SLIG 2020! 1
I quickly realized my knowledge of religious record types is very limited. I am somewhat familiar with the Norwegian Lutheran church records from the early settlements in the states of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Iowa. I have found hundreds of baptismal, confirmation, marriage and death records from churches in those areas.
Two sources have been especially helpful for me in finding the churches where my Norwegian Lutheran ancestors may have attended.
Map of church congregation growth in Brookings Co., South Dakota 2
Lake Sinai, Brookings Co, SD 4
Frequently, the description of each church includes the pastors and dates they served, the building date, any rebuilds due to fire or other destruction, founding members, and a photo of the church. The entry for the Lake Sinai church at right includes the founding members, among them is my great-grandfather, Ole Eken.
The two volumes are available as free digital downloads. I found Volume 1 at Archive.org and Volume 2 at Google Books.
The second source is a book of Norwegian Lutheran ministers, "Norsk Lutherske Prester i Amerika, 1843-1915."5 If you know the minister's name, perhaps from a marriage license or signed certificate, you could look him up in this book to see where he might have served. It was quite common for a minister to have served in several churches at once which can complicate look-ups. But often, the same record book was used for all churches served and the church name was indicated in each record or record-set.
Anders Nilsen Stover 6
This book can also be found at Google Books here.
I was lucky enough to find a photo of my great-great-grandfather's brother, Anders Nilsen Stover (listed in the index as Nilsen, Anders), who served in several churches in eastern South Dakota. The information included indicates he was born 13 Sept. 1842 to Niels Olsen and Kari Knudsen, was ordained in 1883 and served in Watertown, SD from 1883 - 1892. He died 25 Nov. 1892. His wife was Magnild Olsen.
I've learned in going through some of the early Norwegian Lutheran Church records that in addition to baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and deaths, the church sometimes took a "census" of church members. If you can find one with your ancestors, you are really in luck. I found two with my great-great-grandfather's family, Knud Nilsen Stover and his wife, Guri Kristoffersdottir.
The information included in the "census" can contain birth and baptism dates and locations, confirmation date, date the family transferred to another church, and even the maiden name of the wife. The record below shows my great-great-grandfather, Knud Nilson Stover, his wife Guri Kristoffersdatter, and their children Nicolai, Kari, Kjersti, Anna, Karl, Maria, and Mina. The first column with dates is the birth date for that person, the next column is birth location: either Norway or America, the next column with dates is the baptismal dates of two of the younger children and the last column shows when they left the church to join a new church closer to home.
Church family census information for Knud Nilsen Stover7
Knowing which church your ancestors attended can be very helpful when searching for the records. Many record sets are online at Ancestry.com and can be found here. The title of the collection is "U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969."8 While it doesn't contain all Lutheran Church records, I've found hundreds of records for my extended family. The two-volume set previously mentioned can help you find the state and county the church was in. Ancestry allows you to search the set globally for your ancestor or to browse the set by searching for the church by state and county. Once I have found the correct church, I personally prefer to browse to the church and to page through the book online rather than search globally. The records are handwritten and so the indexing isn't perfect.
You can tell I like the resources that I use for my Norwegian Lutheran ancestry. And that's why I need to learn about other resources from other religions. I have identified the religious preferences of many of my other ancestors. I've found Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Latter-Day Saints, and others. I need to find out what types of records may have been created and where I might be able to find them.
1. Facebook SLIG Attendee Group image, used with permission. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php fbid=10214455937699943&set=oa.2100166473624041&type=3&theater&ifg=1. Accessed 30 August 2019.
2. Norlie, Olaf Morgan, et al. Norske Lutherske Menigheter i Amerika, 1843-1916. Augsburg, 1918. Archive.org, https://archive.org/details/norskelutherske00tologoog/. Accessed 30 August 2019.
3. Ibid., p. 926.
4. Ibid., p. 930.
5. Norlie, Olaf Morgan, et al. Norske Lutherske prester i Amerika, 1843-1913. Augsburg, 1915. Google Books, https://books.google.com/books?id=7VhHAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Norsk+Lutherske+Prester+i+Amerika&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_tpbK8arkAhXBY98KHbS-Dv4Q6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q=nilsen&f=false. Accessed 30 August 2019.
6. Ibid., p. 197.
7. Singsaas Lutheran Church (Lincoln, Minnesota). Church Registers, 1874 - 1923, page 79, Knut Nilsen Stover and Guri Christoffersdatter; digital images. ancestry.com: U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969: accessed 30 August 2019.
8. Ancestry.com: U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969: accessed 30 August 2019.