September History of W-ELCA

As part of Holmen Lutheran’s focus on different generations, the “Ladies Aid” (W-ELCA) history committee will feature stories of women’s faithful service through the years for the church and the community. Look for a new feature on the website each month.


Early “Ladies Aid” Meetings

Translated from Norwegian into English by Elaine Nelson

Earliest activities of area Lutheran women are recorded in a worn “Monitor”  composition book labeled “Long Coulee Aid” and cover meetings from 1896 to 1914.  All are written in Norwegian and signed by the current secretary.


The first entry covers the organizational meeting of March 24, 1896, when the women “resolved to hold a coffee party once every month to save for the Norwegian school.”  Similar to regular parochial schools conducted in the area as early as 1865, the school’s prime purpose was for religious learning.  The sessions lasted from two to six weeks long, with the scope of the curriculum quite likely based on the individual teacher’s expertise. 


The women met nine more times in 1896, with collections ranging from $3.80 to $11.10 per meeting.  The year’s total was $78.50, an admirable sum considering that each person paid 10¢ per meeting plus 10¢ for lunch.   In August, the Long Coulee Aid paid Matilda Molstad $39.00 for teaching.


In 1898, the outgoing payments were “School money to Matilda Molstad $32.50” and “gift to Miss Molstad and to Julefest (Christmas party)  $15.60.”

Records for succeeding years continue to give dates, names of hostesses, and collection amounts, with $1.00 gifts common.  Disbursements increase. 


Ÿ  Annual Juletrefest  amount varies

Ÿ  1898  Group referred to as Ladies Society (Kvindeforening)

Ÿ  1899  Toward organ $8.00 [Halfway Creek?  Lewis Valley?] 

Ÿ  1900  Hospital gift  $50.00

Ÿ  1901  Teacher’s boarding $10.50 [annual]

Ÿ  1901  Gift to Children’s Home

Ÿ  1901  Gift to Ole Holter [the first of several gifts to individuals]

Ÿ  1904  Gift to pastor farmhouse  [quite likely Halfway Creek]

Ÿ  1904  Meeting held in the schoolhouse [quite likely Long Coulee]

Ÿ  1905  Gift for painting the church $15.00  [which church?]

Ÿ  1907  Gift to church farm $17.50 [Halfway Creek]

Ÿ  1907  Washing the school [walls and floor] $2.50

Ÿ  1907  Gift to Seamen’s Mission $5.00 [the first of several]

Ÿ  1907  Gift to Old People’s Home $3.00

Ÿ  1908  Held bazaar, first of several, in Holmen church basement [built 1907]

Ÿ  1908  Synod’s pension fund  $5.00

Ÿ  1910  Gift to H. W. B. K.  [?]

Ÿ  1910  Hire Miss Birdie Moe to teach six weeks for $45.00 plus her board

Ÿ  1910  Gift to Halfway Creek Basement  $10.00

Ÿ  1910  Altar statue for Holmen Church  $50. 83

Ÿ  1910  Holmen Church custodian  $5.00

Ÿ  1910  Minutes being signed by “treasurer” instead of “secretary”

Ÿ  1910  June meeting conducted by Miss Birdie Moe included an opening song, devotions, and a final song

Ÿ  1910  July meeting conducted by Miss Moe included two songs by the school children and two songs by five young women

Ÿ  1910  August meeting conducted by Pastor Berrum, including singing and devotions

Ÿ  1910  September meeting conducted by Mrs. Berrum, including singing and devotion.  (This format continued.)

Ÿ  1911  Gift to decorating Holmen church  $20.00

Ÿ  1911  Gift of a cord of wood to Holmen Church  $4.00

Ÿ  1911 Gift toward Luther statue $5.00


As one can see, the generosity of the Ladies Aid in the early years made many church projects possible and benefited the whole community.

Records from the l940’s and 50’s give us another look at Ladies Aid meetings and how they influenced the whole community.


1940’s & 50’s Ladies Aid

Written by:  Judy Hoffman

Everyone in Holmen knew when the Ladies Aid met because it was a special event in women’s lives, as well as the community in the 1940’s and 50’s.  Lunches made by Holmen Lutheran women sold for ten cents in the 1940’s.


Elaine Nelson remembers that the women had to have more lunches ready than women present at the meetings because various businesses in town, such as the bank, the creamery, Jostad’s Store, the mill, and the filling station would each send someone to the church to pick up lunches for their employees.


Ladies Aid meetings were social, as well as spiritual gatherings, possibly because there weren’t as many other events happening in people’s lives at that time.  Meetings were well attended by women of all ages, including those with small children.  Devotions, music, and Bible studies followed the business portion of the meetings.


A serving committee of four ladies each time served sandwiches, cake, and pickles.  Following is the recipe from Mrs.  Walter (Leona) Tolvstad for the famous Ladies Aid Meat Sandwiches.


Mrs. Water (Leona) Tolvstad’s Recipe

3 lb. roast beef

3 lb. roast pork

1 onion

salt and pepper to taste

l/4 t. nutmeg


Trim fat, cook roasts (save juice) until well done.  Pick meat off from the bones and cool.  Grind meat and reheat, adding juice gradually.  If not enough juice, boil 1 bullion cube in a cup of water and add gradually until mixture is in spreading consistency.  Refrigerate.  Can be frozen.


Today at some Holmen Lutheran circle meetings, the hostess may serve basically the same type of menu in remembrance of past Ladies Aid lunches.