Norman County Minnesota Church Histories

Information has been taken in part  from History of Clay and Norman Counties Minnesota, Their People, Industries and Institutions by John Turner and C.K. Semling published in 1918.

"Nothing speaks better for a community than the evidence of respectful worship among its members. In Norman county it is notable that every community has its place of worship, the prevailing church being the Lutheran. Other denominations are found here and there, but the Lutheran churches are in the lead. The churches of the county average more than one to each voting precinct, and they are neat and well built, mostly of the Gothic type. All excepting the Congregational church in Ada are frame structures. Many of the churches display good taste in their interior decorations."


The Congregational church at Ada was organized in 1882, by the following charter members: Rev. J.A. Wells, Marcia Wells, Eliza Hampson, Fred L. Hampson, G.H. Morse, Mary Morse, Flore E. Clark and Mary Coburn. In 1900, a house of worship was erected of brick, at a cost of five thousand dollars. In 1914 a parsonage was erected near the church.

Rev. J. Schmitt, who also served the Evangelical Lutheran Emmanuel church in Pleasant View township, also served a German Lutheran congregation in the city of Ada. The services were held in Our Savior's church twice a month on Sunday afternoon. There being two German Lutheran congregation in Ada, the membership was quite small. Formerly all the German Lutherans were in one congregation, and they started raising funds to erect a building. However, an unfortunate division arose which resulted in the formation of two separate congregations, neither of which was sufficiently strong to erect a building of their own.

Methodism entered the field at Ada in 1880, when the first Methodist Episcopal church was organized. The edifice stands at the corner of Notten Avenue and East Main Street. A church building was erected in 19-1.

The German Methodist Episcopal church in Ada  and the Lockhart churches have always been served by the same pastor. The church in Ada was organized in 1898 and cost one thousand dollars and there is a parsonage in connection with the same that cost one thousand one hundred dollars. The first members were John C. Bennefeld and William Beck.

Our Savior's Norwegian Lutheran church at Ada was organized in 1879 by the Rev. A.K. Sagen, the charter members being J.C. Norby, Norman Hanson, Ramstad Brothers and G. Gilbertson. The officers of Our Savior's in 1918 were G. Gilbertson, Jar Sjordal, A. Stee, M.T. Rasmussen and Allen Harvey, trustees: H.S. Thune secretary; P.O. Onstad, treasurer. This church and the three affiliated congregations outside of Ada owned a parsonage in common and the pastor resided in Ada. This church merged with Petri Lutheran and is now called Grace Lutheran Church in Ada.


At one time there was a church styled the "Union" church at the village of Borup. It has ceased to exist as a church, but there is still kept up a Sunday school known as the Union School. The organizers of this school were John Torske, H.R. Bulleyment, A.A. Kaske, J.T. Peters, Peter S. Parks, J.H. Ferris, S. Copenhauer, F.L. Totman, L.L. Larson and Frank Peppel. In 1917, the superintendent was F.L. Totman and Luella Torske was the secretary.

Winchester Norwegian Lutheran Church at Borup was organized in 1888 by the Rev. G.A. Larson. The charter members of this church were Th. Lian, Ole Mattison, E. Rudser, B. Hoven, O.P. Holland, Martin Pallum, J. Saksavold, J. Siverton, K. Ram, A. Bergan, S. Dyvig, P.B. Pederson, J.O. Tommerdal, H. Olsen, Peder Ramstad, A.J. Anderson and H. Kirkevold. The officers in 1918 were Hans Olson, J. Torske, S. HOve, trustees; secretary, A. Midthune, and treasurer, J. Jacobson.


St. Pauli Norwegian Lutheran church in the village of Gary, Strand township was organized on December 28,1885 by the Rev. O.K.Weium. The original members were: N. Jorgenson, A. Rude, John Rude, Ole Nordby, Kristian Nordby, Rasmus Ose, Hans Narum, Hans Risengen, Andreas Froisland, Bernt Sether, Hans Sether, Halvor Sersland, Samule Varstad, Rasmus Nygaard, Ole Gunderson, Rasmus Moltum, Anders Welley, Carl Benson and Andrew Borgen.

At Gary, the Norwegian Lutheran church known as "Gary Evangelical Lutheran Church" was organized on February 18, 1900 at the house of Knudt Bragestad with the following membership: K.N. Bragestad, Lewis Garden, Ole P. Wemager, Sandel Qualey, O.T. Rishof, Andrew Gjerde and H.A. Tupperud.


The First Presbyterian church of Hendrum was organized on October 9, 1893, by the following charter members: Robert Anderson, William Anderson, Mrs. Robert Anderson, William Armstrong, Mrs. W. Armstrong, Mrs. Annie Anderson, Miss Cora Beattie, Mrs. Arthur Black, William Black, W. D. Bangs, Thomas Canning, Mary E. Canning, Mrs. Jane Cochrane, C.W. Canning, Mary Canning Robert Dunn, Mrs. Letitia Douglas, Arthur Marsden, Mrs. Mary A. Marsden, Mrs. Elizabeth Moffatt, Mrs. Elsie Nichol, Joseph Orr, Thomas Semple, Samuel Todd, Eliza Todd and Miss Roxana Todd.

Thiis church is associated with the churches of the same denomination situated at Elm River and at Grandin, North Dakota.


Anthony Township

The Norwegian Lutheran church is another church served by Rev. A. Houkom is situated in the township of Anthony, near the so-called Anthony store. This church was organized by Rev. P.O. Stromme, about 1880, and some of the early members were Ole P. Olson, Hans P. Olson, Peter P. Olson, Halvor Helgeson, Nels H. Nelson, Christian Gulbranson, H.G. Wolberg, John Jorstad, E.T. Salveson, Andrew Estrem, Lars Estre, Narve Hallum, Lewis Jacobson, Knut Haugen, John Edwards, Ole I. Steen, P. Flyberg, Martin Rasmusson, Simon Rasusson. The church cemetery is situated to the west of the church, across the public road.

Bear Park Township

Faaberg Norwegian Lutheran church at the Rindal settlement in Bear Park township was organized on June 13, 1881. Its charter memebers were Ole S. Rindal, E.P Ulland, I.A. Holm, John A Hovland, John Larson, Ole H. Renna, Christian Larson, Simon C. Rise, Hans Johnson, Anders Harstad, Stephen Harstad, Martinus Harstad, Gulbrand Pederson, Sven Hoff, Ole Scholl and Lars K. Saxvold. The first church building was a log structure erected in 1881. In 1890 a new church was built with the church and parsonage are situated near the northeastern corner of the county.

Fossum Township

St. Olaf Norwegian Lutheran church in Fossum township was organized in 1878 by the Rev. K Bjorgo, the first trustees being Christ Halvorson and Niel Iverson.

Halstad Township

The old Scheie church was established by Rev. A. Scheie who came to the township of Halstad in the early seventies (1870's). Many of his parishioners from his church in Newburgh, Fillmore county, had come there before him and many came after him. He established one of the first churches in Halstad township and the large church building situated four and one-half miles northeast from the village of Halstad may be said to symbolize his scope of infulence; for he organized the church, though he did not erect the building.

Some of the leading charter members of this church were: A.O. Serum, Engel Loveness, Jocob Hesby, O.B. Holm, Theodore Stennes, Ira Houske, Anthony and John Scheie, O.E. Olson, Gulbrand D. Aamodt, Olaus J. Enger, Nels J. Enger, Aslak Hanson, Ole R. Hage, Nels R. Hage, Rasmus R. Hage, R.B. Hauge, G.O. Gilbertson. A parsonage and small farm was attached to the church property.


Hegne Township

Petri Norwegian Lutheran church in Hegne township, three and one-half miles west of Ada was organized in 1877 by Rev. A. Scheie. The charter members of this church were R.P. Idtse, Peter Nelson, Thor Bjorem, A. Running, Salveson, T.C. Strand and L.P. Melberg. The trustees of the church in 1918 were T.T. Vigen and S.S. Lura; sectretary, M.M. Bell; treasurer, S.A. Sorenson.

Hendrum Township

The first Norwegian Lutheran congregation, Augustana Lutheran organized in Hendrum township was that established under the ministrations of the Reverend Harstad, who began making periodical visits to the homes of the pioneers of that community in 1875, preaching in the homes of such of the early settlers as could afford accommodations for the public assemblages. Among the settlers who thus heard the Word were the families of Ole Nygaard, Ole Engebretson, John Berg, Andrew L. Gordon, John Sathre. Later the following were added to this church: Thor Ven, Peter O. Ingberg, Ole Swenson, Hans H. Hanson, George Newland, Peter E. Larson, Mads Larson, J.M. Herberg, Christen Olson, John O. Brothem, Ole J. Wangberg, Even Larson, Ole J. Larson, Lars Dokken, John Foss, Lars Foss, Oluf O. Dukleth, Margarethe Dukleth, Ole Throndson, Hans Fjestad, Ole K. Dalen, H.O. Rask, H.J. Rask, Hans Rinnan, Paul Krinnan, Gulik J. Ness, C.E. Oleson, Ole Baggerud, Ole J. Brodahl, Knut Anderson, Gustav Gudmunson, Lars H. Reitan, Iver Lien, Peter J. Nygaard, John Reitan, Andrew Opheim and E Storsved.

Presently a log meeting-house was erected on a plot donated for that purpose in section 18, and this humble house of worship was used by pioneers until its destruction by fire during the early '80's, after which the congregation began to hold services in a rented hall in the village of Hendrum and thus retained for some time their identity as a distinct congregation. After a while, however some of the members of the congregation became affiliated with another church that meanwhile had become established in the  village, other attached themselves to other congregations, one by one the original members of the pioneer congregation were gathered to their fathers, and eventually the old organization was wholly disbanded. Its memory, however is kept green by the beautiful cemetery that was established in the early days in the churchyard surrounding the old log meeting-house in section 18 and the headstones in that old burying ground bear the names of many of the father and mothers of that sterling community that grew up under the direction of the first settlers there.

The seconded Norwegian Lutheran church, Pontoppidan Norwegian Lutheran, of Hendrum township, is located in section 27. It was organized about 1876 or 1877 by Rev. A. Scheir. Among the early members were Ole Tommerdahl, Arnt Rosvold, Engebret Ellingson, Abraham Nelson, Ole O. Jacobson, Ole T. Nelson, Carl J. Stordahl, Johannes Stordahl, Peter Stordahl, Conrad Stordahl, Carl K. Selnes, Lars L. Jacobson, Tobias Nelson, Hans Ellingson and Iver O. Semlinge.

This church as been one of the largest and most active churches of this denomination in the county. Their first services were held in the homes of the members and it was not until several years after the congregation was established that they had a building. The present building, a frame structure, is one of the largest in the county. There is a cemetery adjoining the church which has been beautified with handsome trees and shrubbery.

The third Norwegian Lutheran church of Hendrum township was St. Pauli Lutheran, organized in Hendrum township about 1879. They never had a building, but established a cemetery about a mile and a half east of the village of Hendrum. They had a lot for a building, but never erected one, worshiping in the homes of the various members of the congregation.

The first members of this congregation included John Grothe, Peter Grothe, Albert Grothe, Christen Grothe, Johannes  Hagen, Nicolai Hagen, Ole Hagen, Albert Hagen, John J. Hagen, Nels Snustad, John O. Snustad and Peter O. Snustad.

The fourth church established in Hendrum township was Concordia Menighed, with Peer O. Stromme as its first pastor. The early members were Anders Voje, Jens Bolstad, Aslak Haaland, Christian O. Gjovig, Morten Olsen, Peter J. Lillivig, Amund Cleven, Riley O. Knudson, Einar Saboe, Anders Haaland, Ole Knutson, Anders Knutson, Knut Anderson, Andrew Anderson Tilden, Mikkel O. Lee, Ole O. Lee, Nels Lee, John Bjerk, Ole K. Hamre, Even Beito, Belest Beleston.

A Lutheran congregation was organized in the village of Hendrum, while the village was yet young, and this congregation has had a resident pastor during the last twelve years. The congregation is one of the largest in the county, its membership being drawn from the churches now abandoned which in the earlier days were served by Rev. J.M. O. Ness, A. Megrun and Rev. Solem. The present pastor is Rev. T.A. Hagen, who has served many years, and his predecessor was Rev. J. L. Redal.

Lake Ida Township

Three other congregations are connected with Our Savior's church (Ada). Wild Rich Church, seven mile east of Ada in Lake Ida township, was organized in 1879 and a building erected there in 1800, valued at thrity five hundred dollars. The charter members were: Martinius Underland, Ole Monson, M.J. Monson, secretary; Carl Nelson, O.A. Bakken and O.S. Thorpe. The present trustees (1918) are Nich Nelson, John Linkback and Milvin Larson; secretary and treasurer, L.A. Bakken. The other two churches are Petri Norwegian Lutheran in Hegne Township and Winchester Norwegian Lutheran in Borup.

The Scandinavian Lutheran Church was organized in 1894 with ten families. The church building was erected in 1900.

Lockhart Township

The German Methodist Episcopal church was organized at Lockhart in 1882. The first members included August Malakowski, August Menge, G.F. Starz and Henry Brase. The church builidng at Lockart is situated a mile and a half to the southeast of the village and was there before the village was started.

Mary Township

The Catholic church set up the Cross in Norman county early in the eighties in what is know as St. Mary's church in Mary township. They erected a small frame church building in section 17, township 143 range 47, now comprising Mary township. After a number of years this building proved to be too small for the increasing congregation and it was torn down and rebuilt much larger. As of 1918 it was still in use by the congregation.

Pleasant View Township

The Evangelical Lutheran Emmanuel congregation in Pleasant View township was organized on April 14, 1888 by the Reverend Wichmann and charter members included William Wilkens, Martin Johnson, John Wichern, John Merkens, Henry Eckhoff, Albert Treichel, William Felske, Karl Huebner and Christ Treichel. The first church was built in 1892 with the parsonage erected in 1897. Rev. J. Schmitt was serving the congregation in 1918.

Rockwell Township

The Jevnaker Norwegian Lutheran church, located in the southern part of Rockwell township near the Clay county line, and six miles southeast of Borup, was organized on March 27, 1883. The congregation had the following members, all of whom except John Hanson Maela were married and had families Edward Halvorson, E.A. Borgen, Ole Knudson, Amund Gulbrandsen, Johan Maela, Hans O Dahl and John Hanson Maela.

Sundahl Township

Sundahl Norwegian Lutheran church in Sundahl township was organized on June 24, 1881 by Reve. A. Ofstedal and the following charter members: Henry Thordal, John Holten, Sr. John Holten, Jr., Jacob Erstad, Ole Hanson, Carl Strommen, Philip Larson, Thorsten Hogenson, Carl Hanson, Ole Halvorson, Lars Paulson, Paul Paulson, Jacob Eid, Jens C. Hanson, Christian Moteberg, Andreas Moteberg, Bjorn Aasen and Hans D. Hanson.

Strand Township

Emmanuel's Gemeinde church, in the southwest corner of section 35, Strand township, was organized by Julius Zug, Herman Kraft, Henry Habedank, Gust Brakob and eight others. The date of organization was April 8, 1917. The church building was erected and dedicated on April 20, 1917, and cost seven hundred and fifty dollars. The pastor was Rev. F.W. Janzow of Ada who was assisted by Rev. E.A. Shutt, of Mahnomen. The church stood on the Charles Kraft's farm five mile southeast of Gary.

North Wild Rice congregation of the Norwegian Lutheran church was organized in 1878 by Rev. K. Bjorgo. This church is situated in Strand township, the congregation having a church building valued at four thousand dollars.

St. Petri Norwegian Lutheran church in Strand township was organized in 1878 by the Rev. Bjorgo.

Waukon Township

Ness Norwegian Lutheran church in the township of Waukon, was organized on June 16, 1886.

Wild Rice Township

The Twin Valley Norwegian-Lutheran congregation was organized in 1886, with about twelve members. A frame church was erected in 1887 and was used until 1905, when the new church was erected, at a cost of between seven thousand and eight thousand dollars. This church as a fine pipe organ and is thoroughly modern. The pastors have been Rev H. Johnson and Rev. J.R. Vaaler.

Bethania Norske Evangeliske Lutheran (Bethany Norwegian Lutheran) church at the village of Twin Valley was organized on October 28, 1885. To give a clear understanding of how this church was formed it should be stated that in 1880, in Nicollet county, there was held a great religious revival in which many were converted to the faith of this church and among the number were some who later lived in Sibley county and near Waseca. On account of their deep conviction of religious truth and church polity, they were not in exact harmony with other of the church in Sibley and adjoining counties, and rather than to have this constant restriction and increasing friction they sold out and placed their earthly affects in covered wagons and started for the Great Northwest- a little band of devout Norwegian Lutheran people, who finally located in Wild Rice and other townships along the river. Like the Pilgrim Fathers, they sought a country where they "could worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience". Land was cheap and could be had as homesteads, preemptions and as railroad lands. So it was that these people settled here. The families forming this colony were those of Mr. and Mrs. P.O. Herried, Mr. and Mrs. P.B. Olson, and Mr. and Mrs. Nels Wold (all from Sibley county), Hans Hanson, Christ Hanson and Christ Olson.

It was not until October 1885, that the church was incorporated with the following membership: Peder O. Herried, P.O. Voler, O. Voler, J.O. Voler, Andrew Heiraas, Johan J. Mala, Hans O. Dahl, Ed Halvorson, Julius Hanson, Nels Wold, Peter B. Olson, Lars O. Elstad, W. L. Agren Johan Fjeldby, Ludvig Heirass, Erick Erickson, A. B. Peterson and Gunder Nereson.


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