IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.
updated 10/03/12

East Clermont Lutheran Church
Grand Meadow township

Note: It wasn't until 1916, when the West Clermont Lutheran church was dedicated, that the Norwegian Evangelicals became known as the East Clermont Lutheran church. Prior to that time it was refered to as Clermont Lutheran.

Pioneer members of East Clermont Church

We have a partial list of the members of the East Clermont Lutheran church in 1864. Many of these were undoubtedly our charter members. The names indicated with an asterick * are those whose descendants are still owners of the old homestead. (Note: below this list is an explanation of the names in quotes)

District No. 1 - all settlers living north of the Clermont-Elkader road, but from other records we can mention:
Halvor Nelson
Thor Thorson *
Arne Olson "Aanes" *
Tallak Gunderson
Eliof Gunderson "Lerredstvit"
Hans Kittelson "Gallok" *
Sebjorn Tostenson
Ole Knudson "Bjorsrud"
Anders Klovbakken
Steiner Nelson *
Tholler Helgerson
Tron Anderson *
Toller Paulson
John Anderson
Engebret Olson
Marthin Peterson
Hans Torkelson
Nels Everson *

District No. 2:
Stein Kittelson
Anders Haga
Iver Moger
Paul Kittelson "Gallok"
Jacob Abratad
Jens Anderson "Holt"
Brede Hamson
Iver Olson
Karen Husholt
Sven Larson "Houg"
Kittel H. Groth
Johanes H. Groth
Halsten H. Groth
Sven H. Groth *
Gulbrand Guthromson "Medalen"
Torger O. Holt *
Embret Anderson "Skarshaug"
Joe Larson
O.H. Gvinden
Peder Aslakson "Tingelstad"
Erik Langdalen
Gudbrands Tomasletten
District No. 3:
Aslag Olson
Knud Larson
Johanes Halverson
Gudbrand Anderson
Lars Hanson "Ostlie"
Arnulf Knudson
Olaf Tollefson
Peder Strande
Jacob P. Brorby
Jens Paulson "Brorby" *
Johan Opperud
Embret G. Brorby
Tov Vettelson *
Trond H. Lynn
Nils Rorshus
Levore Nelson
Halvor Liverud
Syver Opperud
Kristian Skjerven
Torkel Torkelson "Hoff"
Tharald Larson

District No. 4:
John Haga
Lars Opperud
Peder Erickson
Torkel Reierson
John Halverson "Brevik"
Halvor Knudson
Ole E. Lien
Lars Halverson
Sven Olson
Bergit Oset
Lars Oset
Torkel H. Groth *
Ole Helgeson
Jacob Karlson
Helga Knudson
Torkel Thomason "Houg"
Halvor Gisleson *
Torstein Loftsgaarden
Halvor Loftsgaarden
Embret Bilden *
Torgrim Bilden *
Peder Gulbrandson
Kittel Pederson "Kaasa" *
Anders Knudson "Kirkeberg" *
Syver H. Groth
Engebret Halvorson "Mork"

~Source: Clermont Enterprise, Thursday, May 10, 1951
~Transcribed by S. Ferrall for Clayton co. IAGenWeb
~Note: Clermont-Elkader road likely refers to present day county road B-60, although the route may have changed over the years.

The names in “quotes” are Norwegian farm names. During the 19th century farmers and workers in Norway still did not use family names. They had first names given at baptism and then a patronymic name (like Nelson, i.e. son of Nels, girls got Nelsdotter as second name, i.e. daughter of Nels). The farm name could be added, but it was changed if the person moved to another farm. This old custom was changing at the end of the 19th century when family names got common, especially for people leaving the countryside for the town or for America. Lots of people then made their patronymic name the new family name while others took the current farm name as their family name. It can be really confusing when the same person is sometimes mentioned with patronymic name and with farm name in another source. The old naming tradition was once common in all of Scandinavia, and is still practiced in Iceland.

~contributed by Jens Christian Eldal, Senior Researcher, NIKU – Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning (Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research), Oslo, Norway


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Early History of the East Clermont Community & East Clermont Lutheran Church

Early Pioneers Had Difficulties Unknown Now
by Mrs. Henry Kittleson, historian

In those early days some men and ladies too, developed a certain skill and were able to help the neighbors in that line. Thus it is told of Jacob Brorby that he had acquired an understanding of sickness and was able to help in many minor cases of illness. As a veterinary he was especially successful. Halsten S. Groth was an able successor as a veterinarian.

Then there was Nels Strai, who was the neighborhood dentist. His instruments were rather crude and clumsy and no antiseptics were used, but the tooth came out.

Trond Berger, the photographer in Elgin, was also a music teacher for the young ladies who were musically inclined. He liked to play and many a music hour wa spent while the teacher played and the pupil was the audience. Mrs. Julia Berger, his wife, succeeded him as a photographer in Elgin and worked there many years.

Johanes Groth had learned the art if book binding, and examples of his work are still in existence. He made into books many of the church papers and Sunday School papers of the time. His wife, Guri, helped many a neighbor prepare their loved ones for burial.

Mrs. Swen Groth (Bergit) and Mrs. Reinhardt Ugland (Ingeborg) were often called midwives. Doctors were few and far away and only on difficult cases were they called.

Farmers Worked at Trades in Own Homes

It has been told that when the East Clermont church settlers first located here in the early 1850's, Indians camped in tents along the Turkey River. Bows and arrows were their weapons and although they did not harm any of the settlers, they would prowl around at night and often appear suddenly when the men folks were away.

Sophia Groth remembers it was told, how her aunt, Mrs. Sven Houg, was visited by some Indians who walked right in and by signs made known they wanted food. They took all they could find so when the men came home tired and hungry, Mrs. Houg had nothing with which to prepare a meal.

Sven Houg had a lathe and made many useful articles. He made spinning wheels, the grooved rolling pins, axe handles and wooden spoons were made in various sizes from the teaspoon to the long handled mixing spoons. The smaller spoons were used at the table. The story has it that when his son (A.S.) was to be married, Mr. Houg had nearly enough axe handles to trade in on a cook stove as a wedding present. There are still many samples of Sven's woodcraft in the homes of friends and relatives, as he worked at his hobby until he was quite an old man and his eyesight began to fail. The wood used had to be dried and seasoned just right, so it would not crack or split after it was made up.

That the spinning wheels were very important (many were brought from Norway) we can readily understand when we remember our mothers telling that all clothing and bed covers were made at home - from the carding of the wool to the spinning and weaving of the material and making the garments, even overcoats.

Some of the blankets were made with cotton warp and would then be called sheets. Another bed covering used by the Norwegian immigrants was made of tanned sheep skins and sewed together to make them bed-size.

Mrs. Sven Houg's family was well represented in this community when the East Clermont was but a frontier church. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Halsten A. Groth, and eight brothers, Kittel, Assor, Johannes, Sven, Torkel, Syver, Halsten and Ole, all settled here when they came from Norway. The father, Halsten, and son Ole, are buried on Sven Blockhus' farm, where a small cemetery had been started.

Another family who had a large representation here about 90 years ago, was the Lien family. There were the five brothers, Lars, Ole, Evan, Sven and Kristen, and three sisters, Ambjor, Mari and Margit. Of these only Lars and Ole settled here permanently.

We hear of many examples of long distance walking. Johannes Groth often walked to Decorah for his mail, that being the closest postoffice in the earlier days of 1850. Sometimes he would stay overnight with friends.

Ole E. Lien walked to Decorah many a time to help friends and neighbors get a military deed at the land office there. It would usually be a piece of land of 40 acres for the sum of $50.00 or $125.00 an acre.

Then we are told that Halvor Olson "Medallen" walked to Elkader to pay the taxes and to transact other business.

We often hear telling that our parents or grandparents shared their small homes with friends or relatives from the old country, until they had time to find a home of their own.

The low bed or "underseng" was a space-saver in that it was pushed under the parent's bed during the day. It was also a safe place for the smaller children who were often restless and would roll out of bed. It would be only a few inches to the floor. Then there would not be enough chairs to go around at meal time as some of the children woud stand while eating. They rather enjoyed that.

Sven Blockhus remembers buying a box of cigars which was made by Anders Kulilen, who raised the tobacco and made the cigars at his farm home. His brother, Marcus Kulien, was a shoe-maker and he worked at his trade many years while living on his farm.

An article seldom seen in our homes now, except as an antique, was the once very important, but rather obnoxious spittoon. In the records of the East Clermont church in 1886, we see that the church fathers considered it advisable to buy 12 spittoons for the church, because of the much tobacco spitting on the church floor. They were discarded about 50 years ago.

~Source: Elgin Echo, March 1951
~Transcribed by S. Ferrall for Clayton co. IAGenWeb
~Note: The article mentioned that the information is from a booklet prepared by the church historical committee for the centennial celebration of the church in July 1951

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Brief History of East Clermont Congregation

The East Clermont Lutheran Congregation had its beginning very soon after the first Norwegian settlers came to what is now areas in northwestern Clayton County and northeastern Fayette County, Iowa.

Divine services were first held in the home of Kittel Groth July 11, and 12, 1851. At this time the Clermont parish was organized temporarily, but this organization became permanent. That parish extended from Gunder on the east, to the Clermont Valley on the west and south to the Turkey River. There were forty or fifty families on the membership list.

The original parish has been divided several times down through the years, but the Congregation humbly prides itself in that Highland Lutheran, West Clermont Lutheran and Elgin Lutheran are outgrowths of East Clermont. To God belongs the glory.

The East Clermont church, a stately structure, with beautiful surroundings, now 90 years old, is truly a rural church. It has been well cared for during the years and has undergone many improvements to meet the demands of the activities centered around the church. In 1915 the entire church basement was excavated in order to provide for a suitable assembly room. In 1962 a new addition, including an educational unit, new entry and a hallway, was added. With this building and the help of God the members of the Congregation hope to have adequate room to carry on the activities which help make good Christian citizens for our country and for His Kingdom.

We trust that this Cookbook and His Divine Word will satisfy and provide you with adequate daily nourishment. We hope that you wil use both this book and His Book to feed your body and soul.

May we say "thank-you" to the people who patiently put this book together and to the many friends, members and former members who contributed their best recipes. We are also grateful to Alvin Erickson for the artwork. It is the desire and wish of the American Lutheran Church Women of East Clermont that you find helpful recipes and enjoyment in this Cookbook.

God's richest blessings,
Pastor Roger W. Peterson

Upper left photo: Pastor Roger W. Peterson, Kari, Mrs. Peterson, Kent & Miri
Bottom photo: East Clermont Lutheran church, 1966


Members of the East Clermont ALCW, 1966

Mrs. Almer Amundson
Mrs. Clarence Amundson
Mrs. Martin Amundson
Mrs. Norman Amundson
Mrs. Roger Amundson
Mrs. Wayne Amundson
Genevieve Anderson
Mrs. Henry Anderson
Mrs. William Bacon
Mrs. Joe Baker
Mrs. Justin Baker
Mrs. Lonnie Baker
Mrs. Orville Berg
Mrs. Helga bilden
Mrs. Millard Bilden
Mrs. Tilpher Bilden
Mrs. Kenneth Blockhus
Mrs. Hubert Cummings
Mrs. Alvin Erickson
Mrs. Ben Erickson
Mrs. George Frieden
Mrs. Gust Gilbertson
Mrs. Millard Gisleson
Mrs. Emma Gunderson
Mrs. Alvin Halverson
Mrs. Gerhard Halverson

Mrs. Julia Halverson
Mrs. Bernard Hanson
Mrs. Randine Hanson
Mrs. Arthur Helgerson
Mrs. Clara H. Helgerson
Mrs. Clara M. Helgerson
Mrs. Harry Helgerson
Mrs. Julia Helgerson
Mrs. Ernest Holt
Mrs. Ed Johnson
Mrs. Karl Klemp, Jr.
Mrs. Julia Landsgard
Mrs. Agnes Larson
Mrs. Elmer Larson
Mrs. LaVerne Larson
Mrs. Oliver Larson
Mrs. Don Lamborn
Mrs. George Lauer
Mrs. Oscar Lien
Mrs. Ewald Lyngaas
Mrs. Eldred Neuhring
Mrs. Richard Neumann
Mrs. Glen Odegard
Mrs. Aines Olson
Mrs. Clifford Olson
Mrs. Irene Olson

Mrs. Lila Olson
Mrs. Loren Olson
Mrs. Olivia Olson
Mrs. Quinton Olson
Mrs. Rose Olson
Clara Peterson
Mrs. Clarence Peterson
Myrtle Peterson
Pearl Peterson
Helen Reinhart
Mrs. Glen Reierson
Mrs. Ole Reierson
Mrs. Orvin Reierson
Mrs. Eugene Rose
Mrs. Amanda Ruoden
Mrs. Kenneth Ruoden
Mrs. Gerald Schneider
Mrs. Irene Speece
Mrs. James Taylor
Mrs. Sylvan Taylor
Mrs. Alphie Thorson
Mrs. Charles Thorson
Mrs. Eugene Thorson
Lizzie Thorson
Mrs. Andrew Wattrud

Former pastor's wives:
Mrs. A.O. Nesset
Mrs. S.B. Knudsen
Mrs. Peter Hmlie
Mrs. John D. Kronlokken
Mrs. E.W. Hilgemann

~Source: East Clermont Lutheran Church Cookbook, compiled by the American Lutheran Church Women of East Clermont, 1966
~Transcribed by S. Ferrall for Clayton co. IAGenWeb

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East Clermont Lutheran Church, 1984

East Clermont Lutheran Church, 3-1/2 miles east of Clermont on County B60, is the only church in Grand Meadow Township in Clayton County. The present church was built in 1876 with an addition in 1962. It was one of the four congregations comprising the first Norwegian Lutheran Parish west of the Mississippi River. Pastor C.L. Clausen from Wisconsin visited the area in 1851 to perform pastoral services and organize the congregations of Clermont, Washington Prairie in Winneshiek County, Paint Creek in Allamakee County, and Norway in Clayton County. Together they sent a letter of call to Norway, their homeland, and the first residential pastor, U.V. Koren and his wife arrived at Christmas time in 1853. Four neighboring congregations have emerged from this original Clermont congregation. Rev. Matt Bersagel is ministering to East Clermont Lutheran at this time in 1984.

~source: Postville Herald clipping, 1984
~contributed by Connie Ellis


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