To those who come to this land from Norway, it is a gratifying fact that it is possible for them to listen to religious teachings in their own tongue. However strange the new home may be, if on Sunday they can gather in a church and be ministered to by one of their faith and nationality, they are content with their lot in life. One of the men whose life has been spent in providing religious instruction for those of his own people is the Rev. Torleif Aarrestad of Morris. He was born at Thime, Jederen, Norway, April 12, 1860, a son of Torger and Serina (Undem) Aarrestad. From the time he was seven years old, until he was fourteen, Mr. Aarrestad attended the public schools of his country district. In October, 1874, he was confirmed in the Lutheran faith, and in 1877 entered the high school at Sandnes, where he spent the winter of 1877-8. In August of the latter year he was admitted to the teachers’ seminary at Christiansand, and was graduated therefrom in July, 1880. From January, 1881, until July, 1884, he taught school at Eide and then came to America, where he entered Augsburg Seminary at Minneapolis, Minn., and was graduated therefrom in May, 1888. Following this, he took a theological course, and passed his final examination, receiving his degree in May, 1891. In June of that year he was ordained a minister during the convention of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church of America at Kenyon, Minn. In July of that same year he went to Chicago, where he spent two years, and then came to Morris. He serves two congregations, Bethlehem and Hauge’s. Since coming to Morris, Mr. Aarrestad attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Lake View for two years. For the last two years he has also served the church at Seneca and Marseilles, the former being known as the Emmans Church, and the latter, as the Emanuel Church. Mr. Aarrestad is recognized as one of the leading men of his denomination, and has been president of the Chicago Circuit since 1906, and president of the Board of Trustees of the Pleasant View Luther College of Ottawa since 1906. From 1900 to 1906 he served this body as secretary. He has also held the office of visitator and president of the Chicago Circuit of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church since 1906.
On June 24, 1896, Mr. Aarrestad was married at Morris to Barbara Olsen, born in Norway. Their children are: Thorvald, Olga and Karl Jorhan, living, and Vilhelm, born in 1903, who died in 1905. A scholarly man, Mr. Aarrestad combines with his learning, executive ability that has enabled him to build up his churches, and put them in a prosperous condition. His people love him, and his influence for good is very powerful in Grundy County.
Source: 1914 History of Grundy County, Illinois
History of Grundy County, Illinois, pages 751-752. Chicago, IL, USA: Munsell Publishing, 1914.