Ladies Aid Societies

In every church history, one theme consistently appears.  Whether it be the Scandinavian Lutherans or the English speaking Presbyterians, each church had the women of the church to thank for being the driving force behind sustaining the church.  For example, in fall of 1873,  women in both Fargo and Moorhead churches organized events to benefit the church in Fargo.  The proceeds of the first oyster supper and art showing totaled $143.21.[1]  At the Presbyterian church, whenever a contribution was needed, whether that be service or money, the “ladies aid” was  there to lend a helping hand.[2]  These are just a few of the many examples that highlight the importance of the ladies aid societies in Fargo that would expand beyond church matters and into the enforcement of good moral order in Fargo.

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[1] Byers, Clara. 1937. Historical sketch of Gethsemene Epicopal Church

[2] Lane, W. J., and D. T. Robertson. 1927. The past made present. S.l: s. n]. 69.

The First Lutheran Church

The First Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church

The building was first built as the First Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church, cornerstone being having been built in May 26, 1895. It was designed by the Hancock brothers, George nd Walter, and served as a church until about 1919, when it was removed and replaced by a funeral home [Courtesy of the North Dakota State University Archives].

Like other religious groups, Lutherans populated the landscape in large numbers, which brought about the need for a communal place of worship.  Members established a church in which they aptly named First Lutheran Church, located in the area of 400 Roberts Street.  The church was built with an open porch and there were several wooden homes built next to this church.

As with most of the other early religious structures, the main and most noticeable consistency was the very large and high steeple; it is as if the churches were made to be seen stretching into the heavens.

This church is different from others in that that it was built with an outer decor consisting of wood frame.  This picture also shows that the surrounding residences were made of both wood and brick, thereby indicating that the skills and trades of many populations were getting supplies from both river and rail.

Most likely, the wood came from mills in Minnesota.  Judging by the original land plot and other historical records,  R.L. Frazee in Frazee, Minnesota, was dedicated to producing lumber and turned out building supplies  that was eventually loaded to rail for the west.  Some of the wood later would be committed to the United States Government to build the First Pony Express as the rails pushed West.

In summary, the first people to form the new community of Fargo were rich in both tradition and a history that they brought from many points of origin all over the world.  With immigration to Fargo also came the traditional beliefs that resonate within each culture and also made a permanent mark on the surrounding community.  Rich with tradition and deep in history, the community of Fargo grew into a stable and robust community greatly influenced by the cultural diversity of immigration and migration.

With diversity came the freedom of religion. The early settlers held the ideals of western movement and ultimately established a similar base of faith and beliefs that  grew quickly and expanded the country from coast to coast; faith and religion were very important in each and every landscape that marked progression from the Fargo area to the Puget Sound.

As testaments to the faiths that motivated early settlers, their beliefs never faltered and many of the early churches still carry on the traditions of their interpretation of religious and today’s skyline still holds their steeples in our prayers and in the community’s sites.

Rusty Ouart, Digital History 2012

St. Mark’s English Lutheran Church

Rev. Ulery photo
St. Mark's English Lutheran ChurchRev. W.F. Ulery came to Fargo in 1885 to start a Lutheran church whose services were done in English as all of the services offered in the area where in the people’s native tongues.  He persuaded the Southern Railway Depot to allow him to use their building to teach Sunday School.  During his two years of teaching Sunday school he raised the $2,000 needed to build a church proper on a three lots on the corner of 8th street and 4th Ave north.  The construction on the church started on July 25, 1886 and the first service was held on May 18, 1887.  There were 10 members of the congregation at that time.[1]St marks English Lutheran_01

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012

[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012 <>


Pontoppidan Lutheran Church

Pontoppidan Church

On December 14, 1877 25 charter members met in the home of G. Johnson to organize this church and came up with the name Pontoppidan Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation.  The name was changed in 1878 to the First Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fargo and changed again only a month later to Pontoppidan Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church.  The foundation of the church was laid in August 1878 at 415 3rd Street North and was completed in the fall of 1879.  It was lost in the fire of 1893.[1]Pontoppidan

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012

[1] Caron, John. “Fargo, N.D., History Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU.” Fargo, N.D., History  Exhibition, Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU. North Dakota State University, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2012 <<


First Norwegian Lutheran Church

Norwegian Lutheran Church photo

A group of Norwegian immigrants settled in the Fargo-Moorhead area in 1871.  Many of them were living in tents located in the river town district.  The first service for this group was held on October 4, 1872 by Rev. Niels T. Ylvisaker in a Moorhead home.  The congregation named itself Moorhead Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation at that time and built their first church in 1874.  They were forced to sell the building because of the financial hardship it caused and rent meeting facilities in Fargo.  They changed their name another three times before landing on the current name.  The congregation was finally able to build another church in 1895 on the corner of Roberts Street and Fourth Avenue North for $14,000.  At this time their membership had grown from 31 to 283 people.[1]First LutheranChurch

Heather Brinkman, Digital History 2012

[1] First Lutheran Church. “History” 2009. web. Oct. 30, 2012  <>