College Organizations

As a Christian institution founded upon the principles and imbued with the spirit of the Lutheran Reformation, St. Olaf College seeks, above all else, to preserve the students in the true Christian faith. Besides the regular instruction given in religion, an earnest Christian spirit permeates the entire course of work. But students, educated under such influences, will not only cherish the Bible hours spent in the recitation room and their private study, but will also feel the importance of coming together for prayerful and devotional Bible study on the Lord’s day. This was also the desire of the St. Olaf students which was realized in the organization of the Bible class.

At a mass meeting held in the college chapel, Nov. 17th, 1889, the class was organized and Prof. F. E. Millis was elected superintendent. On Sunday, Dec1st, the first regular meeting was held and since then the class has met regularly for Bible study an hour every Sunday afternoon during the school year.

During the first few years the class was divided into sub-classes with their respective leaders. After the whole class bad met in the chapel for a short opening service, consisting of singing, prayer and responsive reading of the Bible lesson, the sub-classes proceeded to their several rooms, where the lesson was studied. Later, however, it was decided that the whole class should remain together also during the study and discussion of the lesson.

The Bible lessons studied have been the International Sunday school series of lessons, and the Augsburg Sunday school Teacher has been used as lesson helps until the opening of the school year in the fall of 1899, when the Quarterly of the General Council was adopted instead. A different leader is appointed for each class meeting, thus giving as many of the members as possible practice in leading the class. After the leader has given a brief introduction to the lesson, comments are made on each verse, parallel passages and other references looked up, practical applications of the lesson made and questions asked and discussed freely, thus making the Bible hour both profitable and interesting. Every year the class arranges for a series of lectures on biblical themes, to be delivered by ministers or professors of the United Church in course of the school year. It has also had charge of the exercises given on College Day of Prayer. The work of the class closes each year with a lecture given during commencement week. Following are the superintendents of the class from the time of its organization: Prof. F. E. Millis succeeded by Prof. I. F. Grose in the school year of ’89-’90; Agnes Mellby (’90-’91); O. G. U. Siljan (’91-’92); Adolph Larson succeeded by Albert Hougen (’92-’93); C. M. Weswig (’93-’94); O. O. Glesne (’94-’95); C. K. Solberg (’95-’96); M. J. Stolee (’96-’97); Olaf Lysnes (’97-’98); Geo. O. Berg (’98-’99); John Peterson (’99-’00).

In the course of years the class has gradually gained the attendance and active interest of the students until it has become the largest and most important of the students’ organizations. It has proved to be a powerful factor for good at the college. Those young men and women, who were its members while attending St. Olaf, will, no doubt, in later life, keep in grateful remembrance the powerful and directing influence these Bible class meetings had upon their college life. May it continue its blessed mission as long as St. Olaf College stands and ever remain as a true exponent of the religious life among the students on Manitou Heights.

By M. J. STOLEE ’97
“Happy the nation, whose annals are few,” says an old adage. If you feel like taking the truth of this statement for granted, you may conclude that the Mission Society is happy indeed. Its history is brief. This fact alone ought to commend the society to students in general, and especially to those who must wrestle with the voluminous writers of the Kurtz calibre. The Mission society is, when compared with the age of the other societies of St. Olaf, the baby. But a most active and promising one, as all good babies should be. Now for its biography. One day in the fall of ’95, three young men were sitting in a student’s room, talking about missions and missionary endeavors in general. The idea was expressed that the students of St. Olaf ought to be more interested in this work, than the case had been heretofore, and it was suggested that one of the three should call on Pres. Mohn and see what he thought of the matter. No sooner had the subject been mentioned to him than he declared enthusiastically that it was just what he had wished for, and proposed that a society be organized at once for the purpose of creating interest in missionary work. You all know the manner in which our late president would push a project to a successful issue. Well, a meeting was called by Prof. Mohn in the college chapel, Nov. 25th, for the purpose of discussing the feasibility of organizing such a society. At this meeting Prof. Mohn laid special stress on Christ’s last command to His disciples and also how much there yet remained for us to do before that command could be carried out; that it was time for all true Christians to be “up and doing” something for the Master. The outcome of it all was that thirty-six students expressed their willingness to join the society, in case such a one could be organized. A set of temporary officers were chosen and it was decided to hold meetings every other Monday at 11 o’clock a.m. This was the beginning of the society.

At the beginning of every school year six committees are elected in the society, each committee having in charge one or more mission fields, viz., Home Missions, Madagascar, China, India, Zulu and Jewish. At the regular meetings papers of interest concerning the above mentioned fields are read and discussed. The society has been very fortunate in its lecture course. A great many of the clergy of the United Church, some of our theological professors and nearly all of the college professors have delivered able and interesting lectures on mission topics. The work has been continued and the method of study has been greatly improved, so that we find the society to be one of the most active, and in point of membership, the most favored among the organizations on Manitou Heights. We can think of no greater spirit whose abode on the heights we would rather desire than the Spirit of Christian missions, the Spirit that will lead the students to a diligent study of the Church in its struggles for the mastery of the Gentile world.

The editor hinted that he wanted history, and that precludes, I suppose, everything else that may be said on the subject. Allow me, however, to express the hope that the Spirit of Missions may possess a good number of the young men and women who now and in the years to come have the good fortune of treading the classic halls of St. Olaf, and lead them to consecrate their lives to the service of Christ in the lands where “gross darkness covers the people.” It would therefore be strange, to say the least, if there should not be found a few among the many who profess belief in the motto of the College, who would be willing to go forward as men of Christ and of the cross in heathen lands, until Jesus shall be crowned Lord of all.


Most of those who have spent some time in the college department at St. Olaf will recall various memories of successes and defeats on the rostrum and on the floor of this society and will regard these as some of the most valued experiences of their college career. Here youthful eloquence found its legitimate outlet, and continual practice in this field qualified the speaker for other, more serious, efforts in later life. Here the ardent debater learned the value of his argumentation by having it sifted in the hands of merciless opponents. Here also the independent Norse spirit, checked by the authority of the “chair “, acquired respect for law and a proper regard for the dictum of a majority.

The Alpha Beta Chi has existed for somewhat more than a decade, being a continuation of the St. Olaf’s Literary Society. When the college department was established in the fall of 1886, those who entered this department continued as members of their old society, gradually raising its standard as the number of college men increased. During the year ’88-’89 the name was changed to Alpha Beta Chi, and preparatory students were debarred from membership.

The aim of the society was to give to its members practice in speaking and a knowledge of parliamentary rules. The opportunity thus offered seems to have been thoroughly appreciated. Those early members were not lacking in enthusiasm, and the debates, which were the principal feature of the meetings at that time, were carried on with considerable vim. Declamations, impromptu speeches, essays and orations were added as regular features on the programs, which were also varied by musical numbers. Lately a speech on current news has been added.

In the spring of ’93 a more elaborate program was given as a culmination of the year’s work. Since then the rule has been to furnish an annual entertainment, in the preparation of which greater care is taken and in the carrying out of which every member is eager to be assigned a part.

During the year ’96-’97 it was thought advisable to prepare a new constitution and by-laws for the society. Such an instrument was carefully worked out and printed, and this has helped to put the society in a better working condition than ever before.

The new feature which proved especially felicitous in practice was the introduction of an executive committee of three members to have general supervision over the society. Several rules were made more stringent, allowing little opportunity for neglect of duty. There is also a stricter provision in regard to the admission of new members. Every applicant for membership must now pass through a probationary term of three months before being admitted into full membership. This has proved to be a very beneficial provision. Graduates, who were members at the time of their graduation, are put on the roll of honorary membership.

During his college course a member of this society has an opportunity of working together with members of seven different college classes, something which does not happen in the class room, for here he comes in contact mainly with his own classmates. The acquaintance be thus makes is a pleasure to him often proves a great incentive. It is not wonderful and that of the ties a person is loath to break when leaving college. are the associations in the literary society. It is the realization of this that has tacitly made the farewell meeting to the senior class a standing rule which is observed with all solemnity every year.

Hitherto the Alpha Beta Chi has occupied its field alone. The membership is now, however, greater than is conducive to its best interest. We therefore anticipate the formation in the near future of other societies, which, we hope, will create a spirit of friendly rivalry that will tend to raise the standard still higher and this branch of independent student’s work will prove of even more benefit than it has in the past.

By J. E. BEUM, ’99

There is possibly no institution at St. Olaf which recalls so many fond recollections and pleasant incidents to the St. Olaf boys as the Manitou Debating and Literary Society.

It was not permitted all of our graduates and other ex-students to be members and these will probably not fully sympathize with us in our interest for the old society. But we will ask them to bear with us if we indulge in the little pleasure of turning back just a few pages, and call to mind our doings those Saturday evenings in the Manitou. There were many present, some forty or fifty. For the Manitou has ever been the largest organization-at least in point of number of members-at school. The program generally consisted of readings, declamations, impromptus and debates. Sometimes the entertainment committee would be able to obtain a musical selection but this was very rare.

The history of the Manitou as a society distinctly for the preparatory department dates back to the fall of 1888. There had been several organizations before that time or rather it was the same organization appearing under different names. But in the year mentioned it was thought wise to organize a society exclusively for the college boys as it was not deemed expedient to have the dignified juniors and others from the upper classes and the insignificant “preps” together any longer. Accordingly the Alpha Beta Chi was duly launched in the fall of ’88. The preps, however, continued the old society but changed its name to Manitou which proud appellation it bears today.

At first the two societies worked harmoniously together side by side, each performing its work peacefully. But in the year 1891 the Alpha Beta Chi which up to this time had met every second Monday evening, changed from Monday to Saturday and from bi-weekly to weekly meetings. Now the Manitou also met on Saturday evening: therefore this change must necessarily work mischief. For both were accustomed to hold their meetings in the chapel. But this became impracticable under the new arrangement. They could not very well occupy the chapel at the same time. Contending aspirants for the speakership may often preside at the same time and place over the two opposing factions of the same legislature without materially violating the rules of polite etiquette but it is decidedly inappropriate, not to say inconvenient for two societies to occupy the same place at the same time. This was out of the question. For some time it looked like real trouble. But it never carne to a crisis for the matter was settled amicably, as such matters always were while our beloved but now deceased president lived. He decided that while the Manitou had been accustomed to meet there on Saturday evenings and thus might claim some right by way of prescription and local custom yet it was the more appropriate and seemly that the college men meet there. From this decision there could be no appeal and the Manitou’s were constrained to give up the chapel and seek new apartments. The III. class room was found suitable and into it the society now moved; here it has also remained up to the present time.

The school year ’93-’94 marks an epoch in the history of the Manitou. For that year the members resolved to transform the society into a mock house of representatives. Each member was allotted a state and as there was just the requisite number of members all the states happily obtained a representative while territories had to be content with morsels which might flow to them from the general legislation. A speaker and two clerks were elected and the machinery of a law making body was set in motion.

The winding up Of the school year, however, saw the end of the house of representatives and the fall of ’94 witnessed the Manitou as a strictly literary society once more. But this year saw a new departure though in a different direction. It was in March of this school year that the first annual exhibition was given under its auspices.

The participants acquitted themselves so creditably that the members were encouraged to repeat the experiment the following year. Now these annual entertainments have become a fixed fact.

The constitution, too, was changed in ’96, when many radical but salutary changes were instituted. Many of the glaring defects were remedied and such other reforms were introduced as the experience of former years had demonstrated to be necessary. The new constitution has worked admirably in all its departments and the society has advanced steadily forward and by its good work is even now fulfilling its mission in its own particular sphere of activity.

By GEO. O. BERG, ’99
” Norsk Studentersamfund ” was organized Nov. 29th, 1888, with nineteen charter members. Its organization was in a great measure due to the efforts of Dr. A. E. Egge, who roused the interest of the students for Norwegian literature, and who, when the society had been formed assisted its members in every way and took active part in its work.

As stated in the constitution: ” The object of this society shall be to extend the information of its members about everything relating to the Norwegian people. This object is to be attained by the study of Norwegian literature, by literary lectures and by declamations, readings and debates in the Norwegian language.”

Any student or teacher at St. Olaf College could be admitted to membership of the society; teachers, however, were not required to take active part unless they so chose.

During first few years of the society’s existence the membership was not very large, but consisted of men who were enthusiastic for the work. Several of them were interested in the Norwegian language-reform movement (Maalsträv) and these were permitted to use their favorite dialect in debating. In addition to the regular literary work of the society, lectures on topics of interest to the members were secured, and dramatic and musical entertainments were given. Thus in the spring of 1891, Björnson’s drama ” Mellem Slagene” was rendered with great success.
After this the society grew rapidly in the number of its members reaching a total of about forty. A new and improved constitution was adopted in 1895. At about the same time lady students were admitted to membership. Like the other literary societies the “Studentersamfund” began to give an annual exhibition and this was usually held on May 17th when no other provision was made for celebrating that day. On the whole considering the difficulties with which this society had to contend its work during this time was fairly satisfactory.

There were, however, certain causes at work which in the course of time proved detrimental to the society. Admitting, as it did, students from the academic as well as from the college department, the society received members between whom there was too great a difference in mental development. The requirements for membership were not strict enough. The society was not careful enough in selecting its members. As a consequence the less developed or less proficient members thinking they could not do justice to the work of the society neglected it. And this again caused the rest of the members to lose their interest and become careless about their work. Thus the society was brought into a less prosperous condition.

To remedy the evil a thorough reform was necessary. So in 1898 the society was completely reorganized under the name of “Normanna.” A new constitution was drawn up limiting the membership to students of the college department and of First Class of the academy. Ladies as well as gentlemen are admitted. This society although it began with a small membership has been growing steadily, has done efficient work, and has every prospect of a bright future.


The origin of this association lies back in the Dark Ages; from its first two years of existence no records are extant, and what little information can be presented has been gleaned, like the sagas of old, from tradition.

It seems that the first impulse towards organizing was given by the boys, who persisted in choosing the girls for judges at debates which they neither understood nor were interested in. So one Saturday evening, during the winter of ’89, when the girls had thus been imposed upon and the program of the A B X had been particularly poor, there was held a caucus or rather an indignation meeting, in the “big room,” and the first steps taken toward organizing a girls’ literary society. In all probability Nella Gilbert was the first president. Thina Biörn, Serena, Lingah and Jennie Anderson, Clara Björnstad and Lena Finseth were the other original incorporators and a debate to settle “which is more enjoyable, summer or winter” was the first attempt at literary work. Later in the year a more formal program was presented at the Ladies’ parlor, to an invited audience, and the feature of the evening was a farce “The Precious Pickle.” The comedy, according to one of the eyewitnesses, almost ended in tragedy as one of the giggling girls swallowed the pickle the wrong way “to the great delight of the audience.”

The name, for which the girls have had to stand so much raillery, was adopted on the suggestion of Jennie Anderson. No account of the organization is found in any publication for that year. The next year it is mentioned in the catalog and the February Messenger for ’90 finds it worthy of an editorial. We quote the following: “The entertainment they gave Feb. 22d shows the interest they take in their work, and also that the ladies can succeed in such undertakings.”
The meeting of reorganization Sept. 20, ’90, is formally recorded. The society seems to have been very prosperous during that year; it arrived at the dignity of a written constitution, there were thirty-four members, and nineteen regular meetings are recorded. Debating was a prominent feature. Such subjects as college training for women, reading or travel as educational factors, novel-reading a drawback to mental development were discussed. During the winter, Dr. Egge was secured as critic, and some of the old-timers will remember how hard it was for the gigglers to take even him seriously. An extraordinary program was given in chapel toward spring, but no one pretended to call it an annual exhibition. The next two years were not as prosperous. Meetings were often postponed and records are incomplete. Meetings were held in the chapel occasionally.

In Sept. ’93 the society was thoroughly reorganized. Time of meeting was changed to Monday and the chapel was secured for all meetings. A bulletin board was also provided. The membership was large, the attendance good and the programs of a high order. The enterprising members raised money to secure a new front plate for the Messenger and during the winter they successfully launched the “Norwegian supper,” which has since become a social feature of Northfield winters. The Messenger devotes a whole page to the praise of the girls and the menu.

The next two years were not successful. ’96-’97, the membership reached only sixteen, but the work seems to have been quite good. ’97-’98 the society did not come out of winter quarters at all. The rest seems to have been beneficial, however, for the record of ’98-’99 is the finest the society can present. Of the twenty-two members, only two have absences recorded against them and not one meeting was postponed or dropped. The line of work seems to have changed. Debates are rare while sketches, descriptions, outlines of books and periods of history are more common.
Politics and wire-pulling have been foreign to the Utile Dulci — probably the name has been a charm against such evils. Music has always been an essential thing on the programs.

That the open meetings have generally drawn a full house seems to prove that the society deserves the second name, and as to the first — all those who have had the privilege of membership will testify that it is well chosen.


The first number of The Manitou Messenger appeared in January, 1887. We must remember that at that time St. Olaf was not a college. It was still St. Olaf’s School. A Freshman class had begun its upward career only the previous September. Thinking that they had not enough opportunities to busy their intellects, the members of this class in particular and the students in general, after a certain amount of deliberation as to the wisdom of such an endeavor, decided to begin the publication of a college paper.

The question as to the objections to and the desirability of a college journal was discussed before it was decided to publish The Messenger. The “plain duty ” argument won. The burden was taken up. And although after the start has been made, the editors admit that the objections to a college publication are many yet they never Arrive at the point where they deem it advisable to discontinue it.

The size of the pages of the first Messenger was 10 x 7 1/2 inches; the number of pages, fourteen — without a cover. In January, ’88, the number of pages was increased to sixteen inside a cover. The next change was in ’93 when the size of the pages was increased to 103/4 x7 7/8 inches. But the need for more space again began crying and in ’97 the paper was made twenty pages inside the cover. The last change was chiefly in form, the size of the pages being made about 9 x 6 1/2 inches, trimmed and the number of pages twenty-four inside the cover. This was in January, ’99.

One of the editors remarks editorially that it was only after assuming his duties that he learned that it was expected that the editors write all the articles published. This situation and its attendant irony disappeared more and more as the different new departments with each an editor, were added.
The first few years of the publication of the paper are spoken of as times of financial stringency. But there was a plenitude of desirable qualities (financial stringency being considered undesirable). He who will read those volumes will be impressed with the fact that these were years of abundant frontier strength, of muscle and of brawn. There is a clear strain of virility and youthful vigor entering into and running through the paragraphs there written. There may be an absence of grace and refinement but there is no visible lack of that lustiness and primeval energy so imperative in the ground work of races, states, and college publications.

In volumes not long after the first the literary merit of the articles published begins to look up and it is not long till the compositions reach a plane much above which later productions have not pushed. The reasons are not far to seek: there were teachers of English in those days and these were men who took an interest in the literary advancement of the students, an interest which freely manifested itself in personal contact and assistance.

The relation between the college paper and the English department in a school is a close one: the excellence of the one varies with that of the other. Certainly no elegance of language can palliate absence of thought. But the trouble in a college journal is usually more with language and arrangement than it is with thought. We will perhaps all agree that a college student can hardly escape the possession of a certain amount of thought.

The marked faults of The Messenger are continual, being to all appearances self-supporting and self-transmitting. One is too many generalities and a lack of discriminating appreciation and intelligent personal criticism in the accounts of public programs. Another flaw is that of typographical errors. The extent of this has varied. There was some of it in the first number and the end is not yet. Unsigned articles are a third vexation. For many good reasons we believe that the desirability of signatures is great and the objections to them small and unworthy of consideration.

A college publication is not primarily a historical journal. Yet there is some history to be learned in the perusal of past volumes. The change from the spirit of fellow-feeling and interdependence while the town and the two colleges within it were small to that of separation and more independent existence is clearly noticeable. Then, too, the change of customs. Toboganning and ski-running, once thriving sports, now exist chiefly in memory.

The birth, growth, and development of the various student organizations are found briefly mentioned or more fully traced. The only worthy sport whose death it has been necessary to chronicle is foot-ball; but the notice of its rebirth will perhaps soon appear.

The acknowledged desiderata about which numerous editorials have been written but which are notwithstanding still only desiderata are: improved opportunities for social development; the continuation of the work of the literary societies in the spring term; a gymnasium ; and a library and reading room larger and conducted under some system tending to give greater benefits than the present.

It is not difficult to go over and become familiar with the past history of the Messenger. What we are looking forward to now is the future. We should like to see that future begin at once. Not that any epoch-making upheavals are looked for: but a steady growth and improvement in quality are indeed desired. These will be acquired if St. Olaf students shall prove to be possessed of that healthy dissatisfaction with present attainments so essential to true progress. This has been the sentiment of the sons and daughters of St. Olaf in the past. We trust that its hold on those of the future may be strong.


The St. Olaf College cornet band, the most popular musical organization at the college, was organized in the fall of 1890 by Engebret Lee. The next year it was re-organized, Prof. Dahle leading. It was uphill work at first, as none of the members had had any previous experience in such work, but the boys worked hard, practicing four times a week, and in the spring they were able to give open air concerts on the college grounds and assisted at the commencement program. The next fall they began to work for new instruments. Adolph Larson succeeded Prof. Dahle as leader; he worked with earnestness and enthusiasm and succeeded by the help of each member in making the band play as well as many an older and larger organization. On June 17, ’93, the first annual band concert was given in the city park and was listened to with great interest; many of those who were there still remember “Down on the Farm,” “The Old Church Organ,” and other inspiring airs that were played on that occasion. The next year Mr. Kleber Molstad was chosen leader. The band this year excelled especially in march music, acquiring the time and “swing” of a professional band in “Washington Post,” “Topeka” and other marches; they were also able to purchase a complete set of instruments. In the fall of ’94 A. R. Lavik was elected leader. His beautiful cornet solos will be long remembered, and his ability as a director can be seen from the improvement of the band during the two years he acted as leader. During the year ’96’97 Reuben Johnson wielded the baton. His solos on the old baritone were delightful and worthy of a better instrument; they never failed to call forth an encore. This year the boys made their first trip to Kenyon, which was a regular custom for some years; these trips, though not financially successful, were very enjoyable in other respects. The next fall A. Onstad, the present leader, was chosen. Mr. Onstad takes great interest in his work and besides being a fine clarinet soloist is an excellent leader especially in overture and concert productions. It is largely due to his efforts together with the enthusiastic co-operation of the members that the St. Olaf band is one of the best known college musical organizations in the state; that it deserves this honor has been shown on many occasions but especially when they gave a concert in the spring of ’99 under the auspices of the Y. M. C. A. Lecture course. This was probably the best concert the band has ever given. When the war with Spain broke out the band boys showed their patriotism in a way which won them many friends among Northfield citizens and others. On many occasions, notably when the recruits left for the front and when the news came of the victory at Manila the band took an active part in the proceedings. During the last year the band has shown a steady improvement. As the band is now full grown, containing some thirty members. the tendency will be to improve the standard by raising the requirements for admission. Space forbids an account of those who attained a high degree of skill in handling their instruments, but in addition to those already named we may mention Carl Homme and J. Mohn, cornet soloists and Fred Englund, who handled the tuba with the ease and skill of a professional player.


St. Olaf never had any match game of ball, with an outside team, before the spring of ’87; though the boys had played the game among themselves in a primitive way.

The first ball field was the valley and knoll east of our present skating rink. The home base was located on top of the knoll nearly on a level with the pitcher’s head, when he occupied the “box.” The pitcher’s “box” was in turn nearly on a level with the second baseman’s head when he occupied his station. The outfielders were perched on the sides of the main hill in a position to overlook the whole game. The barb wire fence across the road served as backstop.
In the spring of ’87 when a team had been organized and it was decided to try to play genuine baseball, one of the difficulties encountered was to find suitable grounds. At last the southwest corner of St. Olaf park was chosen. Here the first team of “Oles” went down in defeat before the Carleton team in May ’87. We also played them a game on the Carleton campus, but they did not have the courtesy to treat us any better when we were their visitors for they defeated us again. The main trouble seemed to be that “we could not hit that terrible Carleton pitcher.”

Many a game has been lost by St. Olaf since that time on account of a similar weakness, when there has not been much excuse for it; but then we, with one or two exceptions, faced a “curve” for the first time, and I think that is a pretty good excuse for not hitting the ball very hard. Considering the circumstances we thought we did pretty well to get scores of 20-25 and 11-14 in these two games. In these two games, which were all we played in ’87, St. Olaf was represented by the following players: O. C. Narvestad, c.; C. J. Rollefson, captain and p.; E. T. Neste, 1st b.; L. O. Johnson, 2d b.; M. O. Sortedahl, ss.; H. O. Homme, 3d b.; A. G. Bjorneby, If.; C. A. Fjeldstad, cf., and T. T. Lysne, rf.

The changes in the above for ’88 were that Neste, Fjeldstad and Sortedahl were succeeded by Ytterboe, Bersing and O. Gilbert, and Bjorneby was the captain. If you think Carleton handled this team the way they did that of ’87, you are entirely mistaken. Rollefson had learned the theory of curving, while attending Luther College and by this time he had learned to apply it in practice. Another factor in our favor was that Basset was no longer at Carleton. So we turned the tables completely by defeating them three times, the score being 18-12, 9-7 and 14-13.
We defeated the Silver Stars (once the pride of Northfield and champions of the state) on May 17th. We also defeated the Randolph team, most of whose players hailed from Cannon Falls, by a score of 13-5. We were quite proud of our second year’s record, and well we might be for in base ball parlance it was 1000.

Up to this time our uniforms had all been of different color and style, the only point of resemblance being the striped calico caps which we all wore.

When the season of ’89 came around we thought our playing of the previous season entitled us “to put on a little show” and we decided to get uniforms. The only changes in the team this year were that Homme and Lysne bad left school and Ed. Gilbert and C. Newgaard were chosen to fill the vacancies. L. O. Johnson was elected captain.

The Shattuck team had reigned supreme in the college baseball world of Minnesota a number of years and we were anxious to try conclusions with them. We played them twice and the result was that they still reigned supreme. The two games we played with Carleton this year resulted in a victory for each. We also had two games with a strong combination from Cannon Falls and Hastings. We also “broke even” with them. This leaves our average for ’89 away below that of ’88; and that the students did not like this may be inferred from a “crumb” in the June, ’89, Messenger which looks like this: ‘Are baseball suits a failure? It looks like it.”

During the summer and autumn of ’89 our present campus had been bought, cleared and graded and in the spring of ’90 the first game of baseball was played on the grounds west of the college.

As the personnel and arrangement of the team of ’90 differs considerably from that of ’89 the whole list is appended: E. R. Sinkler, c.; A. G. Björneby, captain and p.; H. T. Ytterboe, 1st b.; L. O. Johnson, 2nd b.; C. J. Rollefson, ss.; O. M. Nelson, 3d b.; H. B. Kildahl, lf.; A. W. Bjornstad, cf.; and C. H. Biorn, rf.
These boys had the audacity to send Shattuck a challenge again this year and this time we did surprise the “Shads” and even some of our own people by winning the first game 9-1.

The Shattuck boys did not seem to relish this defeat at all. If you should ever happen to read the “Cadet” for June, ’90, you will there find their great disappointment expressed in most forcible terms. In the return game on the Shattuck campus they defeated us 7-5.

We had four games with Carleton this year each winning two. My source of information (The Messenger) gives the score of only the last two of these viz : victory 11-9 and defeat 4-5.

Early in the spring of ’91 the Southern Minnesota Inter-Collegiate Baseball League was formed. It consisted of Carleton, Pillsbury, Shattuck and St. Olaf. Each school payed $5.00 into the treasury and for these $20.00 a pennant was bought to be presented to the winning team. Each team played each of the other teams in the league two games. We won all six of our games and consequently got the pennant which adorns a wall in the college now. The only changes in the team this year were that O. Glesne and N. Biorn took the outfield positions vacated by Bjornstad and Kildahl.

The Messenger is again very deficient in its baseball reports as the only league games of which the scores are given are the two Shattuck games viz: 7-2 and 4-0. The last one of these was an especially hard fought game, as the umpire seemed to have decided before the game that we were to lose it; but he was sadly disappointed.

This year we played our first game with Luther College at Decorah, Ia., and were defeated 9-4.
In ’92 Rollefson and the Biorns were not in college and their places on the team were filled by O. P. Berg, O. Thoreson and P. Muus, H. Thompson, sub. The league started in ’91 continued its existence also this season. We again won the pennant; but the treasurer evidently forgot to perform his duty as that pennant never found its way to St. Olaf. Nor did ever a penny of the $20.00, subscribed by the members of the league, with which to buy the pennant, ever find its way to the St. Olaf baseball treasury.

Of the six league games this year, we lost one; and that was the one which we expected would be our easiest victory of the season. The score of this defeat was 3-4; and the boys from Pillsbury were the ones who got the 4.

Our great game of ’92, and now (in 1900), some extend that and say, our great game of the nineteenth century, was the one we played with the Luther College team on Manitou Heights May 17th. Having defeated us in ’91, and claiming to have a stronger team now than they had at that time, they seemed to think the only question was how many scores Luther College would have to spare at the end of the game. Now, we were just as determined and nearly as confident as they and the result was that we played what most of the ” fans ” agreed to call the best game ever played in Northfield. Here is the result as recorded in the Messenger

St.Olaf…………………………….0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0    2-3 Luther …………………………….1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1    0-2

No one out when the winning score was made.

On June 11th, ’92, we met the University team for the first time and after eleven innings of the hardest kind of baseball they were declared the winners. By an error on the part of the umpire we were deprived of a well earned victory in the 9th. The hit which had already brought in the winning score was declared a foul, and the batter had to try it over again; this time he “fanned” and the side was out.

L. O. Johnson and A. G. Bjorneby who had played on the team since the first one was organized in ’87, graduated in the spring of ’92. Besides these O. P Berg and O. Thoreson were missing when the team was organized in ’93. This necessitated an all-around reconstruction of the team. Here is the result: O. M. Nelson, c.; E. R. Sinkler, captain and p.; Ytterboe, 1st b.; O. E. Heimark, 2d b.; P. Muus, ss.; E. Wollan, 3d b.; O. H. Heimark, If; O. Glesne, cf. and Guisness rf. The boys again won two games played with Carleton, the scores being 15-5 and 8-2; but they were defeated twice by Shattuck: 11-5 and 7-5.
The best game St. Olaf played this season, although a defeat for our boys, was again the one played with Luther College, at Decorah. Luther College did not lose a single game in ’93 and this was the closest one they had viz : 5-3.

The season of ’94 found all the players of ’93, with the exception of Nelson ready and anxious to restore the baseball reputation of the “Saints.” As there was an abundance of good candidates, Ytterboe entrusted the guardianship of first base to Muus ; and the last one of the veterans left the team. The two vacancies were filled by Thoreson (member in ’92) and A. Bonhus. The first duty and care of the bops this year was to get even with Shattuck for the two defeats of ’93. This they did with a vengeance, and when the debris was cleared away, the “Oles” were found on top with scores of 13-1 and 26-4.

Only one game with Carleton is recorded for ’94, and that resulted in victory for St. Olaf, 8-1. Two games were won from the High school, but the boys again suffered defeat at the hands of the “U.” This time the score was 11-6.

Only five of the ’94 team played in ’95 and these all occupied new positions. Here is the batting order of ’95: Muus, p; Thoreson, c; O. Heimark, 1b; Guisness, ss; P. E. Heimark, lf; Lysnes, cf; R. J. Johnson, 2b; L. Kolhei, rf; Bonhus, 3b.

It seems that only four regular games were played this year and the-e were: victory over Shattuck, 11-10. Victory over Carleton, 14-3, and one won from Macalester, 18-12.

But the sad part of the St. Olaf baseball history of ’95 was the defeat of the “Oles” by the High school.

The athletic editor of the Messenger thinks the main trouble on this occasion was that Anderson insisted on throwing speedy curves, while the “Oles” all preferred slow straight balls. In ’96 we find the outfield positions occupied by new men, viz, H. Thompson, If; H. O. Hagen, cf; and F. Gronvold, rf. The infield is taken care of by those who remained over from ’95. Only two games with Pillsbury are recorded in the Messenger. These were both victories for St. Olaf. Scores 12-6 and 20-1.

Carleton defeated St. Olaf once this year, but forfeited the second game to the “Oles.” The score of the former and the cause of the latter are both unknown to the writer.

In ’97 with Ytterboe, Rollefson, Heimark, Bonhus, Johnson, Lysnes, Kolhei, Gunderson and Hartmann on the team the “Oles” started the season “with a whoop” by defeating the “U” 14-5. After that they suffered defeat at the hands of Carleton three times by scores of 14-5, 14-13 and 11-8. Shattuck also defeated them twice. Scores: 2-0 and 11-8. The former of these was rather remarkable in that the “Shads” did not get a single hit, but eight errors, yet they won the game.

A game was played with Luther College in Decorah again this year. Here the boys exhibited great generosity by giving 16 scores to Luther College while they kept only 6 for themselves.

This was a very disastrous season with only one victory to six defeats. But something still worse was to come. In ’98 we did not win a single game, though we played only two real games. On May 17th, in a rain storm, we played a farce, by courtesy called a ball game. The decision was 30-2 against us.

Lack of financial support compelled the manager to disband the team when these three games had been played.

In ’99 the team started on the upgrade again by winning one of the two games from Carleton. The first one was theirs, 17-3; the second one ours, 19-9. Between these two, we had two games with Shattuck, both of which we lost; though the spectators tried to console us by telling us that we outplayed the “Shads” in both. The scores were 8-9 and 11-10.

The team of ’99 was composed of the following players: Heimark, Bonhus, P. Johnson, Sybilrud, L. Kolhei, A. Kolhei, Hagen, Nesheim, Bjorneby. Those who have seen us attempt to play ball the last three or four years, probably have an impression that St. Olaf always loses at baseball; but we find on summing up the games of the first thirteen years of baseball at St. Olaf that we have won 37 and lost 30 of the regular match games. St. Olaf has always had several nines besides the first nine. In ’89 seven different baseball nines were organized on Manitou Heights. The names of these were the Vikings, Juniors, Cyclones, Superiors, Inferiors and Preachers. Some of these also played games with teams from Carleton, Northfield and Dundas; but no record has been kept of the details and results of these games.

St. Olaf’s success on the diamond in the early ’90’s was largely due to these secondary nines. They not only gave the first team the all-important practice games but they also developed players who were ready to step into the ranks of the regular team whenever vacancies occurred there.

Another very important factor in the success of those teams was the faithfulness of the players themselves in showing up regularly, and practicing hard whenever the team was called out for practice.

Boys, bear in mind that success on the diamond, as well as in the more serious vocations in life, is dependent on hard, faithful work.

Quarter Centennial Souvenir 1874-1899


Thorbjorn Nelson Mohn:
Twenty-Five Years President of St. Olaf College
History of St. Olaf College
St. Olaf College Alumni Association
College Organizations
The United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America
United Church Seminary
The City of Northfield
Rev. B.J. Muus