Article by Ted Peterson from the Cokato Historical Societies newsletter.
The first church horse barn was built sometime after the second church at Knapp. It was located in the northeast corner of the church plat or close to the Knapp Store and was demolished in the year 1910 or in the latter part of the Rev. Melin's term.
Rev. Melin did not like the old barn standing there as they had a new one now. As he said one Sunday in his sermon, "I call it the "Burdock Park" because there are so many burdocks and weeds growing there." The men did clean it up in 1917 when Rev. Bongfeldt came. He suggested that the Luther League build a bandstand on this corner. Underneath the bandstand they used to sell ice cream cones and pop on 4th of July or midsummer picnics. So, it got to be a park after all. Trees were planted and are still there, but the stand is gone. It was there for 65 years.
Well, they did build a new horse barn in 1910 or so. My daughter Patricia, who is 50 years old now, asked me what they used the church horse barn for. Well, when they took their family to church they had a place to put their two horses out of the cold and snow and wind, and they knew they had them and did not have to worry about them and could listen to the sermon. A hitch post was good, but the horses could get loose and go home or it could be a run-away. I remember a time when a farmer had his horses tied to a hitch post on creamery day at knapp store. They broke loose on a gallop, ran east to the creamery. They were used to going there. They turned in there and ran smack into John Werness's team and one of the run-away horses hit his front leg into the sleigh pole and broke his leg and the horse had to be shot. I am sure Mr. Werness held onto his team when he saw them coming. When anything like that happens, you hold the horse reins tight to keep your team in check. A runaway horse gets wild and doesn't see where he is going in such a time.
The new church barn was one hundred feet long and had partitions or box stalls and mangers and walls ten feet high so horses or teams could not see or reach over to neigbor horses. Box stalls and most of the barn was made of home-sawn lumber. Ten stalls on the north side and ten on the south. The outside was bought drop siding and each farmer paid, I believe, $25 (not sure) for his horse stall. This barn must have been built in 1910 or so because it was there when I went to Swedish summer Bible School. A Miss Carlson was our teacher. One day at lunch hour us boys were playing in the barn. We were about ten years old (some older) and we found a hen's nest with a dozen eggs in one of the mangers. Somebody said, "Let's take them to the store for candy." We all agreed. We put them in a paper bag. They traded eggs for groceries in those days. The storekeeper got a little suspicious when it was candy for all of it, but he gave us the candy. He inquired where did we get the eggs and we had to tell him in the church barn. The storekeeper must have told the teacher, because the next day we got a lecture on (Du skal icke sjala) or Thou shall not steal. And we never tried that again!
This church was about thirty feet from the southeast corner of the cemetery. Sometime in the 30s or 40s it was decided to get rid of the barn. People all had cars and did not use horses on the road or for going to church, so it was auctioned off or sold. One half was bought by Walter Tack and the other half was bought by Clarence Anderson, who lives on the old Bjorklund farm. There are two things from Knapp Church on that place--the old church and the barn half, and it seems the first store is there too and they are still around. The barn was cut in half and Clarence made a machine shed out of his and Walter Tack had a machine shop and used to repair cars--Model T Fords, Chevrolets, and whatever came there. But one day the stove in the shop got overheated and the shop burned up.
Now that is the "Horse Barn Story" as I remember it. They may have records of it or things like this and they may not. I remember Rev. Melin turning a five gallon ice cream freezer by hand for a picnic in the woods west of the cemetery. It was his horse pasture. He had two horses for buggy travel between Grace Church (they called it then French Lake) and Knapp.