Genealogy Q&A: Lutheran Ancestors in Chicago

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Q. My Lutheran ancestors settled in Chicago. Where should I look for information on old Lutheran churches there?

A. Norwegians who arrived in Chicago in the 1830s formed the first Lutheran congregations. Elling Eielsen, the first Norwegian Lutheran pastor in America, ministered to them and helped found what became Trinity Lutheran Church in the immigrant community along Milwaukee Avenue. In 1848, “high church” Norwegians in the Loop area founded what became First Norwegian and later Lake View Lutheran.

Swedish Lutherans formed their own church, Immanuel Swedish Lutheran Church, in 1853, meeting at first in the First Norwegian Lutheran building. In 1860, they founded the Scandinavian Augustana Synod, which became entirely Swedish with the departure of Norwegians and Danes in 1870.

Today, the originally Norwegian and Swedish church groups, among others, are reunited as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Read more about Lutheran history in Chicago here. Subscription site has 4.6 million ELCA birth, marriage and death records.

German-speaking Lutherans in Chicago mostly belonged to the Missouri Synod, which traces its local origins to what is now First Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, built in 1844. The first pastor, Augustus T. Selle, arrived in 1846, and convinced the congregation to become Lutherans. The Missouri Synod was organized at Saint Paul’s in 1847. Read more on the church’s history here.

From the September 2013 Family Tree Magazine

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