Swedish immigrant settlers in Williamson County met together in homes for worship services as early as 1884. In 1891 this congregation was organized in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sven Peterson by 21 charter members. Known as Brushy Evangelical Free Church, the congregation built a sanctuary in 1892 on land southeast of Georgetown donated by C.J. Gustafson. This Georgetown site was acquired in 1960, and a new sanctuary was dedicated in 1963. This church has been part of Williamson County history for nearly a century. (1988)
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE EVANGELICAL FREE CHURCH Georgetown, Texas - - - narrative #1
In the late years of the 1800s, many immigrants from Sweden who were not happy with the rules and regulations of the State Church came to this country seeking religious freedom and to worship God according to the "dictates of their conscience" and according to their interpretation of the Bible.
In the fall of 1883, some believers in Chicago sent out an invitation to Pastors and Christian friends to come to that city for a meeting to discuss matters concerning the Christian Church.
This meeting was held in a place, at that time, called Bush Hall on Chicago Avenue. J. G. Princell was elected as chairman of this group, and Alfred Zandell and Hjalmar Anderson were elected secretaries. On October 14-19, 1884, the first conference of this group of believers was held in the Boone, Iowa church called "The Swedish Mission Church", later called "The Christian Mutual Organization", and still later the name was changed to "The Swedish Evangelical Free Church". Various doctrinal subjects were discussed, and it was decided to meet in Rockford, Illinois in1885.
Some of these early Swedish immigrants landed in Williamson County Texas.
In 1884 these settlers began to meet together in homes for Bible study and prayer. These early believers in Texas were called "Readers". (2) Four of these early Christian leaders were C. 0. Youngblood, Oscar Johnson, Ed Frezen, and Kristin Forsvall. (3) This small group of believers grew in number. The organization and adoption of a geo constitution took place in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sven Petersonion of Georgetown Texas July 7, 1891. Present at this meeting and those becoming charter members were: C. 0. Youngblood, J. J. Lawson, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Bostrom, Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Sandberg, Mr. and Mrs. S. A. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Bjork, Mr. and Mrs. Sven Peterson, John Brogren, C. H. Gustafson, G. F. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Anderson, and Mr. and Mrs. John Lax. (4) Thus the first Evangelical Free Church in Texas was organized in the "Brushy Evangelical Free Church".
In 1892 a church building was erected on a tract of land in the Bell Community four and a half miles southeast of Georgetown.
This land was donated to the church by Mr. C. J. Gustafson and was called "The Mission House". (5) This "Mission House" served as a meeting place for this congregation until 1924, when a new church building was constructed at the cost of $7,000.
The first Sunday school was organized in 1894 with C. H. Gustafson as superintendent, with about six or seven children in attendance.
On December 5, 1905, a Ladies Aid Society was begun. On July 23, 1907, a young people's society was organized, called "The Army of Hope", and an organization for younger women called "Earnest Workers" was started in January 1921. These two groups were later merged into one group under the name of "The Women's Missionary Society". Later on, a Free Church Youth Fellowship and a Men's Brotherhood were organized.
During the ministry of Rev. H. A. Gustin, (1912-1915), services were conducted in the Berry's Creek and Jonah communities, and during the ministry of Rev. E. H. Lindquist in 1915 a chapel was built in Berry's Creek and a Sunday school was organized there. (6)
In 1951, during the ministry of Rev. Morris Rosene, a portion of the Bell School was purchased and remodeled into a building called the "Chapel", where Sunday school, Women's Missionary meetings, and youth services were held. At this time all services were conducted in the English language, a movement that was started many years before, during the ministry of Rev. E. W. Frohman. (7)
About this time the name of the church was changed from the "Brushy Evangelical Free Church" to the "Evangelical Free Church, Georgetown, Texas".
During the ministry of Pastor Bertil Thorne, discussions took place regarding the possibility and wisdom of securing a lot in the city of Georgetown with a view to building a new church in that city. A lot at the corner of Hutto Road and University Avenue was up for sale, and after much discussion and prayer, the church voted to purchase this lot on February 15, 1960. During this period the congregation voted to build a new Parsonage at 1806 Louise Street in Georgetown. On January 23, 1962, the congregation voted to build a new church building on this newly acquired lot as soon as finances were available to start this project.8 The construction of this new, air-conditioned building was begun in April 1963 and completed and dedicated in August of this same year.
Pastors who have served the church are: (9)
C. V. Peterson, 1888 - 1889
Edward Thorell, 1889 with C. V. Peterson Nels Saabye, following Thorell
C. 0. Sahlstrom, 1891 - 1892
Alex Klint, 1897 and 1903 - 1904
Gustaf F. Johnson, summer of 1896
August Modig, 1899
W. N. Nelson, no record
Carl G. Athell, fall of 1905, spring of 1908 Edwin Cederberg, 1907 interim pastor Carl J. E. Nelson, 1908 - 1910
Oscar Zahr, 1910 - 1911, interim pastor H. A. Gustin, 1911 - 1915
E. H. Lindquist, 1915 - 1920 John Udd, 1920 - 1922
Alfred Stone, 1922 - 1925 Carl Malme, 1925 - 1930
E. W. Frohman, 1931 - 1934 N. 3. Christensen, 1934 - 1940 Morris Rosene, 1940 - 1951 Arthur Anderson, 1951 - 1956 Bertil Thorne, 1956 - 1965
E. L. Pearson, 1965 interim pastor Walter Osborn, 1965 - 1967 Richard Mittanck, 1967 - 1972 Larry Larson, 1973 - 1975 Raymond Wegner, 1975 - 1982 Darryl Walling, 1983 ---
Rev. Bertil Thorne
1206 Peachtree Lane
Georgetown, Texas 78626
I - "Minnesskrift", 1914, pages 9-11
2 - "Diamond Jubilee Commemoration Book", July 7, 1966, page 1
3 - "Golden Jubilee Book", 1934, page 181
4 - "Ninetieth Anniversary Commemoration", July 7, 1981, pages 1-2
5 - " Ninetieth Anniversary Commemoration", 1981, page 2
6 - "Ninetieth Anniversary Commemoration", 1981, page 2 7"Ninetieth Anniversary Commemoration", 1981, page 3 8"Ninetieth Anniversary Commemoration", 1981, page 4
9 - "Ninetieth Anniversary Commemoration", 1981, and "Dedication Services", 1963
"Minnesskrift" Swedish publication, 1914 "Swedes in Texas", Volumes I and II, 1918 "Golden Jubilee", 1934
"Seventieth Anniversary", 1961
"Dedication Services", 1963
"Diamond Anniversary Commemoration", 1966 "Ninetieth Anniversary Commemoration", 1981
- - - narrative #2
Translation from Swedish Volume I By Thelma Borg, Nov. 1987 Pages 112 - 115
In the fall of 1884 four young people from Jonkopings Land, Smaland, Sweden came to Round Rock, Texas. They were Oscar Johnson, C.O. Youngbloom, Ed Frizen, and Christina Forsvall. They found work in and around Georgetown.
One summer afternoon in 1885 they, together with several other young people, gathered in Miss Forsvall's home in Georgetown.
They read the Scriptures and sang a few songs, then Oscar Johnson and C.O. Youngbloom witnessed to them about what the Lord had done. This, so far as we know, was the first meeting of what became the Free Church work in Texas. After this these young people gathered quite often to hear God's Word and sing as well as witness. During the winter of 1888, Pastor C.W. Peterson came to Texas and preached to the group. Later Pastor N. Saaby came and his work brought many blessings. In the winter of 1891 - 1892, Pastor Sahlstrom was in this and other areas of Texas and he helped the little group in many ways. The group grew and many came to be saved under his preaching. A t this time regular meetings were started in the homes in the area. A. Sandberg's. Swen Peterson's and S.A. Johnson's were homes that were always open for the meetings.
In the spring of 1891, they organized "The Swedish Evangelical Free Church in Brushy".
There were twenty members whose names are: C.O. Youngbloom, J.J. Lawson, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Bostrom, Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Sandberg, Mr. and Mrs. S.A. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Bjork, Mr. and Mrs. Swen Peterson, John Brogren, C.H. Gustafson, G.F. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Eklund and Mr. and Mrs. John Lax. A constitution was approved and the officers were elected: C.O. Youngbloom, chairman; Hans Bostrom, secretary, and J.J. Lawson treasurer. Incorporation papers were taken out on the seventh of July 1891.
This was the first Free Church organized in Texas.
A t the time the church was organized Mr. C.J. Gustafson gave the church one and one-half acre of land which is located five miles southeast of the city of Georgetown. In 1907 Mr. Gustafson gave an additional three and a half acres of land. This made it possible to build both a church and a parsonage with plenty of room for the cemetery. At once they started collecting to build the church which was finished in the summer of 1842.
During the first years, the congregation was not able to support a pastor full time.
They held meetings on a regular basis with the most qualified members reading scripture and speaking. Often there were visiting preachers and missionaries that would speak or preach to them.
At the time the church was organized there were not any children old enough for a Sunday school. In the summer of 1894, the Sunday school was organized with one class for the children and a Bible class for the adults. From this small beginning, the Sunday school has grown to the size it is today.
In 1895 Rev. A. Klint served the congregation for a time.
During 1896 and 1897 they were fortunate to have G. Johnson and J. Berner which resulted in a good revival and a number of members were added to the church. From 1897 to 1905 these pastors served at various times: A. Klint, Aug. Modig, Wm. Nilson, and L.M. Ekman. A steady and healthy outreach and growth occurred during this period.
In 1905 Pastor C.G. Anderson came and served the congregation until 1908.
The church kept growing in numbers. It was decided to start work in other locations. A Sunday school building was built at Berry's Creek in 1905. The church building was added on to so they had more room. A woman's society was organized to work among the women as well as work for missions and other Christian work. This still continues. The young people started their society "Hoppets June 23, 1907, with 30 members. In 1907 Pastor Anderson traveled to Sweden. Pastor E. Cederberg took his place.
In 1908 Pastor C.J.E. Nelson came to serve.
At this time the Parsonage was built. After two years Pastor Nelson left because of poor health. Afterward Pastor O. Zahr served for a short time. From 1911 until March 1915 Pastor A.E. Gusten served the congregation. Besides the regular pastorly duties, Pastor Gusten held meetings in Jonah and Berry's Creek. He won the people's respect and love because of his untiring work among them. In 1915 Pastor E.H. Lindquist came. All the church was strengthened spiritually and members were added with the result that the work grew. In December of 1916, a nice chapel was built at Berry's Creek. Sunday school was held each Sunday with close to 25 children and young people at the end. A preaching service was held once a week for the church members and other Swedes living nearby. Regular meetings were also held in Jonah. During the twenty-seven years since the congregation was organized it steadily grew and is still growing and expanding. The church has not only worked here in the area but has extended its support to both home and overseas missions. Two young men from the congregation have become pastors and are serving churches in the U.S. These two are Gustaf F. Johnson who is pastoring the Swedish Mission Tabernacle in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Ernest Johnson, pastor of the Swedish Free Church in Keene, Nebraska. Also, one missionary, F.O. Bergstrom, has worked for twenty years in Japan. At present, he is the state missionary in California where he preaches in English and Swedish, and Japanese.
The congregation now has 110 members.
The Sunday school has an average of 130, counting the young people's classes. Together with Berry's Creek the attendance average in 155. The young people's Society has 79 members. The congregation has property valued at $4,000. The building is getting crowded as there is not enough room for either the Sunday school or the people that come to meetings. A bigger and more modern church building is being planned.
The first church building was built in 1892 and served its purpose well for about 33 years. It cost $650. All labor was donated.
A new church building was erected in 1924 at a cost of $7,135. There were 140 days of donated labor consisting of hauling etc. The total value was about $10,000. Mr. R. Rosene was the contractor.
There were summer tent meetings held in the middle of the summer for many years. Pastors from other congregations would preach. These meetings drew good crowds and souls were saved.
There was a cheese-making day each spring. The ladies brought milk to the Parsonage and the ladies made cheese for the Pastor and family.
Every fall around Thanksgiving during the time that most of the members lived in the country - a bale of cotton was donated to the pastor and his family.
A young people's society was organized in July 1907 and was very active through 1966 and still exists under different names.
The Women's Ladies Aid was organized in the early days of the church and has all along taken an actives part in the work, helping in any way they could.
"Swedes in Texas" by Ernest Severin aided by Dr. Alfred 1. Scott, Pastor T.J. Westerberg, and J.M. Ojerholm. ("Swedes in Texas" in word and deed 1918, Volume 1, Pages 112 - 115)
Brushy Evangelical Free Church Minutes (unpublished) 1918 - 1987
Williamson County Deed Records, volumes, C county clerk, Williamson County, Texas. Williamson County courthouse