Listen to the Weekly Radio Readings by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member, or tune in to WILD 102 Radio Sunday mornings.
Available recordings will be linked to the Wild 102 “Looking Back in Time” page for the rest of the story. The entire week’s story will be printed if the audio is unavailable.
Recorded November 2022
November 20, 2022:
Seventy years ago, the people of the Ross Parish, which included Concordia, Pinecreek, and Roselund Churches decided to build a parsonage for their new Pastor Sutter. The Roseau Times-Region decided to write a story about that in the January 17, 1952 edition, which I’ll read to you today.
A new parsonage is going up at Ross … a solid, well-designed, modern parsonage that will include a recreation center for youth as well as a home for the minister who serves the Ross-Duxby-Pinecreek Parish. It is brand new from a newly-poured concrete basement to freshly-painted walls and newly hung doors … and it’s a triumph for a parish that overcame a big problem with a direct approach and a simple answer.
It was a problem of simple arithmetic: Add: the need for parsonage and services of the minister. Multiply by rent paid for temporary parsonage; subtract the advantages of permanent parsonage over renting … and the answer was plain as two and two. BUILD a parsonage! It wasn’t quite that simple, though … for there was one thing that had to be considered … cost and means of finance.
Naturally, the church group appealed to the Home Mission loan but they found that that fund was quite depleted and incapable of helping at the present time. So, just before the arrival of Rev. Sutter and his family, they decided they could wait no longer and began to lay plans to go ahead on their own on the parsonage.
When Rev. Sutter arrived in June they rented a house from Mrs. Inger Byfuglien for temporary quarters and began to complete planning for the house “across the road” where George Jorgenson had offered an acre of land.
The building committee of Kenneth Johnson, Albert Kvien, and Nels Braaten, got a lot of information and floor plans of various types of houses and spent hours pouring over them in an effort to compromise the plans and design a good home.
At last, they hit upon a good layout and by the middle of October were ready to begin building.
It became a community project among the church members, and right from the first, volunteer workers began to pitch in. Naturally, all the work couldn’t be done by volunteers so Fred Rasmusson was hired as a carpenter. He hired his own men, most of them from the parish, and the building was ready to begin.
One day in the fall a brush-cutting bee was held and the volunteers brought their axes, grubbing hoes, etc., and set to work. They brought their picnic dinners too, and by the time the sun had set beyond the horizon, the land was clear and the site prepared. They had a lot of fun as well as doing a lot of work.
Actual work on the house started a short time later and workers were pouring concrete for the basement in a snowstorm. The footings were covered with flax straw, however, and were not frozen. Then came the framework.
This work was naturally done mostly by the carpenters with a small amount of help from the volunteer workers who always dropped over to see if and how they could lend a hand.
Said Rev. Sutter, “They helped a lot on insulating the house, putting in the sewer and doing some work on the roof. They were greatly interested in the building and wanted to see it completed by Christmas.”
The ladies too did their share of the work. As soon as the framework was up and the interior walls covered, they set to work with paints and finished the interior of the house with the first coat. They planned to finish the work as soon as the carpenters were out of the interior.
When asked who had worked on the house, Rev. and Mrs. Sutter named practically everyone in the community. “There were a great many,” said Rev. Sutter. “I hope I haven’t left anyone out.” Those named were Elmer Johnson, Elmer Foster, Oliver Rice, Roy and Stanley; Nels Braaten and family, Kenneth Johnson, Albert Kvien and family, Mrs. Knute Byfuglien, Mrs. Kenneth Johnson, George Jorgenson, Olaf Jorgenson, Emil Jorgenson, Clarence Haaland, Melford Trangsrud, Jonas Vatnsdal, Albin Olson, T. I. Lislegard, John Elton, John Jorgenson. “There were others, too,” they said, “but it is rather hard to think of them all at once.”
The house is almost completed now and ready for occupancy and it is a dandy. It is 38×28 with six rooms and a great roomy basement under the whole building. Heated with an oil furnace, the well-insulated home will be as snug as can be in the coldest weather.
As one enters from the side of the house, he comes into the kitchen which is as neat and handy as a kitchen can be. Counter space, shelving, and cupboard space are plentiful and it is well-lighted with good-sized windows.
From the kitchen, one goes into the living room. A spacious room, it looks out to the road through a big picture window, a smaller window, and a door.
Just to the right of the kitchen entry, is the door into the hall which runs lengthwise of the building. Opening from the hall is three bedrooms and a bath in a neatly arranged order.
“We’ll have to use one of the bedrooms as a study,” Rev Sutter said as he walked happily through the hall pointing out the features of the house. Mrs. Sutter was busy imagining how she would be arranging furniture.
We went to the basement where finishing work was being done on the plumbing and other fixtures. “Here we plan to have a recreation room for the young folks of the community,” he said. “We can have a ping-pong table and other games for them and it will be a fine place for them to gather.”
As we left the basement he confided that an entryway and garage are planned for the next summer when building weather becomes more suitable for outdoor work.
When you drive over the bridge at Ross, look to the right on the north side of the river. There you will see the new parsonage. You won’t see the pride and effort that went into the building, for that is one of the intangible things. You will know it is there, however … the pride … for without it, not even the brush would have been cleared.
Yes, the folks there have built a parsonage, but they have built more. They constructed a symbol that says, “Here I stand, a solid assurance that faith is stronger than obstacles. That man can overcome his difficulties and no matter how big they seem, come out better for having conquered them.”
America was built that way.
The parsonage was sold many years later, but it’s still out there and being lived in.
Thank you to (www.roseauonline.com) for letting us share our county’s history with your listeners by donating air time, studio time, and production staff every week.