The Pastors Christopherson

Pigeon Creek Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has served Borresons and Estensons from the time they arrived in Fitch Coulee, has the distinction of a father and son as its pastors for nearly 90 years.

Pastor Em. Christopherson

Emanuel Christopherson arrived from Norway in 1876 to accept the call of resident pastor, serving until his death in 1909. The following year his son E. B. (Einar) Christopherson graduated from seminary to become Pigeon Creek’s pastor until his death in 1963. That’s 33 and 53 years and “dying with your boots on” (or collar, perhaps). I’ve only known one other similar situation – a succession of Urbergs in North Beaver Creek of rural Ettrick, Wiconsin.

All those 86 years Christophersons baptized, confirmed, married, buried, visited, and drank coffee with Borresons, Estensons, and their kin. Some of you reading this post knew the ministry of the younger Christopherson, including when he wasn’t so “younger” anymore. I’d love to hear your memories.

Emanuel, the older Christopherson, was born in 1849 in Dybvaag, Nedenes, Norway. He graduated from Christiania (Oslo) University in 1873 and worked as principal and teacher before emigrating in 1876. By the time he arrived, the congregation, under the leadership of the first resident pastor, L. Sherven, had already built a 20′ x 20′ parsonage and the church itself, complete with planks-on-nail-kegs seating.

Pastor E B Christopherson

His son E. B. (Einar) also served only this one call his entire ministry. According to a history of the church, however,  his parish (at least at the beginning) had three congregations in addition to Pigeon Creek: South Beef River, Upper Pigeon Creek, and Our Savior’s of Hixton. He conducted services at two churches on alternate Sundays. 

According to a book of synod pastors, E. B. had two notable non-parish commitments: he was a regent for the University of Wisconsin, 1932-1939; and he served as president or vice-president of the Gale College Board, 1910-1940. I find the UW regent role especially fascinating – and maybe unique. His long tenure on the Board at Gale College may help to explain why five of Emil and Gina’s sons attended the school. As early as 1926-1927, he was a member of the Norwegian American Historical Association newly formed in 1925.

Over 30 years ago when I was a pastor in Decorah making a rare visit in La Crosse, I recall meeting a Christopherson woman who was a resident at, I think, Bethany-on-Cass. I wonder if this was E.B.’s wife – or a sister? Maybe I’ll figure it out one day.

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One Response to The Pastors Christopherson

  1. SigCulver says:

    Einar Christophersen was my grandfather. Emanuel B Christophersen was my father. My grandmother Myrtle was never in the Bethany home in Lacrosse but her sister Pat Sandburg was and Her sister-in-law Valborg Christophersen. Both of them were from Chicago. It was always fun to go to grandpa’s farm and stay with them. His church in Pigeon Falls is now destination on many tours and is full of local history.
    Sig Culver

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