“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Crooks in Minnehaha County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Benton Lutheran Church

Benton Lutheran Church Marker image. Click for full size.
November 26, 2021
1. Benton Lutheran Church Marker
Inscription.  Unfavorable economic conditions in Sweden in the mid-1800s led many young people to search for a better life in America. In 1873 brothers Ben and Carl Johnson, Halmstad, Sweden, became the first Swedish immigrants to homestead in Benton Township. As reports spread about land being available in Dakota Territory, others immigrated to this area. The new settlers soon met assaults by droughts, grasshopper invasions, blizzards, epidemics, prairie fires, and high mortality rates among their infants. Relying on their faith in God and receiving support and encouragement from nearby relatives and Swedish neighbors, the newcomers endured and overcame these hardships.

At first itinerant preachers from Minnesota held occasional services in homes and in a nearby school. On May 4, 1878, 25 of the new Swedish-Americans met in the home of Samuel Johnson to organize a congregation. They drafted a constitution and the church was named "The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation." In time they purchased for $4.50 one and one-half acres of land at this site for a cemetery and church building. Pioneer Pastor J.H. Randahl served the young congregation
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from 1879 to 1890 through most of its building program.

Stone was hauled from Sioux Falls, and materials and furnishings were freighted from Minneapolis. Members furnished most of the labor during the six years the church was under construction. The newly organized Ladies Sewing Society had a sale in 1890 of articles they had made and raised the funds needed to buy pews. On May 15, 1891, with 65 communicant members and 92 children, the new church building was dedicated. A steeple and bell were added in 1894.

Misfortune struck in 1913 when lightning hit the church and a fire quickly consumed the building. Only the steeple bell, cracked and unusable, was salvaged. Members immediately agreed to rebuild. At a cost of $13,000, a new church, with a seating capacity for 400 worshipers, was dedicated January 27, 1915. Among its distinguishing features are a series of grand leaded art-glass windows. Early ministers were part-time until 1921 when Pastor Martin W. Gustafson was called to serve full-time. All services were conducted in Swedish until 1920 when English was gradually introduced; Swedish was discontinued in 1943.

The seeds of faith planted here in 1878 on a barren Dakota prairie took root, sprouted, and continue to grow and produce Christian fruit. Benton Lutheran Church has maintained a long history of support for local and worldwide missions.
Benton Lutheran Church Marker image. Click for full size.
November 26, 2021
2. Benton Lutheran Church Marker

Erected 2003 by the Minnehaha County Historical Society and members and friends of Benton Lutheran Church.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Churches & Religion. In addition, it is included in the Historic Bells series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1873.
Location. 43° 39.587′ N, 96° 51.279′ W. Marker is near Crooks, South Dakota, in Minnehaha County. Marker is on 257th Street, 0.2 miles west of 468th Avenue (County Road 141), on the right when traveling west. Located at Benton Lutheran Church near Crooks. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 46784 257th St, Crooks SD 57020, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Peter Byg, Prairie Fire Victim (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Nidaros Replica Church (approx. 4.3 miles away); Old Nidaros Church Replica (approx. 4.3 miles away); To God Be The Glory! (approx. 4.3 miles away); Oyen-Person Log Cabin (approx. 4.3 miles away); Hartford Area Veterans Memorial (approx. 5.2 miles away); Town of Hartford (approx. 5.2 miles away); Foster Children Tragedy (approx. 5˝ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Crooks.
Benton Lutheran Church & Marker image. Click for full size.
November 26, 2021
3. Benton Lutheran Church & Marker
Benton Lutheran Church Marker, from the west image. Click for full size.
November 26, 2021
4. Benton Lutheran Church Marker, from the west
Benton Lutheran Church image. Click for full size.
November 26, 2021
5. Benton Lutheran Church
1894 Church Bell image. Click for full size.
November 26, 2021
6. 1894 Church Bell
Credits. This page was last revised on November 29, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 28, 2021. This page has been viewed 213 times since then and 143 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on November 28, 2021. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Nov. 28, 2023