Letter to the Editor: Ephraim, Alcohol and Respecting the Past

When Pastor Andreas Iverson and his parishioners joined the other emigrants leaving Stavanger, Norway, for America and eventually Ephraim, little did they know how long, arduous and dangerous that trip would be. The 74 emigrants, excluding Reverend Iverson and his wife, who had a cabin, were assigned the space below deck, which was often used to transport cargo and livestock to the New World. The space allotted each was spartan and cramped. Pastor Iverson recounted, “Here it was almost unbearably hot so that I very much feared some outbreak of sickness.” Conditions were usually so awful on one of theses voyages that an elder would seek out the captain and protest the intolerable conditions with which they had to contend. The captain would pause a moment and then reassure the man that soon there would be more room. The dead were buried at sea.

Years later when recounting that fateful voyage to America, Pastor Iverson spoke of a “hurricane” that they encountered: “The terrific storm howled with unabated fury and the waves rolled mountain-high about us and death and destruction stared us all in the face.”

In that time of crisis, his congregation did not turn to alcohol for solace for as Pastor Iverson stated, “…they abhorred drink and all its accompanying evil.” Instead, they turned to prayer, “I appealed to Him that He mercifully spared all those unprepared emigrants on board from destruction and perdition.”

After those harrowing experiences, and others that followed, Pastor Iverson and his congregation finally arrived in what was to be Ephraim at which time he stated, “I quietly stepped aside in among the small evergreens and kneeled down upon the white snow. The Savior knows how fervently I prayed on that spot for the first time. I received full assurance that right here would our Atoner plant his little congregation and never forsake it in spite of all meager circumstances.”

With deep respect for the founders of our beautiful little Village and a sincere regard for tradition and history I will vote NO on the April 5th referendum.

Tony Beadell

Ephraim, Wis.

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