The Six Mile Grove Congregation Celebrate 65th Anniversary

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Friday, October 3, 1924
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The Six Mile Grove Congregation Celebrate 65th Anniversary

Gleanings from Some Addresses Given -- A Feast of Good Things.

Inspiring Music for the Three Days was Rendered by A Large Choir Under the Able Leadership of Rev. John M. Eggen who Also Favored the Audience With A Number of Excellent Solos.

The Convention was appropriately opened Friday morning at 11:00 o'clock by one of the "sons of the congregation" Rev. G. T. Lee, of Minneapolis who introduced the topic of "Christian Education". This topic was continued and ably discussed in the afternoon by Rev. O. C. Brenna of Adams.

The Jubilee celebration of the founding of the Six Mile Grove congregation came to a close Sunday evening after a three days' interesting and profitable session. It afforded the people the privilege of hearing some of the pastors of the neighboring community as well as the three "sons of the congregation", and an opportunity of gathering around the Word of God in Christian fellowship, a custom which has been dear to this community, during these 65 years.

The key note of the convention was "Christian Education" and this was emphasized by all the speakers.

Rev. Alfred B. Anderson, who is always gladly heard, was greeted with a capacity house Friday evening. The speaker congratulated the members of the congregation upon the privilege of being able to gather to celebrate the 65th anniversary and counted it a privilege to be present. He said in part: The subject of Christian education came close to his heart as it brings one face to face with God who He is and what He is. God is the Source of all knowledge. Even the "heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth His handy work," and with the Psalmists we can say "day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night sheweth knowledge." It should not be difficult to believe in God when even the stars speak of Him. The purpose of all knowledge and inquiry should be to awaken within us a desire to inquire who God is. Christian education is religious training. The training the youth receives in some of our schools today draws them from God instead of to Him. It often happens that young people who have been reared in Christian homes lose their key of knowledge and repudiate the Christian faith on account of the teaching they receive in our public schools today. Rev. Anderson believes in personal contact, personal work, and religious teaching. The church schools produce preachers, teachers and missionaries, but this is not true of the State schools. What is more important than the spiritual training of the children? The church schools may not be as good as they ought to be, but they are the product of the present day homes and the secular schools from which the pupils come. The church schools need your prayers and your support. They are the salvation of the future generations if we are to survive as a Christian nation. What does it profit if we train the hand and the intellect and neglect the heart and the spiritual growth?

Rev. A. Elmer Moe gave a very able talk Saturday morning on the topic of "Education". He said he could see no reason for dividing the subject into secular and religious education. Education is a harmonious blending of man's physical and spiritual development. As a preface to his remarks, he referred to the many happy associations with the people of that congregation, the meetings with the choir, the young people and the Sunday School. He was not unmindful of the numerous occasions when they as a congregation had met for the purpose of laying aside those who had labored among them-a constant reminder of the brevity of life.

Religious education is a great problem, he said. We have our social problems, our economic problems and our political problems, but if we are to maintain our permanancy as a nation we must face squarely this greatest of all problems, religious education. Amid all our problems, achievements and disappointments have you not felt something drawing you out after something greater, yea after God? Man has forever reached out after God. At the death bed of loved ones we stand face to face with eternity and back of all experiences in life there comes that yearning to connect with one's Maker. Man does not reach his highest attainment by the development of the mind and the body if he neglects God. The Spartans developed the physical but overlooked the spiritual and where are they today? We are proud of our democracy, but democracy cannot be had without moral training. This moral training is necessary in the home, in the shop and on the farm. He cited an example, little Trinity church on Broadway in New York, which stands amid the modern sky scrapers as a tribute to the devotion and religious heroism of the early settlers, who gathered there on many occasions to offer up their prayers to Almighty God when the war clouds of the nation hovered over them and the storms of pioneer life hung heavy upon their hearts. The pioneers believed in God. A noted American financier once said, 'the church must educate or the state will perish.' The speaker said every hamlet and village has its modern school building to train the youth for temporal duties but the spiritual training is sadly neglected and as a result we are today the most lawless nation on the face of the earth. There is something greater than acres and stocks and bonds. This government recently ordered 3,000 armored holdup proof cars to transport the U. S. mails to a people that float our flag as a Christian nation. There are 10,000 murders in the United States every year and there is little regard for life and property. The average murderer is between 19 and 20 years of age. In England and Wales 95 robberies were committed in one year and in New York city there were 1500 in the same time. Do we need religious training?

Every sixth marriage ends in the divorce courts of our land. We are not as good as our fathers were. Murder, indecency, immorality, lawlessness and crime is rampant in our country today. We are careless about the situation. We neglect to train the children in our own homes for God. How can young people expect to believe in jGod when they know nothing about Him? They have had no training. We have just been playing with Christian education. This is something to think about. We must take our children on our march to our destiny. Talk to them about God, not acres, and stocks and bonds. Talk to them about their immortal soul, something they do not leave at the brink of the grave. We are all guilty of running off on Sunday, seeking pleasure and neglecting the worship of God. Parents do not instruct their children in religious matters like our forefathers did. Rev. Moe said he did not believe the young people of today are any worse than before but the parents are not as good and conscientious or faithful as their fathers were. In Minnesota more than 50 per cent of the children receive no religious instruction.

Rev. G. T. Lee spoke briefly on the same topic and said that religious training consisted of a Christian example as well as admonition. Action speaks so loud sometimes, he said, that we cannot hear what is said. He believed great care should he exercised in the selection of Christian teachers in the public schools, and that parents should see to it that their children are not robbed of that greatest of all heritage, faith in a living God. Our secular schools train the intellect to make money but do not educate the heart for God. There are many who have graduated from the highest schools of learning who are in the penitentiary today because the heart was neglected. The work of educating the youth should commence in the home.

The Rt. Rev. C. J. Eastvold of Northfield, president of Southern Minnesota district of the Lutheran church, delivered the sermon Sunday morning and it was a gospel message full of meat for serious consideration. The reverend used as the basis for his remarks the story of Christ's visit to the home of Martha and Mary in the village of Bethany. He said it was not by chance that the Christ went to that home. His life was an ordered one. He found a welcome there. Martha received Him into the home gladly. He said there were many Marthas and Marys today. Some took time to look after the needful things, like Mary, but alas many are too busy and altogether absorbed in the pursuits of worldly gain and pleasure to find time for the "one thing needful," finding God. The speaker brought out many lessons from this familiar scripture passage that might well be included in this report, but time and space will not permit. He spoke of the 65 years in which services have been conducted in the Six Mile Grove Church and said that he believed that the pastors who had served the charge had been faithful in proclaiming the gospel message. He spoke of the privations and struggles of the pioneers in establishing a place of worship, that not only they might have an opportunity to worship God in an established place, but those who came after them. Yet all the preaching and all the sacrifices he said, availed nothing unless one personally made his peace with his God. He pleaded earnestly that his hearers might not be troubled or anxious about the many things like Martha, but choose the good part as Mary did, the one thing needful which shall not be taken away.

Rev. John M. Eggen favored the assembly with a solo and the choir also rendered a selection.

An offering for the church budget was taken. One of the speakers Sunday afternoon was Rev. J. M. Eggen, now pastor at Milnor, N. D. He chose for his text King Agrippa's reply to St. Paul found in Acts 6:27.

The discussion resolved itself into a personal examination of self, whether or not we are simply boarder Christians almost a Christian and yet not altogether. The speaker said "no, not a perfect Christian but an earnest seeker after God, one who realizes that he is a sinner and needs pardon. Do we know the nature of His kingdom, have we been close enough to God to know him a little? Christ brands His sheep, have we his marks? Have we this mark of faith? Do we know anything about the duties of his kinship? We are not Christians because of good works, but because we are Christians we cannot refrain from doing good. Men of the world cannot enjoy the blessed privilege of the Christian. Almost being a Christian is a great privilege, hopeful promise, that some day we will be like Him and enjoy Him. There is also a great responsibility of being almost a Christian. It's a dangerous position not to take that last step. There are many who are like King Aggrippa almost but not altogether. In the "little town of Milnor there have been two accidental deaths in the short time since we located there," he said. "One cannot be certain that he will have the opportunity to make that last step as the call comes."

Dr. P. M. Glasoe of Northfield was the next speaker for the afternoon and he gave a very interesting and inspiring talk on the faith of the early settlers and the noble heritage that they left for their posterity. He urged hearers to continue in the faith as the early settler did when they came here in the early 50's. There were many things that they did not have, but they had faith in God planted deep in then hearts. It is often true, he said, that hard times bring to the surface the deep things of our hearts. The Lutheran church has always demanded ordained ministers and when there were none among them here they sent their native land for them. He urged those who had not read Mrs. Korns Reminicent Book of 1853 to read it. A wonderful testimony of the pioneer settlers. He said the forefathers had a vision for the future when they established church schools for the purpose of training the young. Even today the foreign missions are neglected altho they call for preachers and teachers because we are too stingy with our money for our schools. Where would we get our preachers if it were not for the church schools? Of the 1500 Lutheran ministers 1200 of them are educated in our church schools and less than 100 of them come from an American High School. At present there are more church schools closed than operating, and those operating have an uphill struggle. The European war was a demonstration of closed churches and stagnation.

In many places today the cry is for a social gospel--an up-lift gospel. They are getting tired of hearing the old gospel story. They say it's out of date and it has lost its power. In Houston county where I came from one faithful minister has served a Lutheran congregation 40 years. When the legalized saloon was planted in many towns, that place wanted a saloon and the matter was put to a vote. It was a Scandinavian community and of the 100 voters 87 voted against the saloon and 13 in its favor. Later the same community voted on county option and of 336 voters 327 voted for county option and only 9 against. It is ample proof that the old gospel as preached in that community had an influence over the hearts and minds of the people.

Our country is in eminent danger and must depend upon the growing generation of the next twenty-five years and how seriously they will consider this matter. If we disintegrate we shall lose our religious heritage. This is a Christian nation, we are told, yet only 40 per cent of the people of the land are today affiliated with any Christian organization and many of these organization deny the divinity of Christ altho included in the 40 per cent. There are 15 to 20 millions in this country under the age of 21 who do not come under the influence of any religious teaching for a single hour in the year. To them the taking of an oath means nothing. They know nothing about God, or the ten Commandments. The laws of Minnesota are founded on the 10 Commandments. A sheriff in Minnehaha county, S. D., was quoted, saying that he could not find 12 men in the county who would convict a man for a crime against the Constitution of the state. The 60 per cent are against us today. There is a tremendous responsibility resting upon us in the training of the youth of the land.

The evening and closing session was well attended and addresses were made by Rev. M. E. Waldeland of St. Ansgar, Rev. Brenna of Adams and Rev. J. M. Eggen and the local pastor Rev. C. S. Vang.

Written by L. M. Eggen.

Seventy years ago Six Mile Grove was a forest undisturbed by the European emigrants. The first Norwegians to settle in this part of the state arrived in 1854 and a few made their homes in Nevada township. Thov. Olson Uvesaker came to Six Mile Grove forest in 1853 and was gone during the winter but came back to settle here in the spring of 1854. The following Norwegians moved and settled in this forest in the course of two years: Hans Swenson and son Christoffer, Trond Richardson and son Ole T., Mathias Hanson, Aslak Flaten, Torges Olson, Trond Bonde, Ole Sampson, Fredrick Martin, Johannes Martin, Knut Qualey, Sven Trasimot, Peter Martin, Guridar Halvorson, Ole Thovson, Halvor Thovson, Andrew Anderson and sons Hans C. and Anton. During the following two or three years came: Herman Amundson and son Knut, Knut Hage, Francis Herch, Thor Larson, Halvor Volstad, Torbjorn Enerson and sons Sam, Tom and Nels, Andrew Bergeson and sons John and Hans, Richard Olson, Jarand Olson, Richard Lunde, Nels Olson and son Ole N.

The following settled here between 1858 and 1868: Gunder Knutson, Ole Rue, David Nelson and sons Nels, Ed, and Ole, Thorger Lee and sons Ole and Gustave, Lars Meyer and son Christian, Knut Tollefson, Sven Jacobson. Jacob Jacobson, Knut Jacobson, Jacob Knutson, Knut Stoe, Ole Stoe, Jens Stoe, Knut Lasteen, Dreng Augenson, Bjorn Jergenson. Lars Olson Tuve, Gulbrand Haselbreck, Ole Severson, Anders Veslehagen and sons Erick and Nels, Lars Arneson, Gunder Austenson, Tollef Ostenson, Andrew Fimreit and son Engebret, Gulbrand Morstad and son Tosten G, Ole Lasteen, Andrew Peterson, Johnnes Arneson, Even Evenson and Ole Evenson.

These well known people had belonged to the Lutheran State church in Norway and while some probably had no spiritual cravings, others were yearning for the bread of life and looked prayerfully for a servant of God who could preach to them the Word of salvation and administer the Sacrament of the Lord. The nearest Lutheran church was at St. Ansgar, Iowa, where the first pioneers' were obliged to go with their infants for baptism and the young people for instruction religion preparatory for confirmation. Marriages were also performed at the St. Ansgar altar. Pastors however, visited the settlement several times and gathered the people for devotional services. Among those pastors were the Reverends Preus, Clausen and Otteson.

Six Mile Grove congregation was not permanently organized until Nov. 19th, 1859. On that date Six Mile Grove Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran church was organized. It was one of the first Scandinavian Lutheran churches in Mower county. The first business meeting of the church was held under the big Elm tree on the Trond Richardson farm in Section 29, now occupied by Herman O. Austinson and continued at the Qualey home.

Rev. C. L. Clausen organized the congregation and served this parish until in 1871, with the exception of the years 1861 and 62 when he served as a chaplain in the army. Rev. Johan Olson of St. Ansgar succeeded him and served until 1878. Prof. B. B. Gjeldaker was the next pastor, he served until 1882 when Rev. J. Muller Eggen was called. During his pastorate Rev. P. A. Dietrichson served as assistant part of 1904 and 1905. After serving the congregation 23 years Rev. Eggen resigned on account of poor health. Eggen was succeeded by Rev. N. N. Esser who served until 1912. Prof. Olaf Lee of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., was the acting pastor during a part of 1912 and 1913 until the next pastor Rev. A. Elmer Moe took charge. Moe served until 1922 with the exception of one year when he was doing organization work at Owatonna, Minn., during this time Rev. Gynter Storaasli was the pastor in charge. The present pastor C. S. Vang was installed Sept. 9th, 1923.

During the early days the services in the congregation were held in the homes or school houses until the present church edifice was erected. The work of construction was commenced in 1867 but the building was not completed until in the following year. The bricks for the church were made from the soil in Section 27, now owned by Ed Nelson. Ole Sampson laid the foundation for the church. The Building Committee consisted of the pastor, Rev. C. L. Clausen, Hans C. Anderson, Ole Sampson and Gunder Knutson. The church was dedicated in the year 1868 by Rev. Johan Olson.

The first term of parochial school in the settlement was taught in Hans Swenson Tvingli's home and in log school house in Sec. 32, now owned by A. T. Austinson. The first parochial school teacher was Andreas Peterson then followed Lars Tuve, Torger Lee, Ekeland, Stuveland, Standal, Tollerud and D. D. Lione. During late years the parochial school has been taught by students from our church schools. The congregation also conducts a Sunday school the greater part of the year with an attendance of about sixty.

Andi Olson Flaten was the first white child born in Nevada twp., and Mrs. I. K. Everson (nee Anne Sampson) was the second. They are both living, the latter in this community.

The first funeral in the congregation took place in 1856 when Aslak Knutskaas was buried, having died at the age of 45.

The first wedding took place when Helen Martin was united in marriage to Francis Herch.

Four of the sons of the congregation have entered the gospel ministry. These are Ole T. Lee, Gustav T. Lee, Alfred B. Anderson and John M. Eggen all of whom are in active service with the exception of Rev. Ole T. Lee who passed to his reward March 30, 1918 after many years of faithful service.

Eight of the early members of the congregation served this country during the Civil War. They have all passed away except Even Everson who lives in this community and is a member of this church. The deceased veterans are: Corporal Knut Amundson, Johnnes Martin, Sam Enerson, Christoffer Swenson, Jacob Jacobson, John Bergeson, and Oscar Tieman.

During the World War 24 young men from this congregation were in the military service, one of whom died on the battlefield in France. The Honor Roll: Gus Jorgenson, Arnold Jorgenson, Bernie Anderson, Aleck Rue, Thorvald Nelson, Jasper Johnson, Oscar Anderson, who fell in the second battle of Marne, Caius Anderson, Gilbert Tieman, Melvin Peterson, Clarence Nelson, Walter Leidall, Christian E Olson, Alvin Erickson, Geo. Jorgenson, Arthur Ashley, Halvor Aslakson, Gustave Enerson, Casper Ashley, John Eggen, Robert Anderson, Ole Gilbertson, Oscar Anderson and Arnold Enerson.

The cemetery which was formerly owned and controlled by the congretion was turned over to the Six Mile Grove Cemetery Association, incorporated March 10th 1913. Since that tiine a permanent fund of $2700 has been raised. The purpose of this fund is the upkeep of a burial place of this community. The officers are H. T. Thovson, pres., L. M. Eggen, secy., A. K. Jacobson, treas, Alfred Ostenson, Walter J. Leidall and M. D. Nelson directors, Orville Naversath, sexton.

The present officers of the church are: Board of Deacons, Rev. C. S. Vang chairman, L. M. Eggen secy., Alfred Ostenson, F. A. Turtedal, A. K. Jacobson, Ole I. Anderson and Ole Naversath.

Board of Directors are Clarence Meyer, president H. O. Sampson, E. O. Anderson, Eddie Hanson, Theo. Aslakson and E. M. Nelson.
Secretary of the congregation, K. L. Leidall.
Treasurer, H. O. Austinson.
Organist, Miss Emma Anderson.
Janitor, H. O. Sampson.
Ushers, H. T. Thovson and H. O. Austinson.
Sunday School: L. M. Eggen, superintendent, Newell Nelson, vice president.

The Ladies Aid Society has been in operation since 1872 when it was organized by Rev. Johan Olson. The present officers are: Mrs. H. T. Thovson president, Mrs. H. O. Sampson, secy., and Mrs. O. Lillegard, treas. The activities of this society is evidenced by the amount it contributes to various purposes, mostly missions and orphan's homes. The church bell was presented to the congregation by this society in the year 1881.

The Sewing Circle: (Eudora) has been active for a number of years. The present officers are: Mrs. Louis Jacobson, president Miss Andrena Moen, secy. Mrs. Alfred Nelson, treas.

The Ithiel Sewing Circle (a sister society to the Eudora) has also been active for many years with Mrs. A. J. Steene as president, Miss Alpha Anderson, secy, and Miss Myrtella Sampson, treas. These sewing circles have especially shown their activities by beautifying the church building interior, presenting the piano and in various ways helping the congregation, besides all the charitable purposes and donations to which they have contributed.

The Young Peoples Society has been in existence since 1906. This society holds its meetings once a month on Sunday evenings. The present officers of this society are: Joy Nelson, president; Alfred Nelson, vice president; Miss Hazel Nelson, secy.; Miss Alma Lastine, treas.; Miss Mabel Lillegard, Miss Emma Anderson and Henry Lastine, program committee.

The surviving Charter members of Six Mile Grove church are:
Peter Martin, age 91, Wilbur, Washington.
Aasne Flaten. age 93, widow of Aslak Flaten.
Kare Berge, age 95, widow of Halvor Berge.
Helen Larson, age 87, widow of Thor Larson.

From the beginning the congregation was connected with St. Ansgar, Rock Creek, Little Cedar and Red Oak Grove and was served by the same pastor. This continued until 1871. After that year Six Mile Grove, Little Cedar and Mona and Lyle congregations, constituted a charge. Still another change was made later when Little Cedar withdrew from this charge in 1900.

On May 20th, 1911 the Lyle church was organized and since that time the Six Mile Grove church, Mona church and the Lyle church have constituted a charge. The three congregations own a parsonage together in the village of Lyle.

In surveying this history of the Six Mile Grove congregation during the sixty-five years of its activity we recognize with sincere gratitude the guiding hand of our heavenly Father, who in His kindness and mercy so wonderfully has blessed our efforts to build His kingdom in this community. It is our common prayer on this sixty-fifth anniversary day that He may continue to bestow His blessings upon our churchly activities so that they may redound to His glory and honor and to the salvation of many souls

Photo Captions:
1. Rev. A. E. Moe
3. Mrs. I. K. Everson, Mrs. Helen Larson