Jewell Lutheran College

       The Jewell Lutheran College Association was incorporated on April 11, 1893.   The incorporation read "The said college shall be a Lutheran College, but shall not be connected with any special synod.   Religion will be taught but it shall not be required.   Capital stock of $10,000 which may be increased to $25,000 divided into shares of $100.   No person to hold more that ten shares."   Officers of the association were: John Thoreson, President; F. H. Alexander, Secretary, and William Anderson, Treasurer.   On Nov. 14, 1893, they purchased ten acres of land in the College Addition of Jewell Junction, Iowa, from the Lyon Investment Company for $180.   The members of the board of directors were: Rev. C. J. Eastvold, Rev. G. E. Gerstad, Rev. J. N. Sandren, E. E. Rorem, and Adolf Molstre.   A board of trustees were also named in the articles of incorporation.   They were: A. E. Hanson, N. J. Nelson, Ed Hanson, Ole J. Olson, Richard Nelson, E. E. Rorem, N. K. Hill, Hans Underdahl, and Rev. C. J. Eastvold.

      The Association set about constructing a three-story building with a full basement to serve as the college building. The basement housed bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, and laundry facilities.   The first and second floors were devoted to classrooms and administration.   The third floor served as the dormitory.   The Aug. 18th 1894 Stanhope Saturday Mail reported that Prof. Vigness and N. J. Nelson were in Chicago last week and purchased a complete supply of new furniture for the Jewell Lutheran College.

     The Jewell Record of Aug. 25, 1894, reported that "The dedication of the Jewell Junction Lutheran College will occur on Sept. 4th. .. this will be the biggest day Jewell has ever seen for a number of years."   The Jewell Record for Nov. 3rd 1894, reported the start of the second term on Nov. 20th.   The advertisement states that the "College Association owns $20,000 worth of real estate in Jewell and differs in responsibility from the average school that nestles in the rented upper story of general stores.   The 1896 county atlas shows the college grounds with only one building located at the north end of the college grounds.   Faculty was hired and a schedule was organized to hold classes in four terms; each was ten weeks long.   The faculty consisted of L. A. Vigness, President; M. D. Miller, Prof. of Mathematics; J. P. Peterson, Commercial Department; Jessie Bucknam, Prof. Reading and Physical Culture, and Lydia Klove, Music.

In 1894 there were 30 students enrolled at the college.   The cost for a student to attend a ten-week term was $27.50, which included room, board, tuition, and books.   The college soon began to experience financial problems.   Prof. Miller stated that he was promised a salary of $400 for the year based on an enrollment of 20 students.   This amount was not paid in full.   Miller began to question Pres. Vigness in board meetings about his accounts and several expenditures.   At the end of this first stormy year, Miller and Peterson both resigned.   The board then decided to fire all teachers and vindicated Vigness.   Vigness served one more year before he left.   Later he became the third president of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

In 1895 the college enrollment was 39 students.   The Stanhope Saturday Mail in 1895 urged the people of Jewell to open their homes to provide each student with comfortable living quarters.   The course offerings were expanded to include Arithmetic I, II, III, Higher Arithmetic, Geometry, Grammar I, II, U. S. History, History of Education, Psychology, Science, Art of Reading, Bookkeeping, Penmanship, Botany, Zoology, Rhetoric, Civil Government, Latin, Vocal Music, and Physical Culture.   The May 29, 1895, edition of the Jewell Record reported there was talk of organizing a baseball club at the college.

The expenses of operating the college were more than the local Association could handle, so they transferred the college property to the Iowa District of the Hagues Synod on Nov. 9, 1897.   This synod included the states of Iowa, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois, and Texas.

1897 Jewell Lutheran College Commencement Program

(View the 1897-1898 J. L. C. Catalogue which shows the names of faculty, the courses offered, the fees, and more.)

In 1900, the college students organized an Athletic Association with Prof. S. E. Dime as chairman.   They laid out a baseball diamond on the college property and organized a baseball team.   A lawn tennis team was also added.

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      In 1902, the college constructed a two-story ladies' dormitory just west and south of the college building.   The men continued to be housed on the third floor of the main building.   Then tragedy struck the college.

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     A fire on Dec. 2, 1903, burned the main college building to the ground.   Two men, Burton Milang of Rose Grove Township and Julius Peterson of Red Wing, Minnesota, died in the blaze.    The fire was discovered by a student named Britt, who arose at 5:00 a.m. to catch a train for his home in Slater.   When he descended the stairs he smelled smoke and retraced his steps to alert the 22 boys who were sleeping on the top floor.   All hurriedly dressed and escaped, but it was later learned that Millang and Pederson apparently returned to the building.   The loss to the college was $22,000.   College officials announced that classes would be held in the ladies' dormitory until a new structure could be built.


Jewell Lutheran College Will Erect New Main Building.   LARGER THAT THE OLD ONE

Trustees Came to This Decision at Meeting Tuesday - Finanial Assistance Offered.

     The Jewell Lutheran College at Jewell will be rebuilt on a larger scale than before the destruction of the main building by fire in which two of the students lost their lives.   This was decided at a meeting of the trustees of the college which was held Tuesday.   The board is composed of the following:

Rev. C. J. Eastvold, president,
Gilbert Knudson,
Richard Nelson,
A. H. Danielson,
Goodman Kalsen,
John Holt,
O. M. Johnson.
     Tuesday was the first meeting since the terrible fire.   The sentiment of the board was unanimously in favor of immediately rebuilding the college on a much larger scale than before.   Many tenders of assistance in a financial way were received from people in this and adjoining counties.

     The citizens of Jewell are ready to lend all necessary assistance to the college authorities if it is necessary.   The college was the pride of the town and the people living there would not let any obstacle remain in the path of rebuilding.   The loss to the Synod is about $10,000 which they are able to bear although it is a considerable one.   Plans for a new building will be drawn immediately and it will be at least twice the size of the destroyed building.   Work will probably be started in the early spring and the building made ready for the opening of the next school year in September.

     The college authorities can not be blamed in the least for the death of the two young men whose bodies were found in the ruins.   The college buiding was well provided with fire escapes and had this not been the case the death list would have been large as there were several narrow escapes even with the aid of the fire escapes.   Nothing was saved from the doomed building.   Among the furnishings were some valuable pianos, recently purchased.

     The structure was outside the fire limits of Jewell and the department could render but slight aid.   It was with difficulty that the dormitory adjoining was saved.   A great crowd congregated at the fire and many of the students, bent on saving some of their personal effects, rushed back into the building.   It was in this way that Burton Millang and Julius Pederson lost their lives.


Remains of Two Young Men Burned to Death at Jewell Sent to Homes


Money Being Raised to Rebuild College Building -- Meeting With Success

     The body of Julius Peterson, who lost his life in the Jewell Lutheran College fire, was shipped Thursday to his home in Bricelyn, Minnesota.   The funeral of Burton Milang, the Rose Grove boy, was held Thursday.   Juslius Peterson was a graduate of the Red Wing College and would have been graduated from the Jewell College next June in the scientific department.

     It has been determined that the fire which destroyed the college originated in the southeast corner of the baseent east of the room occupied by the furnace.   The authorities do not think that the fire caught from the heating plant.   The body of Julius Peterson was taken from the ruins at ten o'clock.   It was found near the orth wall within a few feet of a fire escape, undoubtedly the unfortunate young man had been overcome by smoke just as he was about to leave the building for the second time.   The body of Burton Milang was not found in the ruins until three o'clock in the afternoon.   Before the search was commenced for the second body the west wall of the college building was pulled down with ropes as it was in an unsafe condition.

     Completed in 1904, the new building was a two-story structure that had classrooms on the first and second floors.    A full basement was used for kitchen, dining, and laundry.   The men students were housed at various homes in Jewell, and the women moved back into their dormitory.   Later a gymnasium was constructed to the south of the dormitory.   The college campus now consisted of four buildings: a main building, a dormitory, a gymnasium, and the college president's residence.   The students organized both boys' and girls' basketball teams, which played most of the high school teams in the area.

      The Aug 24th, 1905 issue of the Jewell Record reported " of last year's faculty, all but one could have been retained: but under the circumstances the board deemed it best to engage an entire new teaching force."

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To gain more financial support, in 1905 the Hagues Synod transferred the college to the
Norwegian Lutheran Church of America.

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The following article was published in the Jewell Record on September 17, 1908:
College Begins - Promising Year
     Last Tuesday began the new year for Jewell Lutheran College, a year that from every prospect will be the most successful in the history of the school.

     The formal opening of the school year was held Tuesday and was attended by a number of the officials of the school.   Among those attending were the following mebers of the board of trustees, S. O. Stensland and Rev. G. O. Vik of Beresford, Soth Dacota, Ref. I. L. Lasseson of Dasson, Minnesota, and L. Schanbusch of Roland; and the following members of the school board: Rev. Lehre, Rev. Lasseson, Rev. L. Harrisville of Chicago, Rev. J. N. Sandven of Roland, and Rev. A. O. Mortvedt of Newark, Illinois.   Other out of town visitors attending were Jens Vigen of La Crosse, Wisconsin, Thos. Silrum of Bricelyn, Minnesota, Mrs. J. Wolseth of Rochester, Minnesota, and Miss Sanders of Mr. Horeb, Wisconsin.

     The school opened with scripture reading and prayer by Pres. N. J. Loehre.   Short talks were given by members of the school board and a short talk for the faculty by Miss Louis Nelson.   Miss Nelson has been connected with the faculty for nine years but last year was out on a year's leave of absence.   After opening exercises, all were dismissed to be enrolled.   In the afternoon first lessons were assigned.

     There have been some changes made in the faculty from last year.   Rev. Lehre remains as president.   His services in that capacity have marked a wonderful growth and advancement in the school, and all who have been interested in the college have come to regard him as the right man in the right place.     Anton Quello, Ellen Barrows and Mildred Hawkinson remain on the faculty in the same capacities as last year.   Rebecca Johnson who was acting as assistant in the Academic department has been given places on the faculty.   Miss Louise Nelson is back again, a fact that is noted by old students with genuine pleasure and that will be received with equal pleasure by new students as they come to know her.   R. M. Hall is appointed to fill the place made vacant by the resignation of Prof. Okkelberg who is studying in Minnesota State University for his Master's degree.   Miss Josephine Hagen is another teacher who is not back this year.   Prof. Quello, finding life lonesome last winter, returned this fall neither lonely nor alone, but with a wife who has charge of his domestic economy.   Miss Bertha Skordal is matron and Martin Larson is the jovial janitor.

     Prospects for the new school year are bright and glowing.   The enrollment at the end of the first week totaled eighty.   Last year at the same time there were only about sixty.   The attendance for the year will undoubtedly increase over that of last year by nearly the same proportion.   The estimate, based from letters received from old students and prospective new ones, and inquiries made, is for a total attendance in the year of from 250 to 300.   The attendance for last full year reached 230.   Students are present now from at least eight states, the states sending the larger numbers being as follows in order of numbers sent:   Iowa, south Dakota, Minnesota.   One girl is here from the state of Washington.

     Last week there were several vistors at the college among whom were Rev. N. G. Peterson of Northfield, Minnesota, and Mr. Barsness of Lodi, Wisconsin.

     The college Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A. associations are already taking up their work among the students and will be a feature of great good during the school year.   Last year these associations did good student work.   A peculiarly pleasing feature of their work lies in the fact that their committee meet the new students at the depot and give them the hearty hand of good fellowship and a royal greeting to the school that is greatly appreciated by the student in the first few days of his absence from home.

     The trustee committee on recomendations met at the college Sept. 8th, the opening day, and made some important recommendations that were submitted to the trustees and that will undoubtedly be acted upon favorably by that body.   The committee recomended that the heat piping of the dormitory should be over-hauled by experts and refitted and that a new boiler be installed.   They deem it necessary to have two boilers.

     The school board also met on the same day, but the business which they transacted has not as yet been made public.

     A reception was held last Friday evening for new students under the auspices of the associations and of the faculty.   The reception was held at the college chapel and refreshments were served in the dining hall.   The affair was held to introduce new students to each other and to the old students and proved a most delightful event.

      In 1917 the college president, Knute Eittrem, reported to the Synod at a meeting in Minneapolis that were were 72 students enrolled at the college.

     At one P.M. October 31st, the Jewell Lutheran College Board of Directors met at Jewell College for a very important meeting.   The Board consists of the following members;  Rev. G. O. Paulsrud, president, Rev. P. C. Birkelo, vice president, Rev. Martin Norstad, secretary, Mr. Gilbert Knudson, treasurer, Mr. A. M. Henderson, Mr. C. J. Lund, Mr. O. S. Boyd, Rev. T. J. Severtson, and Dr. A. K. Gaard.   Dr. Gaard, being ill, was the only member of the board who was absent.

     The Board was in fine spirits and after mature deliberations, decided two very important matters.   Firstly, the Board decided to build a gymnasium 60 by 120 feet with a playing floor 49 feet by 100 by 23, and a running track 5 and a quarter feet by 320 feet.   The funds for the gymnasium had already been subscribed, the the building would be erected at once.  Work on the foundation began on the 4th and on the 6th the building crew would begin the real construction of the building.

     Secondly, the board decided to build a dormitory with a music hall in connection.   This dormitory would furnish rooms for 75 students and is to be ready for use at the opening of school next fall.   Work on this building will begin early next spring.

     The president of Jewell College, Rev. Okdale, was chosen to get into the field at once, and to solicit the necessary funds for these improvements.   At least $75,000.00 will have to be raised for the proposed buildings, and this will have to be raised in our school field.

     When the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America transferred the Jewell Lutheran College to the Jewell Lutheran College Corporation, the N. L. C. of America stipulated that the Jewell Lutheran College Corporation should erect a dormitory.   By virtue of this position of our Synod and the dire need of Jewell College of the proposed dormitory, it is clear that the subscription now to be taken in our Jewell College field must have precedence to any other subscription in our field of a more general nature, and which are for improvements not in our field.

     The people of the Jewell College field have the means, and what is more, they have vision to see that the money invested in Christian education brings the geatest possible returns to community, church, and state.

     Here is your opportunity.   Your Liberty Bonds will be gladly and thankfully accepted by the Jewell College.   Send them in.   The Lord hath need of them.       (This text is from a 1919 news article published in the Jewell Record. View the article.)

Jewell Lutheran College had more than a baseball diamond and tennis court.
There was finally a gymnasium on campus.

      The college continued to operate until the 1918-1919 school year when it closed because of the war.   On June 5, 1919, the Association met and decided to re-open the college in the fall.  See the news article below.

Published September 16, 1920:


     For the first time, we believe in the history of Jewell Lutheran College, the game of football, the best and the greatest of all college and high school sports, is to be played at the college this fall.   Prof. Vigness is to be in charge of the coaching of the game, and he had his men out for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon for the first practice of the season.   Evough men reported for practice to make up two full teams with a few to spare.   Coach Vigness gave the men two very busy hours kicking and passing the ball and learning to fall on it, with instruction in tackling and blocking.   The men also lined up for a short time and went through a few simple formations.

     Suits and other equipment will be secured, and as soon as the men become sufficiently familiar with the game the coach will arrange some games to be played.   Several of the candidates for the team have played so Vigness will not have an entirely green squad to work with.

      The Jewell Record of May 31, 1923, reported on changes in the faculty for the next year.   Roger Peterson and Prof. G. A. Larson resigned and were replaced by Prof. H. D. Eittreim and Dr. L. M. (Jake) Jacobson.   The article continued to say that "the attendance the past year has been only fair which caused friends of the school to be fearful as to the financial outcome."   This same year there was talk in Jewell about the need for a new public school building.   On Nov 2, 1923 it was noted that the students had started to drive to school in cars.   Elmer Charlson drives over from Randall in his 'Star', Burton Olson drives another Star from Wall Lake, and Helen and Irene Hove drive daily from Stanhope in their Ford.   On Jan. 11, 1923, the J. L. C. boys defeated Gilbert in basketball last Friday evening with a score of 30 to 21.

      L. A. Vigness, by now Executive Secretary of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, learned of the financial worries of the Jewell College and wrote a letter, dated Dec. 5, 1923, to Mr. Henningson, Chairman of the Board of Education, stating that he wanted to submit some suggestions regarding the Jewell Lutheran College.   He stated that, due to a reduced budget for the church, they were "looking at the possibility that Jewell Lutheran College will be one of those schools to discontinue their operation." He went on to say that they were interested in negotiating a transfer of the college property to the Jewell Independent School District.

A bit of the text on this page is from
Hamilton County Memories.

Read what Ed Nass wrote
about Jewell Lutheran College.

The college continued until May 24, 1924, when the final commencement of Jewell Lutheran College was held.  Only seven students graduated that year.   They were: Winfred Bly, Sophia Froisland, Sophie Moline, Ellen Olson, Hazel Hage, Clarence Hanson, and Bernice Sebby.   According to records stored at St. Olaf College, 4,236 students attended Jewell Lutheran College during its 31-year history.   Presidents serving the college were, in order: Lauritz A. Vigness, Cornelius R. Hill, Meyer Brandvig, Victor H. Hegstrom, Olaf Q. Skogeberg, Nels J. Lohre, Carl J. Eastvold, Knut O. Eittreim, Henry A. Okdale, and Iver Iverson.

On June 19, 1924, a mass meeting was called for July 8th at the college in an effort to save the school.   Two plans to be discussed were: 1) raising sufficient funds to purchase the college and operate it by the local churches and: 2) turning the college into a junior college.   Apparently neither plan was approved as nothing more was reported in the Jewell Record.

      All four college buildings - Main, ladies' dormitory, gymnasium, and the president's residence - were transferred to the Independent School District of Jewell Junction, Iowa, on June 26, 1925, by Warranty Deed for the sum of $45,000.   The school district then used the main building to house the high school and junior high.   The ladies' dormitory was transformed into a grade school, and the gymnasium was used for its intended purpose.   The president's residence became the home for the superintendent of Jewell High School.

Reuion held of those graduated from Jewell Lutheran College

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