ST. SIEGFRID'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH

By 1900, Cokato had grown from a collection of houses along the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad line to a thriving village of almost seven hundred people.  Numerous businesses grew to serve the area's growing population, including grocery stores, blacksmith shops, pharmacies, hotels, and clothing stores.   Churches were also prominent in the community.

These houses of worship reflected the character of the immigrants that were settling in the area.  Names such as the Swedish Baptist Church and the Finnish Apolstolic Lutheran Church were examples.   One church, which few Cokato residents not recall, was also part of this course.

Nestled in the northeast corner of what is now Peterson Park, St. Siegfrid's Episcopal Church was established in April, 1896, bu a group of Swedish Lutherans who had left the Augustana Synod (along with others in Litchfield and Atwater.   The church building was built in 1896, with a spire that stretched over sixty feet into the sky.

The membership, while small, was very active, numbering at its height over one hundred.  Some of them were "Yankee" settlers, who had come from places like New York, Vermont, and Maine, where the Episcopal church had a strong presence.

In early years, service were held every other Sunday.  By 1897, weekly services were held, along with evening prayer and Friday services.  There were was a resident minister and a shared one with other Episcopal parishes in the area.

As the 1910s turned into the 1920s, membership began to decline rapidly.  By 1923, the membership listed only fifteen families.  Diocese records indicated the church was listed as "closed" in 1927.

The building itself stood until 1934.  By the time it was razed, vandals had done their damage.  Many of the windows had been broken, the interior was in ruins, and the spire bent in the wind.   Even after being torn down, the church suffered one more insult when thieves made off with over three hundred feet of lumber that Oscar Wuollet had set aside from his demolition work.

The search for the records of St. Siegfrid's also revealed a "lost" part of Cokato's past.  The Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota has no records from the Cokato congregation.   Trinity Episcopal Church, Litchfield, which St. Siegfrid's was affiliated with, also revealed nothing.

What happened to the records, which would have listed such information as baptism, confirmations, marriages, funerals, and memberships, is unknown.  Perhaps they were taken by the last secretary of the parish, or maybe the last minister.   Sadly, they are probably long gone, another part of Cokato's past that will never be recovered.

©Cokato Historical Society, 1997.