CHRISTDALA EVANGELICAL SWEDISH LUTHERAN CHURCH
MINNESOTA, RICE COUNTY, USA
Svenska Evangeliska Lutherska Christdala Församlingen
first Swedish immigrants who settled in Rice County in southern
Minnesota formed the Christdala congregation on July 18, 1877. The
Church structure was built during the summer of 1878 at a cost of
$230, shortly after one of the first Swedish immigrants, Nicolaus
Gustafson, was murdered by a member of the James-Younger Gang during
the infamous Northfield bank robbery. The Christdala Church building
is original and has never been moved or altered. The Church and 1.125
acre cemetery overlooking Circle Lake to the south appear the same
today as they did in the days of the early Swedish immigrants.
1995, the Christdala Church was placed on The National Register of
Historic Places by the U. S. Department of Interior, National Park
Service, because of its historic significance. Between 1840 and 1930
over 1,300,000 Swedish immigrants settled in the United States, mostly
in Minnesota. The first forty years of the Church, from 1878 to 1918,
correspond to the high point of Swedish immigration into the U. S. and
into Goodhue and Rice counties in southern Minnesota.
Church and cemetery reflect the distinct accomplishments and
contributions that these Swedish immigrants made to the community and
to early Rice County and southern Minnesota history. Today the Church
serves as a historical reminder of the significance of ethic Swedish
communities such as Christdala in the early history of Minnesota.
congregation reached peak membership in 1890 with 230 members and by
1918 had declined to fewer than 100 members. Education was important
to the early Swedish immigrants. Once educated, the young people
typically left their farms for opportunities in the Twin Cities of
Minneapolis and St. Paul, about 40 miles north of Christdala.
1938 fewer than six of the first pioneer settlers remained in the
Christdala community. By 1950 there were only thirty members of the
congregation and services were eventually terminated in the 1960s. The
congregation was formally disbanded on August 21, 1966.
History Book. A
58-page book entitled The History of the Christdala Evangelical
Swedish Lutheran Church was prepared in 1994 by Wayne Quist as a
result of the nomination of Christdala to The National Register of
Historic Places. This book is provided as a small gift for
contributions of $10.00 or more for the preservation of Christdala.
Please contact Wayne Quist, Association Secretary, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nondenominational Fall Church Services are held each September, an
annual Spring Clean-Up Meeting is held in April, and the local
Northfield Svenska Klub holds Midsommer festivities at Christdala in
June each year, along with weddings, funerals and special events.
Cemetery Burials. John
Dalby, Chairman of the Association, has recently placed the Christdala
cemetery burials on the Internet at the following address:
John Dalby has also developed an extensive database of the names of
people buried in many other southern Minnesota cemeteries. John can be
reached at 507-334-9676.
Permanent Fund. The
Christdala Church Preservation and Cemetery Association was
incorporated in 1994 as a non-profit entity under IRS guidelines to
repair and maintain the Church and the Permanent Fund for the
preservation of Christdala and its Swedish heritage. Please help with
a tax deductible contribution to the Christdala Permanent Fund to
ensure perpetual maintenance of the Church and grounds. Please make
your check to The Christdala Church
Preservation and Cemetery Association and mail it to Dale
Quist, President, 3400 West 120th Court, Faribault, Minnesota, 55021,
Telephone: 507-645-8086/Fax: 507-645-8804.
Restoration Work Completed:
The Christdala Preservation Association has invested more than
$100,000 in the restoration of the Christdala Church and grounds in
the last ten years. All improvements and maintenance have been
accomplished under established historic preservation guidelines.
Christdala's original limestone foundation and basement have been
repaired, new front steps and flag poles have been installed, nine old
windows have been replaced and a new fence has been installed around
the perimeter of the Church grounds. The church has a new cedar roof
and several new trees have been planted in the cemetery.
Please contact Dale Quist or Wayne Quist if you would like to make a
contribution to the Association, are interested in joining the
Association, or would like to examine genealogical information using
the old Church records and other historical information associated
with the Church.
The Christdala Church is located in rural Forest Township, Rice
County, in southern Minnesota. The Church is situated on a small hill
on the north edge of Circle Lake on Rice County Highway #1, two miles
west of the community of Millersburg. Christdala is also about 6 miles
east-southeast of Lonsdale, 12 miles west of Northfield, 9 miles west
of Dundas and 14 miles north of Faribault. From Interstate 35, use
Exit 66, travel west one mile to Millersburg and then continue on to
Christdala, which is on your right as you drive west.
- Over 1.3 million Swedes immigrated to the U.S., mostly to Minnesota.
Miller homesteaded 160 acres and platted a village recorded as “Millersburg.”
Miller erected a mill and a hotel and a partner started a general
store, attracting “Yankee” settlers from the east. Later a post
office and blacksmith shop were established.
Swedish immigrants settled in the Millersburg area from the Red
Wing-Vasa area in southern Minnesota and initially held services in
The Lester post office established by John W. Thompson one mile west
of Christdala. Thompson’s business card read: Notary
Public, Justice of the Peace, Real Estate Developer, Minnesota
State Legislature, Postmaster.”
More than half a dozen Swedish families now lived in the vicinity.
economic depression in the U.S.
Nicolaus Gustafson, a recent immigrant from Sweden, was killed in
Northfield on September 7, 1876 during the notorious James-Younger
Gang’s robbery of the Northfield bank. Gustafson was buried in
Northfield because the Millersburg Swedish community had no church or
cemetery. Millersburg Swedes immediately started planning for the
construction of their own church and cemetery.
The first Swedish immigrants to settle in the dense and virgin “Big
Woods” of Rice County formed the Christdala congregation on July 18,
1877. Christdala congregation was established by 13 founding families
on 1.125 acres of land given by neighbors Peter Youngquist & Carl
Hirdler. Christdala was admitted into the Minnesota Conference of the
Lutheran Augustana Synod.
Christdala church building was constructed by John Olson and John
Lundberg of Northfield for $230.00. The existing Christdala Church
building is original and has never been altered or moved.
to 1918 – High
point of Swedish immigration into the U.S., Minnesota & Rice
Pulpit was built by John Olson for $15.00, interior walls plastered,
native ash wainscoting installed. Oil lamps and first organ acquired.
Annual membership dues were $4.00 for men, $3.00 for women and the
church building had an insured value of $600.00.
Front steps and horse stalls were built; table, chairs, baptismal font
purchased (still in church today). Each family required to provide one
cord of basswood per year for heating.
congregation reached 70 families and Sunday church attendance averaged
Christdala church constitution adopted. Over 55% of Christdala’s
budget was dedicated to education. The church records stated: “The
fruit of a surrendered life becomes capable of sacrificing personal
advantages for the sake and welfare of the group.”
New organ purchased from Wick Organ Company in Chicago (still in use
Membership peaked at 230 members. Church resolution: “Resolved
that all children know their ABCs before they attend school.”
Carpet installed inside church. Treasurer’s report: “All
debts have been paid and there is a balance of $147.14 in the treasury.
This is the best condition in all of our history.”
Window shades & burial equipment acquired. Economic depression in
U.S. (“Cleveland’s Panic”).
60-foot bell tower added to front of church.
Congregation acquired Blacksmith Sandbo’s house west of Millersburg
for $552.99 as a parish house.
Bell installed in belfry.
English services offered once a month on Sunday afternoon or evening.
adopted as the only language. New wood-burning furnace and hot air
registers installed, wood fireplace in basement removed, convection
floor slats covered. Original hand-fashioned kneeling benches replaced
with 18 identical oak pews, 9 on each side of the center aisle.
Christdala celebrated 50th Anniversary.
Fewer than six pioneer families remained in the Christdala community.
Christdala’s 65th Anniversary: “The
blessings of their endeavors are ours.…as giants in the earth they
stood, their faith in God availing.”
Church membership declined to 30 members.
Interior walls replastered and painted for Christdala’s 80th
Membership declined to a handful, Christdala congregation
Christdala cemetery association established.
Christdala Church Preservation & Cemetery Association incorporated
as an IRS-approved charitable organization for tax-deductible gifts.
Substantial funds raised to preserve the church with new paint, roof,
windows, fence, front steps, flag poles.
formally placed on “The National Register of Historic
Places” by U.S. Department of
Interior (National Park Service) because of historical
Governor Joanne Benson officiated at official induction ceremony at
Christdala. “The History of the Christdala
Evangelical Lutheran Church” prepared, copies available upon
celebrated 125th Anniversary. Christdala Preservation
Association established a Permanent Fund goal of $500,000 for
perpetual maintenance. Checks may be written to The Christdala
Church Preservation & Cemetery Association.
Mail to Mr. Wayne
Link to Kristdala
parish in Sweden
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