The Site of Kaposia
The First Methodist Mission in Minnesota was established in 1837 at Chief Little Crow’s Sioux Village of Kaposia, now South St. Paul. Two clergymen and a farmer, with the help of an interpreter, negotiated its beginning.
Driving through South St. Paul on Highway 56, you pass the original site of the village and the three mission buildings, since removed. The village was located between the bluffs and the Mississippi River. Behind the bluffs a mission farm of 150 acres was established.
The plaque commemorating the First Methodist Mission at Kaposia is part of the Dakota County Historical Society located at 130 Third St., South St. Paul, MN 55075, (651) 552-7548.
Red Rock and Missionary’s Log Cabin
When trouble erupted with Chief Little Crow in 1839, two years after the founding of the mission, the pastor in charge moved part of the mission to the east side of the Mississippi River near the famous Red Rock of the Sioux, a sacred granite boulder painted with red stripes and worshipped for generations by the Indians. Pastor Benjamin Kavanaugh built a two story log cabin. The first floor became a school for children, the upper floor the pastor’s home.
Both the Red Rock and the restored cabin, the oldest Methodist building in Minnesota, can be seen on the grounds of the Newport United Methodist Church. Red Rock Camp Meetings were held near this site for many years.
Directions: Follow Highway 494 to Highway 61 going east. Turn left on Glen Road to Newport United Methodist Church.
Jacob Fahlstrom’s Grave
This unique figure in Minnesota Methodism was born in Sweden in 1795 and, in his teens, immigrated to America through Hudson Bay, finally settling along the Red River. By his marriage to a Chippewa woman, he was adopted into her family. Fort Snelling became their home. Responding to the preaching of David King, he became the first Methodist convert in Minnesota and the first local pastor. For twenty years he served as a missionary to Chippewa Indians in lumber camps. He died in 1859 and is buried in the family cemetery north of Afton, Minnesota. The site is on a hilltop to the left of the house in which he and his wife, Margaret, and their three daughters lived. A granite stone marks the grave. They were members of the Kaposia Church.
Directions: Drive east from St. Paul on Highway 12, turn south on Indian Trail for about a half mile. The old homestead is on the west side of the trail.
First Site of Hamline University
Established in Red Wing in 1854 while Minnesota was still a territory, Hamline was the first school of higher learning in the state. Twelve years later (1856), in Hamline's chapel, the Minnesota Annual Conference was officially organized. The college later moved to its present site in St. Paul.
Directions: Take highway 61 to Red Wing (Main Street). At Broadway go south on West Avenue two blocks to the park. A large bronze plaque on First Church tells the story.
Lenora United Methodist Church
The old stone church at Lenora is one of the few stone churches built by pioneer Methodists in Minnesota. The Reverend John L. Dyer, a frontier evangelist, was appointed in 1855 to the Richland Circuit in Fillmore County. He donated 40 acres of his “claim” for the town site of Lenora. The sale of lots enabled construction to begin on the stone church in 1856. The 1857 financial panic stopped the project. In 1865 the same stone was used to build the present structure. A plaque commemorates John Dyer and all pioneer Methodist preachers in Southern Minnesota. Active and vital until about 1925, a declining Lenora area population dictated its closing. The church once counted 400 members and sheltered the largest religious library in the region. Visit Lenora Methodist Church's web site.
Directions: Take Highway 52 south through Rochester and Preston to Canton. Turn east on the country road to Lenora.
Old Salem Church
Old Salem Church, organized in the winter of 1857, was the first Evangelical congregation in Dakota County. In 1855, two Canadian families (Gackstetter and Laschinger) acquired farm land in the county and promptly requested ministerial leadership. The 1856 Wisconsin conference of the Evangelical Church assigned Andrew Tarnutzer to the Minnesota Territory. By March of 1857, he had organized class meetings in both Inver Grove and Dayton's Bluff.
A small framed building (two windows, one door, several benches, pump organ, two wood burning stoves) sufficed until 1874 when a new church (20' x 32') was built. The first camp meeting was held between July 1 and 6, 1857, with seven tents, two covered wagons, and nine conversions. Founders' Day is observed yearly in the month of June. For more information about Old Salem Church, contact Jill Lewis at (651) 455-9404.
Directions: Old Salem is located south of I-494 at the intersection of Upper 55th St. and Annette Ave. between Robert St. and Babcock Trail; From I-494 take Hwy. 52 south to Upper 55th St. (Salem Church Road); west 2 miles to Old Salem, located on the south shore of Schmidt Lake.
Taylor’s Falls United Methodist Church
Organized in 1859, the Falls church is the oldest church in continuous use in the St. Croix River Valley. The church was constructed of white pine, reminiscent of New England style. The church was completed in 1861 at a cost of $2,500 on deeded land, with donated materials and labor. To defray costs, pews were sold to parishioners for $65 each. The church was dedicated on January 1, 1862. Five years later the cupola and belfry were added, along with front columns. It has become a favorite church for weddings.
Directions: From the Twin Cities take I-35 north to the Lindstrom exit. In Taylor’s Falls take a quick left at Main Street, up Government Street to the church.
Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds
In 1922 the Chautauqua movement was extremely active in the White Bear Lake area.That year the Evangelical Association and United Evangelical Church agreed, after 30 years of conversations, to seek unity. A sign of that union was the purchase of a seventeen acre camp site on Lake Koronis near Paynesville. Programs were to be structured on the Chautauqua model.
A dormitory and tabernacle were built, financed largely by the sale of house lots to laity and clergy. Summer Assembly, Red Rock Camp, and a variety of camping experiences continue to serve churches across the Annual Conference. Lake Koronis celebrated its 85th season in 2006.
For more information about Lake Koronis visit the camping web site at www.campminnesota.org.
Directions: Take Highway 55 to the southeast edge of Paynesville. Go south on County 181 for two miles.
Market Street Methodist Episcopal Church
The St. Croix Mission of the Wisconsin Conference officially organized Market Street on December 30, 1848, the first Protestant church in Minnesota. The gift of ten lots on Market Street by businessman Henry Rice enabled the 1849 construction of a small brick church for $2,834.04. The original eight members soon grew to 47, selecting the name “Market Street Methodist Episcopal Church.” It was located across from Rice Park, now home to the St. Paul Hotel.
On September 27, 1987, a plaque was dedicated on the original church site. It is on the parking ramp wall just south of the St. Paul Hotel.
Directions: Drive to St. Paul Hotel. Walk south to parking ramp. The marker is on the wall.
Wesley United Methodist Church, Minneapolis
Wesley is the successor to Centenary Church. In 1877 two houses at Marquette and Grant Streets in Minneapolis were purchased for $22,000. A magnificent church was built on this land and dedicated on March 2, 1891, the 100th anniversary of John Wesley’s death. The red stoned Wesley Church cost its membership $150,000. An adjoining Wesley Temple building was completed in 1929. The temple was later removed and its land became part of the Minneapolis Convention Center. Visit Wesley United Methodist Church's web site.
Directions: Corner of Grant and Marquette in downtown Minneapolis.
Ottawa Methodist Episcopal Church
Originally named “Minnewashta” (good water), in 1856 the church was renamed Ottawa Methodist Episcopal Church in honor of the Algonquin Indian tribe. Built in 1859 of native pink stone, the church is one of the three oldest German Methodist buildings in Minnesota. The building closed in 1952. While no longer a place of worship, it remains the focus of Ottawa pride. Since 1967, the building has been under the care of the LeSueur County Historical Society as a historical site in memory of Christian pioneers. Restored and refurbished, the building was rededicated on Sunday, September 22, 1968, and now houses artifacts and memorabilia.
Directions: Five miles south of LeSueur on County Highway 36.
Olivet UMC, Robbinsdale
Olivet UMC, 3620 43rd Ave. N., Robbinsdale, has the distinction of being the first Evangelical United Brethren church organized in Minnesota after the 1946 Uniting Conference of the Evangelical Association and the United Brethren in Christ. The Minnesota Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren took action in the spring of 1947 to start a new church in the immediate area where the present church is located. A house was purchased and was used for Sunday School and worship. The congregation broke ground for a church in May 1950. In 1959 Minneapolis Hope EUB merged with Olivet. In 1968 with the union of the Methodist Church with the Evangelical United Brethren Church the church became Olivet UMC, Robbinsdale. The church continues its mission.
Portland Prairie as significant in its unique architecture and its status on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. A brief history of the church written in 1976 states that the church was organized in 1855 and meetings were held in homes until a school was built. In 1876 the church building was planned and built at the cost of $1540. Thirty nine ministers have served this congregation. In 1932 the members transferred to Caledonia and the church has been preserved with one or more services held there annually.
Portland Prairie is located off MN 76 in Eitzen.
First Finnish Methodist Church, Moose Lake
The First Finnish Methodist Church of Moose Lake, MN was founded in 1891 making it the First Finnish Methodist Church in the United States. The founding minister John H. Michaelson was converted to Methodism in the year 1887. Having settled in Moose Lake, Minnesota and having previously been chosen as a local preacher he gathered a group of people for services of worship. In 1891 they formed a Methodist Congregation. Near Michaelson’s farm a land company donated land on which to found the church and a cemetery. In 1892 a log church was built. Over the course of several years Finnish speaking clergy were appointed. The building was updated and dedicated in 1904. In the Great Fire of 1918 the church and surrounding property were completely burned. The cemetery remains. The church was located at Highway 27 and township road 230 in Carlton County, about 7 miles west of Moose Lake.