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Torger A. Torgerson 1836-1906


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 11/8/2022 at 21:09:03

Reverend Torger Andreas Torgerson
(January 26, 1836 - January 7, 1906)

The oldest Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran minister of the gospel, who settled in Worth county, is Rev. T. A Torgerson. He was born the 26th day of January 1836, in the southern part of Norway, at the "iron works of Ness," one of the most beautiful spots in that romantic kingdom. His father managed a fine botanical garden with greenhouses containing plants from the remotest lands of the globe. His kind-hearted mother died two years and a half after the deliverance of this her third child, and he was brought up by her parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, with great tenderness and care. He was baptized in infancy, as customary in the Lutheran Church, and taught the Evangelical Lutheran doctrine. When he was three years old his grand-parents sent him to a private school and from the age of six he went to the excellent public school of the place about eleven months every year, until he was confirmed, in the spring of 1853, when he emigrated to this country, together with his father, stepmother, brothers and sisters and other relatives. The winter 1853-4, his parents residing in the village of Winneconne, Winnebago Co., Wis., he spent by going to school in the country, a few miles distant, in order to be instructed in the English language. The summer following he moved with the rest of the family to Scandinavia, Waupacca Co., Wis., where his father finally settled as a farmer, and where he is still living and doing well. The next three years he earned money in the city of Stevens Point, and other places, assisting his father in providing for his large family. After that time he worked on the farm at home until the fall 1858. Through the instrumentality of his pastor, Rev. O. F. Duns, whose memory is ever dear to him, his heart was revived by the sacred power of the word of the only living God, and he became zealous to spend his life in the service of his dear Lord Jesus Christ, who had shed his precious blood for him, a poor sinner, and has bestowed his bountiful mercy upon him through living faith in him, his beloved Savior. Incited by this reverend gentleman, and with the consent of his parents, he concluded to study theology and prepare for the ministry.
"The Synod for the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America," commonly called "The Norwegian Synod," to which he belonged, had, at that early period, no college and theological seminary of its own. But the synod, having previously, through delegates, investigated the institutions of higher learning in different older Lutheran synods of the land, had made arrangements with "The German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other States," generally styled "The Missouri Synod," to have our young men educated at its college and theological seminary, both at that time located in the city of St. Louis, Mo. Nine years was the regular time required for students to finish their studies at these institutions. Mr. Torgeson entered the college Sept. 1, 1858, and graduated at the seminary June 27, 1865.
Out of the number of the many able professors and highly esteemed teachers of these institutions let it suffice to mention only one here, the world-renowned Right Rev. C. F. W. Walther, D. D., Professor of Theology, at the said seminary, by all Lutherans in the land, true to the symbolical books of our church, regarded as the greatest instrumentality of the Lord in this country in restoring the holy scriptural light, the true apostolical doctrine and the living faith and the unflinching fidelity in prostrating false doctrines and confessing and defending the genuine biblical truth, the Christian charity, the brotherly love, the self-denial, etc., of the glorious Lutheran reformation to the Lutheran Church in this country. The Missouri Synod has, through the blessing of God, experienced an external and internal growth, as it seems, almost unparalleled in the history of the Church, secondary, perhaps, only to the days of the apostles and the sixteenth century. His influence for good is felt and the sweet fruit of his long heaven-blessed labor is gathered also in Europe, especially in Germany, and even in the far Australia.
Mr. Torgeson accepted a call, extended to him by the Church council of the Norwegian Synod, from the N. E. L. congregations of Shell Rock, Silver Lake and Lime Creek, in Worth and Winnebago counties, Iowa, and the southern part of Freeborn Co., Minn., was ordained an Evangelical Lutheran minister of the Gospel July 23, by Rev. N. A. Preus, of Columbia Co., Wis., the general president of the Norwegian Synod, and installed by Rev. C. L. Clausen, then residing at St. Ansgar, the 19th and the following days of August, 1865.
His field of labor was soon greatly extended. Not only did he permanently become identified with two more places of public worship in his original charge, at Elk Grove and at Round Prairie, but he being that minister of the synod who was located farthest west in this part of the country, was, in the fall of the year last mentioned, called upon and cheerfully went to break the bread of life for Norwegian Lutherans, that were like sheep without a shepherd, in the counties of Winnebago and Emmett, Iowa, and Freeborn, Fairbault and Jackson counties, Minn. At a later period he had regular appointments at Wesley, Algona, Noli and West Homestead, in Kossuth and Humbolt counties, Iowa, and also in Nevada, Mower Co., Minn. The district he was working in was about 150 miles long east and west and fifty miles wide, the number of places at which he for years had appointments to meet amounted to as many as eighteen and for a short time even to twenty-three. Still he held divine service in his regular charge as frequently as it was his duty to do so, if he had had no other congregations to tend to.
At the beginning of his stay here he found shelter at the house of Mr. Erik Ellingsen, one of the pioneers of Silver Lake township, who, with his family, bestowed much kindness upon him. A deeply felt sense of gratitude prompts him to say that they, with a good many other members, have continued to manifest much benevolence to him and his family.
The 10th of June, 1866, he was married to Dina Anderson, a daughter of Bjorn Anderson and wife, Abel Catherine, of Dane Co., Wis. Late in the fall of the same year they moved into the parsonage, in Silver Lake township, and occupied it about three years. Here their first born child saw the light of this world July 6, 1867. He was a fine and healthy boy, but suddenly he was taken sick with cholera infantum October 10 of the same year and departed this life the next day in the evening, having been sick about thirty hours.
On the 1st day of December, 1869, he, with wife and child, moved to the new parsonage, situated in Bristol township, about four miles south from their former residence, and here he is still residing. Mr. and Mrs. Torgeson are now blessed with six children, living, all boys, ranging from the age of one to fifteen years. Pastor Torgeson has now charge of the N. E. L. congregations of Silver Lake, Lime Creek and Concordia and eleven other ministers of the same synod having accepted calls from the other parts of his field of labor before described. Four years ago a call was extended to him from congregations in Allamakee Co., Iowa, but his old charge, by a vote of eighty-nine against six, expressing its wish for him to remain here, and as it could not approve the arguments adduced by Rev. V. Koven for his removal, he concluded to stay and declined to accept the new call. From Sept. 1, 1881, to June 13, the year following, he supplied the place of a professor of theology at the theological seminary, Madison, Wis., during the absence of one of the professors at that institution. Although he has had a good deal of traveling to do, much hard work to perform, some trials and hardships to endure and encounter, he is still, through the grace of God, enjoying a good health and vigor. His labor in the vineyard of the Lord has certainly not been in vain. He could, from his own experience, relate many instances, giving striking evidence of the soul-saving power and praiseworthy mercy, contained in the word of "The Good Shepherd," and exercised through the instrumentality of this humble servant of the Lord, but refrains from doing it here. His dearest hope on earth is that he, together with many dearer souls committed to his care, shall praise the Lord of mercy in the heavenly mansions. Source: History of Mitchell and Worth Counties, Iowa, 1884, p.862


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