South Sidney Cemetery
Amble Memorial Sanctuary
Muskrat Road, Sidney, Michigan

August Klagstad and the Altar Painting


     During the Lenten season of 2008, my husband and I were attending a Lenten service at Settlement Lutheran Church north of Gowen, Michigan.   Settlement Lutheran Church also is an old Lutheran Church built around the same time as South Sidney.   The décor is very similar featuring tin on the walls and ceiling and beautiful stained glass windows.   While sitting there, I noticed their altar painting and thought the style was very similar to the style of the altar painting at South Sidney Church.   Their painting was signed by AUGUST KLAGSTAD.   The letters were all capitals.

     After the snow and ice had melted, I checked the South Sidney painting, and that, too, bore the name of KLAGSTAD…………no AUGUST, but most definitely KLAGSTAD.  The name is in the lower right-hand corner on each painting.

     August Klagstad was born in Norway in the Drammen area on August 14, 1866 to Torger Klagstad and Karen Halvorsdatter.  The family came to the United States in 1971.   August would have been about five at the time.  They settled in Manistique, Michigan.

     Klagstad’s early schooling was in Michigan, but in 1884, when he would have been 18, he entered Valpraiso Normal School and Business Institute in Valpraiso, Indiana.   Although he planned to study bookkeeping, after meeting an artist at the school, he quickly changed course.

     He became an itinerant altar painter.  This must have been about the turn of the century.  Early pictures of this church show no altar.  If you know when the altar was put up, please contact me.

     After looking at paintings in old area Lutheran churches, I think he painted only ours and Settlement’s.  The paintings at Trufant, Edmore, and North Sidney are a different style, and they’re not signed.

August continued to paint altar paintings in Wisconsin and Iowa.

One child, Arnold Klagstad, was born in Marinette, Wisconson on July 14, 1898. Arnold, too, was a painter, and his paintings are on display at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  According to my research, some of August’s paintings are on display at Manistique High School.

I have no records of the cost of having the painting done.  I’m also guessing that he stayed with people in the area, but I have no facts or details about that.  If you have any additional information, please contact me.
Jan Pearl
(May 2009)    

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