Fall Social Event Announcement and Recent News

Dear followers of this site, we have scheduled a Fall Social and photo exhibit for Sunday afternoon, October 9, 2016. Wildlife photographs (mostly birds) by Charles Cottle, retired UW-Whitewater professor, will be featured. Refreshments will include apple cider and Norwegian bakery. Lisa Bauer will play the flute, and as before, there is a self-guided tour of the the cemetery available. Here is the announcement. Please share it with all who might be interested. We hope to see you there.flyer-fall-2016-version-2

As noted, framed and unframed photos will be available for sale. We will also have note cards available. Charles says he will gladly take orders for photo sizes not available at the event.

For those who may not know how to get to the East Richmond Cemetery on County Highway P, here are the maps.


Recent News

It has been a while since news has been posted here, but that does not mean the restoration of the Heart Prairie Methodist-Episcopal Church has stalled. In fact, much has happened over the summer.

Church Restoration
Much of the activity this summer has focused on the construction and installation of new windows for the church and the painting of the walls as shown in the photos below. Because everything in the church is being restored to its original condition and appearance in the 1850’s, the window restoration was painstaking and tedious. Fortunately, volunteers helped the project along.


Georgia Kestol-Bauer Cleaning One of the Original Church Windows

The follow photo is of Evie McIntyre painting a church window dedicated to the memory of her parents.


Evie McIntyre Paints a Window Dedicated to the Memory of Her Parents

In the photo below, Rhonda Thompson, the great-great-great granddaughter of Christopher Steenson is painting one of the new windows. Christopher Steenson was one of the original founders of the church. It was he who gave the land to the community for the cemetery.


Rhonda Thompson, Descendant of Christopher Steenson, Paints Her Family Window

Below is a photo of Alexandra Kestol, great-great-great granddaughter of Peter Kestol, one of the church founders, painting trim at church.


Alexandra Kestol Painting Trim

And here is a snapshot taken sometime in the middle of getting the walls ready for  priming. As shown, the cracks in the plaster have just been repaired.


The Walls Ready for Primer

New Organ Donated
Another major event in the church restoration this summer was the acquisition of a new organ for the church. Donated by Duane Austin from Beloit, Wisconsin, the organ was delivered on Tuesday, September 27th, by the Reverend Larry Froemming. The organ is in great shape and sounds wonderful. Look for a video in this space soon.

The Church Founders’ Descendants Get Together
During the past year, the descendants of the early church founders got together for the first time. In May, Georgia Kestol-Bauer traveled to Eau Claire, Wisconsin to meet with the Stensen family. And later in the summer, Rhonda Thompson and her husband, visited the church. While there, they painted one of the windows.

In the photo below, Georgia Kestol-Bauer visits in Eau Claire with Iner Stensen Jr., the great-great grandson of Christopher Steenson.


Georgia Kestol-Bauer Visits with Iner Stensen Jr.

The photo below pictures Georgia Kestol-Bauer with the Stensen’s in Eau Claire.


Georgia Kestol-Bauer, Iner Stensen Jr., Rhonda Thompson, and the Stensen Family






“Bless the Church” Service – September 27, 2015

Reverend Kimberly Brumm stands in the center of the platform while the congregation is in the foreground of the image.

The Reverend Kimberly Brumm Conducts the “Bless the Church” Service

On September 27, 2015, a warm Sunday afternoon, Reverend Kimberly Brumm of the Richmond United Methodist Church officiated at a “Bless the Church” service at the Heart Prairie Methodist-Episcopal Church at East Richmond Cemetery. Approximately fifty people were in attendance. In addition to Reverend Brumm, others participating in the service were Lisa Bauer (flautist), Alexandra Kestol (Lighting of the Candles), Fox Bauer and Jonathan Kestol (Ringing of the Bells), and Solveig Quinney (a Norwegian Reading). Georgia Kestol-Bauer, the leader and coordinator of the Heart Prairie Methodist-Episcopal Church restoration welcomed those in attendance. She spoke briefly about the history of the church and she thanked those who have helped with their generous contributions of time and money to advance the restoration project.

After the service, refreshments were served outside and a number of attendees followed the self-guided tour of the cemetery. The tour map is included in the program reproduced below.

A few photos of the event follow. Click on any of the photos for a larger version.

Bless the Church Program

“Bless the Church” Service on Sunday, September 27th at 4:00 p.m.

EAST RICHMOND — Adjacent to the East Richmond Cemetery along Walworth County Highway P outside of Whitewater, is the Norwegian American Methodist Episcopal Church and East Richmond Cemetery. The church originally was built in the early 1850s, and now it is being restored. Georgia Kestol-Bauer’s great- grand parents were Norwegian immigrants to Wisconsin in the early 19th Century. Peder and Anna Kjostolsen eventually Anglicized their name to Kestol. Photo credit: Chris Welch, Daily Jefferson County Union

The Norwegian American (Heart Prairie) Methodist Episcopal Church and East Richmond Cemetery.
Photo credit: Chris Welch, Daily Jefferson County Union

Please join us for a “Bless the Church” service on Sunday, September 27th at 4:00 p.m. Flute music, refreshments, and a self-guided tour of the cemetery will be included in the event.

The address is:

Heart Prairie Methodist Episcopal Church
at East Richmond Cemetery
N7372 County Highway P
Delavan, Wisconsin

For driving instructions and maps please follow this link.

We hope to see you there!

Restoration Progress: Front Doors

Larry Yanke and Original Church Doors. One is repaired and painted. The other is jus the frame.

Larry Yanke with Original Church Doors

Progress on the restoration of the church is slow but continuing. Most recently, one of the original front double doors was  repaired and painted. Larry Yanke, of Delavan, had one of the front doors repaired and he painted the door. Thank you, Larry, for your generous contribution. Pictured next to Larry is the other front door which is now being repaired.

Conference Officials and Regional Ministers Visit the Heart Prairie Methodist-Episcopal Church

Photo of those listed standing and holding coffee cups

Visitors to the Norwegian American Methodist-Episcopal Church enjoy coffee and Norwegian treats on a cold November day. From Left to Right: Lynn Lubkeman, Sandy Kintner, Rev. Kimberly Brumm, and Rev. Susan Bresser

On Friday, November 7, 2014, Georgia Kestol-Bauer hosted visitors at the Heart Prairie Norwegian American Methodist-Episcopal Church. Sandy Kintner, Chair of the Commission on Archives and History for the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church and Lynn Lubkemann, Archivist for the Wisconsin Conference, visited along with Reverends Kimberly Brumm and Susan Bresser (Lead Pastor)  of the United Methodist Whitewater Area Regional Ministry.
While they enjoyed coffee and Norwegian cookies, the group reviewed the restoration progress of the church. They also examined old church record books and photographs that highlighted  early settlers who were prominent in the establishment of the church. These included Christopher Willerup, a circuit rider from Cambridge, Wisconsin who was the first minister of the church, Christopher Steenson, who donated the land for the church and cemetery and later became a minister of the church, and Peter Kestol, one of the founders who helped build the church. Afterwards, the group toured the cemetery where they viewed the grave sites of the early members and ministers.

Georgia Kestol-Bauer Speaks to the Sons of Norway in Janesville, Wisconsin

Georgia Kestol-Bauer at the Janesville, Wisconsin Chapter of the Sons of Norway

Georgia Kestol-Bauer at the Janesville, Wisconsin Chapter of the Sons of Norway

Georgia Kestol made a presentation about the Heart Prairie Norwegian-American Methodist-Episcopal Church to the Nordland Lodge #5-544, Sons of Norway, in Janesville, Wisconsin. The presentation was made on Wednesday evening, September 17, 2014 at the monthly meeting of the organization.  Using slides to illustrate her presentation, Kestol discussed the history of the church and the current efforts dedicated to its restoration. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session.

Open House on August 24th Attended by Nearly 100 People

Thank you to everyone who attended the Open House at the historic Methodist-Episcopal Church at the East Richmond Cemetery on August 24, 2014. Attendance was nearly 100 on a hot and humid afternoon.

Special thanks go to:

  • My Helpers – Shirley, Allison, Alexandra, Arlene, and Charles;
  • Lisa, who provided beautiful flute music for the afternoon;
  • McDonald’s Restaurant, Delavan, who donated Orange Drink and cups for 100 people;
  • Cookie Bakers, who provided a variety of cookies, including Norwegian Sandbakkels and Krumkake;
  • Area ministers, who helped spread the word about the Open House;
  • Area newspapers
    • Janesville Gazette, Andrea Anderson, reporter;
    • Daily Jefferson County Union, Chris Welch, reporter;
    • Delavan Enterprise, Vicky Wedig, Editor; and, the
  • Whitewater Banner Web Site.

Many of you made monetary donations and I thank you very much for your generosity. The donations totaled over $500 and will be used to begin the restoration of the windows.

Near the completion of this project, we want to have another Open House to celebrate the restoration of this historic church.  Until then, with your support and encouragement, we will keep working!

A few snapshots of the Open House are shown below.