This 1915 photo card features the Norwegian Lutheran Church building that was built in 1907. This replaced an earlier pioneer church founded in 1872 by Norwegian immigrant families in Alexandria, Minnesota. Services were held in Norwegian. Each immigrant group in Douglas County, MN had their own churches of varying denominations and languages, except for the Catholics, whose services were mainly in Latin.
In 1927 the church name was changed to First English Lutheran Church, when all services changed to English. Today it is simply First Lutheran Church. In 1948, the church building shown on this card was sold to the Mission Covenant Congregation in Alexandria, and moved to its present site of 13th and Fillmore in Alexandria, and the building at 822 Douglas was built. It’s interesting to drive by both sites today.
Rev. Bennett A. Benson (1870-1945) was born in Dane County, Wisconsin, to Norwegian immigrant parents from Nord-Aurdal, Oppland County, Norway. Rev. Benson’s half brother was Thomas Syvrud (1865-1950), of Alexandria. The middle picture shows Rev. Benson with his wife Thea Gurine (Goli) Benson (1876-1954) and their young sons Reuben and Clifton. The bottom view is of the parsonage, with the Benson family in the yard.
Three views from 1915 Alexandria, MN:
1. Norwegian Lutheran Church – this building built 1907
2. Rev. Bennett A. Benson, wife Thea, and sons Reuben and Clifton
3. The parsonage on Douglas Street, Alexandria, Minnesota.
Rev. B. A. Benson was instrumental in expanding several congregations, including the nearby Farwell Norwegian Lutheran Church, also constructed in 1907.
From a research standpoint, familysearch.org census searches tell a story of the family’s moves: 1900, Dane County, WI; 1910, Alexandria, MN; 1920 and 1930, Brookings, SD.
Rev. Bennett A. Benson and wife Thea both died in Northfield, Minnesota, and are buried back in Dane County, Wisconsin. Findagrave page for Rev. Benson
Their sons both moved to Washington State.
If you are interested in Douglas County Minnesota history, consider becoming a member of the Douglas County Historical Society MN for as little as $30. As a non-profit in Alexandria, MN
We truly appreciate our members who support us in our continuing work to gather, preserve and share the history of Douglas County and its people. Check out our Membership Page.