Jno (John) Oslund

The Sixth and Last Pastor of Cordelia. By Larry Lass

Jno (John) Edward Oslund was born on January 1, 1873, in Cokato, Minnesota. He began attending Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peters, Minnesota in 1901, graduating at age 30. He then attended the Chicago Lutheran Seminary from 1903 to1905 and was ordained on June 17, 1906, in Denver. Early in his career, John moved often and history did record why. He served, possibly as an intern, in Wallace, Idaho, during 1906 and 1907 before returning to Augustana Seminary of Rock Island, Illinois. to earn a Bachelors of Divinity in 1907. Oslund married Lilie Helen Anderson in Fargo, North Dakota, on October 16, 1907. He served at Brainerd, Minnesota, from 1907 to1908 before moving to Salem Lutheran in Spokane where he served until 1910.

While at Spokane he received his M.A. in 1910 and his Ph.D. in 1912 from Potomac University in Washington, DC. History did not reveal if he took classes in Spokane or via correspondence. It is interesting Potomac University was operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. He then moved to Marshfield, Oregon, serving a single parish until 1912 when he began a dual parish with the church at North Bend--the dual parish ended in 1913 when Oslund began serving at Central City, Minnesota, a parish he would lead until 1917.

Rev. Jno (John) Oslund

Pastor Oslund moved to Moscow, Idaho, in 1917 to serve Zion and Cordelia Lutheran Churches. That year, Zion had 381 members and Cordelia had about 15 members. He lived in the Moscow parsonage built by Zion in 1900, located near 5th and Lincoln streets. The Secretarial Record of Zion Lutheran reported Pastor John E. Oslund was offered $1,200 for his first year in Moscow, but the financial records for Cordelia were not reported after 1915. If we base Cordelia’s share of Pastor Oslund’s pay on the salary of Pastor Johnson (1909 to 1917) reported in the 1910 Cordelia Records of Finance, it could have been about $100. However, in 1915, the last Financial Record of Cordelia showed Pastor Johnson was paid $50.70 per year, so Pastor Oslund’s salary may have been based only on the Zion offer with the expectation to serve Cordelia.

In the first pastoral report made by John to Zion Lutheran (1917) his signature read J. E. Oslund, but the 1918 report was signed Jno E. Oslund. In 1919, he registered for the draft as John Edward Oslund (Pastor) but did not give a place of birth. Latah County draft records show that a John Emmanuel Oslund (no relation to Pastor Oslund), born in 1983 in Starsjo, Sweden, was also living in Latah County in 1919.

The regular Sunday services at Cordelia were discontinued in 1918. The congregation of Cordelia was never very large. Membership was 38 in 1903, including 19 adults and 19 children, making it difficult to sustain a viable congregation. Unfortunately, the nearby town of Lenville never grew to any size and church membership dwindled. The last congregational meeting was held in 1913, although church income and expenses were recorded until 1915. Income and expenses for 1915 were $65.02 and a $5 memorial given for Charles Carlson. The 1915 financial record reported 11 members and two births. Improved roads and reliable motorized transportation (cars and trucks) allowed members to attend the larger “city church” in Moscow.

The Pastoral Reports of Zion Lutheran were hand written in Swedish until 1919. For some reason, perhaps a serious error, six pages were cut out and one left blank in the 1917 Zion Secretarial Records. John hand wrote the pastoral record in 1918 for Zion, but struggled with the pen. In 1919, John submitted a typed copy of his Pastoral Report using a typewriter with Swedish characters. That same year, Pastor Oslund was paid $1,327.45 and received a Candidatus Sacrae Theologiae (Certificate in Sacred Theology [S.T.C.]) from Augustana Seminary. Certificates were the equivalent of a Masters of Arts degree. Interestingly, it was not until 1920 that the first English was recorded in the Zion Secretarial Record--Anna Nelson wrote the Sunday School Financial record in English, but the Pastoral Reports continued to be in Swedish until 1922 when an extra congregational meeting was reported in English.

In 1920, John received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from Augustana Seminary. The Secretarial Record of Zion addressed him as Dr. Oslund in the 1919 report, but he never signed his reports with this title. It is interesting the alumni records of Augustana Seminary did not show Jno or John as a student between 1918 and 1922, but the ELCA Synod archivist indicated he obtained the S.T.C and S.T.D. from Augustana Seminary in this time frame. The Special Collection Librarian at Augustana did find Jno. E. Oslund listed in the 1919-1920 Augustana College Catalog, and indicated Jno Oslund graduated from the seminary in 1919 with his S.T.C. degree.

The 371 members of Zion Lutheran provided Pastor Oslund with a salary of $1,970.40 in 1920, and Victoria Olsen recalls his salary package included a car as well. John Oslund resigned as pastor of Zion on November 20, 1920, accepting a call on January 18, 1921, to Cannon Falls, Minnesota, where he served until 1927. In 1927, Pastor Oslund moved nine miles east to Vasa, where he served until retiring in 1949. He also served on the board of the Vasa Children's Home.

Pastor Oslund and Lillie had four children. Lillian Edwardina Oslund died in 1930. Eloise Helen Viktoria was still alive in 1985, but no address is available. Two sons, John Edward Lillis Oslund who died in 1985, and Carl Theodore Evald Oslund who died in 1998, were both pastors in the United Lutheran Church. Carl visited Emmanuel Lutheran of Moscow in the early 1980's according to Cynthia (Oslund) Cox (not a relative).

According to Carl's obituary, he had four surviving children: Vicki Neumann of Ft. Dodge, Iowa; Bobbi Sonsteby of Waseca, Minnesota; Philip of Ham Lake, Minnesota; and C. Eric of Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Pastor John Oslund died on April 24, 1950, at Red Wing, Minnesota and was buried near his brother Carl at Vasa Lutheran Cemetery, Vasa, Goodhue County, Minnesota.

Author’s note: Special thanks goes to Victoria Olsen for lending me the Secretarial Records of Zion Lutheran Church from 1909 to 1922. The book contained the pastoral and treasurer reports and minutes of congregational meetings. A digital copy of the book on CD-ROM format has been archived at the Latah County Historical Society and Emmanuel Lutheran. Additional thanks goes to the archivist at ELCA and Augustana College for additional information.