While he tilled his land, he also married people, christened the infants and buried the dead of the pioneer community.
It was the sentiment and everyday exemplary life of the church going people of Cottonwood County that founded her institutions on a religious basis, and this, coupled with the school system of the county, has made it a community where law and order and a high degree of intelligence are found today – nearly half a century after the first white settlers came here to make homes for themselves.
Now nearly all of the evangelical Protestant and Catholic churches common in this country, are found in Cottonwood County. There are but few, if any, villages in Minnesota where there are more churches for the number of inhabitants than there are in Windom, the seat of justice.
Possibly there may be a few small churches within the county which have not furnished the historian with proper data, but nearly all of the churches in the county are represented in this chapter, by a brief but reliable account of their organization, present strength, etc.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCHES
The first religious service in the village of Windom was conducted by the Rev. J. E. Finch in the summer of 1871, in the unfinished hardware store, which stood on the present site of the First National Bank. Rev. Peter Baker, local preacher, living at Jackson, was the first on this circuit and had a preaching appointment at Big Bend before the village of Windom was started. In September 187q, a union Sunday school was organized and in December the first quarterly meeting of the church was held. A class meeting had been organized and had met at the home of Mr. Laird. Reverend Baker was in charge of the congregation until September 1872, when J. W. Lewis was sent here. He came to the village on a sled, as the railroad was snow bound, and preached his first sermon at Swan Lake in a private house. On December 8 he preached at Big Bend.
The only place of worship at this time was a small private school house pre-empted by the Presbyterian and Baptist congregations. In order to avoid all conflicts, it was decided not to use the schoolhouse, so the minister rented a hall over Hutton's store. A stove and some fuel were secured, also lumber for seats, and the first quarterly meeting was held December 15, 1872.
In 1873, twenty-seven members and five probationers composed the congregation at Windom; twenty members and eleven probationers at Big Bend and ten members at Swan Lake, a total of sixty-five members and sixteen probationers in the county.
During the summer and fall of 1873, lots were secured and a few subscriptions and donations received through Bishops Ames and Merrill from parties in Baltimore, amounting to two hundred and fifty dollars. Lumber was bought and stacked on the lots and all work suspended for the winter. The frame work was put up in 1874 and in the fall of 1875 the house was enclosed and plastered by the Rev. Lewis.
ANOTHER ACCOUNT OF THE FIRST CHURCH
The oldest class book of the Methodist people in Cottonwood County contains the following names, and dates from July 1871: D. W. Working – class leader; A. J. Gessell, Mr. R. Gessell, Martha Gessell, R. N. Sackett, J. A. Sackett, L. I. Sackett, S. Chapman, Cyrus Finch, Martha Finch, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Thompson, E. L. Working, William Peterson, William Teed. Later that same year, the following names were added: G. A. Purdy, B. C. Purdy, Mary Purdy, Lavern Purdy Clark, G. A. Chapman, Allen Gardner, Lovina Estgste, D. E. Teed, D. B. Jones and wife. Other very early members were: Mr. and Mrs. James Greenfield, Mr. and Mrs. A. Laird, Mr. and Mrs. A. Holmes, Mrs. Belle Smith (now Mrs. George Le Tourneaus), Eben Morton, Mrs. Lorinda Greenfield, and Mrs. Abigail C. Gillam.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Windom was organized in the autumn of 1871, by Rev. Peter Baker. The first quarterly conference was held in December 1871. The total membership in May 1916, was about five hundred. The first church building, a frame structure, costing about two thousand and fifty dollars, was dedicated on January 30,1 876. The present edifice and parsonage were erected in 1901, of brick veneer, and cost about seventeen thousand dollars, but it would cost much more to build the same today. It was dedicated on April 27, 1902, Bishop John W. Hamilton delivering the dedicatory sermon. A large and flourishing Sunday school is connected with the other church and society work.
The following have served as faithful pastors of the church at Wisdom: Revs. Peter Baker, 1871-72; J. W. Lewis, November 1872 to March 1874; J. E. Fitch, March 1874 to September 1875; J. W. Lewis, September 1875 to September 1876; E. O. Stoddard, September 1876 to 1877; T. H. Kinsman, 1877-78; Nelson Sutton, 1878-79; E. J. Foster, 1879 to July 1880; W. E. King, July 1880 to September 1882; Levi Gleason, September 1882-83; William Copp, 1883-84; B. Y. Coffin, 1884-87; F. A. Arnold, 1887-88; A. J. Williams, 1888-91; G. S. Perry, 1891-92; E. Vaughan, 1892-93; J. H. Buttleman, 1893-96; W. C. Sage, 1896-98; J. A. Sutton, 1898-1900; Charles H. Stevenson, 1900 to January 1902; supplied by President Cooper and others from January 1902 to June 1902; S. Arthur Cook, from June 1902 to October 1907; B. C. Gills, from October 1907 to the present time.
AT BINGHAM LAKE
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Bingham Lake was organized in 1900 by Rev. G. H. Way, a presiding elder, and the first pastor, Rev. H. H. Wallace. The charter members were J. W. Cogley and wife; G. J. Johnson, Bertha Johnson, N. J. Langley, Susann Cogley, Jessie L. McGladray. The first church building – a brick and frame – cost at first fifteen hundred dollars, and later a frame addition cost seven hundred dollars. The pastors who served here have been as follows: Rev. H. H. Wallace, 1900; William Young, 1901; S. A. Smith, 1903; P. G. Wager, 1904; S. S. Smith, 1905; H. H. Hawley, 1906; S. J. Wallace, 1907; B. Campbell, 1908; A. A. Rowshausen 1909; J. R. Stephen, 1910; L. G. Davis, 1911; Rev. McKibben, 1913; W. E. Thompson, 1914-1915; W. W. Smith, the present pastor. The present membership of this church is sixty-three. There had been church services held here before the organization of this church, by traveling ministers of both the Methodist and Presbyterian faith.
The Methodist Episcopal Church at Jeffers was organized by Rev. J. J. Lutz in 1900 and now has a membership of fifty-five. The pastors in order have been as follows: Revs. J. J. Lutz, A. B. Blades, B. T. Russell, J. P. Rawson, F. O. Krause, W. H. Tone, G. W. Root, Teho S. Mondale and F. P. Hannaman, the present pastor. The cornerstone of the church edifice was laid in August 1900, and dedicated on February 10, 1901, by Bishop Joyce. It is a frame building, costing twenty-two hundred dollars.
While this is not a large congregation, it well represents Methodism in the section in which it is located. Those of this belief, though not affiliated with the church as members, attend services here and the faith of this denomination is kept alive in and surrounding the village. Methodists are pioneers in all new countries and it was so in this county. The Sabbath school and other societies of the church are here in active operation and doing much good in the community.
AT MOUNTAIN LAKE
The Methodist Church of Mountain Lake began its existence as an organization in 1893. It was not until 1897, however, that the church building was constructed. Mr. Goss, although not a member of the church, seemed to think that there should be a Methodist Church in the community and it was largely his efforts and financial aid that made possible the existence of the church. At the present time there are very few members and no regular pastor is employed. Sunday school is the only service conducted in the church and this is under the direction of John P. Rempel, the superintendent. Among the pastors who served the congregation was H. H. Wallace.
The First Presbyterian Church of Windom was organized, October 15, 1871, by a committee of the Mankato presbytery, appointed for the purpose, consisting of Rev. David C. Lyon, synodical missionary of the state, and Rev. Aaron H. Kerr and Edward Savage. The eight charter members were as follow: Isaac M. Moss, Mrs. Amanda C. Moss, Mrs. Deborah Pierce, Mrs. Jenneth Smith, Mrs. DeLoss Smith, Mrs. Margaret A. Savage, Abram Frisbie and Melinda Gray. The present membership of this church is one hundred and thirty-two.
During the early years in the history of this church all services were held in the schoolhouse. Later, the Methodist Episcopal Church was used, alternating services with the Methodist people, but on Sunday, July 12, 1885, the Presbyterians dedicated their new church home, a modest frame structure, built at a cost of a little less than two thousand dollars. This building still stands on the corner of Third Avenue and Eleventh Street, but is altogether too small for the present congregation and Bible school. Plans are now maturing for the erection of a new, modern building on the old site. John A. Brown hauled the first stone for this church foundation and many donated material and work.
The Windom church owes a very large debt to Rev. Edward Savage for his untiring efforts during the early years of this organization. The first communion set was donated by a young lady in the East. The individual communion service now in use was given by Elder J. F. French just before his death, two years ago. The beautiful offering plates now used were donated by Mrs. John Hutton, and the sweet-toned piano, by the Orpheus Club of the church in 1915.
On dedication morning, Pastor La Grange announced that there remained but one hundred and twelve dollars to raise in order to dedicate the church free of debt and that sum was very quickly and easily raised. A large amount of labor was donated, but the details have not been recorded.
The following is a list of the various pastors of this church: Revs. Edward Savage, Samuel W. La Grange, Herbert McHenry, Arthur M. Smith, H. P. Barnes, W. H. Sloane, J. C. Gourley, Walter H. Reynolds, C. M. Junkin, Philip A. Swartz, Jr., G. A. Holzinger, W. J. Bell, L. F. Badger, H. F. Softly and Rev. Charles C. Brown, the present pastor.
The church organization at Bingham Lake having recently disbanded, leaves the Windom church the only one of this denomination in Cottonwood County.
The First Baptist Church of Windom was organized on July 6, 1890, by Rev. J. M. Thurston, a retired minister living at Windom. The charter members of this society were as follows: Rev. Jesse M. Thurston and wife, Polly, Lucius M. Thurston, Irving J. Thurston (sons of Rev. J. M. Thurston), Sarah J. Thurston (adopted daughter of Rev. Thurston), Etta L. Dyer, Hattie N. Dyer, Mrs. (G. L.) Annie E. Macomber, Mrs. (C. F.) Henrietta Warren, Peter A. Ruhberg and wife, Metta, Mrs. Sarah Richmond, Mrs. (T. C.) Elmira Richmond, Mrs. Sarah J. Root, Mrs. Anna Stark. The present membership of this Baptist Church is one hundred and fifty-four. There have been three hundred and seventy-six belonging to this church, of which number two hundred and twenty-two are not now on the church rolls.
A frame building, located on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Eleventh Street, was erected in 1891, costing five thousand dollars. This denomination has another strong church at Westbrook and a Danish Baptist Church at Storden, this county.
The pastors who have served at Windom are as follows: Rev. J. C. Mower, July 1, 1890 to July 1891; C. D. Belden, November 1, 1891 to November 1892; W. S. Black, July 1, 1893 to July 1894; G. W. Stone, November 1, 1894 to march 1900; H. A. Erickson, May 13, 1800 to August 1, 1902; J. M. Pegelly, June 1, 1903 to October 15, 1905; H. A. Stoughton, November 1, 1905 to April 15, 1912; F. E. Iams, May 15, 1912 to August 31, 1914; William Phillips, March 31, 1815 to March 21, 1916. Rev. F. D. Holden is the present pastor.
Prior to the formation of this church there had been an organization, but, owing to removals at the time of the grasshopper scourge, it disbanded, some of its members later uniting with the present church. the old "First" church was organized in 1872, by its first and only pastor, M. C. Cummins, in the village schoolhouse where services were afterward held.
Much of the early prosperity of the present church was due to the efforts of the Rev. J. M. Thurston in assisting the pastors. The church grew in nine years to one hundred and fifty-three members, but soon there was a great migration of members westward, which so weakened the church that it did not again reach its former numbers for about fifteen years, or following the Smith-Gilmore evangelistic campaign in the winter of 1914-15. The author is indebted to the church clerk, H. A. Stoughton, for the above facts.
Immanuel Baptist Church, at Westbrook, was organized in 1909 by Rev. August Brohlm, C. Henningsen, B. Jacobson and N. L. Christiansen. The charter members were inclusive of the following: P. W. Ludnigsen, Mrs. Annie Ludnigsen, Mrs. Ida Ludnigsen, William A. Ludnigsen, Mrs. Sine Ludnigsen, Mrs. Laura Nelson, Ole Christiansen, Mrs. Ole Christiansen, Jens C. Christensen, Carl Peterson, Mrs. Carl Petersen, Hans C. Hansen, Mrs. Hans C. Hansen, Mr. and Mrs. Axel Carlsen, N. C. Christensen, Walter Larsen, Mrs. Walter Larsen, F. G. Davis, Mrs. F. G. Davis. The present Sunday school superintendent is F. W. Lugnigsen and the enrollment is one hundred and thirty scholars. In 1902 a twenty-five hundred dollar church was erected. The first pastor was Rev. C. A. Ehrhardt.
DANISH BAPTIST DENOMINATION
In January 1899, Rev. M. A. Summers, the district missionary, in company with the pastor of the Windom Baptist Church, visited a few families in the Westbrook vicinity. Later on, the Rev. Byers, of the Danish Baptist Church, held meetings in the various houses. The first direct work looking towards the formation of a Danish Baptist Church was begun by Missionary Summers in the schoolhouse west of town in August 1900, which, after some interruption, was resumed on December 16, 1900.
On one occasion Mr. Summers went to the schoolhouse, only to find it occupied by another minister, both having made appointments for the same time and place without being aware of such circumstance. Rev. Summers and his people withdrew to the railroad depot, where, through the kindness of agent Bell, the first service inside the town proper was held. For some time services were held in the Silliman hall. The desire for a church began to take root and found expression in the efforts put forth to secure that end. During the summer months Rev. R. O. Farel, the pulpit supply, gave much time to the securing of pledges for the building. Much credit is due W. Hubbell for his timely and munificent gift, which made possible the early construction of the church. In December the church extended a call to Rev. C. A. Ehrhardt to become its first pastor and he accepted.
The Danish Baptists here purchased a good building from the Calvary Baptists of Westbrook, who carried on this work for about one year, when they sold the building, which was enlarged and a basement put beneath it. These changes and improvement cost the society about $4,374. The building is a good frame structure, with cement basement under the entire building. It is the largest public audience room in Westbrook. The services are all in the English language, except twice a month.
The first pastor was Rev. N. H. Byers, from May 1910 to September 1914, since which time Rev. Amandus L. N. Sornsen has been the pastor in charge.
The Mission Band Church, located at Windom, the only one in the county, was organized by Charles E. Croft, July 25, 1913, but was the outgrowth of the prayers and labors of many persons in and near Windom for many years before that date. Rev. G. L. Morgan was possibly the first one to start a full gospel here; others have been interested in the movement and for several years there has been a "full gospel" convention held annually in Windom, and at last they have a place of worship of their own.
The charter members of this society, or band, were as follows: Rev. G. L. Morgan, Mrs. Lura Morgan, Rev. Charles E. Croft, Mrs. Flora E. Kettlewell, Arthur Mead, Mrs. Sarah Croft, Mrs. Anna Croft, William J. Croft, Benjamin Molten, Mrs. O. Hammerstad, Alma Skewis, Mrs. Bertha Kettlewell, Mrs. Edna Croft, Russell Moulton, Gail Morgan, Lewis Hanson, Arthur Johnson, Mrs. Ethel Freeman. The actual membership in June 1916, was thirty.
A building was purchased of R. H. Kettlewell in 1913. It is a frame structure, which formerly was a Methodist Episcopal Church and later was used as a lodge room.
The pastors serving this society have been as follow: Revs. John W. Croft, Charles E. Croft, A. W. Mead, and the present pastor, Rev. G. A. Wooden, who, in giving an account of the work here, said: "This is a full gospel movement. We stand for the verbal inspiration of the whole Bible and we preach it, live it and teach it as God gives us light upon it. We are not trying to build up a denomination, but we are trying to build up the Kingdom of Christ in the hearts of men and women."
NORWEGIAN EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCHES
The Westbrook Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church is ten miles to the northwest of the village of Westbrook and was organized by Rev. J. Chr. Jacobson in 1886. It has a present total membership of five hundred and thirteen souls. There are five church organizations, all under one pastor, as follows: Westbrook, already named; Highwater church, eight miles southwest of Lamberton, organized by J. Chr. Jacobson, with a membership of two hundred and four souls; Amo church, four miles south of Storden, with two hundred and twenty souls, organized by the minister just named; Trinity church, organized by the same minister, having a present membership of one hundred and ninety-three souls, and Bethany church, an English Lutheran Church in Westbrook town, organized by Rev. J. Lewis, who has served as pastor almost five years. The total membership of Bethany is eighty-five souls.
Each of these church organizations has a neat frame edifice of its own. The pastors who have been faithful over these five flocks are as follow: Rev. J. Chr. Jacobson, thirty years; Rev. L. Lund, three years; Rev. L. O. Pederson, three years, and Rev. J. Lewis, about five years.
By these five churches scattered over the western portion of Cottonwood County the Lutheran faith is taught and practiced among a large number of people, mostly of the Norwegian nationality. Be it said to the credit of these people, that schools and churches have ever been liberally supported by them.
EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
The Evangelical Lutheran Church at Jeffers began its existence on May 18, 1902. The ones who signed up for the first organization include the following: Christian Schaper, Garrett Krupher, W. Krahn, Aug. Wolter, Fred Palzin, Henry Schoper. The first meetings were held in the various homes, in the lumber yard and, in fact, almost anywhere that a gathering could be secured. The first pastor was Rev. W. L. Keller; the second, Rev. Paul Cornils, who accepted the call of the church May 23, 1904. The third and present pastor, the Rev. E. Michaelis, has served the congregation since March 1, 1914.
On the 12th of February 1811, a meeting was called and it was agreed to build a church building. Those who signed up and shouldered the responsibility of construction were H. Schroper, J. A. Gerke, Amel Folgel, Herman Peltz, A. Gruenwald, George Krupke, R. R. Ohls, Peter Holck and Fred Polzin. Various materials and a great amount of labor were donated by the different families and, by hard work and constant effort, the church was dedicated on the 28th of August 1911, with a total cash expenditure of one thousand five hundred and eighty-two dollars and fifty-two cents. At the present time there are about ten families in the congregation.
The following article was taken from the Windom Reporter of December 18, 1884: "Dedication services will be held at the German Evangelical Church in Germantown, commencing Friday, December 19, and on Sunday 21, in the forenoon, the church will be dedicated. The following clergymen will be present: Rev. H. Bunce, of Mankato, presiding elder; Rev. J. Smith, of St. Peter; Rev. B. Simon, of Redwood Falls; Rev. M. Gastetter, the resident pastor. A general invitation is given to the public to be present. The church building has just been completed at a cost of two thousand dollars. The building is twenty-eight by forty-eight feet and is furnished in good style."
NORWEGIAN UNITED EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
This denomination at Windom was organized in either 1881 or 1882 and now has a membership of sixty-five families or about five hundred members. The church edifice was built in 1896 and the parsonage in 1897. The pastors have included these: Revs. Andrew O. Hagen, O. C. Mhyre, H. H. Holte and F. C. Norman, present pastor. Among the charter and early members may be recalled these: A. Quevli, F. Reese, Tolef Stenerson, Gabriel Olson, Hans O. Solem, Robertine Pederson, Ole P. Grotte, Pender P. Grotte, Ole Komprud, Gunder Peterson, Olaf Selness, Andrew J. Sandmell, Oluf Brixelien, Iver Olson and Halvor Solem.
A Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church was formed in Windom in 1888. Rev. K. J. Waug was pastor in 1901, when there was a membership of thirty families. It is still doing its work in a humble manner and has a small frame church building.
In 1901 local papers show that Windom was the seat of a branch of the Dowie Zionist society so famous near Chicago. They held services at the hall in the Cone business house.
The German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity congregation was organized at Mountain Lake in 1898 by Rev. J. Porisch. Among the charter members were the following: John Oeltjenbrnus, Herman Kremin, John Ehlere, John DeWall, John Poppe, Ed. Radke, William Nibbe, H. Markwart, J. Kunkel, F. Neuman, H. Dietz, E. Kremin, David Meier, A. Meier, John Langeman, John Steinhauser, George Feil, Gottfried Feil, W. Dierks, C. Roesner, George Heinitz, G. Heinitz, D. D. Heinitz, D. Heinitz, Carl Jase, William Mueller, D. D. Steinle, G. Steinle, Gottfried Schmiers, H. Ruddat, R. Feil, George Schnivck, E. Bag, and Gust. Ott. The pastors and their order of serving have been as follow: Rev. J. Porisch, 1898 to 1900; Rev. A. Ziehlsdorff, 1900 to 1904; Rev. J. Porisch, 1904 to 1901; Rev. W. C. Rumsch, 1910 to the present time.
The church building was erected the same year the congregation was organized, at a cost of nine hundred and sixty-five dollars. The parochial school was started September 6, 1914, in a school building owned by the church. The teachers were Rev. W. C. Rumsch, student Lindenmeyer, student Kohlhoff and Miss F. Winter. Between fifty and sixty scholars attend. The present membership of the church is forty.
Immanuel's Lutheran congregation, of rose Hill Township, was organized in 1880 by Rev. C. H. Schuttler and six charter members. It now has a membership of forty. A church building was erected in 1880, costing two thousand dollars, and it was rebuilt in 1907 at a cost of three thousand dollars. Children of the congregation are taught in a parochial school three days in each week alternate years, the pastor being the instructor. The following have served as pastors of this congregation: Rev. William Priggie, after the founder, Rev. Schuttler, had been in charge from 1880 to 1890; in 1893 came Rev. Fred Selme, who served to 1896; next came Rev. George Stamm, who served to 1902; then came Rev. Christian Heuer, serving till 1905; Rev. Jacob Dachsteiner, from 1905 to 1908, when Rev. O. J. Wolff, the present pastor, came.
Trinity Lutheran congregation, of Westbrook, was organized in 1901, by Rev. Christian Heuer, with fourteen members. The congregation now has a membership of thirty-five. A frame building was erected in 1901, costing one thousand dollars, and in 1910 a parsonage was provided costing twenty-five hundred dollars. A parochial school is conducted by the pastor Saturdays and Mondays about five months each year. This denomination has a charge and a church at a point in Rose Hill Township above mentioned, cared for by the pastor of the Westbrook congregation: Revs. Christian Heuer, 1901 to 1905; Rev. Jacob Dagchsteiner, 1905-1908; Rev. F. Burgley, 1908-1909; Rev. O. J. Wolf, 1906-16.
This denomination, with its various branches, is represented only among the Russians in the eastern part of the county, in and near the Village of Mountain Lake.
The Fist Mennonite Church at Mountain Lake was organized in 1878 by Henry Schultz and David Loewen. The first building was erected in 1882, at a cost of fifteen hundred dollars and the present church was erected in 1911 at a cost of five thousand dollars. The following have served as pastors of this church: Revs. David Loewen, john Schultz, Gerhard Neufeld, Peter Voth, Gerhard Fast, Jacob Friesen, Jacob Stoesz, A. Friesen, D. D. Harder, J. Niessen, I. J. Dick. At the present the ministers are, Elder Jacob Stoesz, D. D. Harder, Revs. Dick and John Niessen.
The Mennonite Berfelder Church, which dates its beginning to about 1886, is located north of Mountain Lake and not very far from town. The church was rebuilt in 1913 under the pastorship of Rev. D. P. Eitzen, who is now the present pastor. There is a branch church at Delft, of which Rev. Eiten is the pastor. The membership of the church near Mountain Lake is one hundred and seventy-five.
The Mennonite Bruderhaler Church began its existence in 1888 and was organized by Aaron Wall. Among the charter members were the following: Henry Fast. Gerhard Fast, Henry Wakerten, Dieter Warkerten, John J. Dick, Peter Nickel, John Regier, Gerhard Buhler. The leaders in the church at the present time include some of the most prominent men in the church and community. Among them are, Henry Fast, Heinrick Fast, Jacob A. Wall, H. I. Dick and Aaron Wall.
The church owns about seven and one-half acres of land two and one-half miles north of Mountain Lake, on which the church buildings are located. The first building, constructed in 1888, was twenty-six feet wide by forty-four feet long, but the church grew so rapidly that this building soon became too small, thus necessitating a new one. In 1893 a new edifice was constructed at a cost of five thousand dollars. The dimensions of this building are twenty-eight feet wide and seventy feet long. The old building was then used as a school building and a home for the pupils who attend school. During the winter twenty-five to thirty pupils attend this school under the guidance and leadership of Abraham J. Becker. The present membership is about one hundred and fifty, not as large as at one date, before so many removed from the county.
Mennonite Bethel Church, at Mountain Lake, was originated in the year 1889, by H. H. Reiger and about twenty-four others. The first secretary was John Janzen; the chairman, H. H. Reiger; trustees, N. F. Toews, H. Goertz, H. H. Reiger, H. Schroeder, Jacob J. Balzer and John Janzen. The present membership is two hundred and seventh-three. In 1890 a frame church was erected and enlarged in 1895. the cost of the first building was sixteen hundred dollars and, as enlarged, the total cost was six thousand dollars. The following ministers have faithfully served this congregation: Revs. H. H. Reiger, J. J. Balzer, N. F. Toews and Peter J. Friesen.
This church, in conjunction with four others, has a parochial school – a German school of the union type. Three instructors are engaged and the pupils now number about one hundred. A two-year course is maintained. The school building, a frame structure, cost about four thousand dollars and the accompanying boarding hall cost about twenty-five hundred dollars. The pupils are given a chance to board at six dollars a month.
CATHOLIC CHURCHES OF THE COUNTY
While this denomination is not strong in Cottonwood County, there are good churches at a few points, including Windom, Jeffers and Westbrook. It is doubtful if any church in southern Minnesota has ever been organized under conditions similar to the Catholic Church at Westbrook. It was the agitation and assistance of the non-Catholics that made the church possible. After much solicitation and persuasion, M. J. Breen took up the task of securing money to build the church and in only three instances was he refused. Of all those who subscribed, only one man refused to pay. Lots for the church building were donated by John Sammons.
In February 1914, ground was broken for the foundation and in April the masonry was completed. On the 7th of June 1915, the church was dedicated, at a total cost of two thousand three hundred dollars. However, much work and material were donated. Recently an improvement, costing two hundred dollars, has been made. At the time the church was dedicated there were only eleven families connected with the church and since that time very few have been added. At present the congregation is served once a month by Father Prokes, of Windom, but arrangements have been made whereby the church is in a circuit with Dundee and now the congregation will have services semi-monthly.
Eighteen years ago the Catholic families of Windom could be counted on the fingers of two hands. As immigration continued to increase, a few Catholic families moved into the town and community and the need of a church where they could assembly and worship according to the tenets of their faith was sorely felt. The little church on the east side of the railroad track, owned by the Lutheran congregation, was procured and moved onto the two lots donated by the president of Cottonwood County Bank. This church was used about three years when it became quite inadequate to the needs of the congregation. An agitation for a new building was started, which resulted in the up-to-date and modern structure located in the northeast part of town. This building was dedicated, November 24-27, 1902, at a cost of twelve thousand dollars. Among the pastors who have served the congregation have been the following: Father Sande, Father Vandeniker, Father Schneider, Father Hennekes, Father Prokes. This congregation now has about sixty families.
On January 17, 1911, the Catholics in Jeffers and immediate vicinity met a call of the pastor, Rev. Anthony Hennekes, at the chapel for the purpose of raising funds for a church building. One thousand six hundred dollars were subscribed in actual money; one hundred and forty dollars in subscriptions, and four village lots were donated by August Paufhal.
On February 17, 1911, announcement was made to the people that Right Rev. P. R. Heffron had given his permission for the erection of the church. Permission was also given to the Reverend pastor to conduct the Sunday services; to conduct high mass on the first Sunday of each month; to hold vespers on the fourth Sunday of each month and mass the following morning. Albert Schneider and Theophilus Tibbedeaux were presented to the elective board as the first trustees and their names were ratified.
On June 20, 1911, a meeting was called for the purpose of letting the contract for the building of St. Augustine's church. The contract was awarded to Louis Faucher, of Windom, at a cost of one thousand eight hundred and twenty dollars.
On August 20, the church was ready for divine service and the church was dedicated. It was impossible for the Right Reverend Bishop to be present, so the regular pastor conducted the ceremonies. The day was ideal for the occasion. The services began at ten o'clock in the morning, the dedicatory services being followed by high mass. The choir from Sandborn, assisted by local talent, furnished the music for the occasion. The parish of Sandborn also donated the altar for the church.
The first child baptized in this parish was Helen McShea, the daughter of John and Mary McShea. The church now has a membership of about thirty families.
The Church of the Good Shepherd, at Windom, was organized, June 15, 1880, by the Rev. D. Griffin Gunn. The original members of this parish were as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Collins, Mrs. George Besser, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Seeger, Mr. and Mrs. Dunnicliff, Mr. and Mrs. F. L. Jones, and others. The membership in the spring of 1916 was thirty-eight. A church building was erected in 1881, the first church services being held on June 24.
The following pastors have faithfully served this church since its organization, thirty-six years ago: The Revs. D. Griffin Gunn, Charles S. Ware, C. H. Beaulieu, F. W. White, S. Currie, Elmer E. Lofstrom, Robert C. Ten Broeck, William A. Dennis and the present pastor, Rev. William M. Kearons, the Church of the Good Shepherd: "In his address to the Council of 1872, the subjoined is found in a written history of the parish register of Bishop Whipple recommended that the clergy on the line of each railway system organize informally and accept the trust of the vacant mission stations, , * * * In his annual report for 1874 the Rev. Edward Livermore names Windom among the places where he has held services during the year. On January 21, 1874, Bishop Whipple made a visit to Windom and preached."