from Brønnøy and Vik in Helgeland *
by Kjell Erik Skaaren translated by C. A. Clausen
(Volume 29: Page 293)
* "Utvandring fra Helgeland," in Arnfinn
Engen, ed., Utvandringa - det store oppbrotet (Oslo, 1978),
122-136. The article is based on the author's thesis, "Utvandringen
til Amerika fra Brønnøy og Vik 1867-1899," University
of Trondheim, 1971.
EMIGRATION FROM Brønnøy and Vik in Helgeland
began late but vigorously in the years 1868 and 1869. During
the previous years only a few individuals had left - barely
enough to be noticed in the statistical tables. This pattern
is typical of most of the communities in North Norway. The
America fever became prevalent only in the 1860s, and its
intensity fluctuated markedly.
The causes of emigration were many, but only the economic
factors will be considered here. The period around 1860 is
unique; County Governor (amtmann) Worsøe noted in a
five-year report that "Nordland in 1879 is not the Nordland
of 1865." It is obvious that something happened from one five-year
period to the next: first a development toward prosperity,
then years of famine. These economic conditions will be juxtaposed
to the emigration figures and results arrived at will be noted.
Records and tradition agree that worsening economic and social
conditions caused the people of these communities to emigrate.
A growing restlessness began to spread abroad in the district.
But first one should take a look at the historical background.
From time immemorial the Nordlending had sustained himself
by agriculture and fishing. Son followed father, and only
at rare intervals were slight changes noticeable as generation
succeeded generation. Social conditions were static here as
they were in other parts of the country. On the little farms
children helped with the work until they became adults, which
happened at an early age. The small crops could sustain only
a certain number of people and after the oldest son brought
his wife to the family farm, the younger siblings were forced
to secure employment somewhere in the surrounding communities
as soon as they were confirmed.
The fortunate ones became cotters with land, others became
cotters without land or day laborers and servants - with fishing
for extra earnings. Girls usually became servants, and in
time they might marry cotters. Occasionally, when a farmer
needed steady labor during busy seasons, he might select one
of his best laborers as a cotter - who would then clear a
place and build a house for himself.
For most people in the old agrarian society, farming provided
an uncertain mode of existence. Some years "God's wrath" would
strike the community. The pastures would be almost devoid
of grass, the grain harvest ruined by either rain or frost
- even the generally dependable potatoes might yield only
half the expected crop. In 1867 it is reported from Nordland
that people going to the midsummer markets could ride in sleds
over the lakes. 1864 and 1865 had also been years of widespread
Along the coast the economy had a more secure foundation.
Fodder for the animals was supplemented with various types
of seaweed, fish offal, or dried leaves, while people could
vary their diet with herring and potatoes one day and potatoes
and herring the next. Furthermore, during good cod and herring
years some cash might even be laid aside. As fishing was one
of the few sources of' income, more than 50 percent of the
male population ranging in age from 15 to 60 years took part
in the extensive codfishing operations in the Lofoten archipelago.
From Trøndelag and North Norway more than 30,000 men
might be thus engaged annually. But the risk to life was great.
It is reported that during a certain year more than five hundred
men were lost in a sudden storm.
Thus there was a continual struggle to earn a living. Even
with the iron will of a Karl Oskar in Moberg's novel, The
Emigrants, or an Isak Sellanraa in Hamsun's Growth of the
Soil, a surplus could seldom be accumulated over the long
run. It was as if people lived by grace, and the future could
not be planned.
Higher taxes of all sorts during the early years of the cash
economy led to foreclosures and sales of farms. Land was one
of the few standards of value; and it was the only natural,
the only productive element in society. From the purely personal
point of view land ownership was a status symbol, and the
increased school and poor-relief taxes were felt to be a threat
to the farmers. Even though the cash economy put pressure
on them to sell their produce, not all of them did this -
in contrast, for instance, to the people who shipped goods
to Bergen via the annual Nordland fleet. Possibly the farms
were located in an outlying region, or the farmers may have
chosen to put aside some grain and potatoes for next spring's
seeding and planting. Or they were reluctant to send agricultural
products out of the local community where they were so sorely
needed. Thus cash income might turn out to be very irregular.
But the authorities seldom took this fact into consideration.
When state or municipality needed funds, they simply levied
extra taxes. Around 1880 the municipal taxes tripled over
a ten to fifteen-year period in Brønnøy and
Vik, which in turn led to greater expenses for such things
as poor relief.
There was another circumstance, moreover, which caused conditions
to deteriorate considerably. During the previous centuries
the population in Brønnøy and Vik - as in Nordland
generally - had grown very slowly. But now the rate of increase
in these communities was almost double that of the country
as a whole. Most of the other rural communities in Norway
had, ever since the 1830s and 1840s, been experiencing an
exodus of their citizens to the urban centers, to North Norway
-and even, little by little, to North America.
The increase in population in Nordland apparently did not
make itself felt until the middle of the century. And the
growing number of children who survived because of more food
and better hygiene and access to medical care did not become
a problem until they reached adulthood around 1860. Now they
discovered that there was not a place for them in the community.
The farms could not be further subdivided; and only a few
would attempt, like Isak in Growth of the Soil, to clear a
place for themselves in the wilderness. The struggle for existence
became more intense. Population pressure becomes evident only
when there is a lack of economic opportunity. Here the pressure
came primarily from within the communities and led to the
increased subdividing of land. This shortage of space was
not as acutely felt in the coastal regions, where fishing
furnished an additional source of livelihood. But after 1879
the fisheries also declined and seldom exceeded 70 percent
of the yield of previous years.
Increased movement from Brønnøy and Vik to
other parts of Norway became evident with the 1850s, but there
was a decline during the 1880s when the America fever reached
its highest intensity. Toward the end of the century, however,
there was another increase in internal migration. As early
as the 1850s approximately 50 percent of the migrants during
certain years left for Finnmark - especially for the city
of Hammerfest. There were two primary causes for this trek
toward the north. First, the desire to own land was intense,
and this urge could be satisfied in Finnmark. Even as late
as 1890 articles and advertisements like the following could
appear: "Go to Finnmark, not to America." Descriptions were
given of the many beautiful areas in South Varanger, in the
eastern part of Finnmark. There cotters and day laborers could
become independent landowners. Also, the possibility of securing
cash by trading with the Russians, the so-called "Pomor trade,"
was another alternative to going to America. While laborers
earned only 40 to 50 kroner per year in inner Finnmark around
1880, they might earn as much as 1,000 kroner in the coastal
areas. There was an abundance of fish which they could trade
for flour with the Russians. But the main attraction was,
no doubt, the fact that they could sell their fish for cash.
People who moved into Brønnøy and Vik came
primarily from the south, from Trøndelag and the upper
valleys of East Norway (Østlandet), and a few from
Sweden. When the cotter system reached its peak in Trøndelag
and farther south, the cotters and other poor people sought
new outlets. It became obvious in those southerly areas, much
sooner than in Helgeland, that subdividing of farms had reached
its limit. As a consequence, during the mid-century years,
two migratory streams became noticeable besides the trek toward
the cities: one toward the north and one toward America. Finnmark
was always a special case. Otherwise, movement of people from
southern Norway was first noticed in the southern part of
North Norway, but gradually made itself felt farther north.
Presumably Brønnøy and Vik attracted people
from the south as colonizing districts largely because of
the fishing possibilities found there.
The population pressure in Brønnøy and Vik
developed partly because of movement into the communities,
but even more because of population growth from within. This
overcrowding did not affect the fishing regions as much as
the agricultural areas. Fishing could absorb comparatively
large numbers of people since the fisherman needed but a small
plot of ground in order to raise the most necessary agricultural
products, such as potatoes. It seems as if movement into the
outer fishing areas took place during and after good fishing
years, most especially during the storsild (mature herring
prior to spawning, about twelve inches in length) era up to1874.
Throughout the centuries both the soil and the sea have been
harvested by the people of Nordland. For most of them, agriculture
was of primary importance; but as Brønnøy and
Vik are located close to the sea, fishing necessarily became
an important subsidiary source of income. The soil gave people
their daily bread, but that was about all. An Isak Sellanraa,
here as in the district generally, very seldom reaped any
surplus from all his toil. The sea, however, could yield hard
cash during good years; and men's hopes clung to the great
fisheries. Bad years might strike either agriculture or the
fisheries, but seldom 1)0th at the same time. Farming was
looked upon as slave labor while fishing, like a game of chance,
offered the possibility of quick gain. It could happen that
a farmer's son would rather risk his luck at fishing than
take charge of the family acres; he might hire out as a laborer
on some little farm located near the coast or on an island.
Many a landowner denounced such a son as a "traitor" to the
ancestral inheritance. Because of the good fishing prospects
it was difficult to secure hired help. Furthermore, when banks
were established after the 1860s it became possible to secure
loans for buying and equipping a boat, which would give a
fisherman the feeling of being his own boss. As a consequence
the farmer and the women were left more or less alone on the
land. But the farmer was also expected to do part-time fishing;
he too was hoping to garner some cash in exchange for "the
silver of the sea."
Men and boys twelve years old or over might be engaged four
months or more in the Lofoten fishing and even another three
months if they set off directly to the second major fishery
in North Norway, in Finnmark. At home, the wife was forced
to carry on the farm work, a state of affairs which caused
the county governor of Nordland to complain of its effect
on agriculture. In many five-year reports successive governors
maintained that agriculture ought to furnish the main livelihood
of the district, but fishing for summer herring and feitsild
(fat herring, six to twelve inches long) together with the
Finnmark fisheries hindered its development.
During the period 1869-1878 the Nordlendings could haul in
great riches from the sea. In this decade Nordland accounted
for 65 percent of the yield in North Norway and as much as
45 percent of the direct profit of all Norwegian fisheries.
The economy in Nordland during the second half of the century
was thus considerably more ample than in the rest of the country.
In some years and series of years the fisheries gave the Nordlendings
very good incomes. It has already been noted that about half
of all males between the ages of 15 and 60 took part in the
Lofoten fisheries, but it is reasonable to assume that others
took part in various cod fisheries nearer home. As regards
the Lofoten fishermen, all the way up to 1881 about one-fourth
of them left fur the Finnmark fisheries as soon as the Lofoten
It was the arrival of the storsild, however, which caused
the greatest stir along the Helgeland coast. Shoals of storsild
were reported already in the early 1860s, but unprepared as
people were with regard to the necessary equipment (salt,
salting houses, barrels), the fisheries did not get a real
start until the year 1867. The storsild created a boom period
"the likes of which the district had never seen." During this
period the shoals penetrated farther and farther north every
year, but apparently it was the fisheries off the coast of
Helgeland which attracted most attention. In Bodø people
talked of nothing but Skibbåtsvær and Asvær
in North Helgeland.
There are no figures showing how many men from Brønnøy
and Vik took part in the storsild fishery, or how much revenue
it brought in. The statistics covering the herring fisheries
are inadequate prior to 1876; but undoubtedly a large percentage
of the fishermen from the district were involved, both locally
and on the larger fishing grounds. The year 1871 brought in
a record catch of nearly five million kroner for the county
of Nordland - but in 1874 the storsild disappeared suddenly
It is impossible to give in exact figures the economic advances
made during this boom period. The income was dispersed among
all classes of people: the businessmen who financed expeditions
and speculated in herring, farmers and fishermen who brought
in the catches, women and children who did much of the cleaning
and salting of the fish. A poor fisherman of the district
is said to have hauled in no less than 200 speciedaler worth
of fish in one lucky catch. Naturally, these developments
led to the accumulation of capital in certain districts. It
is estimated that the wealth of Brønnøy and
Vik increased by 45 percent between 1871 and 1875.
The storsild fisheries also produced a crop of "storsild
tycoons." One of them, Ulrik Quale of Kvaløy near Brønnøysund,
is quoted as saying: "Despite the honest treatment we received
in Bergen, we still were at the mercy of Bergen merchants.
But the storsild epoch made us independent." Quale expanded
his business into a many-sided concern.
The storsild fishery took place during the months of October
to December, but a good summer fishery was also carried on
at Brønnøy and Bindal. Most of the people engaged
were thus enabled to extend the profitable fishing season.
The storsild shoals were a strange interlude for Helgeland.
When they suddenly disappeared, the salting houses and other
large establishments built during the epoch became - in many
areas - practically worthless. The ensuing economic crash
was, in all likelihood, tempered for Brønnøy
and Vik by the good feitsild years which followed from 1876
through 1878, when catches valued at more than a million kroner
were made. While the estimated wealth of southern Helgeland
increased by 29 percent during this brief period, the corresponding
figure for Brønnøy and Vik was 45 percent.
The governor of Nordland wrote a report in 1889 covering
economic and social conditions during the decade just ended.
He stated that the county (amt) had made appreciable advances
because of the fisheries. Those who had invested heavily in
better equipment were left with great debts when the storsild
disappeared; however, many who were in debt before the good
years managed to free themselves and make progress. Old houses
were repaired, a number of tenants bought the land they were
tilling, and more money was available for daily comforts.
He also reported that interest in education and general information
had increased during those years, and that "previous not uncommon
discontent with current conditions, and a resultant urge to
emigrate, have been replaced by contentment and greater zest
Fishery earnings dropped greatly after 1880. Income from
cod and herring catches in Nordland declined by more than
two million kroner annually, and this occurred while prices
for agricultural products were still low. In 1886 the chief
magistrate (sorenskriver) for South Helgeland reported to
the governor as follows concerning the past five-year period:
"Poverty is increasing at a steady and alarming rate . . .
no economic progress can be noted." The 189 1-1895 period
was somewhat better, but the final five years of the century
must have been quite miserable
The farmers of Brønnøy and Vik did not enjoy
an easy time during the last half of the nineteenth century.
Prices of agricultural products did not increase as rapidly
as prices of other goods, especially fish. Wages and income
were shoved upward by the intermittent good fisheries. Little
was left for the farmers after the inflated wages had been
subtracted from the farm income. Transportation and market
facilities for agricultural produce were deficient. Farm families
could, however, provide themselves with the main necessities
of life. An old citizen remarked that "we did have milk for
the coffee, flour, and potatoes." Farming methods were generally
plodding and awkward. Even after 1850 wooden plows were used,
and the seed grain was hoed and raked into the ground. Most
people in Brønnøy and Vik had a desire for land,
and thus it was quite common that even agricultural laborers
(innerster) might have a plot of ground as their own. Cultivated
soil was so attractive that the plainest woman might win herself
a man if she owned a bit of a farm. This fact became the butt
of many a joke.
A marked transition from tenancy to land ownership took place
from about 1860 to 1870. Tenant farmers could not afford to
buy their farms until the good fisheries provided the means.
The following table lists the number of landowners and tenants
in the county of Nordland during the years 1825-1900:
Cattle raising in Nordland during the nineteenth century
was characterized by a disproportionately large number of
animals relative to the cultivated areas. This was made possible
by a large use of supplemental fodder such as kelp and other
seaweed, fish offal, leaves, and bark, which reduced the necessity
of large-scale slaughtering during periods of crisis, though
as a result the cows usually did not give any milk until midsummer.
By the end of the century the number of cattle had declined
considerably, and the farmers had gradually begun to cultivate
more pastureland. Advances in animal husbandry became evident
in various ways. For instance, the average amount of milk
given by a cow in 1907 was 1,100 liters as compared with 700
in 1865. These figures relate to all of Nordland.
The clearest impression of the state of agriculture in the
1870s during the transition from traditional to new methods
of farming may perhaps be gained by considering some of the
many difficulties encountered.
The climate was an ever-present problem. It was not an easy
matter to grow good crops when the spring was chilly and the
summer brief and people clung to the old methods of work.
Farmers might hear about such newfangled ideas as draining,
fertilizing, and crop rotation but years passed before they
put them into practice. Underfeeding of cattle was general
until the 1880s. During the 1860s the governor of Nordland
reported that with proper care of the cows, the amount of
milk could be tripled.
Lack of interest in farm work is frequently mentioned in
the governors' reports. Usually farmers cultivated land which
was so dry that there was no need of draining. The reason
so little marsh land was put under cultivation sprang from
the general dislike of strenuous work with the soil, especially
ditch digging. Some farmers even retired at the early age
of forty or fifty and accepted a pension (kår) from
the person (usually the oldest son) who took charge of the
farm after him. Still, it is a commonplace remark in the five-year
reports of the governors during the nineteenth century that
the minority who owned their own land did better by it than
did tenant farmers. The fisheries, as already mentioned, drew
labor away from farming, especially the summer herring and
feitsild fisheries which took place during summer and fall,
thus diminishing the labor supply during the busiest agricultural
seasons. Wages rose during good fishing years, thereby reducing
the net income from agriculture.
Banks were not established in Nordland until after 1850,
and not until the 1870s did the granting of loans become general.
Up to the end of the century, loans and economic support were
far less common in Nordland than in the rest of the country.
Improvements in the agricultural situation came slowly. Farmers
gradually introduced new types of seed and crop rotation.
Fertilizing with seaweed, fish offal, and manure was systematically
introduced. Drainage of various areas was also undertaken.
Such supplemental fodder as kelp was replaced by hay. People
gradually realized that rational care of animals paid off
in higher income, and labor shortage could be compensated
by securing better farm implements. Undoubtedly the consolidating
of fields into one unit instead of the old strip-farming system
was also an advantage. After the 1860s agricultural societies
sprang up which endeavored to introduce newer and better systems
EMIGRATION TO AMERICA
The following survey, covering the four northern counties
of Norway, indicates that the intensity of emigration to America
decreases the farther north one proceeds, except for Finnmark.
The figures show how many people emigrated per 1000 average
population during the periods listed.
|Average for Norway
The very first emigrants from Nordland departed during the
1850s, but reliable figures are not available until 1867,
when the police began registering all those who left the country.
The lateness of emigration from the northern part of the country
is due primarily to the fact that North Norway was itself
looked upon as a colonizing district at the time.
The first emigrants from Brønnøy and Vik were
two persons who left in 1866. No one emigrated from these
communities the following year, but a dozen left from the
neighboring district of Velfjord. In 1868 and 1869 came the
departure of a surprising number of people, forty-eight and
eighty respectively - most of them from the one community
of Vik. Thus the emigration intensity in those two years rose
to more than eleven per 1000 inhabitants.
A necessary precondition for such a vigorous beginning of
the movement must have been that people in the communities
were already well acquainted with the idea of emigration and
with conditions in North America. Presumably a damming-up
of potential emigrants had taken place over the years, and
now the pressure was suddenly released. The emigrants from
Brønnøy and Vik all left by way of Trondheim
until near the end of the century. One might have expected
that some of them would have gone with the Nordland fleet
to Bergen; but this did not happen. To be sure, two emigrants
from Brønnøy and Vik are listed in the Bergen
protocols, but they had first registered their names in Trondheim.
By and large the emigration from Brønnøy and
Vik corresponds with the movement from Nordland and rural
Norway as a whole. There is, however, a great difference between
the two communities. Two and a half times as many people left
from Vik as from Brønnøy despite the fact that
their economic conditions and population figures were about
Economic developments during the period 1867-1900 are mirrored
surprisingly well in the consumption of goods and the fishery
conditions of the time. Mainly because of the fisheries, the
district had advanced well into a cash economy. Research into
such financial matters as bank deposits, liquidity, credit,
auctions, and tax arrears yields very good economic indicators.
These findings will be correlated with the emigration figures
from Brønnøy and Vik. Nevertheless, primary
emphasis will continue to be placed on the fisheries.
1868-1869: economic recession - heavy emigration. The 1860s
had been afflicted with two or three catastrophic agricultural
years, and each of the succeeding years was also hampered
by insufficient supplies of seed potatoes and seed grain.
Nor did the cod or feitsild fisheries do well. The abrupt
outflow of emigrants in 1868 and 1869, when forty-eight and
eighty persons left, indicates that there was a loss of confidence
in economic conditions at home, a fact which would gain stimulus
from reports about North America. And a pent-up force, which
had been building over several years, was suddenly released
when the American Civil War came to an end.
1870-1878: economic upswing - decreased emigration. The storsild
created Klondike conditions along the Helgeland coast, and
there were also very good years in the Lofoten fisheries.
The boom period was marked by heavy investments and bank deposits
in Brønnøy and Vik up to 1877. Possibly it is
a bit bold to suggest that the seventeen emigrants who did
leave around 1877 may have done so in response to the pessimism
which spread after the disappearance of the storsild in 1874.
Reports from the United States at the time did not encourage
emigration, either, as a recession held sway there from 1873
It seems reasonable to assume that short-term loans went
primarily to finance boats and fishing equipment, while long-term
loans went to agriculture because of the greater security.
If this is true, investment in boats and related equipment
rose rapidly from 1873 until 1878 - with a slight drop in
1876. But 1876 was a brief interlude between the spectacular
storsild epoch and the feitsild fishery. The increased investments
at the time are indicative of a boom period.
1879-1885: average economic conditions - heavy emigration.
During the 1870s a large number of people had evidently been
considering emigration, but could not find any special reason
for leaving while the fisheries were so good. However, when
a comparatively heavy emigration did set in from Brønnøy
and Vik, it followed the general pattern for the country as
Bank deposits had by then leveled off in Brønnøy
and Vik. Yields from the Lofoten fisheries sank to two-thirds
of what they had been during the 1870s. Likewise, the only
feitsild fishery off Helgeland worthy of mention became a
mere shadow of its former self during the years 1878-1886.
The poorer fisheries also explain why there was a growing
interest in agriculture. The average annual income of the
fishermen of Brønnøy and Vik from the fisheries
is shown below (in kroner):
1886-1899: poor years - heavy emigration until 1893.
During this period also, the emigration from Brønnøy
and Vik largely paralleled that from the country as a whole;
it declined greatly between 1893 and 1897 when the depression
in the United States acted as a deterrent. It was the feitsild
which brought income to the region during 1886-1888, and in
1891 practically the whole benefit from the good feitsild
fishery was garnered by Brønnøy and Vik alone.
Nevertheless, the years were on the poor side. Only the five-year
period from 1886 to 1890 approached the average. The last
decade of the century was very poor.
Correlation between emigration and economic conditions seems
to hold fairly well up until 1885. Later the local picture
becomes more clouded. Society assumed a more complex form
and a variety of factors became intertwined, making it unclear
even to the emigrants themselves which motives for leaving
were the most persuasive. But the sum total of causes added
up to discontentment with life as it was in the home community.
According to the police protocols, the emigrants from Brønnøy
and Vik settled, by and large, in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The accuracy of the stated destinations may undoubtedly be
questioned; but in general the information can be accepted
as fairly reliable. If one ignores the emigrants who listed
ports like New York, Boston, Quebec, and Chicago as their
destination, it will be seen that newcomers went to places
where friends and relatives from the home community had already
settled. It is not mere coincidence that a little town like
Montevideo, Minnesota, steadily attracted new recruits through
the decades until about ten percent of all emigrants from
Brønnøy and Vik were located there. Smaller
groups were concentrated around Green Bay, Wisconsin (five
percent); Baldwin, Wisconsin; and Fort Howard, Maryland. If
larger areas of concentration are considered, no less than
60 percent of the emigrants settled within a radius of about
200 miles from Minneapolis.
Apparently good contact was maintained between the emigrants
and relatives and friends in the home community. Not only
did the America letters give information about the best methods
of travel, but they also advised against coming at certain
times. Thus the emigrant stream from Norway shrank to a mere
trickle as soon as the depressions of 1873 and 1893 set in.
The "pull" from North America must have been primarily responsible
for the fact that more than twice as many people emigrated
from Vik as from Brønnøy even though the two
communities were so much alike. To quote Aadel Brun Tschudi:
"Migration from an overpopulated area will not always cease
as soon as the population pressure is reduced. It has a tendency
to continue until the area is depopulated." This idea might
be called "the snowball theory." It is not easy to put a stop
to a migration movement through rational means the moment
the population pressure has eased, especially when such forces
as friendship, family connections, and personal ambitions
are involved. The snowball theory fits the emigration pattern
for Brønnøy and Vik very well; these forces
made themselves felt immediately through America letters,
prepaid tickets, and visits by Norwegian Americans to the
The emigration from Brønnøy and Vik during
the years 1867 to 1899, involving 700 people, did not differ
in any essential respect from similar movements in the rest
of' Norway. This "bloodletting" had certain consequences fur
the two communities as it did for the country in general.
The people who remained at home undoubtedly missed those who
had gone. But, materially speaking, conditions improved somewhat
because there were fewer competing fur the means of existence.
Thus the emigration movement eased the pressure which had
made itself felt in Brønnøy and Vik. In other
words, there were more opportunities fur those who were left
behind - even though the number of emigrants never equaled
the natural population increase.
A majority of the emigrants were young people in their productive
years who came from the lower rungs of' the social ladder.
At home they might have become cotters, laborers, fishermen,
or craftsmen. These were the only possibilities. Better educated
than their fathers, they might well have secured some kind
of work in the home community, but it is by no means certain
that they would have been satisfied with this mode of existence
after they had heard about conditions in America.
From the demographic point of view the emigration movement
retarded the growth of population both directly and indirectly,
since fewer people of marriageable age were left in the communities
- especially in Vik, where the America fever took the greatest
toll. It is difficult to know fur certain what population
conditions in Brønnøy and Vik would have been
had not the 700 emigrants left for America. Quite possibly
the pressure of the surplus population would have been eased
by greater use of the second safety valve - migration to Finnmark.
Be that as it may, the emigrants burned all bridges behind
them and abandoned family, friends, home surroundings, and
native land in the hope of winning a better future for themselves
in North America.