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Garness Church roots go back to farm in Norway


Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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December 31, 2001

The familiar sounds I grew up with, the unloading of the horses, the snorting and pawing, and the cinching of the saddles were all heard that cold blustery day, January 14, 1996. However, someone very important to me was missing from this gathering of horses and riders. It was my father, Sylvan Nelson, who always went from rider to rider with a big smile, shaking hands and making everyone feel welcome.

That day Star, my father’s horse, would be led riderless by, my nephew, Nathan O’Connor on a tribute ride. Joining them on horseback were six members of the Minnesota Cutting Horse Association (MCHA) who solemnly took their pallbearer positions behind the wagon carrying my father’s casket. Family and friends followed the wagon tracks from the village of Newburg the nearly two miles to the Garness Trinity Lutheran Church in rural Mabel. This was Sylvan’s final journey to Garness.

Garness Church named after Garnås, 1868

In early 1868, the "Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church of Newburg" was organized. It was built on land owned and donated by my father’s Great-Great Grandparents, Bjørn and Sidsel Garnås, later to become known as the "Garness Church." The church was completed in 1869 at a cost of about $1,023.

The Garness Church sits high on top of a hill catching inclement weather. On July 25, 1901 the original church was struck by lightning and burned. A new brick church was completed the following year for over $5,000. Norway pines planted around the cemetery still stand there today.

The early Sunday worship services were in Norwegian and lasted longer than an hour. Separate seating was a custom for many years, with the women and smaller children on one side of the church and the boys with their fathers on the other.

The Garness Church altar, altar rail and pulpit were made in 1902 by L.A. Lund of Mabel at a cost of $130. The altar painting was by H.N. Gausta who came to Harmony from Norway at age thirteen. He studied and taught art at Luther College as well as studied in Europe. Gausta’s paintings are found in churches all over the northwest.

Prior to building the Garness Church, the early Norwegian Pastors traveled by foot and by horse to serve the settlement. The following history was taken from the cornerstone of the Garness Trinity Church: Pastor Ulrik Vilhelm Koren, from Washington Prairie Church near Decorah, was the first Pastor serving from 1854-1856. I .....
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"You are a Hjørnevik, but who are you?"

Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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Delivering tragic immigrant news about the 1862 Sioux Uprising 114 years laterBy Deb Nelson GourleyNovember 12, 2001

When I found the Hjørnevik farm near Evanger i Voss, in the Bergan area of Norway in 1976, I felt like I w ..... 
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Astri Herbransdatter 1812

Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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Tracing the history of a Norwegian trunk"By Deb Nelson GourleyOctober 22, 2001

The wagon was fully loaded for the burn pile out in the woods, when I spotted the old painted trunk on the flatbed. I was a second grader at the ..... 
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Norwegian Ancestry Series

Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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The following articles are part of a Norwegian Ancestry series by Deb Nelson Gourley. Deb was raised SE of Preston, MN, at Amherst, and is writing a book about her Norwegian heritage. Deb is a layout editor at the Journal

Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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Rushford-Peterson Wrestling Team

Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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Rushford-Peterson Wrestling. Front row from left: Ben Kruze, Travis Johnsgaard, Abe Wilkemeyer. Middle row: Ben Johnson, J.J. Pettit, Christian Dahl, Nick Langseth, Dustin Johnson. Back row: Matt Rislov, Darrin Dessner, Joe Rye, Lee Johnson, Ryan Agr ..... 
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Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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Fri, Mar 22nd, 2002
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