our origins

The Homestead Act of 1862, which granted free family farms to settlers, brought Europeans who established churches in their communities.  With the development of Vermillion and the opening in 1882 of the University of Dakota, later named the University of South Dakota, the population grew.  South Dakota became a state in 1889, and two years later planning for a Lutheran church in Vermillion began.  By 1892 the church was organized.

Newspapers, books and interviews tell about the lives of people whose names appear in early Trinity records.  Herman Malby advertised his scroll and cabinet work as well as "fancy fences."  He also owned the "Uella May", a boat used on the Missouri River as far as Platte.  Ole Bergeson repaired shies, James Gilbertson, the brother of charter member G.P. Gilbertson and father of Beula Petsch, came to Vermillion from Canton and opened a harness shop.  

These are just a few examples ~ to learn more ask for a Church History Book in the Church office.


Trinity's first church

On February 15, 1892, a subscription was started for the purpose of raising money for the construction of a church.  A sum amounting to $825 was secured, a lot was purchased, and the contract for building let to Mr. H.O. Malby.  During the summer, the process of constructing the church was carried far enough to make possible its use for services.  

On December 2, 1892, articles of incorporation were secured by V. Bergeson, G.P. Gilbertson and O. Malby as trustees of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church of Vermllion, South Dakota.


growing pains

The congregation slowly grew with membership made up of Norwegians, Danes and Swedes.  As membership grew over 150, plus others who affiliated with the church, the building was bursting at the seams.  For some time it had been felt that the original church building did not meet adequately the various needs of the congregation.  

Accordingly, in December, 1907, a committee was appointed to look into the feasibility of securing a suitable lot and building a new church.


more growth

In 1956, a secret ballot resulted in the decision to purchase the property on Clark Street for $19,000.  The move to the new location provided the space needed for educational space.

1992 Expansion

New sanctuary

At a special meeting of the congregation, the following motion was presented:  "I move that Trinity Lutheran Church build a new sanctuary and additional Sunday School rooms, and that the Church Council be authorized to proceed with the preparation of the final drawings and financial arrangements.  The motion passed 170 to 43.

The stained glass from the church building at Harvard and Main were kept in storage for over 30 years before being restored and incorporated into the design of the new sanctuary in 1992.

this introduction was first published in a century of grace, trinity's centennial history book.

Early history of

trinity lutheran church

     A few Trinity members can trace their ancestry back to the families who held the first Lutheran service in Dakota Territory.  According to Dr. Donald Sneed of Augustana College, that first Lutheran service was held on July 17, 1859 on the Syvert Myron claim, which was across the road and just west of the present Bergen Church.  Descendants of Syvert Myron are Myron Iverson, Warren, Gordon and Odell Myron.

     Families at the first service were from the Bergen area of Norway who came across the Missouri from Nebraska, probably from Omaha, west to West Bend, and north of the Missouri. 

more history to come