THE FIRST APOSTOLICS IN MINNESOTA
The enactment of Homestead Act in 1862 and the expansion of the railroad system in Stevens County in 18711 brought a number of young families to Minnesota wishing to establish themselves as farmers.2 In the summer of 1902, an Iowan land agent convinced Chris Moser and his son-in-law Rudolph Tschudi of Rock Rapids to look at land in Minnesota. After seeing the land, they decided to settle just north of Morris, MN. Shortly after, Moser persuaded his brother-in-law, Chris Luthi, Jr. to also look at land in the area. Subsequently, Luthi decided on purchasing a large section of land seven miles south of Morris.3 By the spring of 1903, Moser, Tschudi, and Luthi moved their families to Stevens County, soon to be followed by a number of other Apostolic families from Lester and West Bend, Iowa. This was beginning of the Apostolic migration to Minnesota.
Chris Moser and Chris Luthi are considered to be the founding fathers of the Stevens County Apostolic fellowship. Today, their decedents make up a large portion of the Apostolic Christian Church in Stevens County and are spread throughout the United States.
Christian “Christ” Moser was born on January 18, 1843, in Bern Switzerland. He married Anna Maria Luthi in 1868 in Rüderswil, Bern, Switzerland. They had 12 children in 25 years. He died on September 30, 1903 in Stevens County, Minnesota, at the age of 60, and was buried in Morris, Minnesota.
When Christian Luthi was born on March 12, 1848, in Bern, Switzerland, his father Christian, was 29 and his mother, Anna was 32. He married Anna Marie “Mary” Schmidt on February 13, 1877, in Langnau, Bern, Switzerland. They had seven children in 14 years. He died on March 16, 1919, in Morris, Minnesota, at the age of 71, and was buried there.
CURRENT PATTERNS OF APOSTOLIC MIGRATION
Although Euro-American Apostolic migration has ceased, there still exists intentional movement of Apostolic Church members and followers in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Haiti, and many other parts of the globe. The primary reasons for contemporary migration center around marriage, family, church planting/bolstering, and ministries.
Marriage: In the Apostolic Church, members strictly marry only within the faith. For this reason, young singles will travel great distances to fellowship with other congregations as a means of forming like bonds and to possibly to meet future spouses. Most often the bride will relocate to where her new husband resides.
Family: It is not uncommon for families separated through marriage to eventually come back together. This can happen as young families relocate due to change in careers or returning to family farms or as parents retire and decide to relocate closer to their children.
Church planting/bolstering: Migration within the church also happens as a result of establishing new churches or providing support to existing churches.
Ministries: The Apostolic Church is involved in a number of ministries and relief efforts in the United States and around world. A few of their ministries include: Casa Vida y Esperanza (a home for children and a community church in Sonora, Mexico), Rural Gospel and Medical Mission of India (providing an orphanage, medical work, and education in India), and Hospital Lumiere (a hospital managed by Apostolic World Relief/Harvest Call serving the physical and spiritual needs of Haitian people).4
APOSTOLICS IN STEVENS COUNTY TODAY
Apostolics in Stevens County are very active in the Morris and Hancock communities. Although agriculture continues to be an important aspect of Apostolic life, Apostolics also work, own businesses, volunteer, and socialize in a number of areas throughout the county and in a variety of capacities.
A number of corporations, which bolster communities and contribute to the economic health of Stevens County, were once Apostolic, family-owned farms and businesses. Over time these farms and business have successfully evolved into multi-million dollar corporations. Regardless of their current standing, these corporations have continued to maintain the faith’s core values of ethics, hard work, and integrity. These industries, whose heritage can be traced back to the original Apostolic settlers, fall into two main categories: agriculture and manufacturing.
Two of the largest agricultural corporations headquartered in Stevens County are Riverview Dairy5 and Wulf Cattle.6 Riverview Dairy founders, Paul Fehr and wife Anna (Luthi) and the founders of Wulf Cattle, Leonard Wulf and wife Violet (Luthi), are all descendants of Chris Luthi, one of the very first Apostolic settlers in Stevens County. Over the decades, both of these family farms continued to grow and develop, eventually forming into independent corporations. In 2012, Riverview Dairy and Wulf Cattle merged into a partnership which has grown to become one of the largest privately held agricultural corporations in the Midwest. With the addition of the Wulf Cattle merger, Riverview has expanded their services into four primary segments: dairy, beef, agronomy, and construction. Currently they have beef, dairy, and/or calving facilities in western Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arizona, and New Mexico. Riverview depends on a large number of Mexican labors and professionals to maintain their growing operations. The majority of their Mexican staff are hired on TN visas as agronomists and veterinaries and on H-2A visas as temporary farm laborers. Although Riverview is a now a multi-million dollar corporation and known throughout the world, they continue to maintain their core family values and dedication to employees.7
In 1917, shortly after migrating to Minnesota from Illinois, Apostolics, Henry Schmidgall and wife Emma (Koehl) purchased a small drain tile plant in Hancock, Minnesota.8 The Hancock Concrete operation gradually expanded and began to produce reinforced concrete pipe, arch pipe, and precast culverts.9 By 1976, the company started to expand its plant facilities in Minnesota. Four years earlier in 1972, Neil Schmidgall, Henry Schmidgall’s grandson, founded the Superior Machinery Company, now known as Superior Industries. Neil began by building and repairing portable plants and conveyors used for his father’s sand and gravel company which was utilized by Hancock Concrete Products.10
- Schmidgall, Amy. “Moser Tree.” Ancestry. 2017. https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/115972210/family. (Accessed November 21, 2017).
- Schmidgall, Amy. “Luthi Tree.” Ancestry. 2017. https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/tree/115972210/family. (Accessed November 21, 2017).
- HarvestCall. “HarvestCall.” HarvestCall – CVE is looking for a full-time… July 03, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/harvestcall/photos/a.1635704896752837.1073741828.1608908546099139/1872955896361068/?type=3&theater. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- The Fehr family farm. Morris. Compiled by Kevin Wulf.
- Riverview Dairy. Morris. Compiled by Kevin Wulf.
- Northern Tractor & Implement. “Riverview LLP Silage Chopping 2014.” YouTube. August 31, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pU3RiiiU14. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- “”We were building 80-stall parlors but needed something bigger and faster”.” Meadow Star Dairy – DeLaval. https://www.delaval.com/en-us/your-challenges/us/meadow-star-dairy/. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Riverview, LLP. “Riverview, LLP.” Riverview, LLP – Colostrum is essential for calf health,… November 16, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/riverviewllp/photos/rpp.268524569855340/1708270665880716/?type=3&theater. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Wulf Cattle. “Wulf Cattle.” Wulf Cattle – This Mother’s Day, Violet Wulf went Home to… May 13, 2013. https://www.facebook.com/271430004614/photos/a.10150652369529615.409353.271430004614/10151471153454615/?type=3&theater. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Wulf Cattle. “Wulf Family Farm.” Wulf Cattle – One week until the sale! If you are in need… March 20, 2015. https://www.facebook.com/271430004614/photos/a.10150652369529615.409353.271430004614/10152882408539615/?type=3&theater. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Wulf Cattle. “Wulf Cattle.” Wulf Cattle – Yearlings on grass at Golden Hills Ranch. June 25, 2013. https://www.facebook.com/271430004614/photos/a.10150655992889615.409885.271430004614/10151545582034615/?type=3&theater. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Ukura, Kim. “Locals sell with Wulf Cattle at Opportunity Sale.” Stevens County Times. November 16, 2017. http://www.stevenscountytimes.com/news/3704651-locals-sell-wulf-cattle-opportunity-sale. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Wulf Cattle. “Wulf Cattle.” Wulf Cattle – Wulf Cattle added a new photo. March 13, 2014. Accessed December 07, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/271430004614/photos/a.10150652369529615.409353.271430004614/10152069504729615/?type=3&theater.
- Henry and Emma Schmidgall. Schmidgall Family, Morris.
- “History.” Hancock Concrete. https://i1.wp.com/hancockconcrete.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/history1.png. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Superior Industries. “Hancock Concrete Division.” Picssr. http://picssr.com/photos/superiorindustries/interesting/page10. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Hancock Concrete Products. “History.” Hancock Concrete. http://hancockconcrete.com/about-us/history/. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Hancock Concrete Products. “Hancock Concrete Products.” Hancock Concrete Products added a new photo. – Hancock Concrete Products. October 3, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/hancockcp/photos/a.160395210650831.33988.148125551877797/1643967755626895/?type=3&theater. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Superior Industries. “Neil and Linda Schmidgall.” Superior Industries. http://superior-ind.com/company/history/. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Superior Industries. “Schmidgall Sand and Gravel.” Superior Industries. Accessed December 07, 2017. http://superior-ind.com/company/history/.
- Superior Industries. “TeleStacker.” Superior Industries. Accessed December 07, 2017. http://superior-ind.com/company/history/.
- Superior Industries. “Superior Industries, Inc.” Hard to find a better backdrop for a… – Superior Industries, Inc. November 02, 2017. https://www.facebook.com/superiorindustries/photos/a.417459976539.195786.60700981539/10154778943801540/?type=3&theater. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Marcus Construction. “Superior Industries.” Industrial Warehouse Buildings | Marcus Construction. https://www.marcusconstruction.com/industrial-warehouses. (Accessed December 07, 2017).
- Busch, Edna Mae. The History of Stevens County. Steven County Historical Society, 1976: 6
- Klopfenstein, Perry. Marching to Zion – History of the Apostolic Church of America, 1947-2007, Second Edition. Fort Scott: Sekan Printing Company, 2008: 345-346
- Luthi, Reuben, and Chrystol Luthi, interview by Amy Schmidgall, & Joy Stephansen. Apostolic History 1 (September 20, 2017).
- “Harvest Call Ministries.” Apostolic Christian HarvestCall.http://www.harvestcall.org/. (Accessed November 21, 2017).
- “OUR STORY.” Riverview, LLP. http://www.riverviewllp.com/our-story.html. (Accessed November 21, 2017).
- “Wulf Cattle.” About Wulf Cattle. http://www.wulfcattle.com/about-us.html. (Accessed November 21, 2017).
- Wulf, Kevin, interview by Amy Schmidgall, & Joy Stephansen. Community Relations and Education Interview at Riverview (September 26, 2017).
- “History of Hanock.” Hancock Concrete. http://hancockconcrete.com/about-us/history/. (Accessed November 21, 2017).
- Schmidgall, Andy. “History of Hancock Concrete.” Interview by author. November 15, 2017.
- “History of Superior.” Superior Industries. http://superior-ind.com/company/history/. (Accessed November 21, 2017).