Goodhue County, Minnesota

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Source: History of Goodhue County Minnesota, Illustrated, Chapter IV; Franklin Curtiss-Wedge, editor; H. C. Cooper Jr. & Co. (1909), transcribed by Liz Dellinger

Religious Influence - Norwegian Lutheran - Norwegian Methodist - Swedish Lutheran - English Lutheran - Swedish Mission - German Churches - German Methodism - Swedish Methodists - Roman Catholic - Congregational - Presbyterian - Episcopal - Baptist - Swedish Baptist.

Religious influence has ever been tremendously powerful in Goodhue county. Father Hennepin, a Franciscan priest, bore the crucifix when he landed at the foot of Barn Bluff in 1680. The stockade at Frontenac in 1827 enclosed a mission house of the Jesuit order. The first modern settlers of the county were the Swiss missionaries, Denton and Gavin. Their successors were Aiton and Hancock, Presbyterian clergymen. Wherever the pioneers settled they no sooner had their houses roofed over than they began to hold religious services. With so large a Scandinavian and German population, it is natural that the Lutheran faith should hold a leading position in the county. Not all the people of Scandinavian and German birth, however, subscribe to the tenets of that faith, as the Swedish, Norwegian and German Methodists, and the German and Swedish Baptists are also represented. The Roman Catholic church is important, and the Episcopal and Methodist Episcopal chapels and churches are scattered throughout the county. There are also a number of Congregational churches and one Presbyterian church. The Christian Scientists hold services at Red Wing, and the Salvation Army has at various times endeavored to gain a foothold here.


The United Church of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran faith is represented in Goodhue county by twelve congregations. Lands (Zumbrota Chapel), Minneola, Holden, Dale, Vang, Urland, Vang's Prairie, Gol. Moland, Kenyon and Hoff.

Holden Congregation was organized September 12, 1856, on lot 6, section 19, in Wanamingo township, in a grove where, in more recent years, the residence of Dr. Charles Gronvold was erected. The circuit of the congregation then reached within ten miles of Faribault and east to Zumbrota, and consisted of upwards of seventy heads of families. The organization was effected under the supervision of the Rev. H. A. Stub. The trustees were Knut K. Finseth, Kjostel G. Nacset, Halvon O. Huset and Christopher Lockrem. The trustees secured 100 acres of land, on section 19, for church purposes, which they afterward improved by the erection of a good parsonage, barn, granary and outbuildings. After their organization they had no regular pastor, but were occasionally visited by Revs. J. S. Munck, L. Larson and A. C. Preus, until the arrival of Rev. B. J. Muus, in 1859. In 1861 they built their present church, a fine building capable of seating at least 500. The Rev Fjelstad is pastor.

Lands and Minneola Congregations were originally a part of the Holden Congregations and were served by the Rev. B. J. Muus. In 1868 the two congregations were organized as a separate charge and the Rev. N. Th. Yivisaker chosen as minister. The church in Lands was built in 1868 and the church in Minneola in 1871. Rev. N. Th. Yivisaker died in 1877 and his brother, Rev. John Yivisaker, was called, remaining until 1879, when he became a theological professor. In 1879, Rev. L. M. Biorn was called and he served the charge twenty-nine years. He died in June, 1908, and is buried at Lands Church. Rev. G. S. Froiland was chosen as his successor and still remains. In the controversy in the Synod, these congregations sided with the anti-Missourians. The minister has free use of a beautiful piece of land of about fifty-six acres, upon which is situated the pleasant parsonage. Lands has a membership of about 1,000 souls. The present church is too small and the congregation is contemplating building a new church. Parochial schools are held about eight months in the year, divided between the several school districts. Minneola has a membership of about 500 souls, and also maintains parochial school eight months of the year. The congregations have young people's societies, a young ladies' society and several ladies' aid societies.

Ludvig Marinus Biorn, now deceased, was born in Moss, Norway, September 7, 1835. His father was a minister in the state church of Norway, and some of his ancestors held high military and ecclesiastical positions in Slesvig. Biorn became a student at the University of Norway in 1855, graduating as a theological candidate in 1861. The following year he emigrated to America, being called as pastor by the congregation of the Norwegian Synod in Manitowoc county, Wisconsin. Here Rev. Biorn met all the hardships incident to pioneer life. The war, too, added to the difficulty. Company F. of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Regiment, was mostly taken from his congregation. In 1879 he removed to Goodhue county,

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hail from a congregation in Norway called Vang, in Valders. In 1883 the congregation was incorporated, the following persons signing the articles of incorporation: Peter E Bakke, Simon O. Gjellum, Halvor L. Lilleskov, Torgor Thompson and Nils Torstenson. On the south of Fangs church reside a fine settlement of Germans, who are very prosperous, and came to stay, but on the north side were a good many other nationalities, who wanted to sell; and as the Norwegians are generally industrious and prosperous farmers, they were always ready to buy, and as a result the congregation continued growing north, leaving the church in the south part of the congregation. Finding the old church too small for the large increase, they built a new church nearly in the center of the member's homes. Two years ago the congregation bought a beautiful and high-grade pipe organ. An expensive parsonage is located near the old church site.

The following pastors have served the congregation: B. J. Muus, M. O. Bockman, T. Aug. Hanson, J. N. Kildahl, N. Oefstedahl, C. A. Mellby, and A. Hauge, the present pastor.

The church maintains parochial schools in several districts. It has four auxiliaries. The present membership is over 600. It belongs to the United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America. The present trustees are: Ingebright Bakke, M. O. Mering, Th. Bakken, B. Swenson and O. Kumperud; treasurer, C. T. Haugen; secretary, O.. Flaten; organist, E. Rude.

Wangen's Prairie is a congregation located in Warsaw township. Reverend Hauge is pastor. It was organized and incorporated January 9, 1908. Its members belonged formerly to the Urland congregation. The first trustees were: Joh. Lillskov, Hans Loven, and John P. Wangen. Its church building was dedicated in 1902. It is in connection with Vang and Urland congregations as one call, the present pastor being Rev. A. Hauge. The church maintains a parochial school and two auxiliaries. The present membership is over eighty. The congregation belongs to the United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America. The treasurer of Joh. Lillskov, and the secretary is Oliver Fretten.

Urland Congregation originally belonged to Holden congregation. In 1868 it was decided to organize Urland as a "Sogn," and in 1872 it was incorporated as a congregation. Articles of incorporation were signed by E. L. Otterness, Ragnald Johnson and William Olson. The trustees were Lars Flom, Torsten A. Melhouse, Ole A. Melhouse, Ragnald J. Ohnstad and Johannes Ingebritsen.

A church building was erected in Leon township in 1872, and was dedicated in 1874, and capable of seating 500 people. The building committee consisted of Ragnald J. Ohnstad, E. L. Otterness and A. A. Flom.

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Minnesota Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church, as president of St. Olaf's school, at Northfield, and for many years occupied a high place of honor and respect in the counsels of the church with which he affiliated. In 1876, when the Norwegian synod was divided into three districts, Mr. Muus was elected president of the one embracing Minnesota and the states to the west. He was the founder and first president of St. Olaf college, at Northfield. In his latter years he differed with his synod on doctrinal questions, and was finally expelled, but was, in spite of this, respected for his learning and high character.

Prof. F. A. Schmidt, D. D., is professor of theology at the United Lutheran Seminary at St. Anthony Park. He is one of the best known Lutheran scholars in the northwest. He was born in Leutenberg, Rudolstadt, Germany, January 3, 1837, and came to America in 1841, after the death of his parents. After spending six years in the parochial schools in St. Louis, he entered college, and graduated in 1853. He studied theology three years, served a congregation in Eden, N. Y., and later another at Baltimore, Md. After two years he was called as professor in the first Norwegian high school in America, now known as Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa. This was in 1861. Later he taught theology five years at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and then removed to Madison, Wis., teaching there eleven years in the Norwegian Theological Seminary. When the United Norwegian Lutheran church was formed in 1890, he was transferred from Northfield, whither he had gone in 1886 to teach in the seminary of the Anti-Missourians, to Minneapolis, where he is still teaching, although he is now seventy-two years of age. In 1883 he received the D. D. degree in recognition of his honorable services. His wife, Mrs. Schmidt, formerly Caroline Allwardt, is still living. On Tuesday, December 8, 1908, the aged couple celebrated their golden wedding. Mrs. F. A. Schmidt was born in Mecklenburgh-Schwerin, Germany, October 11, 1842, and came to Chattanooga county, New York, when she was eight years old. She was married to Dr. F. A. Schmidt fifty-one years ago at Olean, N. Y. Dr. and Mrs Schmidt have a number of sons and daughters, among whom is Prof. W. W. Schmidt, of the Red Wing Seminary.

The Norwegian Synod has three churches in this county -- Trinity, at Red Wing; Little Cannon, in Holden, and the Zumbrota church.

The Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church, of Red Wing, at one time known as the First Norwegian Evangelical Church, of Red Wing, belongs to the Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The first Lutheran sermon in the Norwegian language was preached in Red Wing in 1858 by Rev.

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Ladies' Aid Society meets on the first Thursday of every month. The Young People's Society and the Priscillas meet at the call of the presidents. The Sunday school meets regularly every Sunday after service.

Rev. Elmar Ingvald Strom, who resigned as pastor in May, 1909, and is now pastor of two churches in Chippewa county, Minnesota, was born in Zumbrota, this county, June 9, 1871. In the fall of 1886 he entered Luther College, at Decorah, Ia., where he was graduated in 1895. He was ordained August 19, 1895, in the church at Zumbrota. His first parish was in Ward and McHenry counties, North Dakota. In 1897 he became principal of Luther Academy, Albert Lea, Minn., where he remained until 1902. He then served the Crow River parish, in Kandujohi county, for one year, and came to Red Wing in May, 1903. During his stay in Red Wing he served as trustee of the Lutheran Ladies' Seminary and as trustee and treasurer of St. John's Hospital. He was married in 1897 to Helina Marie Nedrud. This union has been blessed with six children, Kristine, Carl, Agnes, Nora, Ingvald and Solveig.

Zumbrota Congregation was organized in 1889 by the Rev. O. P. Vangsnes, of Minneapolis. Among the members at that time were K. L. Strom, A. Erstad, Andrew Yivisaker, C. A. Erstad, John Fylken, Christ Tolleffrud, Albert Erstad, Iver Lunde, Hans C. Lunde, Bernt Lunde, Michael Gullerud, Ole Finstuen, Henry Goplen, P. P. Finstuen, Hans Bjugan, Thos. Avelsgaard, Nels O. Rostad and Th. Rasen. In 1893 a new church was erected on the outskirts of Zumbrota and dedicated July 30 by Rev. Joh. Ylvisaker, assisted by Rev. I. A. Thorsen, K. Bjorgo, D. P. Growe and Rev. Skabo. The church cost about $4,000, is 42 by 30 feet, with a chancel 18 by 22 feet. The tower is 12x12x85. O. P. Vangsnes served the congregation from 1889 to 1890. Then for ten years the pastor was Rev. K. Bjorgo, assisted by D. P. Growe, P. A. Kittelsby, C. Doring and H. G. Magelssen. John Linnevold served a short time in 1900; H. G. Magelsson served from 1900 to 1901 and the Rev. S. J. N. Ylvisaker served until August 31, 1908. Rev. E. J. Strom served as pastor three months and then came the present pastor, Rev. S. Bervin. The church has about thirty families, has a Saturday school, two ladies' aid societies, a church choir and organizations. The officers are: Chairman, Rev. S. Bervin; deacon, Iver Lunde; trustees, Albert Erstad, Th. Avelsgaard, H. Goplen; secretary, Peter H. Lunde; treasurer, O. E. Bjorgo. The church is constantly growing and has a splendid future. In 1903 this church, in connection with the Little Cannon church, purchased a fine parsonage, adjoining the church.

Little Cannon Congregation originally affiliated with the con-

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Several years before the organization, in 1866, of the congregation of the so-called Hauges people, Rev. O. Hanson had served those who later composed the St. Peter's congregation by monthly visits to Red Wing, and the meetings were generally held in the old firemen's hall, then situated on Third street, between Bush and Plum streets. Rev. O. Hanson was the first regular pastor, and was present at the meeting when the congregation was organized. He continued to serve until January 3, 1876, when Rev. Chr. O. Brohough was elected to the charge. May 9, 1881, Reverend Brohough resigned, and the congregation called Rev. I. Eistenson, who served but one year. From August 10, 1882, till April 30, 1885, St. Peter's congregation was served by Rev. A. Weenaas. For a few years the congregation had no regular pastor, but in 1889 a call was extended to Rev. O. S. Meland, who accepted, and preached his introductory sermon Sunday, July 1, 1889. Rev. O. S. Meland has since been the regular pastor of St. Peter's congregation. The present membership of the congregation is about 500.

Rev. Ole S. Meland, pastor of St. Peter's Norwegian Lutheran church, was born in Norway, October 6, 1854. He received his education in the public and high schools of his native town, and later attended the seminary at Balestrand. In 1875 he emigrated to America, and located in Dane county, Wisconsin, where he worked on a farm in the summer, attending school in the winter. He engaged in teaching for three years, after which he entered Augsburg Seminary, at Minneapolis, where he studied for five years. On account of failing health he left school and went to Norway. He entered college at Christiania, and remained two years. Later he received a call to the Red Wing Seminary, as instructor, to succeed Prof. Sven R. Gunderson. This position he held for eight years, and was principal the last two years. In 1889 he was called to become the pastor of St. Peter's Norwegian Lutheran church, which he still serves. Mr. Meland is also a member of the Seminary board and the pastor of the school. September 1, 1887, Rev. Meland was married to Elida C. Simmons, daughter of Thor K. and Hannah S. (Hawkins) Simmons, of Red Wing. Rev. and Mrs. Meland have four children: Alvin Simmons, born June 20, 1888, a student at Williams College, Massachusetts; Aneva Maria, born Septmeber 10, 1892; Norman, born June 20, 1894, and Jennette, born May 11, 1897, all of whom are attending school. Reverend Meland is Republican in his politics, and is an active and interested worker in the Anti-Saloon League.

Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, of Aspelund, was organized in 1859 by Rev. A. E. Boyum. Although not ordained, Oesten Hanson took charge of the congregation, and in 1861 was ordained, remaining until his death. At the time of the organiza-

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