Early Scandinavian Churches in Winnebago County

West Prairie Lutheran Church

Early settlers in the West Prairie community began having their own services as part of the Winnebago congregation Lutheran church. By 1873 they had organized their own church, and chose the name "West Prairie Congregation." First members included the families of Ole Ambroson, Christien Rasmuson, Peder Foresund, Kittel Flatrud, Ole Johnson, Ole Folta, Ole Laatvedt, Severt Aasheim, Sigri Halvorson, Nels Isaakson, Ingeborg Abrahamson, Torvald Olson, Gustav Olson and Jens Paulson.

First Baptist Church of Forest City

First Baptist Church of Forest City actually had its beginnings in Rock Creek, Mitchell County, Iowa. Led by Martin Dahlquist, a group of Swedish Baptists organized a church there in 1869. Mr. and Mrs. Jeppa Person from Vranarp, Mr. and Mrs. Lars Olson from Ingelstop, Mr. and Mrs. Per Olson, Mr. Olander Kopinge and Mr. and Mrs. Per Anderson from Hammenhog were the first members. This group moved with their families by covered wagons to Winnebago County, and settled in an area east and north of Forest City. In 1871 another group of Swedes, from Bolshog, joined the congregation. These were Martin Tuveson and his daughter Johanna, and his two sons Tuve and Nels Martinson; Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Kole Kovsky, John Harstedt, Tailor Anderson's father, Anders Olson, and daughter Hanna, later Mrs. Tuve Martinson, Mr. and Mrs. Lars Monson, their daughters Mary and Anne, and their son John Monson, Mr. and Mrs. Nels Anderson, their children, Peter and Annie, Mrs. Anna Iverson and her son Peter Anderson. The first services were held in member's homes and at Junction school.

Scandinavian Methodist Episcopal Church of Forest City

Organized in 1866, the Norwegian Methodist church, later named the Scandinavian Methodist Episcopal Church of Forest City, began with members N. O. Brones and wife, Mrs. Sarah Olson, Halvor Paulson, Knud Einarson (Seglum) and wife, Daniel H. Pederson, Sven Larson and wife, Nils Pederson, Peder Nelson (Sunne) and wife, Miss Betsey Charlson, Ole S. Torgeson and wife, E. Erickson and Vivert Pederson. The first pastor was A. O. Ulland. The first church edifice in Winnebago County was erected by this congregation in 1874, and was still in use some eighty years later.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Forest City

On May 10, 1879 at the home of A. Anderson, there met a group of Norwegians interested in forming a congregation of Lutheran worshippers. Those present at this meeting included Mikkel Pederson, A. "Baker" Anderson, Andrew Olson (Kiel), G. O. Saxie, Lars O. Haaversten, Peder Pedersen, Lars H. Langeland, Hans Mattison, Lars A. Berge, C. Hansen Fahret, O. M. Lund, H. Paulsen, Knud Landru, H. K. Landru, Christian Foss and Nils Carlsen. Not long after, additional members were added to the congregation: Christian Larsen, Joger Finkelsen, Lars Mikkelsen, Tron Arneson Sogard, Elias Lund, Johannes Andersen, Anders O. Haavig, Osmund Hansen Cleveland. They agreed to call the church "The Norwegian Evangelical Luther Congregation in and around Forest City." The original name, was of course, in Norwegian. G. O. Saxei was chosen as "Forsanger", or song leader. Over the years difficulties in retaining pastors and a shrinking congregation forced the church to sometime exist in only a spiritual sense. However, in 1890 the congregation officially dissolved and the former members formed a new church under the United Lutheran church. They were David Larson, B. Baarson, Thron Severson, Sandel Olson, K. B. Haavig, C. L. Nelson, O. A. Haavig, Mrs. Martine Haugen, Anne Thorson, Arne Sogard, O. I. Trallerud, Andrew Shefloe and Anton Johnson. Alternate services were held in the Higginbotham schoolhouse and in Forest City in the old courthouse. Kjolv Haavig was the "Kirkesanger" in the first location, and C. L. Nelson performed that duty in town

-abstracted by Sheryl McClure for the Winnebago co. IAGenWeb, from the Centennial Edition of the Forest City Summit, July 28, 1955


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