Saturday, July 31, 2010

Immanuel Lutheran "The Mother" Church - Established 1857

Through this blog, I recently connected with a distant cousin on my Miller side (his gr-great grandfather and my gr-gr-great grandfather are brothers). He and my mother were chatting at the Miller Family Reunion a couple weeks ago and she happened to bring up some of my non-Miller research. Soon enough, they made the connection that both of our Norwegian ancestors, on our Hanson sides, settled in the neighboring Richwood and Akan Township areas in Richland County, Wisconsin.  (We have not been able to prove a relationship on this Hanson side, as there were several Hanson families living in this Norwegian settlement.)

One of the reasons I am so happy that they made this connection is that our Hanson ancestors are buried in the same cemetery: Immanuel Luther Cemetery. I have previously blogged about this cemetery and even made reference to the fact that I thought the small foundation on the sight might have once supported the mother church itself.  It turns out, my suspicions were correct.  My cousin recently sent me a package of information (Thanks again, Eddie!) that contained a history of the area, his Hanson family, and information on the Immanuel Lutheran Church.  Not only did he send me what documents he had, but he put together a nice write about of all the information he had on the church.

The following is taken directly from his notes: "In the spring of 1857, the neighbors got together, and financed the building of their first church - to be constructed of logs.  This church was located on a ridge in the S.E. quarter of Section 3 of Richwood Township in Richland County.  The church land and cemetery lots were donated by Nels Hanson.  The church was completed and read for use that first fall of 1857."

My cousin's notes say that "there came a time in 1885 when it was either to repair the old log structure or erect a new building.  The old log building was beginning to rot and the squirrels had damaged logs along the foundation and around the eaves. at a congregational meeting in March of 1885, they agreed to build a new church. Negotiations were made with Nils Hanson [my Miller cousin's great-grandfather] to buy a site on his property.  The plot was purchased.  Construction of this building began in the spring of 1887.  All work was done by members of the congregations who donated the lumber which was sawed and finished at private mills.  The building was finished by November so that it could be heated for winter use.  The church was dedicated in November 1887, with Pastor J.O. Naess conducting the dedication rites."  A steeple was later added to the church (date unknown).

"Additional Norwegian immigrants settled to the North, in Akan Township and the people from that area decided to build another Lutheran Church in 1897. The location selected was where five roads joined, in a settlement called Five Points."  The Immanuel Church was often referred to as the South Church, after the Five Points Church was built. Ministers served both churches for several years.  The numbers at the South, or Mother Church, dwindled as the numbers at the newer Five Points Church swelled.  This led to the the closing of the Immanuel Lutheran (Mother) Church in the 1940's and it was eventually torn down int he 1950's.  The bell from the Mother Church is now mounted as a memorial by the entrance of the Five Points Church.

I am still a bit in shock that he has all this information on the Mother Church.  It seems that every time I am in Wisconsin, I end up taking another relative on a journey to visit our recently found Norwegian ancestors.  These journey's always left me trying to imagine what the Mother Church looked like and now I have an answer.

Always, Sara Beth 

*Text shown in quotes is taken directly from a document my cousin Eddie sent me.
 © Sara B. Davis - 2010

1 comment:

  1. Awesome information. How wonderful he had a picture of the original church. Great post.