Larchwood Churches

St. Mary's

The first Mass in what is now the town of Larchwood was offered by Father Phelan of Rock Valley in 1887. The Mass was said in Phelan's Land and Weighing office. Nine families were present for that Mass. They included the families of John Tracy, Henry Bruggeman, Dennis Nicolai, S. Bornong, Dennis Corcoran, Michael Hughes, J.C. Gannan, Frank Ashauser, and Dennis Quinlivan.

St. Mary's Church and Parsonage

The next year an old school building was given to the Catholics by Mr. Sykes and Mass was held there. In this building there were no pews and the faithful sat on planks or kegs. Soon after Father Dullard of Rock Rapids offered Mass twice a month in this mission. Father McCormick is also recorded as saying Mass in Larchwood before it was established as a parish. In 1898 St. Mary's was officially established a Parish. Father George Cooke was the first resident Pastor. A new church was built that year costing $2,274.86. The old "school house church" was sold for $139. The church and a rectory for the pastor were located in the eat part of town. In 1905 the church was moved to the present location. A rectory was purchased from a man named Bradley for $4,206.75 and was later remodeled. Mr. And Mrs. Peter Kerkvliet were the first couple married in the newly moved church.

Regina Quinlivan was one of the first children recorded in the baptismal register, September 22, 1898. Thomas Weigman and Delia Gannan were the first to be joined in matrimony on November 10, 1898. The first recorded confirmation was on September 8, 1903, when 59 children were confirmed by the Most Rev. P.J. Garrigan, (first) Bishop of Sioux City. Twenty-four children received their first Holy Communion in 1900 on August 18. Sebastian Bornong's funeral was the first on October 24, 1890.

The Men's Catholic Order of Foresters was established in 1901.

Father Cooke remained as pastor until 1910. He was succeeded by Father Kelley who remained for one year. Father S. Roth followed in 1911.

In 1912 the Altar Society was formed.

Dedicated laymen have had very much to do with the success of the parish. This is especially true of the parish directors, or trustees: Walter F. Ryan, 1898-1904; Frank Lawler, 1898-1902; Henry Bruggeman, 1903; Joseph Schoenfelder, 1904; A.J. Quinn, 1904; Frank Ripperda, 1905-1909; John Cauley, 1905-1906; John McCarty, R.J. McGuire, 1909; John Kerkvliet, 1909; Lambert Breuer, 1911-1912; C.L. Lens, 1911-1912; A.P. Moher, 1912; Geo. A. Castle, 1914-1919; W.T. Ryan, 1914-1922; Leo Doherty, 1920-1923; P. W. Clercx, George Kramer, Frank Schettler, Frank Bower, T.B. Sweeny, Bill Bruggeman, George Schreurs, William Kerkvliet. In 1966 Cliff Pruitt and William Roemen were appointed.

The people of the parish are active in the various parish organizations. The Court of the Men's Catholic Order of Foresters was formed in 1901 with the following men as officers: Chief Ranger, Frank Ripperda; recording secretary, Dennis Nicolai; treasurer, Joseph Schoenfelder. Fifty years later, men and juvenile members numbered more than 120. The officers of the court at that time were William Breuer, George Quinlivan, Lawrence Schreuers, Robert Bruggeman.

In 1948 the Women Catholic Order of Foresters was started. In 1912 the Altar Society was formed. The Men's Club, or Holy Name was formed in 1951. In 1971 Edna Blauwet heads the Foresters; Gus Blauwet Jr. heads the Holy Name, Dale Kerkvliet will succeed; Burt Roemen heads the Altar Society, with Mary Roemen to succeed in 1972. The Diocesan Council of Catholic Women group was formed under the direction of Bishop Joseph Mueller. The present Parish Representative is Edna Roemen. Our ladies hosed the Northwest Deanery April 14, 1966. St. Catherine's Circle served the luncheon.

St. Mary's Sodality was begun in 1940 with the following officers: Prefect, Daniel Lynch; vice-prefect, Helen Bruggeman; secretary, Elfrieda Roemen; treasurer, Eileen Krier. The Catholic Student's Mission Crusade was organized two years earlier with the following officers: President, Mavis McGuire; vice-president, John Snyder; secretary, Glenn Solon; treasurer, Raymond Lewis. The C.Y.O. activities, were actively engaged in by our students over the years. Many of our teams, and students rated First too many times to mention. The school newspaper was first published, The St. Mary's Chimes, in May 1935.

Our parish was blessed with vocations to the Priesthood and Religious life. In 1941 Msgr. John Doherty was ordained on May 22. He is now serving as Pastor in Breda, Iowa. June 6, 1948, Daniel Lynch was ordained. He is now serving as Pastor in Fonda, Iowa. Two years later on June 3, James Cain was ordained. He is in the southwest recuperating from an accident which took place during his tour of duty, as a chaplain, in South Vietnam. Brother John Cain was ordained to the priesthood May 26, 1956. He is now the Pastor at Madrid, also serves as Chaplain to the patients at the state hospital in Woodward, Iowa.

Seventeen girls have entered the religious life from Larchwood. They include: Sister M. Leonarda Quinlivan of the Servants of Mary, Sister M. Ferdinand Kerkvliet, Sister M. Eldred Breuer, Sister M. Terence Walsh, Sister M. Thecla Cain and Sister Maristella Van Lent, all members of the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque.

Sister M. Lois Rutten and Sister M. Anselma Rutten are members of the Sisters of St. Francis at Clinton, Iowa. Sister M. Benecio McCarty is a member of the Sisters of Charity of Dubuque.

Seven girls have joined the Sisters of Mercy at Wilkes-Barre, Pa. They include Sister M. Ernestine Castle, Sister Stanislaus Kuhl, Sister M. Martha Roemen, Sister M. Esther Bruggeman, Sister M. Patricia O'Conner, and Sister M. Leonard Bruggeman. Anna Marie Kerkvliet is now Sister M. Rose, Discalced Carmelite, Littleton, Colorado.

The Papal Volunteers to Latin America, added Marvin Schuttloffel to its ranks of lay missionaries when he left Larchwood on October 18, 1964. His time of service was cut short due to ill health in the Amazon region of Brazil.

Three South American students spent time in Larchwood learning what a good American family is like in rural America. Mr. And Mrs. Leo Honrath were foster parents in 1968 to Fernando Jensen of Chile. That same year Mr. And Mrs. Roy Gallagher were the foster parents to two attractive young ladies from Argentina, Aliane Gomes Ferreira and Maria Luiza Carvalho. All who knew them gained from our new knowledge of our Latin American neighbors, as they learned to know us better.



First Congregational Church


First Congregational Church

In 1874, about two years after the first settlers came to the Larchwood area, the Rev. Palmer of Sheldon conducted the first church service in the little one-room schoolhouse, just north of the park, where services were held for several years.

In 1885, 18 people met in the schoolhouse and made plans for organizing a church and favored joining the Congregational denomination. In 1887 the church was admitted to the Sioux Association, completing the organization of The First Congregational Church of Larchwood.

The first church was built in 1889 in the north part of town, at a cost of $1,500. The cornerstone was laid August 15, 1889. It was completed and used in 1890. Dedication services were held May 20, 1890. In about 1900, extensive remodeling was done, an addition was built on and a stained glass window installed in the front. On April 27, 1909, this structure burned to the ground. The stained glass window and most of the furniture was saved.

Congregational Church 1900
This Building was destroyed by fire

  A new brick building was erected at once at a price of $2,444 by W.V. Amidon, a local contractor. The cornerstone was laid in September 1909 and in it was placed the box which had been placed in the first structure 20 years before. The new church was dedicated in January 1910.



Methodist Church

In the fall of 1888, Rev. Green, pastor of the Methodist church in Inwood, came to preach in the school house. The Presiding Elder, Rev. Cole of Sheldon, assisted by Rev. Green organized a Methodist class with 30  members, attached to the Inwood church. Services were held in

Methodist Church, 1907

the schoolhouse on alternate Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings, alternating with the Congregational congregation until their church was built in 1890. In 1891, the Methodists let the contract for a church building to G.G. Broten for $1,450, located at the corner of Fell and Carter streets (where the residence of Mrs. Irene Anderson now stands). The church was dedicated on January 10, 1892. Services conducted by the Rev. Cole assisted by Rev. Shidler, Rev. Green was also present.



Norwegian Lutheran

In the late 1870's a Norwegian Lutheran group held services one Sunday morning in the month and every alternate Thursday evening at 7:30 in the Arneson's Wold's and Krogness' residences. Rev. Krogness was the pastor and also preached in Rock Valley and Rock Rapids. In 1891 he left Larchwood after having served as pastor for 14 years. (From the files of the Larchwood Leader, 1889 and 1891. These services were then discontinued.


The German Evangelical Church

In the fall of 1904 work was started on the organization and building of The German Evangelical Church (Tochter Der Evangeliche Landes Kircher) in

German Evangelical Church

Larchwood under the leadership of the Rev. Carl Rest and on July 2, 1905 the new church building was dedicated. Rev. Rest was assisted by Rev. Werning, president of the Iowa District, and by Rev. Wehe, pastor of the church at Hartley. Also by all of the local ministers. Services in the church were conducted in the German language. At 11 o'clock union services were held in the park with Rev. Schroeder, pastor of the Congregational Church speaking. In the afternoon, union services were continued in the Congregational Church, speeches in German and English alternating. The spirit of the afternoon meeting was one of civic purity and laying aside of irrational denominational differences. In the following years, Confirmation classes were held in the German language and Sunday services were conducted in German. Men active in the organization of this church were: William F. Oehmke, Oscar Schumann, Pete Groth, William Warner and Gottfried Zangger.



Federated Church of Larchwood

In the fall of 1912 the trustees of the Congregational and Methodist Churches met to discuss the subject of Federating the two churches. People closely connected with the work of the Congregational Church at that time were: Frank Ashton, Lew Grotewold, W.B. Rogers, N.E. Getman, J.R. Williams, Dr. Holtsclaw, John Haggardt, F.C. Trowbridge, and J.H. Peacock.

Those from the Methodist Church were: W.V. Amidon, Adam Hohman, William Blaine, Andrew Johnson, J.J. Pruitt and Oscar Rockhill. The Federation was completed and the Federated Church of Larchwood continued for 12 years. Services were held for alternate periods of time between the two church buildings.



Community Church

In the fall of 1923, a meeting of citizens was held in the interest of a Community Church. The German Evangelical Church had expressed a desire to join in such a movement. Every one concerned felt the town was too small to support three churches. Trustees of the Congregational Church reported they would grant the use of their church building to the organization. Articles of Incorporation for the Community Church were drawn up and Articles of Agreement were adopted between this Community Church of Larchwood and the Methodist, Congregational and Evangelical churches.

This organization continued for 30 years in the utmost harmony. The Methodists sold their building and it was torn down. The bell, however, was saved and installed in the bell tower of the Congregational Church as their bell had been badly damaged and cracked at the time the church burned in 1909. The German Evangelicals said the organization could do whatever they wished with their building. It was sometimes used for youth activities, but stood unused for several years until acquired by the Missouri Synod Lutherans. In 1947 a new modern parsonage was built net to the Congregational Church. Pastors were secured from either the Congregational or Methodist Conferences but it became increasingly hard for them to furnish one and they often were able to secure one from the Baptist Seminary at Sioux Falls. From time to time the congregation felt the need of fellowship with other churches. They felt they needed to broaden their interest in church organization.


United Church of Christ

In April of 1954 the members decided, after due consideration, to affiliate with the Congregational denomination. Formal action took place in October of that year under the pastorate of Rev. and Mrs. Gilbert Cook.

At the annual meeting in January 1966 the membership decided to build a new house of worship. Work on the new structure began at once. The cornerstone was laid in February 1967. The church was dedicated April 30, 1967. At this time the Congregational denomination had merged with the E & R (Evangelical and Reformed) and the church is now known as the United Church of Christ Congregational.


Lutheran Church

In the fall of 1938, a group interested in organizing a Lutheran Church in Larchwood, acquired the use of the German Evangelical Church building, which had been unused for several years, and started holding services. Rev. Meyer, who was serving the church at Lester, came every Sunday and conducted services. In 1947 the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, was officially organized and has continued to grow. The church building was remodeled and modernized. Pastors serving the Lester Church supplied the pulpit until the Lester Church closed. Then the pastor of the Rock Rapids Church, Rev. Lemke, assumed the duties as pastor of the Larchwood Church in addition to his pastorate at Rock Rapids, and continues to serve at this time (1972). Some of the local men who were instrumental in the organization of this church were: Albert Kruger, Hans Klutman, Grover Hartman, Hans Nothdurft.


Grandview Covenant Church Historical Heritage

About 1872, Rev. John F. Wretlof came to the Swedish settlers along the Big Sioux River, at Jackson

Grandview Covenant Church, Granite, Iowa.
Ladies Aid meeting at the C.T. Swanson farm home.   In the picture is Mrs. Swanson's new King automobile

"dugout" about one and one-half miles southwest of Granite, Iowa. At first he conducted services in the homes of John Long, Isaak Swanson and Peter Newberg. Later services were held in a schoolhouse near Charles Long's home and in several homes, as the community grew. On August 3, 1912, the Grand View Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Church of Granite, Iowa, was organized in the home of C.T. Swanson under the supervision of Rev. Wretlof.




Grandview Covenant Church west of Larchwood



The first officers were Rev. Wretlof, chairman; L.C. Meberg, acting secretary; August Swanson, C.T. Swanson and Swan Swanson, Trustees. Other charter members were Mr. And Mrs. Charles Long, Mrs. Cecelia Martin and Lewi, Willie and Nels Martin, Mrs. C.T. Swanson and Mable Swanson, Mrs. August Swanson, Mr. And Mrs. Issac Swanson and Edward and Anton Swanson. During 1913-1914 the church building was erected and dedicated on Sunday, May 31, 1914.

The Rev. Wretlof, after 46 years of conscientious and faithful service to the spiritual needs of the Grandview community, was called to his heavenly reward in December, 1919.

The Ladies Aid Society was organized on March 18, 1913, at the home of Mrs. C.T. Swanson. A few members tell of attending meetings in horse drawn buggies. The Society has been very active in assisting the church financially and contributing to Home and Foreign Missions, and in giving generously to our building fund and other worthwhile causes. There are presently 20 members who hold regular monthly meetings. Money is raised by our meeting donations, banquets and socials.

The Sunday School was organized in 1914. Over the years many faithful superintendents, teachers and students have been active in making it an outstanding branch of our church.

The Young People's Society was organized 50 years ago under the guidance of Pastor Robert Larson. Mr. Emil Swanson was the first chairman.

A Martha Missionary Circle was organized in 1955 in the home of Mrs. Ethel Palmberg who was elected its first president. Its activities include projects for mission fields.

A new constitution was adopted in January, 1958, establishing the church name as the Grandview Covenant Church of Larchwood, Iowa.

Through the years many faithful men have dedicated themselves to guiding the spiritual needs of "Our Little White Church on the Hill". At present David Ehman, a student of the Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, has taken over the pastorate.

We presently have a Sunday attendance of 65. May these many years of Christian heritage inspire and challenge present and future members and friends to a more faithful devotion to Jesus Christ.