History of Little Cedar Settlement and Congregation. Published for the 50th Anniversary Jubilee of the Congregation by Hans Jacob Hanson, Secretary of the Congregation, Adams, Minnesota. Minneapolis. Augsburg Publishing House Press, 1909. Irene Marguerite Hanson McMurchie had this Translated from Norwegian by Dr. H. M. Blegen, Augustana College, 1970. Norwegian original is in the SO library at St. Olaf College.
Part III – The congregation’s parochial relationships and the building of its frame church.
On October 12, 1867 the units of the parish met together in the parsonage of Rev. Clausen in St. Ansgar, Iowa. There were delegates in attendance from all five of the congregations that Rev. Clausen served at the time, namely: St. Ansgar; Rock Creek; Six Mile Grove; Little Cedar and Red Oak Grove. Agreements were reached on the question of uniting to form a single parish, definite number of services and specified salary according to the following:
St. Ansgar Congregation – 27 services annually – Salary $228; Six Mile Grove Congregation – 12 services a year – Salary - $128; Rock Creek Congregation – 10 services a year – Salary $106; Little Cedar Congregation – 12 services a year – Salary $118; Red Oak Congregation – 14 services a year – Salary $150
The total guaranteed salary from the five congregations combined to be $800. This parochial set-up was in force until the spring of 1871.
Pastor Clausen was one of the first to preach the gospel to the Norwegian Lutheran people in America. This giant among the pioneer trail-blazers in church affairs, was born at Aro, Denmark, November 3, 1820, came to Muskego, Wisconsin in the year 1842, moved to Mitchell County, Iowa in the summer of 1853, made a trip to Denmark, 1867, died in Paulsbo, Washington, February 1, 1892, and was buried in Oakwood cemetery, Austin, Minnesota. Pastor Clausen was the first president of the Norwegian-Danish Conference.
On April 13, 1871 a meeting was held in Austin to discuss the matter of dividing the parish. Delegates representing the congregations of Little Cedar, Austin, Red Oak Grove, and Blooming Prairie voted to unite and form one parish, and to send a letter of call to Pastor P. G. Ostby who had been serving as assistant pastor of chaplain with Pastor Clausen for some time. He was to reside in Austin and furnish his own house. His annual salary was set at $700 and this was to be allotted as follows to the congregations:
Little Cedar Congregation - $210; Red Oak Grove Congregation - $150; Blooming Prairie Congregation - $130
The services were to be held at least every third week, and the Sunday services to be apportioned as equally as possible among the churches. This parochial arrangement was in operation until 1879.
It was while Pastor Ostby was serving the congregation that the old log church was torn down and replaced by the new frame church, and also that the congregation was incorporated under the laws of Minnesota, as well as the liquidation of the debts of the conference.
On November 1, 1875 the decision was made to erect the new church on the same site as the old one had occupied. On December 6, 1875, the congregation voted to authorize the trustees to sell the old church to the highest bidder, who turned out to be Johannes Boyum. He paid $75 for the old church building, but the congregation reserved for itself the pulpit, altar, pews, baptismal font and stoves. The building was dismantled, moved to Adams, and there reassembled on the northwest corner of Main and Fourth Street, where the Krebsbach store now stands. For some time the building was used to house the first creamery in Adams, operated by Krebsbach and Schneider. The old church structure had never been consecrated, but the cemetery was consecrated by Pastor Clausen.
Before the congregation built the new church, it purchased an additional half acre of land from John Olsen Hesjdal so that the church grounds constituted a full acre, which was surveyed and duly recorded.
At a meeting February 5, 1876, the congregation adopted specifications regarding the size of the proposed church structure. The main part was to be 40 x 60 x 20 feet, and the sacristy, 16 x 24 x 16 feet in dimensions. The steeple was to be built inside the church foundation on a footing of masonry 2 feet thick of which 18 inches above the surface. The height of the steeple was to be 96 feet, not counting the iron spice which was to be 6 feet in length.
Subscriptions and building of the church.
The settlement was coming of age. It was now more than 20 years old, and the pioneer settling was over. Most of the land was in private hands and cultivated. The congregation had grown to approximately its present size. But now once more there arose a dispute over the location of the church building location. This dispute was solved in a highly satisfactory manner mainly through the influence of Pastor Ostby. It was agreed that three distinct and separate lists of subscriptions would be employed. One for the present site, one for section 3, and one for the town of Adams.
Pastor Ostby himself went about and took up subscriptions for all three of the places mentioned, and the final result was as follows: Of the grand total sum subscribed $3,173.50, there was a sum of $2,917 or more than 75% for the location where the church now stands.
It was a stroke of genius to achieve in such a masterly way the peaceful co-operation of the three factions. The combined total of subscriptions, $3,173.50, was to be paid in three installments. One half by the middle of February, 1876, a quarter of the remaining amount by July 1, 1876 and the remaining amount of the subscription by December 1, 1877. The church was built according to specifications during the summer of 1876 by the brothers Ole and Martin Hermandsen Broheim under the supervision of a standing building committee of five men, namely, Nels Finkelson, Chairman; John C. Johnson Sr., Anders Olsen Alrick; Arne Johnson Fossen; and Anders O. Dahle. In the fall of the same year the church was completed and taken into service while it still lacked every interior furnishing except a pulpit.
That summer while the church was under construction the congregation voted to let Pastor Ostby have the privilege of taking a trip to Norway.
The report of the auditing committee, dated January 1877 reveals the cost of the church in its state at the time and the amount paid in on pledges subscribed. Of the total $3,173.50 subscribed the amount paid up was $1,913.50. Balance unpaid was $1,259.55. Cost of the church without furnishings, $2,222.58, leaving a debt in the amount of $308.63.
The organization of the congregation which included its constitution and by-laws was approved and signed by the members of the Board of Trustees in office at the time: John Anderson; Tollof Olsen and Hans J. Hanson, for record, December 4, 1876, a copy of the same was recorded in the Mower County records of Incorporations as a valid congregation under the laws of the state of Minnesota.
Now the congregation took a breathing spell after finishing a weighty task. There was no progress, but rather retrogression. We shall come back to this later on. Once more there was talk about dividing the parish. Three of the annexed congregations were in favor of partition, but this was opposed by Little Cedar congregation at first. However, after a third request they consented to designate a committee of its members to meet with similar committees from Six Mile Grove, Mona and Lyle in the Six Mile church on October 3, 1877 where an agreement was reached to unite and form one parish.
Mona and Lyle congregations were made a part of Six Mile Grove and St. Ansgar congregations. Pastor Ostby had tendered his resignation from the parish, but the Little Cedar congregation was in favor of extending to him a letter of call. Pastor Ostby was firm in his decision to decline the call, for he was convinced that it was God’s will for him to make a change. Since the president of the conference, Pastor Johan Olsen, St. Ansgar, Iowa, had considerable influence in arranging a settlement in this parish, the congregations decided to call Professor B. B. Gjeldaker from Augsburg Seminary to serve as their pastor and spiritual mentor.
Pastor Gjeldaker had been called from Norway to be the Pastor of Shell Rock and the associated congregations in Worth County, Iowa, and served until he was called to be a Professor at Augsburg. Rev. Ostby served until the summer of 1878, and had Rev. Schonhvod as his assistant the last year. Rev. Ostby rec3eived a call from Bethel congregation, Winnebago County, Iowa and the congregations connect with it Lime Creek and Emmons in Freeborn County, Minnesota, where he still serves.
The Rev. P. G. Ostby was born in Trysil Parish in Osterdalen, Norway, August 12, 1836, and immigrated to the USA at the close of the year 1868, when he immediately enrolled in the seminary in Paxton, Illinois. November 18, 1870 he became Rev. C. L. Clausen’s assistant in St. Ansgar, Iowa. He served as pastor for Little Cedar congregation, first one year as the assistant to Rev. Clausen and then as chief Pastor until the end of March 1878. In 1876 he went to Norway as a delegate of the conference to the general convention of the Norwegian Mission Society departing June 24 and returning September 24. For several years Rev. Ostby has been the visitator for the circuit of St. Ansgar.
Pastor B. B. Gjeldaker received a call from the reorganized parish at a guaranteed salary of $700 a year. He was to furnish his own residence someplace within the parish. The services were scheduled as follows: Little Cedar congregation 23 services a year and a salary of $300, Mona and Lyle congregations, 8 services a year at a salary of $100.
Rev. Gjeldaker made his home in Lyle, where he bought 40 acres of land. He served this parish until the year of 1881.
Being in poor health so that he was not at all times able to perform hi pastor duties, he was authorized by his congregations to call an assistant pastor to aid him in his work. The man he selected was candidate J. B. Lundberg, a theological student at Augsburg Seminary, who served until the pastor was forced to resign because of his steadily increasing illness.
Pastor B. B. Gjeldaker was born in the parish Aal, Hollingdal, Norway, May 15, 1837 to parents who were farmers. As a boy he herded cattle and also worked for his uncle on the farm. He developed an early concern for his spiritual life, and entered Aker Seminary. He taught school in Oslo, studied theology, and passed his qualifying examinations in 1869. Having received a call from congregations in Worth County, Iowa, he was ordained by Bishop Esoendrop and went to America in 1870. July 13, 1885, he was appointed pastor for Hol Parish in Hollingdal, formerly a part of Aal Parish. Is time here was short. While preaching a sermon in Aals he was suddenly stricken. He died October 25, 1885 and was buried at Hol church. In 1875 he made a tour of Norway. Mrs. B. B. Gjeldaker is living still, and resides in Holmestrand, Norway. She was given a widow’s pension by the Norwegian government after her husband’s death.
Once again a pastor must be called, but this time by the same congregations. A committee from Little Cedar, Six Mile Grove, Mona and Lyle congregations met in Pastor Gjeldaker’s house, Saturday, October 8, 1881 to call Rev. J. Muller Eggen of Rock Prairie, Rock County, Wisconsin, who accepted the call at a salary of $700, he furnishing his own house somewhere within the parish. The salary and schedule of services was arranged as follows: Little Cedar congregation: 23 services a year, salary $300; Six Mile Grove congregation: 23 services a year $300; Mona and Lyle congregations; 10 services a year salary $100.
Pastor Eggen began his term of service on January 1, 1882. He conducted his first service as pastor in Little Cedar church on the following Maundy Thursday, a day never to be forgotten by reason of its almost impassable transportation conditions. Rev. Eggen’s home was in Six Mile Grove where he had purchased 80 acres of land.
While Rev. Eggen was serving as pastor for Rock Prairie congregation he visited Little Cedar congregation and delivered a moving and powerful sermon on a text taken from the Epistle of St. James II verse 19, in which he expounded the salvation and sanctification of Faith alone.
Rev. Eggen continued to serve the congregations of the parish and the Little Cedar congregation until the end of the 19th century, a period of 19 years of faithful service which was a record for the parish.
Under Rev. Eggen’s guidance the congregation successfully conducted a campaign for funds for the Professor Lund of the conference, completed the decoration and equipment of the church building dedication of the church and taking the first census of the congregation.