History of the Norwegian American Methodist Episcopal Church

The Norwegian American Methodist Episcopal Church was established in the early 1850’s  and was called Heart Prairie Methodist Episcopal Church. The church was built by a settlement of Norwegian immigrants from the parish of Holla in Telemark, Norway.   According to early church records, on June 26, 1853  Christopher Steenson donated a portion of his farmland to establish a church cemetery.

Reverend Christian Willerup, circuit rider out of Cambridge, Wisconsin, was the first minister. Later the congregation was served by Reverend Christopher Steenson and his son Reverend Steen Steenson, who became a missionary to Norway.

Two church ledgers exist from the 1850’s with information noting births and deaths of those in the congregation, and information regarding meeting details. Earliest entries are in Norwegian and later entries are in Norwegian and English.

A Historical plaque was presented through the efforts of descendants of the first members of the church. A dedication ceremony was held Aug 9, 1992.

The church was last used around 1920.


East Richmond Cemetery Association

On August 15, 1907 a meeting was called at the office of attorney James G. Kestol to establish a cemetery association. Because no quorum was present the meeting was adjourned until August 22, 1907. Officers were elected, and the association was given the name North East Richmond Cemetery Association. Needed improvements for the cemetery were identified during the meeting. Over the past 100 years records show that the name of the cemetery changed to Lyman Cemetery and later to East Richmond Cemetery. In 2007 a newly organized  cemetery association was established and the name East Richmond Cemetery Association was formally adopted.

2 thoughts on “History of the Norwegian American Methodist Episcopal Church

  1. On October 18 2015 I was glancing through the Janesville messenger and my eye was caught by a picture of a very familiar looking church. I was moved to tears to find out that it was a church I had grown up very close to, ( behind and across the field) my big brother ( now deceased) and I would go up there to look at the headstones. we both wondered how old the church was . we knew it was pretty old. I remember looking through a crack in the door and imagining what it would have been like to go to the church back then and was only 7-9? years old. The artical made me smile and I had to send my mother and oldest sisters a copy. Of coarse I kept one for myself. I wish I could help you out financially to refurbish it but I am on a fixed income, however my thoughts and best wishes are with you. God bless you

    Vicky Wildman

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Vicky,
      I enjoyed reading your comments about the church and cemetery, and especially about you and your brother going there as children to explore. I would be happy to show you our progress in restoring the church when the weather gets warm.
      And I would like to hear more about your childhood visits to the cemetery.
      Please feel free to email me at any time or call me at (608)883-2858.


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