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The Kendall Settlement Survived
    by Richard L. Canuteson (Volume 27: Page 243)

Adapting the principle that "a cat may look at a king," the writer of this brief paper ventures to disagree with two statements made by the late Professor Theodore C. Blegen in his scholarly work, Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860.

The history of the 1825 Slooper colony of Norwegian immigrants in New York State reveals that these settlers found conditions in their new home not entirely to their liking. This writer has pointed out in an earlier essay that the Kendall area, where they first bought land, has been known for generations as "the Black North" because of a stand of timber so dense that at times it cut off the rays of the sun. {1} This growth had to be cut down and the stumps grubbed out to make possible the planting of crops. In common with many early settlers, the Sloopers found that swampy areas near slow-moving streams tended to breed mosquitoes which spread the "fever and ague" reported in so many early "America letters."

Because of these unfavorable conditions, Cleng Peerson, leader of the immigrants, set forth in 1833 on a walking journey that led him to the area southwest of Chicago; there he found available land lacking the thick forests of Orleans County. {2} After he reported on his journey, six families sold their New York holdings and in 1834 moved to Illinois. {3} In that state they founded the Fox River Settlement. Here, at the hamlet of Norway, is a marker embedded in a boulder erroneously stating that the Illinois colony was the first Norwegian settlement in America. This memorial disregards the fact that the Sloopers had first settled at Kendall nine years before.

Professor Blegen evaluates in broad terms the effect of this move on the Kendall Settlement: "The year 1834," he wrote, "marks the beginning of the break-up of the New York colony." He also asserts that by 1836 the Kendall colony "had practically run its course." {4} In researching two earlier essays on the Kendall Settlement, this writer has found ample evidence in federal and state census reports to cast doubt on both of Blegen’s statements.

Unfortunately, not all of the official documents were fully available in the early stages of this investigation. The file of microfilmed census reports in the courthouse at Albion, New York, begins with the year 1850. But that indefatigable traveler and researcher, J. Hart Rosdail, found the 1830 records and reported them in his volume, The Sloopers: Their Ancestry and Posterity. {5} Later, the census reports for 1830 and 1840 were found on microfilm in the state library at Albany. This writer - originally informed that the census returns available to the public ceased in 1905 - eventually found the 1915 and 1925 records; these bring us up to the virtual end of Norwegian settlement in Orleans County. But this fact does not eliminate the interest and pride in the Slooper story, which is shown even today by the people of the Kendall area, few of them Norwegian.

Irked by the erroneous historical marker placed on the Norway Road in Kendall in the 1920s by the State of New York, the author enlisted the assistance and financial support of the Edvard Grieg Lodge, No. 433, of the Sons of Norway in Rochester, in a plan to put an accurate plaque in the area. Solid support was given by the Kendall school authorities and the town government. The result is that, in the fall of 1974, a properly worded marker was placed on the grounds of the new Kendall junior-senior high school.

Given editorial permission to plead his case against the Blegen statements, this writer believes that the proof presented should go further than reference to statistical tables showing the number of people of Norwegian birth or descent in the area during the century following the migration to Illinois. In this report, families will be listed quite completely with comment enabling interested readers to trace personal and psychological changes in the families.

The report will also show a long-continued tendency in farming communities such as Kendall of having a "hired man" to assist in field work and chores, with one or two temporary "hands" during haying and harvest. This practice survived until it was altered by the impact of war upon the labor situation in the present century. In some homes with sizable families and in an era of many large and imposing farm houses, there would also be found at least one "hired girl," sometimes listed in the census reports as a "housekeeper."

Not found in the census returns is any indication of the personal experience of such hired help, nor the social influences affecting them. The author in his youth had frequent unpleasant - as well as some more pleasant - experiences as a hired hand on farms in summer. The granddaughter of a young girl, listed in one report as living in a family in the Kendall colony, had several comments to offer concerning the unpleasant habits of her employers as they affected their "hired girl." For example, after they sent the girl to bed, they used the kitchen leaving dirty dishes to be washed early the next morning.
The census records are difficult to use, for the original schedules are faded and oftentimes badly written; at all times the enumerators had trouble with the Norwegian names. The tendency in Norwegian nomenclature for the same name to appear over and over again complicates the study of the records. Ages of individuals are hard to correlate from one census to another; evidently the persons being questioned did not always know the correct ages of family members.

The first census used as a source, that of 1830, is a classic example of the trouble the English-speaking collectors of census data had with the Norwegian-speaking settlers. {6} In the following summary for that year, the results of their struggle with the foreign language, as clarified by Rosdail, are shown in parentheses. In this tabulation, as in others to follow, the name of the head of the household appears in the left column, and the wife’s name is the first in the listing of dependents in the right-hand column, where variations are shown in parentheses.

CENSUS of 1830

Head of Household
Number of
family
Members
Dependents
Gudmund Donalson (Donolson)
4
Julia, Elizabeth, Serena Madland
(Julia’s sister)
Cornelius Nelson Hersdal
9
Karl, Anne, Nels, Inger, Martha,
(Cornelius Wilson) Sarah Ann, Peter C., Kleng
(Peerson?)
Nels Nelson Hersdal (Nelson Wilson)
4
Bertha, Susan, Christopher
Henry Christopherson Hervik
4
Martha, Christopher, Cecilia
Sven Jacobson
5
Anna Johanna, Christopher,
(Swaim Jacobson) Sven, John
Christian Olson (Chester Knowlson)
3
Second wife, (name unknown),
Erasmus
Daniel Stenson Rossadail
8
Bertha, Ellen, Aave, Lars, John,
(David Rosedale) Hulda, Caroline
Gudmund Sandsberg
5
Marl, Bertha, Anna, Torbor
(Goodman Stansbaugh)
Andrew Stangeland (Andrew Staudert)
3
Susan, Eleazar (Lydia died in May, 1830)
Nelson Thompson
5
Bertha, Sarah, Anna Maria, Serena


The number of people of Norwegian birth or descent in Kendall in 1830 was 51.

CENSUS OF 1840

The number of persons found for this year, 20, is the smallest of all reports. This total could very well be incomplete, as the handwriting was certainly the least legible of all records examined; some of the few items found required careful study with a reading glass. As in the 1830 census, only names of the heads of household were reported. Diagonal marks (/) in the columns of the schedule indicate only the number of male and female inhabitants in each of several age groups.

Ola H. D. Harbenson (?) (nearly illegible) 3 males, 2 females
Henry Harwick 3 males, 2 females
Ole Johnson 2 males, 2 females
(illegible) Nelson
(possibly Nels Nelson;
Cornelius died 1833) {7}
4 males, 1 female


Ole Orsland (Aasland) was not found, unless he was the person with whose name the census taker struggled and came up with what we have interpreted as "Harbenson." Orsland had arrived in 1838 with a party of 20, "whose passage he paid," according to the Norway Road marker. The total in Kendall for 1840 was 20.

CENSUS OF 1850

Erasmus Dahl
6
Malinda, Ulriche, Mariah, Malinda (daughter), Antonius
Andrew Halverson
5
Lorra, Marcellus, Lorra
(daughter), Andrew, Mary
Henry Harwick
(This version of the "Hervik" now common; the family moved to Holley in 1876)
5
Martha, Christopher, Christiana,
Lydia
John Johnson
4
Ann, Mary, John
Ole Johnson
9
Jane, (Susan ? illegible), Mary,
Tollef, Gerusha, (another illegible), James, John
Ole Orsland
8
Ann, Harry, Ole, Hallock, Canute, Jane, Seri (Mrs. Orsland’s mother); Hallock listed as "Welick", Canute as "Newton"
Single persons
3
John Johnson, laborer; Jacob
Dahl, laborer; Ella Olson,
servant
Andrew Stangeland and his wife Susan Carey lived in Kendall, according to the census, but left about 1839 with four children for Indiana. Four more were born there, beginning 2/22/39. Andrew died 8/21/47; Susan 11/4/48. At least four of the youngest were returned to Kendall and apparently lived with John and others of the Carey family.
3
Children of Andrew and Susan Stangeland: Elizabeth, Benjamin F., Andrew Jackson


The total for 1850 was 44.

CENSUS OF 1855

Malinda Dahl, widow of Erasmus
7
Helen, Mariah, Malinda (daughter), Melvin, Antonius, Elida. (Ulriche, 7, in last census, not listed; she was 12, so old enough to hire out?)
Andrew Halverson
4
Lorra (rendered by census taker as
Sarah), Andrew, M.C. (Mary)
Kelo Hanson (shoemaker)
3
Karran, Caroline
Henry Harwick
5
Martha, Christopher, Christiana
(sometimes Christena), Lydia
John Johnson
3
Anna (Ann in 1850), John, (Mary,
23 in 1850, working out?
married?)
Ole Johnson (new family)
5
Inger, Phebe, Louisa, ME. (boy)
Burre Naess (shoemaker)
2
Malinda
John Carey
1
Benjamin F. Stangeland (Elizabeth
and A. J. not listed)
Ole Orsland
7
Anna, Harry, Jane, Ole, Halleck,
Canute, Sarah (Mrs. Orsland’s
mother, listed in 1850 as Seri)
Claus Shulstead (shoemaker)
2
Caroline
Single persons
3
Peter Johnson, laborer; Anthony Kleeber, laborer; Christie Johnson, laborer


The total for 1855 was 42. The three shoemakers are particularly indicated, evidence of the importance of this trade in the community at the time.

CENSUS OF 1865

Malinda E. Dahl

4
Malinda (daughter, missing in this census), Mariah, Melvin, Elida
Erasmus Danielson
3
Elizabeth, Daniel
Andrew Halverson
4
Lorra (listed as Laura), Andrew, Mary (listed as "hired girl" elsewhere)
Henry Harwick
4
Martha, Christena (Christiana),
Lydia
John Johnson
7
Anna, Maria, Franklin B., Charles, Jennie, James A. Johnson (son-in-law, husband of Maria)
John I. Johnson (new)
5
Martha, Canute, Inger M., Charles
Ole Johnson
5
Inger, Phebe, Louisa, Mary
Burre Naess
4
Mary Ann (Malinda), Mary Adel, Moos (father of Burre, listed as "gardener")
Ann Orsland, widow of Ole
7
Harry B., Jane Orsland Frink, Hallock, Elizabeth (?), Canute, Ole E. Frink, son of Jane
Claus Shulstead
2
Caroline
Andrew J. Stangeland
3
Emily, Minnie A.
Single persons 3 Inger Johnson, servant; B. Franklin Stangeland (in Alextopher (Christie) Anderson, "hired man", previously listed as "boarder" in Shulstead homeander Cary family); Chris


The total for 1865 was 51.

CENSUS OF 1870

Malinda Dahl
2
Minnie (Malinda)
Erasmus Donaldson
4
Elizabeth, Sarah, Daniel
Laura Halverson, widow of Andrew
3
Andrew (farmer), Mary (listed
in 1865 as "servant")
Henry Harwick
3
Christina (Christiana), Lydia,
(Christopher missing)
John Johnson
4
Martha, Inger (later married
Canute Orsland), Charles
Ole Johnson
4
Inger, Louisa, Many
Burre Naess
5
Many A., Mary, Carrie (new child),
Moons (father of Burre)
Harry Orsland
2
Livonia, (Ann Orsland deceased)
Claus Shulstead
2
Caroline
Canute Orsland
3
"Frank" (listed as "female" and
"housekeeper"; comparison of ages indicates "Frank" probably the Jane of previous entries); Ellsworth Frink (evidently the infant listed as "Ole E." in 1865)
Andrew Stangeland
5
Emily, Minnie, Gertrude,
Elizabeth
Single persons
4
Canute Johnson, laborer; Christopher Anderson, laborer; Anthony Lind and Charles Lind, in Shulstead home


The total for 1870 was 41.

CENSUS OF 1875

Rasmus Donaldson
4
Elizabeth, David (Daniel), Anna
(Sarah?)
Henry Harwick
2
Christena (Julis Harwick
deceased)
John Johnson
Nationality in question
Burre Naess
6
Many Ann, Carrie, Lizzie, Mary,
Mons (father)
Canute Orsland
4
Enger, John and Martha Johnson
(parents of Enger)
Harry B. Orsland
1
(Livonia, wife, listed in 1865)
Claus Shulstead
2
Caroline
Jackson Stangeland
8

Emily, Minnie, Gertrude, Elizabeth,
Clarence, Eva, Bela
Single persons
8
Charles Johnson, laborer; Julia
"Libar", housekeeper; Henry "Peksly", 14, laborer; Charles Lind, laborer; Inger Johnson, servant; Christopher Anderson, laborer; Elivena Saesen, house-keeper; Saes Hanson, laborer


The total for 1875 was 35 (36 if John Johnson proved to be Norwegian).

CENSUS OF 1880

Erasmus Donaldson
4
Elizabeth, Daniel, Annie
John Halverson
3
Mary, Lewis
Henry Harwick
2
Christina
Charles Johnson (listed in 1875 as "laborer")
5
Ella, Willard, Jane, Enger (previously listed as a servant, name also spelled Inger); the ages of Willard, 58, and Jane, 56, give rise to husband-wife presumption
Burre Naess
3
Carrie, Lizzie (Mary Ann deceased?)
Harry Orsland
4
Julia ("Libar"?), Ole, Florence
Canute Orsland
2
Inger
Claus Shulstead
2
Caroline
Jackson Stangeland
8
Emily, Minna, Gertrude, Libbie, Clarence, Eva, Bela
John Johnson
2
Martha
Single persons
3
Christopher Anderson, laborer; Lars Hanson, laborer; Harry Johnson, laborer


The total for 1880 was 38.

CENSUS OF 1892

Rasmus Danielson 4 Libbie, Daniel, Anna
Mary A. Halverson 5 Lawrence, Edith, Harris, Laura (widow of John) (Lewis, 19, probable laborer)
John Johnson 2 Martha
Charles Lind 5 Maggie, Lucy, Charles, Helen (mother)
Burre Naess 3 Carrie, Lizzie
Canute Orsland 2 Enger M. (sometimes Inger)
Harry B. Orsland 5 Julia, Ole P., Florence, Mabel
George W. Parker (English born but Norwegian wife) 3 Eliza (Norwegian born), Anna, Mary
Jackson Stangeland 8 Emily, Clarence, Libbie, Gertrude, Ada L., Agnes B., Nellie
Claus Shullstead 2 Caroline
Single persons 9 Christopher Anderson, farm laborer; Simon Anderson, farm laborer; Andrew J. Halverson, farm laborer; Olena Jensen, domestic; Mary Johnson, domestic; Fred Larson, farm laborer; Martin Larson, farm laborer; Oscar Lind, blacksmith; Bela Stangeland, laborer


The total for 1892 was 48.

CENSUS OF 1905

Mary A. Halverson 4 Edith, Laura, Joseph (Lawrence, 22, working away)
Fred E. Larson 3 Louise, Edith
Charles A. Lind 6 Margaret (Maggie), Lucy M., Charles A., Jr., Ruby E., Eleanor (mother listed in 1892 as "Helen")
Burre Naess 3 Carrie, Lizzie
Canute Orsland 3 Inger, John Johnson (father of Inger.)
Harry B. Orsland 3 Julia A., Mabel B.
George W. Parker (English born) 4 Eliza A. (Norwegian born), Frank A., George W., Jr., Ruth
Lewis J. Parker (American born) 2 Anna, Elizabeth Danielson
(Anna’s mother, Norwegian born)
Emily Stangeland 2 Nellie
Single persons 3 Marinus Anderson, laborer; Andrew J. Halverson, laborer; Harry (Harris) Halverson, laborer


The total for 1905 was 33.

CENSUS OF 1915

Claudine Anderson 5 Oscar, Merren, Charles, Arthur
James Anderson 4 Eliza, Webster, Everett
Lars Anderson 2 Lizzie B.
Irving Crane (Cramm) 2 Rose (Norwegian)
Mary Halverson 2 Lawrence
Joseph Halverson 2 Harriett
Fred Larson 3 Louise, Edith
Charles A. Lind 3 Margaret, Ellen M. (listed as Eleanor, mother of Charles in1905)
Charles Lind, Jr. 4 Minnie I., Margaret L., Dorothy W.
Oscar Lind 7 Carrie B., Walter, Kenneth B., Ralph C., Ellsworth, Bernard (Note Americanized names)
Ole Orsland 4 E. Mary, M. Margaret, E. Madalene
Single persons 2 Harry Halverson, servant; Fred Nelson, farm laborer


The total for 1915 was 40.

CENSUS OF 1925

Claudine Anderson 6 Oscar, Marren J. (now Marin), Charles, Arthur, Irving (grandson)
James Anderson 4 Eliza, Webster, Everett
Lars Anderson 3 Lizzie, Carrie Naess (sister-in- law)
Fred Larson 2 Louise
Charles Lind, Sr . 2 Margaret
Charles Lind, Jr. 4 Minnie, Margaret, Dorothy
Ole Orsland 2 Mary


The total for 1925 was 23.

The foregoing listings from the state and federal census records indicate that there was still a continuous, though varying population, which justifies our contention that Professor Blegen was wrong in his assumption that the migration to Illinois spelled the doom of the Kendall colony. This is true despite the fact that the population of Norwegian birth or descent in the Kendall area is always less than the peak figure of 85 reported by Rosdail. We have shown that for ninety years there has been a continuing population at least of Norwegian descent in the community, although it is evident that, at the very end of our study, there were left only a very few people of Norwegian birth (Lars Anderson, Fred Larson, Charles Lind, Sr., and Claudine Anderson). Kendall may now be near its end as a Norwegian settlement, but its demise has been nearly a century in coming to pass. If it was a dead settlement after the migration to the Fox River, it was certainly a very lively corpse! A bit of Norwegian spirit still exists; when this writer was discussing with the Kendall school board his request to place a correct marker for the Sloopers on the school grounds, one member remarked with obvious satisfaction, "My neighbor is a Norwegian."

Careful perusal of the census results will also point out the well-known fact that the Kendall Settlement, during this entire period, has served the purpose of so many Norwegian immigrant centers: as a temporary place of residence for immigrants, who "work out" while getting adjusted to American ways and to learning the language. The continuation of the Norse flavor in Kendall has been due in considerable part to these individuals who were absorbed into the community, either as Norwegian women marrying American men or as Norwegian men marrying American women.

We should at least recognize that a core of immigrants - with remarkable powers of survival - remained for about a hundred years in the Kendall Settlement in New York and established there a true Norwegian "island."

Notes

<1> Richard Canuteson, "A Little More Light on the Kendall Colony," in Norwegian-American Studies and Records, 18:83 (Northfield, Minnesota, 1954).

<2> J. Hart Rosdail, The Sloopers: Their Ancestry and Posterity, 63-65 (Broadview, Illinois, 1961).

<3> Rosdail, The Sloopers, 66.

<4> Theodore C. Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860, 61, 80 (Northfield, Minnesota, 1940).

<5> Rosdail, The Sloopers, 54-55.

<6> Rosdail, The Sloopers, 54-55; census records for 1830 and 1840 are in the New York State Library.

<7> Rosdail, The Sloopers, 37.

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