Longwood, WI Emmanuel Lutheran Church History




----Source: 1969 Emmanuel Lutheran Church History Book

Emmauel Lutheran Church of Longwood, Wisconsin



The material in this "Background" has been obtained largely from individuals who were present at the early beginnings of Lutheran activity around Longwood. It is as nearly accurate as it is possible to make it, and if there should appear to be an error, it is because of inability to get closer information.

The early beginnings of any congregation will very naturally center themselves about individuals who first formed the membership.

Just why the first families should have settled here will possibly never be definitely known, except that this country had been spoken of in Norway as the land of "milk and honey". Strangely enough, those who came often said that as soon as they could, they would return to Norway. Yet they did not, for they were sturdy folks, people who were to help in the founding of a great nation. Many were, perhaps, attracted by the logging activities. Others May have had in mind only the clearing of land that they might establish their homes. Anyway, they came, and they settled here. In the 1880's there were quite a few Norwegians here, although they were not all the people. The first Americans, the Indians, were here and many of them were very friendly and helpful to the whites.

The first Norwegian to set foot on this territory is unknown, but a little picture begins to shape itself about the year 1884. On June 15th of that year the first known church service was held for Norwegians at the home of Julius Sorenson, in a log house one mile east of longwood (now the James Peterson Farm, 1969, Section 26 NE 1/4, NE 1/4). Those who were known to be present at that meeting included the families of Julius Sorenson, Martin Sorenson, Nels Sorenson and Hans Jorstad.

The pastor at this first service was the Rev. Staale Berntzon, whose home was Colfax, and whose parish must have extended out toward the limits of his ability to travel around. Certainly he served a large field. He had been going to Greenwood for some years previous, and Julius Sorenson figured that this would afford an opportunity for the sacraments being received by those who wished and stood in need of them, so he asked Rev. Berntzon to come to the homes for services. Previous to this time, in 1882, this same family had taken their son, Carl W., to the Little Norway Congregation between BlackRiver Falls and Melrose for baptism. That was a five-day trip -- going and coming -- with transportation furnished by two mules and a lumber wagon. A daughter, Cecelia, had been taken to Eau Claire in 1883 for baptism.

At this first service on June 15, 1884 there were several children baptized, the following being recorded in the ministerial record of the congregation: Herman Jorstad, son of Mr. and Mrs. Hans Jorstad Olaf Christian, son of Mr. and Mrs. Nels Sorenson Harold, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ole Johnson and Olaf Martin, son of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Sorenson.

After this morning worship had been concluded, the Rev. Berntzon went to Greenwood for an afternoon service. Then he would come every four weeks, alternating forenoon and afternoon at Greenwood and Longwood. He continued his ministry here until in 1895, serving about eleven years. During most of that time the services were held around in the homes, choosing such homes as were largest. The log house of Julius Sorenson, which measured 28x3O feet, was often used. The meeting which organized the congregation in 1894 was held in this house.

Pastor Berntzon would come to Withee on the train Friday evening and stay at the Nels Sorenson home in Withee. He would "read" with their two children, and then the next day would go to Longwood where there would be other pastoral activity awaiting him.

These people were not satisfied to live as animals without having the word of God. It was quite a hardship to get together with poor means of travel, but they did it, and they left a path of glory which is ours to travel with greater ease.
When the school house had been built, that was used and the meetings in the homes were not continued as much. The first school house was built three-fourths mile south of Longwood, on the west side of the road. This building has been moved and remodeled and is still used as a dwelling (1969). Its location is Section 27, SE I/4, SE 1/4.

There seems to have been some dissatisfaction at times with the congregation using the school house, so after the town hall was built in 1894 it was used for services until 1902.

The first confirmation class consisted of one member, Clara Hendrikson, and the service was held in the school house. This was around the year 1890. The next class consisted also of one member, Anna Jorgenson which was also held in the school house in 1892. The next class of six members: Sophie Hanson, Inga Sorenson, Carl J. Sorenson, Inga Hanson, Harold Jorgenson, and Carl W. Sorenson was held in the town hall in 1895.

After ten years of meeting around with no particular organization, it must have felt a little awkward to be just a group, so in 1894 the following families organized themselves into a congregation: Ole Jorgenson, Hans Jorstad, Martin Sorenson, Carlot Anderson, John Hanson, Lars Jorgenson, John Hendrikson, Julius Sorenson, Carl Benson, Thorvald Bredesen, and Marius Johnson.

The first meeting recorded was on April 14, 1894. A motion was made and carried that three men were to work out a constitution and the motion also made and carried to organize into a congregation. At the meeting held June 6, Pastor Berntzon was present and the constitution accepted. The list of officers first elected included the following: Deacons - Carl Benson, Nels Sorenson and John Jackson Trustees Ole Jorgenson, H. H. Jorstad and Martin Sorenson Chairman - Julius Sorenson Secretary - H. H. Jorstad.

In 1896 the acre that the church now stands on was purchased from the Withee estate. No building was put there for many years, but the congregation at least had a building site. One clause that was inserted in the deed forbid the establishing of a cemetery upon the acre.

Just west of this acre were two acres upon which stood a dwelling owned by Charles Randall. When he decided to move away he sold the two acres with the dwelling for $500.00. The records indicate that this purchase was made in 1900. The purchase was made by the Rev. C. M. Larson, who, in turn, sold it to the congregation. The partitions in the house were taken out, and the downstairs used as a place of worship until the present church was dedicated in 1911.
Previous to this time two acres of land had been bought from Mrs. Julius Sorenson to be used as a cemetery. The acres were near the Popple River, about one and one-half miles east of the present church site, and there were some graves established there. But now that the congregation had more land, the talk was that a cemetery should be established near the church. It is possible that some opposition to such an idea was developing, for there is a story that a body was dug by night and brought to the present cemetery, which established it as a cemetery, free from threats of injunction proceedings. This first burial was the child of John Hendrikson. The original cemetery plot was sold to Mrs. Oletta Hanson.
In 1903 it was discovered that there had been some error in the deed on one of the two plots of ground. The name of the congregation was not specified definitely enough to protect the plot from seizure by anyone who might wish to take the name of the organization specified on the deed. In order to straighten out this matter, three men withdrew from the congregation --Julius Sorenson, Newls Sorenson and Karlot Ericksmoen. They seized the plot and had it recorded then deeded it back to the congregation. After that, these three men again joined the congregation.

But even though the congregation had the house in which to worship, it still was not a church, and feeling grew that a church should be built. A building committee consisting of C. M. Anderson, Torvald Bredesen and Julius Sorenson was chosen. In preparation they spent quite a bit of time driving around getting pledges and cash from the members and soliciting cash from businessmen in Withee, Owen and Greenwood. In addition, the sum of 1,000 was borrowed from the Greenwood State Bank. The Ladies Aid had about $400.00 on hand at that time. The people in the congregation were given the opportunity of working out their pledges and many contributed days besides, toward the building.
Mr. Anderson corresponded and ordered the church furniture and the church bell. The Altar rail and the Pulpit were built by a Mr. C. Madsen in Withee. The total cost of the church, as indicated by the records, was $2,397.00.
The head carpenter was a man by the name of Carl Jessen stone masons were Julius Thorson, Tobias Thorson and John Hendrikson. Mention of all who helped build the church cannot be made -- some would be omitted unintentionally.
The original plan called for a Gothic ceiling instead of rounded. The first steps to the Chancel were straight across instead of rounded. Also, the ceiling of the Chancel was put in straight across at first. These had to be corrected in the course of the building.


The dedication of the church took place in 1911 and was conducted by Rev. Eng of Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

And so a church was built and made ready for use through the long-time planning of the people of the community. From the time that the first meeting was held until the church was ready for use was about twenty-six years, but the people felt it was well worth the wait and the effort to get it ready. They builded on the word of God, and the Lord will not go back on His people as long as they trust in Him.

This "Background" history has been compiled in hopes that a greater appreciation for the efforts of the past will bring even greater accomplishments in the future.




Church: Longwood Emmanuel History

Contact: pat skubis
Email: patskubis@hotmail.com

Thanks for posting this history. I read it last year and learned that the altar and pulpit were built by my grand father Chris Madsen and that the head carpenter was Carl Jessen. Carl was my grand mothers brother. We now have added this information into our family history.



© Every submission is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.


Show your appreciation of this freely provided information by not copying it to any other site without our permission.


Become a Clark County History Buff


Report Broken Links

A site created and maintained by the Clark County History Buffs
and supported by your generous donations.


Webmasters: Leon Konieczny, Tanya Paschke,

Janet & Stan Schwarze, James W. Sternitzky,

Crystal Wendt & Al Wessel