This is a finding aid (or, description) of materials available in the La Crosse Public Library Archives.  At this time, none of the materials listed below are accessible over the internet.

Contact the Archives to learn more about using these materials.

Guide to the Coon Prairie Lutheran Church Records, 1851-1905 MSS 016, Micro 3

Guide to the Coon Prairie Lutheran Church Records, 1851-1905

MSS 016, Micro 3

Summary Information

Ministerial records, 1851-1905, of this Westby (Vernon County), Wisconsin, Lutheran church include sacramental records such as baptisms, confirmations, and marriages from 1851-1900, and burials from 1874-1900. Also included in the volumes are day registers, congregational minutes (1853-1900), communion records, financial records (1853-1905) and miscellaneous documents of the church. These materials are all written in Norwegian.

Also filmed was a clerk's minute book from the School District #5 Town of Jefferson, Viroqua (Vernon County), dated 1857-1889 and written in English.
Collection Title
Coon Prairie Lutheran Church Records
Date of Materials
Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation at Coon Prairie (Vernon County, Wis.).
Call Number
MSS 016, Micro 3
0.1 cubic feet
Physical Description
1 reel of 35 mm microfilm
Language of Materials
La Crosse Public Library Archives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Coon Prarie Lutheran Church Records, MSS 016, La Crosse Public Library Archives, La Crosse, WI

Return to Table of Contents »

Historical Note

Although the Coon Prairie congregation was formally called together to consider calling Peder Asbjorsen as pastor in July 1854, the first Coon Prairie sacramental records date from Pastor Nils Brandt's book of 1851. However, this log book was probably started in 1852 and the pastor filled in the previous year's records from memory.

In July 1855 Pastor H. A. Stub became Coon Prairie's first pastor. His parish consisted of the widely spread Coon Prairie congregation (at that time 25 miles long) and the 20 mile long Coon Valley with its three smaller congregations. This included nearly the western half of Vernon County and part of Monroe County.

A church was erected by the congregation and was completed by June 1857. It was the first Norwegian church to be built in western Wisconsin and the first of any kind to be built in Vernon County. The dedication ceremony took place June 1858. In the fall of 1861, the congregation joined the Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Pastor Stub was well liked but because of ill health decided to return to Norway in 1861. Pastor A. C. Preus left Our Savior's church in Chicago to become the permanent pastor at the Coon Prairie parish in June 1863. During this time the issue of slavery created a rift between many Midwestern congregations and the Synod. In the end, the Coon Prairie congregation adopted the following resolution: "Slavery is sin without exception among Christian and civilized people." Due to ill health, Pastor Preus found it necessary to resign his pastorate in 1872 and returned to Norway.

Reverend Halvor Halvorsen, one of Coon Prairie's most beloved pastors, was installed in 1872. At this time, the Coon Prairie congregation numbered about 1200 people. Pastor Halvorsen also ministered to the Coon Valley congregations, Kickapoo, Portland, Brush Creek, North Coon Prairie, Viroqua, West Coon Prairie, Vang and La Farge, during the course of his 492 year tenure at Coon Prairie charge. Various divisions were made and separate parishes formed over time so that by 1894 the Coon Prairie charge consisted of the Westby-Coon Prairie and Vang congregations.

Because the original church at Coon Prairie had become too small, a foundation was laid for a new church building in September 1875. The congregation began using the new church in 1878, and the cost of the project was $25,600. The dedication ceremonies took place much later in 1884. By 1886, Coon Prairie's membership was about 1670 souls, and was one of the largest Norwegian-American congregations. In 1888, about 50 families withdrew and formed Our Savior's Church in Westby.

The Coon Prairie's church building was complete with a spire in 1891. Unfortunately the church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground on Easter Sunday 1909. Where to rebuild the church was not determined easily. In the end, the congregation constructed two churches at a cost of $22,000 each located within 12 miles of each other. One church occupied the original site and the other church was erected in Westby.

Reverend Halvorsen died in 1921 while on one last trip to Norway to visit relatives. He was interred in Coon Prairie cemetery. His successor, the previous assistant pastor Reverend J. O. Holum, was installed as pastor. He resigned in 1947 to accept a call from Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Pastor H. O. Aasen succeeded Holum. In 1949 the church name was changed from Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation to Westby-Coon Prairie Lutheran Church. In that same year, women were given the right to vote. By 1950, extensive repairs were done to both the Westby and Coon Prairie churches. In 1951, the congregation numbered 1896 persons.

References: Holand, Hjalmar Rued. Coon Prairie : an historical report of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation at Coon Prairie (1977 translation by Oivind M. Hovde) One hundredth anniversary of the Westby-Coon Prairie Lutheran Church, 1851-1951 Anniversary services and festivals commemorating the eighty-fifth anniversary of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Coon Prairie, Westby, Vernon County, Wisconsin... (1937)

Return to Table of Contents »

Scope and Contents

The earliest records include sacramental records beginning in 1851 and continue until 1900 and are very complete for baptisms, confirmations, and marriages. Death/burial records date from 1874-1900. The congregational minutes and financial records span from 1853-1900.

At the conclusion of the financial records is a minute book for Vernon County School District #5, Town of Jefferson, Viroqua, 1857-1889. These minutes are written in English. Following the school minutes are miscellaneous documents of the church, such as certificate of organization, 1854; letters of call to pastors, 1853 and 1872; a description of Coon Prairie parish by A. C. Preus, 1872; and incorporation of the congregation in 1892.

Return to Table of Contents »


These records were filmed from several bound volumes kept by the minister and the microfilm reflects the inherent order of those books.

Return to Table of Contents »

Administrative Information

Publication Information

La Crosse Public Library Archives 1991 April

800 Main St.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, 54601
(608) 789-7136

Access to Materials

Materials in this collection are available for patron use.

Acquisitions Information

Donated by Selma Nelson of La Crosse, 1989.

Processing Information

These church records were filmed by the American Lutheran Church (ALC) in approximately 1982.

Register written April 1991 by Anita Taylor Doering; translation by Amanda Lambert with help from Helen Brieske, March 1999.

Return to Table of Contents »

Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation at Coon Prairie (Vernon County, Wis.).


  • Church records and registers--Wisconsin--Vernon County
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America--Wisconsin--Vernon County
  • Norwegian Americans--Religion

Return to Table of Contents »

OCLC Number


Return to Table of Contents »

Collection Inventory

 (Series 1) Ministerial Records, 1851-1900 

 (Subseries 1.1)  1851-1854 

Reel Item

1. Baptisms [Dobte: Barnets Navne/Faddernes Navne], 1851-1854 

1 1, 3

2. Marriages [Agteviede], 1852-1854 

1 1, 3

3. Confirmations [Confirmerede], 1852-1854 

1 1, 3

4. Communion records [Communicerede], 1852-1853 

1 1, 3

 (Subseries 1.2)  1855-1857 

Reel Item

1. Baptisms [Dobte], 1856-1857 

1 2, 4

2. Marriages [Agteviede], 1855-1857 

1 2, 4

3. Confirmations [Confirmerede], 1857 

1 2, 4

 (Subseries 1.3)  1855-1873 

Reel Item Page

1. Baptisms [Dobte], 1855-1873 

1 5 2

2. Confirmations [Confirmerede], 1856-1873 

1 5 100

3. Communion records [Communicerede], 1857-1873 

1 5 150

4. Marriages [Agteviede], 1858-1861 

1 5 210

5. Burials [Begravede], 1855-1873 

1 5 250

6. Members of Congregation [Foriegnelse over Menighedslemmer], undated 

1 5 300

7. Daily Register [Dagsregister], 1855-1873 

1 5 400

8. Communion records - Westby, 1919 

1 5 422

 (Subseries 1.4)  1874-1900 

Reel Item

1. Baptisms [Dobte], 1874-1900 

1 6

2. Confirmations [Konfirmerede], 1874-1900 

1 6

3. Marriages [Agteviede], 1874-1900 

1 6

4. Burials [Jordfastede], 1874-1900 

1 6

5. Daily Register [Dagsregister], 1874-1900 

1 6

Return to Table of Contents »

 (Series 2) Congregational Records, 1853-1905 

Reel Item

Congregational minutes & financial records, 1853-1883 

1 7

Congregational minutes, 1894-1900 

1 8

Congregational constitution (and membership list), 1892 

1 9

Financial records 

Reel Item


1 10


1 11


1 12
Reel Item

Trustees' records, 1880-1896 

1 13

Ladies' Aid records, 1873-1876 

1 14

Return to Table of Contents »

 (Series 3) Miscellaneous Documents, 1853-1892 

Reel Item

Minutes for School District #5, Town of Jefferson, Viroqua, 1857-1889 

1 15

1.Certificate of organization, 1874 

1 16

2. Copy of letter of call to Peder Asbjornsen, 1853 

1 16

3. Letter of call to A. Halvorsen, 1872 

1 16

4. Description of Coon Prairie parish by A. C. Preus, 1872 

1 16

5. Incorporation of congregation, 1892 

1 16

Return to Table of Contents »