"I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.€

About 96 years ago Amund Nelson Opheim emigrated to what is now Griggs County from Winnesheik County, Iowa, so he became Griggs County's first settler and in 1932 his cabin was moved to the county courthouse lawn, and has become a Griggs County shrine.  In the spring of 1880 several neighbors of Opheim from Iowa, formed an emigrant train with their covered wagons, some driving oxen, some horses, and driving their stock along, headed for Dakota Territory.  Among these pioneers were Ole Olson Bjornstad and sons, Gilbert, Bernt, Martin and Theodore and his daughter Mary

 John Anderson

 Hans P. Pramhus and his son Hans

 and several others.  These took homesteads near the river in what is now called Romness Township.

We can imagine the early pioneers were glad when the mission pastors Vaage, Harstad and Lundeby visited them and gathered them about the Word of God.  In the summer of 1880, Pastor Vaage came into the Sheyenne Valley to visit the flock of his faith, and guide them.  The first meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Anna Nelson, who had just built a small log house.  The sermon preached by him at that place was probably the first religious sermon delivered in Griggs County and it led up to the organization of the Ringsaker Congregation.  In the summer of 1881, Reverend Vaage preached at Mrs. Nelson's home again and then baptized two children who had been born during the first winter of settlement.  They were Anton C. Olson (first child born in Romness) and Elmer Mathison.  Pastor Harstad of Mayville also conducted services in the community.

Reverend I. L. Lundeby visited the organization on his way from Valley City to Devils Lake at the home of Andrew Knutson.  Services were held in various homes and later on in schoolhouses as they were built.  Services often were held in Andrew Knutson's house, as his house was larger than the ordinary because he also had a store and post-office called Lybeck (a quiet stream).

We read from the minutes of the first business meeting held: 

"After services conducted by Mission Pastor I. L. Lundeby in Andrew Knutson's house February 9, 1882, Ringsaker congregation was organized and the following joined as members: 

Ole Olson Bjornstad, Gilbert Olson, Anders Nelson, Hans P. Pramhus, Syver Syverson Solei, and Carl Anderson Flisaram. 

Of these, Syver S. Solei was elected secretary.

The next minutes of the Congregation read as follows: 

"After services at Andrew Knutson's on Thursday, November 2, 1882, a meeting of Ringsaker Congregation was held, and the following joined as members: 

Martin Johnson, John Johnson, Mrs. Anne Nelson, and Bernt Olson.€  The next meeting of the congregation was held after services in Andrew Nelson's home March 20, 1883, when Erick Johnson Vestern and family joined the congregation.  Andrew Anderson Hovelsrud and family joined August 13, 1883.

On November 8, 1881, this little flock was reminded how uncertain is life when Mrs. Anna Nelson Svartberget (Anna Andersdatter), 48 years old, was called away, and in the fall of 1882 five children passed away during the diphtheria epidemic.  Thus it was that it became necessary to get a place of burial, and Ole Olson Bjornstad was appointed to ask Carl A. Flisaram for an acre of land for a cemetery, and Flisaram donated the land.

During the year of 1883 Syver Syverson was requested to organize a Sunday School.  On December 28, the minister was paid $28.00, which was a year's salary, but at a meeting at Qualey's schoolhouse on February 9, 1884, it was ordered that a yearly salary of $100.00 be paid.

The first confirmation was held on May 25, 1884.  Magnus Lynner, Augusta Vestern and Thea Sletten were the three confirmed.  The first couple married were Paul J. Nelson and Helen Vestern on May 24, 1884.

On January 4, 1896 a discussion was had about building a church.  A committee was elected consisting of Pastor O. K. Kvamme, P. P. Idsvoog and Gilbert Olson.  They were to investigate costs and make plans and find out what a church 30 x 40 would cost.  On January 6, 1897 it was decided to build a church that summer, according to the plans submitted by the building committee, the church to be built on the cemetery grounds.  The committee was requested to hire carpenters by the day, and the congregation would help with the work.  The Ringsaker church was built in 1897 at a first cost of $1380.45.  Thus Ringsaker Church was built and paid for in less than one year.  In 1899 a bell was installed as a gift from the Young People's Society.  The church was dedicated on July 13-15, 1902 by Prof. Oftedahl from Augsburg Seminary, Minneapolis, MN.

The first child baptized in this congregation was Herman Ludvig Johnson.  He was baptized the day the congregation was organized, February 9, 1882.  Others baptized the first year were John Peter Johnson and Anna Maria (Olson) Hilstad.

A cemetery association was organized in 1938.  The following year the constitution and by-laws were drawn up.

Up to 1957 eleven pastors and seven student pastors have served the Ringsaker congregation since it was organized.

To God be the glory, and the honor, and the praise for what has been accomplished.  The future lies in His Hands.

Ringsaker Church was named after Ringsak, Norway, the area from which Ole Olson Bjornstad came.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 page 385


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