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Immigrant Contributions 


America's Making 

Harry Sundby-Hansen 

New York, 1921 


















Copyright 1921 
by Harry Sundby-Hansen, 
New York. 


The plan of raising a monument to Leif Erikson, the first 
European to plant his feet on American soil, was first sug- 
gested by Professor Rasmus B, Anderson of Madison, Wis. 
In 1873 Professor Anderson suggested to the celebrated Nor- 
wegian violinist, Ole Bull, the idea that America's Norse dis- 
coverer be honored with a lasting memorial. Ole Bull ac- 
cepted the suggestion with enthusiasm and the two immediately 
began preparing plans for its realization. Ole Bull was at 
this time at the height of his powers and the idol of the 
American people. A few years later he made his American 
home at Cambridge, Mass. There the American Leif Erikson 
Monument Committee was organized. 

The Committee was a brilliant one and included among 
its members James Russell Lowell, Henry Wadsworth Long- 
fellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thomas S. Appleton, Profes- 
sor Eben Norton Horsford, the Governor of Massachusetts, 
the Mayor of Boston and many other distinguished Americans. 

Funds were rapidly raised and America's then most 
famous sculptress, Miss Anne Whitney, was commissioned to 
produce in bronze a statue of Leif Erikson in heroic size. 
The result is a great work of art. Miss Whitney seems to 
have taken the splendid physique and features of Ole Bull 
for her model, according to Professor Anderson. It repre- 
sents America's discoverer as he discerns the first faint out- 
lines of land far away on the horizon, and with his right 
hand he shades his eyes from the rays of the sun. Pro- 
fessor Horsford was the orator at the unveiling ceremonies. 

A replica of the monument stands in Juneau Park, Mil- 
waukee, Wis., on an eminence overlooking Lake Michigan. 
Another Leif Eriksoh monument by th? sculptor, Sigvald 
Asbj^msen, stands in Humboldt Park, Chicago, raised by a 
committee of the Norwegian group of that city. 

Published by the General Committee of the Norwegian 
Group of America's Making. Oluf Kiaer, chairman; 
Thormod Jullum, Secretary; A. N. Rygg, Treasurer; 
O. G. Olsen, Chairman, Finance Committee; Thomas 
Bull, Chairman, Exhibit Committee; Anton Wetlesen, 
Chairman Festival Committee; Harry Sundby-Hansen, 
Chairman, Committee on Publicity and Publications. 

Norr0nafolket det vil fare, 
det vil give kraft til andre. 

Bj0rnstjerne Bj0rnson 


Acknowledgement is hereby made to the cofitributors 
of the several chapters for their kindness and interest in 
volunteering their valuable assistance in the preparation of 
this book. The Cwnmittee also desires to thank the officers 
of the Supreme Lodge and the many subordinate lodges 
of the fraternal order of the Sons of Norway, the Norwegian 
National League of Brooklyn, N. Y. and the many other 
organizations and individuals in the East, Middle West and 
on the Pacific Coast whose liberal financial support and en- 
thusiastic interest in this enterprise made Norwegian parti- 
cipation in the America's Making exhibit and festival possible. 
To the Norwegian language press of the United States, its 
publishers and editors, the Committee owes a debt of gratitude 
for loyal support and editorial generosity in making this enter- 
prise known far and wide. 

Chairman, Norwegian Group Committee. 


|HIS volume was conceived by the general com- 
mittee of the Norwegian group of the America's 
Making exhibit and festival in New York, 
October 29 to November 12, 1921, and is designed 
to serve an educational purpose. 

The character, achievements and contributions of the Nor- 
wegian ethnic element of the American people are, we be- 
lieve, deserving of more general recognition. This element 
does not constitute a problem in any sense. It is now among 
the oldest of the immigrant groups of the early XIX. cen- 
tury. The Norsemen discovered America nearly 500 years 
before Columbus landed on one of the West Indian Islands, 
and the first attempt by Europeans to plant a colony on the 
North American continent was made by the Norseman, Thor- 
finn Karlsefne. Norwegians were here in Colonial times, 
especially among the Dutch in New Amsterdam, but also in 
the other colonies, and they participated in the Revolutionary 
War on land and sea. This year marks the looth anniver- 
sary of the beginnings of modern Norwegian immigration on 
a large scale. The looth anniversary of the arrival of the 
sloop, Restaurationen, the first immigrant ship from Norway, 
will be commemorated four years hence. This group is, there- 
fore, no longer an odd band of newcomers, but a substantial 
part of the American people, which by loyalty and demonstrated 
achievements in material and cultural advancement, has 
earned the right to be Americans. The voluntary contributors 
of the several chapters have within the limited space and time 
allotted to them endeavored to show what some of these con- 
tributions are. 

The shortcomings of this book are obvious. It was pre- 
pared under pressure of speed and, in the case of several 
of the contributors, with no time for adequate research work. 
It is hoped, however, that this modest effort in the treatment 

of an important subject will serve to stimulate an interest 
in the study of the material and intellectual part Norwegian 
immigrants and their descendants have played in the up- 
building of America. The field is rich for the scientific in- 
vestigator, the student of history, the seeker after truth, 
and it has hardly been touched. If such a result follow, 
the mission of this little volume will have been amply ful- 

The Editor. 



Discovery and Immigration 17 

Agriculture 29 

Industry 45 

Fisheries 69 

Shipping 79 

Church and Education 87 

Humanitarian Work lot 

Politics 107 

Literature and Press 125 

Arts and Sciences M^ 

Wars 155 

Sports " 163 



By Professor George T. Flom 

Scandinavian Languages and Literature, University of Illinois. 

HE coming of people of Norwegian nationality to this 
country presents three phases, if viewed in the large.. 
There is ist, the Vinland Voyages; then 2, Immigra- 

tion in the Colonial Times, and 3, Immigration in the 

XlXth Century. I shall consider these briefly in order. 

The Vinland Voyages. The actuality of the discovery of 
America by the Norsemen is no longer a matter of doubt 
among well-informed students. The critical examination of the 
sagas dealing with it and the analysis of the various other sources 
of our knowledge has led to certain outstanding conclusions. 
These may be summarized as follows: 

1. In or about the year 1000 Leif Erikson (origin, Jaederen, 
Norway) on a voyage between Norway and Greenland, lost his 
way in violent storms in the North Atlantic and was driven far 
to the west, where he at last came upon lands he had never seen 
before. The spot where Leif landed, it seems likely, was at or 
near the present Boston Bay, but it may have been as far north 
as Nova Scotia. 

2. A few years later an expedition headed by Thorfinn 
Karlsefne and consisting of three ships and a hundred and sixty 
men was fitted out for the purpose of finding Leif's Vinland 
and settling there. The Saga of Erik the Red says that "they 
took with them all kinds of livestock, for they intended to settle, 
if possible, in the new country." They did not locate Vinland, 
but they landed at other parts of the new land, probably western 
New Foundland. From there they explored north and south. 
They remained about three years, then returned to Iceland. 

3. There were other voyages at the time. 



4. The knowledge about the discovery of land in the western 
ocean was general throughout the Scandinavian North. 

5. The tradition about it in Norway, Greenland, Iceland, 
was alive down to the close of the Middle Ages. 

And finally 6. a voyage thither is recorded for 1121 and a 
voyage from there in 1347. 

As to the other voyages at the time I note here the fact that 
whereas Leif's accidental discovery is told very briefly in the 
Saga of Erik the Red, there is elsewhere a circumstantial account 
of a voyage of exploration to Vinland later by Leif and a crew 
of thirty-five men. This is preserved in the Greenland Narrative 
(Grcenlendinga pdttr), which gives a larger place to Leif and his 
sailing, while the Erik's saga concerns itself principally with the 
story of Karlsefne. It is in the Greenland Narrative that we 
have the Leif Erikson saga proper. Again the journey of Thor- 
vald, brother of Leif, appears as an independent voyage in the 
Greenland Narrative. But it seems likely that it actually was a 
part of the Karlsefne expedition as told in the Erik's saga. 
I pass over the other voyages. 

To Leif Erikson belongs the distinction of the discovery both 
on the basis of the trustworthy parts of the accounts themselves, 
and on that of all later tradition. And Leif seems to have made 
some effort to follow up his discovery by exploration. It is Karl- 
sefne, however, who is the central figure in the sagas of Vinland. 
And whereas, to be sure, the romance of the discoverer does not 
attach itself to his name, to us in America his story has another 
and a special interest ; for he was the first white to fit out an ex- 
pedition for the purpose of settlement in this country. They laid 
their plans accordingly, they equipped themselves for settlement, 
and they came and remained for three years. We have their ac- 
counts of the lands they saw, the conditions they met, and the 
natives they came in contact with. These they called Skralingar, 
i. e., "Skinlings", wearers of skins or fur blankets. They traded 
with the natives and there was peaceful intercourse for a time. 
But in the second summer there were hostile visits by the "Skin- 
lings", who appeared in increasing numbers in later attacks. Ul- 
timately Karlsefne, for these and other reasons, decided to re- 



turn home. The account of barter with the "Skinlings" and the 
latter's war-shout before attack form a realistic picture of Indian 
ways, and shows that these "Skinlings", at any rate, were In- 
dians; some natives elsewhere spoken of from farther north, 
were probably Elskimos. 

The sources of information, aside from the sagas themselves, 
are of various kinds and come from different regions in the 
North. The earliest reference is that of Adam of Bremen, who 
wrote about 1070 {Descriptio insiilarum aquilonis). He gives us 
information gathered during a sojourn at the Danish court, as an 
emissary of the Archbishop of Bremen. He was to find out 
whatever he could about the lands of the North, which then 
formed a part of the Archepiscopal See of Bremen-Hamburg. 
And the lands that came in for consideration in connection with 
Norway were Greenland and Vinland. His informants were 
Danes, and no doubt also Icelanders; and King Sven Estridsen 
was apparently able to augment this information with some facts 
from a recent experience of the Norwegian king Harald Haard- 
raade, which seems to have some connection with the Norwegian 
tradition. Whether the Norwegian tradition is to be regarded 
as also substantiated by the Hj!<nen inscription from Ringerike is 
uncertain, for the name Vinland does not actually appear there 
except as an interpretation. Now it is to be noted that Adam 
wrote only about sixty years after the return of Karlsefne. 

Ari the Learned in Iceland in his Islandinga bok gives us 
the Greenlandic-Icelandic tradition about half a century later 
(1130). And here the facts told are traced back to Ari himself 
directly to one who accompanied Erik the Red to Greenland in 
985, when Greenland was discovered. Further, from the same 
time we learn from the Icelandic Annals that Bishop Gnupson 
"went in search of Vinland"; the year is 1 121. In so doing he 
was no doubt carrying out a mission given him at the newly 
established Archepiscopal See of Lund. Unfortunately Bishop 
Gnupson,** it would seem, lost his life in the western waters, 
for nothing more is heard from him. Then in the oldest Ms. 
of the Landnama (ca. I2CX)) we have some statements from Ari 
Marsson. This Mar, father of Ari here spoken of, was a grrand- 
son of Ulfr Skjalgi as was also Ari the Learned. I pass over 
the other bits of information. 



That which strikes the reader in these various references 
to Vinland and voyages in western regions is the continuity of 
the tradition, and the manner of its transmission. It comes 
from those who took part in it or lived at the time, and it 
passes down through trustworthy channels. The sagas them- 
selves show some discrepancies; they have undoubtedly, in their 
received form, been embellished here and there through accre- 
tions from elsewhere. But they are sober narratives, and they 
agree in all essentials. The Saga of Erik the Red, first writ- 
ten down ca. 1200, belongs to the classical age, and has the 
style and the structure and the sobriety of treatment char- 
acteristic of the historical sagas. Nothing could be farther from 
Irish and French medieval romances about the riches of 
wonder-lands and the glories of "Blessed Isles." What the 
Vinland Voyages tell about is storms at sea, difficulties met 
with in the new land, its vegetation and its animal life, and 
.troubles with "ill-looking" natives. But to relieve this we also 
learn that they found grapes and self-sown wheat; the last was 
of course some kind of wild grain. 

The last reference to Vinland is one of 1347, wher. the 
Annals of the Flatey Book tell of a ship that came from Green- 
land, which had sailed to Markland (New Foundland), and 
that there were thirty men on board. The same significant 
item is carried also by the Elder Skalholt Annals for the same 
year. After that, silence. 

Immigration in Colonial Times. Our brief consideration 
of this period may properly be prefaced by a few words about 
a royally sponsored exploring expedition from the North in 
1619-1620. King Christian IV of Denmark and Norway de- 
sirous of finding a northwest passage to Asia had fitted out two 
ships Eenhj0rningen .and Lamprenen, and he requested Jens 
Munk, an experienced navigator, to take charge of the expedi- 
tion. Jens Munk was bom in 1579 at Bardu, Norway, immedi- 
ately east of Arendal. The crews of the two ships numbered 
sixty-four. They sailed from Copenhagen May 9th, 1619, stop- 
ing first a few days in Karmsund Channel, possibly at the pre- 
sent harbor of Kopervik, Karm^n, western Norway. It may 
be noted however, that several members of the crew were from 


Skudenaes at the south end of Karm^en, hence that may be 
where they stopped. It is interesting to observe that the route 
taken by this expedition follows fairly closely that of the Vin- 
land voyagers six hundred years before. They passed the 
Shetland Islands, the Faroes, and Cape Farwell, then crossed 
Davis Straits and entered Frobisher Bay. Thence they sailed 
through Hudson Strait, exploring and taking possession of the 
country in the name King Christian. The fate of this expedi- 
tion has been recorded elsewhere.. When Munk returned to 
Norway in September, 1620, only two of those who had left 
with him were alive to return with him. The crew were mostly 
Norwegians and Danes, a few were Germans, two were Eng- 
Hsh. Of the Norwegian members, there was one each from 
Sj^ndm^re, Bergen, T^nsberg, and Oslo, several were from 
Skudenas, Karm^en, and from Marstrand in the (then) south- 
eastern corner of Norway. 

We know very little about the part that Norwegians may 
have played in the colonies in the seventeenth century. We 
know that they formed a certain contingent among the Swedes 
on the Delaware; and not much more was known. However, 
through a recent investigation of New Netherlands records 
from 1630-1674, we are now better informed as to this period 
and region. We learn that Norwegians, who had generally 
come in Dutch ships, were present in considerable numbers in 
New Amsterdam, Albany, Schenectady, and elsewhere after 
1633^^ Their numerical extent is concealed somewhat by the 
Dutch form of the names. The Norwegian Anderson or And- 
reassen became Andriessen; such other patronymics as Karlson, 
Klausen and Jonson became Carelsen, Claesen and Jansen, the 
place names Bruun and Bakke became Bruyn and Bagge, while 
Laurens Laurensen from Flekkerp (Mandal), htc^me Laurens 
van Vleckeren. By the introduction of a Van sometimes the 
nationality of the name might be quite obliterated. 

A word about what they were doing and what their 
position was. We find them in every occupation and in official 
life, among those who had little property or none, and among 
those who had much, and in the various classes of society as it 
was constituted at the time. We find them as shop-keepers 
and inn-keepers, and some of them went as traders into the 



wilderness; they were farmers and tobacco planters, and indeed, 
some of them seem to have had an active share in the 
promotion of the tobacco industry and the improvement of its 
culture, something for which Arent Andriessen is especially 
named; they were*engaged in milling and in the lumbering in- 
dustry; they were carpenters and ship-builders, and as such 
built some of the first ships in the Manhattan ship-yards; thus 
they built the "New Netherland", of which Van Rensselaer 
says "It was one of the largest merchantmen afloat, and not 
for 200 years was another as large launched in the same 
waters." Also the Norwegians (and Scandinavians in general) 
took a large part in the development of shipping in general 
and in navigation on the inland waters, as the early freighting 
on the Hudson. Some were offitials in the West India Co. 

And they are found in public office and in positions of 
trust. They are among the magistrates of villages, as Dirck 
Holgerson in 1681, they are members of governing boards of 
the towns; as sheriffs and burgomasters, and otherwise in ad- 
ministrative positions. Many of them are extensive property 
owners; some of the names of such are met with to-[day in 
various local names. I may note here Bronx Borough as being 
named after the one time owner of that part of New York, 
Jonas Bronck. Bronck came from Thorshavn, the Faroe Is- 
lands, to New Amsterdam in 1639. And Van Cortlandt Park 
perpetuates the name of OloflF Stevenson Van Cortlandt, who it 
appears was a Norwegian (though the other Van Cortlandts 
were Dutch). Norwegians were also soldiers in the Indian 
wars; and others rather took part in establishing friendly rela- 
tions with the Indians and in missionary work among them. 
The readiness with which some of the Norwegians learned 
Indian made them valuable in a practical way in Indian affairs. 
Three of the leading interpreters of Indian languages were 
Scandinavians and two of these were Norwegians: Claes Car- 
stensen and Sara Roelof. 

It has been remarked before how often ,^ the men of other 
nationalities, Dutch, German, English, married women of the 
Scandinavian nationalities. Especially common was the inter- 



marriage with the Dutch. Thus Anneken Hendricks from Ber- 
gen, Norway, married Jan Arentzen van der Bilt in New Am- 
sterdam, February 6, 1650 (he was the first Vanderbilt in 
America), and Cornelia Andriessen married Jan Putnam (the 
first Putnam in America). Other families into which Nor- 
wegian women married were: Bayard, De Peyster, Govemeur, 
Jay, Morris, Schuyler, Stuyvesant, Van Cortlandt and Van 

As elsewhere so here, it was the coast towns in southern 
and southwestern Norway that furnished the emigrants of those 
days. It would be interesting to know what share the different 
towns and parishes had in the emigration to New Netherland 
in the XVIIth century. Unfortunately place of birth is most 
often given only as "Norway." Where definite place is in- 
dicated we find that some came from Tj^nsberg, Langesund, 
and Stavanger. But it is clear that the greater part were from 
Smaalenene, Mandal and Bergen. 

As to the extent to which Norwegians may have settled 
in New England in the seventeenth century or in Atlantic coast 
states south of New York there has been no investigation and 
the information reaching us is of the most fragmentary kind. 
And even for the whole of the XVIIIth century we arc but 
little better oflF. I have referred above to the fact that there 
were also Norwegians in the New Sweden colony (founded 
1638,. The church records of' the colony reveal the names of 
many Norwegians, particularly in the later period. In 1740 Nor- 
wegian Moravians took part in the founding of a Moravian 
colony at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and in 1747 of one at 
Bethabara, North Carolina. One of the members of the Betha- 
bara colony may here be mentioned: Eh-. John M. Calbcrlane 
(Kalberlahn), born 1722, in Trondhjem, who came to this 
country in 1753. He was a prominent member of the colony, a 
man of ability, a noble character, and was, it appears, a leader 
among colonial physicians in his time. Kalberlahn was, so far 
as I know, the first man to come to America from Trondhjem, 
Norway. Others at Bethabara and Bethlehem were from S|!fnd- 
m0Tt, Bergen, Christiania, and elsewhere; the period of their 
coming is 1740- 1762. 

Philadelphia had a large Scandinavian colony from 174ft 



on, and among these were many Norwegians. The Societas 
Scandinaviensis was founded in Philadelphia in 1769; its first 
president was Abraham Markoe (MarkjjJe), a Norwegian. This 
society ceased to be active about the year 1802. It is interesting 
to note in this connection that on February 28th, 1868, eighteen 
gentlemen, all of Scandinavian birth and residents of Phila- 
delphia, met and formed an organization under the name The 
Scandinavian Society of Philadelphia. This society regards it- 
self a continuation of that founded in 1769. In the South, 
except as noted above in one case, Norwegians rarely settled 
in those early days; nor indeed in later times except on a 
limited scale. Occasional names do come down to us ; in- 
vestigation would here probably not reveal many more. Pos- 
sibly the first Norwegian to settle in Georgia was Captam 
Iverson in the close of the eighteenth century (Alfred Iverson, 
United States Senator from Georgia, 1855-1861 was a descend- 
ant of this sailor-pioneer of Georgia). 

There were Norwegians in the American marine and in 
the army both before the Revolution and after. They served 
in the War of the Revolution, and in the Indian wars, as later 
in the Mexican war. The careers of some are well known, as 
Thomas Johnson, who was with Paul Jones in 1779 and later. 
Johnson, born, 1758, was the son of a pilot of Mandal, Norway. 
There were Norwegians among those who fell at Fort Dear- 
born in 1812. And in all later wars of their adopted country, 
the Civil War and the Spanish War, the World War they 
made the same sacrifice when the call came. 

Immigration in the XlXth Century. With the XlXth cen- 
tury Norwegian immigration enters upon a new phase. It be- 
comes more intensive and it takes on something like a system- 
atic form. This period takes its beginning with the sailing of 
the Restaurationen in 1825, a sloop of forty-five tons carrying 
fifty-two passengers, all but one of whom were from Stavanger 
and the districts thereabouts. The history of the "sloopers" 
has often been recounted and I shall only mention them here. 
The arrival of the ship attracted considerable attention at the 
time, as evidenced by the space given it in the American press, 
especially in the East. The founding of the settlement at Ken- 
dall, Orleans County, N. Y. on the shores of Lake Ontario, 



inaugurates the period of the formation of settlements. Other 
immigrants from Norway joined the Kendall settlement clear 
down to 1883; but of the original founders of the settlement 
some moved away, as to the City of Rochester, N. Y., but es- 
pecially to the State of Illinois, where they helf>ed to found 
the extensive and prosperous Fox River settlement in Illinois 
in 1834-36. The descendants of the sloopers live especially in 
New York, Illinois, and Iowa, but some are in Michigan, Min- 
nesota, Missouri, South Dakota, Kansas, Utah, and California. 
During the years 1826-1833, inclusive, there was but little 
immigration. There were new arrivals from Ryfylke, while 
in 1 83 1 the first immigrant came from Hardanger, and in 1832 
the first one from Gudbrandsdalen. But with 1836 it takes a 
definite start with the coming of the brigs Norden and Den 
norske Klippe bringing some 200 immigrants from Ryfylke, 
Sjz^ndhordland, Hardanger, Bergen, and also the first immi- 
grants from Voss. Finally I note the continuation of this 
exodus from southwestern Norway in 1837 when the ship Enig- 
heden from Stavanger, brought ninety-three passengers mostly 
from Egersund, Stavanger, and Ryfylke again, while the ship 
Aegir from Bergen brought eighty-two from Hardanger, Voss 
and the vicinity of Bergen, And there were other sailings with 
ships from other ports, bringing the first contingents from Tele- 
marken and Numedal. During the years 1837-1845 the move- 
ment shifted to these districts and Voss, Sogn and Hallingdal. 
In the last two it began in 1842 (though one man had left 
Sogn in 1839). In 1843 the first came from Saetersdalen, in 
1844 from Land, 1847 from Valders, somewhat later other 
districts east and north. By 1850 many large settlements had 
been established, elsewhere in Illinois, and in Wisconsin (Kosh- 
konong, 1839), and Norwegians were beginning to locate in 
considerable numbers in Chicago. From 1846-55 date the begin- 
nings of the numerous prosperous Norwegian communities in 
Iowa and Minnesota, and the colonies in St. Paul and Min- 
neapolis. In all these regions it was almost wholly unsettled 
where they came. They had a very large share in the reclaim- 
ing of that wilderness and transforming it to what it now is. 
And similarly later in the Dakotas and west ; and no less in 
the upbuilding of the cities. To follow the westward move- 



ment of Norwegian settlement would be to follow the ever- 
moving line of the frontier. 

We have been concerned here only with the immigration. 
And I have avoided names and dates, and statistics, as much 
as possible. The tide of immigration that set in in 1836 con- 
tinued to 1859, then there was almost complete cessation until 
after the Civil War. Now began a long period of heavy immi- 
gration in 1865 which continued to 1911. The heaviest year 
was 1882 with 29,101. In this period Gudbrandsdalen and 
Trondhjem and eastern Norway in general have contributed 
most of those who came, and their destination generally was, 
as is their present home, the great Northwest and the Pacific 

But I shall stop at this point. All that has been attempted 
here is to tell in outline the story of the coming of Norwegians 
to this country, as a first chapter in the much longer story of 
their contribution to the Making of America. 




By O. p. B. Jacobson 
Minnesota Railroad and Warehouse Commission 

INCE their first arrival in America, the chief mission 
of the* Norwegians has been to stock the national lar- 
der. The great cities into which other immigrants 

streamed by thousands and even millions have held 

no temptation for the hardy Norsemen. The great open country 
beyond, where nature smiled and freedom beckoned always and 
ever was their goal. This explains why the upper Mississippi 
Valley has become the new Norway. Cheap land and an agree- 
able climate were the principal lures. The great Mississippi 
Valley, often called the Northwest, offered both. As the Nor- 
wegians emigrated in large bodies, it was but natural that they 
should settle in large bodies. Of the great tide of immigration, 
beginning in Northeastern Illinois in the thirties, wave after 
wave radiated out into Wisconsin and Iowa, then into Southern 
Minnesota, then into the famed Park region and the more 
famous Red River Valley and South Dakota, further again into 
Montana and across the Rockies and the Canadian border. 

Today hundreds of thousands of Norwegian immigrants 
and their progeny are tilling the soil. Their relative value im- 
mediately looms large. Agriculture not only is the world's prin- 
cipal industry, but it is the basic industry. It must be then 
that any racial element in the American composite that is de- 
voted mainly to agriculture should have due recognition as of 
leading importance. 

But whether they received recognition or not, the Nor- 
wegian people may well be satisfied with their emoluments. 
Reared in a land mainly devoted to agriculture and well versed 
in the methods of extracting sustenance from the soil, they but 
followed natural laws and impulses when they sought the land 
in the new world. Land owning became a passion. It was the 
distinctive trail of the Norse newcomers. 



Happily for them, they were peculiarly well adapted for 
their national task. Of strong and rugged physique, inured to 
hardship, industrious and energetic and possessing courage, will 
power and infinite patience they faced alike the primeval wilder- 
ness and boundless prairies and by sheer force tamed the wild 
nature for the permanent blessing of mankind. In other words, 
they were and are ideal pioneers. 

It is keenly regretted that this article, through unfortunate 
circumstances arising at the last moment, had to be prepared 
within the short space of one week and without any statistical 
data at hand. In that brief time it was impossible to do any 
research or to gather any exact information. A certain amount 
of historical matter, such as has been found in various his- 
tories naturally is reliable, but the agricultural figures mainly 
are estimated. 

Hence, instead of representing a picture of the Norwegian 
farmer as a national figure, it is possible only to reveal a glimpse 
here and a sidelight there. At the best this writing is but a 
sketch and a most incomplete one. Certain individuals and cer- 
tain events have received more space than their relative import- 
ance to the whole would warrant and vice versa. It has been 
quite impossible to give honor where honor is due and to es- 
tablish fully what the Norwegians have accomplished in the 
field of agriculture. 

A presentation of the Norse contribution to Agriculture in 
the United States simply becomes a recital of the saga of the 
second Viking movement to America. Virtually all of the emi- 
grants from Norway to the United States sought the soil and 
today in all probability there are more than 4,000,000 people of 
Norwegian blood occupied in agricultural pursuits within the 
United States. This figure will be questioned far and wide, 
but it will withstand analysis. 

No less a student than Mr. E. G. Quamme, President of 
the Federal Land Bank for the seventh district, declares that 
there are fully 5,000,000 persons of Norse blood in the United 
States. The majority to be sure have lost their identity as 
Norwegians, are true Americans by birth, speech and thought 
and do not even realize that their ancestry is of Norse origin, 
but they are part of Norway's contribution to America . never- 



theless. It must be remembered that the Norwegians are a pro- 
lific people. Among them large families are the rule rather 
than the exception. Ordinary birth statistics will not hold good 
when applied to the Norwegians, for a family of four or five, 
which among many peoples are regarded as large, to them is 

Mr. Quamme also asserts, after personal observation, that 
from eighty-five to ninety per cent of Norwegian born cit- 
izens and descendants of Norwegian immigrants are found 
in the rural communities. To be sure there are consid- 
erable bodies of this people in New York, Chicago, Min- 
neapolis and other cities, but in the total number the percentage 
of city dwellers will not exceed fifteen per cent. In the interest 
of accuracy one might well wish that the Federal Census reports 
carried their analytical tables to include information on this 
point, but inasmuch as they do not, the best available informa- 
tion is the prudent estimate. Accepting the population estimate 
and the percentages of rural and urban dwellers, it is found 
that upward of 4,250,000 persons of Norse blood are devoted 
to agriculture. It should be understood that that figure is not 
limited to those who actually till the soil, but embraces all those 
having a part in furthering farm work. Included in this class 
would be the local elevator men, the rural blacksmiths and 
mechanics, the rural bankers and merchants. Without them 
the farmer would be in a sorry way indeed and all except pro- 
fessional men, located in rural communities, justly may be 
classed as devoted to agriculture. 

But it is not only in the number of people the Norse race 
has contributed to the all important task of supplying the 
country with food that they are entitled to honor and should 
have recognition. The great West largely was won by home- 
seekers from the thirteen original colonies and the Scandi- 
navians. The Norwegians contributed a mighty share, for they 
laid the groundwork for the development and prosperity of a 
large part of the upper Mississippi valley. 

They are not numerically superior to some other immigrant 
races, but they prepared the way. They were pioneers, seventy, 
sixty and fifty years ago and they are still pioneering beyond 
the fringes of the cultivated lands. They laid low the primeval 



forests, broke the virgin prairies, opened roads, established 
markets, founded school houses, then after they had survived 
the rigors of pioneer life, demonstrated the agricultural values. 
Other races, who now outnumber them and who hold com- 
manding positions in the rural sections of the United States, 
moved in and became land owners. Without inviting any 
criticism or making any invidious comparison no one should 
take offense when it is asserted that as pioneers in the upper 
Mississippi Valley the Norwegians hold first place. 

But it is not only as pioneers that this people deserve 
recognition. They have the name, and a well deserved one, 
of being very progressive as farmers. Always they have been 
ready tp adopt new methods, to try new machinery, to experi- 
ment with new crops in the hope of increasing their individual 
productive capacity. Often while their neighbors looked ask- 
ance at proposed farming innovations, such as silos, the Nor- 
wegian farmer did not hesitate to give them a fair trial. If 
they proved successful his more cautious neighbor was quite 
willing to adopt the idea. As a rule the Norwegian farmer 
has shown that he is not hidebound in his ideas and the younger 
stock today are found in the very front ranks of livestock 
breeders, and dairymen, as well as of general farmers. 

Travelers relate that they always can tell when they enter 
a Norwegian farm settlement. There is a neatness and tidi- 
ness of appearance, not only of the houses, but of the barns 
and out buildings. Farm machinery usually is well housed, 
while the livestock invariably is sleek and well fed. Wherever 
he has located the Norwegian farmer usually has been regarded 
as something of a model in his line. 

The life of the pioneer is inconceivable to the present 
generation of Americans. A prairie "schooner" looks very pic- 
turesque, but it is a slow and tiresome means of transportation, 
particularly with an ox team over the roadless country. So 
also log cabins appear romantic and sod houses are very curious, 
but they also are very uncomfortable for habitation, even under 
the best of conditions. Markets were far distant, sometimes 
a hundred miles away and many had to make such a journey 
with ox team to dispose of their harvest and obtain supplies. 
In a great many sections the Indians were troublesome, if they 



did not do actual violence, they often were threatening and 
spread much fear. For some years particularly in Western 
Minnesota and the Dakotas, the grasshopper plague appeared 
year after year and the pests devoured everything that was 
green right down to the bare earth. Only a hardy people could 
have overcome the many difficulties and withstood the many 
discouragements, but the Norwegian immigrants were just that 
kind of people and they have transmitted the same desirable 
qualities to the modern American character. 

It is said of the Norwegian element that a larger percentage 
of the second generation remains on the land than of any other 
racial group and such statistics as are available appear to point 
in that direction. 

Without being able to present any figures that will establish 
a fact, none probably will gainsay the statement that the Nor- 
wegian people have contributed a mighty impulse to the agri- 
cultural development of the upper Mississippi Valley and that 
their influence will continue a potent factor in the continued 
growth of this farm empire. 

Like any other movement of any consequence the Nor- 
wegian settlement of America in its genesis had an outstanding 
figure, as forerunner or pathfinder. This personage was Kleng 
Pederson or Cleng Peerson, as he signed his name in later life. 
In all justice he should be ranked with Daniel Boone, Davy 
Crockett, Sam Houston and other forerunners in the making 
of the great West. He was restless and eccentric, of a roving 
disposition, always improvident and generally impecunious, but 
he had a veritable mania for planting colonies. He traveled 
the middle West far and wide, generally on foot and studied 
the agricultural possibilities of the terrain, wherever he went. 
He talked America, he wrote America and he did both well. 
Three times he returned to Norway between 1824 and 1842 
and went up and down the countryside painting in glowing 
words the fortune that lay dormant in the new world for those 
who had the vision and the courage to attempt the great ad- 
venture. Writers have dubbed Kleng Pederson everything from 
a tramp and a vagabond to a romantic hero. Be that as it may, 
he had vision and boundless enthusiasm. And he felt that he 
had a mission in life. Two remarkable settlements flourishing 


today, live as monuments to his zeal and energy, namely the 
Fox River settlement in La Salle County, Illinois and the pros- 
perous Norwegian colony in Dallas County, Texas. 

The mother colony of the Norse emigration through the 
West the Fox River settlement truly was. It became the ob- 
jective point for thousands of newcomers. They came for rest 
and guidance and wandered on to the cheaper lands in Wis- 
consin, Iowa and Minnesota. The early settlers were good 
letter writers and the "American Letters" were read with 
avidity in Norway and were passed from house to house. 

Further stimulus to the emigration fever was given by three 
little booklets concerning the United States. These were Ole 
Nattestad's "Dagbog" or "Diary" and Ole Rynning's "Truthful 
Statements About America" (Sandferdig Beretning om Am- 
erika), both published in Christiania in 1837 and Johan Reier- 
son's "Guide (Veiviser) for Norwegian Emigrants," published 
in 1844. The former works dealt mainly with Illinois and Wis- 
consin, while the latter, although somewhat general, commended 
Texas for which Reierson was an enthusiastic boomer. 

Kleng came to America in 1821. Whether he traveled as 
an emissary of the Quaker band in Stavanger is disputed, but 
that he conferred with the leaders on his return to Norway in 
1824 has been established. This Quaker congregation chartered 
the little sloop "Restaurationen" (Restoration) and set sail 
from Stavanger July 4, 1825. After three months of buffeting 
the stormy Atlantic the little party of fifty-three souls found 
haven in New York Harbor, October 2nd. Kleng was there 
to meet them and to lead them to land near Kendall in Western 
New York which he had selected for them. 

Eight years later he set out on foot for the unknown 
West accompanied by one man, said to have been Thomas 
Erickson, a giant in size and strength. They traversed Ohio, 
Indiana, parts of Michigan and Illinois and probably South- 
eastern Wisconsin. On the Fox River they found an ideal 
country and a thriving farm community soon was established. 

Later Cleng Peerson founded another community in Shelby 
County, Missouri, to which he led a party of homeseekers in 
1837. This colony did not prosper for some reason or other 
and was abandoned in a short time, the members removing to 



the Sugar Creek locality in Iowa. Finally in 1850, then sixty- 
eight years of age, he set out from Fox River with a party of 
ambitious homeseekers for Dallas County, Texas. 

In the meantime other lesser pathfinders were busy else- 
where. Ole «Nattestad led a party from Numedal on to Jeffer- 
son Prairie in 1838. Next came the extensive Norwegian com- 
munities at Muskego and Koshkonong. The most desirable 
lands were soon taken, but the tide from Norway assumed 
larger and larger proportions. 

Without much doubt the main cause of the great rush of 
Norwegians into Minnesota, Iowa and the country beyond was 
the passage of the free homestead act in 1863. Previously gov- 
ernment land was obtainable only through the process of pre- 
emption. The cost was generally $1.25 an acre. 

John Anderson, publisher of Skandinaven, was most enthusi- 
astic over the passage of the free homestead law and urged his 
readers to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime. It 
is related that he printed handbills explaining the act and per- 
sonally distributed them among the Norwegian newcomers arriv- 
ing by water and rail at Chicago. Without doubt hundreds had 
their attention directed to the excellent agricultural lands of the 
Northwestern territory by his newspaper articles and handbills. 

In many respects the valuable services rendered by Cleng 
Peerson were duplicated in later years by Paul Hjelm-Hansen. 
a journalist from Norway. It is understood that his purpose 
in coming to the United States was to obtain material for articles 
tending to discourage emigration from Norway. He was speed- 
ily converted to an opposite view of the question when he saw 
former tenant farmers established in economic independence on 
farms that would have been regarded in the home land as baron- 
ial domains. He realized that the shift from dire poverty to 
comparative aflSuence had been effected in but a few years and 
that in the main those emigrants who sought the land had pros- 
pered even beyond their hopes and dreams. It then occurred to 
him that he could render their kinsfolk no better service than 
undertake an exploration in the then unsettled portions of Min- 
nesota to learn if there were not other tracts available for settle- 



His journeys were historic for they led directly to the 
speedy settlement of the Red River Valley, often called the 
"bread basket of the world" because of its immense production 
of grain. 

Hjelm-Hansen left La Crosse June 17, 1869 to begin his 
memorable tour. He went by steamboat to St. Paul, took the 
railroad to St. Cloud and by stage reached Alexandria. Here 
he came in touch with countrymen who had an ox team and 
consented to accompany the explorer on his expedition. They 
drove through parts of Ottertail and neighboring counties reach- 
ing the Red River at Fort Abercrombie and thence went down 
the valley some distance. On his return to Alexandria he wrote 
to Nordiske Tidende describing the land he had seen. One of 
the statements in his first letter to the public is worthy of re- 

He wrote as follows : "The soil is productive in the highest 
degree and unusually easy of cultivation, as there is not as much 
as a stone or a stump in the way of the plow." 

It was this same land that General Hazen officially described 
as "improductive, unsuitable for cultivation and only fit for mos- 
quitos, wild animals and Indians." 

Much detailed information was given of the character of 
the country and the soil by Mr. Hjelm-Hansen in his first 
letter and this was further amplified by subsequent writings 
to the Norwegian papers in the United States and Norway. 
His readers followed the advice offered and immediately there 
began a migration of Norsemen that probably is without parallel 
in the history of their race. When the movement fairly was 
under way in the middle seventies a continuous stream moved 
day and night from the Atlantic coast to the Twin Cities of 
Minnesota, Minneapolis and St. Paul, where it divided into in- 
numerable smaller streams which spread westward and north- 
ward overflowing the valley and reaching far into South Dakota 
and North Dakota. 

Pioneering still is going on in Wisconsin and the Norweg- 
ians have an active hand therein. Men from Telemarken, Nume- 
dal and Stavanger located in Rock and Dane Counties and there 
established some of the largest and most prosperous colonies in 



the West. Virtually all of them were engaged in agricultural 
pursuits. At first, it was a sordid struggle for mere existence. 
Poorly provided with household goods and agricultural imple- 
ments they were compelled to live a life of primitive simplicity. 
Cholera and smallpox epidemics threatened, nature was stub- 
born, the log cabins oflFered only a meagre shelter and their trials 
were many. But they hewed, sawed and cleared, then plowed 
and planted and later harvested. Their yields were small at 
first, but grew with each succeeding year and it was not so long 
before they found themselves in comparative comfort. 

In 1850 there were 8,651 Norwegian born residents of Wis- 
consin nearly one half of the entire Norwegian population of the 
United States. Virtually all of them were engaged in farming 
and aiding thereby to lay the foundation of what has been one 
of the most progressive agricultural commonwealths in the world. 

Some five years ago Wisconsin was credited with having 
200,000 residents of Norwegian ancestry. Unquestionably an 
overwhelming majority of them, if not actually tilling the soil, 
were engaged in promoting agriculture. 

No less an authority than Mr. Samuel G. Iverson, for ^any 
years Auditor of the State of Minnesota, places the farm wealth 
of the Norwegian element in Minnesota at the prodigious figure 
of $1,200,000,000. And he states that his estimate is conserva- 
tive. On account of his long service as State Auditor which 
enabled him to cover the entire State time and again Mr. Iver- 
son probably is the best qualified person to undertake to make 
any such computation. 

"After the Federal Census of 1910 I undertook to learn 
what share the Norwegians had in the farm industry of my 
native State" Mr. Iverson explained to the writer. "From per- 
sonal knowledge of the distribution of immigrant elements within 
the State and particularly in the rural sections, I reached the 
conclusion that the Scandinavians owned 115,000 of the 175,000 
farms reported in Minnesota by the Census Bureau. From 
personal observation I should say that a greater proportion of 
Norwegian stock are engaged in agricultural pursuits than is 
the case with other immigrant elements and therefore half of this 
number was credited to that people. The number of farms in 



Minnesota doubtless has increased by several thousands and with- 
out question the Norwegian element has had its full share in 
the increase. Hence, no one will be far from wrong in placing 
the number of farms owned by this element at 6o,cx». Taking 
1 60 acres as the size of the average farm and bearing in mind 
that thousands of farms have a value of $200 an acre and even 
more, the average value will be approximately $20,000 per farm. 
This value will of course include farm buildings, stock and 
machinery. Sixty thousand farms at $20,000 makes a total wealth 
of more than a billion, and although the figure is unbelievable at 
first thought, I am sure that it is conservative." 

It will be observed in this connection that Dr. J. S. John- 
son after much careful investigation in 1913 placed the number 
of Norwegian farm owners at that time at 50,000, the extent 
of their holdings at 8,850,000 acres and the land value at $500,- 
000,000, so the estimates virtually coincide. 

Fillmore County saw the first Norwegian settlers in 1851. 
They came from Muskego colony in Wisconsin and very soon 
there as a procession from the older colonies in Wisconsin and 
Illinois to which were added the rising tide of immigration from 
the motherland. Of course, Fillmore County could not begin 
to hold them all and they overflowed into Houston, Mnwer, Olm- 
stead, Freeborn, Goodhue and Rice Counties, The war and the 
Sioux massacre halted the occupation of Minnesota for a period. 

It may be recorded that the Federal Census of i860 credits 
Norway with being the birthplace of 8,425 of Minnesota citizens. 
Virtually all of them were engaged in agriculture. They actually 
laid the foundation for the future prosperity of the State. 

After the war and massacre, settlement was resumed; Ren- 
ville, Yellow Medicine, Lac qui Parle, Chippewa and Swift 
Counties were occupied to such an extent that it was possible to 
travel for days at a time in certain districts without getting 
beyond the domain of the Norwegians. Later came the greatest 
migration initiated by Hjelm-Hansen and which gave the Park 
Region and the Red River Valley to the Norwegian immigrants 
and their descendants. 

Only in North Dakota, so far as is known, has an attempt 
been made to obtain exact figures of the land holdings of the 



Norwegians. In the year 1913 while preparing a North Dakota 
exhibit for Norway's Centennial Exposition, for which the State 
Legislature had made an appropriation, Alfred Gabrielsen under- 
took to ascertain the amount of land owned by residents of Norse 
stock. In this category he included only those born in Norway 
or whose parents were born in Norway. In other words the 
statistics were limited to the first and second generation of Nor- 
wegian blood. Undoubtedly there are many of the third and 
fourth generations of the race within the State, but having lost 
their identity as Norwegians and in numerous cases altered or 
changed their names, it would be a well nigh hopeless task to 
enumerate them. His report showed that a solid territory of 600 
square miles in Trail, Grand Forks and adjoining counties is 
populated exclusively by Norwegians. In addition there are 
the Sheyenne River, the Park River, the Turtle Mountain and 
the Williams and Benson County settlements all of great extent. 

The report also showed that out of a total of 32,000,000 
acres of taxable farm land in North Dakota 7,867,140 acres were 
owned by individuals classed as Norwegians. Using the aver- 
age acre value of $35.00 fixed by the Federal Census Bureau 
he placed the value of this land at $275,349,200. Truly a princely 
sum. But, inasmuch as land values have more than doubled 
since the tabulation was completed and that land holdings have 
increased materially, the aggregate wealth of these people in 
North Dakota now reaches a stupendous sum. 

Mention should be made of C. P. Bumstad, who at the time 
operated a cattle ranch of 6,000 acres in Logan County and John 
Steen, who had a "bonanza" farm near Rugby. 

Norwegians first settled South Dakota as farmers. They 
came from the Koshkonong Colony to Vermillion County in 1859. 
From this locality they spread in various directions and became 
the dominant element in many districts. There were various 
Indian scares, trying experiences with blizzards in which quite 
a number lost their lives, but the worst handicaps were event- 
ually overcome. This element today comprises about 25 per 
cent of the population of the State. 

As early as the forties the Norwegians appeared in Iowa 
and they were real pioneers. Today the entire northern part 



of the State is sprinkled liberally with Norwegian settlements. 
In not a few counties they are the dominant element and they 
have become famous as progressive farmers and breeders of 
livestock. Cyrus Tow, the famous Hereford breeder is of Norse 
blood and there are others who have achieved success in raising 
blooded stock. They have exerted an extensive influence on 
agriculture within the State and sent thousands of their sons 
and daughters to aid in developing other parts of the Union. 
Some of the finest farms in Iowa, which means in the United 
States, are in the hands of racial stock with which this article is 

Norwegian farm communities were founded in Kansas and 
Nebraska as early as 1857, but it was not until after the Civil 
War that any considerable number of this people sought to ob- 
tain land. Virtually all of them are engaged today in agricultural 
pursuits. What their number may be is not possible to deter- 
mine, but it must be 50,000 in the two States and possibly many 
more. In the great rush at the opening of the Oklahoma re- 
servation, there were quite a number of Norwegians and they 
obtained their share of the prizes. 

Michigan attracted numerous Norsemen in the early days. 
The parties that went out together were smaller than those 
which penetrated the more Western States. However, some 
were of considerable extent and virtually all proved successful. 
The Norse population of the State probably will reach 100,000. 

Early in the twentieth century a party was formed .in Otter- 
tail County, Minnesota led by Jens Dunham, Amund Levorson 
and John L. Trosvig to find a new home in the South. Vir- 
ginia was selected as a desirable field and a suitable tract was 
found near Williamsburg and named Norway. Some ten or 
twelve families comprised the first party. The land cost them 
from $5 to $10 an acre. By industry and intelligence and the 
application of modern methods of farming they made a garden 
spot in the heart of the old Ekjminion. Within fifteen years their 
land easily was worth $75 an acre and upward. It is today an 
object lesson for the entire State and it is needless to say that 
this isolated band of Norwegians is highly regarded by their 



neighbors and the State authorities. Instances of this kind are 
numerous and similar ventures without doubt may be found in 
virtually every State in the Union. 

Ole Bull, the famous violinist was an altruist and philan- 
thropist in the broadest sense. Having knowledge of the un- 
promising lot of thousands of his countrymen in Norway and 
realizing the glorious possibilities in the new world he undertook 
the foundation of a colony which he hoped would be a Mecca 
for his people. Oleana, Odin and New Bergen were founded 
in Potter County, Pennsylvania in the early fifties and at one 
time these settlements became a complete failure. Nevertheless 
they had their value for they contributed one thousand very 
desirable people to other communities. 

Few Norwegian immigrants were attracted to New Eng- 
land unless they were artisans or engaged in commercial pur- 
suits, but there are small but prosperous Norwegian farming 
groups near Carlisle and Cambridge, Mass. near Berlin Mills. 
New Hampshire and in Connecticut. 

In the Southern States there are quite a number of thriving 
Norwegian colonies, notably the Listonia settlement in Georgia, 
Thorsby settlement in Alabama, the Oslo and Viking colonies in 
Florida and the Norse colonies at Lawrenceburg, Frankfort 
and Genesis, Tennessee. These and others were founded 
in the nineties mostly by Norwegian farmers from the North 
who had found a change of climate desirable. 

Up and down the Pacific coast Norwegian farmers are 
found in numbers. Many rural communities were established 
by them when the country was in possession of the Siwash In- 
dians, some antedating the Civil War. Martin Ulvestad credits 
Washington with 60,000 inhabitants of Norwegian descent in 
1905, but there must be many times that number in the State at 
the present time, Oregon had quite a number of distinctive 
Norse colonies some years ago, and doubtless they still are 
flourishing. Several widely scattered groups of this race also 
located in California, one near Golita, Santa Barbara County, 
two in Humboldt County and in various other Counties. 

The mountain states of Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, 
New Mexico and Arizona. In the rural districts of Montana 



the Norwegians are particuarly numerous. There are thousands 
of them in Utah, probably one-eighth of the entire population 
of the State and there are successful Norwegian farmers in 
numbers in Idaho and Colorado. 

It must be confessed that the foregoing is an unsatisfactory 
treatment of a great subject. Some day some one will have the 
time to prepare something more worthy of preservation as a his- 
torical record. 




commerce, finance, engineering, lumbering and general 
business enterprises. 

By Harry Sundby-Hansen 

Editor and Manager, Norwegian Section, Foreign Language 
Information Service, New York 

MERICANS of Norwegian birth and lineage consti- 
tute a considerable force in American industry. 
While by far the greatest number of the Nor- 
wegian group in America is engaged in agricultural 
pursuits, there still remains a force of sufficient numbers to 
make its influence in industrial and allied occupations felt in 
the fields suited to the group's degree of skill and temperament. 

For the present purpose, those engaged in strictly in- 
dustrial occupations as well as leaders and workers in a 
variety of enterprises embracing finance, commerce, engineer- 
ing, architecture, the skilled trades and lumbering, are in- 
cluded in the general classification of industry. 

In the basic industries of coal and metaliferous mining 
and in the manufacture of steel the number of Norwegian 
immigrants engaged as industrial workers is negligible. That 
sort of labor does not appeal to the Norse temperament. Nor- 
way has no coal deposits and consequently that class of 
workers has not been developed. Only a limited amount of 
metaliferous mining is carried on, mainly copper and silver 
mining, and to a somewhat larger extent iron in northern 
Norway, but these industries require only a comparatively 
small force of workers. Neither does Norway manufacture 
steel except in a limited, specialized line. 

Norway's suzerainty over Spitzbergen or Svalbard, as the 
islands were called by the early Norse discoverers, offers some 
opportunity for the development of coal mine workers, but this 



field is as yet in its infancy and does not call for a very 
large force of men. 

Thus it comes about quite naturally that Norwegian im- 
migrants in America remain for the most part aloof from 
these unfamiliar fields of labor. 

It is an outstanding characteristic of the Norwegian im- 
migrant that he seeks and usually finds the kind of work 
he did in his native land. People from the rural parts of 
Norway settle in the rural regions of the United States; people 
from the cities remain as a rule urbanites here. 

It is one hundred years since immigrants from Norway 
began to come in large numbers. The first of these, the 
pioneers, hailed almost exclusively from Norway's rural dis- 
tricts and remote coast villages. They soon found land to 
their liking and settled down to a life of agriculture. The 
urban people did not come until later. The first arrivals 
of these were laborers, sailors, and skilled mechanics. Sub- 
sequently larger and larger numbers of skilled workers ar- 
rived until the group found itself sufficiently numerous in 
various cities to form societies and develop organized group 

Following these waves of immigration came still other 
classes of workers with specialized education, and not a few 
with university training. Among the latter are men with 
doctor's degrees in medicine, law and theology. New York 
and Chicago each boasts an alumni association of the Univer- 
sity of Christiania. Graduates are likewise found in Min- 
neapolis, Seattle, and other centers of population as well as in 
many other parts of the country, all contributing of their 
knowledge and skill to the upbuilding of America. 

Norway has no illiteracy. Consequently no illiterate im- 
migrants come from Norway. 

Disregarding for the present those with a technical train- 
ing and higher education, all Norwegian immigrants possess 
at least a common school education plus a moral and religious 
training. In additiort to these qualifications the girls and 
young women are trained in needle work, ordinary domestic 
duties and home making, the boys and young men in a trade 
or skilled handicraft. 



The work of the earher Norwegian immigrants in break- 
ing new land and aiding materially in the tremendous task 
of opening up the west and northwest for settlement, and the 
growth of cities and revival of business and prosperity fol- 
lowing the Civil War, gave impetus to this urban class of im- 
migration from Norway. The pioneers had already then be- 
come "old settlers" and had given a good account of themselves 
as officers and enlisted men in the volunteer regiments of the 
Union army. Those, who by reason of age or other dis- 
abilities remained at home, helped to raise food. 

In the earlier period of Norwegian immigration thousands 
flocked to the forests of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota 
where they constituted a factor in the lumbering industry. 
This was a work which many were familiar with from Nor- 
way. They arrived here with previous experience in wield- 
ing the axe and logging, and with skill was coupled a robust 
physique, brawn and brain, desirable qualifications in such 
a strenuous occupation. The timber was floated down the 
rivers to saw mills where other Norwegian immigrant workers 
converted the logs into building materials. These were there- 
upon shipped to the citiees, to a large extent by means of the 
old lumber schooners on the Great Lakes. 

The lumber carrying traffic on the lakes in the 60s, 70s 
and 80s of the last century was largely in the hands of Nor- 
wegian masters and sailors. In Chicago, Milwaukee and other 
lake ports men are still living who can look back to the "days 
of romance" when their sailing ships in endless procession 
carried the lumber that went into the construction of dwel- 
lings for the constantly increasing population of our cities. 

A big single factor which gave stimulus to the lumber car- 
rying traffic was the great Chicago fire of October 9, 1871. 
This fire was one of the worst on record. It reduced the 
greater part of the young city to a smouldering heap of 
ashes in less than three days, destroyed millions of dollars worth 
of property and rendered thousands homeless. Among the 
victims were large numbers of Norwegian immigrants of the 
artisan class. All joined with their fellow sufferers of all 



races in combating the fury of the onrushing flames as volun- 
teer fireman and in rescue work. 

The date of the beginning of the Chicago fire has been 
adopted generally throughout the United States as "fire pre- 
vention day." 

The city had to be rebuilt and speed was an essential 
element of reconstruction. Demand for lumber and all kinds 
of building material was enormous. Millions of feet of lumber 
were consumed in building operations in this one city alone. 
Thus Chicago became one of the most important lumber 
markets of the country. In all these operations Norwegian 
immigrants played a leading part. They cut the timber in the 
northern forests, transported the logs to sawmills, converted 
the sawn lumber into building material, carried the lumber 
and materials in their sailing ships down the lakes and finally 
as building contractors and artisans erected dwellings and 
structures of every description. In Chicago Norwegian 
builders and workmen did their full share in helping to re- 
build the fire stricken city. 

In lumbering the Norwegian immigrant group still con- 
stitutes a substantial factor in the forested areas of the 
Pacific Northwest. Large numbers of this group have moved 
westward in the course of the last quarter of a century 
until they and their descendants now make up a considerable 
proportion of the population of Washington, Oregon and other 
Pacific coast states. 

When the first white man set foot upon the great region 
west of the Cascade Mountains, he found a barricade of 
forest, unconquered and apparently unconquerable by man. 
Only the strong dared essay the task of making the advance. 
The weak, the fearful, the doubting, the cowardly had no 
place there. Where were the right men to be found? 

The pampered dandy of the streets and parlors would 
have perished before he had dropped a single giant tree. 

But the men came. They came from Norway, the land 
of hills and waterfalls, the land of lakes and fjords, the 
land of rock and forests. 



Their muscles were like the sinews of the giant firs 
themselves, tough, strong, enduring and unbreakable. Patience 
and endurance they had and eternal industry. Before them 
the mighty forests melted away. The stumps were uprooted, 
the stubborn roots were literally torn from the ground. 
Fields and gardens smiled where once the cougar roamed, and 
civilization and culture blossomed on the vanished realm of 
the wilderness. 

The Norwegian set to work in the forest, on the farm, 
or on the deck of a ship is the forerunner and advance 
guard of civilization. 

The forests on the Pacific Slope are the largest and den- 
sest in the United States, and when removed from their 
native soil, are manufactured into lumber and find their way 
into all parts of the world. From the time the axe is 
applied to fell the giants and until they are loaded into the 
vessel that carries them to their destination, and during this 
process, they are handled many times. The handling is 
performed mostly by men of Norwegian birth or parentage. 
The logger, the millhand, the mechanic and finally the lumber 
loader who places them into the ships bound for the four 
corners of the earth are, if not exclusively, though mostly 
immigrant Norwegians. 

Starting in the logging business with his brawny hands 
and a team of oxen, the Norwegian immigrant skidded the 
mighty logs down the slopes into tide water. Later, true to 
his progressive nature he discarded the oxen for logging 
engines, and if the territory was too hilly, he later employed 
the air routes with cables and finally also became the first 
user of logging railroads with powerful locomotives. Over 
these roads he transported logs of unbelievable size to salt 
water, where a tug boat, built by a Norwegian shipbuilder, 
manned by a Norwegian . crew, would tow the mile along 
raft to mills, where the great part of the necessary labor 
power, skilled and unskilled, is supplied by Americans of 
Norwegian birth and parentage. 

A list of the logging and mill companies on the Pacific 
Slope which are owned and operated by Norwegian-Amer- 



icans would fill pages. The one, however, who pioneered in 
this work on Puget Sound was Mr. A. H. Anderson, now 
deceased, a son of the Middle West pioneer, Mr. Mons An- 
derson of La Crosse, Wisconsin. 

In the wood working trades of carpentering, house build- 
ing, furniture making, wood carving, ship building, general 
shipyard work, including sail and rope making, Norwegian 
immigrants rank high as skilled workmen. They are more- 
over to be found in practically all skilled trades including 
machine shops, tool making, electrical works, the manufac- 
ture of fire-arms and the finer trades such as watch making 
and optical instrument manufacture. In Chicago and other 
cities are to be found local unions of organized workers in 
the carpentering, house painting and other building trades membership is made up exclusively of Norwegian im- 
migrants or in which a majority are Americans of Norwegian 
birth or parentage. A large number of the group is en- 
gaged in the printing trades and allied industries of which 
a goodly proportion are compositors on our American news- 
papers. In Chicago the membership of a local union of the 
International Typographical Union is made up entirely of 
Norwegian and Danish immigrant printers, the Norwegian 
contingent being heavily in the majority. These men are for 
the most part engaged in the composing rooms of Amer- 
ican newspapers printed in the Norwegian language. 

In the wood pulp industry and the manufacture of paper 
Americans of Norwegian lineage play an important part. 
America is rapidly being deforested by the ruthless stripping 
of our timbered areas. Forestry experts estimate that our 
forests will have entirely disappeared in fifteen years unless 
steps are taken to prevent such a calamity. 

The demand for news print and paper of all kinds is 
enormous. The demand for wood pulp for the manufacture 
of paper is bigger than America for many years has been 
able to supply by reason of timber shortage. Our shortage 
in the supply of wood pulp is relieved by imports from Nor- 
way. In return Norway buys food stuffs and other neces- 
saries from the United States. The maintenance of this 



commerce is of enormous importance to the economic wel- 
fare of both nations. In New York and other Atlantic 
seabord cities many Americans of Norwegian lineage are 
engaged in the import and export business connected with 
the wood pulp and paper industry. 

Norwegian methods of converting wood pulp into paper, 
especially into news print for our great dailies, have been 
adopted by the American paper making industry, and many 
Norwegian immigrants are engaged in paper making. One 
of the largest American paper mills, one controlled and 
operated by Norwegian immigrant leadership and technical 
skill, is located in Maine. 

Among the foremost men in this line in New York are 
Mr. Jack Anderson, Mr. A. Olafsen and Mr. S. Jobs. Chris- 

In the manufacture of agricultural implements and farm 
vehicles Norwegian immigrants and their descendants rank 
among the leading factors. Since agriculture is the basic 
industry of the Norwegian group it was to be expected that 
its members soon would enter a field of manufacture so 
closely related to the tilling of the soil. Foremost among 
these industries are plants in Stoughton, Beloit and Madison, 
Wis. where plows, wagons and agricultural implements of all 
kinds are manufactured under the leadership of Norwegian 
immigrants or descendants of Norwegian immigrant pioneers, 
who laid the foundation of the industry. The products of 
these plants are known to all American farmers for the 
excellence of their quality. 

One of the foremost and largest American plants for 
the manufacture of tool machines is also located in Madison. 
Wis. This enterprise was founded in the early 90s by the 
Hon. John A. Johnson, a Norwegian immigrant. Experts 
consid€r the tool machines produced there the best in America. 
The largest chair factory in the United States, possibly 
in any country, is located in Chicago and was founded by 
a Norwegian immigrant. Many Americans df the Nor- 
wegian group in Chicago are engaged as employers and 
workmen in the cooperage business. One of the largest 



manufacturing plants in Chicago devoted to the making of 
desks and office furniture was founded by Norwegian im- 
migrants and is owned and operated by their descendants. 

In Grand Rapids, Mich,, Norwegian immigrant leader- 
ship has developed a flourishing textile industry in the 
midst of this, the country's furniture making center. 
Mr. Alfred Clementsen the founder, is also interested in a 
large number of business enterprises and is regarded as 
one of the pillars of the community. In Manitowoc, Wis. 
is located one of the most extensive mercantile enterprises 
in America in the hands of descendants of its Norwegian 
immigrant founder, the late Osuld Torrison. In New York, 
Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Fargo, Grand 
Forks, Seattle and other centers of population Americans 
of Norwegian lineage are found in practically all lines 
of business activity. 

The Norwegian group has three large city centers of 
population. Numerically Chicago is the largest. In proportion 
to population, however, Minneapolis holds first place. New 
York City is third. 

The principal occupations of Norwegian immigrants in 
New York are the skilled trades of carpentry and pther 
building trades work, and large numbers are engaged as water 
front and marine transport workers in the harbor. A 
characteristic occupation of Norwegian immigrant sailors in 
New York is the trade called "rigging". Many of the 
group are also engaged in this work in Chicago and other 
cities where skyskraper construction work calls for a suf- 
ficient force of men to make the work profitable. 

Riggers are men who by means of rope and tackle 
hoist steel beams aloft to iron setters working on the erec- 
tion of steel skeletons of skyskrapers. These men are also 
employed in moving heavy objects, when necessary to hoist 
or lower them through upper story windows high above 
the sidewalk. It is a hazardous occupation, requiring men of 
robust physique, muscle and nerves of iron. They must 
also possess a thorough knowledge of the handling of ropes, 
splicing and looping. For these reasons former Norwegian 
sailors are peculiarly fitted for the work. 



The business of marine surveying in the port of New York 
and other Atlantic ports is largely in the hands of Norwegian 
immigrant engineers. A prominent representative of this group 
is Mr. Christian Nielsen of New York, well known on the 
Atlantic coast as a marine engineer. 

In welfare work among employes in large manufacturing 
plants Mr. N. O. Nelson, a St. Louis manufacturer, was a 
pioneer among American employers in this field. A system 
of welfare work inaugurated by Mr. Nelson several years 
ago served to focus the attention of American employers upon 
his plant and to influence others to follow the example set 
by this progressive Norwegian American employer. 

Tobacco growing is classified both as agriculture and 
as an industry. It is included in this sketch because it is 
closely related to commerce in general. 

Americans of Norwegian birth and lineage are heavily 
interested in tobacco growing in the state of Wisconsin. 
Moreover, they are pioneers in the industry. Dane, Rock, 
Jefferson, Vernon and Crawford Counties are dotted with 
tobacco fields cultivated by Americans of Norwegian ex- 
traction. The yearly crops marketed are valued at millions 
of dollars. 

An interesting fact in this connection is that through 
Norwegian immigrant enterprise Wisconsin tobacco is now 
cultivated successfully in Norway. Norwegians returning to 
the mother country brought plants and seeds with them to 
try as an experiment in Norwegian soil. The experiment 
proved successful beyond expectations and as a result Am- 
ericans visiting Norway as tourists may have the pleasure 
of fining their pipes with Wisconsin tobacco grown in the 
Sogn district of the Land of the Midnight Sun. 

One of the pioneers in the Wisconsin tobacco mdustry 
and a leader in many other financial and commercial enter- 
prises was Mr. Andrew Jensen of Edgerton, Wis. Mr. Jensen 
embodied the cardinal virtues of his race-integnty, straight- 
forwardness and sturdy honesty. In him all classes of 
people placed implicit confidence. 



In a necessarily hurried sketch such as this and the lack 
of time for research work it is manifestly impossible 
to do justice by a mention of all the enterprising pioneers and 
men of action who have blazed the way in industrial activ- 
ity among the Norwegian group. Nevertheless, no sketch, 
no matter how general in scope, would be complete if it 
failed to mention Mr. Magnus Swenson of Madison, Wis. 

Coming to America from Norway at the age of 13 Mr. 
Swenson has carved out a career unique among Americans 
of Norwegian lineage. The recording in a comprehensive 
way of his numerous and varied achievements would alone 
require a chapter of considerable length. 

Mr. Swenson worked his own way all the way up. He 
was graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1880. 
Older students will remember him as a teacher of chemistry 
and later he became noted in chemical enterprises. He is 
credited with being one of the founders of the College of 
Agriculture of Wisconsin, one of the foremost institutions 
of its kind in the world. Mr. Swenson had a passion for 
saving waste and is credited with a big share in placing 
the American sugar industry on its feet and developing the 
manufacture of glycerine on a large scale. He is the inventor 
of a number of important improvements in sugar refining 
machinery. To 'this work he devoted a number of years in 
Texas and other sections of the South. 

Subsequently he entered the field of machinery manu- 
facture in Chicago. 

After leaving that field he planned to retire and take a 
well earned rest, but fate willed otherwise. The tremendous 
water power resources of Wisconsin which annually went to 
waste would not let him rest. 

He set to work developing the power of the great rivers 
of his beloved state. To his foresight and initiative are due 
in a large measure the present tremendous water power dev- 
elopment of Wisconsin. The great Sauk City Dam bears 
living testimony to his vision and practical ability as an in- 
dustrial organizer and builder. 

Nor can a sketch such as this be considered complete 


without mention being made of the late Mr. Anton M. 
Holter, who died at his home in Helena, Mont. July i6, 
1921, at the age of 90 years. Mr. Holter was a leading fin- 
ancier and an industrial pioneer in his section of the country. 
He came to America from Moss, Norway in 1854. After six 
years spent on the then frontiers in Iowa. Missouri and Min- 
nesota he set out with a party of gold seekers headed for Pikes 
Peak, Colo. Meeting with indifferent success in his hunt 
for gold he set out for Montana taking with him a small 
sawing outfit. After many hardships he and a partner by 
the name of Evenson, also a Norwegian immigrant, managed 
during the winter to cut a considerable quantity of lumber. 
The following year they opened a lumber business in Nevada 

In 1867 Mr. Holter established the first sash and door 
mill in Montana. In the 70s he entered the copper and 
silver mining industry and in 1884 he established in partner- 
ship with others the first street car line in Helena. Sub- 
sequently he extended his mining operations to include gold 
and coal. 

Mr, Holter was at the time of his death among the best 
known of the generation of Norwegian pioneer immigrants 
who helped to clear the wilderness, advance the frontier and 
build up the great Northwest. Two sons, Norman B. Holter 
and Aubrey M. Holter, succeeded to the business in Helena. 
Another son, Edwin O. Holter, is a well known attorney in 
New York City. 

Americans of Norwegian extraction are extensively in- 
terested in banking both in the larger cities and in the rural 
sections of the country. This is especially true in the great 
Mississippi Valley. In the smaller citiees and towns up and 
down this great agricultural region Norwegian immigrants 
and their descendants are found everywhere as bank directors 
and as active executive heads of banking institutions. 

In New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and other large 
cities thousands of the Norwegian group are to be found 
as executives and employes of the leading banking houses. 

Banks founded and controlled exclusively by Nor- 



wegian immigrants and their descendants are scattered all 
over the country. They are, of course, most numerous in 
the Middle West and Northwestern States. 

The largest and most influential of these institutions is 
the State Bank of Chicago, founded in 1879. One of the 
founders, the late Mr. Helge A. Haugan, was at the time of 
his death a power in Chicago's financial circles and a leader 
in all progressive enterprises for the advancement of the city. 

This bank, while it has drawn largely for its clientele 
upon the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish groups and owes 
much to their support, is nevertheless thoroughly American 
in spirit and business organization and enjoys the support 
of many leading Americans of other than Norse ancestry. 

As president of the bank, Mr. Henry A. Haugan, a typi- 
cal American, is a worthy successor of his father. Another 
son. Captain Oscar H. Haugan, is vice-president and man- 
ager of the Real Estate Loan Department. In the matter 
of interesting himself actively in Norwegian group interests 
Captain Oscar Haugan is worthily upholding the tradition 
established by his father. 

Another member of this noted immigrant family, who 
contributed to the upbuilding of the Middle West, was the 
late Hauman G. Haugan, a brother of the founder of the 
bank. He was for many years actively interested in trans- 
portation development and served for forty years as comp- 
troller of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. 
A station on the line is named in his honor. 

A large number of the Norwegian group is engaged in 
railroad work, as executives, as employes in the various de- 
partments of railroad administration, in the train service 
as conductors and trainmen generally, as engineers and fire- 
men, in the passenger and freight terminals and in many 
other capacities. The Chicago and Northwestern Railway 
Company's shops at Chicago was at one time manned almost 
exclusively by Norwegian immigrant workmen and there is 
still quite a number of the "old timers" employed there. 

The old town of Pullman, now a section of Chicago's 
aouth side, was in the 80s and 90s largely populated by 



Norwegian workmen employed as car builders in the plants 
of the Pullman Palace Car Co. This concern drew upon 
Norwegian immigrants for large numbers of its most skilled 
workmen in the fine wood working trades. 

Norwegians with technical education began arriving in 
the United States as early as the 60s and continued coming 
in small numbers through the 70s and early 80s. These 
men wc^'e for the most part mechanical and civil engineers, 
though there were also a few architects and chemists among 

The influx of technically educated men from Norway 
increased rapidly in the latter part of the 80s and grew 
to considerable proportions in the course of the two suc- 
ceeding decades. Between 1890 and 1910 the great bulk of 
this class of Norwegian immigrants arrived on American 
soil. While statistics are lacking it is estimated by technical 
men in touch with group affairs within the profession that 
there are not fewer than 5,000 engineers and architects of 
the Norwegian group in America at the present time. Some 
of these are American born, but the great majority are immi- 
grants and have received their education in the technical 
schools of Norway. 

A large contingent of these men was graduated from 
the leading technical institute of the country, Norway's Tech- 
nical Pligh School at Trondhjem. This school has given 
America a number of prominent men in the field of engi- 
neering. Other schools represented in the group are Bergen, 
Christiania, Porsgrund and Horten. In Chicago the con- 
tingent from Trondhjem is so numerous that an alumni asso- 
ciation has been in existence for several years. 

While many of these men have never reached farther 
than the draftsman's table, it is nevertheless a fact that the 
number which has reached the top ranks of the profession 
is remarkably large. It is moreover a fact that in propor- 
tion to population, Norway has not only given America a 
greater number of her people than any other sovereign nation 
on earth, but she has also given this country proportionately 
a greater number of technically educated men than any other 



It would be impossible here to estimate the values sup- 
plied America by these immigrants. That they are enor- 
mous, considered from an economic standpoint alone, no 
one will seriously deny. Norway foots the educational bill, 
and when the young men reach an age when, according to 
natural expectation they should yield a return, they emigrate, 
many of them never to return. This supply of values costs 
America nothing. On the other hand America gives them 
larger opportunities for the exercise of their skill and 

Space permits only a brief mention of some of the 
Americans of Norwegian birth and extraction who have 
made a name for themselves in the technical world. There 
are many more, but to include them all would require a 
large volume. 

In construction work in New York City Mr. Gunvald 
Aus, consulting engineer, and Mr. Kort Berle, architect, 
stand out prominently as distinguished men in their line. 
The two men are business partners. Mr. Aus came into 
prominence in connection with construction work on the 
United States Custom House, the monumental and artistic 
structure facing Bowling Green. Subsequently Mr. Aus 
added lustre to his fame by designing the steel work for the 
Woolworth Building, the beautiful "Cathedral of Commerce" 
on Broadway near City Hall Park, of which the distin- 
guished American, Mr. Cass Gilbert, is the architect. In the 
designing and erection of the steel structure of this monu- 
mental building, the tallest of its kind in the world, Mr. 
Aus and Mr. Berle shared responsibilities and honors. 

Mr. John A. Gade of New York is a well known archi- 
tect of high standard. 

Mr. Olaf Hoff, of New York City, consulting engineer, 
is the inventor of a new method of building subaqueous tun- 
nels of which examples in New York are several subway 
tunnels under the Harlem river. He also built the great 
New York Central Railroad tunnel under the Detroit river. 
Mr. Hoff served for many years as engineer of bridges for 



the New York Central Lines. His brother, Mr. J. H. Hoff. 
a graduate of the Christiania Technical School, has followed 
bridge construction in the United States for a number of 
years and is now chief engineer for the American Bridge 
Company at Chicago. 

Mr. Carl Wigtel, of New York City, is an inventor 
and expert in the manufacture of hydraulic machinery. 
Mr. Otto J. Andreason is a designing and estimating engi- 
neer, for many years with the world famous engineer, William 
Barclay Parsons, New York City. Mr. John Borge, of New 
York, has for many years been identified with the improve- 
ment and manufacture of incinerators. 

In connection with New York subway construction work 
.Americans of Norwegian birth and education have taken a 
prominent part. Thus Mr. Sverre Damm has for more 
than twenty years been engineer in direct charge of subway 
construction in the American metropolis. Mr. Berge B. 
Furre and a large number of engineers of the Norwegian 
group are engaged in various capacities in connection with 
subway work. Mr. Guttorm Miller has likewise for over 
twenty years been connected with New York subway and 
other big construction enterprises. 

Mr. Eugene Schou, structural engineer with the Boand 
of Education of New York City, has for years been prom- 
inently identified with the construction of the city's numer- 
ous public school buildings. 

Mr. Nils F. Ambursen of New York is a well known 
consulting, hydraulic engineer and the inventor of the Am- 
bursen dam. Mr. John S. Branne, of New York, is a well 
known consulting engineer. In the silk industry Mr. A. 
Berg, of Paterson, N. J., is a chemical engineer and expert 
in silk dyeing. 

In the field of chemistry Mr. E. A. Cappelen-Smith, of 
New York, is an outstanding figure among Americans of the 
Norwegian group. He is another of the large number of 
graduates of the Trondhjem technical school who have made 
their influence felt in the American technical world. Mr. 
Cappelen-Smith has invented great improvement devices in 



the copper industry. The Mining and Metallurgical Society 
of America recently gave a dinner in his honor in New York 
at which he was presented with the Society's gold medal in 
recognition of his great services in the development of hydro- 
metallurgical science. It is especially his inventions and im- 
proved methods employed in extracting copper from the ore 
that have made Mr. Cappelen-Smith famous. He is en- 
gaged by the Guggenheim Co. in an expert capacity. 

Mr. Tinius Olsen of Philadelphia is a pioneer inventor 
and manufacturer of machinery for the testing of materials 
He was awarded the grand prize at the Panama-Pacific Ex- 
position at San Francisco, At Mr. Olsen's plant was built 
the largest testing machine in the world for the United 
States Bureau of Standards. Mr, Henrick V. Loss of Phila- 
delphia made the first rolled steel railway car wheels in Amer- 
ica and has the Franklin Institute gold medal. Another 
Philadelphian of the Norwegian group, Mr. Carl G, Barth, 
is the inventor of a system of efficiency in industrial man- 

Mr, Viggo Drewsen of New York is a leading chemical 
engineer and a recognized authority on the subject of paper 
manufacture. Other prominent paper mill engineers are Mr. 
D. S, Jensen and Mr. Ole Berger of New York. Mr. Her- 
bert W. Guettler of Chicago, a graduate of the Christiania 
technical school, is closely identified with the paper mill in- 
dustry. He is the inventor of the Guettler barking drum, 
an improved method of removing bark from the logs, and 
other improvements in fibre making processes. 

Graduates of the Trondhjem and other technical schools 
in Norway are well represented in Chicago and other cities 
in the Middle West. Many of the engineers who arrived in 
America in the 60s and 70s now hold high executive posi- 
tions in the steel industry, in the state and municipal govern- 
ment, in transit enterprises and with public commissions. 

One of the Trondhjem graduates of the early 70s is 
Mt, Gustav L, Clausen of Chicago, civil engineer and expert 
on sewer construction. Mr, Clausen was among the early 
arrivals in Chicago, He has devoted himself chiefly to the 



work of laying out cities and planning sewer systems for 
cities. He planned the town of Pullman and the town of 
Hyde Park, both of which now are within the city limits 
of Chicago, and several other cities adjacent to the Middle 
Western Metropolis. Mr. Clausen was for a number of years 
superintendent of sewers of the City of Chicago and is a 
recognized authority on sewer construction. 

Mr. E. Lee Heidenreich is another Trondhjem graduate 
of the 70s who has reflected glory on his Alma Mater. Mr. 
Heidenreich is the inventor of the modern type of grain ele- 
vators used in America. He made a specialty of building 
large grain elevators both in and outside of Chicago. Several 
of Chicago's big grain elevators are his work. Mr. Heiden- 
reich also specialized in reinforced concrete and wrote a 
book on this subject. He was considered the foremost en- 
gineer in the world of reinforced concrete construction. To- 
gether with Mr. A. A. Boedtker, also a Trondhjem grad- 
uate, Mr. Heidenreich built a number of the beautiful ex- 
hibit buildings of the World's Fair at Chicago in 1893. Mr 
Boedtker was a leading railroad engineer. These two men 
also built a big section of the famous drainage canal between 
Chicago and Lockport, 111. 

Mr. Leonhard Holmboe, a graduate of the Christiania 
technical school in the early 70s, designed and built one of 
the largest steel plants in America, the Illinois Steel Com- 
pany's South Works on the southwest shore of Lake Michi- 
gan at Chicago. Mr. Holmboe has been in the service of this 
company for a period of forty-one years and is chief engi- 
neer of construction. Another graduate of the Christiania 
technical school of the same period is Mr. Thomas G. Pihl- 
feldt of Chicago.- Mr. Pihlfeldt is a noted bridge engineer 
and the inventor of many improvements in bridge construc- 
tion, notably in the Pihlfeldt-Ericsson or Chicago type of 
"jack-knife" bridges of which Mr. Pihlfeldt has buiU a large 
number for the City of Chicago. He is chief engineer of 
bri|Jges for the city, a position he has held for more than 
twenty-five years. 

Mr. Joachim G. -Giaver is a noted civil engineer and 


a graduate of the Trondhjem school in the early 70s. As a 
young man he held the position of chief engineer for one of the 
large bridge companies of Pittsburgh. He came to Chicago in 
1891 and entered immediately upon the work of designing the 
steel frame of the great exhibit buildings of the World's Fair, 
Subsequently he held the position of chief engineer for H. D. 
Burnham Company, designing skyscrapers. He is one of 
the foremost engineers in America on skyscraper construc- 
tion and is the inventor of the well known Giaver bell 
foundations. Mr. Giaver was connected with the construc- 
tion of several of the largest buildings in the country in- 
cluding the Equitable Building in New York and other 
large structures. 

In steel plant construction Mr. A. B. Neumann of 
Chicago holds an eminent place. Mr. Neumann is a grad- 
uate of the Trondhjem Technical school in the 90s and 
came to the United States shortly afterwards. He is the 
designer and builder of the largest steel plant in America, 
possibly in the world, the great plant of the United States 
Steel Corporation at Gary, Ind., on the south shore of 
r.ake Michigan just outside of Chicago. The plan of the 
new City of 'Gary is also Mr. Neumann's work. He held 
the position of chief engineer of the city and laid out this 
newly created manufacturing town on the basis of a popu- 
lation of ioo,coo people. Other steel plants built by Mr. 
Neumann are the American Rolling Mill Company's plant 
at Middletown, Ohio and seamless tube plants for the Pitts- 
burgh Steel Products Co. Mr. Neumann is an inventor and 
has patented the first blast furnace rotary distributor which 
greatly improved on blast furnace practice. 

Mr. J. A. I>yblie is a prominent engineer of the Nor- 
wegian group in the steel industry. He too is a graduate 
of the Trondhjem school in the early 70s. For a number of 
years he held the position of chief engineer of Anaconda 
Mining Co., Anaconda, Mont. He then went to the Illinois 
Steel Company and is at present chief engineer at this 
company's Joliet, 111., works. Mr. Dyblie is an inventor and 
has secured patents on many valuable improvements in the 



copper industry as well as in the iron and steel industry. 

Mr. Christian Holt and his brother, Mr. Severin Holt, 
are well known engineers and inventors. Mr. Christian Holt 
spent all his time in the service of the United States Gov- 
ernment designing locks in rivers and other navigable water- 
ways. Mr. Severin Holt is an inventor and was for a num- 
ber of years with the McCormick Co., now the International 
Harvester Co. of Chicago. He invented and patented several 
machines built by this company and he is also the patentee 
of the well known Holt cream separator. Mr. H. Claussen 
and Mr. Carl Printz are well known engineers and hold 
important positions with the E. P. Ellis Co. of Milwaukee. 
Wis. Mr. K. Baetzman is a graduate of the Trondhjem 
Technical School and holds an important position in one 
of the large steel plants near Chicago. Mr. Leif Lee has 
been chief engineer and assistant to the president of a large 
steel plant in the Youngstown, Ohio, district. Mr. Halfdan 
Lee, a brother of Leif, was also engaged in the steel in- 
dustry and then entered the coke making industry. He 
now holds an important position with a large concern in 

Mr. Gustav Bergendahl and his brother, Mr. Einar 
Bergendahl, both of Chicago, are noted engineers and build- 
ers. A third brother, Mr. Carl Bergendahl, has for years 
been identified with bridge construction. Mr. Einar Bergen- 
dahl is at present engaged on the construction of the great 
bridge over the Delaware river between Philadelphia and 

Mr. F. W. Cappelen was until his death on October i6, 
1921, city engineer of Minneapolis. Mr. Capi>elen was born 
in Drammen, Norway, in 1857 and came to the United States 
in the early 80s. He was for some years with the Northern 
Pacific Railroad in Montana and was later this company's 
bridge engineer with headquarters in Minneapolis. In 1886 
he entered the service of the city and in 1892 he became 
City Engineer. He built the Northern Pacific bridge over 
the Mississippi river near the University of Minnesota, the 
Third Avenue bridge and the city filtration plant. He 



was an inventor and patentee of a number of improvements 
in reduction plants. 

Mr. J. Heyerdahl-Hansen is a noted engineer of the 
Norwegian group on the Pacific Coast and is president of 
a large Diesel engine company. Mr. Knut Dahl is chief engi- 
neer of the well known Union Iron Works of San Fran- 
cisco. He is also the inventor of the famous oil burner 
used by the United States Navy for our gun boats. Mr. 
J. P. Paulson is chief engineer of the C. H. Moore Iron 
Works of San Francisco. 

This list could be extended, but time and space forbid 
it. The foregoing is sufficient to show that the Norwegian 
group has made substantial contributions to the upbuilding 
of our country. These men are thoroughly American in 
spirit and take a pride in their work for America. The 
psychology of the attitude of mind of the Norwegian immi- 
grant toward the life and ideals of his adopted country is 
that the transplantation process is perhaps effected with a 
minimum of pain as compared with some other racial groups. 
The spirit and ideals of America are largely those with which 
he is familiar in Norway. America gives to the ideals within 
him a quickening impulse. 

In concluding this sketch of Norwegian immigrant in- 
dustrial contributions it is fitting that mention be made of 
an important industry the Norwegian group has given our 
great northern territory of Alaska. Reindeer were first in- 
troduced in Alaska many years ago from Northern Nor- 
.way, where nomad Lapps are the principal raisers of these 
useful animals. Lapps sustain a relation to the govern- 
ment and people of Norway somewhat | akin to that of the 
Indians with respect to the Government and people of America. 

Ehiring the last twenty years reindeer raising in Alaska 
has assumed large proportions and much of this industry is in 
tlie hands of Americans of Norwegian birth and descent. 
One of the foremost men in this work is Federal Judge 
G. J. Lomen, of Nome, who controls a herd of 30,000 
animals. Judge Lomen is a native of Iowa of Norwegian 
parents. He practiced law a number of years in Minneapolis 



before going to Alaska twenty-one years ago. Alaskan rein- 
deer raisers are now establishing markets for reindeer meat 
all over the United States thus adding a delicacy to the 
country's food supply by means of an industry of great 
economic possibilities. 

The assertions made in this sketch are based largely upon 
experience and contact with men in all walks of industrial 
activity. They are conservative. More could be said for 
the industry, thrift, progressiveness, integrity, and depend- 
ability of the Norwegian immigrant. Sufficient has been 
told, however, to show that this group has made substan- 
tial and lasting contributions to our country's upbuilding. 
The character, life and work of Americans of Norwegian 
birth and descent deserve well of our great Republic, to 
which they are all whole-heartedly devoted. 




By Thomas H. Kolderup 

Vice Consul of Norway, 

Seattle, Wash. 

HEREVER Norwegians have taken up their home, 
whatever they have done, their sterHng honesty, 
their sturdy character and their clear intelHgence 
have always made their mark in the development of 
the country of their choice. It is, therefore, only natural that 
their influence and contribution become so much greater 
in spheres, where their forefathers for generations have found 
their life-work, where their old country has been one of the 
foremost during all time. 

The writer is not in possession of the necessary facts 
to judge competently of the contribution made by the Nor- 
wegians to the fisheries of the Atlantic Coast, but, judg- 
ing from the information he has been able to gather, 
they have been prominent in the fishing on that coast 
from the very beginning of the immigration of the Nor- 
wegians to America. During the last few decades they have 
also made great strides in the development of the fish canning 
industry of the Atlantic Coast. 

But the Norwegians have never in the fisheries on the 
Atlantic Coast been represented in such great numbers that 
the whole fishing industry has been, so to speak, impregnated 
by them and led by them. This, however, is eminently the 
case on the Pacific Coast and in Alaska. It may be said with- 
out fear of contradiction, that the Norwegians have pioneered 
practically all kinds of fishing on the Pacific Coast, that 
they have taken the initiative and carried their plans to 
success as far as their limited capital has allowed. But 
in the early days of the fisheries the capital held and owned 
by Norwegians was insignificant and when more money was 



required to accomplish the results they had planned, it often 
became necessary to interest others. Too often did it then 
occur, when other capital was secured, that the originators 
of the plans and the successful workers in the enterprise 
were ousted, the new capital claiming the credit for the 
accomplished success. Nevertheless — the initiative was Nor- 
wegian — the first and hardest work, overcoming all difficulties 
and obstacles of conditions and nature, was done by Nor- 
wegians. Success could not have been accomplished without 
this display of initiative, intelligence and energy. 

A few words should be said about the contribution of 
the Norwegians to the development of the most important 
branches of fishing on the Pacific Coast, namely: Salmon, 
Halibut, Herring, Cod and Whaling. 

I have mentioned salmon first, as this branch of fishing 
is so decidedly the most important on the Pacific Coast. The 
value of the salmon catch does now and has for many years 
constituted more than 80 percent of the total value of all 
fish products. Up to about 1878 practically all salmon fish- 
ing and canning was done on the Columbia River, some on 
other rivers in Oregon and California and but very little 
on Puget Sound and in Alaska. In 1878 the output from 
Columbia River was 460,000 cases out of a total for the 
entire district of 629,191 cases. And the greatest part of these 
460,000 cases of American salmon was caught by Norwegian 
fishermen. Capital for canneries they had none, nor did they 
perhaps know enough about the country and its customs 
to' conduct successfully such a business, but they had the un- 
tiring energy of the old Norwegian vikings, they had the 
courage of their forefathers to wrest from the sea its silver 
treasures. And they made a name for themselves, "Nor- 
wegian" became a synonym for sterling honesty and un- 
questioned courage. 

On Puget Sound we hear of one John Brygger, a 
Norwegian, who in 1876 founded one of the first salmon 
fisheries at Salmon Bay near Seattle and the salmon fishing 
and canning industry grew from that time on apace in 
Washington and particularly in Alaska. Out of a total 



pack of 629,191 cases packed on the Pacific Coast in 1878 
Alaska's share was only 8,159 cases, while in 1898 Alaska 
packed about i million out of 2,484,722 and in 1918 6,177,569 
out of a total of 9,692,300 cases. 

The predominant figure amongst the early Norwegians in 
the salmon business in Alaska is Peter Thams Buschmann, who 
in 1891 with wife and 9 children came from Trondhjem to 
Tacoma. His influence has been more widely felt and his 
achievements are probably greater than any other of the 
early Norwegians in Alaska. For a few years he made his 
home on Puget Sound, experimenting with different branches 
of fishing and fishing business and during that time he 
located and put in the first salmon trap on Lummi Island, 
Puget Sound, in 1892. This location was some years ago 
sold for the sum of $90,000.00, the largest amount ever paid 
for a salmon trap site. 

But Buschmann saw in Alaska the greatest future for 
the American fisheries and in 1894 he disposed of his hold- 
ings in Washington and took a homestead in the southern 
part of Alaska. The future proved his judgment to be 
correct. The fishing products of Alaska now exceed in value 
those of the combined fisheries of British Columbia, Wash- 
ington, Oregon and California. Out of an approximate total 
value of all the American fisheries in the entire district of 
72 milHon dollars in 1920 Alaska produced $43,443,340.00. 

Buschmann started his first cannery in 1894 and later on 
3 more canneries were built by him. On this homestead and 
the adjoining land a town grew up, named "Petersburg" in 
honor of Peter Buschmann its Norwegian immigrant founder. 
This town of probably 1,500 inhabitants is one of the main 
centers of the fishing business in Alaska and it is claimed, 
that at least 90 percent of its inhabitants are of Norwegian 
birth and descent. 

In 1901 Buschmann put in the first salmon trap in Icy 
Strait, Alaska, and the fishing, which was previously done 
exclusively by purse seines has gradually changed, so that 
now probably 50 percent of the salmon are caught by trap 
and 50 percent by purse seines. Buschmann's work gave 



a great impetus to the cannery business in Alaska and after 
his death most of his sons have followed in his footsteps. 
His oldest son, Christian Henry Buschmann, was until his 
death General Manager of one of the largest fish industries 
in the United States and his second son, August Busch- 
mann, is now the owner of the most modern and one of 
the largest canneries in Alaska. 

The process of salting salmon, packing the fish in large 
tierces — "mildcure" is the technical term used — was started on 
the Pacific Coast in 1893 by representatives of Einar Beyer 
of Bergen, Norway, who is now the president and general 
manager of one of the very large fishing industries on the 
coast. This way of treating salmon was started on a small 
scale on Columbia River for export to Europe, but the business 
has developed greatly and the largest quantity of mild- 
cured salmon is now produced in Alaska. In addition to the 
quantities exported the article has also found a large market 
in the United States and the yetrly value of mildcure salmon 
exceeds now 2 million dollars. 

Halibut fishing is pre-eminently a Norwegian undertaking 
and was started by Norwegians in the latter part of the 19th 
century. Just a sailboat and a few men fishing from dories 
on the bank oflf Cape Flattery, Washington. It was at that 
time an exceedingly dangerous and hazardous task and took 
men of the highest courage and intelligence. For a number of 
years only Norwegians partook in the halibut fishing, but 
during later years fishermen from Nova Scotia and New 
Foundland have also found their way out here. However, 
even today about 80 percent of the halibut fishermen are 
immigrant Norwegians. 

The fleet of fishing vessels has now reached the number 
of about 300 and practically all of them are owned and 
operated by Norwegians. The type of vessels differs, quite a 
number are now of the most modern construction with destil- 
late or oil engines. The crews range from 3 to 15 men 
and about a total of 1,800 men are engaged in this branch of 
fishing. Sentimental regard for the mother-country is indi- 
cated by many of the names given the vessels, such as "Tor- 



denskjold", "Ibsen", "Eidsvold", "Alten", "Helgeland", and 
"Vestfjord" and the three last names seem also to indicate 
the local origin of the owners. 

The sailing boat of olden days made a round-trip of about 
300 miles to the banks off Cape Flattery to catch the halibut, 
the modern schooner of today makes in 3-4 weeks a round- 
trip of about 3,000 miles to the banks off Kodiak Island, 
Alaska, and returns with a catch that may give owners and 
crew a net sum of up to $4,000.00. The trips are often hard 
and stormy and the fishing mostly done 20 to 60 miles off 
shore, but the vessels are staunch and can riffle out any storm 
that a present day steamship can weather, ana should damage 
occur, then the ship will be taken care of and repaired at 
the Vessel Owners' own Marine Railway and Repair Yard". 
But accidents are few and comparatively speaking very few 
men are lost at sea. 

In order to judge of the importance of the halibut 
fisheries on the Pacific Coast it should be mentioned that 
the value of the catch in 1920 amounted to more than 7 
million dollars and that more than 49 million pounds of halibut 
were brought into the ports of the Pacific in 1920. 

Herring is exclusively an Alaska product and was in 
the early days caught practically only for bait for the other 
fisheries, for fertilizer and for oil, until Peter Thams Busch- 
mann, referred to under the salmon fisheries, started to do 
salting in commercial quantities in 1898 or 1899. Only a 
few thousand barrels were then packed and a market for 
these was found amongst the Scandinavians of the Middle 
West. Others, mostly Norwegians, followed Buschmann's 
example and the demand for the article grew gradually lar- 
ger. The development of this branch of fishing has been 
wonderful, more than 100,000 barrels being packed in the 
year of 1918. The quality of the Alaska herring is excel- 
lent and by experts claimed to be superior to any European 
herring. Amongst business men and consumers the opinion 
is prevalent that the Alaska herring will unquestionably, 
within a short time, exclude any other herring from the 
American market. 



Cod fishing is the oldest fishing industry on the Pacific 
Coast, starting as early as 1863 or 1864. The cod has all 
been caught in Alaska around the Shumagin Island, the 
Aleutian Islands and in the Bering Sea. It was at its in- 
ception a strictly American undertaking, sailing ships being 
outfitted in San Francisco for their season's trip north. 
A great many of the crew were, however, already in the 
earliest days Norwegian fishermen. The industry has been 
gradually expanding and vessels are now also being sent 
north from Anacortes and Seattle, Washington. The boats 
are chiefly manned by Norwegian crews and Norwegian 

Although cod-fishing is the oldest fishing industry on 
the Pacific Coast it is- of less importance than any other 
in that district and the total value of the products from 
1867 up to the present day amounts to only about 10 mil- 
lion dollars. 

The whaling iiidustry on the Pacific Coast is of very 
old date, sailing ships being sent into the Arctic mostly 
from San Francisco to catch the bow-heads, principally for 
their value in whale-bone. Later on other products of the 
whale were also partly utilized, but this manner of catching 
became gradually obsolete and the industry dwindled in the 
early part of the twentieth century down to practically 

It remained for the Norwegians to introduce modern ships 
and modern methods. Through Norwegian initiative modern 
whaling was started in British Columbia in 1905 or 1906 
and in the United States a shore whaling station was erected 
in 1913 at Port Armstrong, Alaska, with partly Norwegian 
capital and under entirely Norwegian management. To this 
establishment belonged three of the most modern ships, which, 
although built in the United States, were exact reproduc- 
tions of the present day Norwegian whaler and did excel- 
lent work. Since that time three other companies, also with 
part Norwegian capital, have been established and success- 
fully operated. 



While it is on the northern shore of the Pacific Ocean, 
Oregon, Washington and Alaska, that the Norwegians have 
done their greatest work and made their largest contribution 
to the American fisheries, their influence has also been dis- 
tinctly felt in California. As individuals they have been fore- 
most in the catching of the fish and during later years they 
have introduced modern methods into the canning industry 
of sardines and tuna-fish. Several large concerns, composed 
of Norwegians, are now leading factors in this industry. 
A whaling company has also a few years ago been started 
by California Norwegians and is already a proven success. 

In this short article there is no opportunity of going 
more deeply into statistics, nor more exhaustively into the 
history of the fishing industry. What the writer has tried 
to demonstrate and hopes to have proved is only this out- 
standing fact: That the Norwegians have done more than 
any other immigrant group towards the development of the 
present day American fisheries and that these fisheries could not 
have reached the magnitude of today without this contribu- 
tion to America's making. 




By Audun H. Teln^s 

T required time and much dickering before the 
Indians consented to sell Manhattan Island to the 
Dutch settlers. One of the biggest stumbling blocks 
in the way of that famous bargain was the lack ot 
a common language. But as history records it, the deal went 
through and the island passed out of the hands of the Indians 
who appeared to have been satisfied with the compensation 
amounting in value to twenty-four dollars. This historical 
real estate deal was closed with the help of a Norwegian 
sailor by the name of Sand, who acted as interpreter be- 
tween the Indians and the Dutch. 

This incident illustrates the versatility and world-wide 
experience of the Norwegian sailor. No shore, no country, 
no harbor was strange land to him. During hundreds of 
years his blue eyes had penetrated the unknown and always 
there was a longing to roam over the big oceans. Thousands 
of rugged, able-bodied, clean-cut Norwegian sailors have fared 
westward in a steady stream toward America. 

Accurate figures showing how many Norwegian born 
sailors have helped to man American ships are not available, 
but acceptable proof of their conspicuous participation in 
American shipping is to be found in the fact that few Amer- 
ican writers of native maritime affairs — fiction included — 
fail to include one or more Norwegian names in describing 
the crew of ships with which the story deals. And there 
is surely no American harbor where "Ole Olesen" is a myth 
to shipping people and others familiar with water front 

Before the age of steamships — when the picturesque and 
romantic sailing vessels were the ambassadors of trade, hardly 
a Yankee Clipper cut the blue oceans of the world without 



Norwegian sailors on board. It happened quite often more- 
over that all hands in the forecastle were born in the Land 
of the Midnight Sun, and the rule was that Norse sailors 
were welcome on all Almerican sailing ships. It happened, 
of course, that the difference of language made it difficult 
for all concerned during the first few weeks, but this draw- 
back was easily outweighed by the conspicuous efficiency of 
the Norwegians in all a seaman's work. 

There are still to be found many a Yankee skipper 
who will vow that no better sailors can be found than Nor- 
wegian tars. Thousands of them have become American citi- 
zens and prefer to sail under The Stars and Stripes. 

The seaman in the golden era of America's sailing ves- 
sels was above everything required to know his business. 
No better kept ships were wafted by the winds over the 
seven seas than the Yankee Clippers and few ships made 
quicker passages. To man these ships were needed first 
of all men who did not shrink on account of a wet coat 
and who had no fear of the many hazards and dangers of 
life at sea. In such surroundings the Norwegian born sailor 
fitted perfectly. From his boyhood days he was used to 
hardship and the ways of the sea. Many of these sailors 
came to America and their skill as seafaring men was soon 
discovered and valued on ships flying the Stars and Stripes. 

Reliable accounts of the advancement of American sailors 
of Norwegian lineage are lacking. A few available records 
show, however, that quite a number found in due time a 
place on the quarterdeck. This is especially the case on the 
Great Lakes, where Norwegian sailors went in large num- 
bers in the early days. It is also recorded that Norwegian 
born sailors by hard work and thrift became owners of their 
own schooners. There was at one time a large fleet of 
these ships on the Great Lakes. Many of these ships were 
built by Norwegian immigrant shipbuilders who had learned 
the shipbuilding trade in their native country. 

In other inland waters and lakes Norwegian immigrants 
have been conspicuous for (enterprise. Thus Captain P. C. 
Sorensen, who came to Coeur D'Alenc, Idaho, in 1880 from 



Kragero, Norway, built the first steamboat on that big lake. 
This was the government owned "Amelia Wheaton," in the 
service of Fort Sherman. Captain Sorensen served as its 
skipper for a number of years. He navigated the lake in 
every direction and named all the principal bays and points 
besides making the first official map of Lake Coeur D'Alene. 
He also was in charge of dredging the mouth of the Cceur 
D'Alene river, the first work of this kind in northern Idaho. 
Mr. P. W. Johnson later became Captain Sorensen's partner 
and the two men operated for a number of years an ex- 
tensive boat building business. 

In more recent times it is evident that American sea- 
men of Norwegian birth and descent have decided to ad- 
vance to the highest positions. The coming of the steam- 
ship upon the high seas seems to have fired them with an 
ambition to advance to the most responsible positions in 
American maritime affairs. 

How strong this ambition is may to a certain extent be 
gauged by the record made in the World War. During the 
most critical days when the transportation of troops and 
munitions of war was a question of life or death for our 
gallant fighting men many American ships were navigated 
through a floating hell of mines and submarines by Amer- 
ican skippers of Norwegian birth or extraction. Hardly a 
single American transport sailed without a part of the crew 
at least being immigrant sailors of the Norwegian group. 

As an illustration of the numerical strength of immi- 
grant sailors of Norwegian lineage in American shipping to- 
day, it is perhaps sufficient to point out that between 10,000 
and 15,000 of these seamen are employed annually on board 
American merchant vessels. These figures do not include 
the lai^e number of immigrants of the Norwegian group who 
are employed in harbor transport work in our ports and in 
the American coastwise trade. In this particular brancn of 
shipping Norwegian born American sailors have made a sub- 
stantial contribution to the upbuilding of American shipping. 

During many generations Americans of the Norwegian 
group have taken a leading p^rt in the American revenue 



cutter and lighthouse tender service. [Judging from the 
honorable discharges many of these sailors are the proud 
possessors of, there is every reason to believe that they 
have done their full duty to our government. 

And what is true of the men in the government service 
is equally true of the sailors of this group in the United 
States Navy. Here the descendants of the Norwegian vikingi 
were some years back found to outnumber all other immigrant 
groups among the enlisted men. The rolls of our navy disclose 
a large number of names of officers and enlisted men of Nor- 
wegian racial origin. Large numbers of the young Amer- 
icans who enlist in the navy today come from the Middle 
West where Norwegian immigrant settlers form a substantial 
part of the community. 

In one particular service of the navy American sailors 
of the Norwegian group have for years served in conspicu- 
ously large numbers. This is in the navy transport service. 
During the Spanish-American war many transports were 
manned almost exclusively by sailors of this group. 

There is one branch of American sea life in which sailori 
of Norwegian lineage have made a contribution equalled by 
no other immigrant group. This is in the field of American 
yachting. Here these sailors have joined with American boat 
designing ability and yacht building their efficiency as sailor* 
in keeping the American flag in a place of honor. For n 
long time a great part of American yachting has been in 
the hands of Norwegian immigrant sailors. Hardly a race 
o'i consequence has been sailed in which these men did not 
make up the crews of the contending boats. In the inter- 
national race in New York in July, 1920, the victorious Amer- 
ican cup defender was manned by one Dane, eleven Swedes and 
twenty-two Norwegians. Among the latter we;-e the Reso- 
lute's sailing master and all the other navigating officers. 

^lany American sailors of the Norwegian group have 
taken a prominent part in the organization and development 
of the different seamen's associations. In this field it is only 
necessary to point out that the leader of the American or- 
ganized seafaring men is an American of Norwegian birth. 



Mr. Andrew Furuseth, President of the International Sea- 
men's Union of America. 

Before concluding this brief sketch of the part Norwegian 
immigrant sailors have played in the upbuilding of Amer- 
ican shipping, it is proper to mention that for many years 
our merchant marine has profited by the experience of a 

iarge number of capable Norwegian shipping men, who have 
jelped to make it possible for our sailing vessels and steam- 
ers to secure cargoes in competition with the ships of other 
maritime nations. During the height of shipping activities 
during the World War many trained shipping men of this 
group acquitted thehiselves with credit in this branch of 
American shipping. 

Space forbids a detailed account of the life and work 
of Norwegian born sailors in helping to build up our great 
merchant marine. This sketch would not be complete, how- 
ever, if we failed to call attention to the team work carried 
on between Norway and the United States during the World 
War with regard to shipbuilding operations. Norwegian 
immigrant shipbuilding enterprise was of special importance 
to America in the first years of the war. The enterprise 
and efficiency of the Norwegian group helped to save many 
American lives and assisted in bringing on a speedy ter- 
mination of the war. 

This big seafaring contingent of the Norwegian immi- 
grant group has done its full share in the development of 
American shipping. 


By Gisle Bothne 

Professor of Scandinavian Languages and Literature in the 
University of Minnesota 

I HE Lutheran church is by far the strongest of the 
church organizations among the Norwegians of Amer- 
ica, and what the Norwegian Lutherans have done 
for education is the most important contribution the 
Norwegians have made to America's Making. 

Americans of Norwegian birth or extraction affiliating 
with other denominations have not neglected education, but 
have established no schools of their own. As a rule, the 
Methodists, Baptists and others have their pastors trained and 
their young people educated in schools connected with larger 
American institutions of learning as f. i. at the Northwestern 
University at Evanson, 111. Others, as the Seventh Day Ad- 
ventists, have combined with Danes in establishing schools 
of their own. 

To tell the story of the Norwegian Lutherans in the 
United States, of the various Lutheran church bodies, their 
struggles and controversies, is impossible within the space 
allowed, although a knowledge of this is essential to a com- 
plete understanding of the origin and history of their educa- 
tional institutions. 

At present there are two Norwegian Lutheran bodies 
that have to be mentioned in a discussion of what the Luther- 
ans of Norwegian origin have done in the educational line in 

The smaller body is the Free Church which, after separa- 
tion from the United N. L. Church in 1893, retained and 
has ever since maintained the old established institution in 
Minneapolis, Augsburg Seminary, a combination of a theo- 
logical seminary, college and preparatory department. The 



Free Church also has established a school for girls and young 
women in Fargo, N. D. 

By far the larger church body is the Norwegian Lutheran 
Church of America, the strongest and most powerful or- 
ganization of Norwegians in America. This church body was 
formed in 191 7 by the merging of the United Norwegian 
Lutheran Church with the Norwegian Synod and the Hauge 

Twenty institutions are at the present time under the 
supervision of the Church Board of Education. The Board 
defines its duties in the following words: "The department 
of education is that sphere of the activity of the Church in 
which the Church endeavors to awaken and nourish the con- 
sciousness of its own Christian educational mission and to 
provide ways and means by which its educational duties can 
be most effectively discharged. The agency which has been 
instituted by the Church and through which, as a guiding and 
coordinating center, the Church aims to carry its educational 
purpose into effect is the Board of Education." 

Of the twenty institutions eight are owned and gov- 
erned by the Church: 

1. Lutheran Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. 

2. Norwegian Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. 

3. St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn. 

4. Red Wing Seminary, Red Wing, Minn. 

5. Augustana College and Normal School, Sioux Falls, 
S. D. 

6. Madison Normal School, Madison, Minn. 

7. Spokane College, Spokane, Wash. 

8. Canton Normal School, Canton, S. D. 

Twelve institutions not directly owned by the Church 
receive aid: 

9. Canada College, Canada. 

10. Central Wisconsin College, Scandinavia, Wis. 

11. Qifton College, Clifton, Texas. 

12. Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. 

13. Gale College, Galesville, Wis. 

14. Jewell Lutheran College, Jewell, Iowa. 



15. Luther Academy, Albert Lea, Minn. 

16. Outlook College, Canada. 

17. Pacific Lutheran College, Parkland, Wash. 

18. Park Region Luther College, Fergus Falls, Minn. 

19. Pleasant View Luther College, Ottawa, 111. 

20. Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa. 

The Lutheran Ladies' Seminary, Red Wing, Minn., a 
school for girls, stood in the same relation to the Church as 
this class of subsidized schools until the buildings were de- 
stroyed by fire two years ago. It will probably be reestab- 

Out of the total budget for 1921-22 of $354,086.61 
Concordia College at Moorhead, Minn., which maintains a 
complete college, will receive $24,800; the other eleven subsi- 
dized schools which are not colleges, though some have the 
name, receive only $11,000. The balance goes to the institu- 
tions owned and governed by the Church. 

Of the twenty schools above mentioned, Luther Seminary, 
with 10 professors, prepares students for the ministry. Four 
are colleges, only one, St. Olaf, exclusively so; three, Luther, 
Concordia, Augustana, have also in connection with the college 
department, preparatory schools, in the Board's official report 
listed as academies. Spokane College has, in addition to 
the academy, only College Freshman and Sophomore classes. 
The others, listed as academies, offer high school or normal 
courses in both. Of the academies the Board in its last 
report says: "They are important. Through them our 
Church can give to a larger number than our colleges can 
reach, and at a younger age, a culture touched by the finger 
of Christ. These (subsidized) schools have received only 
scant recognition by the Church. It is of the utmost impor- 
tance that the academies should receive far more liberal help 
from the Church." 

In the twenty institutions 284 men and women, of whom 
only a very few served part time, were employed as in- 
structors in the year 1920-1921, and the total number of the 
students was 4,045. 



The following tables show the status of attendance and of 
the number and class of graduates of the various institutions 
for the year 1919-20: 











Total M 

jsic School 

Luther Seminary 


Luther College 




St. Olaf College 





Red Wing Seminary— 






Augustana Col. & Nor- 

mal School 







Madison Nor. School — 





Camrose College 





Concordia College 








Clifton College 





Gale College 






Jewell Luth. Col 






Luther Academy 





LutK Ladies Seminary 




Outlook College _ _ 






Park Region L. Col 






PI. View L. Col 






Scandinavia Academy 




Spokane College . , 







^ ! 

Waldorf College 
















Graduates 1919-20 






























Luther Seminary 
Luther College. . 
St. Olaf College. 
Red Wing Sem. 
Aug. Col. & Nor. 


Madison Normal 


Camrose College 
Concordia Col.. . 
Clifton College. . 
Gale College... 
Jewell L. Col. . . 
Luther Academy 
Luth. L a d 1 e s' 

Seminary .... 
Outlook College 
Pk. Region Luth. 


PI. View Luth. 


Scandinavia Aca. 
Spokane College 
Waldorf College 


65 46 

10 7 

5 3 2 

4 9 14 














4 1 7 11 

1 2 





































8 18 26 







































93 53 36 84 104 6 59 1 5 50 16 5 101 12 15 228 329 «48 

Luth. Sem. — One graduate with degree B. D. 
Clifton College — Two graduates from Home Economics course. 
PI. View Luth. College — One graduate from Home Econmlcs course. 
Spokane College — Four graduates from Intermediate course. 
Waldorf College — Four graduates in agriculture. 

^As to salaries paid the various classes of instructors, the 
Board of Education recommended to the General Church Con- 
vention in 1920 the following increases, which I believe were 
adopted : 

Class I 
Class II 
Class III 


Present Schedule 

2,000 and House 


Proposed Schedule 


and House 


Academies and Normal Schools 

Class I, permanent $1,300-1,500 1,040-2,000 

Class II, elected annually 700-1,500 900-1,700 

Presidents 1,700-2,000 2,000-2,500 

As to the resources of the schools the following state- 
ment is from the last report of the Board of Trustees of the 
Church. In this list are not included the large gifts from 
Harald Thorson to St. Olaf College nor the resources of the 
institutions that are only subsidized by the Churdi. 


Luther Seminary: 
Real estate, building and equipment. Ham- 
line 119,000.00 

Real estate, building and equipment, St. 

Anthony Park 


Students' Support Fund- 

Red Wing Seminary: 

Real estate, buildings and equipment 


Interest in St. Peter's Church, Red Wing 
Endowment Hauge Memorial Fund (Held 

by Red Wing Seminary Alumni & Norw. 

Lutheran Church of America) 

Ct. Olaf College: 

Real estate, buildings and equipment 


Building Fund 













St. Olaf Corporation 

Luther College: 

Held by Luther College Corporation) 

Real estate, buildings and equipment 447.549.57 

Endowments (Held by Corporation) 30.320.(X) 

Endowments (Memorial Fund) 250.000.00 

Endowments 8.791.70 736,661.27 

Lutheran Normal School, Madison, Minn.: 

Real Estate buildings and equipment 137.946.27 

Endowments 5.087.51 143.033.78 

Augustana College and Normal School, 
Sioux Falls, S. I>akota: 

Real estate, buildings and equipment 222.552.07 

Endowments 224.705.86 447.257.93 

Canton Lutheran Nor. Canton, S. Dakota: 
Real estate, buildings and equipment 96,011.93 



For detailed information about the institutions, their his- 
tory, their aims and their courses, one must consult the cata- 
logues, usually published every year by each one of them. 

In a general way it must be said that they have served 
the Norwegian section of the American people very well 
and better than other institutions of the same grade could 
have done. Much highly creditable work has been done by 
a number of able and enthusiastic instructors, and the results 
obtained by these institutions have more than paid for all 
the money that has been contributed by members of the 
Church. It has been an excellent and very profitable invest- 
ment. As a matter of course, the general aim of all these 
institutions is to give young men and women an education 
on the basis of the Christian faith as taught in the Evangelical 
Lutheran Church. "The work is based," as one of the cata- 
logues puts it, "on the conviction that there is no true culture 
or education without personal Christianity, and that all mental 
training, in order to have real value, must be blended with 
Christian faith and love." 

Owing to the fact that the Norwegian Lutheran Church 
of America is a merger of three church bodies that formerly 
were rivals, the existing schools are not all properly located 
for their future growth and success. And it may also be 
said that the Church is hardly able to support and maintain 
four colleges in the way it should be done in our day. But 
as Cleveland said: "It is a condition, not a theory, that con- 
fronts us." Some of the more difficult of this class of edu- 
cational problems in the Church only time will solve, while 
in some cases there may be consolidation. 

Of the most widely known institutions of the Church, 
Luther College at Decorah, Iowa, has an interesting history 
and has exerted great influence. It was established in i86i. 
in the first year of the Civil War, and the collection of 
$75,000 to put up the first building, in those days among 
pioneer farmers, still stands as an unequalled achievement of 
organized Norwegians in America. It was also very fortu- 
nate that the leaders of the movement to establish this first 


Norwegian higher institution vigorously maintained, and at 
Luther College carried through the demand that the future 
pastors of the church should have a thorough training and 
education without shams and frills, to use the words of the first 
President, Laur. Larsen. This stand has given strength and 
direction to the whole educational movement among the Nor- 
wegian Lutherans of America. It is especially true of all the 
earlier history of this institution that the excellent training 
given by self-sacrificing and conscientious instructors, in an 
atmosphere created by honest and hard work, put a stamp, 
easily recognized, on all Luther College men, graduates and 
former students, wherever they were scattered throughout the 
length and breadth of the land, and in whatever position they 
were. In the Luther College Catalogue we read: "The chief 
aim of the College is to provide a liberal and thorough edu- 
cation for young men who intend later to enter the ministry: 
but it welcomes any youth who desires to avail himself of 
its advantages." The following summary shows the number of 
Luther College graduates and their present occupations, also of 
other former students who have become clergymen. 



Clergymen and Students of Theology 335 43.00% 

Teachers 133 17.07% 

Business Men 83 10.66% 

Physicians and Medical Students 48 6.16% 

Bankers and Bank Clerks 42 S.39% 

Farmers 38 4.88% 

Attorneys and Law Students 30 3-85% 

Public Service 26 334% 

Editors and Authors 12 1.54% 

Students 10 1.28% 

Foreign Missionaries 6 0.77% 

In Various Occupations 16 2.05% 

Total Number of Graduates 779 99-99% 

Deceased 96 12.31% 

Students who have become clergymen without finishing the 
College Course 193 



The obstacle to any great future growth of Luther College 
is the location. Decorah is no longer a center of the Norwegian 
population in America. 

While Luther College is a school for boys only, St. Olaf 
at Northfield, Minn., is a co-educational institution. It has 
had a remarkable growth, and although in these last few 
years has accepted only students of college grade, it has by 
far the largest number of all the institutions of the Church, 
and last year it had to refuse admission to many who wanted 
to enter because of lack of buildings and other facilities. The 
following Record of Growth of St. Olaf College was recently 
published : 

St. Olaf College Record of Growth 


1899-00 153 

1900-01 267 

1901-02 307 

1902-03 275 

1903-04 263 

1904-05 300 

1905-06 306 

1906-07 302 

1907-08 350 

1908-09 317 

1909-10 294 

1910-11 317 

1911-12 313 

1912-13 317 

1913-14 292 

1914-15 328 

1915-16 339 

1916-17 350 

1917-18 267 

1918-19 349 

1919-20 385 






































































Distribution of Students by states 

Minnesota 400 

Iowa 125 

Wisconsin 93 

South Dakota 72 

North Dakota 52 

Illinois 21 

Canada 5 

Oregon 4 

Montana 4 

Washington 4 

Michigan 3 

Texas 3 

Nebraska 2 

California i 

Maine i 

Total students 790 

St. Olaf College was founded in 1874. For a number of 
years the name of the institution was St. Olaf School. It 
was conducted as an academy until in 1886, when the name 
was changed to St. Olaf College and collegiate work was be- 
gun. According to the catalogue also of this college: "the 
chief and special object of the college is to prepare young men 
for the study of theology, in order that they may become 
ministers and missionaries in the Church." In addition to the 
many usual college subjects offered young men and women, 
and in which excellent instruction is given, this college is 
especially strong in music. The St. Olaf choir has become 
famous and is one of the great assets of the institution, which 
under the present administration seems to have a great future 
before it. 

The emigration from Norway to America has been very 
great, greater proportionately than that from any other inde- 
pendent nation in Europe. To transplant this nation to Amer- 
ican soil without losing the best traits of their character, to 
make it a fully harmonious part of our American people so 
as to enrich and strengthen it, has, as it should be, been the 
general aim and the only real justification of the American 
institutions established by the Norwegian contingent of our 
people. In some instances educators may have lost sight of 
what this view of the Norwegian-American institutions in- 
volves, but it is their only real strength, and real educational 
leaders will maintain it. There are, of course, also in the 



Norwegian Lutheran Church of America some so-called leaders 
who like many other leaders in reality are followers of what 
they at the moment conceive to be the winning side, and easily 
join in the cry for false Americanism, just now so prevalent 
in many places. 

The higher institutions of learning established by Ameri- 
cans of Norwegian birth or ancestry owe it to the people 
whose money has built these schools and who have done their 
share in building America by conquering the wilderness, by 
clearing and cultivating the land, to give in their curricula a 
prominent place to the intelligent and intensive study of Nor- 
wegian literature and history. They owe to themselves as 
American institutions to hit back and hit hard, at the ignor- 
ance and arrogance which dare to call everything "foreign" 
that does not conform with the narrowest conception of Amer- 
icanism. They owe it, in true understanding of the idea 
underlying the Norwegian-American institutions of learning, to 
our glorious America which they want to make more glorious 
and rich in good things by doing their share, by contributing 
what the Norwegian element has that is worth while to the 
sum total of America's spiritual, intellectual and moral values. 

This has been the great glory and the real justification of 
these educational institutions. When this view of the general 
aim of these institutions no longer prevails, and they lose their 
individuality, they will also lose their special appeal and run the 
risk of becoming superfluous in the large company of American, 
Christian and Lutheran institutions. 



Bv The Rev. C. O, Pedersen, 

Superintendent, Norwegian Lutheran Deaconesses' Home and 
Hospital, Brooklyn, N. Y. 

GREAT problem presented by the thousands of 
new Americans who reach our shores is, "Will these 
people become a burden upon or an asset to the 
state?" In order to become an asset it is essential 
first of all that every individual or group of people be self- 
supporting. To be self-supporting as a group means also to 
provide for those among us who may be in need of aid, either 
financial or other assistance. 

That Americans of Norwegian birth and descent are self- 
supporting and that they are doing the very thing mentioned 
above is evidenced by the extensive social and humanitarian 
work conducted by them in all parts of the country. 

The immigrant is met at the door of our nation by repre- 
sentatives of the group. Once settled he is introduced to in- 
terests of every description. The Church, the sick benefit 
and fraternal oganizations, the cultural societies as well as 
the many purely social clubs vie with each other in interesting 
the newcomer in their respective activities. Once a member, 
and he invariably joins one or more of these organizations, 
he finds that each has a very definite problem to deal with 
and that he is expected to do his share in its solution. An 
important part of all organization programs is the effort 
made for the relief of the sick and helpless. The words of 
the Divine Master, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall 
obtain mercy," have in a peculiar way found favor with 
Americans of the Norwegian group. Not only do they care for 
their own but they share freely of their store with others. 

The Church alone directly and indirectly maintains more 
than twenty orphanages, nine hospices and seamen's homes, 



two rescue homes for wayward girls, eight home finding 
societies, operating in as many different states, surely an 
honorable record for a group as small as the Norwegian group 
is in proportion to the total population of our country. 

This is the chief reason why so few Americans of Nor- 
wegian extraction, when they are in need of assistance, be- 
come a burden upon the state, and why there are so few of 
them found in state institutions. The group is self-sup- 

Not only does the Church (and in the case of the Nor- 
wegian group 98 per cent . adheres to the Lutheran com- 
munion) perform a truly wonderful work but also the large 
fraternal organizations, the most prominent of which is the 
national fraternal order of the Sons of Norway. A few 
church congregations belong either to the Methodist Epis- 
copal Church or to the Baptist denomination. 

A practical illustration of the eleemosynary work done 
by the Norwegian group may be found in the following; 
The Borough of Brooklyn of New York City has a popula- 
tion of about 25,000 of Norwegian origin. They maintain a 
modern 200-bed hospital, two old people's homes, one or- 
phanage, a day nursery, a slum station for the unemployed, 
a summer camp for poor children, several sick benefit societies 
besides six or eight poor relief societies. There is a 
sailors' temperance home and several employment agencies 
conducted by group relief organizations. The total population 
of the Norwegian group in Greater New York and vicinity 
is approximately 50,000. 

In Chicago, where the Norwegian group numbers fully 
100,000, the Church maintains several important humanitarian 
institutions notably the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconesses' 
Home and Hospital, regarded by the medical profession as 
one of the best equipped hospitals in the city. The group also 
maintains several secular institutions such as the Norwegian 
American Hospital, two orphanages, two old peoples' homes 
and a number of other social and welfare activities. The Nor- 
wegian Old People's Home in Norwood Park, Chicago, is 
an institution of high standard and is generously supported 



by the group. The Bethesda Home for the Aged is also a 
high grade institution for the poor and helpless. 

Similar Church and secular institutions are found in Mil- 
waukee, Madison, Minneapolis, Seattle and other cities. There 
are schools for nurses and for the training of social work- 
ers who wish to dedicate their life to a service of mercy 
and good works for those in need of sympathy and assistance. 

With such a record of achievement and active work 
going on the Norwegian group feels confident that its position 
in American life is all to the good. There is no "foreign 
problem" here. Americans of the Norwegian group take care 
of their own. By adding in every way to the worth and 
welfare of the nation we take by right an honorable part 
in America's Making. 



By N, a. Grevstad 

Former United States Minister to Uruguay and Paraguay. 

I HE basic facts which go to determine and explain 
the part taken by citizens of Norse stock in the 
poHtical Hfe of the United States are these: 
^^^^ I. The percentage of land holders is greater 

among the Norwegians than in any other ethnic group in the 
country, and for this reason their average wealth per capita 
is higher than the average for the country at large. It follows 
that they have a greater national stake in the country than the 
average for all groups of citizens. 

2. Of all non-English speaking immigrants the Nor- 
wegians, in common with the other Scandinavians, the Ger- 
mans, and the Ehitch, show the highest percentage of American 

3. They hail from one of the two most democratic coun- 
tries of Europe and have come, as they are coming, to the 
United States thoroughly schooled in popular government. 

4. In several of the northwestern states this group of 
voters is strong enough to wield the balance of power between 
parties and policies. 

As a people of land and home owners and taxpayers 
the Norwegians want to have their say as to what use is to 
be made of the taxes they pay. The practical exercise of 
their privileges as American citizens appeals to them as some- 
thing with which they seem to be familiar at the very out- 
set. In Norway as in the United States the government 
rests upon the broad foundation of universal suffrage for 
men and women; the organic laws and institutions of the two 
countries are very much alike, nnd popular government works 
about the same way in one of these countries as in the other. 



Hence the Norwegian immigrant comes to feel at once that 
he has merely come to a greater Norway as far as his political 
duties and privileges are concerned. 

The source and center of the political influence of voters 
of Norse birth or blood are the farming districts and the 
villages and small cities with which they are dotted, in the 
middle western and western states. The typical Norwegian 
in this country is a farmer, not a city man or industrial 
worker. About four-fifths of the Norwegian element in our 
body politic are farmers. In other words, the Norwegian 
farmer represents the great bulk of the "Norwegian vote" — 
to use a common if not very commendable campaign term — , 
and he has put his stamp upon this vote ever since it came 
to be felt as a factor in the public life of the country. 

The swelling current of early Norwegian immigration was 
made up, almost exclusively, of tenant farmers, farm hands 
and small farmers, who all came to obtain what they could 
not get in their native land: farms of their own. Upon land- 
ing these land-hungry people made a bee line for the west, 
settling at first in Illinois and Wisconsin and, successively, 
in Iowa, Minnesota, Dakota and other western states or terri- 
tories where free or cheap lands were to be had. The first 
thing they did was to secure a quarter section, or more, of 
land after taking out their "first papers," and under the 
liberal, or lax, local election laws in force in this part of 
the country in those days, the new settlers were qualified to 
vote within a few months. In many of the localities where 
these people drove their stakes they were the first comers 
or made up the majority of the early pioneers. In such places 
it fell to their lot to take charge of public matters; to or- 
ganize and run some sort of local government in the pioneer 
communities their hard toil was building. The ballot was 
as much of a necessary tool in their life as the ax, the spade, 
the hoe, the plow and the harrow. 

So it came to pass that the American Government with 
which the Norwegian pioneer settlers first came into immediate 
and daily contact was one that largely was of their own making. 
Most of them knew but very little of the English language 



and were more or less unfamiliar with the methods and prac- 
tices of local politics in this country. Even so they would 
not go far astray by following Norwegian models. There is 
no material difference between the American and the Nor- 
wegian types of government of local rural communities. In 
Norway as here the public affairs, of a rural community are 
managed by a body of men elected by the people and which, 
within its jurisdiction, combines legislative with executive 
powers. But county government is organized on somewhat 
different lines in the two countries. In Norway the head and 
executive officer of the county government is appointed by 
the national government, while the law-making power of 
the county is vested in a county legislature made up of the 
chairmen (speakers) of the legislative bodies in the parishes, 
or townships, into which the county is divided. We see here 
illustrated a general difference between national and local gov- 
ernment in Norway, on the one hand, and state and local 
government in the United States, on the other. Norway has 
what we term the "short ballot"; only such public officials 
as are vested with legislative powers are elected by the people ; 
all others are appointed by some executive authority, except- 
ing commissioners of conciliation, communal judicial officers 
who are elected by the voters of the respective communities. 
There is no danger whatever of encroachment upon popular 
rights in such a system in any country where, as in Norway, 
the executive branch of the government is under the direct 
and complete control of the legislative branch. 

That the Norwegians, as a rule, have made wise use of 
the power of the ballot is attested by the general prosperity, 
the progressive spirit and the orderly character of the com- 
munities where they have controlled the majority vote or held 
the balance of power. They have provided generously for 
the public schools, for road construction and other 
public improvements; and those among them who have 
had public funds in their care have made enviable records for 
integrity and honesty in the discharge of their duties. Em- 
bezzlers and defaulters are extremely rare exceptions among 
Norwegian guardians of public moneys. 



What has been said about the Norwegian farmer as a 
voter applies in a measure also to the people living in the 
villages and small cities dotting the Norwegian farming dis- 
tricts. As nearly everywhere else in the country these small 
urban communities are closely allied to the surrounding rural 
neighborhoods in politics as well as by family ties and in 
business relations. Many of their residents are retired farm- 
ers from the vicinity, and their business enterprises are 
largely in the hands of sons of farmers. While the farmers 
are inclined to believe that the local merchants are getting 
the best of them in business, buying or selling, the reverse 
is generally true in matters political; for here the farmer 
has the upper hand, and the trades people of the villages 
and cities are slow to oppose him even if they do not fully 
agree with his views. These conditions prevail in the Nor- 
wegian as in other rural districts in the western part of 
the country. 

In the public life of our larger cities the Norwegians 
have cut a much more modest figure. Very few of the early 
comers remained behind in the cities of the East. As the 
years passed more and more Norwegian sailors would settle 
in coast cities frequently visited by Norwegian ships, and 
during the last 30 to 40 years there has been considerable 
emigration also from the cities of Norway, and the majority 
of this urban element have cast their lot in our seaboard 
cities and our industrial centers of the eastern part of the 
country or the middle west. But all of these immigrants, 
whether early or late comers, have settled in communities 
that were ready-made in a political sense; hence they had no 
such opportunities as had the Norwegian farmers of doing 
political pioneering work by organizing or helping to or- 
ganize local political units; and, moreover, in but very few, 
if any, of the larger cities have they been strong enough in 
numbers to make themselves felt as a distinct factor of 
importance in politics. Some years ago they were recognized 
as an element of importance in the public life of Chicago, 
which was due in part to the vigorous leadership of able 
and aggressive men, but since then they have been dwarfed 



by a growing influx of people of other races. In such middle- 
sized cities as Minneapolis, Ehiluth, Superior, Madison, La 
Crosse, Fargo, Grand Forks, Seattle, and Tacoma they have 
exercised a political influence somewhat commensurate with 
their strength in numbers. 

There is nothing startling and very little to attract any 
special attention in the discharge of what may be termed the 
humble, everyday duties of the voter. Yet these routine activ- 
ities form the foundation of our whole frame work of govern- 
ment as a living organism in practical operation. It is true 
in politics as in religion that he who is faithful in little things 
fits himself, and proves his fitness, for greater tasks. Unless 
the citizens provide good honest government in the local units 
we cannot have clean, competent and progressive government 
in state or nation. It is to be said for citizens of Norse 
birth or blood that in the management of local affairs they 
have used the ballot with intelligence and good judgment, 
doing their full share in providing for justice, peace, good 
order and healthy development in the communities where they 
have made their homes. 

With respect to national policies and issues of a more 
general character they have, on the whole, been in line with 
the progressive forces of their time and section of the country. 
They made their entrance into national politics in the trying 
years preceding the Civil War, and enlisted under the banner 
of Lincoln almost to a man. In the voting booths of the 
North as on the battle fields of the South they fought, with 
enthusiasm and characteristic perseverance, the good fight 
for union and human freedom. Their staunch and solid sup- 
port of the union cause was a factor of no small importance 
in some districts in such states as Wisconsin. 

Their early baptism in the spirit and creed of Lincoln 
was to become a controlling force of the trend of their politi- 
cal development for years to come. For a generation or 
more after the Civil War the Norwegians remained all but 
solidly republican in national and local politics. In more 
recent years other parties or creeds have found followers 
within their ranks, especially among the "newcomers," but 



the great majority still remain true to the Republican party. 
Most of them have supported the progressive wing of the 
party and the teachings and policies of Lincoln and Roosevelt — 
names that are sacred to the Norwegians above those of any 
other national leaders. 

While their attitude on general issues is not free from 
freakish aberrations their influence has, as a rule, been a 
source of strength to constructive development along sane 
conservative lines. In the eighties they supported the demand 
for a modification of the high customs tariff in force at that 
time; in more recent years the protection sentiment has gained 
in strength among them. In 1896 the vote that saved the 
gold standard was cast by Germans and Scandinavians, in- 
cluding the Norwegians. In 1912 the majority of the Nor- 
wegians voted for Roosevelt, and in 1916 a large Norwegian 
vote went to Wilson, because "he had kept us out of war." 

The strength of the peace sentiment among the Nor- 
wegians is due to a large extent to direct influences from 
Norway, where peace organizations were in active operation 
more than a generation ago. Norway is one of the pioneer 
countries in the world peace movement and has been repre- 
sented on the inter-parliamentary council for world peace ever 
since the organization of that body. Her conspicuous leader- 
ship in the cause of peace was recognized by Alfred Nobel 
when he made the congress of Norway the custodian of the 
Nobel Peace Fund with power to award the peace prizes. 
Immigrants who have come from Norway during these years 
have reflected the peace sentiment prevailing in their native 
land, and this accounts in a great measure for the heavy 
vote cast for Wilson by Norwegian republicans in 1916. At 
first the League of Nations, with its setting of Wilson 
"points" and speeches, found general support among them; 
but as the discussion of the covenant progressed their en- 
thusiasm for it gradually cooled, and in the "solemn referen- 
dum" they voted for Harding with practical unanimity. 

In the wheat states of Minnesota, North and South 
Dakota two radical movements have made heavy inroads 
among the Norwegian farmers during the last generatioo. 



The first of these waves, an agrarian movement tinged with 
socialism and known as populism, swept the prairies in the 
early nineties. Thousands of Norwegians embraced the popu- 
list doctrines and helped to make the Peoples Party the power 
it was for a few years. As the wave subsided the Nor- 
wegian populists gradually found their way back into the 
republican fold. 

The second wave of radicalism, which under its organized 
name is known as the Nonpartisan League, is a socialist propa- 
ganda deftly masked as a farmers movement. It is not to be 
denied that the Norwegians were as easily misled as any other 
group of farmers by the cunning clap-trap of Townley and 
his aids, and that they have to shoulder their share, or more, 
for the successes of the League and the grave ills it has 
brought upon the state of its birth. For in North Dakota 
the Norwegian farmers are so strong, numerically and finan- 
cially, that it would have been impossible for Townley to 
make any headway at all without the generous backing of their 
votes and purses. But it is to be said for them that, as they 
were among the first to be led astray they were also among the 
first to recover their senses. They have taken the lead in 
the war now going on for the complete up-rooting of Town- 
ley socialism in North Dakota. 

The Norwegians of Wisconsin are charged, or credited, 
as the case may be, with a substantial share in the political 
making of La Follette. In his early career he stood for a 
material curbing of the power of great corporations which 
at that time had too much to say in the government of the 
state. On this issue the Norwegians were with him, and 
his first nomination for governor was made possible 
only by their unwavering support. After his second adminis- 
tration they began to fall away, though he still has many 
adherents in their ranks, but most of these followers are mem- 
bers of the Nonpartisan League. 

In the war upon the liquor traffic the Norwegians, along 
with the Swedes, have taken a strong and leading part, ujv 
holding the cause of temperance at all successive stages of 
the movement as indicated by the slogans "high license," 



"local option," and general prohibition. In the Northwest 
in particular the Norwegians and the Swedes have furnished 
the bone, marrow and sinews of the temperance movement. 

Illiteracy is unknown in Norway. English is taught in 
all schools of that country, from the high schools and up. 
The Norwegian immigrant learns English quickly and Ameri- 
canizes readily. Coming from a country with a constitution 
second in age only to that of the United States and as 
democratic as any organic law that was ever framed — from 
a society where a caste of nobility has been unknown for a 
hundred years — Norwegians feel at home here as soon as 
they land. The first comers were eager to become full-fledged 
Americans at once and to be nothing but Americans. They 
cut all ties with the native land, except exchanging letters 
with relatives, who were urged to come over and join them. 
Their loyalty to America and her institutions was forcibly 
illustrated not only by their whole-hearted support of the 
national cause in the great crisis of those days but also, 
among other things, by their vigorous defense of the public 
schools against insidious attacks. 

As they were increasing in numbers and planting settle- 
ments and organizing congregations all over the northwestern 
prairies they came to feel that they formed a distinct body 
of people like other racial groups hailing from other coun- 
tries; and that they, in the historical traditions, religion, 
language, literature and art of their native land had a pre- 
cious national heritage worth preserving for the benefit of 
themselves, their children and their adopted country. This 
sentiment has been stimulated by the rapid progress in social 
and political betterments made by Norway during the last 
two generations and by her remarkable achievements in lit- 
erature and the arts, in science and exploration. That Nor- 
way, though small and comparatively poor, has forged so 
conspicuously to the front in all developments of higher 
civilization has nourished and strengthened their pride in 
their native land and their race. And believing that they are 
here not only to receive but also to give something besides 
their loyalty and their labor they feel that by treasuring the 



best of their national heirlooms they will do their part to 
broaden and enrich the moral and intellectual life of America. 
But they have but one flag, Old Glory, and it is because they 
love America that they strive to give her the best of what 
they are and what they have. 

As public speakers, leaders of political assemblies and 
candidates for public offices, citizens of Norse birth, excepting 
those that have come in their tender years, have been handi- 
capped in various ways. Public speaking is not taught in the 
schools of Norway nor so highly developed as it is here. 
Nor is the Norwegian temperament such a fruitful soil of 
oratory and eloquence as, for instance, the American or the 
Irish. Moreover, the Norwegian who has come to this 
country a grown-up man cannot get rid of his brogue entirely, 
though he otherwise may learn quickly to master the English 
language. He knows that his particular brogue is not the 
privileged one in this country and that his speech will sound 
somewhat odd to the audience ; and as he is sensitive of 
ridicule, expressed or suspected, he is apt to remain passive 
and silent, even though he may feel that he has something 
to say worth hearing; or if he speaks he will do so haltingly 
from lack of confidence in his delivery. As office seekers he 
is lacking in the aggressiveness with which some other groups 
of voters are more generously endowed, and is held back by 
an inherited belief in the doctrine thai ihe office should seek the 
man, and not the man the office. In Norway, until a few 
years ago, it was an un-heard of thing for a man to announce 
himself as a candidate for an elective office; and to solicit 
votes for oneself was a misdemeanor under the law punish- 
able by fine or imprisonment. This view of public office 
was common among Norwegian immigrants until compara- 
tively recent times. It has plainly been a hanciicap in a country 
where it is proper for a man who wants an elective office 
to say so frankly and as loudly as he can and to do his best 
to get it. 

In the smaller f>olitical units these obstacles have made 
themselves felt only to a limited extent. There men of 
ability are known, personally by reputation, to pretty neai 


all the voters, and public servants of the community are 
chosen not for their oratorical abilities but on their known 
merits for positions of public trust. Whether a village 
trustee, or a county treasurer, or a register of deeds, speaks 
with a brogue or not is of small consequence; all that mat- 
ters is that he is honest and otherwise well qualified. 

What is known as clannishness in politics, a weed that 
grows most readily in a many-tongued society, is found 
among the Norwegians as among other groups of voters. It 
is more or less customary to attribute clannishness only to 
voters of foreign birth or extraction, but that is a mistaken 
view. The group spirit crops out among all classes of 
voters and in all parts of the country. It is a source of 
mischief, yet it is not wholly unnatural nor is it easily 
uprooted even in an homogeneous society. It is born of 
the greater trust a voter has in the candidate he knows best 
or whom he regards as most closely identified with his own 
interests. The "farmer vote," the "labor vote," etc., are 
manifestations of class clannishness, and even in our national 
politics section-clannishness is frequently appealed to as an 
argument in favor of an eastern, a western, a northern or 
a southern candidate, as the case may be. But while the Nor- 
wegian is not free from clannishness he is less influenced by 
this spirit than are many other groups of voters. It is to 
be noted in this connection that as an American voter he has 
no foreign interests to serve. In casting his ballot he has 
never been called upon or tempted to consider the fate or for- 
tunes of his native land. His ballot is ail-American, even 
if it may at times express a narrow American point of 
view.^ He is apt to prefer a candidate of his own blood if 
he believes that he is as good a man, or almost as good a 
man as the opponent or opponents of other blood, but that 
is as far as he will go. It is to be remembered, moreover, 
that in a constituency made up of two or more racial groups 
clannishness is invoked as a means of justified defense against 
unreasonable opposition more frequently than it is resorted 
to as a weapon of aggression. 



In the states or districts where they have made their 
homes the Norwegians have had about their "share" of pub- 
lic offices, as measured by their voting strength, in some 
places more, in others less. This applies more particularly 
to local offices, membership in state or territorial legislatures 
and state offices below that of governor. A fair percentage 
of such honors have fallen to the lot of citizens of Norse 
birth, though in more recent years they have gradually 
come to step aside in favor of their own sons born or brought 
up in this country. 

Citizens of Norse blood who have held public positions 
of a broader scope and which, if elective, are filled by larger 
constituencies of voters, have, with some few exceptions, 
been men who either were born in the United Slates or re- 
ceived their schooling here. 

The pioneer Norseman in the broader field of American 
politics is the Honorable Knute Nelson of Minnesota. But 
he is a typical American in everything except his place of 
birth. He landed here at the age of six years and received 
his elementary American education in our public schools 
and as a newsboy in Chicago. As a boy of eighteen he 
volunteered for service in the union army, carried the musket 
on many southern battle fields and was left for dead after a 
battle in front of Fort Hudson, La. But for the timely 
nursing of some kind rebel ladies who took pity on the 
slender youth he would have been buried there. Returning 
from the war he worked his way through an academy, studied 
law, was admitted to the bar and shortly afterwards was 
sent to the legislature from the district where he lived with 
his widowed mother in Wisconsin. Attracted by the tempting 
opportunities in virgin Minnesota he went to that state, took 
a homestead near the village of Alexandria, where he has 
lived ever since; was promptly drafted into the service of the 
county and subsequently sent to the legislature, where he saw 
service in both houses, and in 1882 was elected to Congress 
from the "bloody fifth" after the most memoral)le political 
battle in the history of the state. After serving three terms 
His popularity with the peoj.Ie wns so firmly established that 



he had no opposition either for the nomination or the elec- 
tion to a fourth term. But his private affairs demanded 
his attention and he refused to stand ^s a candidate. How- 
ever, his rest was to be of short duration. In 1892 the Re- 
publican party of the state was in such a demoralized con- 
dition that its only hope of victory was pinned to the 
leadership of a man who enjoyed the confidence of all the 
people. Knute Nelson was drafted to head the ticket as 
candidate for governor and led the party to victory along 
the entire line. Soon after his re-election as governor he was 
sent to the United States Senate, where the "Grand Old 
Man" of Minnesota is now serving his fifth term. 

During the heyday of populism in the nineties, two of 
the Congressional districts in the northern part of the state 
were carried by that party, each selecting a citizen of Nor- 
wegian birth and education to represent it in Washington 
for one term. Of Minnesota's ten representatives in the 
lower house of the present Congress three were born in 
this country of Norwegian parents, while one came here from 
Norway as a youth of tender age. The present governor 
of the state, J. A. O, Preus, represents the third generation 
of the Norwegian people in America. Excepting but one 
of his predecessors he is the youngest man ever elected gover- 
nor in Minnesota. 

In Wisconsin the office of governor has been filled for two 
terms by an adopted citizen of Norwegian birth, and the 
present chief executive of the state was born in this country 
of a Norwegian mother. One of the Congressional districts 
in the northern part of the state was in the nineties repre- 
sented for three terms by N. P. Haugen, born in Norway but 
brought up and educated in this country. He declined a 
fourth nomination to enter a contest for the gove^orship 
and came within a hair's breadth of landing the prize. He 
has since distinguished himself for his solid ability as a 
member and head of the tax commission of the state. Since 
1906 the third Congressional district has been represented 
continuously, with the exception of one term, by John M. 
Nelson, bom in this country of Norwegian parents. 



While the "Norwegian vote" is comparatively stronger 
in North Dakota than in any other state, no citizen of this 
group has ever filled the executive chair at Bismarck. But 
the ticket of the conservative forces in the recall-campaign 
now going on in the state is headed by a Norwegian-born 
candidate for governor, and the indications are that this ticket 
will win. In the Congress of the United States North Dakota 
has been represented by two citizens of Norse blood in either 
house, all bom and educated in this country. One of the 
senators, A. J. Gronna, serving two terms, displayed a fertile 
initiative and came to be recogTiized as a leader within his 
group of the Republican party. The present representative 
from the first district, Olger B.'Burtness, was born of Nor- 
wegian parents on a farm near the city of Grand Forks. 

Two governors, one United States senator and one con- 
gressman are to be credited to the Norse element in South 
Dakota — all born and educated in this country. Peter Norbeck, 
who served four years as state senator, two years as lieu- 
tenant governor and four years as governor, occupies a p>osi- 
tion in his state similar to that of Knute Nelson in Minnesota. 
He is strong in the confidence of the people and has kept his 
party in good shape, disarming the radical elements by com- 
mitting it to and enforcing a program of practical progressive 
legislation. He has just taken his seat in the national senate, 
where we may expect to hear from him after a while. 
Charles A. Christopherson is serving his second term as rep- 
resentative from the first district. Before he was sent to 
Congress the first time he had served as speaker of the house 
of the state legislature for two terms. 

In Iowa the Norse element has been more or less active 
in local politics and has made its influence felt in the legislature, 
but its only conspicuous representative in national politics is 
G. N. Haugen, now serving his eleventh term as a member 
of the lower house from the fourth district. He was born, 
brought up and educated in this country. 

Illinois has had no representative of the Xorse race in 
Congress until M. A. Michaelson was elected in the seventh 
(Chicago) district last fall (1920). He was born in Norway, 



but landed here at the &ge of seven and hence is American 
by education and training 

New Mexico counts but a handful of Norwegians within 
its borders, but one of them, Holm O. Bursum, is now serving 
the state as United States senator. He is a full-blooded Nor- 
wegian, but all-American by birth and education. 

It may not be amiss to state in this connection that the 
mother of United States Senator Reed Smoot was born in 
Norway. Like most other men of mark the strong Republi- 
can leader probably can thank his mother for a generous 
part of his mental equipment. 

Three citizens of Norse .blood have represented our gov- 
ernment as heads of diplomatic missions to foreign countries. 
Two of them were born and educated in this country, while 
one was bom and educated in Norway. The present consul- 
general in Constantinople was born in Norway and received 
his education there. 

The public officials mentioned in the foregoing and other 
men of Norwegian extraction who have held official posi- 
tions have discharged their duties creditably and some of 
them have displayed marked abilities. Senator Knute Nelson 
is in a class by himself. In all positions of public trust 
he has held as state legislator, congressman, governor, and 
United States senator, he has borne himself in a manner that 
lifts him far above the average. Sterling patriotism, a vast 
store of practical common sense, keen, penetrating judgment, 
the knack of getting to the bottom of everything he tackles, 
indomitable courage and sensitive integrity and an inex- 
haustible capacity for work are the outstanding features 
of the political profile of this great American. His record 
in the Senate is in some respects altogether unique, and 
to men in a position to know it is no secret that for many 
years he has been one of the half dozen men, more or less, 
who have been doing the real work of the Senate. 

As chairman of the committee on judiciary, Andrew 
"Volstead has shown reliable ability and, incidentally, achieved 
national fame. Halvor Steenerson has done good work as 
chairman of the committee on postal affairs, and Harold 



Knutson is at the head of the pension committee. Sidney 
Anderson has attracted attention by his work on the appro- 
priations committee and in other ways. Gilbert Haugen, in 
charge of the committee on agricuhure, and who is thoroughly 
familiar with the economic conditions of the country, espe- 
cially in the farming districts of the west, and a man of 
sound business judgment, has shown himself to be the right 
man in the right place. 

In this connection it may not be out of place to state 
that public servants of Norse stock have taken the lead in 
bringing about reforms that promise to insure a quicker, 
easier and steadier marketing of the grain crops of the west. 
For some time Mr. O. P. B. Jacobson, railway and ware- 
house commissioner of Minnesota, has been emphasizing, in 
reports and public speeches, that the lack of terminal ele- 
vators in the eastern seaboard cities, is the chief obstacle 
to easy and uninterrupted marketing of western grain. His 
view has been endorsed by the Interstate Commerce Commis- 
sion, and a bill to compel railroads to build such elevators has 
been introduced by Knute Nelson in the Senate and Sidney 
Anderson in the House. 

Another Norwegian has won laurels by his work in the 
field of taxation, one of the most difficult problems confront- 
ing any government of any country at any and all times. 
Mr, N. P. Haugen, for many years head of the tax com- 
mission of Wisconsin and honored with the presidency of 
the National Association of State Tax Commissioners, has 
accepted a flattering invitation from Montana to study the 
tax system of that state and suggest needed and beneficial 

The radical theories and movements that have made con- 
siderable headway in this country in recent years have found 
adherents also among the Norwegians of the west and the 
far west. It has been asserted by some that the Norwegians 
have contributed more than their proportionate share to 
the red hosts. That is not a fact, with the possible exception 
of a few scattered localities, r.r.t it is true that in recent 
years Norway, in common wim other countries in Europe. 



has sent a not inconsiderable number of socialists and other 
radicals to this country, and after landing here these people 
have sought the company of their kind. Like other radicals 
they are denationalized, or cosmopolitans ; they are neither 
Norwegians nor Americans. 

The vast bulk of the Norwegians in this country are 
either conservatives or believers in sane progressive policies. 
Yet the Norwegian is always ready to listen to new doctrines 
and at times may be led into new paths more easily than some 
other racial groups. Unlike the typical American the Nor- 
wegian is very slow to accept new ideas in business matters, 
while he is much quicker to embrace new notions in matters 
social and political. This is also one of the reasons why 
Americanization comes to him as a matter of course. But 
if he is inclined to test all his aim is to keep the best, 
and that is what he generally succeeds in doing in the end. 
Taking the political history of the Norwegians in Am- 
erica as a whole it may be said truthfully that the Norsemen 
in this country have shown themselves to be worthy sons and 
daughters of a race of state-builders. 




By Julius E. Olson 

Professor of Scandinavian Languages and Literature in the 
University of Wisconsin 

HEN the melting-pot of the great Northwest shall have 
ceased boiling, when the various racial elements that 
have been hurled into it shall have become fused, 
and the historian of the future undertakes to de- 
scribe the constituent races, he will find it possible, on the 
basis of reliable records, to give an adequate account of the 
part that the immigrant race from Norway contributed to the 
resultant formation. 

One of the functions of literature is to inform posterity. 
Much of even great literature received but scant recognition 
from the age that produced it ; but a later age perceived its value. 
The Norwegian immigrants in the United States have already 
done much through their various intellectual activities to inform 
posterity. Like the Norse colonists of the ninth century in Ice- 
land, they have conscientiously garnered the facts of their migra- 
tion and colonization. These records are to be found in the 
columns of their newspapers, in individual memorabilia, in let- 
ters to the home-country that are gradually coming to light, 
and in inexhaustible contributions of pioneers to the press of 
both this country and Norway, to say nothing at this point of 
works of conscious historical character. In our age the press 
has become in large measure the storehouse of early achieve- 
ment, from which the historian and the literary worker will find 
both facts and creative impulse. And in this modern age the 
work of transmutation of the records of pioneer life into perma- 
nent historical or literary form is not a matter for a very remote 
future. It has in fact already begun. The part that the Nor- 
wegian immigrants played and are playing in the Making of 
America is gradually being revealed in ever clearer outlines in 



historical accounts of great and small dimension, and in poems 
and novels. It has proven a very difficult matter for native 
historians to give satisfactory account of immigrant groups for 
lack of written records. So far as the Norwegians are con- 
cerned it does not seem hazardous to assert that no non-Eng- 
lish-speaking race that has come to these shores — regardless of 
numbers — has done as much as the Norwegian pioneers to 
preserve the records of their early life and experience in the 
new home. And what is more, the records of no other foreign 
group will, it may be emphatically declared, reveal such devotion 
to the new home, such loyalty to the institutions of the land, and 
such high hopes for its future. The Civil War was the first 
great test of this loyalty and faith. There had for two decades 
preceding been a steady stream of immigration from Norway. 
The coming conflict had already been sensed by the young Nor- 
wegian press, which, in consonance with the democratic heritage 
from the home country, quickly aligned itself with the anti- 
slavery movement.* 

The first Norwegian paper in America, Nordlyset (Northern 
Lights), begun in 1847, was an advocate of the Free Soil move- 
ment. The first number presented, as an introduction to the 
public, a translation of the essential parts of the Declaration of 
Independence, with a cut of the American flag at the head of the 
column. A recent historical investigator, Mr, Albert O. Barton, 
of Madison, Wisconsin, in an article on The Beginnings of the 
Norwegian Press in America, says concerning the extract from 
the Declaration: 

* It is a remarkable fact that Ole Rynning, an educated pioneer of 
1837, in a booklet on America (for the instruction of prospective emigrants, 
published in Norway in 1838, sounded the keynote on slavery in these 
prophetic words : "An ugly contrast to this freedom and equality which 
justly constitute the pride of the Americans is the infamous slave traffic, 

which is tolerated and still flourishes in the southern states The 

northern states try in every Congress to abolish the slave trade in the 
southern states r but as the latter always oppose these efforts, and appeal 
to the right to settle their own internal affairs themselves, there will in 
all likelihood come either a separation betiveen the northern and southern 
states, or else bloody civil disputes." 



"This was a happy conception of the editor, and was to 
prove of good omen. It pointed the hopes and ideals and sym- 
pathies of the newcomers from the Northland. The lofty prin- 
ciples of the Declaration . . . appealed to the freedom- 
loving minds of the immigrants from the North, and it is to 
the credit of their nationality that in this free land of oppor- 
tunity they have lived up to, and sustained, these principles and 
ideals in their best sense." 

This first newspaper lasted but two years. Its successor, 
Emigranten, began in the latter part of the 50's to argue against 
slavery. Its influence was felt. During the Civil War one- 
sixth of the Norwegian population enlisted, which was a better 
showing than that of the native bom, which was one-eighth. 
The quintessence of Norse sentiment toward the war is pre- 
sented in the career of Colonel Hans C. Heg, a pioneer lad of 
the 40's, in whose father's house the first numbers of Nordlyset 
were printed. He was the first Norwegian to be elected to a 
state office, which he resigned, after a re-election, to form a 
Scandinavian regiment, the 15th Wisconsin. He proved himself 
a most efficient offi<:er and was on the eve of appointment to a 
generalship; but he was mortally wounded in a gallant charge at 
the battle of Chicamauga. His last words were: "I am willing 
to die, for I have fought for a righteous cause." 

The sons of Norwegian immigrants stood the test of the 
Great War equally well. The deeds of daring performed by 
many of them, as evidenced by the recognition received from 
military and governmental authorities, shine resplendent. These 
records of individual valor have already been collected and sym- 
pathetically presented in English (see The North Star magazine 
for Dec. 1920), by Carl Hansen, associate editor of MtnneapoUs 
Tidende This article shows how alert the editors of the Nor- 
wegian press have been to record anything that would do honor 
to the race. And there has evidently been a special reason for 
this last example of journalistic alertness. In the dark days of 
the war there were alien groups on these shores whose loyalty 
to America was questionable. This fact cast suspicion on all 
foreign groups. The use of a foreign language, was viewed by 



the great mass of native Americans as an act of disloyalty, and 
showed lack of devotion to the institutions of the land. In some 
states the use of foreign languages in the churches was not only 
frowned upon, but actually prohibited. The Norwegians, con- 
scious of a clear record as to loyalty, smarted under this czar- 
istic treatment. They still feel the sting. Native Americans, 
with many notable exceptions, have found it impossible to under- 
stand the attitude of the alien toward his native land. They 
have assumed that language is an index of loyalty. They have 
not only failed to grasp the fundamental idea of the alien's love 
for his mother tongue and the memories of the land of his 
birth, but they have seemingly had no conception whatever of 
the vital necessity for foreign groups to maintain their lan- 
guages, their press, their churches and social institutions, not 
only for their own happiness and welfare, but also for the ul- 
timate advantage of the land of their adoption. It is the pro- 
found conviction of the writer that Norwegian churches, schools, 
press, and other activities of allied character have not been 
antagonistic to repubHcan institutions and a stable state of 
society in this country. As the years pass, and results become 
apparent, it is evident that the very opposite is true. A Dano- 
American investigator of this question, with the Norwegian 
situation particularly in mind, declares it as his conviction that 
these things "instead of being a menace to our state, form one 
of the main safe-guards of this country against the dangers 
accompanying the large influx of people of foreign nationality." 
The chief point of the above contentions with respect to 
the theme of this essay is that the maintenance of the Nor- 
wegian language, to the extent that it has been maintained 
(which has been in no exclusive sense whatever), the church 
and its schools, and to some extent the various social organ- 
izations outside the pale of the church, such as the numerous 
singing societies and philanthropic unions, have made possible 
both a Norwegian press and a Norwegian literature among the 
Norwegian pioneers and their descendants. When an alien 
population, very limited in number to begin with, and un- 
affected by any propaganda from the home country, can ac- 
complish anything along the lines of higher humanistic 



endeavor, it is a sign of cultural ambition, and deserves recog- 
nition. If it was conceived in love for the land of their 
fathers, it is sure to develop into love for the land of their 
children. Eut as a matter of fact, love for the new home was 
an early growth among the Norwegians. Thousands of testi- 
monials could be adduced to prove it. Despite frequent heart- 
aches, sore trials and tribulations, the large majority of 
Norwegian immigrants were satisfied with the new home. 
They were quick to see its vast possibilities for their chil- 
dren, if not always for themselves. But for the church and 
the press, their fate would more often have been tragic, — 
which emigration to a certain extent always is. In the course 
of time, they saw the fruits of their toil: the prairies billowed 
with golden grain, the pastures gleamed with sleek cattle. 
They prospered. They built comfortable homes, stately 
churches, academies and colleges to guard and educate their 
children. But for their own Norwegian institutions, even with 
their wealth, they could not have been happy in a foreign 
land. First contentment, and then prosperity: these are the 
source of Norwegian prestige in America. It could not have 
been achieved without the church and a sympathetic press. 
All of the activities of the church in the pioneer days were 
staunchly and generously supported by the press. It was a 
mutual matter. The press needed the church, and the church 
needed the press. This mutuality made possible the gigantic 
organization of the church, and the substantial and independent 
position of the press, as both exist today. 

Fortunately for both the press and the church, the Nor- 
wegian immigrants settled in compact groups. It was fortu- 
nate for the pioneers in more ways than one. Among other 
things, it developed political prestige. The native American 
politician has learned to have respect for compact groups. 
These brought political recognition and an opportunity to 
participate in governmental affairs, which was of course bene- 
ficial both to the immigrant and to the country, for it fos- 
tered a sense of responsibility for good government. The com- 
pact group has, therefore, been the source of whatever distinctive 
achievements the Norwegians have attained as a racial element 



in this country. This alone has made it possible to assert 
themselves, and to advance gradually and naturally toward 
the ultimate goal of complete Americanization. For no Nor- 
wegian group has ever dreamed of the possibility of perpetuat- 
ing the Norwegian language as the language of the home, the 
church and the press. On the whole, therefore, it is apparent 
that the Norwegian group has acted in accordance with the 
best interests of its people and its organizations, and has in- 
stinctively felt that this would also inure to the best interests 
of the country. It cannot be denied that the process has 
nurtured a sane and admirable spirit of loyalty to this country. 
The Norwegian immigrant press was the forerunner and 
fosterer of the literature of the pioneers. The story of the 
developnient of the press is a long and intricate one. Only 
a brief survey can be attempted. Over four hundred news- 
papers and magazines have been started. There has been an 
interminable process of absorption and combination. Wonder- 
ful and lasting success was at times achieved, of which there 
is evidence today in the ones that weathered all the storms 
As we shall see, at least a half dozen are today strong and 
prosperous, despite the prophesies of a half century ago that 
the foreign language press was doomed to an early demise. 
These sturdy survivors have proved themselves to be the trusty 
guardians of their people. They have wisely encouraged their 
political activities, nurtured their intellectual aspirations, and 
supported their ecclesiastical institutions most generously. 

Beginnings are usually interesting, and often significant. 
The first Norwegian paper was begun in the Muskego settle- 
ment, near Milwaukee, in 1847. The first issues were printed 
in a log cabin in the country. The subscription list never 
exceeded two hundred. The cholera epidemic which stalked 
through the settlement in 1849 had a paralyzing effect. The 
infant press did not survive it. But it had lived long enough 
to give political prestige to its editor, James D. Reymert, 
whose career is a kaleidoscope of romantic interest, begin- 
ning with a seat in the second constitutional convention of 
the state in 1847, ^nd ending with the appointment to a 
judgeship in Arizona by President Qeveland. The equipment 



of Nordlyset was soon employed in another enterprise of even 
less duration, but which called into the journalistic field one 
of the great editors of a later period, namely, Knud Langeland. 
At the beginning of the year 1851 there was no Norwegian 
newspaper or journal published in America; but between 1850 
and i860 seven were started, two of which were church or- 
gans; and of the seven, five were published in Wisconsin, 
and two in Illinois. At this time, by the census of 1850, 
there were about I3,cx» Norwegians in this country, of which 
more than two-thirds were in Wisconsin. Of these seven 
papers only one was well edited, namely, Emigranten, begun 
in 1852 by representative churchmen. It was removed to 
Madison as an individual enterprise in 1857, and immediately 
became a staunch supporter of the republican party, born the 
year preceding. It is of interest to note that the publisher 
and editor of this paper, Mr. C. F. Solberg, of Milwaukee, 
is the sole survivor of the pioneer editors of the nationality. 
He was bom in Christiania, Norway, in 1833, removed witb 
his parents to Denmark as a lad, and was educated at the fa- 
mous Soro Academy, the Eton of Scandinavia at that time. It 
was primarily a school for sons of the Danish nobility, and 
sought to turn out educated gentlemen, adept in all the social and 
athletic accomplishments. In 1852 he emigrated to America 
with his parents. After a brief sojourn in New York City, he 
went with his parents to Ole Bull's colony in Pennsylvania, 
of which the father became the manager, and the son a farm 
hand and lumberjack. The latter came to Wisconsin in 1856. 
Emigranten remained in Madison, with Mr. Solberg as editor, 
until 1868. It therefore fell to his lot, as the editor of the only 
important Norwegian newspaper in America during the Civil 
War, to champion the cause of the Union, and this he did 
in a spirit of ardent loyalty. His zeal was so great that he 
spent several months in the South with the army as a corre- 
spondent for his own paper. 

The first Norwegian publication in the nature of a maga- 
zine was Billed-Magasin, which was published at Madison, by 
B. W. Suckow, who had been the secretary of the ill-fatcfl 
Ole Bull colony. Its chief value lies in the fact that it 



contains a series of articles on Norwegian settlements, pre- 
pared by the editor, Svein Nilsson, a graduate of the Univer- 
sity of Christiania, on the basis of personal interviews with 

The leadership that Emigranten had held so staunchly 
during the war, was at its close assumed by Skandinaven, 
of Chicago, started in 1866, and which ever since has been 
a fearless champion of the Norwegian people, the Republican 
party, and American ideals in government. 

Following the westward trend of Norwegian emigration, 
several Norwegian papers appeared in Minnesota during the 
the 70's and 8o's, the most important of which was Budstik- 
ken, which in many ways was both original and independent, 
and for a time had much influence; but in 1889 it was ab- 
sorbed by Minneapolis Tidende, at present the most impor- 
tant Norwegian paper in the state. 

During the period from 1878 to 1887 five newspapers 
were started in North Dakota, of which Normanden, of 
Grand Forks, is a lusty survivor. By 1890, three papers 
had appeared in South Dakota, of which two survive. 
Visergnttcn, of Canton, and Fremad, of Sioux Falls, are now 
the leading journalistic representatives. Decorah-Posten, started 
in Decorah, Iowa, in 1874, is one of the staunch pillars of 
the Norwegian press of today, ably edited by Jobs. B. Wist. 

As Norwegian emigration swung toward the Pacific coast, 
the press was not slow to follow. Possibly a dozen papers 
have been started there. JVashington-Posten, edited by Gun- 
nar Lund, was begun in 1889, and has become a worthy col- 
league of the four giants of the Middle West. 

Among a number of attempts to found Norwegian papers 
on the Atlantic seaboard that have been made, only one re- 
mains, namely, Nordisk Tidende, of Brooklyn, started in 1891. 
After many vicissitudes, it finally came under the capable edi- 
torial management of A. N. Rygg, who has made it the 
spokesman of the large Norwegian population of New York 
and Brooklyn, in close touch with the varied industrial and 
artistic activities of the seaboard. 

Since the days of the Billed-Magasin of the 6o's, there 


has teen but one other magazine adventure of similar impor- 
tance, namely, Syntra, launched in Decorah, Iowa, in 1905, 
under the editorial control of Kristian Prestgard and J. B. 
Wist. It was maintained for nearly a decade, and was a 
most worthy and commendable enterprise. It will be a source 
of rare information for the future investigator. 

Thus we see that out of the numerous pioneer news- 
paper enterprises, there have emerged several that stand to- 
day as fine representatives of high journalistic endeavor and 
are a credit to the race. Much might and should be said of 
the men who have successfully managed these enterprises, 
and more, perhaps, of the editorial writers connected with 
them. Among the latter there have been men of great native 
gifts and fine culture, most of them of foreign birth, who 
have devoted themselves, for small pecuniary reward, to 
the advancement of their people. They have showered their 
stores of Old World culture upon an emigrant race, and 
surely some of its pearls will some day shine in the diadem 
of American cultural glory. At all events the Norwegian 
press has done a great and useful work in tempering the 
minds of the immigrant to the new tasks at hand, pointing 
the way in many difficult situations, and striving in count- 
less ways to make a contented, prosperous, and law-abiding 

Only one important attempt has been made by the Nor- 
wegians to issue a newspaper in English. This was The 
North, published in Minneapolis from 1889 to 1894, under 
the editorship of Luth. Jaeger, at one time editor of Budstikken. 

Mention should also be made of a great journalistic enter- 
prise, The Chicago Daily News, maintained since 1876 by 
Victor F. Lawson, whose newspaper interest was doubtless 
aroused by his father's, and later his own, copartnership in 
Skandinaven, of Chicago. 

It would indeed be strange if emigrants from the land of 
Wergeland, Bjornson and Ibsen should be totally lacking in the 
matter of literary productivity. They have not been. The 
press saw to it that the lives of the great poets of the home- 
land were kept vividly before their leaders. Literary gems 



from their works were constantly being reprinted. As early 
as the latter part of the 50's complete literary works were occa- 
sionally republished. These things were of inestimable value 
in relieving the solitude and brooding of the pioneer. And 
as he slowly came to feel the need of voicing his own joys and 
sorrows, either in verse or prose, the press proved a willing 
hand-maid. It has printed hundreds upon hundreds of poems 
by pioneers. More than fifty volumes or booklets of verse 
have appeared, nearly all published at private expense. They 
indicate a tragic need of expression that could not find utter- 
ance in the language of the land. The voices that sing in 
these homeless volumes are a part of the tragedy of Nor- 
wegian emigration. Time will prove that these vagrant 
rhymes were not turned in vain. If the past did not hear, 
the future will. Scholars will sift out the gold and use it 
to illuminate the pages in the Saga of the Norsemen in 
America. There was published in 1903 a volume of Nor- 
wegian-American verse, collected largely from the press, rep- 
resenting forty-five authors and 250 poems. They are of 
such variety as one would expect in an anthology of immi- 
grant verse. There are none that may be designated great 
poetry, but there are many in which fine thoughts find ade- 
quate form. In conning the pages of this volume, the thought 
occurs: How pleased American literary historians would 
be if the somber Puritans had left such a legacy. All 
but two of the forty-five writers were born in Norway. Much 
poetry has been published since, and of improved quahty. The 
English poems by Gustav Melby, in The Seamless Robe and 
Other Poems (1914), King Saint Olaf, a poetic drama, 1916, 
and The Lost Chimes and Other Poems, 1918, issued by an 
eastern publisher, mark a new epoch, and seem to be the 
harbingers of an English period. His language nowhere re- 
veals the immigrant. 

The chief literary form among the descendants of the 
pioneers will doubtless be the novel. The first attempts at 
novel-writing came in the 70's and 8o's. Some very accept- 
able work has been done since, particularly during the last de- 
cade. The novel and short story have been diligently used 



to promote the cause of prohibition, especially by the talented 
and aggressive editor W. Ager, of Wisconsin. He knows 
the Norwegian people of city and countryside, and may be 
counted on to play a part in the literary awakening that 
seems to be in the offing, O. A. Buslett, the pioneer of the 
poets, has turned from the lyric, the heaven-storming poetic 
drama, and allegorical tale, to bald prose narrative, to deal 
with the life of the early immigrant in the nelds and lumber 
camps of northern Wisconsin, where the author is on thor- 
oughly familiar ground. Here he has done his best work, 
Simon Johnson, at present chief editorial writer of Nordman- 
den, has made a name as a novelist. He knows the prairies 
of the Dakotas, and the Hfe of the pioneers there, and in his 
last work has given a moving portrayal of the trials of 
pioneer days, when the Indian was a menace. Another talented 
writer of novels is O. E. Rolvaag, professor at St. Olaf Col- 
lege. He knows Norway, Norwegian history and literature, 
has experienced the heart-aches and hardships of pioneer life 
on the prairies, is familiar as both student and professor 
with college life and the life of the church, is in close con- 
tact with the press, and has solid qualifications for taking 
a leading part in the new literary movement. He knows what 
the pioneer has done for America, and the price he has paid in 
doing it. He understands the possibilities of this land of 
opportunity for the grandchildren of the pioneer — and the 
tragedies that have made these opportunities possible. Mt. 
Rolvaag's last book, To Tullinger (Two Simpletons), is the 
grim tragedy of the love of gold, a besetting sin of emigrants 
of all ages who have begun to taste prosperity. The book also 
contains deft touches on some of the fanatical phases of the 
Great War. This author has already won distinct favor, 
and much is expected of him. 

Another field for novelistic adventure has recently been 
plowed by the veteran editor of Decorah-Posten, Jobs. B. Wist 
His lot as an immigrant was cast in various towns and cities 
of the Northwest as a journalist, and he has undertaken 
in a work pubHshed in 1920, Nykomtner-billeder (Immigrant 
Portraits) to portray the sordid life of the immigrant in the 



large' cities. The story is continued in a succeeding volume, 
Hjetnmet paa Prarien (The Home on the Prairie), 1921, 
and a third section, Jojiasville, has begun to appear as a 
serial, which foreshadows a picture of the religious combats 
of the 8o's. The author knows the grim tragedy of the 
urban immigrant and has painted it realistically enough; he 
has also known much of urban success and industrial and 
intellectual achievements, which will soon call for portrayal. 
These present-day writers have struck the pace of high 
endeavor. They have marked out the field and blazed the 
trail for a generation of writers. The best work will seem- 
ingly be done in Norwegian. The ears of the general Nor- 
wegian public have not yet, to any significant extent, been 
attuned to the idiosyncracies and niceties of English. But 
the second and third generations are learning English rapidly. 
Professor Laurence M. Larson's translation of The King's 
Mirror, from Old Norwegian of the 13th century; Mabel 
Johnson Leland's translation of Garborg's The Lost Father; 
and Hanna Astrup Larsen's translations of Jacobsen's Marie 
Grubbe and Niels Lyhne, and her critical articles in American 
magazines, particularly her recent article on Hamsun in The 
American-Scandinavian Review, of which she is the literary 
editor, are illuminating specimens of what the descendants of 
Norwegian emigrants can do in the way of clean-cut English. 
If we now turn from the field of polite literature to that 
of historical writing, we shall find things of rare value in con- 
lent that are destined to grow in importance as the years go 
on. Thus, Ole Rynning's True Account of America, written 
and published in 1838, has recently been translated into English 
for the Minnesota Historical Society, with scholarly commenta- 
tion, by that keen young historical investigator Theodore C. 
Blegen, who is doing commendable work in this early field. 
Likewise, Ole Nattestad's Account of a Journey to North 
America, published in Norway in 1839, has been translated 
for the Wisconsin Historical Society, by Rasmus B. Ander- 
son. Similar accounts by early pioneers might be mentioned 
that will doubtless soon call for translation. More important 
later volumes are Langeland's Norniandene i Amerika, Ander- 



son's The First Chapter of Norwegian Immigration, Holand's 
De norske Settlementers Historie, Flom's The History of Nor- 
wegian Immigration, which cover the whole pioneering period. 
Then there are valuable works, mainly monographs, on the 
Civil War, treating chiefly of the Fifteenth Wisconsin, a 
Scandinavian Regiment, and its gallant leader. Colonel Hans 
C. Heg, in whose memory a statue is soon to be erected 
in Wisconsin. With these should be included memorabilia 
by such leaders in the church as the Reverend V. Koren and 
Dr. Laur. Larsen, and particularly a volume by the former's 
wife. One Norwegian farmer, O. S. Johnson, of Iowa, has 
three large volumes of similar import to his credit. All of 
these documents will prove to be veritable gold mines for the 
historians and literary workers of the future. 

Of the greatest cultural interest in the history of 
the Norwegians in America is a work entitled Norsk-Ameri- 
kanernes Festskrift, 1914, published as a memorial on the 
occasion of the centennial of Norwegian constitutional liberty. 
With but a bare reference to the centennial, the editor and 
main contributor, Johannes B. Wist, figuratively speaking, 
lays in the lap of Mother Norway the Saga of her children 
in America. It is a large volume; and is possibly the most 
important work ever published by the Norwegians in America. 
It presents an astounding array of facts on the various phases 
of cultural life among the immigrants. The chapters on the 
press by the editor and a fellow editor, Mr. Qirl Hansen, 
for completeness of detail, covering the period from 1847 to 
1914, and giving an account of every paper and journal and 
their editors, of inestimable value. These chapters on the 
press (which constitute more than half of the book) and 
Carl Hansen's chapter on Social Societies are tasks that never 
before have been attempted. What is more, they are com- 
prehensive and definitive for the period covered. 

Nor should we omit reference to the work that has been 
done to acquaint Americans with the literary and historical 
achievements of the mother country by Norwegians of this 
country. Anderson's Norse Mythology and Boycscn s Tft^ 
Story pf Norway have found a large circle of readers. Gjer- 



set's The History of the Norwegian People is a monumental 
work that has won favor with historical students. In this 
field, The Americaftr-Scandinavian Review is doing most excel- 
lent service in promoting reciprocity and fellowship between 
the Scandinavians of this country and of Europe. 

It is hoped that the above account, necessarily discursive, 
may give some conception of the part the Norwegians are 
playing, and are likely to play, in The Making of America. 





Painting and Sculpture. 

I N the field of pictorial art the Norwegian group in 
America up to the present time has won only a 
modest place. The urge of self-expression within 
the group has taken the form of song and poetry 
more often than color and plastic art, with the result that 
the Norwegian group counts comparatively few painters and 
sculptors in its midst. The Norwegian temperament appears 
to lend itself more readily to literary expression. 

Fundamental conditions within the group, economic and 
social, are to a large degree responsible for the rather discourag- 
ing outlook for the development of painters and sculptors. 
Americans of Norwegian origin generally considered are a 
busy, workaday people with only here and there an individual 
or a select circle appreciating the interpretation of life through 
the medium of color and beauty of line. Artists who have 
made efforts to interest and instruct through these mediums 
have frequently met with misunderstanding, hardship and 
discouragement when they tried to find a field among their 
own f>eople. 

The craving for art and beauty is nevertheless in the race. 
It is a part of the heritage from the remote past. It is 
found in the wonderfully beautiful lines of the viking ships, 
in the splendid ornamentation and wood carvings on churches 
and stone monuments of early times, in needle work of the 
Hardanger variety, which Norwegian immigrants introduced 
in America, in the quaint stave churches of^ Norway and in 
the bright-hued, painted flower ornamentation on chests, draw- 
ers and household utensils in the Norwegian farmers' home. 

In this respect Norwegians in America still depend upon 
Norway for a supply of cultural impulses and values. Art 



is still to a great extent measured by them on the basis of its 
sentimental value to the group. The great artists of Nor- 
way, especially those of the older schools, but also modern 
painters, especially of the sea in all its moods, the fjords, the 
mountains and the countryside, the sailor, the fisherman, the 
farmer, find quick response in the mind and heart of the Nor- 
wegian immigrant. 

In spite of hardships and discouragements, the Nor- 
wegian group has nevertheless produced a number of artists 
of high rank, though most of these, if not all, have been com- 
pelled to seek other and more fertile fields than that of their 
own race for the pursuit of their ideal. In this brief sketch 
it is possible only to give a summary of some of the artists 
of the Norwegian group who have won distinction in the 
American world of art. 

Mr. Jonas Lie of New York is perhaps the best known 
and certainly among the foremost American painters of the 
Norwegian group. Mr. Lie is a nephew of the late distin- 
guished Norwegian novelist of the same name, one of the 
five literary stars of the first magnitude produced by Norway 
in the same generation — -Ibsen, Bjjirnson, Kielland, Lie and 
Hamsun. Few painters of any immigrant group have achieved 
the fame that Mr. Lie has. His subjects show great ver- 
satility. He depicts the storm, the thunder cloud, snow cov- 
ered hills and rocks, dark, half hidden rivers and forest 
streams, fishing boats and a great variety of other subjects. 
Jonas Lie has painted New York as perhaps no other artist. 
Prosaic things like city streets and bridges he has interpreted 
in color, and he presents them to the onlooker in pictures 
of rare artistic beauty. He has painted the Panama Canal 
during construction operations and these paintings are declared 
by critics to be a color-epic to labor. Pictures by Jonas Lie 
hang in the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh; the Luxembourg 
gallery, Paris, and in many clubs and public institutions in 
Europe and America. 

Mr. Lars Haukanes is a well known painter within the 
group. He has devoted himself mainly to painting land- 
scapes from the Hardauger district of Norway. One of 



these pictures hangs in the Minneapolis Institute of Art. 
Another hangs in the Chicago Norwegian Club. 

Mr, Alexander Grinager of Minnesota has done fine 
work in landscapes with babbling brooks and sunsets rich in 
lights and shadows. 

Mr. Olaf M. Brauner is head of the Department of Fine 
Arts in Cornell University. He is assisted by another artist 
of the Norwegian group, Mr. Christian M. S. Midjo. Pro- 
fessor Brauner is the son of Julius F. Brauner, at one time 
well known in Norway as a wood engraver. He came to 
America with his parents in 1883 and is a thorough American 
by education. He is a lecturer on the history of art and 
has written a history of renaissance painting and other works. 
Professor Brauner has modelled and painted portraits of 
many prominent Americans and is represented by works in 
Amherst College ; Cornell University ; Kimball Library, Ran- 
dolph, Vt. ; Girls' High School, Boston; Higl School, Ithaca, 
N, Y., and other public and private institutions. 

In Chicago the Norwegian group is represented by sev- 
eral painters of merit. Mr, Sigurd Schow is well known for 
his excellent color work and Mr. Emil Bi0rn has done much 
creditable work in oil and water colors. Mr. Ben Blcssnm has 
devoted much of his time to the interpretation of scenes in 
rural Norway, particularly the quaint architecture and people 
in Saetersdalen. Two of his pictures hang in the Chicago 
Norwegian Club. He has also done a great deal of mural 
decoration. Both Mr. Bij^rn and Mr. Blessum are illustrators 
of high standard and have done good work in this field. 
Mr. Bi^rn has painted a series of Norwegian hi.storical 
compositions for the Norwegian Orphanage in Chicago which 
he presented to the institution. 

In New York Mr, Thomas Bull holds an eminent place 
as a decorative painter and interior decorator. Mr, Bull, as 
chairman of the Norwegian group's exhibit committee for the 
America's Making exhibit and festival, conceived and de- 
signed the Norwegian exhibit booth, regarded by critics as 
being one of the most artistic conceptions of the entire ex- 
hibition. Mr. Bull is represented by work in a large number 



of residences of wealthy Americans in New York, Philadelphia 
and other cities, the Morgan Library in New York, the statf 
capitol of Rhode Island and a number of other public buildings 
and churches. Mr. Bull is a relative of the famous Norwegian 
violinist, Ole Bull. 

Mr. Brynjulf Strandcnas of New York is a painter and 
illustrator of high standard and has done much excellent work. 
He has invariably given evidence of his keen interest in aflFairs 
of the Norwegian group by contributing of his art to the ad- 
vancement and success of group enterprises. During the Nor- 
wegian group's Liberty Loan campaigrr- he contributed a striking 
poster, and in the America's Making enterprise he responded 
generously by contributing the cover design of this book. 

Mr. Sigvald Asbj0rnsen of Chicago is probably the first 
sculptor of the Norwegian group to achieve a name for him- 
self. He has modeled many busts of American statesmen and 
a number of notable statues and monuments representing Amer- 
ican history subjects. Among his busts may be mentioned 
those of Grover Cleveland, James G. Blaine and Carter H. Har- 
rison. He is the sculptor of the Grieg monument in Prospect 
Park, Brooklyn, N. Y., the John Monogham monument in Spo- 
kane, Wash., the Soldiers' Monument in Madison, Ind., a work 
which art critics have given high praise, the Confederate Sol- 
dier's Monument in front of the Texas State capitol in Austin, 
the Leif Erikson Monument in Humboldt Park, Chicago, and 
many other important works. 

Mr. Gilbert P. Riswold of Chicago is a sculptor of great 
promise. Mr. Riswold is born of Norwegian immigrant parents 
on a farm near Baltic, South Dakota. He has done work which 
critics pronounce brilliant, and a great career appears to be 
ahead of him. Probably his most notable work is his statue 
of Stephen A. Douglas, "The Little Giant," which was pur- 
chased by the State of Illinois and stands in front of the State 
House in Springfield. This statue is declared by critics to be 
one of the finest works of art in America. Mr. Riswold's 
work was accepted in a competition participated in by more 
than seventy-five artists, among whom were several of Amer- 
ica's leading sculptors. Another of his works which has won 



him high praise is "The Quizzical Madonna," a portrait bust 
of Miss Lucille Palmer, the noted California composer. Art 
critics refer to this bust as a "Modern Mona Lisa." 

Mr. Paul Fjelde of New York is a sculptor of promise and 
has done notable work. He has modeled the Colonel Hans C. 
Heg monument which the Norwegian group is planning to raise 
in Madison, Wis., to the memory of the gallant commander of 
the famous 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment in the Civil War. 
Mr. Fjelde's father was a noted sculptor of the Norwegian group 
whose numerous works are to be found in many cities and 
towns in the Northwest. 

Mr. Sigurd Neandross of Ridgefield, N. J., has won great 
distinction for his many notable works of sculpture, among 
which may be mentioned "The Kiss," "The Egyptian Widow," 
"The Song of the Sea," and many more. Critics declare that 
Mr. Neandross has succeeded in combining modern French real- 
ism with Thorvaldsen's lofty idealism. 

Mr. Trygve Hammer of New York has done good work in 
stone, wood and copper and has endeavored to awaken an in- 
terest in Norwegian wood carving and ornamentation. He is 
a director of the Society of Independent Artists and has ex- 
hibited in the Society's annual exhibits in New York. 

There are a number of other painters and sculptors doing 
creditable work. Space forbids a mention of all. Sincerity of 
purpose and high ideals are the distinctive traits of all artists 
of the Norwegian group in America. The difficult conditions 
mentioned above bear eloquent testimony of that. 


The Norwegians are distinctly a musical people. In an- 
cient times their love of music took the form of skaldic 
poetry. Few races have a richer heritage of characteristic folk 
song and melodies. The profound influence of this heritage 
upon Edvard Grieg is evident in the "Peer Gynt" suite anrl 
all through his works. This heritage, Norwegian immigrants 
have brought with them to America, and will eventually be- 



come resplendent jewels in the diadem of American music of 
the future. 

Music, especially choral singing, is assiduously cultivated 
by the Norwegian group in this country. No center of popula- 
tion is without its singing society. In the larger cities as 
many as six and eight singing societies and glee clubs flourish 
side by side. The Norwegian glee clubs, however, should not 
be confounded with the American college glee clubs. They 
have a much more serious purpose and permanent existence. 
The name has been adopted because it seemed to the mem- 
bers to have American sanction as a name indicative of a 
musical organization. Usually the societies bear names in- 
dicating racial origin, local place names or the name of a 
composer or other designation typifying music. 

The first Norwegian singing society in America was found- 
ed by pioneers about sixty years ago in La Crosse, Wis. This 
society no longer exists. The oldest existing society is the 
Norwegian Singing Society of Chicago which is fifty-one years 
old. The anniversary of its half century of musical activity 
was celebrated with a jubilee concert one year ago. Sim- 
ilar organizations are found in New York and adjacent cities 
and in all the large and small cities from coast to coast where 
the Norwegian immigrant population is numerous enough 
to support and foster choral singing. 

Locally and nationally the societies are bound together 
in federations under the leadership of self-sacrificing men 
devoted to an ideal. In 1887 began the movement for national 
federation. At the annual concerts of the national organiza- 
tion, from 400 to 700 singers have taken part. At the World's 
Fair in Chicago in 1893 ^ chorus of 1,000 men rendered a 
memorable program of song. This, however, was a joint 
Scandinavian chorus. 

The Norwegian Singers' League of America is the prin- 
cipal organization of singers. It does not, however, include 
the numerous singing societies in the East and on the Pacific 
Coast. In 1914 a picked chorus of 200 singers selected from 
societies in all parts of the United States and Canada visited 
Norway and gave a series of concerts in various parts of the 



country. The music director on this tour was Mr. Emil 
Bi^ru of Chicago. 

It should be mentioned that for many years back, long 
before it became a general custom, the audiences at Norwegian 
singing society concerts always remained standing during the 
singing of the "Star Spangled Bannar" and "America," 
frequently to the astonishment of native Americans present. 

The history of the musical contributions of Norwegians 
in America can not be written without mention of the world 
famous violinist, Ole Bull. This Norwegian genius is closely 
connected with America through his many years of residence 
here, his colony enterprise in Pennsylvania and his marriage 
to an American woman. He lived at different times in Cam- 
bridge, Mass., in Pennsylvania, in Chicago and in Madison, 
Wis. In the latter city his house has been used for many 
years as the governor's mansion. In the 50s of the last 
century Ole Bull was the idol of the American people. When 
the poet, Longfellow, in his Tales of the Wayside Inn sings of 
the rapt musician, it is Ole Bull he has in mind: 

"Before the blazing fire of wood 

Erect the rapt musician stood; 

And ever and anon he bent 

His head upon his instrument. 

And seemed to listen, till he caught 

Confessions of its secret thought, — 

The joy, the triumph, the lament. 

The exultations and the pain ; 

Then by the magic of his art 

He soothed the throbbing of its heart 

And lulled it into peace again." 

The Norwegian people have developed church music to 
lofty standards of excellence, and they have transmitted this 
heritage to their descendants in America. The Lutheran Church 
has been called "the singing Church" and nowhere is this 
more evident than in the Norwegian Lutheran congregations. 
It is not only the church choir that sings. The entire con- 
gregation joins in the singing of the beautiful hymns that have 



been accumulated by the Church through centuries of singing 
by the worshippers themselves. 

Choir singing is given careful attention. The Church 
fosters choral singing in all localities where secular musical 
activities do not absorb all the interest. The Choral Union 
of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America is a strong 
body of singers devoted to the cultivation of sacred music. 

The finest example of this class of singling society is the 
mixed St. Olaf College Choir of Northfield, Minn. The dir- 
ector of this organization of student singers is Mr. F. Melius 
Christiansen who has succeeded in developing a choir which 
critics in New York, Chicago and other cities declare is with- 
out a peer in the United States. St. Olaf College pays much 
attention to music and the little town of Northfield seems 
destined to become a music center of the Northwest. The 
college also has a band which has won fame both in Amer- 
ica and Norway. Luther College, Decorah, la. is equally 
attentive to the musical training of its students and has an 
excellent band under the direction of the head of the music 
department, Prof. Carlo Sperati, who in spite of his Italian 
name is of Norwegian origin. 

In New York Mr. Ole Windingstad is a musician of high 
rank, an orchestra conductor and director of singing societies. 
His symphony orchestra has won high favor among all lovers 
of the best in music and his work as choral director gives 
evidence of sincerity, intensive work and high aims. 

Mr. Alfred Paulsen of Chicago is the best known and the 
most popular of the composers and music directors of the 
Norwegian group. Mr. Paulsen's works are sung in all Nor- 
wegian choral societies in America and have been adopted with 
enthusiasm by similar societies in Norway. His works have 
also won popularity among Swedish and Danish singers. 
In Norway Mr. Paulsen was a pupil of Edvard Grieg. 

Foremost among singers of the Norwegian group is Mme 
Olive Fremstad, for many years an American operatic star 
of the first magnitude. Her career and triumphs are so well 
known to all Americans that it would be superfluous to give 
an account of them in this brief summary. 


The best baritone among immigrant Norwegians was the 
late Mr. Albert Arveschou. His voice was a marvel of range, 
power and beauty of tone. Mr. Ralf Hammer has done good 
work as a tenor and romance singer, as has also Mr. Chris- 
tian Mathisen. Mr. Erik Aulie of Minneapolis is well and 
favorably known as an orchestra director and Mr. Hjalmar 
Rabe of Chicago has the distinction of being one of the fore- 
most trombone players in America. He has for many years 
been with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Erik Bye is 
a new arrival and gives promise of an American career as 
a barytone singer. Mme Signe Lund won first prize during 
the war for her composition entitled "On the Road to France." 

A list of all the musicians and singers of the Norwegian 
group would require more space than this little book affords. 
A sufficient number has been given to indicate that music 
is one of the arts which Americans of Norwegian birth and 
parentage love and foster to an extent equalled by few racial 
groups. It is fostered as an art of the people in which every- 
body in the community, in the state, in the nation may share. 
A spiritual contribution such as this is not the least of the 
values Norwegian immigrants and their descendants have given 
and are giving to the enrichment of American life. 

H. S-H. 



In the American world of science there is a number of 
prominent men and women of Norwegian lineage, who, by 
their research work and instructive abiHty, have made valuable 
contributions to the development of various fields of science. 
Lack of space and time makes it impossible to give a com- 
plete list of these scientific workers, but some of the more 
prominent among them will be briefly mentioned in the fol- 
lowing paragraphs. 

The dean of the scientists of Norwegian ancestry is the 
venerable professor Rasmus B. Anderson. He was for a 
number of years professor of Scandinavian languages and 
literature in the University of Wisconsin and has devoted 



many years of his life to scientific investigations of the his- 
tory of the Norse discovery of America and the first Nor- 
wegian immigration to the United States. Some of his 
works on these subjects are still regarded as sources of 
authoritative information. The same is true of his work on 
the subject of Norse mythology. 

Julius E. Olson is professor of Scandinavian languages 
and literature in the University of Wisconsin. He has writ- 
ten a Norwegian grammar and reader which is extensively 
used as a textbook in American schools and universities. 
His edition of Ibsen's "Brand" published some years ago 
attracted attention by the clear and penetrating commentaries 
on the many difficult symbolisms of this dramatic poem. Pro- 
fessor Olson is well known through the Northwest as a lec- 
turer and orator. 

Gisle Bothne is professor of Scandinavian languages 
and Uterature in the University of Minnesota. He has con- 
tributed a large number of articles to the newspaper and 
magazine press on a variety of scientific and popular sub- 
jects and has written the history of Luther College. Pro- 
fessor Bothne is intimately connected with organized group 
work of Americans of Norwegian origin in the Northwest 
and has done prominent work in this field. 

George T. Flom is associate professor of Scandinavian 
languages in the University of Illinois. He has published 
authoritative works on the history of Norwegian immigration 
to America and has written much on philological subjects. 

J. S. Shefloe is professor of romance in the Johns Hop- 
kins University, Baltimore, Md. 

Andrew Possum, professor in. Concordia College, Moor- 
hcad, Minn., is a , prominent writer on Greek philology and 
Norse discoveries. 

Oscar Olson, acting president of Luther College, Decorah, 
la., has written much on philological subjects. 

O. E. Rolvaag and P. J. Eikeland, instructors in Nor- 
wegian in St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., have written 
valuable works on the Norwegian language. 



Knut Gjerset, professor of history in Luther College, 
Decorah, la., published a few years ago an extensive two 
volume history of Norway which is considered the standard 
treatment of this subject in the English language. 

J. E. Granrud, professor in the University of Minnesota, 
is a writer on classical archeology. 

Laurence M. Larson, professor of history in the Univer- 
sity of Illinois, is the author of a number of historical works. 

John O, Evjen, president of the State Normal School, 
Mayville, N. D., has published an extensive work on Nor- 
wegian and other Scandinavian immigrants in New York in 
the 17th century. 

Ludvig Hektoen is professor and head of the department 
of pathology and bacteriology in the University of Chicago 
and director of the Memorial Institution for Infectious Dis- 
eases. He is regarded as a high authority in the medical 

M. N. Voldeng is superintendent of the Hospital for 
Epileptics at Woodward, la., and has written many works 
on psychiatry. 

Nils Remmen, of Chicago, is a leading eye specialist 
which subject he has given extensive study in Europe and 
America. Dr. Remmen is chief eye surgeon in the Illinois 
Eye and Ear Infirmary. 

Thorstein Veblen, professor in the University of Mis- 
souri, has gained national fame by his excellent works in 
the field of political and social economics. His "Theory of 
the Leisure Class" and similar publications stand forth as 
standard works in this field. 

Oswald Veblen, professor of mathematics in Princeton 
University, has won reputation as an authority in his de- 
partment of the sciences. 

A. A. Veblen held for many years university chairs, 
mostly in the department of physics and mathematics. 

Leonhard Stejneger is the head curator of biology in 
the National Museum. Washington, D. C. He specializes in 



ornithological and other zoological subjects and has published 
a number of scientific works in this field. 

F. W. IVoll, professor of animal nutrition in the Univer- 
sity of California, is a prominent authority on agricultural 

John Korcn, in the service of the U. S. Government for 
several years, is an authority on statistics and has written 
several scientific works on this subject. 

In American library work mention should be made of J. C. 
M. Hanson, Juul Dieserud and Torstein Jahr. The former is 
associate director of the University of Chicago Library and 
the two latter are connected with the Library of Congress, 
Washington, D. C. Dieserud is a writer on anthropology 
and Norse discoveries and Jahr has written much on early 
American pioneers. 

A. K. 




By Arne Ktldal 

Official Norwegian Press Representative in the United States. 

[HE fighting spirit of the Vikings has proved to be 
still active in the Norwegian immigrants who came 
to America in modern times. In all the American 

wars Norwegian settlers have taken part as soldiers 

or officers and in some of them they can pride themselves on 
a most glorious record. It appears that even in the Revolu- 
tionary war, the war of 1812 and the Mexican war Nor- 
wegians were found in the ranks of the armies and it seems 
very likely— according to historical investigations— that some 
of the men accompanying John Paul Jones were of Norse 
descent. The reports of these events, however, are too vague 
to give a complete picture of the situation, whereas in the 
case of the later wars, particularly the Civil war and the 
great World war, full records of the merits of soldiers of 
Norse extraction are available. 

ft is estimated that six or seven thousand Norwegians 
enlisted in the various regiments of the Northern army dur- 
ing the civil war. The most typical Norwegian regiment was 
the famous Fifteenth Wisconsin under the leadership of Colonel 
Hans C. Heg. It consisted almost exclusively of Norwegians, 
many of whom had only recently arrived from the other side 
and many being unable to speak the language of the country 
for which they fought. The regiment rapidly came mto 
action and distinguished itself on several occasions, m the 
battles of Union City Tennessee, Stone's River, Murfrees- 
boro and in the siege of Island Number 10. It was men- 
tioned favorably in special orders, and in an official docu- 
ment dating from 1861 is found the following encouragmg 
greeting to the Fifteenth Wisconsin: "All hail, Norsemen, 



descendants of the Vikings, let your hordes as in days of old, 
sweep down upon the South, crushing as with Thor's ham- 
mer the Southron who meets you on the field of battle." 

The most fateful event in the history of the Fifteenth 
Wisconsin was the bloody two-day battle of Chickamauga. 
The Norse regiment fought stubbornly against heavy odds 
and would not retreat. Lying on the ground the men fought 
on in the foremost line and held the enemy in check. But 
by a fatal mistake the reserves sent to their support took them 
for Confederate troops opening fire on them from behind. 
This was unexpected — and the regiment broke and ran for 
the first and last time in its history. There were not many 
left, only 75 men. On the field they left their idolized com- 
mander and the flower of his officers and men. Colonel 
Heg was waving his hat and giving the order for a renewed 
attack upon the enemy's intrenchments when a bullet hit him. 

The history of the Fifteenth Wisconsin would probably 
have ended with the battle of Chickamauga if two companies, 
left behind on garrison duty, had not joined it with about 
150 men. The regiment took part in the storming of Mis- 
sionary Ridge and, we are told, was the first to reach the 
summit. In the battle of New Hope Church it again dis- 
tinguished itself and in the summer of 1864 it accompanied 
Sherman's army on its march to the sea, almost continually 
being engaged and under fire. 

The Fifteenth Wisconsin took part in 26 battles and 
engagements. Its total losses up to November 7, 1864, were 
481 or more than fifty per cent, of its total strengtn. The 
State of Wisconsin has erected a magnificent monument on 
the battlefield of Chickamauga in honor of the Fifteenth 
Regiment, and another marks the spot where Colonel Heg 
fell at the head of his battalions. Colonel Heg was a splendid 
type of what is best in the Norwegian character. He was a 
brave, almost a reckless commander, capable of inspiring his 
men to great efforts and his popularity with his boys was 
immense. The Norwegian Society of America plans to erect 
a statue of Colonel Heg in Madison, Wis., his home city. 



While the Fifteenth Wisconsin was above all the "Nor- 
wegian regiment" in the Union Army there were several com- 
panies of other regiments which consisted almost exclusively 
of Norwegians. This was true of Company F of the 36th 
Illinois under the leadership of Captain Porter C. Olson who 
rapidly advanced to colonel and fell in the battle of Franklin. 
Tennessee. In Company H of the 23d Wisconsin almost all 
the soldiers and officers were Norwegians. In the first Min- 
nesota regiment there were several Norsemen. This regi- 
ment was in the army of the Potomac and suffered heavy 
losses. At the battle of Gettysburg it lost 86 per cent, of its 
men, probably a larger percentage of losses than any other 
regiment during the whole war. 

Several years elapsed before the Americans of Nor- 
wegian lineage were again called upon to enlist for war pur- 
poses. When in 1898 the United States went to war with 
Spain the American navy was manned by Norwegian sailors 
to such an extent that in some quarters it was pointed out 
as a danger. The records show that a great number of 
Norwegian boys took part in the battle of Santiago, and 
it is reported that a bluejacket of Norwegian extraction fired 
the first shot in the battle of Manila Bay. Large numbers of 
Americans of Norwegian lineage enlisted as volunteers in the 
United States army when the war with Spain broke out and 
served to the close of the war. 

When America joined the allies in the great European 
war and appealed to its young people to mlist for the service 
the Americans of Norwegian ancestry responded enthusias- 
tically. We find a great number of them in the American 
army in France, and while most of these service men were 
born in America there were not a few who had only re- 
cently settled on this side of the ocean. They frequently 
distinguished V themselves for bravery and courage and of 
the 78 American soldiers who received the Congressional 
medal of honor there are at least four who safely may be 
designated as Norwegians, namely Corporal Birger Loman, 
Sergeant Reidar Waaler, Sergeant Johannes S. Andersen an 
Private Nels Wold. 



The two former were born in Norway. Corporal Loman 
was generally referred to in the press as "the most dec- 
orated Yank," having received in addition to the Congres- 
sional medal the French Military Medal and the Croix de 
Guerre, the British Victoria Cross, the British Distinguished 
Service Medal and the Belgian Leopold order. Sergeant 
Reidar Waaler had only been in this country a few years 
and was not an American citizen. He received a number of 
decorations for his bravery and when the 27th Division to 
which he belonged paraded through the streets of New York 
on March 25th, 1919, he was given the honor, as the most 
decorated man of the division, to cut the silk ribbon stretched 
across Fifth Avenue and to be the first man to pass through 
the arch of victory. There are several reports of Sergeant 
Waaler's brave and daring spirit. Once he defied death by 
crawling in the midst of the enemy's heavy artillery fire to 
a burning British tank from which he rescued two living 
men and brought with him one dead. Similar reports of him 
and his countrymen are plentiful. But it would lead too far 
to mention the citations in which the bravery, courage and 
spirit of loyalty of the "Norwegian Yanks" were eulogized. 

It was not only as warriors that the soldiers of Norse 
descent distinguished themselves. They also excelled as rifle- 
men, sportsmen and aviators. Many of them had officers' 
rank, among them the noted Colonel Jens Bugge who was 
the chief of the first army corps in France. Jens Bugge was 
retired from the army when the war came and was re- 
called as an advisor to the general staflF, reentering active 
service. He was considered one of the best informed men 
in the army on tactics and strategy. After returning from 
France he became commandant of West Point, the first 
American of Norse extraction to hold this important military 
post. Another prominent officer was Brigadier-General Alfred 
William Bjornstad who acted as chief of staflF of the 
third army corps and in France chiefly attended to the train- 
ing of officers. He is now commandant at Fort Snelling, 

In this connection mention should also be made of the 


war service which Commander John A. Gade of New York 
and Magnus Swenson of Madison, Wis., rendered on special 
errands to Europe for the American Government. Com- 
mander Gade was entrusted with the leadership of the Amer- 
ican relief work in Belgium and Magnus Swenson, as the 
right hand of Mr. Herbert C. Hoover in his food adminis- 
tration work, was at the head of the work for distribution 
of food supplies in Northern Europe, particularly Finland. 
Taking a retrospective view of the great World war the 
impression survives that the record shown by Americans 
of Norwegian lineage is one that may be characterized as 
noble and proud. They enlisted when the call came and a 
number of them gave their lives in defence of America. 
Also in other ways they demonstrated their loyalty and 
patriotism, by the women's service jn the Red Cross, by 
heavy subscriptions to the liberty loans, by ministerial service 
in the field, by establishment of volunteer army training corps, 
and by many other patriotic services. They quietly went 
about their work and without hesitation oflfered their con- 
tribution in defence of the stars and stripes for the glory 
of the country for which their forefathers had fought and 
died before them. 

It may be maintained, without fear of contradiction, 
that the record of Americans of Norwegian lineage in Amer- 
ican wars belongs to the greatest achievements ever per- 
formed by Norsemen since the heroic saga-times. Thus, both 
by his material contributions and the shedding of his blood 
has the Norwegian immigrant won his rights as a citizen 
of the United States of America. 




By Carl G. O. Hansen 
Associate Editor, Minneapolis Tidende. 

LL Norwegians are fond of life out of doors and, 
as a rule, lovers of sport. Their special fields are 
skiing, sailing and skating, although they also 
will be found in almost every other field 
of sport. The homeland of the Norseman offers pe- 
culiar advantages for the skier, the oarsman, the yachtsman, 
the skater. The snowclad mountainside beckons to the lad 
and lassie as soon as they are able to roam and rove, in- 
viting them to try a swift glide down its slope. As one of 
the greatest seafaring nations the Norwegians naturally at 
a very early age learn to handle the oars and maneuver 
the sails. During the beautiful winter season skating is 
excellent on the fjords and the inland lakes. The bracing 
climate makes for health and strength. 

It is then but natural that Norwegians in America have 
become the leaders in these fields of sport. There is less 
professionalism in these fields than in most sports, and the 
Norwegians do not take very kindly to this sort of profes- 
sionalism. They are truly devotees of these sports. 

Men of Norwegian blood have distinguished themselves 
in other branches of sport as well. Usually, however, these 
are of the second, third or fourth generation, but even then 
they are very seldom found among professional boxers or 
baseball players. Wrestling is a little more to their liking 
than boxing. At the universities and colleges, especially in 
the west, some of the foremost athletes are students of Nor- 
wegian extraction. 

Skiing is the Norwegian sport par excellence. Its popu- 
larity has long since gone beyond the borders of Norway, 
and in few countries has it been adopted with such cnthu- 



siasm as in the United States. This is due principally, of 
course, to the example set by Norwegian immigrants. It is 
no longer therefore only a Norwegian sport. Americans of 
other than Norse origin have taken to it with enthusiasm. 
Accounts of ski meets are now given a prominent place 
in the sporting sections of our newspapers. No first 
class dealei' in sporting goods neglects to have a good 
assortment of skis. Devotees consider skiing the king of 
all outdoor winter sports. 

Skis were used in America long before skiing became 
the prominent winter sport it now is. Many a Norwegian 
immigrant took his skis with him to America. In the older 
settlements of Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and the 
Dakotas, the Norwegian pioneers more easily than others made 
their way through forest and over prairie on their winter 
journeys to town because they had their skis. 

The first record made on skis in America was set by 
"Snowshoe Thompson," a native of Telemarken — famous for 
its excellent skiers — who came to this country in 1837 and for 
twenty years on his skis carried the mail over the mountains 
from Hangtown, or Placerville, California, to Carson Valley, 
Idaho, a distance of ninety miles. 

The skiers could not fail to attract attention, and when 
about thirty or forty years ago winter carnivals were given 
in cities of the west, skiers took part. The first ski club was 
founded in the middle of the eighties, and from that time 
on skiing has been one of the principal recognized winter 
sports of the middle northwestern states. Eau Claire, Wis., 
Minneapolis and Red Wing, Minn., all lay claim to the dis- 
tinction of having had the first ski club in America. In the 
latter eighties an association of ski clubs was formed and 
r^^lar national ski meets initiated. During the nineties the 
interest lagged somewhat. In 1904 a new association was 
organized which still survives and flourishes. Regular na- 
tional meets have been held every year since the formation 
of the ski association. 

The National Ski Association of America was founded 
by Carl Tellefsen of Ishpeming, Mich., now deceased. It was 



through his untiring effort and winning personality that the 
association was formed and the sport put under organized 

For a time skiing threatened to degenerate into a com- 
mercial enterprise. Tempted by big money offers for their 
exhibitions of skill, a few men attempted to force profes- 
sionalism on the organization, and for a time a bitter fight 
raged over that issue. 

To Mr. Thor O. Raaen of Chicago belongs the credit 
of waging the war that banished the taint of professionalism 
from the National Ski Association of America. Mr. Raaen 
served as president of the association for three years and 
when he retired professionalism was thoroughly wiped out 

Another untiring worker in the interest of ski sport de- 
velopment in America is Mr. Aksel Holter of Ashland, Wis. 
Mr. Holter was for 15 years national secretary of the asso- 
ciation and laid down an enormous amount of time and labor 
for the success of the sport. The present national president 
is Mr. G. C. Torguson of Glenwood, Minn., an untiring 
worker in this field. 

It is of interest to note in this connection that skis have 
been officially adopted by our government for army purposes 
and in the forestry serace and national parks. 

On making skiing a regular sport no serious efforts were 
made to establish records for some years. The skiers were 
willing enough but the hillsides of the middle northwestern 
states were not hke the ski hills of Norway. Where there 
is a will there is a way, however. If these states had no 
Holmenkollen or GraakoUen (two of the most famous ski 
hills of Norway)' they might be created. High steel scaffolds, 
or ski slides, were erected and covered with snow. Hereto- 
fore the skiers in America had looked upon it as a matter 
of course that the records should be held in Norway. In 
the earliest tournaments a jump of 100 feet was considered 
good, now twice that distance has been covered by the 
jumpers. In February, 191 3, Ragnar Omtvedt of Chicago 
set a new world's record by making a standing jump of i6q 
feet at Ironwood, Mich. Since that time the world's record 



has been boosted several times, usually in America. The 
record is now 214 feet, established by Anders Haugen at 
Dillon, Colorado, February 29, 1920. During the same meet 
he made a jump of 218 feet but fell. 

Ragnar Omtvedt's world record was broken in 19 15 by 
Amble Ommundsen who jumped 177^ feet at Mjfindalen, 
Norway. The following year this was beaten by Henry Hall 
by jumping 203 feet in the hill of Steamboat Springs, Colo., 
March 9, 1919. Hall's record was beaten by Anders Haugen 
who made a jump of 214 feet in the hill of the Summit County 
Winter Sports Club near Dillon, Colo. 

Anders Haugen, the world's ski champion, was born at 
Boe, Telemarken, Norway, and is thirty-two years old. 

Annual summer ski meets have been held by skiers on 
the Pacific coast since 1919 in the hills of Mount Rainier, 

The ski meets in the middle northwestern states have 
attracted wide attention and there have been present up- 
wards of 10,000 spectators. The municipalities have come 
to recognize the importance of the ski sport. In Minne- 
apolis a Municipal Ski club was organized in February, 
1920. The Board of Park Commissioners of the same city 
was the prime mover for a Winter Carnival held in Feb- 
ruary of this year, and in connection with this ski runs were 
held in Glen wood Park before an assemblage of over six 
thousand spectators. 

In several cities of the Northwest the lofty, steel ski 
slides bear mute testimony the year around of the keen in- 
terest taken in the ski sport. In approaching Virginia, Minn., 
for example, the traveller by rail sees the ski slide long 
before he observes the first houses, and if curiosity prompts 
him to inquire of a townsman what that structure might 
be he is met with the response: "That is our ski slide — 
the greatest in the country." 

The American Norsemen's capabilities as yachtsmen -"vere 
proclaimed to the world when the American yacht Resolute 
won the cup races with Shamiock July 20, 1920. For the 
thirteenth time since the in.'^ernational cup races began over 



fifty years ago a British challenger was defeated by an 
American defender. The thirty men who made up the crew 
of the Resolute were twenty-two Norwegians, seven Swedes 
and one Dane, all American citizens however. The sailing 
master of the defender was Captain Chris Christensen. Cap- 
tain Christensen, since he arrived in America from Arendal, 
Norway, in 1882, has taken part in many national and in- 
ternational regattas. It is said that no man knows the 
vagaries and whims of the wind and weather along the Atlan- 
tic coast better than he. Many of the racing captains of 
the Atlantic ports are Americans of Norwegian birth. The 
racing master of the New York Yacht Club since 1874 is 
Louis W. Blix from Sandefjord, Norway. 

Since skating races for the international distances of 
500, 1,500, 5,000 and 10,000 meters were introduced in 1886 
the different records have at various times been held by 
Norwegians. Several of these Norwegian champions have 
visited the United States, Axel Paulsen, Alfred Naess, Mar- 
tinus Ljirdahl, Peder 0stlund, Harald Hagen, Adolf Norseng, 
Oscar Frederiksen, Rud. Gundersen and Oscar Mathisen. 
Of these the first and the last are perhaps best known. 
Axel Paulsen made this country his home for two or three 
years, 1888-90, and took part in many races. Among those 
whom he outdistanced were Rudolph Goetz and Hugh 

Oscar Mathisen of Christiania, who first won interna- 
tional fame at Davos, Switzerland, in the winter of 1906-07, 
was in the United States a couple of years and met several 
of the best skaters of this country on the rinks. "Bobby" 
McLean of Chicago tried to beat him on his own ground and 
went to Christiania for that purpose. The match took place 
February 8, 1920 and Oscar Mathisen, winning 3 of the 4 
races, was declared champion of the world. (The official 
time for the exciting 10,000 meters race was: Mathisen 18 
minutes, 39.1 seconds; McLean 19 minutes, 2/5 seconds.) 

The present American ice skating champion is Arthur 
Staff, who captured the national title in a match last Feb- 
ruary on Lake Placid, N. Y. Arthur Staff was born in 



Chicago of Norwegian parents. He is this year for the first 
time visiting the land of his ancestors and it is reported that 
he will seek a match in Norway next winter with the world's 
champion, Oscar Mathisen. It will be interesting to see the 
outcome of a match between the American champion of Norse 
ancestry and the world's champion of Norway. 

In the field of tennis all Americans are proud of the 
achievements of "the girl from Norway," Mrs. Molla Bjur- 
stedt Mallory. Her sportsmanlike conduct toward her French 
rival, Mile. Suzanne Lenglen, after the visiting player's un- 
fortunate illness and default, is still fresh in the memory of 
all lovers of true sport. 

The New York Times' tennis observer, in an article in 
that newspaper, Sunday, October 23, 192 1, has the following 
to say about this Norwegian immigrant champion: 

"Regarding Mrs. Mallory's position in first place in the 
ranking there can be but one opinion. Never in the history 
of the sport were American women's tennis laurels intrusted 
to such capable hands as in those of the present champion 
this last summer. The Times' observer of tennis is willing 
to admit that, in advance of the women's national tourna- 
ment, he considered that the main burden of defense against 
the invasion of Mile. Suzanne Lenglen lay rather with Miss 
Mary Browne than with Mrs. Mallory. He was mistaken. 
He had not sized up the magnificent resources of Mrs. Mal- 
lory correctly. He had thought that a more versatile game 
than Mrs. Mallory's was needed to meet the French girl. 
He had noted Miss Browne's command of a net attack and 
her ability to lead up to it by well laid ground strokes and 
he had thought that her greater variety of strokes made her 
America's one greatest hope in the successful defense of 
the trophy. 

"Never was acknowledgment of incorrect judgment a hap- 
pier task than in the case of the national tournament and 
Mrs. Mallory's superb performance in it. In her defeat of 
Mile. Lenglen, Mrs. Mallory did something that no observer 
of the ijame, remembering what had happened between the 
strated that not only was she tb» foremost player in America, 



two in Europe, had thought her capable of doing. She demon- 
but that she was clearly the superior of the girl whom all 
the world considered the greatest woman player who had 
ever raised a racquet. It was not purely her splendid skill 
that made this victory possible, rare though that was. It was 
unadulterated courage, gameness, determination. Mrs. Mallory 
raised the back-court driving game to unheard-of heights as 
an attacking medium in women's tennis. Having a limited 
repertory of strokes, she used them as never they had been 
before. Almost every shot was a forcing shot and sheer 
grit enabled the American champion to handle returns that 
any other player would have passed up as impossible. In 
all the history of the sport no player, masculine or fem- 
inine, ever rose to the occasion with more consummate mas- 
tery or a finer exhibition of grit than Mrs. Mallory showed 
in the national tourney. To Mrs. Mallory more than to any 
other player in the game in the season of 192 1, one's hat is 
ofT. She was magnificent." 

"Marvellous Molla" has gone from triumph to triumph 
until she stands as the undisputed champion woman tennis 
player. Her game is superb, and she has given America a 
glimpse of the best tradition of the Norse race in the field 
of sport. 

In football Americans of Norwegian extraction are 
doing excellent work. The football teams of the Norwegian 
American Athletic Association of Chicago have made an en- 
viable record in soccer football, which is the game preferred 
by Norsemen, and are regarded as being among the top 
notchers in the soccer league. 

The Norwegian American Athletic Association is per- 
haps the leading sports organization of the Norwegian group 
in America, although other strong sports organizations exist 
in New York and other cities. . The Chicago association, how- 
ever, embracees nearly all forms of sports such as skiing, 
skating, turning, swimming, soccer football, bicycle riding 
and all forms of track and field sports. 

It is this organization or its forerunner, the old Sleipner 
Athletic Gub, which has developed ice skaters like Arthur 



Staff, the present American national champion, and has 
captured innumerable records in many other fields. 

One of the finest trained and most efficient turner so- 
cieties in America is the Norwegian Turner Society of 
Brooklyn, N. Y. 

^he Norwegians are among the peoples who come near- 
est being perfect specimens of humanity, according to scien- 
tific surveys, and their offspring in this country do not 
deteriorate. It may be noted that at the time of America's 
entry into the World war North Dakota, where forty per- 
cent of the population is of Norwegian extraction, had the 
smallest percentage of rejections at camps of any state in 
the Union. 

At the universities and colleges of the middle west these 
young Americans distinguish themselves as athletes. They 
are among the football stars and the best track men. At 
the University of Minnesota the student who at present is 
credited with having most successfully combined scholastic 
attainments with athletic excellence is Ame Oas, and his 
predecessor having this enviable distinction was Erling Platou. 

During the world war Americans of Norwegian origin 
distinguished themselves as fighters. Four of those who were 
awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest dis- 
tinction accorded an American soldier, were men of Nor- 
wegian blood, Corporal Birger Loman, Sergeant Reidar 
Waaler, Privates Nels Tidemand Wold and Johannes S. 
Andersen. As sharp shooters and in athletics the fighters 
of Norwegian blood proved their mettle. Sergeant Olav 
Gunheim of Canby, Minn., 351st Infantry, was awarded a 
gold medal by General Pershing for being among the twenty- 
five best riflemen in the American Expeditionary Forces. He 
won fourth place in the A. E. F. contest on the d'Anvours 
range near Le Mans in competition with 1,300 of the army's 
best marksmen. Trygve Mordt, New York, who served in 
the United States navy for four years, won the distinction 
of being the best all-around athlete among the bluejackets. 


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