History of
Lawrence, WA


SOUVENIR PROGRAM. Cornerstone Laying Ceremony and History of Immanuel Lutheran Church. Lawrence, Washington. JUNE 22, 1947.


It is with gratitude to God that we learn of the early pioneers of our church in this community. They came by water to Whatcom (Now Bellingham), by team and wagon north along the Telegraph Road, by ferry across the Nooksack River, about one mile west of Everson, and then afoot or on horseback to the present site of the community of Lawrence. To take a homestead was their ambition, as they looked about through the virgin forest of cedar and fir, trying to select sites for their new homes.

Two brothers, Ole and S. S. HOWEM, were among the first settlers to take a homestead. Ole left Norway in 1872 and came to Oregon, where he lived until his brother, S. S. HOWEM arrived and together they came to Washington territory in 1883. Indians brought them up the river from Everson by canoe. Ole located on land now owned by HARTLEY, HALVERSON, PUTNAM, S. O. HOWEM and T. FINSRUD; while S. S. HOWEM settled where the parsonage, SWEITZER, OSGOOD, BLICKENSTAFF, HARMONY, HOFF and the town of Lawrence now are located. There they build their log cabins and began the great task of clearing the land. In 1884 Ole HELGESEN and John JOHNSON with their families arrived from the east. Oliver HELGESEN still lives on a part of his father's homestead, while the H. M. MONSEN, SANDE and CASE farms comprise the JOHNSON homestead.

About 1887 John KNUTSEN and family homesteaded across the river on the Smith Road, east of the Mount Baker highway.

Mr. Christian L. TOLLUM brought his wife and six children from North Dakota, arriving here on July 3, 1888. They lived for six months in the log cabin which still stands on what is now the Otto LARSEN home -- until he was able to build a house on his homestead at the foot of the hill. This is still the home of his youngest daughter, Marie TOLLUM.

We like to mention two brothers, Helmer and Iver IVERSON, who settled in this growing community in 1888 and 1889 respectively. Mr. and Mrs. Helmer IVERSON were married in 1897 by Rev. O. HAGOES and will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary this year at Everson, Washington. Mr. and Mrs. Iver IVERSON later moved to Fir, Washington, where they engaged in farming.

Among other early settlers we include K. BAKKERUDE, Ole and Halvor KNUTSON and A. FJELSTAD. In April, 1891, the H. C. HOFF family came from the east. Their home was the present H. M. MONSEN home.

As early as 1887 Rev. JORGENSON journeyed north from Stanwood to visit small communities which were without a Lutheran pastor. He came to Lawrence and his first service here was at the J. S. JOHNSON home. As travel was slow and difficult, he came only three or four times a year. On his visits here he instructed two confirmations, Emma (TOLLUM) HOFF and Belle (HELGESEN) ROHRBACKER, but the last three months the two young ladies went to Stanwood, where they stayed and finished their lessons and were confirmed. The work of Rev. JORGENSEN led in 1891 to the calling of Rev. L. C. FOSS, who was serving a congregation at Fairhaven -- South Bellingham. His memory will live long in our church, as he was so closely linked with its humble beginning. Marie TOLLUM was the first baby baptized by Rev. FOSS. She was baptized at his first service here, held at the J. S. JOHNSON home on March 15, 1891. Marie TOLLUM, after her confirmation, took charge of the Sunday School as teacher and superintendent and was organist for more than twenty-five years of continuous service.

Mr. and Mrs. K. A. SORENSON were the first couple united in marriage by Rev. FOSS.

Rev. FOSS helped organize the congregation in 1891 and on January 7, 1892, the first constitution, written in Rev. FOSS' handwriting, was read and adopted by the following members: Ole HOWEM, C. L. TOLLUM, K. BAKKERUDE, H. C. HOFF, S. S. HOWEM, J. S. JOHNSON, Halvor KNUTSON, Hans SKJELSTAD and Ole HELGESEN. The first officers were:
   Trustees: S. S. HOWEM, Ole HELGENSEN, C. L. TOLLUM.
   Treasurer: Ole HOWEM.
   Secretary: H. C. HOFF.
   Klokar: Ole HOWEM.

In 1892 plans were begun to build a church home and Rev. FOSS also took the lead here. He was a good carpenter and, with the able help of C. L. TOLLUM, acted as chief carpenter. No figures are available on the cost of lumber then but all labor was donated. There was little money but willing hands. Little by little the church was built and was formally dedicated in 1898.

Before the church was finished two young people were receiving confirmation instruction. They were Herman HOFF and Anna (KNUTSON) PETERSEN. These confirmants, together with others from Lynden, Bellingham, South Bellingham and Anacortes, were confirmed as one class in what is now St. John's Lutheran Church in Bellingham. Fred WILLIAMS and Henry SHAGREN were also in this class.

Rev. Foss was given a saddle horse by Mr. C. X. LARRABEE. The horse brought him from Whatcom (Bellingham); Nugent's Ferry brought travelers across the river.

The first confirmation was held in the church in 1893. The five members of this class were Anton TOLLUM, Gina KINGSLEY, John and Tina Johnson and Peter JOHNSON. Rev. FOSS fathered about fifteen young people as a choir. Being the tallest member, Gustav HOFF held the lantern while they practiced songs from the "Harpen." Some of the choir members were Herman and Gust HOFF, Emma and Josephine TOLLUM, Gina KINGSLEY, George and John LARSEN, Mrs. Ole KNUTSEN, Helmer IVERSON, John and Tina JOHNSON and Bert HENDRICKSON.

As Rev. Carlo SPERATI had come as pastor to Whatcom (Bellingham), he acted as assistant to Rev. FOSS until 1894. The Ladies Aid was organized with Rev. SPERATI present in the home of C. L. TOLLUM in November 1891, with the following ladies as charter members: Mrs. HOWEM, Mrs. J. JOHNSON, Mrs. Ole KNUTSON, Mrs. C. L. TOLLUM, Mrs. H. SKJELSTAD, Mrs. Iver IVERSON, Mrs. Ole HELGESEN, Mrs. A. FJELSTAD, Mrs. H. C. HOFF, Mrs. K. BAKKERUDE. Mrs. H. SKJELSTAD and Mrs. K. BAKKERUDE are the only surviving members. Mrs. K. A. SORENSON, who is still an active member of the Ladies Aid, joined soon after its organization. The Ladies Aid acted as a helpmate in the congregation through the years. It helped pay for the lumber for the church, much of which came from the Blankenship mill. It also raised money to pay for the benches, built by C. L. TOLLUM and the pulpit altar ring and the first altar table, built by C. L. TOLLUM and Lars HOWEM. The baptismal font was made and donated by a son of Mrs. SIEVERSON, who lived on the Sand road.

In 1895 Rev. O. HAGOES was called. He also received a horse from Mr. LARABEE, but later he lived one and a half years with Mr. and Mrs. SKJELSTAD, who had purchased forty acres from the S. S. HOWEM homestead at the foot of the hill. In the meantime several other settlers had arrived from the east and from Norway. Some of these were Otto LARSEN, Ed AARSTOL, Ole and Iver FLOTRE, Lars KRINGEN and Lars HOWEM. It is interesting to note that Lars HOWEM acted as secretary and pastor's assistant from 1897 to 1922 continuously and until the English language only was adopted in the church services. Rev. LANE from Bellingham served the congregation from 1900 to 1902. Mr. LANE was the first organist.

Rev. O. J. ORDAL was called in 1902. He traveled from Bellingham by bicycle and horse and buggy. Bible School, which then was called Norwegian School, was conducted for a month each summer by Mr. MONSEN and Mr. KILDAHL and a sister of Rev. ORDAL, Johanna ORDAL. The first circuit meeting was held in our church in May, 1904. It was a three-day meeting. Pastors, delegates and visitors stayed in the homes of members. Ladies brought food partly cooked and finished cooking on a box-heater outside the church. Dinner was served on long boards covered with oil cloth.

Before 1906 Sunday School and Bible School had been held in the church. That year the congregation decided to build a schoolhouse to be used for Sunday School, young people's meetings and choir practice. A half acre of land north of the railroad track was donated by S. S. HOWEM as a building site. In later years Rev. BORGE conducted parochial and public school there for two years.

In 1906 Rev. O. BORGE was serving as assistant to Rev. O J. ORDAL. This congregation had increased to such an extent that it felt it should have its own resident pastor. Rev. BORGE was called and he accepted the call. He also served congregations at Custer, Ferndale, Alder Grove and Matsqui, B. C. As there was no parsonage, Rev. BORGE made his home with S. S. HOWEM family for one and a half years. Then a cottage was built by C. H. HOFF, which was used as a parsonage in which Rev. BORGE and his sister Olga lived. In June, 1911, Rev. BORGE and Sigrid GREIBROOK were united in marriage and went to Vancouver, B. C., where Rev. BORGE accepted a call.

Rev. Martin SKONHOVD accepted a call to our congregation and served here until January 1, 1914.

Rev. Lane again served our congregation until Rev. BORGE'S return in 1915.

In 1918 another building project was launched and the present parsonage was built on an acre of land donated by S. S. HOWEM. With Andrew LEAKWOLD as chief supervisor and generous donations of labor and money by members, Ladies' Aid and others, the parsonage was finished and Rev. BORGE moved into it in the first part of 1919.

In 1924 the new altar table was built by Anton FLOTRE and the statue was given by the Girls' Sewing Circle. The Altar ring was recovered and a new rug put in the church. In August, 1924, Rev. BORGE left for Cambridge, Wisconsin, where he had accepted call.

Rev. J. F. NORBY of Bellingham served our congregation till April, 1925 when C. B. JOHANSON came here from Saskatchewan, Canada. He served our congregation until January, 1940. At that time Rev. JOHANSON retired in the Ferndale-Custer community where he also served as pastor. There he retains active membership in Zion Lutheran Church, which is also served by our pastor.

Rev. C. HAUGEN served as pastor until June, 1940, when Rev. A. N. EGGEN came from Bend, Oregon. During his service here the new building plans were begun with the moving of the parish hall to the church grounds and a new kitchen was built to it. Plans for our new church which we are now building were begun. In October, 1944, Rev. EGGEN left to take charge of the Sunset Home in Eugene, Oregon.

Rev. C. HAUGEN served our congregation until Rev. John V. HALVORSON arrived and was installed on October 14, 1945. In May, 1946, Rev. HALVORSON and Hazel IVERSON were united in marriage, making the parsonage a home for our pastor.

Before the war it was felt that something must be done in order to give more adequate room for the expanding program of the congregation. A building fund was established which continued to grow through the years. By the fall of 1946, the building fund had grown to more than $7,000. Mr. Henry HALVORSON and Mr. Sigurd O. HOWEM donated the present location of the new church. This made it possible to move away from the cemetery. The sentiment was growing stronger and stronger that something must be done in the immediate future either to the old church or with the building project. At that time, pumice stone was investigated and the congregation decided to build the new church with that material. A number of men felt quite undecided about it. Other possible materials loomed up. After further investigation of all these materials, it was decided to use lumber -- the very material for which the Pacific Northwest is known throughout the world.

In the meantime, the H. M. MONSEN and S. O. HOWEM families visited a Lutheran church near Eugene, Oregon, and through the influence of a former pastor, the Rev. A. N. EGGEN, procured the blue-prints of that church. Those plans were reworked by Mr. Leonard BINDON of Seattle and those are the ones which are being followed by our carpenters and foreman.

It would be impossible for us to enumerate the many sacrifices which have made this project possible. Mr. Marvin HOLMES of the Kendall Lumber Company, who is a member of this congregation, offered to sell us all our lumber at mill cost price. Mr. Virgil GRIFFIN of the Griffin Shingle Mill and a son of the congregation, with the cooperation of his staff, is donating all of the shingles for the roof of the new church. The able leadership of the chairman of our building committee, Mr. H. M. MONSEN, and the cooperation of this important committee has been the moving influence and power behind the project. The members of the Building Committee are: Mr. S. O. HOWEM, Mr. O. VALUM, Mr. D. HOINES, Mr. Carl SORENSEN, Mr. Henry HALVERSON, Mrs. D. GRIFFIN, Mr. Raymond SYRE, Mrs. Laura WILLIAMS, Mr. Virgil GRIFFIN, Mrs. Emma HOWEM, Mrs. Myrtle SOLVIK, Mrs. Selma HOWEM, Mrs. Mabel MONSEN, Mr. Sam SORENSON, Mrs. Gertrude HALVERSON, and Mr. M. B. KILDAHL. Mr. Oddliev VALUM has been entrusted with the responsibilities of foreman of the project. The assurance of his competent supervision lends confidence to our venture. The members of the committee on arrangements for the cornerstone laying are: Mr. Sigurd J. HOWEM, chairman; Mrs. Olga HELGESON, Mrs. Martha PUTNAM, Miss Marie TOLLUM, and Mrs. Margaret SORENSON.

Today we have assembled to lay the cornerstone of the new church. Our long awaited building project is under way. Already you can visualize the floor plan of the new church. Within a few days the walls will be going up. Each time we glance at this growing structure our eyes also will be focused on this cornerstone on which appears the inscription: To God Alone the Glory. What could be more vivid evidence that the Lord has been working mightily in our midst than this very structure To Him alone, all glory must be given for this miracle which He is working in our midst.

There are some items of historical interest which were not included in the first writing of this history but we feel that they should be added.

A considerable portion of our present cemetery is a gift of the late Mr. Fred WILLIAMS. The sign which is placed in front of the old church was donated by the Luther League. We also feel that the names of the present officers of the congregation and Ladies' Aid should be included in this document.

The officers of the congregation are:

Board of Directors -- Mr. Sigurd O. HOWEM, chairman; Mr. Oddliev VALUM, Mrs. H. M. MONSEN, Mrs. Daisy B. GRIFFIN, Mr. Daniel HAINES.

Vice-President, Mrs. Olga HELGESON; Secretary, Mrs. Laura WILLIAMS; Treasurer, Mr. Raymond SYRE; Sexton, Mr. Wallace LINDSTROM; Janitor, Mr. Robert PUTNAM.

The officers of the Ladies' Aid are: President, Mrs. Selma HOWEM; Vice-President, Mrs. Gertrude HALVORSON; Secretary, Mrs. Gunhild HATLEY; Treasurer, Mrs. Myrtle SOLVIK.

The members of the committee which prepared and submitted this history are: Mr. Sigurd J. HOWEM, chairman; Mrs. Martha PUTNAM, Mrs. Olga HELGESON, Mrs. Margaret SORENSON, Miss Marie TOLLUM.

     Submitted by Ron Sieber

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