In 1947, Pastor E. B. (Einar) Christophersen was serving four Lutheran congregations: Upper Pigeon Creek, South Beef River, Hixton, and Pigeon Creek, the church of the Borresons and their ancestors. Recently, a nephew of Einar and Myrtle, Carson Taylor, sent me several photos and an old article about the Christophersens and their unique living situation. Since Einar followed his father Emmanuel as Pigeon Creek’s pastor in a virtual “dynasty,” this story is too good to keep to myself.
On October 17, 1947, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press featured the Christophersens on a page 3 article, “Farm Is Pastor’s ‘Living’.” Not only did Einar and his father before him serve as pastors, but they also lived on and worked a 23 acre farm. The history of this arrangement began in 1876 when the elder Christophersen came from Norway to accept a Call to Pigeon Falls. The farm made sense: it was a place to keep his horses for traveling throughout the parish (Hixton, for example, was 15 miles away) and it mean food for his family of 11 children.
Seventy-one years after his father arrived in America, Pastor Einar was still operating the farm and maintaining a herd of eight purebred Holstein cows. His sons were gone from home, and being older himself (b. 1885), he was having to hire help for some of his work. But just the winter before, he himself had milked his cows by hand because he couldn’t hire help.
The parsonage, of course, is a house provided the pastor as part of his salary, as was the farm too, in Christophersens’ case. This parsonage was a large, white, ten-room structure which in 1947 was shielded by tall pines on the north and west and shaded by giant elms. A small pavilion graced one corner of the lawn, a place where outdoor services were occasionally held.
Pastor Einar, who with his wife had recently returned from a trip to Norway in 1947, remarked that a farm of 23 acres would have been big in Norway but not here in America.
Special thanks to Carson Taylor for sharing with me the article with this information plus the photos I have included. Carson also added that he pheasant hunted with Rolf (one of Einar’s sons) who kept two hunting dogs in the barn. I don’t know what year the farm and parsonage ceased to be part of the pastor’s salary, but according to Carson, they are now owned by a Norwegian family with strong connections to the old white frame church that burned down just a few years ago.
Enjoy the post and photos. I would love comments from anyone who can add to this interesting history.