IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Church records

Old West Paint Creek Church
Center township

The church and cemetery are located on Maud Rd. 1/4 mi. south of Elon Rd.

Old West Paint Creek church - photographer: Sharyl Ferrall Old West Paint Creek church - photographer: Sharyl Ferrall

Photo by Sharyl Ferrall

Old West Paint Creek Church was formed in 1858. It was, and still is, linked with Old East Paint Creek Church (1850)

Old West Paint Creek Church
by Mabel Medary, Gazette Correspondent

Waukon - In the late forties the pioneer ancestors of the present Old West Paint Creek Lutheran congregation, who came from Norway, landed at Rock Prairie, Wis. They lived there until 1849. However, because there was no government land of any value for them there, a group of men decided to investigate unsettled land in Iowa, which they heard was fertile. The men making the trip were Ole Storla, Sven Hesla, Ole Larson and Erick Kittelson.

The group ferried across the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien and, after landing on the Iowa shore, took a northward course which eventually brought them to the small stream known as Paint creek. Running parallel to the creek was an Indian trail that the men followed to a big spring where Waukon now is located. They considered settling there, but decided against it because they thought the location was too far from the Mississippi for transportation and for the development of future markets.

Finding what is now known as East Paint creek, they decided it was an ideal place to settle, particularly because of the fine farm land in the area. They returned to Rock Prairie to tell their friends and relatives of the "promised land" they had found.

The first group arrived at Paint creek in the spring of 1850. It included Nels T. Roe, Bjorn Hermanson, Halver Ellefson, Lars Jeglum, Ole Leikvold, Svend Hesla, Ole Storla and Osten Goldberg and their families. Others came later on. Some settled on West Paint creek and others on East Paint creek.

On Jan. 6, 1851, the East Paint Creek congregation was organised. It continued to 1858. Then, because roads and transportation facilities were not good, a second congregation was organised in the West Paint creek settlement.

The West Paint Creek church was frame and was started in 1858. It was built by Jacob Johnson, a carpenter from Norway. This original church soon proved too small for the rapidly growing community and a 16-foot addition was built, plus a sanctuary 14 feet wide, 20 feet long and 14 feet high. The belfry was removed and a steeple measuring 12 by 12 by 32 feet was built.

Seven years later, in June, 1889, the church was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire. A second church was speedily built, this time using rock. With the exception of a few changes it is the one now standing.

Lightning again struck on June 24, 1893, but this time only the steeple was damaged. It was torn down to the belfry and remained that way until 1898, when the present steeple was built.

Later improvements included a new vestry, built in 1902 at a cost of $377. In 1910 the interior was lathed and plastered and a steel ceiling was added at a cost of $1,378. John Gulrud built the cement steps at the front entrance and plastered the outside of the church. In 1916 the basement was built at a cost of $1,342.

Seven pastors have served the church. The first was the Rev. Ulrick W. Koren, who was followed by the Rev. Orven J. Hjort (first Norwegian minster ordained in the Norwegian synod), the Rev. C.C. Stoltz, the Rev. H.A. Hartman (who left to accept a call in the state church in Norway), the Rev. C.J.M. Gronlid (whose 25-year pastorate has been the church's longest), the Rev. A.P. Lea and the present pastor, the Rev. E.O. Baais.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, December 17, 1955


Waukon Church Razed

Waukon - A fire destroyed the old West Paint Creek Lutheran church east of here Wednesday night. Damage was estimated at about $60,000 by firemen. Units from Waukon and Waterville fought the blaze, which left only the stone walls of the church standing.
~Oelwein Daily Register, May 23, 1968


The congregation of the Old West Paint Creek Lutheran church near Waukon held its first service in the newly-remodeled quarters last Sunday. The church was remodeled after a fire last May, and the congregation has been using the East church. New paneling, floor tile and ceiling were installed and the walls were painted. Hot water heat has been installed. It was the third time since 1858 that the church was hit by fire. The original frame structure, built in 1858, was destroyed by fire after lightning struck the building in 1880. The present stone building was completed in 1886 and was damaged by a lightning-set fire in the 1930's.
~Cedar Rapids Gazette, March 23, 1969

~photographs taken by, and news articles were transcribed by S. Ferrall


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