Church: Curtiss – History of
St. Paul Am. Lutheran (1881)
Surnames: Olson, Thompson, Forde, Johnson, Peterson, Erickson, Monson, Withee, Borgemoen, Botterud, Gilbertson, Hanson, Ostenson, Nielson, Nordby, Oddin, Borreson, Rued, Klemetson, Moilund
----Source: Olson Family Scrapbook
The first Norwegian settlers came to this community in 1872 and 1873. For religious services, they had to be content with occasional mission pastors. There were also Norwegian services held in Dorchester, but it was almost impossible to get there.
From 1881 on. Rev. N. Forde came from Amherst, Wisconsin on regular visits to Curtiss and would conduct services in any available place. Inspired by Rev. Forde it was decided to call a meeting to organize a congregation. As far as we know, those present at this first organizational meeting were: Arne Olson, Ole Thompson, Oluf Thompson, Funder Johnson, Even Johnson, Peter Peterson and Martin Peterson. At this meeting, it was unanimously voted to organize a Lutheran Congregation and incorporate it according to the laws of the State of Wisconsin.
The Curtiss Norwegian Lutheran Congregation then came into existence on February 8, 1885 with Rev. Forde as its first pastor. There was no church building at that time so services were held at either the log schoolhouse on the southwest corner of the Iver Erickson farm, which is now known as the old Midway School, or at the schoolhouse in Curtiss. The amount paid to Rev. Forde was $50.00 per year with the rest paid by the Home Mission of our church.
In 1893, under the leadership of Rev. T.G. Monson, the "Kvinde Foerning" (Ladies Aid) was organized. The Ladies Aid met every four weeks and church services were being held regularly, however there still was no actual church building. Parishioners found something lacking without the altar, pulpit and bell for services.
In 1897, the first church was built % mile west of Curtiss on land donated for the cemetery by Flaskel Withee, a lumberman. At that time, the following were members: Ole Borgemoen, John Botterud, Iver Erickson, C. Gilbertson, John Hanson, Matt Hanson, Jorgen Hanson, Even Johnson, Gunder Johnson, Ole Johnson, Nels Johnson, John Klernetson, Peter Lokken, Olnf Moilund, Arne Olson, Knute Olson, Fred Ostenson, Peter Peterson, Ole Thompson, Oluf Thompson and Matt Rued. Up to this time the church services were held in Norwegian and several of the pastors returned to Norway after leaving our congregation. It was in 1900 that Pastor Nielson accepted a call with the requirement that he be able to speak and conduct services in English.
On June 3, 1905, the church was destroyed by a tornado. As there was no insurance this was a heavy loss to the congregation, but they made immediate plans to rebuild. Meanwhile, services were held in the German Lutheran Church, "St. Paul's Kirche", in Curtiss. The new brick church was built in the same place and dedicated in 1907-- Norwegian Lutheran Church.
In 1917, Pastor Nordby accepted a call to our parish; he was responsible for rearranging the field so that Curtiss, together with Dorchester and Holway, became a self- supporting call.
During Rev. Oddin's ministry from 1924-1928, the first parsonage was purchased from Fred Machlett on the east side of Curtiss. Prior to this the ministers had lived in their own homes or in rented houses in Abbotsford.
In 1930, another tornado went through the area. There was much damage done in the community, however only minor damage was done to the church.
During the ministry of Pastor Borreson, the parish hall was purchased and moved to Curtiss. Later an entrance and a kitchen was added to the building. In 1943, we celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America and the 50th Anniversary of our Ladies Aid in Curtiss.
Before Rev. Odland came to our church in 1949, the parsonage was moved to its present location on the west side of Curtiss on land donated by Art Laabs. The cost was shared by Curtiss and Holway congregations, Dorchester having left to form its own church some time earlier. The building was placed on a full basement, completely modernized and redecorated, ground landscaped and wind break planted.
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