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Goc, Michael J. / From past to present : the history of Adams County
(1999)

Churches,   pp. 172-195 PDF (19.7 MB)


Page 173

Trinity Lutheran, Arkdale 
The Norwegian Evangelical Church of the Roche-A-Cri 
now better known as the Trinity Lutheran Church of Arkdale has 
a memorable and exciting heritage. 
It began in the 1850's when Norwegians were leaving their 
homeland to come to the U.S. in numbers averaging 4000 a year. 
Many Norwegians came to Wisconsin, including the Roche-A- 
Cri settlement in the town of Strongs Prairie. 
Reverend H.A. Preus, a Lutheran pastor at Spring Prairie, 
Wisconsin visited the Roche-A-Cri area periodically and 
through his missionary work organized a congregation. The 
official organization took place in 1853 and was called "The 
Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Roche-A-Cri" 
and ranks among the first Norwegian Lutheran churches in 
Wisconsin. Reverend Preus became the minister of the 
congregation and for a few years held worship services in many 
of the community's thirty homes. 
Sometime between 1855 and 1860 the members built their 
first church building, of logs, in what is now the South 
Cemetery. This building was destroyed by fire in 1866 but these 
determined pioneers set about planning to build anew. A new, 
easier-to-reach site at the West Cemetery was chosen and in 
1868 a frame building was erected. This church too was destined 
to have a short life. A cyclone destroyed it in 1872. 
During the first twenty years of existence the population of 
the town of Strongs Prairie increased rapidly and the church 
grew. This same stalwart group of Christian pioneers would not 
be discouraged but set about to build what is described as a large, 
magnificent church. This was done in 1875 at the same site, "the 
West Cemetery." 
While the Roche-A-Cri congregation was building and 
growing another group of Norwegians were forming another 
congregation approximately two miles east in a village called 
Arkdale. These people were adherents of the Hauge Synod, 
another branch of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, and was 
organized in 1859 under the leadership of Reverend L. 
Johanson. This congregation met in the homes until 1870 when 
they built the church that remained in use until 1994. 
In 1877, National Doctrinal problems led to a split in the 
Roche-A-Cri Church and resulted in forming still a third 
Lutheran congregation. A group led by Reverend Edward 
Bogen, left the Roche-A-Cri Church and constructed a new 
building just one quarter of a mile north of the Cemetery. The 
result of the division was two new synods named the Roche-A- 
Cri Church being called the United Church, and the newly 
formed church being called the Norwegian Synod. 
The three congregations still grew. In 1892, a basement and 
an addition were added to the largest of the three churches at the 
West Cemetery. This was followed nine years later by a 50th 
Anniversary celebration, which has a very picturesque 
description in the Norwegian publication "Kirketidende," 
(1903). 
The three great national bodies of the Norwegian Lutherans 
which, were locally represented at this time, forgot the 
differences that held them separate and reunited in a national 
merger in 1919, thus forming one congregation. The three 
churches in Strongs Prairie joined to become the Trinity 
Lutheran Church of Arkdale, now served by one pastor. 
Two years later, 1921, a major "missioning" project was 
launched and that was the recognition of a group of Lutherans in 
a newly formed City of Adams who were without a church. The 
building erected in 1887 was torn down piece-by-piece and 
transported to Adams and reconstructed where it still stands and 
serves the Adams Congregation. This congregation remained a 
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