Jefferson County Online
The Swedish Community
of Jefferson County, Iowa

New Sweden Chapel (Lutheran)

New Churches - Becoming A Mother Church

   As early as 1864 there was little land left for new immigrants so Rev. Olson began looking for a suitable place for a new settlement. The flat prairie land in Henry County was selected and in 1865 - 66 about 22 members of the New Sweden congregation and other Swedes from Illinois settled there. This became today's Swedesburg.

   A new six-room frame parsonage was built in New Sweden in 1866. Immigrants continued coming in increasing numbers and by 1868 the church had 200 members. The next spring Rev. Olson left to become the full-time pastor at Swedesburg. In 1871 a new constitution was adopted and fourteen acres of land adjoining the parsonage was purchased for $400. Soon membership reached a record 423, many more than the church would hold. Instead of building a new, larger church, new congregations were organized and new churches built in the parish: Upland church about six miles southeast of New Sweden in 1878, Salina five and a half miles northeast in 1892, and a church in Fairfield in 1903.

   Not only had members been lost to the new churches, but many young people and some older ones left for new settlements and new land in western Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and even the east coast and Canada. Immigration from Sweden began to decline in the 1890s and by 1910 it had ceased. Membership in the New Sweden church was now down to 118. English was generally spoken by all but the older people and few young people learned more than a few words of Swedish. Swedish services were still held at New Sweden, but residents in the Lockridge area applied to the English Branch of the Augustana Synod for admission and on May 10, 1912, the Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church of Lockridge was organized. Their church was built the next year and Pastor Emil Swenson conducted the first service in it on Christmas Day.

This page was created on 6-28-2001. This page may be copied and used for personal purposes but can not be republished nor used for commercial purposes without the author's written permission.

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