Reverend Ole Knudsen Quamme

Reverend Ole Knudsen (O.K.) Quamme (1852-1904) was an early circuit-riding Lutheran minister in the Sheyenne River Valley - his only pastorate - from the time of his 1886 ordination until his death in 1904.  During his eighteen-year ministry in the Cooperstown area, he traveled about preaching the Gospel and administering the rites and sacraments of the Lutheran Church to the Scandinavian immigrants.

Ole Knudsen Quamme (or Kvamme) was born at Laerdals Prestegjeld, Midtra Sogn, Norway to Knud Knudsen Quamme and his wife Gunhild Olsdatter on November 3, 1852.  The Quamme family immigrated to the United States when Ole was twelve years old, leaving Bergen, Norway, on April 14, 1865.  After completing the fourteen-week voyage, they made their way to southeastern Minnesota's Fillmore County, where they settled near Preston and made their living working for others.

The Quamme family moved to Otter Tail County, Minnesota, some 240 miles to the northwest, with oxen and prairie schooner in 1867, to homestead a farm of their own southeast of Fergus Falls.  There young Ole met and married Ingrid Olson Helle, the daughter of a neighboring farm family.

O.K. Quamme entered Augsburg Seminary in Minneapolis, an antecedent body of present-day Luther-Northwestern Seminaries in St. Paul, in 1875.  Because of financial difficulties, he was forced to extend his studies over a period of ten academic years: 1875-76, 1879-82, and 1883-86.  Between times, Ole worked very hard and saved his money, in order to be able to make his tuition payments.

In seminary, O.K. Quamme made the friendship of another seminarian, Ibraim Livius Lundeby (1848-1897).  Ordained in 1880, Reverend Lundeby was by 1882 stationed at Valley City as a missionary by the Norse Evangelical Conference of North America.  The legendary Pastor Lundeby traveled up and down the Sheyenne Valley from Lisbon to Devils Lake, organizing congregations, preaching the Word, and administering the sacraments to the settlers who at this time were beginning to reach the area.

As settlement along the Valley continued into the 1880's, Reverend Lundeby invited his friend, Seminarian Quamme, to visit him during Christmas break in 1885 and to survey the situation, with an eye toward assuming a part of the huge pastorate upon his graduation and ordination.

Union Lutheran Congregation, one of the parishes in Reverend Lundeby's pastorate, held a congregational meeting under the leadership of their pastor on March 21, 1886, and decided to call Seminarian Quamme, who accepted and upon completing his theological examinations was ordained as pastor of Union Congregation June 27, 1886.

Cooperstown proper was first settled by Baptists, Congregationalists, and Methodists, financially-established business people and entrepreneurs who came to Dakota Territory from points further east, while the poorer Lutheran Scandinavian immigrants settled in the countryside.  Other Protestant congregations in town were well established at an early date, while there was not a significant number of Lutherans nor any regular Lutheran services in Cooperstown until they first began to be conducted at the comparatively late date of 1886 by Pastor Quamme, among the group which in time became Cooperstown (present-day Trinity) Lutheran Church.  O.K. Quamme continued to minister to these Lutherans, and upon their formal organization in 1890 was asked to be the parish pastor, in which capacity he continued to serve until 1895.

In addition to the Cooperstown congregation, Reverend Quamme also served the:

Union .................. (1886-1904)

Ness .................. (1886-1904)

Lund .................. (1886-1904)

Ringsaker .................. (1887-1904)

Ottawa .................. (1888-1904)

Ostervold .................. (1888-1894)

Glenfield .................. (1888-1892) Lutheran parishes

He ministered for two years to the group, which became Our Savior's Lutheran at Dazey (1886-1887), and also served the group at Binford (at that time known as Blooming Prairie) prior to its 1901 organization as Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.

O.K. Quamme was the founding pastor of both the Cooperstown and the Glenfield congregations.  At least six of the other parishes, Union, Ness, Lund, Ringsaker, Ottawa, and Trinity-Binford, were originally a part of Reverend Lundeby's larger pastorate.  The clergymen preceding Pastor Quamme at Ostervold were:

C.J. Gronli

O.C. Gronvold

C.C. Gjerstad.

The Scandinavians settling in the Valley in the 1880's and 1890's were by no means a homogeneous group, but represented several different Lutheran backgrounds and synodical affiliations.  As a result, it was sometimes difficult for them to join together with other Lutherans to form a congregation.  At one time three different synods were represented in the congregations constituting Reverend Quamme's pastorate.

Reverend and Mrs. Quamme moved to Cooperstown in 1886 with their four children.  From here the Pastor was able to serve his congregation in town, and would also drive out to his many rural parishes.

The pioneers' churches usually began as preaching places where, prior to the formal organization of a congregation, the people would come together to hear the Word and to receive the rites and sacraments of the Church from a traveling pastor.  The settlers who constituted these fledgling parishes were newly arrived immigrants from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, and were very poor.

The rural parishes held their earliest services in the settlers' shanties and sod houses and later country schoolhouses.  By the mid to late 1890's, the congregations were able to begin the construction of church buildings.

Cooperstown Lutheran was without a house of worship until 1896.  As a result, throughout all of Pastor Quamme's years with the parish services were held, usually on Sunday afternoons, in the Congregational and the Methodist church buildings.

The courthouse was often utilized by various groups in the community for their meetings, programs, and other activities in the early days.  The courtroom was the scene of the Cooperstown congregation's very successful and well attended Christmas Tree (or celebration) in 1888.

In 1895 O.K. Quamme resigned as Pastor of Cooperstown Lutheran and was succeeded by Reverend E.T. Silness.  Pastor Quamme continued to live in Cooperstown and to drive out from here to each of the different congregations in his pastorate.

In the early days there were practically no graded roads in the area.  Such as existed were simply winding trails across the countryside, and even these were few and far between.  It was along such trails that the Pastor's team of horses, Minnie and Sota, pulled his buggy during the summer months, and his sleigh in the winter as he made the rounds visiting each of his congregations in the Valley.  Completing this circuit entailed his covering many, many miles over difficult terrain in some of the worst weather imaginable, often keeping him away from his home and family for most of the week.

Pastor Quamme died in 1904 after being kicked by a horse.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 148 

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