NAHA Header

NAHA Logo

An Immigrant Shipload of 1840
By C.A. Clausen (Volume XIV: Page 54)

Stavanger on the west coast of Norway was the point of departure for the earliest Norwegian emigrant ships. From that port the famous "Restoration" carried the first group of settlers in 1825; and eleven years later the two brigs "Norden" and "Den Norske Klippe," which ushered in almost a century of steady Norwegian immigrant traffic, also sailed from Stavanger. The next year, 1837, two more ships loaded with homeseekers set out for the New World, "Enigheden" from Stavanger and "Ægir" from Bergen. {1} Not until 1839 did an emigrant ship leave from an east Norwegian port. On June 12 of that year the bark "Emilie," commanded by Captain Thomas Anchersen, set sail from Drammen for Göteborg en route to New York, where it arrived on August 26. {2}

Not much is known about this first emigrant ship from eastern Norway or her captain, but a few shreds of information can be patched together. According to one of the passengers who came across with the "Emilie" in 1840, Captain Anchersen had declared that the bottom of his ship was 150 years old; and the narrator, A. A. Vinje, probably suspected that the vessel had passed its prime, for he continued by saying that when they were in mid-ocean they encountered a severe storm which gave the old bark such a severe shaking that "the timbers sustaining the upper berths gave way, precipitating them upon the lower ones, and the screams and cries of the frightened passengers added to the fury of the storm." {3} We do not know how large a ship the "Emilie" was, but her size can probably be estimated with some degree of accuracy from the fact that American law in those years stipulated that. the ratio between passengers and tonnage could not exceed two to five. Ansten Nattestad, who came with the "Emilie" on his return trip to America in 1839, remarked that Captain Anchersen had to turn away some prospective emigrants because his ship could carry only one hundred passengers. {4} But this figure evidently referred to the capacity of the ship as viewed by the Norwegian owners rather than to its legal capacity under American law, for one of Nattestad's fellow travelers, Mrs. Myhre, related that as there were too many passengers on board, Anchersen had to resort to a little ruse. "Just before arriving in New York, he had some of the passengers put on sailors' clothes, and in this way he avoided all trouble with the custom house officers." {5} In 1840 the "Emilie" left Göteborg, apparently with ninety emigrants, and, as far as we know, this time the captain was able to land without resorting to any sailor's tricks. If we assume that he took aboard as many passengers as the law allowed, we can fix the size of his ship at 225 tons. {6}

Thomas Anchersen probably sailed an old bark and he seems to have resorted to questionable ruses in order to elude the American shipping laws, but the few facts we are able to gather about him nevertheless assure him an honorable place among those captains who pioneered in the Norwegian emigrant traffic a hundred years ago. To reassure those who may be uneasy about this skipper's ways with the law, we can relate that whereas captains usually conducted religious services for their emigrant passengers only on Sundays, Thomas Anchersen had prayers and religious singing on deck every evening. {7} He seems to have been equally concerned about the physical welfare of his passengers. In those days emigrant ships rarely carried doctors, nor was it usual for the passengers to be given physical examinations before embarking. As far as we know, Captain Anchersen never took a doctor along on his ship, but it is reported that before setting out on his first trip he consulted a medical authority and laid in supplies of remedies for the most common diseases, {8} while in 1842 he saw to it that all the emigrants were duly examined before embarking. In this respect he seems to have been a pioneer among Norwegian captains. It would also appear that he realized the importance of fresh foods for seafaring people. When he took his first group of emigrants over in 1839 he treated all of them to fresh meat in Göteborg, to fresh fish in Udøefjord and again twice in the English channel as well as on the Newfoundland banks. {9} Nor did his concern for the inexperienced travelers cease as soon as he got them safely ashore in America. Like many other Norwegian captains he won the gratitude of his passengers by the solicitude he showed for them after they had landed, bewildered, on the shores of the New World. In 1839 he accompanied the newcomers up the Hudson to Albany, where the whole group were his guests for a meal at a large hotel. This was undoubtedly a memorable occasion

Captain Anchersen made two or three trips to America with emigrant ships after 1840. Serving with him was Hans Friis, who deserves mention in connection with early Norwegian emigrant voyages. Friis was employed aboard the "Enigheden" when it made its trip to America in 1887. "In 1889 we find him a sailor in Captain Anchersen's ship 'Emilie.'. . . . He sailed several years with Captain Anchersen, the last year as second mate. After some years Captain Anchersen quit sailing, and Friis hired in another ship from Drammen." {12} During the years 1837-47, Friis made nine trips to New York with emigrant ships. In the latter year he decided to remain in America. For a while he sailed on the Great Lakes and later tried unsuccessfully to enter the service of the United States Navy. When the Civil War broke out he joined the Union army, was wounded, and retired on a pension. His last years were spent on a farm which he had bought in the Muskego neighborhood: There he died in 1886.

In commenting on the emigrants who sailed with Anchersen in 1859, the newspaper Tiden of Drammen spoke of them as representing the best youth of the land. "As a whole they were vigorous and well appearing people; there were no old people, few children, and sixteen young unmarried girls." {13} Much the same could have been said about the emigrant group of 1840. There were no aged people among them, the oldest individual being only fifty-five. Only four of them were beyond forty-five years of age. If we break down the ages into different categories we get the following results: individuals over forty-five, 4; individuals between eighteen and forty-five inclusive, 56; and individuals under eighteen, 29. There were forty-eight males and forty-one females in the group. All the men, with only two exceptions, were either farmers or artisans. The exceptions were the two young men who head the list, one a clerk, the other a student. The farmers, some twenty-two in number, were in the majority. {14} In the group were also a shoemaker, a blacksmith, a tailor, a carpenter, and a baker. A boy fourteen years old and three young men nineteen years of age were classified as servants. Of the adult women fourteen were listed as wives, while an equal number of maidservants, ranging in age "from sixteen to thirty-five, were going to try their chances in the New World. One woman forty-eight years old was entered on the list (number 63) with no occupation given.

The largest family in the "Emilie" list included only five children. The great majority of the emigrants were unmarried, and most of the married couples were young, with their best years ahead. Transplantation to the New World did not hamper their fecundity, because, as will be seen below, some members of the group were to become the Parents of nine, ten, twelve, or even fifteen children. In the light of these figures one can understand the Yankee who conceded to a pioneer Norwegian editor that the Scandinavians, the Germans, and notably the Irish so far outstripped the native American stock in reproductive capacity that the future in this country belonged to those races of Europeans who had immigrated since the beginning of the nineteenth century. {15} But a counterpoise to the high birth rate was an alarmingly high mortality rate. A large percentage of this party and their children died young. Cholera was one of the worst scourges; it carried many of them away to an untimely grave.

An easy generalization runs to the effect that the immigrants were a poverty-striken lot, harried out of their country by want and misery. Certainly the urge for better economic conditions was the main force behind the whole Norwegian migration of the nineteenth century. But that does not mean that all the migrants had been brought up in poverty at home and came to America penniless. Most of the passengers who left for America with the "Emilie" in 1839 were described by a contemporary newspaper as being "in good circumstances" and a couple of them owned several thousand specie dollars. {16} As will become evident below, at least a fair proportion of the emigrants of 1840 also were comparatively well-to-do, many of them having enough ready cash to buy fairly extensive land holdings soon after their arrival in America.

In 1839 practically all of Captain Anchersen's passengers came from Numedal, while two years later most of them were from Telemarken. These two valleys also contributed some recruits to the group of 1840, but that year the largest contingents came from the Drammen area and from Voss, about thirty and twenty people respectively. {17}

According to Ole Knudsen Trovatten "the price for transportation was $33 apiece for himself and his wife and $25 each for his children; for board during the voyage he paid $12 apiece for himself and his wife. The contract for the journey from New York to the interior called for $13 for adults, half that amount for children under twelve, and nothing for children under two." {18} The "Emilie" did not carry passengers only. Both in 1839 and 1840 it picked up cargoes of Swedish iron at Göteborg. In 1840 the ship left Drammen on May 17 and, after remaining in Göteborg about two weeks, set sail for New York. After a stormy trip it arrived there on or shortly before August 12. The immigrants took the usual route up the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, and the Great Lakes to the interior. Even Heg and his party disembarked at Milwaukee in order to join their friends Søren Bache and Johannes Johansen at Muskego, where they arrived safely on Sunday evening, August 28. {19} The Vossings continued on to Chicago, where a small group from their home community had already settled. {20}

II

The original passenger list of the "Emilie" for 1840 was drawn up by an American immigration official in New York on August 12 of that year, {21} and we are including a transcript of this list. {22}

N. B. Schubarth (1) was one of the 280 subscribers to Nordlyset, the first Norwegian newspaper in America. {23} At the time when it appeared, 1847-49, he was living in Providence, Rhode Island; in the directory for that city (volumes for 1856 and 1858) {24} Nils B. Schubarth is listed as a civil engineer. It would appear, therefore, that he was one of the earliest, if not the very first, of that great number of Norwegian civil engineers who have found employment for their talents and training in the New World.

No further trace has been found of E. Warloe (2) who appears as a student on the list. In those days it was unusual for people with much formal education to emigrate, and it caused something of a sensation in 1837 when the student Ole Rynning left for the New World. Like Schubarth, Warloe probably remained in the East; these two alone among the passengers stated that New York was their destination.

Even Hansen (3), better known as Even Hansen Heg, became one of the outstanding leaders in the Muskego settlement. He was influential in organizing the famous Norwegian Lutheran congregation there and in founding the newspaper Nordlyset. His spacious barn played a prominent part in the early history of the settlement, both as an assembly place and as a "hotel" for Norwegian immigrants trekking farther into the West. In Drammen, Heg had been the owner of a hotel, but in Wisconsin he became a farmer. He died in 1850. {25} S. Olsdatter (4), Siri, the wife of Even Heg, died in 1842. Hans Evensen (5) is the well-known Colonel Hans Christian Heg, leader of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Regiment (the" Norwegian Regiment ") during the Civil War. As a youth he took an active part in the life of the Muskego settlement, and in 1849 the gold rush carried him to California. After his father's death, he returned to Muskego, took charge of the family farm, and soon married Gunild Einong, who lived in the settlement. In 1859 he entered business in Waterford and, the same year, was elected prison commissioner for Wisconsin, thus becoming the first Norwegian elected to a state position in America. {26} When the war broke out he gave up his promising business and political career to become organizer and leader of the above-mentioned regiment. He was mortally wounded at the battle of Chickamauga and died the next day, September 20, 1863. Ole Evensen (6) was the younger son of Even Heg. As a boy he was one of the two typesetters for Nordlyset during its short span of life. In the early part of the Civil War he served as quartermaster for the Fifteenth Wisconsin, thus being one of the one hundred and fifteen men named "Ole" who saw service in that regiment. Later in life he seems to have been engaged in various business and political activities. He died at Burlington, Wisconsin, in 1911. {27} Andrea Evansdatter (7) was the elder daughter of Even Heg. From Anderson we learn that she was "one of the first Norwegians

 

DISTRICT OF NEW-YORK--PORT OF NEW-YORK
I, Thomas Ancherson do solemnly, sincerely, and truly swear that the following List or Manifest of Passengers, subscribed with my name, and now delivered by me to the Collector of the Customs for the District of New-York, contains, to the best of my knowledge and belief, a lust and true account of all the Passengers received on board the Norw Bark Emilie whereof I am
Master, from Gothenburg
Thomas Anchersen
to the Aug. 12th 1840

Before me, G.W. Daus [?]

LIST OR MANIFEST of all the PASSENGERS taken on board the Norw Bark Emilie whereof Ancherson is Master, from Gothenburg burthen _________ tons.



Names 
Age:
Yrs.  Mo. 

Sex 

Occupation

Origin

Destination
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10    
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43

44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
N B Schubarth
E Warloe 
Even Hansen 
S Olsdatter 
Hans Evensen 
Ole Do
Andrea Evansdatter 
Sophie Do 
Johannes Evensen 
B Olsdatter 
O Johansen 
Even "
Anthon "
S Engebrethsen 
G Halvordatter 
S Syvertson 
S Christensdatter 
B Gulliksdatter 
Olaus Olsen 
Hans Christensen 
I H Olsdatter 
Elen Helgesdatter 
Jorgen Larsen 
Ole Danielsen 
G Larsdatter 
K Hendriksdatter 
R G Nubberied 
K Knudsdatter 
A Renersdatter 
O H Gronhoft 
K Christophersdatter 
O A Gravmeng 
I Haagensdatter 
A Olsdatter 
Anders Olsen 
I Olsdatter 
O A Myran 
K H Bruhnsdahl 
G O Langerud 
H G Haugen 
S Persdatter 
G Hansen xx 
G Hansen 
H J Thune   *1
Anne O Windag
I Liveried 
P. Jonassen 
H H Overn 
I Olsen 
O Knudson 
B Aslaksdatter 
I Olsdatter 
A Olsen 
I Olsen 
H I Taane 
S Gjermundsdatter 
I Helgesdatter 
A Do 
O I Lovingen 
M Kittilsdatter 
I Olsdatter 
K Olsen 
I Aanunasen 
H Jacobsdatter 
G Stenersen 
E Helgesen 
M Olsdatter 
L. Baarsen 
G Gullaksdatter 
M Larsdatter 
M Torstensdatter 
T Olsen 
A Guliksdatter 
G Torstenssen 
C G Grimestad 
R Olsdatter 
B Clausdatter 
G Do 
K Ercksen 
L I [?] Rothe 
K J Hylle 
M Torstendatter 
B Godskalksen 
B L Bolt 
A A Windge 
M Gulliksdatter 
A Arnsen 
M N Sondve 
O S Gilderhuus 
E N Berslien 
22 
21 
50 
40 
10 



45 
35 


9 mo 
30 
35 
6 mo 
25 
35 
18+6 mo 
14 
16 
33 
24 
19 
24 
16
38 
27 
4+3 mo 
25 
20 
36 
27 

2+9 mo 

26 
21 
19 
55 
38 
15 
3+6mo 
30 
29 
28 
27 
22 
39 
32+6 mo 
32+6 mo 


8 mo 
30 
26 

8 mo 
28 
30 

4+6 mo 
17 
48 

33 
20 
42 
43 
18 
23 
49 
45 
20 
28 
21 
1+9 mo 
1 mo 
19 
21 
22 
23 
26 
20 
20 
24 

33 
26 
20 
Male 


Wife 
boy 


Girl 
Male 
Wife 
boy 


Mai 
Wife 
child 
female 

Male 

female 
Do
Male 
Do 
female 

Male 
Wife
child 
Male 
Wife
Male 
Wife
Girl
boy
Girl
Male
Do
female
Male
Wife
Boy
Do
Male
female
"
Male 



Wife
Girl
Boy
"
Male 
Wife
Girl
"
Male 
Wife
Girl
Boy
female 
"
boy
Male 
female 
Male 
Wife
Girl
female 
Male
Wife
Male
Male 
Wife
Girl
"
male 
Male 
Do 
female 
Male 

"
Wife
Boy
Male 

Girl 
Clerk 
Student 
Farmer 





Do 




Shoemaker 


Maid servant 
"
Servant
"
Maid "

Blacksmith
Servant
Maid "

Farmer

farmer


Taylor




 Farmer
 "
Maid servant
farmer




 Maid servant
 "
Carpenter
farmer
Baker
farmer




farmer



Do



Maid Servant


farmer
Maid servant
farmer


Maid servant
farmer


farmer



Servant
farmer
Do
Maid servant
farmer
"



Do
Do
Maid servant   
Norway   
Do 
Do 
Do 
Do 
Do 
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
New York
Do
Missouiri
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do
Do

*1 A line is drawn through this name in the manifest.

Johannes Evensen (9) Skofstad was related to Even Heg. {29} Like his relative he must have been fairly well-to-do because shortly after his arrival in the Muskego settlement he bought 250 acres of land, and by 1842 he was able to write to friends in Norway and impress them with the fact that "We have built a house of oak, thirty feet long and twenty feet wide." In this letter we also catch a glimpse of the newcomer's naive surprise at the American way of life. "The native-born Americans are called Yankees," wrote Skofstad. "They have such cold houses that the snow blows into them. They eat three times a day, always at a decked table. No matter how simple a workingman they may have with them, all eat at the same table, without distinction as to persons. These people work daily at their various tasks even though they are merchants or officials." {30} Together with Even Heg and six other men, Johannes Evensen Skofstad served on the first board of the Muskego congregation. {31} B. Olsdatter (10) was the wife of Johannes Evensen Skofstad, and O. Johansen (11), Even Johansen (12), and Anthon Johansen (13), were their sons.

S. Engebrethsen (14), better known as Syvert Engebrethsen Narverud, came from Eker in Norway and settled at Muskego. He seems to' have played a prominent part in the church life of the settlement, since in one of the numerous theological disputes of this community, he served on a commission to determine whether the Muskego congregation should adopt the Danish-Norwegian church ritual of 1685, as Clausen and Dietrichson desired. {32} Engebrethsen and his wife Gunhild (G. Halvor[s]datter-- 15) became very close friends of the Reverend and Mrs. H. A. Stub, who served the Muskego parish from 1848 to 1855.

R. G. Nubberied (27) was probably the Nubberud from Milwaukee County who, according to Søren Bache, {33} was one of the eight men to serve on the board of the Muskego congregation when it was organized late in 1845. According to the passenger list, "Nubberied's" first name was Rener, for his daughter's name is entered as A. Renersdatter (29), but Bache gives Nubberud's first name as Reier. It is probable, however, that either the immigration official or the diarist made a mistake in recording the name.

O. A. Gravmeng (32) is undoubtedly the Ole Anderson who is mentioned as coming to Muskego with the Heg party in 1840, {34} because the initials and the ages of the Gravmeng group as given on the list agree with those of the Anderson family. Furthermore, a great-granddaughter of Ole Anderson, Ella Stratton Colbo, has informed me that he was a tailor, the occupation which is ascribed to O. A. Gravmeng in the list. Both Ole Anderson Gravmeng and his wife, Ingeborg (I. Haagensdatter, number 33 on the list), spent the rest of their lives at Muskego and are buried in the Norway Hill cemetery of that settlement. A. Olsdatter (34), the four-year-old daughter of the above-mentioned couple, was no doubt the person later known as Anna Anderson. I can do no better than let her granddaughter summarize the events of her life:

"Anna Anderson was born in Norway, June 15, 1886. With her parents in 1840, she made the 13-week trip across the Atlantic as a member of the party of immigrants led by Even Hansen Heg. As a small child she helped, with the other children of the community, to carry shingles to the top of Indian Hill (now called Norway Hill) during the building of their first church. She attended Sunday school classes in the Even Heg barn, and later in the first church. She was a member of the first class confirmed by Rev. Stub in the old church. During her early teens, she was one of the survivors of the terrible visitations of cholera which caused Muskego to be known for a time as The Region of Death." {35} She married Halvor Benedickson, by whom she had seven children. For a number of years the Benedickson family occupied the old pioneer cabin which is now one of the most interesting features of Heg Memorial Park.

From R. B. Anderson {36} we learn the following about H. G. Haugen (40) and S. Persdatter (41): "The first Norwegian to be buried in Rock County or in Wisconsin soil, so far as I have been able to learn, was Hans Gjermundson Haugen, who came from Vægli in Numedal in 1840. His wife's name was Sigrid Persdatter Valle. Hans Gjermundson was born in 1785 and died on Jefferson Prairie in the latter part of October, 1840. Sigrid was born January 30, 1803, and died in Beloit, January 2l, 1885." G. Hansen (42) was the son of H. G. Haugen. Anderson {37} says that his first name was Gunnel, that he was born in Numedal in 1827 and died in Canby, Minnesota, in January, 1893. We are also told that he taught the first English school in the town of Primrose, Wisconsin, in the winter of 1849-50, that he took part in the Pike's Peak gold rush, and that he served in the Civil War. G. Hansen (43) was also a son of H. G. Haugen. Anderson quotes at length from a letter which he received from Hansen when, as an old man, he was living in Beloit, Wisconsin, under the Americanized name of George Jackson. Among other things the letter explains how this strange metamorphosis of a name took place. "Among the passengers across the sea was a man by name Ludvig. He had spent some time in England and was pretty well versed in the English language. He acted as interpreter for the emigrants. He told my father that his name, Hans, translated into English, would be Jack and Hanson would accordingly be Jackson, and as my name was Gjermund Hanson, it was turned into George Jackson. The whole family adopted the name Jackson." {38} From the letter we also learn that during the Civil War Gjermund Hansen (George Jackson) recruited a company in the vicinity of Primrose, Dane County, and that he was commissioned a captain in the Forty-third Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers.

Anne O. Windag (44) came from Numedal. Her brother, Gunnel Olsen Vindeg, who came to America in 1839, is well known in Norwegian immigrant history as a writer of boastful, but influential America letters. {39} Another brother, Helleik, gained fame, or rather notoriety, along another line of endeavor. Together with two companions he decided to try a quick and easy way to riches. "During the winter of 1841 these three unmarried men, all from Numedal, spent their time partly at Koshkonong and partly in Whitewater, making Norwegian money. . . . They wore the money as soles in their boots in order to make the bills look old and worn." {40} In the spring of 1842 or 1843 they returned to Norway to cash in on their cunning but landed in prison for long terms instead. Anna Vindeg married the Vossing, Nils Larson Bolstad, in 1841; he was one of the pioneers in the famous Koshkonong settlement. They settled in the town of Deerfield, Dane County, Wisconsin, where they remained until Bolstad died in 1865. Shortly afterwards Anna Vindeg Bolstad sold the farm and moved to North Dakota, where she died in 1912. She had three daughters and three sons, one of whom joined the Fifteenth Wisconsin Regiment and died in battle, June 28, 1864. {41}

H. H. Overn (47) is presumably the Helge H. Øvern whom Søren Bache mentions {42} as living close to Silver Lake, not far from the Muskego settlement.

O. Knudzon (49) Trovatten is a well-known figure in early Norwegian immigrant history. In his native Lardal he was both schoolteacher and klokker, and in the parishes round about he had gained great respect among the peasantry as a man of learning "who could silence both minister and judge when he so desired." From far and near they came to seek his advice on knotty points. But there was evidently a serious flaw in his make-up, since he left Norway under the suspicion of forgery, and later, in America, was ruined completely by excessive drinking. {43} During his first years in this country he sent back a series of letters which apparently precipitated something like a class struggle in his home valleys. We quote the following from Gunder Mandt, who had himself fallen under the spell of Trovatten's letters and emigrated in 1843:

The klokker's praise of America exerted a tremendous influence among the masses of the people in Upper Telemarken, and now for several years rich people and poor, the great as well as the humble, talked about Ole Trovatten, some to blame and defame him, others to praise and extol him. The opponents of emigration avowed that he was a dangerous person who sought to lead people to ruin, while others took a different view of the matter and declared that they were ready to place their hand on the Holy Bible and, under oath, testify that in his home community Ole was known to be a reliable man. I shall not try to pass judgment upon his honesty, but by the common people he was generally regarded as an angel of peace, who had gone beforehand to the New World, whence he sent back home to his countrymen, so burdened with economic sorrows, the olive-branch of promise, with assurance of a happier life in America. . . . "Ole Trovatten has said so" became the refrain in all accounts of the land of wonders, and in a few years he was the most talked of man in Upper Telemarken. His letters from America gave a powerful impulse to emigration, and it is probable that hundreds of those who are now plowing the soil of Wisconsin and Minnesota would still be living in their ancestors' domains in the land of Harald Hairfair, if they had not been induced to bid old Norway farewell through Trovatten's glittering accounts of conditions on this side of the ocean. {44}

While Trovatten was in Drammen waiting for passage to America, he was roundly abused by some of the citizens for wanting to quit his native land. One old woman declared "with cursing and swearing" that he was taking his wife and children to a harsh new land merely to get rid of them. Ole Trovatten reasoned that he could afford to ignore the first part of the charge, but it seemed to him that she carried things too far when she accused him of wanting to kill innocent children. If Trovatten had been of a superstitious turn of mind, he might have believed that the cursing old woman had cast a spell upon his family, for his wife, B. Aslaksdatter (50), died of cholera a few years after her arrival in America and their children, I. Olsdatter (51), A. Olsen (52), and I. Olsen (53) seem to have been carried away by the same epidemic.

E. Helgesen (65) is evidently the Erik Helgesen who is mentioned as coming from Gjerpen or Slembdal and settling near Pine Lake, Wisconsin. According to Holand, he established himself there in 1843. {45}

All the persons on the list from numbers 67 to 89 inclusive came from Voss and went to Chicago, where a small Vossing colony had grown up during the preceding few years. From Chicago most of them went north into the new lands of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. {46}

L. Baarsen's (67) full name was Lars Baardsen Saude. Shortly after their arrival in Chicago, he and Claus Grimestad bought land in Boone County, Illinois, immediately south of the Wisconsin line and thus became founders of the great Vossing settlement on Jefferson Prairie. Later Lars Baardsen also bought a couple of farms on the Wisconsin side of the line. He is reported to have been an able farmer and a typical "handy man" who became a natural leader in the settlement during the early years. He was also influential in inducing others to emigrate from Voss. He died on the old homestead in 1881. G. Gullaksdatter (68) was Gudve, the wife of Lars Baardsen Saude. Both of them were born in Voss in 1798. She was a widow when she married him. By her first husband she had a daughter Ranveig of whom we will hear more later. Gudve died in 1879. M. Larsdatter (69) was evidently the daughter of Lars and Gudve Baardsen although Rene says that no child came of their union. If M. Larsdatter was their child, as our list indicates, she must have died early because after their deaths the lands of Lars and Gudve passed into the hands of more distant relatives.

M. Torstensdatter's (70) full name was Martha Torstensdatter Saude. A few years after her arrival in America, probably in 1843, she married Peder Davidson Skjerveim, who had come from Voss in 1837. The Reverend C. L. Clausen is reported to have officiated at the ceremony. Peder Davidson Skjerveim is noted as one of the founders of the large Vossing settlement in Wiota, Wisconsin. Together with two friends he had bought land there in 1841. He fell a victim to cholera in 1850, and the next year Martha married Ole Munson from Land, Norway. They settled on a farm near Gratiot, Wisconsin. Both Martha and her husband Ole were very active in religious work. She even wrote some religious songs which were printed after her death in 1882 and distributed among her relatives. Martha had two daughters by each marriage.

T. Olsen (71), Torsten Olsen Saude, evidently came to America with the intention of buying land because he took a trip to Jefferson Prairie shortly after his arrival but soon returned to Chicago where he died a year or two later. A. Guliksdatter (72), who was the wife of Torsten Olsen Saude, died about the same time as her husband. G. Torstenssen (73), Gullick Torstensen Saude, was the son of the couple just mentioned. Gullick was less than twenty years old when he emigrated, but the "America fever" seems to have gripped him while he was in his teens; it was to satisfy him, it is said, that the parents also decided to leave the old home. They must have been fairly well-to-do because, on their death, they left him $1,000. Armed with this inheritance the aggressive young man went to Koshkonong in 1843, and the next year he could write to friends in Voss that he had bought 248 1/2 acres, of which 35 were under cultivation. In 1845 he married the sister of Lars Røthe (number 79 below), and in 1850 he went to California in search of gold, whence he returned to Koshkonong by way of Panama and New York, $1,500 richer. He seems to have invested all his money in land, for he ultimately became the largest landholder in Koshkonong. On his death in 1895 his wide holdings passed to his son, Torger Thompson, the only one of nine children to survive him. Torger Thompson played a prominent part in community and state affairs and is noted for his liberal gifts to charitable and educational institutions both in Voss and Wisconsin. His lively interest in the land of his fathers is evidenced by his many visits to Norway and especially by the fact that after his death most of his wealth went to the University of Wisconsin as the Torger Thompson Fund for the encouragement of Scandinavian studies.

C. G. Grimestad's (74) full name was Claus Isakson Grimestad. He was married three times, twice in Norway and once in America. By his first wife he had a daughter who was left with foster parents in Voss. As already mentioned, he was one of the founders of the Vossing settlement on Jefferson Prairie where he bought 160 acres of land immediately after his arrival in this country and 40 acres some time later. His second wife died about 1846, and in 1849 he married Guri Kolbe from Sigdal, Norway. By his last marriage he had eight children, all of whom took the name Isaacs. Claus Grimestad died in 1892. R. Olsdatter (75) has already been referred to as Ranveig, the daughter of Gudve Gullaksdatter (number 68 above). She was the second wife of Claus Grimestad (number 74), and, as already mentioned, she died about 1846. According to Rene (p. 176), Ranveig and Claus Grimestad had three children: Lars, Isak (born in 1844), and Britha (born about 1846), while on page 174 he mentions that they had a daughter Brita when they left Norway. From our list it would appear that they had two daughters when they arrived in New York: B. Clausdatter (76), one year and nine months old, and G. Clausdatter (77), one month old. If the latter girl was one month old on arrival in New York she must have been born aboard the ship. Perhaps both of these girls died in infancy and the parents had another daughter shortly before the mother's death in 1846 who was also called Britha. The son Lars (Louis) Isaacs died in battle during the Civil War.

K. Ercksen (78), Knut Eriksen Rokne, first bought land on Koshkonong, near Cambridge, Wisconsin, but in 1853 he sold his farm and, as the first known Vossing to settle in what later became the state of Minnesota, laid foundations for the extensive Vossing settlement in Dodge, Olmsted, and Goodhue counties. He lived there the rest of his life. He was married to Arnbjørg Torstensdatter from Numedal, by whom he had two sons.

L. I. [?].Rothe (79), Lars Torgerson Røthe, worked aboard the lake steamer "G. W. Dole" until he returned to Voss in 1843. In the spring of 1844 he married Ingeborg Davidsdatter Mølster and returned to America. Like so many other Vossings he found his way to Koshkonong where he finally acquired a farm of 264 acres, Røthe played a prominent part in local political and church affairs until his death in 1898.

K. J. Hylle (80), Knut Johnson Hylle, seems to have had much in common with Lars Røthe. They came to America together; together they returned to Voss in 1843, where they staged a double wedding in Vossevangen's old church on May 8, 1844. After this the two couples returned to America, settled on Koshkonong, and brought into the world families of twelve children. It appears that Knut Hylle was a pioneer in more respects than one, for he helped organize the Methodist church in Cambridge, Wisconsin, which is said to have been the first Norwegian church of that denomination ever to be founded.

M. Torstendatter (81) has already been listed as number 70 above. Evidently the emigration official made a slip, because he failed to enter the name of Martha Tormodsdatter Ringheim, an unmarried woman twenty-eight years old who also came across with this party from Voss. All we know of her is that later she accompanied the group to Chicago, where she secured work.

B. Godskalksen (82), Brynjulv Godskalksen Ronve, soon returned to Norway where he lived the rest of his life. As far as we know he was the only member of the entire group of immigrants who did not remain in this country. His American venture could not have been too discouraging, however, because a brother and a sister of his later settled in Wisconsin.

The entry B. L. Bolt (83) is evidently a clerical error for Baard Larson Bøe, who was one of the party of Vossings emigrating in 1840, while no Bolt is mentioned by the contemporary accounts. B. L. Bøe bought 160 acres of land on Koshkonong, where he died, probably in 1847. He was unmarried.

The entry A. A. Windge (84) is another clerical error. It is evidently an American attempt to put on paper the sound of the Vossing name Arne Anderson Vinje. He was the son of a Stortingsmand and as such probably received a better education than did the average Norwegian boy of those days. Be that as it may, at any rate he wrote a brief account of his early experiences in America, and from him we learn much about the emigrants from Voss in 1840. {47} "Knudt Hylle and myself began our first work in Chicago upon the streets of what was then Chicago's west side," says Vinje. "My work was handling a heavy plank scraper, drawn by a yoke of oxen and used to scrape the sod from the sides of the road into the center. This was such heavy work that the Americans avowed they would not do it for $8.00 per day while I got only $16.00 per month, board not included." The heavy work, the hot weather, and the unclean water got the better of even Vinje's strong constitution and he was bedridden for a while.

"At that time, and while I was still in bed, the election of General Harrison to the presidency took place. Inspired by the excitement of the occasion, and supported by two men, I went to the booth and cast my first vote for president, tho I did not understand a word of the language used. Then, quite exhausted, I was assisted back to bed. The candidate was the people's favorite, and from my bed I saw a log cabin, such as he lived in, mounted upon' wheels and drawn through the streets to show that he was a man of the people. That was effective campaigning!" After Christmas he had recovered sufficiently to join his fellow Vossings on Sundays in attending an English school conducted by a Swede in a barracks at Fort Dearborn. "But this school came to a sudden stop since some of the pupils thought they were just as wise as the teacher."

In July, 1841, Vinje was one of three Vossings who laid the foundations of the Wiota settlement in Wisconsin. His first wife died in 1863, and in 1868 he married Ragnild Nilsdatter Karavold from Sogn. He continued to take a lively interest in American politics after his early introduction to it in Chicago. Being an especially earnest abolitionist, he is said to have aided many a slave to escape to Canada. He died in 1903. He had seven children by his first wife, M. Gulliksdatter (85), or Martha Gulliksdatter Kinne, and two by his second wife. A. Arnsen (86), Anders Arnesen Vinje, was the oldest son of A. A. Vinje and Martha Gulliksdatter. He went to Minnesota, where he died in 1861.

M. N. Sondve (87), Mads Nilsen Sonve, remained in Chicago a short while, then moved to Wiota where he died in 1842.

O. S. Gilderhuus (88), Ole Sjurson Gilderhus, bought land on Koshkonong in 1840 and in 1842 returned to Chicago where he married E. N. Berslien (89) whose full name was Eli Nilsdatter Bergslien. Gilderhus soon returned with his wife to Koshkonong where they lived the rest of their lives. They had two children. He died in 1882, and his wife died in 1885.

We are thus brought to the end of the passenger list. In spite of careful examination of all available material a fairly large number still remain unidentified. {48} The unmarried women have proved especially elusive, partly, no doubt, because they usually arrived in this country under some name ending in "datter," which in the course of time would be changed either through marriage or Americanization. As we have seen, a large percentage of the male passengers also changed their names after arriving in the United States. A surprisingly large number of patronymics ending in "sen" or "son" were dropped in favor of Norwegian place names, while a few tried to ease the process of Americanization by assuming such surnames as Thompson, Isaacs, or Jackson. This confusion of names, so characteristic .of early Norwegian-American history, is one of the many obstacles thrown in the way of those who try to follow the fortunes of their immigrant forefathers in the New World.

Notes

<1> For information concerning "Norden," "Den Norske Klippe," "Enigheden," and "Ægir" see an article by H. J. Cadbury, "Four Immigrant Shiploads of 1836 and 1837," in Studies and Records, 2: 20-52 (Northfield, 1927). Life aboard the early immigrant ships is interestingly discussed by Theodore C. Blegen in Norwegian Migration to America: The American Transition, ch. 1 (Northfield, 1940), and by Ingrid Semmingsen in Veien mot vest, 96-151 (Oslo, Norway, 1941).

<2> Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860, 121, note 25 (Northfield, 1931). From June 13 to June 22 the "Emilie" remained at Göteborg where it took on a cargo of iron.

<3> Quoted in G. T. Flom, Norwegian Migration to the United States, 200 (Iowa City, Iowa, 1909).

<4> Quoted in C. C. Qualey, Norwegian Settlement in the United States, 43 (Northfield, 1933).

<5> Quoted in R. B. Anderson, First Chapter of Norwegian Immigration (1821-1840): Its Causes and Results, 257 (Madison, Wisconsin, 1906).

<6> A. A. Vinje, whose account was written many years later, places the number of passengers in 1840 at ninety. The ship's list enumerates eighty-nine passengers, and of these one (number 77) was probably born en route to New York. It is possible, however, that one or two of the passengers may have died during the trip without any record being made of the fact. The name of a man 80 years old was entered between numbers 43 and 44 of our list but later struck out.

According to Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1:138, Anchersen brought over a party of 90 in 1841 and still another of 115 in 1842, but it is not stated that these trips were made with the "Emilie." If the trip of 1842 was made with the "Emilie," it must have been a ship of at least 287.5 tons, unless Anchersen appeared in New York with a still larger force of "sailors" than he did in 1839.

<7> Semmingsen, Veien mot vest, 119.

<8> Gunnar Malmin, "Norsk landnåm i U. S.," in Decorah-posten, March 6, 1925.

<9> Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 2: 27, note 72.

<10> Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 2: 27, note 72.

<11> Cited in Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 2:27; and quoted in Semmingsen, Veien mot vest, 123. The letter, written by Knud Knudsen and Claus Stabaæk, appeared in the New Yorker Stats-Zeitung, September 4, 1839, and was reprinted in Tiden, December 31, 1889.

<12> Anderson, First Chapter, 361.

<13> Quoted by Blegen in Norwegian Migration, 1:120.

<14> Actually only twenty-one are listed as farmers, but I have included A. A. Vinje (number 84) in that group, since he was the son of a farmer and became a farmer in America. On the list his occupation is not given. Even Hansen Heg (number 8) was an innkeeper in Norway, but he became a farmer in America. Ole K. Trovatten was a schoolteacher, klokker, and farmer.

<15> Billed-magazin, 2: 282 (September 3, 1870).

<16> Malmin, in Decorah-posten, March 6, 1925.

<17> Blegen places the number from Drammen at about thirty; Norwegian Migration to America, 1: 12. According to A. A. Vinje there were twenty from Voss. This party boarded the "Emilie" at Göteborg. They left Voss on April 16 for Bergen, where they secured passage to the Swedish port. There they had to wait several weeks before they were fortunate enough to be picked up by Captain Anchersen. See K. A. Rene, Historie om udvandringen fra Voss og vossingerne i America, 172 (Madison, Wisconsin, 1930).

<18> Quoted from Trovatten's unpublished journal, in Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1:127.

<19> Entry in Søren Bache's diary for that day. Bache's manuscript diary is in the library of St. Olaf College.

<20> On the list as drawn up by the New York immigration official the two first passengers, the clerk and the student, were going to New York while all the others were destined for Missouri. As far as I have been able to find none of them ever went to the latter state. A Norwegian settlement had been started by the indomitable Cleng Peerson in Shelby County, Missouri, in 1837, but the venture proved to be a failure. By 1850 the settlement was breaking up and most of the people were moving into Iowa. For a brief account of the Shelby County settlement see Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1:112-114.

<21> This passenger list was found by Dr. Blegen in the archives of the New York Customs House. The early passenger lists that were long preserved there have been transferred to the National Archives in Washington.

<22> Numbers have been prefixed to the names on the transcript that is given here to clarify the author's references that follow it. In the manifest form there is a final column headed "Died on the voyage," but there are no entries for this list. From item 32 to the end of the list in the original, wavy lines extend the ditto marks under the two final headings.

<23> Knud Langeland, Nordmændene i Amerika: nogle optegnelser om de norskes udvandring til Amerika, 106 (Chicago, 1888).

<24> These were the only volumes from the period that were available for examination.

<25> Full information about Heg and his family can be found in all the standard works on Norwegian immigration.

<26> Waldemar Ager, Oberst Heg og hans gutter, 247 (Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 1916). For information about Colonel Heg see especially T. C. Blegen, The Civil War Letters of Colored Hans Christian Heg (Northfield, 1936).

<27> Ella Stratton Colbo, Historic Heg Memorial Park, 27 (Racine, Wisconsin, 1940). Pictures of Ole Heg and his two sisters can be found on p. 19 of this pamphlet.

<28> Anderson, First Chapter, 283.

<29> Billed-magazin, 1:13 (November 14, 1868).

<30> Quoted by Blegen in Norwegian Migration to America, 1: 204.

<31> Bache Diary, December 24, 1843.

<32> N. N. Rønning, The Saga of Old Muskego, 28 (Waterford, Wisconsin, 1943).

<33> Bache Diary, December 14, 1843.

<34> Colbo, Historic Heg Memorial Park, 10, 62.

<35> Colbo, Historic Heg Memorial Park, 62.

<36> First Chapter, 250.

<37> First Chapter, 260.

<38> First Chapter, 263.

<39>Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 1:143; "Koshkonong og Vindeg-slegten," in Numedalslagets årbog, no. 2, p. 91-101 (1916).

<40> Anderson, First Chapter, 344. See also "Falskmyntnerne," in Numedalslagets årbog, no. 8, p. 53 (1922). , 241.

<41> Rene, Historic om udvandringen

<42> Bache Diary, April 8 and 12, 1843.

<43> Billed-magazin, 2: 283 (September 3, 1870).

<44> Billed-magazin, 2: 38. The latter part of this quotation is taken from Flom's translation in Norwegian Immigration, 82. All the principal works on early Norwegian emigration' make mention of Trovatten's great influence upon his fellow Telemarkings. Besides these references see especially Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1:197-200; Semmingsen, Veien mot vest, 75; and II. R. Holand, De norske settlementers historie, 146 (Ephraim, Wisconsin, 1909). Two of Trovatten's letters are published in Telesoga no. 5, p. 2-9 (September, 1910). A brief article about Trovatten, together with a translation of one of his letters, is given by Theodore C. Blegen in North Star, 2: 76 (Minneapolis, March, 1920).

<45> Holand, De norske settlementers historie, 170; Bache Diary, April 8 and 1845.

<46> Much information about this party of Vossings is presented in Rene, Historie om udvandringen, which I have consulted in preparing the material on this group that follows.

<47> Rene has included much of this report in his volume, while Flom has turned parts of it into English in Norwegian Immigration, 200-202. A.A. Vinje is also referred to at times as A. A. Urland.

<48>According to H. R. Holand in "Muskego," in Symra, 3:191, and A. O. Barton in "Muskego, the Most Historic Norwegian Colony," in Scandinavia, 1:23, two men named Helge Thompson and Ole Haagensen and their families accompanied the Heg party to Muskego. I have been unable to find these families on the ship's list; but Ole Haagenson may be O. H. Gronhoft (30) and Helge Thompson may be H. I [?] Taane (54). Taane's first name is Helge; his daughters are listed as Helgesdatter. Among the eighty signers of the famous Muskego manifesto of January 6, 1845, as enumerated in the Bache Diary, are Ole Aslesen Myren and Jorgen Larsen. It is possible that these men are the O. A. Myran (37) and Jorgen Larsen (23) who appear on the ship's list. In Mrs. Colbo's Historic Heg Memorial Park and Rønning's The Saga of Old Muskego, one Tosten Kleven is mentioned as coming with the Heg party. But after the appearance of her book, Mrs. Colbo was informed by Miss Emma Cleven of St. Paul, Minnesota, a granddaughter of Tosten Kleven, that he did not emigrate until 1842. Through the kindness of Mrs. Colbo, I was able to examine the unpublished history of the Cleven family, written by Miss Emma Cleven. It makes it clear that Tosten Kleven did not immigrate until 1842. This also agrees with an entry in a book of reminiscences shown me by Mrs. F. C. Henderson of Stoughton, Wisconsin, which her mother, a daughter of Tosten Kleven, had kept.

<<  Previous Page   |  Next Page   >>


 
To the Home Page