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New Sweden Augustana Lutheran Church

Country Church Captures Spirit Of Easter

"The Fairfield Ledger"
Saturday, April 5, 1958

The spirit of Easter is reflected in the dignity and simple beauty of this country church. Jefferson county churches large and small will be filled with worshipers Sunday of services climaxing Holy Week. Shown is the New Sweden Lutheran church northwest of Lockridge. It was founded in 1848 and the present building was erected in 1860. Ledger Photo.


"The Fairfield Ledger"
February 22, 1889
Page 3, Column 5

FOUR CORNERS. ... In 1840 twelve families of Mormons settled here who, for religious purposes, often accompanied their leader, Wash Conyere, to Nauvoo, Ill. Three years later a pestilence raged ;emany (sic) died and were buried near the present site of the Swedish Lutheran Church. Rude tombstones marking the last resting place of their departed comrades were erected by the remaining brethren, who, in 1845-6, took up their journey across the then Great American Desert to Salt Lake City. One of the sandstones now supports a gate and pieces of others are found lying about.


"The Fairfield (Ia.) Daily Ledger"
Monday, September 10, 1923
Page 3, Columns 3, 4, 5 and 6

New Sweden Church Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary Sunday
Only One Other Swedish Church In the United States Has Had A Continuous History of That Length -- Three Services To Mark The Celebration.

(The following article is from the Augustana Synoden Historia, a Swedish publication, and is translated by Mrs. E. H. Sanden, is reprinted in connection with the Diamond Jubilee of the New Sweden church to be held next Sunday.)

Older Than the Synod Itself

This congregation is the oldest in the Augustana Synod. Indeed, it is older than te (sic) synod itself, cansequently its history is of interest to many. This is especially true of the stories that come down to us from early pioneer days.

The first Swedes arrived in 1845. After a journey of three and a half months (two of these on the ocean), a party consisting of Peter Cassel and John Danielson and their families, from Kisa, Ostergotland, Sweden, arrived in Burlington in August, 1845. Their company also contained J. Monson, from Kisa; A. P. Anderson from Odensvi Kalmarlen, with their famlies; also Er. P. Anderson, Sara Anderson, Erick Dahlberg, and two others. The mene (sic) proceeded on foot northwest of the present location of Lockridge. As soon as possible they brought their families out from Burlington. Cassel and his relatives lived for some time in a shanty left by so-called "squatters". This cabin was two miles west of Four Corners.

The following winter and spring they built a log house. They began to till the ground, using hoes and spades. Horses, oxen and plows were not then availble. Soon others arrived, among them C. J. Lofgren, one of the charter members of the church. Lofgren walked from near Des Moines, carrying his belongings in a sack across his shoulders. Later he converted the sack into a pair of pants.

Cholera Caused Many Deaths

During the years 1852-54 many of the Swedes died of the cholera while on their way to America, and even the Cassel settlement was invaded by the pestilence and several of its members died.

During the first ten or fifteen years and especially the years between 1857 and 1860, money was very scarce in the colony. A farmer received 5c a pound for his butter and 3c for a dozen eggs while he must pay 25c a yard for calico and 60c a yard for muslin. In order to obtainmoney (sic) for the very necessities of life a farmer must go to Burlington, seek some kind of employment; his earnings he converted into articles of food or clothing. With these in a pack on his back he then walker (sic) the forty miles home. When the time finally arrived that the farmer had grain of his own to grind, and oxen with which to convey it to the mill, there were no mills nearer than Burlington, and in Lee and Van Buren counties. It was often connected with great danger to make a trip to the mill. A Mr. Smithberg, father of Gust Smithberg, was drowned when he attempted to cross Brush creek in a wagon pulled by oxen. He had purchased the land now owned by his son, and sent for his family. They arrived about two months before his sad death.

As time passed more emigrants arrived, until at one time there must have been about 300 families. Some began to move to Henry county and there founded the present Swedesburg congregation.

Even Had a Furniture Factory

Many different kinds of occupatione were represented among the first settlers. Two men named Fristed and Swenson made house furniture in Four Corners; John Almgren built houses and made coffins; Peter Olson made lime; John Nelson was a shoe maker; Andrew and John Cassel made shoes in Fairfield; John Lindberg and Christian Turner started a clothing store in Fairfield. Erick Corey became a miller in Jefferson and Henry counties. Mr. Corey is now ninety-two years of age and is making his home with his daughter in Fairfield. In spite of his age he is in good health and is interested in the work of the old New Sweden church, of which he is still a member.

During pioneer days, family life was very simple and home "slojd" was still looked upon with respect. The women spun and wove, and the family wore clothes made of cloth woven at home. Tailors and shoe makers went from house to house in the settlement finding employment wherever their help was needed, just as they did in Sweden in the good old days. S. Freeberg was one of these tailors.

Most of the pioneers were faithful Lutherans and longed for a church and church service. Once in a while some English speaking pastor arrived and would conduct services, but they understood very little English, and, furthermore, longed for Lutheran services. Therefore, they rejoiced when N. F. Hakanson (sic - M. F. Hokanson), a young shoemaker from Stockholm, arrived in 1847, and began to preach the word of God among them.

The Church Is Organized

In 1848, around New Year's time, a meeting was held probably at the home of J. Danielson, for the purpose of organizing for church work. The above mentioned Hakanson (sic) was called to serve them as pastor. His first confirmation class was composed of Andrew Cassel, Victor Danielson, Matilda Cassel and Louisa Bruce. A constitution, formulated by Hakanson (sic), was adopted in 1853.

In the spring of 1851, the settlement received a much appreciated visit from Prof. L. P. Esbjorn. The congregation now purchased a building lot for $6.00 and the same year put up a log church 32x24 feet in size. The congregation received $300 help for building expenses from a fund for this purpose. Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, had given liberally to this fund.

In December, 1854, two acres of land was purchased west of the church, and here was built the first parsonage, a log house sixteen feet square.

Rev. Hakanson moved to Munterville, Iowa, then called Bergholm, in 1856, and here, perhaps, the real pioneer days of New Sweden might be considered past.

Charter Members

According to the oldest church books the following persons may be considered charter members of the New Sweden Lutheran church:

P. Cassel, J. Danielson and J. Monson with their families.
E. P. Anderson, Sara Anderson.
John Peter Anderson and wife.
M. F. Hakanson.
Gustaf Anderson and wife.
Peter Magnus Anderson and wife.
Carl Carlson and wife.
Peter Carlson and wife.
Olof Peterson and wife.
Gustaf O. Skillerstrom and wife.
Peter Swan and wife.
Anders Peter Anderson.
Claus Evenson and wife.
J. Ohrn.
C. J. Lofgren and wife.
Magnus Carlson and wife.
Carl Peter Dalgren and wife.
Peter Samuelson and wife.
Samuel Peter Johnson and wife.
Steffan Steffanson and wife.
Sven Fred. Nilson and wife.
Er. Magnus Erickson and wife.
Erik Smith and wife.
Brita Persdotter.
Peter Olofson.
Forsberg, a widower.
Carl John Gustafson and wife.
Daniel Hult and wife.
Sven Larson.
John Jacobson and wife.
Carl Viberg and wife.
Carl Gust. Johanson.
Carl Wright and wife.
Anders Peter Lof and wife.
Johan Jonson andn (sic) wife.
Anders Magnus Swenson and wife.
Sven Peter Svenson and wife.
Anna Sofia Pehrsdotter.
Gustaf Mathilda Samuelsdotter.
Stina Maja Monson.
----- Saf, a widow.
Maja Lisa Olsdotter.
Sven Anderson and wife.
John Peter Anderson and wife.
Olof Johanson and wife.
Peter Monson and wife.
Anders Monson and wife.
Anders Johanson.
Jonas Justafson.
Anders Peter Olofson and wife.
Jonas Peter Hakanson and wife.
Mrs. Wistrand.
Sven Anderson Lindgren and wife.
Johan Svenson and wife.
Johan Frederick Almgren.

None of these charter members are now living, but the community where they prayed and labored bears testimony of their industry and victories.

Their Pastor Moves Away

After Rev. Hakanson moved to Bergholm in November, 1856, the congregation had no pastor until October 1858. During this time the congregation was served for a time by a teacher named Sandbloom. Dr. Hasselquist also visited New Sweden and Burlington as often as it was possible for him to do so. Hakan Olson and John Johnson, who were studying under Dr. Hasselquist, also preached at these places a number of times.

In April, 1858, a delegate, Sven Nilson, from New Sweden, attended the Mississippi conference in Galesburg. He pleaded that a pastor be sent to New Sweden. The salary promised was $200, free house and fuel. An attempt was made to get a pastor from Sweden, but it ended in failure.

In an old church book we read: "Hankan Olson and family arrived October 30, 1858." From this time on the church records are well kept and it is comparatively easy to follow its history. On November 15, 1858, a new constitution was adopted. The year 1859 is noteworthy, for this year a great many arrived at New Sweden from the old country.

The New Church

In January, 1860, the congregation decided "To take away the old, and in its place built a new church 50x30 feet and 16 feet high, with a gallery and steeple" and Henri Jagle, "known as an efficient and capable man," was chosen as architect. The church was built the same year. While the work was progressing the question arose as to how to get a bell. J. P. Anderson loaned the congregation $150 and at his own expense went to St. Louis, where he ordered a bell. When the steeple was ready they had a sweet-toned Stuckstedt bell to hang in it. In fair weather it can be heard six or seven miles away. Before the church was campleted (sic) a new suggestion was made. J. Lovendahl desired to build a little pipe orgen (sic) up on the gallery. The before mentioned J. P. Anderson fulfilled his wish and provided him with the necessary material. When the organ was finished it had cost the congregation $200.

The 10th of August, 1861, was the date set for the dedication of the new church. Dr. Hasselquist was present and preached on John 5:2-3. The congregation rejoiced to have been able to build a new roomy church and have it almost paid for. When Hakan Ilson (sic) arrived at New Sweden the congregation had about one hundred members, but in 1868 it had reached two hundred communicants. People were still arriving from Sweden, but many were leaving New Sweden to build homes in Swedesburg and in 1869 Rev. H. Olson also moved from New Sweden to Swedesburg.

In 1867 the congregation built a new and better parsonage containing six rooms.

Become a Part of Augustana Synod

At a business meeting held May, 1860, the congregation expressed a wish to leave the North Illinois Synod and join the Augustana Synod, which was organized the same year.

On May 19, 1862, a committee was appointed to see to it that children of church members be instructed in both the English and Swedish language. Church library was opened in 1864.

Rev. J. E. Rehnstrom was called to succeed Rev. Olson and he arrived in November 1869. During his time the church progressed quietly and steadily. Fourteen acres of land was bought by the congregation for $400. Rev. Rehnstrom moved to Red Oak in 1876.

Some time during the winter of 1876 Rev. J. S. Benzen arrived at New Sweden. During his stay the Upland congregation was organized. It was composed almost entirely of members living south of the New Sweden church. He was succeeded in May 1883, by Rev. C. J. Maxwell (sic - Maxell).

In 1888 the congregation celebrated its fortieth anniversary. Distinguished guests at its celebration were Dr. M. C. Ranseen, Dr. L. G. Abrahamson and Rev. Hakan Olson.

Rev. A. G. Ander became Rev. Maxell's successor in 1889. During his stay the parsonage was entirely rebuilt at a cost o (sic) $1,024.03. Manfy (sic) of the members of the New Sweden congregation who lived in and around Salina withdrew and organized in 1892, and a efw (sic - few) months later moved away.

After him Dr., C. J. Bengston was called. He accepted and arrived on September 10, 1893. The church was renovated in 1898 and re-dedicated the same year, when the congregation celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. On this occasion Dr. Bengston read a very interestinkn (sic) and valuable historical sketch, prepared by him. Much o fthe (sic) information given here is from his paper.

Rev. J. M. Persenius was pastor from 1902 to 1907. The pipe organ was rebuilt in 1907. It was during his time that the third new congregation was organized from the old New Sweden church, namely, the Swedish Lutheran, church at Fairfield. This congregation disbanded in 1922 and its propert yhas (sic) been sold.

Rev. E. S. Ternberg came to New Sweden in 1908 and moved to Minnesota in May, 1910.

Rev. E. H. Sanden, arrived at New Sweden in November, 1910(.) In 1912 the church was somewhat improved, new lights installed and an altar painting, "Christ in Gethsemane," by Olaf Grafstorm purchased. The church lot and cemetery have been enclosed by a substantial and neat efnce (sic). The church has recently been painted on the outside and cleaned and newly papered within.

Two active societies in the church are the Ladies Aid and the Unity club.

In 1912 the Lockridge Trinity Lutheran church was organized. This makes the fouhth (sic) congregation which has been organized in the territory which once had but one church belonging to the Augustana Synod. These can be called more or less directly her daughters.

Since 1860, at least, Sunday School work has been carried on in New Sweden. During the years 1881 and 1882 the number enrolled in the Sunday school was up to 100. Among its superintendents we notice G. Anderson, S. P. Peterson, John Quick, A. P. Edmund.

Christianity school was held regularly between the years 1866-68 and 1876-83. Some of the teachers were M. Munter, L. C. Nelson, J. L. Benzen. Munter moved to Bergholm, now called Munterville, and lies buried in the little cemetery by that church.


1879-1913, average o 1f90 ped cent (sic)
1880, it sometimes reached 300.
1878, it was as high as 423.

That it has fallen in number can easily be explained when we think of the number that has moved to other states and that the congregation has been forced to give of its members to not less than four daughter congregations.

More About the Pioneers

Erick Dahlberg, who had been in America a couple of eyars (sic) previous to the arrival of the Cassel party and who had lived near the present site of Four Corners, met the Cassel part yat (sic) New York, and persuaded them to settle at New Sweden. Otherwise the party had intended to go to a place near Pine River, Wis.

Another man in the company was Akerman. He had been in America before and served three years in the United States army. He served the new arrivals as interpreter. Later he went to Fort Des Moines and for the second time became a United States soldier. He died during the Mexican war.

Peter Cassel, leader of the little band of Swedes, was probably about fifty years of age when he left the old country. He had been a miller. He was a handy man and at that early date had made a kind of threshinn (sic) machine run by hand power. He could read and write and was known to be a sober, religious man. How he came to think of coming to America is told in the following words:

A Captain P. von Schneidan had come to America in 1842 and for some time lived in a settlement at Pine Lake, Wis. This captain wrote home to his father, Major Schneidan, who lived in Kisa, and the contents of his letters became known to Cassel and others. Soon their thoughts and conversation dwelt on America and some of the braver ones decided to emigrate.

In New York they met Erick Dahlberg and were told there was better land in Iowa than in Wisconsin. Leaving New York they came to Philadelphia, then to Pittsburgh, then down the Ohio river and up the Mississippi to Burlington.

From an article in "Hemlandet," published in 1868, we learn of New Sweden as follows:

"The settlement lies in a region where there is much timber, about forty or fifty miles west of Burlington. Through its southern part flows a stream which at times becomes swollen and very turbulent. In some places the land is quite hilly and when driving through the timber it does not at all seem inviting or pleasant to the eye. But when you reach the Swedish settlement all is so different. Here all is kept in good order, the homes lie rather close together and are surrounded by cultivated and well kept fields. The soil is fertile and they have not experienced any crop failure. Land has risen in value. (The Burlington and Missouri railroad has been finished as far as Rome.) The settlement now has a railroad. (They expect to get a station two miles from the Swedish church.) In 1858 there were 500 people in the settlement, consisting of 100 families."


"The Fairfield Ledger"
Tuesday, December 19, 1939
Page 8, Column 3

New Sweden Church Cemetery Being Improved And Leveled

FOUR CORNERS. Dec. 19 -- Members of the New Sweden Lutheran Church are working on their cemetery nearby the church. The old hedge fence around it has been pulled, and the ground is being leveled off so it may be mowed by a power mower.



Sec. 21, Lockridge Twp., Jefferson County, Iowa
(West of Four Corners)

Plaque on boulder:
CENTENNIAL 1848 - 1948
Marker erected by the Brotherhood
of the Iowa Conference
June 11, 1948

Sign on church building:
"ERECTED 1860."

Plaque on church:
New Sweden, Jefferson County, Iowa
Centennial 1848 - 1948.

This property marking the beginnings of Augustana
Synod church life is maintained as an historic
shrine by the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of North
America and by the First Augustana Evangelical
Lutheran Congregation of Lockridge Township.

The New Sweden Congregation began its history in 1848
when a small group of baptized and confirmed members
of the Lutheran Church banded themselves together and,
as part of the universal priesthood of believers,
chose one of their own number as their spiritual leader.
The following have served as pastors of the New Sweden

M. F. Hokanson 1848 - 1856
H. Olson 1858 - 1868
J. E. Rehnstrom 1869 - 1876
J. S. Benzon 1876 - 1883
C. J. Maxell 1883 - 1888
A. G. Ander 1889 - 1892
C. J. Bengston 1893 - 1900
J. M. Persenius 1902 - 1907
E. S. Ternberg 1908 - 1910
E. H. Sanden 1910 - 1922
G. L. Dagner 1925 - 1926
Anton Linder 1927 - 1929
H. W. Lundberg 1930 - 1935
R. A. Kastman 1937 - 1939
R. W. Engstrom 1946 -

To the pioneers in the faith who began and sustained
this work of God, this marker is respectfully dedicat-
ed in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, at special
Centennial Dedication ceremonies Friday June 11, 1948,
held as a part of the 89th Anniversary Convention of
the Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod.

"Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers." Ezra 7:27

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