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Norwegians in the West in 1844: A Contemporary Account
by Johan R. Reiersen and translated and edited by Theodore C. Blegen (Volume I: Page 110)

The following account of the Norwegian settlements in the West is translated from chapter 10 of Johan R. Reiersen's Veiviser for norske Emigranter til de forenede nordamerikanske Stater og Texas [" Pathfinder for Norwegian Emigrants to the United North American States and Texas "], a book published in Christiania in 1844. {1} The volume embodied the results of an investigation made by a pronounced Norwegian liberal, a newspaper editor who had definitely allied himself with the common people and was out of sympathy with the office-holding class. He took great interest in the emigration movement and eventually decided to go to America. A number of his friends engaged him to prepare a careful report on conditions in America, especially on prospects for emigrants, and they raised a sum of money to help defray his expenses. In the summer of 1843 he left Norway and journeyed to New Orleans by way of Havre, France. He traveled extensively in America, visited the Norwegian settlements in Illinois and Wisconsin, pushed his inquiries widely in other states, and also made a trip to Texas, where he met Governor Sam Houston.

His book contains ten chapters dealing with the following subjects respectively: natural conditions in general; agriculture; the general problem of establishing oneself on a farm; trade and industry; minerals and mining; the public lands; geographical conditions in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin; the government of the states and their relation to the Union; the republic of Texas; and the Norwegian settlements in the West.

For the prospective emigrant in the forties the last chapter was doubtless the most interesting, for in it the author not only gives a description of the conditions in the Norwegian settlements but also sums up his observations and offers advice. He calls attention both to the good and to the bad sides of the situation, but on the whole takes a favorable view. He wrote knowing that in Norway the tone of the conservative official opinion with reference to emigration was hostile, and occasionally, in discussing the American situation, he is perhaps not wholly to be depended upon, particularly in the matter of figures. Generally, however, his zeal is held in check and his judgments are well considered.

Reiersen's book was widely read in Norway and exerted considerable influence upon the emigration movement. It contains a mass of information, far more detailed than that in Rynning's True Account of America, although less compact. It was based upon first-hand knowledge of actual conditions in America. Unlike the average "America letter" and some of the little books written by immigrants, it represented contact with most of the Norwegian settlements as well as a careful study of American conditions generally. The author, moreover, had studied American writings. In his preface he mentions Lewis and Clark, Schoolcraft, Flint, Long, Peck, Lea, Delafield, and James Hall as writers with whose works he was familiar. On the whole the book must be considered one of the most substantial contributions made to the advertising of America in Norway before the Civil War.

An interesting example of the specific influence of Reiersen's book has been given by a contemporary, Nils Hanson Fjeld of South Aurdal, Valders, who came to America in 1847, among the earliest emigrants from that district of Norway. He describes the economic conditions which caused him to listen with great interest to reports about America. The "America fever" was only beginning to make itself felt. Contradictory reports were in circulation, some of them exceedingly "rosy-hued," and others very dark, -- he speaks of the reports about poisonous snakes, dangerous wild animals, and more dangerous "wild men," --until finally there came to the district two copies of Reiersen's book. People began to say, "We now have the printed word to rely upon," and many of the doubters were won over to the "orthodox faith" in the promised land beyond the sea. "This book, which came from America, caused many to forsake their homes and the land of their fathers in order to participate in the good things of the New World." {2}

It should be noted that Reiersen, who returned to Norway after his first trip of investigation, organized a small company of Norwegian emigrants who came to America in 1845. He settled in Texas and died there in 1864.

THE NORWEGIAN SETTLEMENTS

To the brief historical sketch of the emigration from Norway up to the year 1838 which Rynning, the student, has presented in his Account of America I have nothing further to add. Written with veracity and good faith, its slight errors in matters of detail may be ascribed to his limited experience. {3} It occasioned a considerable emigration in the following year, especially from Numedal, but the subsequent death of Rynning, which was caused by highly unhealthful work on the great canal projected between the Illinois River and Lake Michigan, caused again almost a complete cessation of emigration from Norway in 1839,1840, and 1841. But more favorable reports from America, together with the news of Hans Gasmann's decision to emigrate, awakened anew the smoldering emigration spirit in all parts of Norway. It evidenced itself in the great emigration of 1843 from Telemarken and the Skien parishes, as well as from the districts about Bergen and especially from Voss. Approximately two thousand emigrants left Norway in that year to settle in Wisconsin Territory, and the total number would hardly have been less in the present year (1844) had not considerable numbers waited for more accurate and reliable information about American conditions and the situation in the Norwegian settlements before making their decision to leave. I have attempted so far as possible in this volume to present all the information which I have been able to secure, with a view to enabling everyone to form a clear conception of conditions in the frontier states, and I shall now, in conclusion, briefly describe the circumstances of our emigrated countrymen as I have observed them in their new homes.

The Norwegian emigrants of 1837 settled, as Rynning states, in the northern part of Illinois, on the Fox River, and at Beaver Creek where Rynning lived. As a result of unhealthful conditions which caused several deaths at the latter place, the survivors moved to the Fox River settlement near Ottawa, La Salle County, Illinois, 41 1/2 degrees north latitude. At this place lives -- among others -- Gjert Hovland, famous for his letters. This therefore became in reality the first Norwegian settlement of any importance, and numbers at present about six hundred inhabitants, chiefly emigrants from the vicinity of Stavanger and Bergen. Most of these have passed the initial stage, have erected good houses, and live in a comfortable and independent position. Although agriculture constitutes the main support of the settlement, many persons carry on cattle raising as their most important means of subsistence, and keep large herds of cattle and droves of swine, which find food in abundance on the grassy prairies. For the marketing of products the place is well chosen. They are disposed of in part at Ottawa, and in part at the important trading port of Chicago, on Lake Michigan, about seventy-five miles to the east. When the proposed canal -- of which only one-fourth remains to be dug -- is completed, the land will increase in importance and rise in value. This tract, therefore, was very soon settled by American immigrants and the suitable land was all taken up. The Norwegian emigrants who arrived in 1838 were accordingly forced to go farther north, where there was plenty of land to buy everywhere. The Norwegians in this settlement have schools in common with the neighboring Americans, but in 1842 they built a church, or chapel, of their own, where the well known Elling Eielsen conducted devotional exercises for a time. The majority understand the English language, however, and usually attend the American churches in the vicinity, where their church rites and affairs are cared for.

The immigrants from Numedal who came to America in 1839, the year after Rynning's death, were obliged to seek land farther toward the northwest. They selected some tracts on the Rock River, partly in the state of Illinois and partly in Wisconsin. A wealthy farmer, Clement Stabek, together with some others, settled in a locality called Rock Ground, where prairie and woodland are found in suitable proportions. Others -- and among them Ole Nattestad -- settled a few miles farther north on Jefferson and Rock prairies. In this way small pioneer colonies were established in this vicinity. Although the land on Jefferson Prairie is rather deficient in woods, most of the inhabitants of these three communities have made very good progress when one considers the short time they have lived here. Many good and substantial houses have been put up in place of the inadequate log huts; and enclosed wheat and corn fields stretch far out on the prairie and yield all the necessaries for an independent and care-free existence. Somewhat farther west, on a high rolling prairie near the Pecatonica River, is a fourth and newer Norwegian settlement, and a few Norwegians have established themselves a short distance from the city of Mineral Point, a little farther northwest.

Most of the inhabitants of these small but thriving settlements are from Numedal. They have a few schools of their own and during my visit they united in sending a call for a minister from Norway, with an offer of an annual salary of three hundred dollars, a farm of eighty or one hundred and sixty acres, a free parsonage, in addition to voluntary payments for such incidental officiations as marriages, baptisms, and the like. They decided to build a church on the grounds to be set a part for the use of the minister. More than two hundred adults of both sexes affixed their signatures to this document, and in the spring a letter was sent to Bishop Sērensen, asking him to send out an able and God-fearing young clergyman to undertake the new charge.

The settlement at Muskego and Wind Lake was founded in 1840 by Sēren Bakke and Johannesen of Drammen. It lies partly in Milwaukee and partly in Racine counties, Territory of Wisconsin, forty-third degree of latitude, on the shores of six small lakes. The whole region is flat, with many marshes. The tillable elevations -- rising only slightly above the level of the marshes -- consist of glades between forests of white oak and the soil is a thin layer of mould over a stratum of clay. Immigrants from Voss, Telemarken, Numedal, and elsewhere, have settled in this region and have begun to till the land, but the crops are not yet sufficient to supply the needs of all the settlers. No signs of malaria appeared in the settlement during the first year, but in the following two years, when large numbers of poor immigrants swarmed into the colony -- chiefly because it was the nearest Norwegian settlement to the city of Milwaukee -- and were lodged, many of them sick as a result of the ocean journey, in the small pioneer huts, a general wave of sickness swept the colony, attacking almost everyone and laying a great many in the grave. This misfortune, combined with considerable indolence on the part of some and a lack of enterprise on the part of most of the settlers, chiefly accounts for the unfavorable conditions in the colony. It is rather expensive, furthermore, to clear the land, and the soil is less fertile than is usual elsewhere. About two hundred families have purchased land, chiefly in small lots of forty acres each; only a few have larger tracts and as many own no land at all. The population in 1843 was estimated at between fifteen hundred and two thousand, but of these a large number planned to push on into the interior in the spring. That lack of food and of work should exist under such circumstances can surprise no one. Nor is it surprising that those who have come to this settlement without having seen any other lands in the new states of America should form an extremely unfavorable opinion of the conditions of the Norwegians and in America generally. In the meantime, schools have been temporarily established at several places in common with neighboring Americans. The settlement has organized and chosen as its pastor a Danish student, Clausen, who was ordained by a German Lutheran minister. He is a very able, pious, and gifted young man who in a short time has won the respect and confidence of the whole colony. Elling Eielsen also lives in this community, and after having earlier ranted against the sinfulness of wedlock has married a Norwegian girl. As a result of several very questionable actions he has entirely lost the confidence formerly reposed in him and has almost played out his role of Apostle. Hansen, a teacher of gymnastics from Frederiksvaern, has also settled in this community.

Almost in the heart of Wisconsin, on the prairies which border the capital, Madison, particularly on Koshkonong Prairie by a lake of the same name in Dane County, a large number of the most recent Norwegian immigrants have formed several small settlements within a circuit of ten to twelve miles. Only a few families have lived here as long as two or three years; the larger part arrived in the fall of 1843. The region is healthful, the soil fertile, and the land beautiful, but woods are lacking to some extent and as a result of this the farmers settle at a considerable distance from each other. Malaria, it is true, has visited this settlement, but it has been mild in form, and no one has died from it. The few who have lived here for some time have made very good progress, and have been able to dispose of a large part of their crops in the nearest villages. A Swede who calls himself Smidt and represents himself as being a minister has settled here and preaches to the settlers, but his conduct is not such as to win respect for him.

The settlement at Pine Lake was founded by a Swedish divine called Unonius, who settled at this place in 1841 with his family and several other Swedes. Not a few Norwegians have since joined this settlement, and as Gasmann chose this locality many of his countrymen joined him. A very wealthy Dane, Fribert by name, and a Swede who calls himself Saint-Cyr, who also had a large capital, have likewise bought land here. Thus a considerable settlement has grown up within a short period of time, and is being developed with ability, insight, and power. The land is open, and in some places rather hilly, but not therefore less attractive. The soil is fertile and the neighborhood healthful. The settlement is located in the northeastern corner of Milwaukee County. The inhabitants have elected Unonius as their minister. He was to be ordained by the bishop of the Episcopal Church and his salary was to be paid out of the funds of the American mission. It was decided to build a church at the western end of Pine Lake.

In the southern part of Iowa, 40 1/2 degrees of north latitude, there is a little Norwegian settlement which lies by a stream called Sugar Creek in Lee County, near the Mississippi on the opposite banks of which is situated the principal seat of the Mormons, Nauvoo. This place was presumably chosen by the well known Hans Barlien, who died last year at a very advanced age, and a Norwegian named Tesmann, both of whom emigrated on account of political difficulties. From thirty to forty families live along the above-mentioned creek. The land is chiefly woodland, difficult to clear, but possessing good soil. The majority have occupied claims for several years and are liable to suffer losses unless they can secure the titles when the land is put up at auction. The chief crop is maize; and swine are raised to a considerable extent. I do not think the place is healthful, but no deadly sickness has visited the settlement. A part of the inhabitants have gone over to the Mormon teachings. These doctrines, the cardinal tenets of which are built upon expositions and prophecies in the Revelation of St. John, assume the establishment of a sort of thousand years' kingdom which will survive the common destruction of the earth and its people. Joseph Smith, the founder of this sect, is heralded as a prophet, and his followers call themselves the "Latter Day Saints," and maintain that the earth and all its goods belong to them as God's chosen people. They believe that all who do not belong to their sect will find themselves, after death, in a prison from which they can only be released by Mormons, each Mormon freeing one soul. Aside from this, they profess Christianity, the first law of which they violate, however, by wishing to arrogate to themselves all those things which are rightfully in the possession of human beings generally. Driven out of the state of Missouri, Joseph Smith founded the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, the population of which, after a few years, has grown to twenty thousand, while the total number of adherents of the sect is estimated at one hundred and fifty thousand souls. They have missionaries in several countries. That their evangelists have not failed to work among our credulous and simple countrymen who live in their near vicinity goes without saying. Joseph Smith, the Prophet, was recently killed, but it is hardly believable that the sect, which contains many talented persons, will go under because of his death.

The chief results of my observations with reference to Norwegian settlements in America may be summed up in the following remarks. All those who have been in America for a few years, with a few individual exceptions, are in a contented and independent position. Anxiety and care with respect to daily bread and subsistence for their families burden them no longer. Their cultivated fields yield them a sufficiency of bread-stuffs, their cows give them milk and butter in abundance, and their swine furnish them fully with meat. They do not suffer want. Taxes and rents encumber no one, and fear of distraints and seizures does not trouble their minds. Poor rates and begging are practically unknown, and even the children of deceased poor people are eagerly received by the Americans, who support them and give them instruction. But, all things considered, this is as much as one can say. The majority still live in their original log cabins, which, however, are always a good deal better than the mountain huts in which they lived in Norway. They have only a little money, because of the indolence with which many carry on their farming. And the old manner of conducting their household affairs, to which they were accustomed in the old country, is continued. Unsanitary conditions obtain in many cases. Lack of efficiency and enterprise, qualities upon which success in America altogether depends, and in general lack of information and of education are some primary causes why our countrymen have not as yet progressed further than they have.

In my letter to Gasmann {4} I have briefly touched upon the causes which have hindered the advancement of the Norwegian immigrants in America, but I shall here explain them more fully.

1) Disproportionately high and unexpected traveling expenses, both to New York, and from New York to the frontier states in the West. Up to the last years emigrants have paid from twenty-five to thirty specie dollars for each adult for the trip from Norway to New York in Norwegian ships, and from twelve to fifteen specie dollars for transportation from New York to Chicago or Milwaukee in addition to provisions, maintenance in the cities, head taxes, and the like. Thus in aggregate the expenses have amounted to between sixty and seventy specie dollars per person. Many persons, moreover, have taken with them a large amount of furniture, implements, and the like, for which the freight charges on the canal boats have been rather high. Thus a family of five or six persons has often expended from three to four hundred specie dollars in traveling expenses alone, thereby losing the greater part of the capital with which they intended to begin their business in America. Unable to purchase land, they have been forced to seek employment as laborers, in this way making a new start and continuing until they have been able to save a sufficiently large sum of money to buy a small farm. This process has used up at least two years, however.

2) Sickness. Occasionally this is caused by unhealthful natural conditions in the region of settlement, but it is more often brought about by other causes, among which the following may be suggested: a) Cramped and unsanitary room aboard the comparatively small Norwegian ships. The ships, moreover, carry cargoes of iron which make it necessary to close the hatches as soon as even a slight swell comes on, with the result that fresh ventilation is prevented. Not a few passengers have died on the sea journey and others have arrived at their destination ill. b) A change in climate, which always exerts a certain influence upon persons unaccustomed to it. c) A different kind of drinking water, which, even though it be actually good and healthful, is somewhat detrimental in its first effects upon the constitution. Furthermore, the immigrants all too often have not taken the pains to supply themselves with good spring or well water, but have merely dug holes at the edges of swamps, where water can be found most easily. The use of such stagnant water as their only drink on warm summer days has naturally been a contributory cause of sickness, d) An altered mode of living, particularly the change from a diet consisting chiefly of foods made from potatoes and coarse flours to a prodigal use of pork at almost every meal, together with wheat bread. This indulgence in pork produces an excess of bile, and makes the eater susceptible to the dangerous bilious fever, e) Living in damp and moist houses or cabins. Arriving at their destination toward autumn, the immigrants have had to use some time in selecting land, and then, in greatest haste, they have been forced to build houses of raw materials, sometimes, indeed, doing nothing but dig a sort of dug-out in a hillside so that they may at least have a roof over their heads during the approaching cold winter. That cold and other forms of sickness should develop in such damp, leaky huts, where often several families are stowed together breathing the confined, stuffy, and unhealthful air, one can easily understand. f) Lack of cleanliness, carelessness, and a failure to employ medicines in time have naturally both aggravated and prolonged -- and often caused to degenerate into deadly contagion -- diseases which under other circumstances would have been neither protracted nor dangerous. I presume everyone will understand, therefore, that many circumstances taken together, which would have brought on the same results in any country or climate, have been the chief causes for the sickness which has overtaken the Norwegian settlers, and that America and the American climate can not be held accountable. One will also understand how prejudicial this sickness has been to the advancement of our countrymen in well-being and prosperity.

To these things may be added: 3) A lack of knowledge necessary to carry on agriculture in a systematic and well-ordered manner, combined, in the case of many of the Norwegian immigrants, with indolence; and 4) A deficiency in mutual helpfulness, harmony, and unity. In all these points the native Americans are the opposite of our countrymen. They possess a powerful spirit of enterprise, which drives them steadily on, with enthusiasm and persistence, to the achievement of their goal. They possess a versatile -- albeit often a superficial -- culture, with a knowledge of practical affairs and an extraordinary genius for everything relating to public life. When there is something to be pushed to completion which is beyond the powers of a single individual, they unite their efforts, and there is never any lack of help and support where needed. In the latter respect they are especially praiseworthy as men and as neighbors. Upon the arrival of a new settler, their first question -- which I have heard innumerable times -- is not whether he is rich or poor, but whether he is a man of activity, of enterprising spirit, a man determined to succeed. If they find that such is his spirit, he is certain to receive all the assistance which they are able to give him; and only such a man can win civic respect and public honors -- provided of course that he possesses an honorable and respectable character. The petty egotisms, the venal jealousies and grudges, which unfortunately are found among almost all classes of our people, are traits unknown in the American farmer. The latter fully understands that the best possible progress for the settlement as a whole is the best guarantee for the welfare of each individual settler. It is from such a farming class that justices of the peace, jurymen, representatives to the legislative assembly, and other officers holding responsible and honorable positions are chosen. With such a yeomanry the Americans are able to say with pride, "We have no peasants and no beggars." Our older countrymen who emigrate to America and who are not already enterprising and able men, will have difficulty in dinging to their old ways here and will consequently not make the progress which they would have been sure to make under other circumstances. If they are not in continual intercourse with the Americans, they learn the language very imperfectly, and their interest in politics can not be aroused so long as they do not read the newspapers which constitute a part of the intellectual enjoyment of every American. The case is otherwise with those who emigrate in their younger years, live in constant touch with the Americans, fully understand their language, acquire some of their characteristics, and fully enter into their conditions of life. A new spirit is awakened in these immigrants, a feeling of independence and freedom, a spirit of tolerance in matters of religion, and an open mind for information, together with that conviction of their worth as men and citizens which is the cornerstone of the moral virtues. The same will be the case with the second generation, for whose happiness and fortune the greater part of our emigrated heads of families have made the sacrifices which are always inseparable from a migration.

As to the moral conduct of our countrymen in America, I can say that with a few individual exceptions I have never heard them otherwise described by the Americans than as orderly, sober, and honest people who lack that spirit of covetousness which in America is ascribed to the Germans. In speaking of their conditions and conduct, the Governor of Wisconsin, General Doty, paid them the compliment of saying that he "regarded them as morally good people, and that not a single one of the three or four thousand Norwegians who had settled in the Territory had as yet been publicly prosecuted for any kind of crime." In the meantime, I have encountered here and there several drunkards, and in Muskego a couple of old people have become beggars by trade as a result of receiving from the Americans -- to whom begging was unknown -- when they first arrived, now a ham, now a cheese, now a bushel of wheat, and so forth, thus being encouraged to adopt the ways of a mendicant.

The chief conclusions of my investigations may be summed up in a few words. Everyone, whether with or without money upon arrival, not only has made progress but also is making progress every year, although not in so high a degree as one might expect or desire. There is no evidence of want or poverty or of going backward. Well-paid work is available for all who are able and willing to use their powers and gifts and everyone enjoys the prospect of achieving a comfortable and an independent position.

In conclusion, only a few suggestions for future emigrants. My opinion is that it has been a mistake to come via New York. I believe the journey should be made by way of New Orleans. Transportation from the former city is extremely inconvenient, and involves many transfers and expenses. One must first take passage on a steamboat which goes up the Hudson River to the city of Albany. At that city one takes a canal boat for Buffalo, where one must again go aboard a steamboat (or sailing vessel) for the trip to Chicago or Milwaukee through Lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan. At all these stops the immigrants are exposed to innumerable tricks and frauds, suffer many inconveniences, losses, and difficulties as a result of the frequent changes, and are again subjected to all the dangers and evils of a sea journey upon the stormy lakes. The fare amounts to between eight and twelve dollars per person, in addition to the cost of board, and the trip lasts from three weeks to a month. If one sails from Norway in the latter part of May one can not ordinarily reach one's destination before the end of August and must then face a severe winter. No crops can then be raised and one can not expect any until the following autumn and then only an insignificant one from the spring sowing because the ground will not have been broken at the proper time. The total cost of the journey, counting board, will amount -- under the most fortunate circumstances -- to forty or forty-five specie dollars, in addition to the charges for one's baggage. He who purchases land must be prepared to support his family for a whole year.

If, on the other hand, one comes by way of New Orleans, the cost of the journey will be considerably reduced and the inconveniences suggested above will be escaped. The journey by this route ought to be begun in January or the early part of February and undertaken via Havre, France. The winter cold need not be considered very seriously, for the rooms aboard ship can easily be heated, and as the weather is usually constant, with east and north winds, at this time of year, the trip across the North Sea will not ordinarily take more than six or eight days. Large American ships, in ballast, sail almost every day at that time of year for New Orleans, and the trip can be arranged for about fifty francs, or approximately nine specie dollars per person. After a short swing to the south, the trade winds are encountered, and these continue steadily straight to the American coasts. The whole journey takes from thirty-five to forty days at this time of year. Arrived at New Orleans, one boards one of the numerous steamers which often leave every hour of the day up the Mississippi to St. Louis, Missouri. The second class fare is three dollars. From St. Louis one can go by steamboat to whatever place one has chosen for settlement, whether in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, or Wisconsin, the fare being in accordance with the length of the trip, but the rate does not exceed two dollars to the city of Galena at the Wisconsin border. The journey can be made in ten or twelve days. The luggage is not weighed on these steamboats, and a considerable amount will be carried without extra charge. The trip up this peaceful and majestic river is exceptionally pleasant.

After arriving at one's destination in April, there is time to select land, to plow and sow a few acres in order to get grain for food in the fall, and one has the whole summer in which to build good and comfortable houses, fence one's fields, and break as large a piece of land as one wishes to sow in the fall. Thus one has virtually gained a whole year, and I believe the journey will have been made with fewer difficulties and at a far less cost than would be the case had one traveled by way of New York. Estimating the cost of food (which should be bought chiefly at Havre) at ten specie dollars -- that is fully high enough -- the cost of the journey to one of the frontier states will be between thirty and thirty-five dollars per person, that is, about ten dollars less than by the other route. For a family of five persons such a saving, obviously, will total fifty specie dollars, and when one adds to this the cost of support for a whole year -- which is also saved -- then such a family has saved in all a sufficient capital with which to purchase eighty acres of land.

Should the emigrant desire to go to Texas, this route is also the most advantageous. From New Orleans he takes a steamboat up the Mississippi and Red rivers to the city of Natchitoches, Louisiana, near the Texan border. The fare costs two dollars. He then continues overland to San Augustine where the first land office in Texas is situated. No immigrant should plan to come to New Orleans later than in April or May, for the summer climate is unhealthful, and the yellow fever usually rages in the months of July, August, and September.

To those who prefer to take the New York route I will give this advice: Put yourselves in the hands of the Norwegian-Swedish Consul in that city, Mr. Zacharison, who according to common report is an exceptionally honest and reliable man in whom one may repose full confidence. Our countrymen who have preferred to turn to the first and best swindler they have met rather than to the consul have in many cases been forced to ascribe to their suspicions of the latter the blame for later swindles and misfortunes which they have suffered. In connection with some utterance in my letter to Gasmann, written merely on the basis of rumor, I believe I owe the Consul this declaration.

My account is at an end, since a more detailed plan for a future Norwegian settlement in America is intended only for my patrons, -- those who initiated and in large part have borne the expenses of the journey of which the present account is a result. May the many persons who are torn with doubt as to what decision to make find in this volume the information which they desire. Then the purpose of the author in issuing the book will be completely fulfilled.

Notes

<1> A copy of the volume is in the possession of the Minnesota Historical Society.

<2> Billed-magazin, 2: 237.

<3> A translation of Ole Rynning's True Account of America for the Information and Help of Peasant and Commoner is published in the Minnesota History Bulletin, 2: 221-269 (November, 1917).

<4> In the preface of his book Reiersen prints a long letter written by himself to Hans Gasmann.

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