This website was established to remember the pioneers who founded Trysil Lutheran Church in Holmes City township, Douglas Co MN, tilled the land, lived their lives and raised their families here. Now those names that filled the ministerial records with baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths lie in the ground where the church once stood. Many of their descendants still own parts of the ancestral farms and the stories still abound along with many pictures and diaries that give us glimpses into the past.
Of course, much of the history of Trysil church also involves its pastors throughout the years. The first pastor called as minister to Trysil was Rev. Christian Tollefson Saugstad born in Ringsaker, Hedmark, Norway 13 Jun 1838. He immigrated to America in 1858 and took up studies to become a “prest”. When called to Trysil congregation in July 1872, he was still a student and though counseled by his superiors not to accept the pastorate, he did. The congregation settled on a salary of $100.
Services were in the school house until the church was built and dedicated in August 1875. Described as a very “joyful day”, pastors and people were present from all the neighboring congregations “ and the church could not seat them all but the weather was pleasant and the people sat on the church lawn and listened to the word of God through the windows. Dinner was served in a lean to by the church.”
Rev. Saugstad helped the parish through its early steps, began a reading society, often filled the pulpit in other congregations and was part of the fabric of the community along with his wife Randienne and large family. Randienne died giving birth to twins in April 1877. The deaths of his wife and one of his children can be found on this website.
A year later, Christian married a local woman, Gunil Myhr at Trysil church. March 10, 1888 Rev. Saugstad tendered his resignation. He had faithfully served the congregation for eight years. “He had with rare capability served for 8 years and I don’t wonder that he would like to try a change. In daily rounds and conversations one learned to love Saugstad. He was never strict unless maybe to his horse. In the pulpit he spoke with authority.”
In the early days of church congregations there were many troubles due to doctrinal disagreements resulting in splits, the Synod and the Conference. Saugstad affiliated with the Conference.
The next few years Saugstad served congregations in Neby and Crookston, MN before his friend, the railroad man, Jim Hill invited him to establish a colony on the Pacific in British Columbia. In 1894, Saugstad assembled a party and headed west to begin the colony of Bella Coola.