Lake Lillian history #7
This appeared in the June and July issues of the LL News

Lake Lillian churches

This article is about Lake Lillian church history. My curiosity was triggered by a photo of a church that was in the collection of my Aunt Lillian Gauer Anderstrom.

Baptist Church

Of course there was no description on the photo. I came up empty looking through The Centennial History of Kandiyohi County published in 1970. It did not match any of the other old local churches. Note that it had 4 arched windows on a side.

The town of Lake Lillian once had several rural churches nearby. Today the buildings are gone and only the cemeteries remain. Two Lutheran congregations, Christina and Tromso moved into town to eventually become the United Lutheran Church.

The first to move was in 1925 when the Christina Lutheran church building 3.5 miles west of town and .7 miles South of #7 was torn down and the lumber reused for the First Lutheran Church. The Christine Lutheran had organized March 8, 1875 and its building completed in 1889.

Christine Lutheran Church

Next to move in 1946 from North along CR 8 was the Tromso Lutheran Church. The Tromso Lutheran congregation was organized Aug 16 1885 and built in 1885. It became the Grace Lutheran as it built a new church building in town.

Tromso Lutheran Church

The East Lake Lillian Baptist church lasted until 1972. The site is 3 miles east and 1.4 mile N of #7. It was known as the Norwegian Lake Lillian Baptist Church and was built in 1899, The building was 26 x 40 feet with tower, and cost $1,200 including the lot. The picture below also from Aunt Lillian's collection is similar to the one found in the Centennial History of Kandiyohi County 1870 to 1970 and is consistent with the outline of that church on the monument at the site of the Baptist Church.

Baptist Church

The Methodist Church was 0.7 mile east of the lake. It lasted the longest of the nearby rural churches with services through June of 1986. The Norwegian Danish Methodist Episcopal was built in 1890. The Methodists had a church in Lake Elizabeth as early as 1866

Methodist Church

The St Thomas Moore Catholic congregation started in the LL Railroad Depot in 1936. It met later at a building on Main Street that burned. in 1941. A basement church was built later on Swede hill with a pitched roof. Young Lutheran boys could easily climb on top to look around. The present church was built up in 1958.

My cousin Leone now living in Oregon told me that she was a young girl when the Baptist church was rebuilt. The mystery of when was solved by reference to

"The First 100 Years 1864 - 1964" Sponsored by the Lake Lillian Civic and Commerce by Clarence A. Lund. ..with credit especially to Mrs Muriel Madsen and Mrs Helen Linn ... / p. 18 Section on Lake Lillian Baptist Church
The tornado of 1933 completely destroyed the church. The Minnesota Baptist Conference gave the Lake Lillian congregation a church at Nevis, Minn. This was dismantled and incorporated in a new building at the Lake Lillian location. The Christmas program of 1933 was presented in the new church.

That led me to a search of 1933 newspaper headlines to find that powerful tornados traveled through ELL on the evening of May 18, 1933. All of the nearby and Minneapolis papers had articles and pictures. There was no loss of life except livestock killed on several farms. The pictures on the newspaper microfilms at the Minnesota Historical Society are unclear and not copied here. The pictures showed damages to the Riedel farm, the Holmgren farm and a picture of the Baptist church as it appeared before the tornado struck. No doubt that Lillian's picture was of that church.
Following are excerpts from larger articles.

May 20, 1933 Willmar Daily Tribune
Tornado passed through Thursday evening ... (May 18, 1933)
May 24, 1933 Willmar Weekly Tribune / headline
Loss may reach $200,000 mark in this county. The most serious damage in the southern part of the county was done at the farms occupied by Henry Riedel, Mrs. John E Anderson and Mrs. John Holmgren, and at the Lake Lillian Baptist Church. These places being within a few miles of each other. The residence of Mrs. John Holmgren is constructed of concrete blocks. The roof of this residence was sheared off as cleanly as though a knife had been used for the job. ....
May 25, 1933 BIU / Front Page
Cyclone and wind wrecks several farms. Totally wrecked First Baptist Church (ELL). Biggest part of damage was done NE of Lake Lillian. Barn and House badly damaged at Holmgren Brothers. Last Thursday evening about 25 farm places were badly damaged. Some of them total. The farm property of Henry Riedel resident NE of BI suffered the most damage. His place being entirely destroyed. Also Anderson home and new barn ....

One of the pictures showed the Holmgren farm with roof gone from the house and barn wrecked. The roof was replaced later and a more modern barn on that place had been built sometime before my cousin Warren Gauer lived there. During the summers of 1952 and 1953 I was learning how to be a farm kid from him and my bedroom was upstairs in that house. I had no knowledge of the history of that house and place back then.

May 26, 1933 ARP
The Lake Lillian Baptist Church was smashed flat. The steeple was thrown some distance from the remainder of the building but remained almost intact. The damage at the parsonage was confined to broken window panes. Splinters of glass from the windows on the south side of the residence were driven into the north wall of the house. Due to no insurance and the financial conditions it is uncertain when if at all the church will be rebuilt. There is said to be 100 Sunday school students.

The adult membership was 27 in 1905 and 21 in 1970.
The next 2 pictures were also unidentified in collections that I have. They show people salvaging what was left of a church building.

Baptist Church Flat
Baptist Church Salvage Party

Oct 12, 1933 ARP / LL
The monthly meeting of the Lake Lillian Baptist church will hold its meeting at the Leo Gauer home Oct 18. A hearty welcome awaits you.
Oct 18 1933 The Anderson Sisters / Wendell Lundquist original source unspecified Vol III pg 140
The Baptist church that is being built is well under way now and with favorable weather the building will be completed in the near future. The work is being done under the supervision of Willie Carlson and Gilhoe Bros.
Nov 2, 1933 ARP / LL
The work at the Baptist Church is progressing slowly, but gets to look better every day. There was a large attendance at the aid society meeting at the Leo Gauer home Wednesday.
Dec 8, 1933 ARP /LL
The Lake Lillian Baptist Church will be used Dec 10. The building is not finished, there being a lack of funds but it can be used. The gospel team from Storden will be present to help make the first meeting a cheerful one. Come.