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Term: Lutherans in Wisconsin

Definition: Though Lutherans became the largest Protestant group in Wisconsin, they were slow in finding solidarity due to the complex national and local web of synods. The first Lutherans in Wisconsin came directly from Europe and were dominated by the Wisconsin and Missouri Synods, the most conservative of the groups, and the old Norwegian Synod. Between 1870 and 1890, Wisconsin's Lutherans increased by 422 percent, reflecting the huge numbers of Scandinavian and German immigrants in the 1880s. Wisconsin's German Lutherans were primarily affiliated with one of five of the German-led synods: by the 1880s, 80 to 90 percent were members of either the Wisconsin or Missouri Synods.
Missouri Synod: The first German Lutherans arrived in Milwaukee in 1839 and organized the state's first Lutheran Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, in Freistadt (now a part of Mequon). Those without the resources to move north, stayed in Milwaukee and founded a second church. Originally part of the Buffalo Synod, these first Lutherans reaffiliated with the newly created Missouri Synod in the late 1840s. The Missouri Synod in Wisconsin established a private teachers' seminary in Milwaukee in 1855 called Milwaukee Teachers' College. The Missouri Synod was also strong in Watertown in the 1850s. The southeastern tier of counties emerged as the key early outreach center in Wisconsin but the flood of German immigrants overtaxed the existing synodical staff and led many areas of the state to be relinquished to other synods, such as the Iowa Synod. The establishment of a domestic missions program in 1873 helped the Missouri Synod coordinate its efforts to reach outlying communities of Germans. The Missouri Synod also began cooperating with the Wisconsin Synod to capture most of the state's German Lutherans by the late 19th century. Lutheran synods began a major realignment in the early 20th century as both the Missouri and Wisconsin Synods became more introverted and declined any mergers with fellow Lutherans. Missionary work also became more institutional and focused on founding regular congregations. Missionary work among English-speaking Lutherans remained limited until the late 19th century: the first English Lutheran Church in Wisconsin was founded in Milwaukee in 1890.
Wisconsin Synod: The Wisconsin Synod was created in 1850 and was the first Lutheran organization to maintain the center of its work in the state. It drew most of its membership from the children of the settlers who had arrived in Wisconsin in the 1830s and 1840s; unlike the Missouri and Buffalo Synods, whose original membership derived from the planned migration of members to Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Synod depended at first on clerics from missionary societies in Germany but built a seminary, Northwestern College, in Watertown in 1863 to train its own pastors. The Wisconsin Synod's initial efforts were centered in the southeastern counties. They began organizing northern rural communities in the 1870s. Until the 20th century, the Wisconsin Synod confined its work to German-speaking communities and did not extend much beyond Wisconsin's boundaries. By the 1980s, the Wisconsin Synod had members in 47 states.

Norwegian Lutherans: Without the unifying force of the Lutheran State Church of Norway in the U.S., Norwegian immigrants gave full expression to their divergent tendencies. By 1890, six synods were competing for the loyalties of the immigrant population: the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America of 1846, the Norwegian Synod of 1853; the Norwegian Augustana Synod of 1860, the Norwegian-Danish Conference of 1860; the Hague Synod of 1876, and the Anti-Missourian Brotherhood of 1887. The Norwegian, Conference and Haugean were the most dominant synods in 1880. Most Norwegian Lutheran groups concentrated on ministering to other Norwegians and on building up congregations in the areas they deemed most promising. In 1887, the Anti-Missourians, the Norwegian-Danish Augustanans, and the Conference merged into the United Norwegian Lutheran Church in America, outdistancing the Norwegian Synod to become the leading body of Norwegian Lutheranism. The Lutheran Free Church, a predominately Norwegian body, was formed in 1897 and counted over 6,000 members in 1926. A small group of Lutherans of Norwegian descent organized the Church of Lutheran Brethren in Milwaukee in 1900. By 1900, Norwegian immigrants had founded no less than 14 synods in the U.S. On June 9, 1917, the three major synods merged to form the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America, a union that comprised 90 percent of the Norwegian Lutherans in the country. Three of the nation's oldest Lutheran institutions originated in Wisconsin: Luther College was founded in Halfway Creek in 1861 before moving to Decorah, Iowa in the following year; the Norwegian section of Augsburg Seminary moved to Marshall in 1869 before moving to Beloit, Iowa in 1881 (it is today's Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD); and the theological seminary of the Norwegian Synod opened in Madison in 1876 before reopening in Minnesota in 1859 (it is today's Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary of the ALC). The Norwegian Synod also opened an Indian school at Wittenberg, the Bethany Indian Mission and Industral School, in 1884.

View pictures of Lutheran churches at Wisconsin Historical Images.

[Source: Wisconsin's Cultural Resources Study Units, Wisconsin Historical Society]

149 records found

La Fave, John 1949
La Follette, Belle Case, 1859-1931
La Follette, Bronson C. 1936
La Follette, Douglas J.
La Follette, Philip Fox, 1897-1965
La Follette, Robert Marion Sr. 1855 - 1925
La Follette, Robert Marion, Jr., 1895 - 1953
La Grange, Col. Oscar H. (1837-1915)
La Ronde, Louis Denis De 1675 - 1741
Laatsch, James F. 1940
Lacher, John Henry Alois 1856 - 1936
Ladd, Azel Parkhurst 1811 - 1854
Ladwig, Bonnie L. 1939
Lahontan, Baron, (Lom D'Arce De Lahontan, Louis Ar
Laird, Melvin R. 1922 -
Lalemant, Fr. Jérôme (Hierosme), 1593-1673
Lallensack, Francis J. 1916
Lalumiere, Stanislaus Petty 1822 - 1895
Lamb, Eugene M. 1910
Lamoreux, Silas Wright 1843 - 1909
Lampert, Florian 1863 - 1930
Landreth, Albert 1858 - 1899
Lange, Louie Augustus 1854 - 1917
Langeland, Knud 1813 - 1888
Langenberg, Conrad (1830-1899)
Langlade, Charles Michel 1729 - 1801
Langner, Arnold W. F. 1925
Laper, Jr., Oscar A. 1915
Lapham, Increase Allen 1811 - 1875
Larrabee, Charles Hathaway 1820 - 1883
Larsen, Lawrence R. 1897
Larsen, Marty 1905
Larsen, [Peter) Laur[Entius] 1833 - 1915
Larson, Gustus Ludvig 1881 - 1953
Larson, Ludvig Conrad 1899 - 1953
Larson, Robert J. 1932
LaSalle, Robert Rene Cavelier, sieur de, 1643 - 16
Lasee, Alan J. 1937
Lasee, Frank G. 1961
Lassa, Julie M. 1970
Lathan, Raymond Lee 1915
Lathrop, John Hiram 1799 - 1866
Lathrop, Stephen Pearl 1816 - 1854
Latin, Jacquelyn J. 1952
Lato, Stanley J. 1924
Latvians in Wisconsin
Laubenheimer, Jacob George 1874 - 1936
Laun, Jr., Alfred A. 1905
Lauri, Carl E. 1924
Lautenschlager, Peggy A. 1955
Law, James Richard 1885 - 1952
Lawe, George William 1810 - 1895
Lawe, John 1780 - 1846
Lawler, John 1832 - 1891
Lawson, Alfred W. (1869 - 1954)
Lawson, Publius Virgilius 1853 - 1920
Lawton, Barbara 1951
Layton, Frederick 1827 - 1919
Lazich, Mary A. 1952
Le Jeune, Fr. Paul, 1591-1664
Le Marchand de Lignery, Constant c.1663 - 1731
Le Marchand de Lignery, François-Marie, 1703 -1759
Le Mercier, Fr., 1604-1690
Le Sueur, Pierre 1657 - 1705
Leach, Eugene Walter 1857 - 1938
Lean, John S. 1851 - 1948
Lee, Joseph 1942
Lee, Mordecai 1948
Leean, Joseph 1942
Legler, Henry Eduard 1861 - 1917
Lehman, John W. 1945
Lehman, Michael A. 1943
Leibham, Joseph K. 1969
Leidersdorf, Bernhard 1837 - 1912
Leith, Charles Kenneth 1875 - 1956
Lemahieu, Daniel R. 1946
Lenroot, Irvine Luther 1869 - 1949
Leonard, Jerris 1931
Leonard, William Ellery 1876 - 1944
Leopold, Stephen R. 1944
Leopold, [Rand] Aldo 1887 - 1948
Lepak, David J. 1959
Lester, Charles Stanley 1846 - 1913
Lester, Clarence Brown 1877 - 1951
Levalley, Christopher Warren 1833 - 1918
Levander, Harry O. 1901
Leverich, James Earl
Levitan, Solomon 1862 - 1940
Levy, John Meyer 1820 - 1910
Lewis, Gov. James Taylor (1819-1904)
Lewis, James Otto 1799 - 1858
Lewis, James R. 1936
Lewis, Margaret S. 1954
Lewis, Theodore Gorman 1890 - 1934
Lewison, Bernard
Liberace 1919 - 1987
Lien, Edgar E. 1936
Lindsay, Edmond James 1838 - 1924
Lingren, Ronald H. 1935
Linton, Barbara J. 1952
Linton, Ralph 1893 - 1953
Lipscomb, Jr., Mark G. 1935
Lithuanians in Wisconsin
Litscher, Leroy "Pete" 1939
Little Priest, Ho-Chunk chief
Lochner, John Frederick Carl 1822 - 1902
Lockwood, James Henry 1793 - 1857
Loeffelholz, Gabe 1940
Loevenhart, Arthur Solomon 1878 - 1929
Logan, Ben 1920 -
Lombardi, Vincent Thomas 1913 - 1970
Loomis, Orland Steen 1893 - 1942
Lord, Clifford Lee, 1912 - 1980
Lorenz, Richard 1858 - 1915
Lorge, William D. 1960
Lorman, Barbara K. 1932
Lorman, Milton 1927
Lothian, Thomas A. 1928
Lotto, Myron P. 1925
Lotz, Oscar 1880 - 1953
Loucks, Steven 1961
Louis, Theodore 1829 - 1907
Lourigan, Joseph 1901
Louvigny, Louis de la Porte de,
Love, William De Loss 1819 - 1898
Lovejoy, Allen Perry 1825 - 1904
Low Cloud, Charles Round 1872 - 1949
Lucey, Patrick J. 1918
Luckhardt, Esther Doughty
Ludington, Harrison 1812 - 1891
Ludington, Nelson 1818 - 1883
Luebke, William 1906
Luedke, Herman August 1850 - 1917
Luedtke, Paul A. 1888
Lummpkin, Hope Henry 1882 - 1932
Lund, Einer Peter 1903
Luning, Frederick August 1811 - 1861
Lunt, Alfred 1893 - 1977
Luther, Ernest Leonard 1868 - 1953
Lutherans in Wisconsin
Luxembourgers in Wisconsin
Lynch, Richard J. 1921
Lynch, Thomas 1844 - 1898
Lynde, William Pitt 1817 - 1885
Lynn, James J. 1916
Lyon, Lucius, 1800-1851
Lyon, William Penn 1822 - 1913
Lysne, Per 1880 - 1947

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