( A copy of this was enclosed with the foundation stone 22nd February 1891):
bout 12 or 13 years ago the first Norwegian settlers moved to the town of Lake Sinai, Brookings County, South Dakota. In those days the population was small and conditions very different to now. There were no churches or congregations and nothing that gathered the new inhabitants together to hear the Word of God. This started us thinking about the situation and we came to the conclusion that something must be done to satisfy these needs. At the request of Halvor Thompson Pastor Hinderaker visited in the autumn of 1879,
and he later held the first services in this settlement. We assembled in Jaksen's house on 11th Sunday after Trinity for our first service. Later we worshipped in different places in the area, for the most part in the sodhouses we had erected. Not long afterwards the Pastor organised the first Lutheran congregation in the town called `Holden Evangelical Lutheran Congregation'. In it's beginning the congregation consisted of only three families: Halvor Thompsen, Ole Tisland and Andrew Pederson and families. The small population of the town together with the internal struggles in the church divided the congregation into small groups and these facts explain why the beginning was like it was”
Gullik Pedersen Kvernodden and Andrea (Gjermun Jørgensen Skaardal's daughter) bought the farm at Romnes (Holla 1 p.554) and ran it for 11 years. They emigrated to America in 1868 with their 9 children.
The eldest son, Peder Gulliksen, stayed in Norway. It can't have been easy at 22 years old to be suddenly alone, the only one of a family of 12 back in the homeland. It must have been a consolation to take over the farm and secure his future.
Gjermund Andreas (subsequently changed to `Andrew') was one of the founders of the Holden Church in Brookings County in South Dakota on 27th October 1879. He was also voted as one of the church `Elders' and probably it was him who put the name `Holden' on the American map again! Even if there were few new inhabitants to begin with there certainly more came afterwards. Among them were the Andrew brothers with their families, Nels (Nils), Charlie (Karl) and John (Johan). It's possible that the wives of Halvor Thompsen and Ole Tisland (probably also from Holden parrish in Norway) were daughters of Gullick (Gullik) Pedersen. I do not have documentation to back this up, but their names `fit': Karen (Karen Kristine) and Christine (Kirstine eller Kirsti).
The above autobiography was written when the first Holden church was built, together with Bloom congregation after long negotiations. Unfortunately this church was struck by lightning a little over 4 years later on 20th July 1895. People gathered around the smoking ruins of their dear church that morning with sadness and tears. They had worked so hard and struggled so much to build it and pay off the costs.
Priest Hinderaker thought that this was a sign from God that the two congregations should combine their resources and merge into one congregation, and this is exactly what happened. Lake Sinai congregation was formed on 30th January 1896 and the new church was completed that same year!
The story is told many years later by Ole Tisland, one of the pioneers: “It was in May 1878 that 5 of us, namely Gulick Pederson, Andrew Pederson, Halvor Thompson, Claus Thompson and myself decided to travel to Dakota Territory to try find land to build our future homes on. During the previous ten years we had rented property in Filmore County (in the far southwest of) Minnesota. We were all from the Skien district in Lower Telemark, and emigrated in 1868, 51 years ago.
Our intention was that if we found “good land” we would begin to clear it and try to sow the following year. We left the farm therefore as quickly as we could in our “Prairie Wagon” and took with us a team of four horses and a plough. Dakota Territory looked like deserted prairie, more and more barren the further west we went, so we didn't have very great expectations of what was to come, and we didn't want to venture too deeply into such land. After some weeks and many experiences on our 250-mile journey we arrived at Medary in the middle of March. It is a small village on the banks of `The Big Sioux' (a tributary of the Missouri). We could have settled here, but we weren't completely happy about the land so we continued in a westerly direction to the place that is now called Sinai. We liked the land very much and decided there and then that we would settle in that place. On the way we had to use compass and map to navigate since there were no roads at all. To travel over the prairie on a cloudy day is like being at sea: you can't tell which direction is north or south, east or west”.