"Building a Rural Family in Christ"
Cannon Falls, Minnesota

Spring Garden
   Lutheran Church

10:00 a.m. Worship Service Holy Communion celebrated on the first and third Sundays of the month and festival Sundays

Our History

The first Swedish settlers came to the area about 1855. They heard there was good farmland to be had. They camped in Red Wing for several weeks, eventually leaving their wives and children there while they ventured on the buffalo trails to find the land in "Kallornas Lustgard" (Spring Garden) where they staked their pre-emption claims. In the fall of 1855 the men brought their families to the new land.

In the Spring of 1856 two boys were born in the new settlement. Word had reached the settlers that a young pastor, Eric Norelius had come to the Vasa settlement. On July 6, 1856 an oxcart full of people traveled toward Vasa to have the boys baptized. They encouraged Pastor Norelius to visit them in the new Spring Garden settlement. He made his first visit July 17, 1856 walking about 9 miles through unbroken wilderness to find the settlement. Thus began regular visits over the next two years by Pastor Norelius between the Vasa and Spring Garden settlements. 

The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Spring Garden was officially formed July 19, 1858. The charter members were: Mr. M.A. Edstrom, wife four children; Mr. John J. Vanberg, wife, three children; Mr. C.A. Haggstrom, wife, two children; Mr. Jacob Johanson, wife; Mr. John Peter Johanson, wife; Foster-daughter Ingrid Jonson; Mr. A.W. Johnson, one child; Mr. Paul Nilson; Mr. Johan Holm, one child; Mr. Isack Holm, wife, two children; Mr. Gustav Johnson, wife, three children; Mr. Nils Kallber, wife, three children; Mr. Peter Lundell, wife, one child; Mr. Bengt Anderson, wife, two children; Mr. Anders Enberg, wife, one child; Mr. S.A. Ljungquist; Mr. John Lagerstrom.

Pastor Norelius arranged for Pastor Peter Beckman to come from Stockholm, Wisconsin to minister to the newly formed church. Minnesota had become a state May 11, 1858 and Leon Township had been organized and held its first election on July 5, 1858 with 50 votes polled. The organization of the Spring Garden church stands out with these other historical events. Ever since that day, the church has stood as God's lighthouse, sending forth the gospel light into hearts of the people.

(from the 100 Year Anniversary Book published 1958)

Rev. Norelius' First Visit to Spring Garden

"On July 17, 1856, I made my first visit to Spring Garden," says Norelius. It was no easy task to find the place. I walked about 9 miles on foot from the present White Rock to Carl Haggstrom's old place by the stone schoolhouse west of the woods. it was an unknown, unbroken wilderness and one had to make ones way piecemeal through thorny brush and thickets, wherein one was lucky if one chanced to get through with whole clothes, which was not always the case. I especially remember one time my clothes were so miserably torn that it required a heap of pins to fasten the rags together before I could present myself before people. This way or path I walked many times during the summer and even the following year, but it was worse in rainy weather when I was soaked to the skin, when going through the thickets and long grass. It happened one time I stood preaching, that water dripped from my clothes and there was a pool of water by my feet. It was possible to this before my health broke down completely.

The First Cabin of Worship

The first house of worship was Carl Haggstrom's little log cabin, which had cost $2.50 to build. Later Carl built another log house, nearby, at the place where Ephraim Haggstrom now lives. This was much larger and here services continued to be held, together with other homes in the settlement. The first little log house became the home for Per Jonson and years later was used for a barn. This is destroyed, but it is a real historic treasure to know that Haggstrom's larger house built over 100 years ago and used for worship services for the settlement is still standing at the Ephraim Haggstrom place and is a historic memorial landmark for us at Spring Garden today. NOTE: The cabin has been recently dismantled, marked and cleaned, and moved and reassembled near the church in preparation for the 150th anniversary July 2008)

A Memorable Communion Service

Rev. Norelius said, "One episode which characterized the pioneer life, even from the point of view of the church, I want to tell:  One Sunday afternoon, a very warm day, I had pressed through the brush and thickets to conduct services and communion in spring Garden. In each end of the house was a little window which was removed to let in air. By the one window a board had been laid to serve as a communion table, on which was placed a plate of pieces of ordinary bread and a bottle of communion wine. When I had begun to give my communion address, a hen flew in through the window and spread the bread on the floor with a miserable cackling as if possessed by the evil one. How disturbing it was one can only imagine. When the hen had been thrown out and all was in order again I continued giving my address and the same spectacle was repeated. But this time it was so much worse in that the wine bottle too fell on the floor, but didn't break. This made for caution and a man was stationed by the window to stand guard at the window opening. If something like that had happened in a church, at a late time, tit would be considered sacrilegious, but then one thought nothing of it, as it could easily happen under such circumstances. A conference meeting was held in this very house August 26-27, 1859, when the whole Minnesota Conference delegation was brought to the meeting in a wagon box from Red Wing.

The History of The Spring Garden's Women's Group 1893- 1958

The first women's organization of the Spring Garden Lutheran Church was the young Ladies' Sewing Society, organized at Rev. Frodeen's home on February 21, 1893. Twenty-five young women joined the society the first year. They met in the homes every other Tuesday afternoon at one o'clock. the first officers were Hattie miller, president, and Thilda young, secretary, who were elected to serve for two months. The afternoon was spent planning and sewing articles which were sold at an auction on Midsummer Day. The proceeds were used to support missions and charities. Each member paid $1.00 and the officers had charge of the money and bought most of the materials. The second and third year sales were held at Midsummer and in December. The ambitious young women worked hard for three years until December 3, 1895, when the society met for the last time. 

the second society was organized at the home of J.P. Gustafson in 1901. Only a few women attended the first meeting but the membership grew as the years. passed. This society was called the Willing Workers and continued in much the same manner as the first one. An annual auction was held in the late fall. They worked for missions, charities and improvement in the church and parsonage. The first dishes were purchased in 1906 and five dozen chairs in 1907. Roll call was taken and each ember paid ten cents whether present or not.

In 1907 officers were elected to serve for three months and not until 1915 did they serve for one year. In 1914 it was decided that each member donate one or more articles. One dollar was paid for membership. This method of donating articles proved to be more practical and was used until 1934 when the auction was discontinued and a Thank Offering was taken.

1928 marked the introduction of short programs at the meetings. A new kitchen in the church basement was built in 1935. In its early history the Willing Workers mainly supported missions. The society has continued giving to missions and charities, but has donated a large part of its income to needed improvements of the church property.