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During the nine years of the Church's active existence in Ossian, many weddings, funerals, basket socials and recitals, along with regular church services took place in this modest little chapel. In February of 1896, just one day after the Ossian public school burned to the ground, the high school resumed classes in the Universalist Church.

What of the Universalists in Ossian today? The building, now a residence, still stands. All records of the congregation have disappeared. Only the tombstones in the Bloomfield Cemetery remain to remind us of the names of its members.


We record the history of this church from the account written in the 1950 centennial issue of the Bee with additions from our own research.

On Oct. 22, 1851, the Rev. Nils Brandt, who was on a missionary trip through what later became the Decorah Circuit, delivered his first sermon in Winneshiek county. It was held out doors on the John Axdal farm (presently known as the Lommen farm, one mile south of the present location of the Stavanger church.) The oak tree under which it was held still stands (1950). Two children, Lars Matthias Axdal and John Thomas Johnson Kaasa, were baptized that day.

Rev. Brandt made three such trips in the years 1851, 1852 and 1853, throughout this territory, during which time he baptized, confirmed, married couples and conducted services and funerals.

In 1852, a joint meeting of people from various groups within what was called little Iowa ie Painted Creek, Clermont and Norway, agreed to send a letter of call to the Rev. U. V. Koren in Norway.

Rev. Koren accepted the call and arrived in Winneshiek county in December of 1853. He made his home on Washington Prairie. His first sermon at Stavanger was preached, on the second day of Christmas, in a log house on the John Axdal farm where Rev. Brandt had conducted the first services in this community.

The first church building of the congregation was built in 1856 . It was a small frame structure which stood just south of the present stone church. Most of the lumber was hauled from McGregor. Mrs. Brannon reports that her ancestor, Soren linderholt, though incapacitated by injuries from a bolt of lightning, signed a note for $100 so that this building could proceed.

Between 1858 and 1861 the Rev. Koren raised $916 for the Luther College building fund. The 49 members of the Stavanger Congregation who contributed were:

Rev. U. V. KorenOlath BakkenOle Halvorson
Thorstein J. KaasaNils StangelandAaga Gudmundsen Skartvedt
Lars BruKolbein TorresenH. Stangelan
Joser OlesenAnders GautesenBertel Osuldsen
Ola P. EgelandMikkel HelgesenJens & Lars Kloster
Johannes L. EideGunnar LarsenKnud Mikkelsen
Thore HendriksenOle HendriksenAmond Hendriksen
Herald KnudsenEndre AxdalSjur Haldorsen
Osmund FundingslandLars 0. KlosterPeter Kloster
Even KriestensenJorgen L. BruKnud Aasheim
Torsten KristensenKristen JensenLars Kvame
Ole G. MoenJuul HougeOle T. Lommen
And. KlosterO . A. KlosterHarald Kaasa
G. AaskeimO. FosaaenColbein Sabo
A. SkartvedtP. SatreA. O . Nerhus
And. AnfinsenSoren TinderholtAnders Storvick
 Knud Sabo

From 1853 till 1864 the business meetings of the Little Iowa Congregations were held jointly. The first individual meeting of the members of the Stavanger parish was conducted on March 15, 1864.

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this page was last updated on Thursday, 01 April 2021