Church Golden Jubilee
CHURCH GOLDEN JUBILEE
The Six Mile Grove Lutheran Church, the First Norwegian Church Founded in Mower County, Celebrates Its Fiftieth Anniversary-An Interesting History.
The Six Mile Grove Norwegian Lutheran church celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its organization with fitting exercises on Sunday, Nov. 21. Although the roads were rough and welnigh impassable and the weather was cold, the church building was crowded. The program was all in Norwegian. The auditorium was beautifully decorated in gilt and green with appropriate mottoes.
After the opening services, an eloquent address was given by Rev. N. G. Peterson of Northfield, who spoke largely of the noble work done by pioneer Christian workers and made an appeal for missions. He emphasized the importance of sterling Christian character as the great essential in true individual and church success.
Rev. H. N. Esser, pastor of the church read the following historical paper which we give substantially as delivered.
Fifty years ago the Six Mile Grove was a forest undisturbed by the European emigrant, but in the year 1853, a man by the name of Thor Auvesker settled here. What prompted him to leave St. Ansgar we do not know, but the fact is that he built his home of the oak and from the creek, quenched his thirst. But Mr. Auvesker did not find it pleasant without white companions, so later in the year he went back to St. Ansgar and persuaded the following named persons to move to Nevada township: Ole Sampson, Hans Swenson; Sven Mrasimot, Aslak Flaten, Martin Hanson, Peter Martin, Andrew Anderson, Ole Qualley, Kn[illegible ?] Qualley, Andrew Bergeson, Gunder Halvorson, Thorgus Flaten.
This well known flock found the passage of scripture "Man does not live by bread alone," true, hence they longed for the chimes of the school and church bells, which made such beautiful music for them in their childhood. There were no school houses or churches, and few people to provide these necessities, however much they were longed for. The first session of school held in Nevada township was in Hans Swenson's home, with Osroe Peterson as teacher. School was held in different houses until 1865, when a building was erected in district 91, by private subscription. In respect to church matters, it was not any better, but rather worse. The nearest congregation was at St. Ansgar. To that village the infants had to be taken for baptism, there the bridegroom went with his ox team and bride to get the blessing of the church there also were they obliged to go when there was a funeral to be conducted. Pastors, however, visited the settlement and delivered sermons off and on. Among these pastors were the Rt. Rev. Koran, Rev. Preus, and Rev. Clausen. The congregation was not permentantly organized until Nov. 19, 1859. On that date the Six Mile Grove church was organized, and it was the first Scandinavian Lutheran church in Mower county. The first business meeting of the church was held under the big, Big Oak, and was continued at Qualley's. The charter members: Gunder Halvorson, Thrond Richardson, Ole Qualley, Hans Swenson, Knute Qualley, Martin Hanson, Peter Martin, Ole Sampson, Aslak Flaten, Swen J. Trasimot, Nels Olson, Torbjorn Enerson, Andrew Anderson, Tor Olson, Halvor Volstad.
Rev. C. L. Clausen organized the congregation and was tendered the pastorate and served until 1871. He was succeeded by Jno. Olson of St. Ansgar, Iowa, who served the congregation until 1878 and he was succeeded by Prof. B. Gjeldeker of Norway, who served until 1882, when Rev. J. M. Eggen took charge of the congregation and served until Jan. 1, 1895, and since that time Rev. N. N. Esser has been in charge. Services were held in private homes and school houses until the year 1867, when the church was erected. Following is a list of some of the heavy contributors: Halvor Volstad, Gunder Volstad, Richard Olson, Torgen Lee, David Nelson, Ole Rue, Knute Jacobson, Mr. Meyer.
Andie Olson was the first white child born in Nevada township and baptized in the congregation. Mrs. P. K. Everson, nee- Anna Sampson, was the second. The first funeral in the congregation took place in 185[illegible: 6?], when Asisk Knulskaas was buried, having died at the age of 45. The first wedding took place when Miss Helen Martin was united in marriage to Francis Herch. She is now Mrs. [illegible: Larson?] and was present at the jubilee.
The first Norwegian to enter the [illegible for reminder of sentence]
Olson, who was sent by the government to teach the Indians farming. The second to enter the territory was Rev. Clausen. He served as pastor, gathered the people into the congregations and selected land for the new comers. He was judge and county commissioner. He was the first Norwegian member of the legislature and the first Norwegian chaplain, his regiment being the 15th Wisconsin Volunteers.
The building committee was as follows: Rev. Clausen, Hans C. Anderson, Ole Sampson.
They hastened the erection of the church so it was ready for dedication in 1867. Rev. John Olson of St. Ansgar dedicated the church. The first Ladies' Aid was organized by Rev. Olson. They bought the church bell, which cost $500, and is one of the best in this section. The first parochial school was taught by Osroe Peterson, the 2nd by Torgus Lee and the third by Mr. Thuve, followed by Ekeland, Stuvland, D. Lione and the present teacher, O. H. Tollerud.
At present the congregation has 520 members with the following board of deacons: James Peterson, Knute Jacobson, Aslak Tieman, Nels Nelson.
There are two active Ladies' Aid societies, two catechetical classes, a Luther League and a temperance society. The congregation when organized, belonged to conference, but in 1890 severed its connection and has since that time been served by pastors of the United Norwegian Lutheran church and has contributed to its support.