HISTORY OF THE SIX MILE GROVE LUTHERAN CHURCH

One hundred years ago Six Mile Grove was a forest undisturbed by the European immigrants. The first Norwegians to settle in this part of the state arrived in 1854 and a few made their homes in Nevada Township.

SETTLERS
Thov Olson Uvesaker came to Six Mile Grove forest in 1853. He was gone during the winter, but came back in the spring of 1854. The following Norwegians moved and settled in the forest in the course of two years: Hans Senson and Son, Christopher; Thrond Kleppo Richardson and son, Ole T.; Mathias Hanson; Knut Kvale; Swend Trasmet; Peter Martin; Gunder Halverson; Ole Thovson; Halver Thovson; Aslak Flaten; Torges Olson; Trond Bunde; Ole Sampson; Frederick Martin; Johannes Martin; Andre Anderson and Sons, Hans C. and Anton.

During the next two or three years came: Herman Amundson and son, Knut; Knut Hage; Francis Hearsh; Thor Larson; Halvor Volstad; Torbjorn Enerson and sons, Sam, Tom, and Nels; Andrew Bergeson and sons, John and Hans; Richard Olson; Jarand Olson; Richard Lunde; Nels Olson, and son Ole Nelson.

The following settled here between 1858 and 1868; Gunder Knutson; Ole Rue; David Nelson and sons, Nels, Ed, and Ole; Torge Guttermson and sons Ole and Gustave; Lars Meyer and Son Christian; Knut Tollefson; Jacob Jacobson; Swend Jacobson; Knut Lastine; Dreng Augeson; Knut Stoe; Ole and Jens Stoe; Bjorn Jorgensen; Lars Olson Tuve; Gulbrand Hazelbreck; Ole Severson; Anders Veslehagen and sons Erick and Nels; Lars Arneson; Gunder Ostenson; Tollef Ostenson; Anders Ingebrightsen (aka: Andrew Femreit) and son Ingebreght Anderson; Gulbrand Morstad and son Tosten; Ole Lastine; Andrew Peterson; Johannes Arneson; Even Evenson; Ole Evenson; and Aslak Flaten.

ORGANIZATION
These well known people had belonged to the Lutheran State Church of Norway and while some probably had no spiritual cravings, others were yearning for the "Bread of Life" and looked prayerfully for a servant of God who could preach to them the Word of Salvation and administer the Sacraments of the Lord. The nearest Lutheran Church was at St. Ansgar, Iowa, where the first settlers took their infants for baptism and the young people for instruction in religion, preparatory to confirmation. Marriages were also performed there. Pastors, however, visited the settlement and gathered for devotional services. Among them were Pastors Clausen, Preus and Otteson.

Six Mile Grove congregation was permanently organized November 19, 1859. It was one of the first Scandinavian Lutheran Churches in Mower County. The first business meeting was held under the "Big Elm Tree" on the Thrond Kleppo Richardson farm in Section 29. Services continued there for a time and later in the homes until the church was built.

PASTORS
The Rev. C.L. Clausen organized the congregation and served the parishes of St. Ansgar, Iowa; Rock Creek, Six Mile Grove, and Red Oak Grove in Minnesota. It was called the C.L. Clausen Parish. He served until 1871 with the exception of the years of 1861 and 1862 when he served as chaplain in the army.

The Rev. Johan Olson succeeded him and served until 1878. Professor B.B. Geldaker was the next pastor until 1881 when the Rev. J. Muller Eggen was called. During his pastorate, the Rev. P.A. Dietrichson served as assistant part of 1904 and 1905. After serving the congregation for 23 years, the Rev. Eggen resigned on account of poor health. The Rev. N.N. Esser, who succeeded the Rev.. Eggen, served until 1912. Professor Olaf Lee of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, was acting pastor during part of 1912 and 1913 until the next pastor, the Rev. A. Elmer Moe took charge. He served until 1922 with the exception of one year when he did organizational work at Owatonna, Minnesota. During this time, the Rev. G. Storoasli was in charge.

The Rev. Moe was succeeded by the Rev. C.S. Vang who served until 1925.

The Rev. O.M. Langehaugh served faithfully for 19 years, from 1925 to 1944.

The Rev. M.L. Hostager served during part of 1945 and 1946.

The Rev. T.G. Torvik was pastor of the congregation from 1946 to 1949.

The Rev. O.T. Boe served temporarily for three months in 1949.

The Rev. S.V. Gjervik came in December of 1949. He served until 1954. In 1951 Rev. Gervik participated in the writing of a new constitution that was adopted and shared by Mona, Our Saviors of Lyle, and Six Mile Grove who were known as Trinity Lutheran Parish. Under the guidance of Rev. Gjervik a Parish Center in Lyle was organized for the youth.

The Rev. Dr. S.O. Stenson served from 1954 until 1958.

The Rev. Gorden Rasmussen was Interim pastor from September, 1958, until July 1, 1959.

The Rev. Ernest Stolen was Interim Pastor from July to September, 1959.

The Rev. S. Klemesrud served from 1960 to 1969. While serving as pastor, he initiated sunrise services and Easter breakfasts and also urged the sponsoring of a missionary in Japan.

The Rev. Einar Unseth served from 1969 to 1975.

The Rev. Gaylord Grant served from 1975 to 1990. Their call to Trinity Parish brought the family from missionary service in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where they had served for 15 years.

Interim Rev. Dick Johnston served from August, 1990, through February, 1991.

The Rev. Daniel Benke served from March, 1991, to September, 1993.

The Rev. Russ Wangen served from 1993 to 1999. A native of Austin, Minnesota, Rev. Wangen had initially served as Interim pastor and then later accepted a call to serve as resident pastor.

Intern Pastor Lydia Mittag served from June, 1999, to July, 2000.

The Rev. Allen Gunderson was Interim Pastor from August 1, 2000, to July 20, 2001.

The Rev. Lydia Mittag was installed August 5, 2001, and is now serving her first call at Trinity Lutheran Parish.

CONSTRUCTION
Work of construction of the Six Mile Grove Church was commenced in 1867, but the building was not completed until the following spring. The bricks for the church were made from soil in Section 27, known as the Ed Nelson farm. Ole Sampson laid the foundation for the church. The building committee was: The Rev. C.L. Clausen, Hans O. Anderson, Ole Sampson and Gunder Knutson.

DEDICATION
The church was dedicated in the year 1868 by the Rev. Johan Olson. On June 20, 1937, a historic monument with a bronze plate affixed to it was dedicated. This monument was erected in the H.O. Austinson farmyard by members and friends of Six Mile Grove. It fittingly marks the spot where the congregation organized 100 years ago and where divine services were held under the Big Elm tree in the early days. The Rev. A.B. Anderson and the Rev. John M. Eggen participated in the impressive dedicatory service. The monument was dedicated by Pastor O.M. Langehough in the presence of the vast audience assembled for this memorable outdoor event.

TRINITY PARISH
In January of 1951, the three churches of Mona, Six Mile Grove and Our Saviors of Lyle, that had always been a part of the same parish and served by the same pastors, adopted a parish constitution which united their membership even though they still had three places of worship. They sensed the need of a neutral center where they could carry on their joint organizational activities. They purchased the building that was then a furniture store, but had previously been a garage. The renovation began at once and on September 13, 1953, the Trinity Lutheran Parish Center was dedicated.

The center was not intended to replace any of the churches. It was not built or dedicated as a sanctuary, but as a workshop. It became the meeting place of Parish organizations. Joint Luther Leagues, Brotherhood, Gold Bang Club, L.C.R., Ladies Aid board and committee meetings used the Parish Center. It was also used as a recreation and community center.

In 1957 a beautiful parsonage was built for the pastor of the three churches, and it was located at the north end of Lyle.

CEMETERY
Much of the history of the area is reflected in the church cemetery. Many pioneer names may be found on the tombstones which mark burials as long ago as 1857. Many of the headstones were made of soft rock found in the area. Erosion has almost obliterated some of the lettering, but here and there can be found readable stones from burials in 1862.

The cemetery which was formerly owned and controlled by the congregation was turned over to the Six Mile Grove Cemetery association and incorporated March 10, 1913.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS
The first term of Parochial School in the settlement was taught in the Hans Swenson Twinglee home. This was a log house in Section 32. The first Parochial Schoolteacher was Anders Peterson.

The Ladies Aid Society was organized in 1872 by the Rev. Johan Olson.

Sunday School has been in operation since the first years of the church's organization. Mr. L.M. Eggen was Sunday School Superintendent for twelve years. When he was injured in 1928, the vice Superintendent, Newell Nelson, became superintendent. Mr. Nelson served for twenty-one years.

The Young People's Society was organized in 1906.

Two Mission Circles, the Eudora and the Ithial, were organized in 1912. In 1929, they were reorganized into four mission circles.

Mrs. Andi Flaten Jacobson was the first Caucasian child born in Nevada Township and Mrs. Anna Sampson Everson was the second.

The first wedding in Six Mile Grove united Helen Martin to Francis Hearsh.

The first funeral in the congregation was Aslak Knutskaas' in 1856.

Eight of the early members of the congregation served this country during the Civil War. Johannes Marin, Even Evenson, Corp.; Knut Amundson, Johannes Bergeson, Sam Enerson Christopher Swenson, Jacob Jacobson and Oscar Tieman.

After the First World War, a beautiful bronze tablet was presented to the congregation. The tablet commemorates the response made by those called to active duty, one of whom died in France. The principal donor of this tablet was Lauritz M. Eggen.

The church bell was purchased for $325 by the Ladies' Aid and presented to the congregation in 1881.

The first organ was purchased for our church in about 1889. Mrs. Laura Waldeland was the first organist, and she was about 12 years old at the time.

A great portion of the information contained in the foregoing history was assembled and written by the Centennial Committee for Six Mile Grove that gathered in 1958 and 1959 to plan its 100-year celebration. Those who contributed to the assembling and writing of the historical background were: Alfred Hofland, Lavern Austinson, Merle Nelson, Harold Dralle, Andrew Steen, Max Patterson, Walter Eggen, Mrs. Arthur (Alice) Rohne, Mrs. Ronald Nelson, Mrs. Hamlin Ashley, Adeline Lastine, Mrs. Newell Nelson, Newell Nelson, Herman Austinson, Melvin Martin and Elaine Klusmeier.