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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."