Det Gamla Kyrkan
In June 1859, seminary student John Pehrson
was invited to come to Jamestown
for the summer. It was during this visit, on September 9, that he received his
license to preach. He was ordained in 1860 when he returned to Jamestown. During his two year stay, as First
Lutheran's second pastor, he was not overtly friendly and spent much of his
time alone. Previous to studying for the ministry, he had taught school and had
a reputation of being very strict and on occasion of not sparing the rod.
The third pastor of First
was C.O. Hultgren. He was born on Christmas Day in
1832 in Vens, Kalmarslan, Sweden.
In 1853, at age 21, he came to Andover,
Illinois with his parts, brothers
and sisters. As soon as he could, he acquired 160 acres of rich farmland which
he cleared and developed. He became acquainted with Pastor Jonas Swensson and frequently drove him on his parish visits. In
time he felt a desire to become a pastor. He made arrangements to work as a
hired man for Pastor Swensson in exchange for
tutoring in his lessons. Things went well and in the following year he sold his
farm and entered the university in Springfield.
In July 1863, seminary student C.O. Hultgren arrived
in Jamestown to conduct worship services and
vacation Bible school until fall when he would return to his studies in Illinois. He graduated
from seminary after five years of study and was ordained on June 19, 1864 in Rockford, Illinois.
The following year Pastor Hultgren
accept a call from First
preaching his inaugural sermon on the Eighth Sunday after Trinity. Until this
time, the congregation in Jamestown had met and
worshipped in private homes and various public buildings in Jamestown
including the Academy on Spring Street, a school building on Allen Street, James Hall on E. Third Street,
and the Wesleyan Church on Prendergast Avenue.
On August 10, 1864 the Jamestown
congregation voted to purchase a lot for 800.00USD. However, because of a lack
of funds, they decided to delay building a church until after January 1, 1866.
Many men in the congregation volunteered to grade the lot and Pastor Hultgren shrewdly kept a careful list of their names until
the work was complete.
A building committee was appointed. They drew up plans for a
church 60 feet long, 36 feet wide and 18 feet high with a tower in front. The
church was to be surrounded by a picket fence. It was constructed for a cost of
A widowed member of the church donated a huge pine tree, a
local landmark, from her property in Ashville. The tree, whose trunk measured 6
feet in diameter, had been struck by lightening, shattering the
top. Once cut up, it was sufficient to sheath the outside of the church as well
as provide the wood for the first altar and pulpit!
At this time, the congregation had 165 communicant members.
An organ [now located in the church parlors] was purchased for
1200.00USD. The congregation had been using a Palmodik,
which was a type of barrel organ.
By 1880 the membership had grown to nearly 800 members. To accommodate
this number, the church was doubled in size by extending its length to 120
feet. It was referred to as a tunnel. The pulpit and the altar were moved to
the midpoint of the church.
In 1888 the membership had swelled to over 1000 and again a
building committee was appointed to plan for a new building. The wood church
was moved to the rear of the lot and supported on large posts in preparation.
During this time, the story goes, a neighbor's goat
crawled under the church floor and began bleating while the service was being
In 1895, the congregation moved into the basement (church
parlors) of the new stone church and the old wooden church was demolished.