FAITH OF OUR FATHERS,
Faith of our fathers, living still
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious word:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith,
We will be true to the till death.
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
And blest would be their children's fate
If they, like them should die for thee:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith,
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers! God's great power
Shall win all nations unto thee;
And thru the truth that comes from God
Mankind shall then indeed be free;
Faith of our fathers, holy faith,
We will be true to thee till death.
Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife,
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life:
Faith of our fathers, holy faith,
We will be true to thee till death.
THEME VERSE: "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generatoins; ask thy father and he will show thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee."
We gratefully dedicate this to the sacred memory of the
God-fearing Pioneers who established the Lutheran Church on the
Dakota plains and to those who have preserved the Faith of our Fathers.Foreword
A feeling of lack of perfection and also a surge of gratitude encounters
the Committee in writing this history. Much of value historically
has never been recorded. Available data has been studied and used.
Sources include pastoral, congregation and church organizations records;
notations from the Rev. P. H. Dahl who served as pastor of the Bergen
community 1896-1918; data from the Anniversary Booklet by the Rev.
Walter I. Aamoth published in connection with the 75th Anniversary observance
of the beginning of the preliminary organized Lutheran work
in the Brule community which was celebrated Aug. 12-14, 1938; excerpts
from the "Vermillion Story" published at the time of the Vermillion, S. D.
Centennial in 1959; also pictures, letters, papers and newsclippings from
many helpful contributors.The Centennial Committee gratefully acknowledges all the assistance given them.
- Mrs. George Wilken
- Mrs. Lincoln Twedt
- Mrs. Paul Quam
- Mrs. Elton Shedd
- Mrs. Elmer Quam
- Rev. Kermit Rye
Brule Creek Lutheran Church
This is the history of Brule Creek Lutheran Congregation, a rural,
southeastern South Dakota church located twelve miles northwest of Elk
Point. We hope to introduce you in these pages to a few of the pioneers
who moved westward to settle this area. One thing that can be said
about these early settlers is that they brought with them a strong
faith in God. From a tiny nucleus of Christians, Brule Creek
Congregation, along with several others, was born.
Dakota was a part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. It was a vast area
of rolling plains, tall grass, praireis, trees, and beneath all this.
fertile lands which held promise of an abundant life. This area along
the Missouri River was first explored by white men during the Lewis and
Clark expedition of 1804-1806. Fur trading posts were established, and
in 1859 a treaty was signed with the Indians. The region was now open
to white settlers.
Prior to 1850 the first Norwegian settlement
had been near LaSalle County in Illinois. At first land was cheap, but
as other settlers came, land value rose. A cry went up for cheaper
land. Some of the people pressed on to new frontiers---to Wiconsin,
Minnesota and Iowa. One small group felt they too must seek cheaper
land with better opportunities and more freedom. So they sent a man by
the name of Kjel Ronne to explore "the west" and find them a suitable
location. They trusted Kjel Ronne because he was an honest, upright,
Christian man upon whose judgment they could rely.
Mr Ronne moved west past the Mississippi to the Missouri river and
north to the site of Vermillion. Here he found a wide area of fertile
land with nearness of water for trade. This, he realized, would be
advantageous for bringing supplies of food, implements and clothing.
When Ronne returned to Illinois to report his findings he learned that
his wife had died and that her vurial had taken place that very
When the group was ready ot move west, Kjel Ronne
guided them ot this area. He was a lay preacher, and his faith in God
and in the future was an inspiration to his fellow travelers. The date
of this settlemnt can be said with certainty to be no later than 1857.
Many hardships were endured. Sickness, loneliness, poverty, cold, and
hunger were constant companions. there was an ever present threat from
hostile Indians. Yet, these pioneers trusted God for all their needs.
They came almost empty handed, but they brought with them Bibles,
hymnbooks, and catechisms. They did not forget that "Man cannot live by
bread alone." From the beginning, prayer sessions, Bible reading and
lay services were held in their homes. They possessed a faith and a
courage that was not easily crushed.
In July of 1859 another
small group of Norwegians from Dane County in Wisconsin traveled much
the same route. At Sioux City the group traveled west along the
Missouri River on the Nebraska side. They crossed the river at
Vermillion but were not happy with their findings. They crossed back
and moved up the river again. Recrossing a bit farther on, they
"staked" land that later became known as "Meckling Town". a few names
from this group are as follows: Ole Olson Gjetle, Syvert Halvorson
Myren, Elling Olson Engum, Halvor Swendson, and Anders Fosen. They
described their trip thus:"Grass so tall and rank that often Swendson
stood on the dashboard holding on to the bow of the wagon cover so he
could see where he was going. The wagon made a good path, almost as if
it were a cut swath." Bu this time several "little settlements" dotted
the land from Sioux City to beyond Yankton along the Missouri.
In 1861 Mr. Abraham Jacobson, a theological candidate who belonged to
the Augustana Synod, came with a group of westward movers from
Winnieshiek County, Iowa. During his stay in this area he preached the
Word of God to these early settlers. At a service in the Mikkol Rokne
home he baptized the twin sons (Ole and Lars) of Ole Gjetle. Mr.
Jacobson is also believed to have officiated at the first wedding among
the Norse of this territory, that of Kristen Jordalen and Anna Tweit.
There was some talk of founding a congregation, but Mr. Jacobson was
unacceptable because he belonged to the Augustana Synod. The matter of
synodical affiliation was a problem with many of the desirable pastors
of that day. At this time no congregation was formed. Mr. Jacobson
traded a watch for a pony and returned to Iowa. After he lift, laymen
continued to conduct services. Some of these men were Aslake Iverson,
Peder Ronne, and Thomas Eidem.
In 1862 the Homestead Act was
passed by Congress. This enabled any male who was 21 years or older to
claim 160 acres of land if he would clear the timber and live on it for
five years. He was expected to break a few acres of sod each year. This
act induced many young adventurers to move west and settle the
territory. Steve Horton (though not a Norwegian of these groups) was
one of these adventurers. He took a claim in 1862, Section 34-35 of
Spink Township. This is of particular interest to us since the present
Brule Creek church stands on this ground. The farm from which this plot
was taken is occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Williams (nee Florence
Horton, granddaughter of Steven Horton).Steve Horton
Kjel Ronne, who by this time had ventured as fare as Sioux Falls, was
not satisfied with what he found. Returning south along the Sioux River
he took a tree claim southwest of Elk Point. Christine Ronne, the
daughter of Kjel Ronne, became one of Dakota's first school teachers.
She later married Carl Nelson (a brother of Mrs. Martin Anderson, the
mother of Norman, Henry and Paul.
Wishing to establish a future
for themselves and their children, and feeling a deep need for the Word
of God in their midst, these early settlers began making plans for an
organized church. On August 12, 1863 fifteen men met at the home of
Kjel Ronne and proceeded to organize a congregation. They called
themselves the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. There was
no written constitution, no ordained pastor, and all business
transacted was of a preliminary nature.
From Rev. P. J.
Reinertson's report of 1934 we find: "1) The preliminary organization
of Brule Creek Evangelical Lutheran Congregation took place on August
12, 1863. 2) Regular congregational meetings were held from time to
time. 3) On October 8, 1864 this organization was completed by adopting
a constitution and electing a board of trustees." From Rev. Walter
Aamoth (1934) we read: "For this reason I include these churches,
Bergen, Vangen, and Brule Creek as having their origin in that first
preliminary organization of August 12, 1863. All these congregations
should regard this first meeting as their real beginning."
These were hard days. they surely must have taxed the strength and vigor of youth. These bearded young men brought with them wives, many of whom were still in their teens. Records show that even the Synodical leaders of that day were in most cases men in their late twenties and early thirties. We of a much later time cannot cease to marvel at the courage, endurance, and strength of these early settlers. that they wanted the church and its ministrations, that they were intensely concerned about synodical affiliations---these are indications that difficulties had not broken their spirits, nor hardships erased their keen hunger for a correct hearing of the word of God. this keen theological concern is evidenced by a report that the Rev. P. H. Dahl gives as to how Rev. Krohn came to be their mission pastor.
Jens Ivarson Krohn (1864-1867)
There had been a meeting held in the home of Jacob Jacobson in which a lively discussion was carried on as to which synod should be approached to request a pastor. Finally it was decided to ask the Norwegian Synod in Chicago. Rev. Krohn came to visit the settlement in the fall of 1864.
Not much is known of this early missionary pastor who helped organize the congregation and served as its first formal Shepherd. Records show that he was born and educated in Norway, coming to the United States at the age of 26 years. He had immediately sought more schooling and was graduated from Concordia Seminary of St. Louis, Missouri in 1863. He served a Chicago church for the next 13 years. It was in this period that he was sent out on more than one occasion to be a missionary pastor in the Dakota Territory.
At the time of his first visit in the fall of 1864 he was about 30 years old. He was newly married or married after his return to Chicago (records tell of his marriage in 1864). During the course of this visit he preached several times and performed many ministerial acts. In all, he performed a total of 45 Baptisms in two days.
There is a day to which we must call special attention. On October 8, 1864, Pastor Krohn conducted a service at the home of Anders Peterson Ulven on the "Vermillion Prairie" at which 22 persons were baptized. But it was following the service that a meeting was held which resulted in the historic establishment of the Norwegian Evangelical Congregation in Dakota Territory. A new constitution was drawn up and adopted. Organized in the Name of the Triune God, it was to be a congregation of the Norwegian Synod. Rev. Krohn proceeded to affiliate the new congregation with the Norwegian Synod. Trustees wre elected which included: Helge Matthiasson, Aslake Iverson, Ole Sampson (Opheim), Peter Nilson, and Lars Fanestol. Hans Gunderson was elected as "an assistant". The newly formed congregation consisted of 67 members.
Rev. Krohn returned to Chicago, but he visited the area again to conduct services, Administer the sacraments, and perform pastoral duties as they were needed. Services were conducted in homes, many of which were only dugouts or soddies, or in the out of doors. It is pathetic to hear of the funeral memorials conducted for those who had died earlier at a time when there was no pastor available. In the absence of a pastor, burial had been a simple rite performed by the family and some lay preacher neighbor. Diptheria, a type of dysentery, and "consumption" were the most recorded causes of death.
In 1865 the congregation's official name was altered to be "The First Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Dakota Territory." this congregation embraced an area comprising the counties of Union, Clay and Yankton. At the request of settlers beyond the limits of the congregation, Rev. Krohn visited and served families as fare west as the James River Settlement where it is recorded he preached in Torger Nelson's house.
Not much is known of Pastor Krohn after his visits to this area. He lost his young wife in 1868 and he himself died in 1889 at the age of 55 years. The rigors of the new land may have contributed to his early death. The records of Pastor Krohn's ministry are preserved and kept by the Vangen congregation at Mission Hill. Records show that he received for his services in 1864, $185, and at his return in 1865, $186.
At a meeting on February 11, 1866 in Peter Nelson's house, congregational officers were elected. They were as follows: Lars J. Ruud (Brule Creek Settlement), Secretary, and Aslake Iverson, treasurer. The desire to seek a permanent pastor increased. At a meeting in February in Syvert Myron's house it was decided to send a call for a permanent pastor to the Synodical Council in behalf of the young congregation.
Emil Christensen (1867-1869)
In the fall of 1867 the Rev. Emil Christensen came to serve this large area. It was found necessary to divide into three districts with the pastor's time shared equally. The East District became known as Brule Creek, the Central District as Bergen, and the West District as Vangen. Later the East District divided into three congregations known as Brule Creek, Lodi, and Caly Creek.
Brule Creek members recorded at this time (1867) were: Peder Pederson, arne Olson, Solfest Anderson, Jens Olson, Eric Christenson, Anders Erickson, Paul Solfesten, Anders Anderson Oie, Ole Holthe, O. Olson, Torger Larson, Syver Olson, Klement Halvorson, Ole Thorson and G. Agenberg. On January 1, 1868 there was a voting membership of 22. This number increased to 29 on January 29; to 63 on September 2 and by March of 1869 membership stood at 79.
One of the families that came to play an active part in the congregation at this time was that of Lars Larson, Sr.His three sons, Lars Jr., Johannes (John), and Guldbrand (Gilbert), had
come to Dane County, Wisconsin in 1858. But seven years later, Lars
Jr., having returned to Norway, brought his father, his stepmother, and
younger children to the United States. In all, he furnished fare for
about 25 persons, mostly relatives. Fare cost $25 for adults, half
price for children. Each person had to provide his own food and
bedding. The voyage usually took a month or more.His three sons, Lars Jr., Johannes (John), and Guldbrand (Gilbert), had come to Dane County, Wisconsin in 1858. But seven years later, Lars Jr., having returned to Norway, brought his father, his stepmother, and younger children to the United States. In all, he furnished fare for about 25 persons, mostly relatives. Fare cost $25 for adults, half price for children. Each person had to provide his own food and bedding. The voyage usually took a month or more.
In November of 1867 Lars Larson Jr. filed a homestead claim in Spink Township. He married Ellen Helseth in 1871. There were nine children born to this marriage: Sophie (Satter), Adolph L., Betsy (Peterson-Lindgren), J. Martin, Olivia (Peterson), and Lissie (Anderson). Four younger children died in a diphtherea epidemic.
In 1867 following release from the Union Army, John (Johannes) Larson came to Dakota Territory and took a claim on the present site of Spink. He married Ingeborg Linaas. They had seven children: Albert, Andrew, Edward, Sophie (Braastad), Anna (Klopstad), Ida (Klopstad), and Lizzie (Abrahamson). John opened a general store at Spink in 1871. A post office was added in 1872 and he served as postmaster for 23 years.
Gilbert (Guldbrand) Lrson was school master in one of the first schools in the area. His home was a cellar house on the banks of the Brule Creek, a stone's throw west of the present church. This home served also as a school house.
A younger brother, Edward Larson, who was 6 years old when he came to this country lived his entire life on the farm homesteaded by his father, Lars Sr. Edward married Helen Marie "Mary" Braastad and they had eight children: Ludvig, Edward, Marie Sophie, Lars J., Helmer, George, Mina (Waag), and John W.
Other settlers arriving about this time were Andrew Omdahl, Ole Christensen, Andrew Lewison, Gunder Satter, Peter Christensen and Emil Pederson. These men held many offices in the early church to promote the work of the Kingdom of God.
Of interest is the story of the settlement of Lodi. Spurred by the hope of a railroad coming through, it was in the year 1868 a thriving village with a grist mill, two stores, two harness shops, a hotel, a school building, two churches, and a saloon. When the railroad did not come through the village became nonexistent.
Rev. Christensen was a young, energetic missionary over a large area. He visited the early settled counties of Lincoln, Minnehaha, Moody, and Brookings in Dakota Territory. He also served in Cedar and Dixon Counties in Nebraska. He and his young wife made their home near Gayville. Records show that after Pastor Christensen's two years with Brule Creek, he continued serving as pastor in the Gayville area until 1876.
Ellef Olson (1869-1873)
The Rev. Ellef Olson was the next pastor to serve Brule Creek and the area around Vermillion. He arrived in 1869 and Minutes of the rear show that meetings were held in the Amund Iverson home on October 13 and November 14 and 21, and in the Andreas Erikson home on December 12 and 19. On December 12, communion was received by Andreas A. Oie, Brite Ingbrete Oie, Lars O. Skjeie, Lisabet Olsdatter Skjeie, Nils Rangsholdt, Simon Johnson, Rasmus Otteson, and Ellen Janette Otteson. A total of Twenty-six services were recorded for the year 1869.
A few meetings were mentioned as being held at Union Creek, later organized as the Swedish Lutheran Church of the Augustana Synod. The first marriage on record was that of Christian Benson, age 45, and Anna Syversdatter Dale, age 33. Witnesses were Andreas Erikson, Amund Iverson, and Arne Olson. The first Baptism was that of Alette Christine Olson, a child of Jens and Martha Olson, on October 13, 1869. The first burial recorded was in July of 1870, Lisa Emilia Andersdatter, the daughter of Solfest and Gurrine Anderson. Records show seven deaths from diphtheria in 1873. A plot of ground had been given by Knud Paulson as a burial place for departed loved ones.
By this time people had begun thinking in terms of a central place for worship. In 1870, they resolved to build a log church building. It was to be near the cemetery. It is believed that construction was actually begun when they decided to use a site farther north. The new site seemed to be nearer the center of the area to be servied by the church. It was on the farm of A.O. Solem (father of Mrs. Gust (Agnes) Abraham) about half a mile south of the Gust Abraham home.
The log church was not completed at this time. There could have been many reasons for the delay--the use of unskilled labor, the scarcity of money, etc. In 1870 the congregation authorized Ole Anderson and John Larson to secure a loan of $100 to be paid back in installments.
This is a painting by Myrtle (Larson) Twedt of what the First Church of 1873 may have looked like.
Membership of the congregation in 1871 was as follows (The names added are of descendants now belonging to this church with exceptions marked by an *asterisk):
1. Anders Erickson
2. Solfest Erickson
(uncles of Carrie Helseth, Anna Quam, and *Minnie Hofland)
3. Solfest Anderson
4. Paul Solfeston
(great grandfather of Arnold and *Lloyd Helseth, *Mildred Holzerland, Edna Lundgren, Howard Powell, Alma Nygaard, Evelyn Shedd, Norrell Quam, *Helen Murray, Burnett Quam, Paul Quam, *Alice Albin, *Dorothy Anderson, *Merlin Hofland, *Tillman and *Merlow Anderson, *Florence Jacobs, *Donna Belle Moe
5. Jens Olson
(father of *Jim Olson, grandfather of Mrs. Della Abraham)
6. Anders Oie
(father of Ingvard Anderson, grandfather of Mabel and Art Anderson) (father of Tom Anderson, grandfather of Albert J. Anderson)
(father of Mrs. O. Torguson, grandfather of Lena Klopstad, Tina Williams, and Ida Johnson)
(father of Andrew Anderson)
7. P. Pederson
(father of Emil Pederson, grandfather of *Ira Pederson)
8. Arne Olson
(granduncle of *Gena Price)
9. Rasmus Otteson
(maternal grandmother of Lewis Helseth)
10. Gunder Satter
(father of Gust, grandfather of Lewis, *William, *John, and *Ann Satter, *Ellen Degroot, *Grace, Ida)
11. Aron Jonason
12. Ole Stubhaug
(paternal grandfather of Mrs. Gust Abraham)
13. Amund Iverson
(grandfather of *Amedia Lee, great grandfather of *Martin Albin, great great grandfather of Maxine Bird)
14. Lars Larson Sr.
(paternal grandfather of J. Martin Larson, Oliva Peterson)
15. Lars Larson
(father of Anna Klopstad, Paternal grandfather of Myrtle Twedt and *John E. Larson, *Alice Andersen, *Arnold Klopstad; maternal grandfather of Norman, *Leo, *Philip, *Lewis Abraham, *Dorothy Robinson, *Alvena Blackstone)
16. Simon Johnson
17. Peder Syverson
18. Christian Pederson
(brother of Emil Pederson)
19. O. T. Oye
(thought to be the father of A. O. Anderson)
20. O. Anderson
21. Anfin Anfinson
(father of Lewis and Andrew Anfinson)
22. Ole Johanneson
23. Knudt Paulson
(paternal grandfather of *Mrs. Oluf Kjose, *Mrs. Joe Eiden and *Lee Paulson)
24. Christian Olson Nyhus
25. Ole Torguson
(father of Ida Johnson, Tina Williams and Lena Klopstad)
26. Torgus Johnson
(father of Ole Torguson, grandfather of Lena Klopstad, Ida Johnson, and Tina Williams)
27. Anders Solfeston
(brother of Paul Lolfeston, grandfather of Norman, Henry, Paul and *Elmer anderson, *Elvena Albert, *Mabel Ruppert, *Alma Fakes)
28. Syver Syverson
29. Arndt Urdahl
30. Lars Odergarden
31. Lars Larson Jr.
(father of J. Martin Laron and *Olive Peterson)
32. Gunder Johnson Helseth
(cousin of Lewis Helseth's father)
33. Peder Pederson Ehre
34. Johannes Lee
(father of *Amedia Lee, great grandfather of Maxine Bird)
Names added March 10, 1871
35. Ove Olson
36. Clement Halderson
37. Halder Clementson
(great grandfather of *Herbert Clementson)
38. Peder Erickson
39. John Olson
40. Andrew Anderson Dalager
(uncle of A. O. Anderson)
41. Tosten Johnson
42. Erik Erikson
43. Erick Erickson
(grandfather of *Ed Hofland)
44. Ole Herreid
(father of Martin Herreid, grandfather of *Les Herried)
45. Hans Johnson
(father of *Ed Johnson, grandfather of *Harley Lewison, *Hilma and *Orville Johnson)
46. Anders Anderson
(thought to be the same as Anders Oie
47. Syneva Andersdatter Oie
(sister of Anders Anderson, mother of Tina Williams, Ida Johnson,Lena Klopstad; grandmother of Forrest Williams and Amber Jervik, *Ruth Johnson, *Bernice Carpender)
48. Mattias Olson Stubhaug
(son of #12)
49. Ludvig Olson Stubhaug
(son of #12)
50. Anders Solfeston
(same as #27)
51. Andreas Amundson
52. Eric Olson
On May 4, 1883, the first service was held in the new log church. The text used was from John 16:16-23.
Names of new members received that day are as follows:
53. Lasse Olson
(father of Mrs. Halvor Lewison, *Ole Olson)
54. Anders Lassesson
(father of Arthur Lewison)
55. Marie Boe
56. Anders Boe
57. Peder Anfinson
(brother of Anfin Anfinson)
58. Erick Nelson
(father of Nora Anderson, grandfather of Norman, Henry, Paul and *Elmer Anderson, *Alvena Albert, *Mable Ruppert, *Alma Fakes)
59. Gunder Syverson
60. Peder Christianson
61. Peder Bonefield
(uncle of Edward, Helmer, Sophie, and John W. Larson and *Mina Waag)
Other names added later
(grandfather of Lloyd Offerdahl)
(mother of Letta Nygard, grandmother of Clifford and *Howard Nygard)
Hans Peter Johnson
(father of Mrs. Hilma Carroll, *Mrs. Gerhart Grothe and Oscar and Ovidia Johnson, recently deceased.)
(father of Bertha Marple and grandfather of Elvera Wilken, *Everett Marple, Melvin, *Howard, and *Roy Nelson, *Elvena Hines)
(father of Nels Quam, grandfather of Paul, Elmer, Burnette, Norrell Quam, Evelyn Shedd, Mabel and Arther Anderson, *Helen Murry, *Alice Albin, *Anges Erickson)
(father of Mrs. Arthur Lewison, Manning and Lester Swanson)
(grandfather of Roy, Hjalmer, Adolph Clarence, *Ole, *Edward, *Leonard Abraham. *Alvira Rusten, Violet Sand, *Marie Ronnie, *Alma Clausen, *Oleva Sommervold, *Petra Sommervold, *Minnie Halvorson, *Ida Solaas. (Children of Peter Abraham) (grandfather of Olaf, *Oscar, *Martin, *Adolph and *Reggie Abrahamson, Agnes Peterson, *Betty Green. (children of Ole Abrahamson) (grandfather of Gust, Albert, *Richard, *George Abraham, *Laura and *Anna Ronning, *Gladys Abrahm, *Elianor Clausen, *Evelyn Jolin. Children of Andrew Abraham) (grandfather of Norman, *Lewis, *Philip, *Leo Abrahamson, *Dorothy Robinson, *Alvena Blackstone. (children of Andreas Abrahamson)
(maternal grandfather of Peter Abraham children)
(father of Edward M., Helmer, Sophie, John W. Larson and *Mina Waag)
(father of Alf Olson, grandfather of LeVern Quam, *Amber Leber)
Olaus Augustus Normann (1873-1879)
The Rev. O. A. Normann, then 28 years old, answered a call to serve this area. Like so many of his predecessors he was educated at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He lived in Sioux City and traveled to these settlements on the open prairie. It is said of Pastor Normann that he would put his hand to any task. He was often found in harvest helping farmers reaping and threshing grain, or performing any work that needed to be done.
An account has been preserved which dedication service of the first Brule Creek Cemetery and a mission Festival presided over by Rev. Emil Christensen who at that time was permanent pastor living near Gayville and serving that area. The Cemetery was a tract of land located on the Knudt Paulson farm. The dedication took place Sept. 3,1874. Quoting Pastor Normann, "The cemetery had quickly grown too small, caused by the many sudden deaths from diphtheria and other diseases. Now it has been enlarged, cleaned, and decorated as nicely as the meager resources of the congregation allowed." Rev. Christensen preached on the text Luke 2:25-32 which includes that beautiful prayer prayed by Simeon. He had seen the infant Jesus whom he recognized as his Lord and Savior. This was a climax to his life and a preparation for death.
Following a picnic dinner in a nearby grove, the afternoon services were held out of doors. this service had a mission theme. It was followed by an offering to be given to the poor and needy settlers of Minnesota and Iowa. It seems that many of these people had lost their crops from a grasshopper invasion. the offering was $52.80. When aware of
the linited resources of those times, one is impressed by the degree of compassion they expressed towards their less fortunate brethren.
Services held by Rev. Normann were not always on Sundays. records show that the families gathered for services any day of the week when the pastor was able to come. He had a large area to cover. In 1876 seven services are listed in the first five months of the year. All were held in the three year old log church.The grasshoppers had come again. All but the early grain was consumed by them. About one third of the grain was harvested. The records are scant on the latter part of Rev. Normann's work here. He departed in 1879 to serve at Ashby, Minnesota, where he remained for forty years.
Elling Olearius Dale (1880-1905)
Pastor Dale arrived from Jewell, Kansas where he had servied as a circuit riding missionary preacher for six years. Like many pioneer families they had lost their entire family of four children in a diphtheria plague in Kansas. Rev. Dale filed claim to a quarter section of land (Section 35) in Spink Township, northwest of the Brule Creek Church. This was to be his home of the rest of his life. He served preaching places at Lodi, Rockfield, and Clay Creek. He usually made these trips on horseback but sometimes was compelled to ski across the prairies because of heavy snowfalls. The log church built in 1873 had become too small. Following the pattern of the early churches in "Acts" the congregation had grown steadily. By 1881 plans were under way for a church building. The proposal was voted on March 5, 1883 to erect a frame building 28' by 48' by 16'. On the building committee were John Larson, Knudt Paulson, Anders Erickson, Emil Omdahl, Ole Herried and Hans P. Johnson. Gilbert Larson was the carpenter and Jorgen Hansen was the mason. In the fall of 1883 the cornerstone was laid. By the summer of 1884 the church was put unto use, but it was not until 1885 that it was completed and dedicated.
Knudt Paulson often led the congregational singing. There was no musical accompaniment. Some time later a reed organ was puchased. The first organist was Hannah Solem. Miss Solem resides at the Bethesda Home and at this writing is 98 years old.
In 1896 the church bell was installed. It's beautiful tones have pealed the joys and sorrows of Brule Creek for the past Sixty-eight years.
These years record a period of struggles and hardships. Food was scarce. Cornbread was the main food. Peas and wheat were roasted for coffee. There was little or no meat. The value of a q
uarter of land dropped form five or six thousand to less than two hundred dollars. The winter of 1881 was called the "hard winter". A three day blizzard in October brought snow to a ten foot level. Ice on the Missouri was three feet thick. Fuel was not to be found. It is told that Mr. McCabe of Lodi first burned his furniture and then his stable for fuel and brought his horses into the house to keep them from freezing to death. Many burned corn and small grain for fule. Following the winter came the diastrous floods. On the Vemillion Prairie a Mr. Swendson almost lost his life trying to walk home the eight miles from Vermillion to Meckling on the partially frozen waters. Mrs. Swendson had paced a light in a window of their home to guide him.
In this period of want and poverty, Pastor Dale taught and encouraged these pioneers to retain their faith in God that they might receive strength and inward peace.
In 1894 Mrs. John Larson had returned from a visit to Dane County, Wisconsin where she learned about an organization of women who promoted the cause of Missions in the church. Her enthusiasm brought action. Assisted by Mrs. Dale a meeting in the Dale home June 28, 1894 led ot the organization of the Brule Creek "Kvindeforening".
A constitution was written and adopted. Knudt Paulson was acting chairman and Rev. Dale, acting secretary.
The following ladies became charter members: Mrs. Lars Larson, Mrs. Iver Quam, Mrs. Gust Satter, Mrs. Elling Dale, Brite Oie, Mrs. John Larson, Mrs. Andrew Helseth, Mrs. Lars Braastad, Mrs. Emil Pederson, Mrs. Anders Anderson, Mrs. Abraham Olson and Mrs. Knudt Paulson. Mrs. Lars Larson was elected president and it is most interesting to note that she was president for 12 consecutive years and with a few exceptions was president most the the time for 22 years until her death in 1916. Mrs. Iver Quam became the first treasurer and Mrs. Gust Satter the first secretary. At the second meeting eight more ladies joined the new society, one of whom was Mrs. Marie Larson. She at this writing is 91 years old.
Sometime during the period in which the new frame church was being built, the cemetery was relocated just south of it on a tract of land given by Gilbert Larson. A fence was erected around it. Subscriptions to pay for the fence were received in the amounts of 25 cents and 50 cents. There was one contribution of $1.00.
At about this time the first choir was organized by Ole Abrahamson. He both directed the choir and accompanied on the violin. He also led the hymn singing of the congregation.
Because of failing health Rev. Dale tendered his resignation to the three congregations he had served for 25 years. An excerpt from Rev. Dale's history laid in the Brule Creek Church cornerstone and a fitting tribute to Pastor Dale's ministry is a passage from Psalm 126--"May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy! He that goes forth weeping bearing the seeds for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bearing his sheaves with him." One of his granddaughters, Mrs. Lincoln (Myrtle) Twedt, is a member of the congregation.
Halvor Syverson Rue
The Rev. H. S. Rue came to serve the area in 1905. It was during this time that the parish (Brule Creek, Lodi and Clay Creek) purchased a parsonage in Vermillion S.D. This continued to be the pastor's home until 1917. Also purchased during this pastorate were the altar, pulpit and baptismal font for the Brule Creek Church. These pieces were later transferred to the new structure built in 1933 and are still in use.
Pastor Rue left the parish in 1910 to accept a call to Prairie Farm, Wisconsin.