Minnesota County Histories
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Palmyra Congregation
(By Rev. P. H. Rognlie.)
The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Chapter XL
p. 1261-1262

The first Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran settlers in Palmyra came there in 1871. Among the early settlers may be mentioned Even Olsen Kjönaas, Ole Halvorsen Svensö, John O. Vefald, Lorents and Johannes Eriksen, Leif Tinnes, Paul Ranberg and Bernt Andersen. In 1872 a number others came, as Johan Bauman and Carl A. Mork, Ole and Elias Eriksen, Anton H. Christiansen, Alexander Johnson and sons, Ole Nordskog.

Monday, October 7, 1872, Gabriel A. Nilsen Bjurselmo took Rev. Johannes Bergh to Palmyra, and Rev. Bergh preached that day the first Evangelical Lutheran sermon at the residence of Bernt Anderson. Seven children were baptized that day: August Meier O. Eriksen, Nils Peter J. Johnson, Carl August C. Haagensen, Albert J. Anderson, Dorthea O. Halvorsen, Svensö, Carl Johan J. Vefald and Gilbert Theodor E. Olsen Kjönaas. Among those present at that service we find the names of Sven and lver Gerald, Brynild and Anfin Tollefsen, Lars Tinnes, Styrk Eriksen, Ole and Ellas Eriksen, Mrs. Alea Eriksen, Joban and Lina B. Anderson, Carl Gustav and Ellen Haagensen, John and Anna Anderson, John Bauman Mork and wife, Carl and Maren Anna Mork, Evrine Mork, Ole and Aaste Halvorsen Svensö, John and Karl O. Vefald, Even and Martha Olsen Kjönaas, Anton and Tonette Christiansen, Oline O. Eriksen, Andrew Larson, Anna Anderson, Sven Ahl and wife, Lina Blad, Carl Gustav Anderson, Anna Lina Bergman, Alexander and Susanna Johnson, Johannes Eriksen and wife, Martin Johnson, Guri and Ella S. Gerald, Paul Ranberg and wife, and Christine Bergman.

On November 7, 1872, the second service was held by Rev. Bergh at the house of Paul Ranberg. After the service the Palmyra Evangelical Lutheran congregation was organized and its constitution adopted. The congregation was served by Rev. Johannes Bergh from Sacred Heart, Minnesota, to the end of 1873, and from January, 1874, to July 31, 1876, by Rev. Michael Borge from Mankato, Minnesota. On July 31 Rev. Nils P. Xavier preached his first sermon in the town hall of Palmyra, and he served the congregation till May, 1891.

The present pastor, Parelius H. Rognlie, preached his introductory sermon July 26, 1891.

The first class of confirmants from Palmyra congregation was confirmed in the schoolhouse by Three Mile Creek on the fourth of October, 1874. Their names are: Conrad M. Christlansen, Justin A. Johnson, Svennung J. Vefald, Ella S. Gerald.

The first bridal couple was Tobias Risdal and Anne J. Vefald, married by Rev. Bergh.

The cemetery, where the church now stands, is located in the southeastern corner of section 16, Palmyra township. It was dedicated the 1st of June, 1874, by Rev. Michael Borge. The first burial on record is that of Samuel Svendsen, died September 29, 1876, and buried October 1, 1876, age 72 years.

The congregation was incorporated under the laws of the state the 9th of October, 1878. The first meeting called for the purpose of considering the building of a church was held May 19, 1884. On Tuesday, May 5, 1885, the cornerstone was laid by Rev. Johannes Bergh in the name of the Triune God. The size of the church is 40x28, 16 feet high, supplied also with a tower, chancel and sacristy. The church building committee was composed of Carl A. Mork, Ellas M. Eriksen, Lars L. Tinnes, Tyke Ytterboe, Ole Johnson, John Pedersen and Peder P. Hornseth. The church was dedicated Wednesday, September 16, 1885, by Rev. Thomas Johnson, of St. Peter.

On June 23 and 24, 1912, the Palmyra Evangelical Lutheran congregation celebrated its fortieth anniversary. Professor O. E. Brandt preached the festival sermon on the first day, and the Swedish Lutheran pastor. Rev. A. Bengtson, preached in the afternoon. Prof. G. C. Ristad, from Fergus Falls, preached the second day, and the local minister gave a historical sketch of the congregation from its foundation up to the present time.

In spite of much weakness we still hope that these words from the holy Writ may be applied on these congregations: "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." Rev. 2, 2-3.

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