Who We are
Trade River Evangelical Free Church
Our church has been around for over 125 years! We are an Evangelical Free Church located 8.5 miles south of Grantsburg, Wisconsin. We are made up of local community members brought together by a shared love of God. We are a multi-generational family based church. We believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and the redemptive power of God.
The History of Trade River EFC since 1887
The work of Trade River Evangelical Free Church had its beginning in 1887. Bible study and Cottage prayer meetings were held in the homes. Sunday School work was begun at the home of Carl and Augusta Peterson. The first Sunday four boys enrolled, but attendance kept increasing. Several Christian families moved into the area and regular services were conducted in various homes.
In 1890, plans were made to construct a church building. Farmers cut timber and brought it to C.E. Peterson’s sawmill. The church was to be constructed on land donated by the same. The church building was started in 1891; they could not finish it the first year. They only built as they could afford it. All the wood for the building was cut by local people who also provided labor for the project. Wooden planks were provided for seating. The first recorded meeting was July 3, 1892. Isaac Nelson chaired the meeting. November 15 and 16, 1893 saw Trade River Mission House’s first recorded mission meeting. Trade River’s first Sunday School Superintendent was P.E. Danielson (1895). On January 22, 1898, Trade River church was officially incorporated as the “Trade River Mission Church”. The Charter members are as follows:
- Carl E. and Augusta Peterson, Esther, and Anna
- Sv. Andrew and Anna L. Peterson
- B. Andrew and Beda Peterson
- C.A. and Ida Granquist
- Miss Tillie Granquist
- Andrew and Augusta Hedberg
- Peter E. and Johannah Ramstrom
- P.E. and Sophie Danielson
- Claus Danielson
- Axel and Beda Jevert
- Widek and Wilhelmina Fors
- C.M. and Hanna Wallin
- Frederic and Anna Lindgren
- Peter E. and Marie Isaacson
- August Fandeen
- Edward Borup
- Henry Magnuson
- Lotta Norling
- Eric Axel Jevert
Reverend Peter Berg (former missionary to Africa) was called to be the first pastor. He was paid $60 for the year and stayed in the summer kitchen of a rented house near the church. The first missionary offering was taken December 7, 1899: $9.00 was given for the field of Canton, China.
In 1901 a decision was made to purchase ½ acre parcel for a cemetery. In 1902, Andrew Hedberg was voted to be the Trade River Police and the church would buy him a star. He was to patrol outside the church. During the early 1900’s, the church was served by traveling ministers and Home Mission missionary ladies. In 1911, the congregation voted to build a parsonage. In 1932, a decision was made to build on to the church building due to the large Sunday School which numbered 160. 1933 marks the first mention of the Ladies Aid Society (Free Church Women’s Ministries). A branch Sunday School was started at Pleasant Prairie as well with 40 students taught by Joseph and Freda Peterson. The year 1936 marked the first time the church records were to be written in English instead of Swedish and for the first time there would be one service a month in English instead of Swedish. In 1939, it was decided to hold only one Swedish service a month and one Swedish mid-week service per month. In 1940, Swedish was discontinued. In 1950, Trade River voted to merge with the Evangelical Free Church Association and the Evangelical Free Church of America. The name of the church was changed to Trade River Evangelical Free Church. The Swedish Evangelical Free Church formed as the Swedish Evangelical Free Mission in October 1884 and later became the Evangelical Free Church of America, just a few years before what would become Trade River Evangelical Free Church got its start.
In 1964, a decision was made to remodel and add on to the sanctuary to the south. But then in 1998, it was apparent that a larger facility was needed, and a decision was made to break ground on a new church building located north of the original church. The land this building would sit on had been purchased earlier with the knowledge a new, larger building would be needed at some point in the future. The leadership at that time wanted to have that new building sit on the hill and be a light to those in the area, inviting all as they passed by.
Two large additions were added to the new building in 2003, giving the church more Sunday School rooms and a large youth area in the new basement. This building sits on a hill and is the only building seen on that hill, truly a light in the area.
The cemetery continues to be owned and managed by the church with many saints from the church buried there.
Majority of this history was compiled by Gary Peterson, great-grandson of C.E. and Augusta Peterson for the church’s 125th Anniversary Celebration held in 2016.