Adams County IAGenWeb

 Church Directory



1875 - 1998


The Strand Lutheran congregation was organized May 21, 1875, with the Rev. Osmund Sheldahl as the first pastor; he preached in the Norwegian language. In 1915, the congregation reorganized to an all English Lutheran Church with special Norwegian services for the elderly - these services were discontinued in 1916.


Some of the charter members were Osmund Knudson, Ole Larson, John Hetland, Kleng G. Hendrickson, Henry G. Hendrickson, Melinda (Hendrickson) Johnson, Lars Retland, Peter Johnson, Steiner Knutson, Mrs. Christina Danielson, Tom Nelson, Anna Larson and Lewis Larson.


The first baptism on record was Oscar Severin Omundson on April 27, 1875. The first confirmation class was confirmed in 1884, at the Rockdale school house, by Rev. Christianson. Members of the class were: Johnnie and Annie Johnson, Andrew and Sarah Anderson.


The congregation incorporated under the Iowa State Laws as the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Adams County, Iowa on Jun 28, 1886. These articles were signed by Henry G. Hendrickson, Ole Lovig, John Hetland, Tom Nelson, Daniel Odson, Thomas Orstad and Lars Retland. On this same date they bought three acres of land with a house on it from Osmund and Catherine Knutson and in 1897, they bought 17 acres more from the Knutsons. This was in Section 32, Lincoln Township. The Strand Cemetery is directly behind the church.


The church was built in 1886 without vestibule or tower; these were added in 1903, by a donation of $100.00 from Gudmund Hendrickson. The first confirmation class in the new church in 1887 were: Dora Marvick, Bertha Hendrickson, Betsy Larson, John Larson, Thomas Hendrickson, Eugene Knutson and Milton Johnson.


The bell was rung three times each Sunday morning by Levine Kjleen, at 9:00, 9:30 and 10:00 AM calling the parishioners to services. It was tolled for funerals, supposedly the age of the Deceased. Levine Kjleen was a faithful Janitor and grounds keeper for 35 years, from 1901 until his death in 1936, residing in his small house on the grounds. He was responsible for most of the lovely peonies in the cemetery, transplanting them from one plot to another adding much to the well kept appearance.


Horses and buggies were used for transportation for these pioneer members. Chairs were used for seating until pews were installed in 1914. The men sat on the east side of the church and the ladies and children on the west side. A coal stove was in the middle of the room and a large circle of kerosene lamps hung from the ceiling.


The parsonage, built by Ole Stuvick, was erected in 1916, for the sum of $585.00. The church and parsonage have both been remodeled. The Ladies Aid sponsor a bazaar (the Mission Sale), the fourth Saturday in August each year, sponsor bridal showers, special dinners, lunch farm sales and help with expenses of the church.


Henry G. Hendrickson, a charter member of the church, left by will $1000.00, when he passed away in 1920, to be invested and the interest used to help with expenses of the church.


The church celebrated their centennial in 1975 with an all day celebration.

The present congregation has 121 baptized members.



*died while pastor at Strand

**Killed in car accident while pastor at Strand.


Information from various Strand Church Histories written in 1950, 1975 and 1984.  Mary Ann (Hendrickson) Dunkin



The Norwegian Settlement in Adams County, Iowa was populated with families who had immigrated from Norway. Most had first settled in the Fox River Area, Mission Township, near Norway in LaSalle County, Illinois. They started migrating further west in the 1860’s. Several of these Strand families had resided near Norway in Benton County, Iowa several years before moving on to Adams County.


It is known that the town of Strand boasted of a post office, blacksmith shop and two stores.


The first store was owned by Ole Lovig on his land in the late 1870’s and operated by his family. In 1892, Andrew Thompson moved from South Dakota and operated the store. In 1889 the Post Office was established in the “Store” with the owner the “Postmaster.” The post office closed in 1909 because of rural free delivery. In 1890, Lars O. Larson and Lou B. Larson operated the “Store.” Lars Larson, the son of Ole Larson Rodmyr - Rodmyr being the farm name in Norway, moved to Adams County in 1875 and settled on a farm northwest of where the Strand Lutheran Church stands today. The Larsons’ operated a “Huskster Wagon” which traveled about the community bringing groceries to the people and picking up produce. The store was a meeting place for the small community for visiting and news. For a time the Hans Peterson family operated the Strand store. With the coming of the telephone there was a switchboard in their kitchen and the children carried messages to neighbors without phones. Steiner Knutson operated the blacksmith shop which was located north of the present Strand Lutheran church.

Before the Strand Lutheran Church was organized and the community was first settled, circuit church services of the Methodist faith were held in the Rockdale schoolhouse.


Mormons migrating from Nauvoo, Illinois passed through southern Iowa including Adams County where they stopped for awhile. They May have buried some of their dead in a cemetery southwest of the Rockdale school on land donated by John and Hulda Larson, who had moved to Adams County in the spring of 1872. This was located in Douglas Township, Section 7, one Acre. Hulda died January 30, 1886 and John on January 27, 1888 and both are buried there. It was first called, "Larson Burial Gardens." It has been called "Norway Cemetery" or the" Old South Strand Cemetery" or "Larsons Buryng Ground". Later the name was changed to "Rockdale Cemetery".


More information from Mary Ann:

The families first settled in LaSalle Co., Illinois.


Helga and John and family later moved to Norway, in Benton Co., Iowa, then ca 1870/71 on to Strand in Adams Co., Iowa. The first child, Helena Bertha Larson was born about a month after they arrived in the USA. The first four children, Helena, Thomas, Caroline and Mary Helga were born in LaSalle Co., Illinois, Henry and Johanna were born in Benton Co., Iowa and twins Lars and Lewis, and JoSepine were born in Adams Co., Iowa.


Hulda and John Larson are both buried at the "Larson Burial Gardens" now the Rockdale Cemetery. John Larson gave an acre of his farm for this cemetery.


Nine children: Helena Bertha, Thomas John, Caroline, Mary Helga, Henry, Johanna Bromdla, Lars, Lewis and Josephine Larson.


I don't remember where I got that information about the Mormons. As far as I can tell only one "strange" name on this WPA list - #2 - she May be the Mormon.


Now I see where I got that information - from the 1984 Adams County History Book - pagae 47 - I don't know who might have written it - no name at the end. I don't know when the Mormons passed thru - but the Larsons did not get there until around 1870. Guess someone would have to do land research to find out if the cemetery was there before John Larson bought the land. Or exactly when/the years the Mormons went from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah. I thought the Mormon Trail went up thru Council Bluffs? Maybe some got off track and ended up by Strand.

From my files:



Mormons migrating from Nauvoo, Illinois passed through Adams County where they stopped for awhile. They buried some of their dead in a cemetery southwest of the Rockdale School on land donated by John and Hulda Larson, who had moved to Adams County from Benton county, Iowa in the spring of 1872. This was located in Douglas township, section 7,one acre. Hulda Larson died January 30, 1886 and John Larson died on January 27, 1888, both were buried there.


The neighborhood was mostly Norwegian, so it was first called Norway Cemetery. Several Larsons were buried there, so some called it the "Larsons Burial Gardens" or the Larson Burying Ground. It was also called the Old south Cemetery. The name was later changed to Rockdale Cemetery.

10 graves as recorded on the WPA recorded list.

In order of burial:

1. Severin Larson, s/o L.S. & A. Larson, buried in same lot with Hulda Larson - died 7 Apr 1875.

2. Betsy McClary, age 29 yrs., w/o Wm., (going west by covered wagon - born 13 Dec 1850 - died 25 Mar 1879.

3. Margaret Thompson, age 16, born 30 Nov 1864 - died 13 Sep 1880.

4. Hulda Larson, w/o John, 53 yrs., born 3 Jun 1832 - died 30 Jan 1886.

5. Johnnie Thompson, 21 yrs., born 17 Apr 1865 - died 25 Jun 1886.

6. Thomas A. Thompson, age 78 yrs., born 3 Feb 1813 - died 15 Oct 1890.

7. Martin Thompson, born 4 Jul 1863 - died 10 Jan 1898.

8. A. Aanderson, age 46, born 26 Sep 1852 - died 25 Dec 1898.

9. Norman Thompson, age 29 yrs., born 3 Feb 1871 - died 23 Dec 1900.

10.Nelson Thompson, age 75 yrs., born 2 Nov 1825 - died 1 May 1901.

These stones were leveled, repaired and reset by Doris & Henry Heaton in November of 1999.

1. Thompson, Nels, Nov. 2, 1826 - May 1, 1901

Richard, died Oct. 1 1883

Joseph, died Oct. 3, 1895

Johnnie, Apr. 17, 1865 - Jun 25, 1886

Martin, Jul 4, 1863 - Jan 10, 1892

1a. 4 Footstones

2. McClary, Betsey, Dec 13, 1950 - Mar 25, 1879, w/o W. McClary

3. Larson, Hulda, died Jan 30, 1886, 33y 7m, w/o John LarsonN

4. Thompson, Norman, died Dec 23, 1900, 29y 9m 23d

5. Thompson, Margaret, died Sep 13 1890, 25y 9m 13d, w/o Thomas Thompson

Children of T & M Thompson

6. Mother

1a. 4 Infant Stones

7. Thompson, Thomas A., Feb 3 1812 - Oct 15 1890

8. Anderson, A. died Dec. 25, 1898 47y 2m 29d


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