Ellery Center Swedish Lutheran Church

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Ellery Center, N. Y.

Mrs. and Mrs. Charlie Johnson in 1879, have the distinction of being the first Swedish family to settle in Ellery Center. By 1911, there was a large number of Swedish people residing in Ellery, who had been without a church of their own since settling in this town. Services from time to time were held in the homes and the school house.

On June 29, 1910, it was voted to purchase one-half acre of land from Aaron Anderson for $25. Julius Lincoln from Jamestown, the Vice-Chairman of the New York Conference was present at this meeting. Afterwards the members met at the home of Oscar Johnsons for supper and prayer.

As early as September 26, 1910, the Swedish Evangelist Lutheran Congregation of Ellery, N. Y., and pastor, Eric Bowman of Mayville, N. Y. agreed that members of the church would include both men and women. They appointed Eric Bowman as their pastor to preach every third week. They agreed to incorporate and be recorded at Mayville, N.Y.

At the October 2, 1911, meeting it was voted to build a church, forty feet long and twenty-eight feet wide. At this time there were seventy members.

A deed dated October 23, 1911, from Aaron Anderson and his wife, Minnie Alice Anderson to: Andrew Carlson, Charlie Bergstrom, Robert Lunberg and Oscar M. Johnson, Trustees of the Swedish Lutheran Church and their successors was recorded at Mayville on November 2, 1911. It states on this deed that this building lot was 295 feet x 208 feet 8 inches x 208 feet 8 inches.

An article in the Jamestown paper states that in the fall of 1911, Axel Carlson, Oscar Johnson, Andrew Carlson, Charles Bergstrom and Fred Swanson had been drawing gravel for the Swedish Church building, which was to be erected in the spring, also, they have drawn logs to the sawmill for the same purpose.

Some of the local residence who solicited among the Swedish people for funds to build the church were: Mr. and Mrs. Albert Adelgrin; Mr. and Mrs. Axel Carlson; Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Colander and family; Joseph Ohman and daughter; Charles Frederickson and son; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hallberg; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Johnson; Mr. and Mrs. Axel Lawson; Mr. and Mrs. John Nelson and family; Mr. and Mrs. Olof Samuelson and family; Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Johnson and family; Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Carlson and sons; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bergstrom and sons; Mr. and Mrs. Fred Swanson and family; Martin Brugee and family; Mr. and Mrs. John Olander and family; Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Larson and family; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lunberg and John Anderson.

In the Jamestown Journal, July 2, 1912, it states the cornerstone of the church was to be laid that day followed by a picnic in Oscar Johnson’s Grove.

In the Mayville Sentinel, July 5, 1912, it states the cornerstone was laid Saturday morning at 10 o’clock by Rev. Julius Lincoln, Pastor of the First Lutheran Church of Jamestown, and Vice-President of the New York Conference of the Lutheran Churches of America. Dr. Lincoln was assisted by Rev. Mr. Eric Bowman of Mayville and Rev. E. F. Bergen of Falconer. While the edifice was being built the members met in the upstairs hall of the Grange building. In some records Mr. Clarence Carlson is given as the head carpenter in building the church.

The first class was confirmed in the Ellery Grange Hall, June 1, 1912, who were: Rudolph Johnson, Albert Johnson, Walfrid Carlson, Oscar Larson, Alfred Carlson, Esther Brugee, Agnes Swanson and Jennie Larson. The minister was Rev. Eric Bowman.

On May 13, 1913, the church was dedicated by Rev. L. H. Beck of Kane, Pa., President of the New York Conference of the Swedish Lutheran Church. The services began at 11 a.m. and were continued through the afternoon and evening. Clergymen present were: Rev. Dr. Julius Lincoln of Jamestown; Rev. Felix V. Hanson of the Swedish Lutheran Immanuel Church of Jamestown; Rev. Emil F. Bergren, Falconer Church; Rev. Eric Bowman of the Mayville and Ellery Center Church and several clergymen from Buffalo and vicinity.

On January 9, 1913, the Swedish Young People placed a bell in the tower of the new church. A Swedish Ladies’ Aid Society and a Men’s Society were formed.

This church when built had four pointed church windows and four oblong basement windows on each side. Oil hanging and bracket lamps were used for lighting the church. This church did not have pews but chairs for seating. The church had a full basement equipped with a kitchen and dining hall with a furnace for heat. The members held many social gatherings and suppers in the church basement.

On November 1, 1918, Rev. Eric Bowman resigned to be the pastor of the Emmanual Lutheran Church of Brooklyn, N. Y. On November 25, 1918, an all day reception was held at the church for the new minister, Rev. Mr. A. W. Stark of Mayville, N. Y.

In 1913, the second class, but the first class to be confirmed in the church were: Carl Jacobson, Henry Nelson, Carl Carlson and Leonard Fredrickson.

For several years no services were held in the church when on July 12, 1939, a deed was recorded from Albert S. Samuelson to Arthur T. Peterson, who remodeled the church into a residence.

Before the church was sold the chairs and bell were removed and given to another church. The organ was given to Mrs. John Olander. Mr. Peterson sold the church windows in Lawrence Palmer, who used them in a barn he was building on Route 380 near the Pierson Road in the Town of Stockton.

A deed was recorded at Mayville Court House on January 16, 1946, from Mr. Peterson to Benjamin J. and Ina Brennan. On April 20, 1971, this property was deeded to Kurt M. and Lois Pfaff.

Although the steeple has been removed, the roof changed slightly, a porch built on the back and a garage built in the basement The building was still in use as a residence by the Pfaff’s (1977).

In 2003 the old church is the residence of Ernest B. "Skip" and Leah Renswick.

The history of this church was made possible through the help of: Mr. and Mrs. Pfaff; Mrs. Mabel Edson; Mrs. Fern Peterson; Church records and from Miss Elizabeth Crocker; Microfilm at Prendergast Library; Court Records and a scrap book made by Mrs. Amanda Carlson.

SOURCE: Loraine C. Smith, Town of Ellery Historian. 2003.