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Claus L. Clausen: Pioneer Pastor and Settlement Promoter
Translated and edited by Carlton C. Qualey (Volume VI: Page 12)


One of the most prominent and vigorous characters in early Norwegian-American history is the pioneer pastor and farmer, Claus L. Clausen. Of Danish birth, he came to the United States in 1843 at the age of twenty-three as a member, with his newly-acquired wife, of a party of Norwegian immigrants who joined the Norwegian settlement which had gathered about Lake Muskego, northwest of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although Clausen had studied theology, he had never been ordained into the ministry. On petition of the settlers, who felt deeply the lack of a spiritual leader, Clausen was ordained by a German Lutheran pastor of Milwaukee and served the congregation at Muskego until 1846. In that year he accepted a call from Norwegian-settlers in the so-called Rock Prairie settlement in Rock County, southern Wisconsin, and made Luther Valley the center for his activities amongst the widespread Norwegian settlements in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. He remained at Rock Prairie until 1853, when he removed with his family to his new home west of the Mississippi River at St. Ansgar, Iowa. {1}

Clausen was popular in the pioneer Norwegian settlements, and through his missionary activities and his writings he became widely known. He was one of the three founders of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran church in America and was one of the storm centers of early church controversy between factions in the Norwegian Lutheran church bodies both in this country and in Norway. In addition to his religious work, Clausen engaged in considerable journalistic activity. He was the first editor of the influential Norwegian-American newspaper, Emigranten, and was also associated for a time in the publication of a monthly Lutheran church paper, the Luthersk Maanedstidende. Ole Munch Raeder, a Norwegian traveler, visited Clausen in 1847 and in his account of the visit stated:

He is busy writing a book on America, which, to judge by the few portions of it which he read to me, will not merely discuss the merits of Wisconsin as an immigrant residence but will give a comprehensive survey of the history and the political institutions of the entire country. As he has spent several years in America, has been both pastor and farmer in several places, under conditions which made it imperative for him to familiarize himself with all that pertains to the lot of the immigrant and since he is as trustworthy as he is capable and enterprising, his book will undoubtedly be a great help to Scandinavian immigrants in the future. {2}

This book does not seem to have been published, however.

While pastor at Rock Prairie, and, previously, at Muskego, Clausen was brought into direct contact with the problems of immigration and of settlement. Hundreds of Norwegian immigrants came to the Wisconsin settlements annually and Clausen was forced to take measures to aid these people to earn temporary subsistence and to find land. The increasing number of immigrants coming and the gradual exhaustion of good government land in southern Wisconsin made the problem of the care of the new immigrants very serious. Clausen was deeply concerned over this state of affairs and set out in person to find new areas where the Norwegians might obtain good farm land from the government. Naturally, his attention was attracted to the lands west of the Mississippi River, particularly to those in Minnesota. This new area had just become a territory, and steps were being taken to acquire the land from the Indians. Clausen therefore wrote to Governor Alexander Ramsey of Minnesota Territory in Januarys, 1850, inquiring about opportunities offered in Minnesota Territory for immigrants. This letter is the first of the documents published herewith. Ramsey's reply is not preserved, but it must have been encouraging, for in the summer of the same year Clausen, with some companions, made a trip up the Mississippi to St. Paul and thence to St. Cloud. He returned to St. Anthony Falls and from that place traveled a distance of forty miles up the Minnesota River, turning off at a small river that he called the "Cannon Ball," which he followed to its mouth. He then returned to St. Anthony and explored the region east of Lake St. Croix. He finally found land which he considered satisfactory on the Rush River near the site of the later town of New Centerville, Wisconsin. From this point he returned to his home at Luther Valley, {3} This trip was directly responsible for the Norwegian settlements in St. Croix and Pierce counties, Wisconsin, that were established shortly afterward. On his journey Clausen saw a great deal of land in Minnesota that, although still Indian country, was soon to be opened to settlement. The information made available by this trip must have proved invaluable to many a settler who planned to move across the Mississippi into the new territory.

On August 14, 1852, Clausen and two companions set out on a second journey into the region west of the Mississippi River. This time he himself was interested in finding a new home. This trip, and the country explored, are described :in the second and third documents published herewith. The first document is an article from Emigranten based on a letter which Clausen wrote to the editor, C. M. Riise, and the second is a letter from Clausen which the paper published. That Clausen was enthusiastic about the opportunities offered in this new area is obvious in his accounts, and that this enthusiasm was infectious is evidenced by the great stream of Norwegian immigrants who, in the years following, poured into the region he had described. In the article in Emigranten for April 29, 1853, Clausen stated that he expected to start with his family for Mitchell County, Iowa, within two or three weeks. In the interval between his return from Mitchell County in 1852 and his departure in 1853, his articles in Emigranten and his personal contacts brought news of the new region on the Cedar River to thousands of Norwegians both in this country and in Norway.

About the middle of May, 1853, Clausen and a party of some forty men with their families left Rock Prairie for the Cedar River country in northern Iowa. {4} After experiencing considerable hardship en route, as they made the trip partly on foot and partly with wagons and oxen, the party finally reached the land selected in Mitchell County. Here Clausen founded the village of St. Ansgar, which became the nucleus of an extensive Norwegian settlement in Mitchell and adjoining counties. This colony became a point of dispersion for Norwegian settlements in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota during the fifties and for northwestern Minnesota and the Dakotas during the sixties and seventies. Undoubtedly the route urged upon prospective immigrants by Clausen was followed by hundreds of Norwegian pioneers, as well as by other travelers who came from Wisconsin and other eastern states in search of land. Clausen maintained his contacts with the Wisconsin settlements by correspondence and through the columns of Emigranten, and in 1854 he made a personal visit of a few weeks' duration in his old haunts. {5} As a result of these contacts, and through his prestige amongst the Norwegians, he continued to be a strong factor in attracting settlers to the lands west of the Mississippi River in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. His widespread missionary activities in this region made him as well acquainted and as widely loved as he had been in his earlier field of service in southern Wisconsin.

Clausen remained at St. Ansgar as pastor and farmer until 1872, and during that time he engaged in a great variety of activities. In addition to his work as pastor, missionary, teacher, farmer, and synodical leader, he also engaged in politics, acting as justice of the peace at St. Ansgar in 1856-57, and serving in thc sixth general assembly of Iowa as representative from Mitchell County. In 1862 he accompanied the famous Fifteenth Wisconsin Regiment of Infantry as chaplain and served for six months, after which he was forced to leave the service because of ill health. In 1867 he visited Norway with Pastor H. A. Preus. On his return, he led a faction of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Synod which resigned from that body, and in 1870, he cooperated in forming the Conference for the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical church in America and became the first president of the new church body. In 1872, he visited friends in Virginia and became highly enthusiastic over possibilities for the founding of a large Scandinavian settlement there on cheap vacated lands in the "Northern Neck" region, lie moved there in the fall of 1872 and proceeded to campaign for settlers. A few, Chiefly Danes, came in 1873, but the project was unsuccessful. He remained there, however, until 1878, when he received a call from a congregation at Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, which he accepted. In 1885, he retired and removed to Austin, Minnesota, where he lived until his death on February 27, 1892. {6}

[Ramsey Papers, Minnesota Historical Society Mss. -- A. L. S.]

Sir! I feel assured in my mind that you will pardon the liberty I hereby use in addressing you, as a stranger to you, and asking for some information from you, when I tell you my motives and my situation. I am now, and has [sic] been for nearly seven years, a minister amongst the Norwegians in this State and the northern Illinois, and having in that time acquired some knowledge of the american language, institutions and other matters, my advice has often of late been asked by the large bodies of Emigrants from Scandinavia, especially from Norway, who annually comes into this country, as also from those in the old country who propose to emigrate, concerning matters here, of importance for them to know, and especially about where the best locations for setlements on public lands are to be had. A large number of Emigrants who came in last season, are now staying over the winter around here in the setlement, purposing to look out in the spring for public lands to setle upon, but as they are alike unacquainted with the country and the language here, it is to be feared that many of them may be misled to their serious disadvantage, if left entirely to themselves, or, which is often worse, to the guidance of interested speculators. They have appealed to me for advice and assistance, but the time is past, when I from my personal acquaintance with the government-lands -- of which there are none here now in this section of country -- could be able to advice them where to go. But Minnesota has often during the last year been noticed in the papers in such a way, as to make me beleive, that some parts of that country in the vicinity of Lake Pepin & st. Croix-River & lake, would be most preferable for my hardy and enterprising countrymen, both as to climate, soil, and the principal natural advantages. This Belief has been strengthened by conversation with persons who has [sic] been through that country, and give it a high character, but before advising my country-people to go there, I still wish to have more information about it myself, and from sources that I could rely on, and no better way to get information about that country has occurred to me, than by addressing Your Exellency, who both from your residence in that country, and from your official situation, that commands so numerous sources of information, probably is more able than any other person to give me the desired information. If you would therefore deign to give me a description of the country adjoining the lakes and River aforementioned: the climate, soil, timber, water, etc: or refer me to some sure and reliable source to get information about it, you would thereby greatly benefit & oblige myself and my country-people. Those Norwegians, in whose behalf I now principally write, are generally poor, but sober, hardy and industrious farmers and mechanics; but I have received letters from Norway & Denmark, informing me, that several men with considerable capital, wish to go over here, if I can lead them to places where they can invest their capital profitably, in improving water powers erecting mills and other machineries, and building towns, ere: and I should therefore be very much gratified, if Your Exell: would please to let me know how far those objects might be gained in your section of country, and perhaps point out to me the most favorable places. If Your Exelleney's Answer is so, as to encourage an emigration up there, I am determined to go there myself, and will in all probability have a considerable norwegian setlement on the banks of one of the lakes or water courses next fall. -- Hoping that Your Ecell: will consider this letter favorably and favor me with an early answer, I will remain most respectfully, Your obedient servant

C. L. Clausen

Please direct your letter to 
Rev. C. L. Clausen
Inmansville Post-Office
Rock County, Wisconsin.


[Emigrantern (Inmansville, Rock County, Wisconsin), October 1, 1852]

Ved velvillig Meddelelse af Pastor C. L. Clausen see vi os istand til at give vore Læscre en omtrentlig Beskrivelse af det Land, som Hr. Clausen paa sin nu tilendebragte Reise hat taget i Øiesyn. For dem, der endnu ikke have valgt sig noget bestemt Opholdsted, antage vi, at der vil tjene til Veiledning, naar de vel ville lægge Mærke baade til Fordelene og Manglerne ved ethvert Sted.

Pastor Clausen besøgte først det Sted ved Turkey-River, som kaldes The big timber of Turkey, en Skous-strækning af omtrent 20 Qvadratmile med fortrinlige Træer, meest Eeg. Dette er vel nu en stor Fordeel, men til Gjengjæld er Landet her meget bak-ket og uævnt lige indtil 1 til 2 Mile fra Skoven, hvor der fandres god Prairie. Der var altsaa Anledning nok for Farmere, naar de vilde finde sig i at have deres Skov i en saadan Afstand fra deres Land; der var godt for Vand, men mindre godt for Hø, og et Punkt, som ikke maa lades ude af Betragtning, er, at der allerede var taget 16 til 18 claims paa Skoven.

Ved den øverste Ende af Iowa-River fandtes der Aabningsland, hvoraf en Deel var ganske godt. Af Skovstrækning landres her kun lidet, og Prairie-Lander lod til i vaade Aar at ville være temmelig raat, da der selv paa de høiere Steder fandtes mange underjordiske Spring, som gjorde Jorden noget moradsig. En Farmer vilde her bedst staae sig ved at lægge Vind paa Qvægavl, da Engene rare meget gode, og der var godt for Vand.

Ved den vestre Green af den nordre Arm af Turkey-River var der Anledning til et godt, men kun lille Setlement; Skoven var vel ikke stor her, men Lander var overmaade godt.

Ved Wapsipinicon-River, Howard Co. fandtes der kun ube-tydelig Skov, især langs med Floden. Landet var overalt raat og fuldt af Spring; Græsverken var meget yppig, men Jorden ingenlunde skikket til Agerdyrkning.

Ved lille Cedar-River var Lander bedre; her fandtes mere Skov, Prairien var høiere og tørrere, og Jorden sore Føtge deraf mere skikket til Agerdyrkning. Der bedste Land, som Pastor Clausen fandt, vare imidlertid

Ved Store Cedar-River. Her var Prairien god og tør, lidt bølgeformig, dog neppe (saameget) sore i Luther-Valley Setlementet. Vel ere Prairierne meget store i Forhold tii Skoven, sore kun findes langs Elven og dens Arme, men denne er meget tæt og smuk, og bestaaer meest af Bastwood (Lind), Elm, Sugar-Maple, Black-Valnut, Ask og Eeg. Træerne ere ualmindelig høie og findes, hvilket er sjeldent, af alle Aldere. Dernæst findes der ogsaa den Fordeel, at Hældingen fra Prairien til Elven gjennero Skoven er jevn, og Jordbunden fast, medens man i Almindelighed red saadanne Skovstrækninger finder en steil Brink, og ofte ovenikjøbet nedenfor den moradsig Bund. Paa Prairierne fandtes Jordbunden at bestaae af 1 1/2 Fod dyb sort Muld, lidt sandblandet, dog mindre end i Luther-Valley, og under Mulden et fast lidt sandblandet Leerlag. Gräisvæxten [sic] er saa yppig, at der, om der havde staaet opreist, vilde have kunnet skjule baade Heste og Vogn; her fandtes aldeles inter moradsigt Land, men Engene bære et ypperligt rede Løvgræs. Paa flere Steder fandtes Spring med fortrinligt Van. Selve Elven var af Stør-relse omtrent som Fox-River red Rochester, Racine Co. og inde-holdt deiligt klart Vand med en fast Steenbund, og Løbet var task. Af større Fisk fandtes en stor mængde, dog neppe Ørret; Dyr fandtes i Mængde, og ligeledes en Deel Elk (Elsdyr.) Alt Lander heromkring er endnu frit, med Undtagelse af 4 eller 5 Claims, som blev udtagne, medens Pastor Clausen var der, og der Samme er Tilfældet med Lander langs Elven ind i Minnesota.

Der vilde paa dette Sted være Anledning til et stort Setle-ment, som kunde strække sig paa begge Sider af Elven henimod 30 Mile. Paa den claim, som Pastor Clausen udtog, er der god Anledning til Værksdrift, og da den ligger midt i Countyet [Mitchell County] er der al Grund til at vente, at med Tiden Countysædet vii blive der. Pladsen ligger 84 Mile ret vest for Mississippi, men naar man vil reise dertil, har man fra Mac Gregors Landing omtrent 100 Mile. Man vil saaledes indsee, at baade er Reisen kostbar og der vii i den første Tid blive temmelig kostbart at leve, hvortil endnu kommer, at man hat saa langt til nærmeste Markedsplads. Det vit desaarsag for Folk, som aldeles Intet eie, blive saagodtsom umuligt at gaae ind paa denne Plan, da navnlig Kreaturer ere nødvendige strax i Begyndelsen. Pastor Clausens Bestemmelse er navnlig at lægge Vind paa Qvægavlen og kun producere af Korn, hvad han behøver til Huusholdningen. Lander er endnu ikke opmaalt, og altsaa heller ikke kommet i Marked, men der taltes om, at Landmaalere havde paataget sig at opmaale det til Udgangen af næste Aar; hvis saa er, da kan det maaskee strax komme i Marked, og de, der skulde have Lyst til at forsøge sig her, have derfor ingen Tid at spilde, men maae endnu i Høst eller ialfald tidligt næste Vaar udtage sig claims. Dertil kommer, at Amerikanerne alt have faaet Øinene op for de mange Fordele ved Pladsen, og til Floyt Co. som ligger lige sydfor, er der iaar kommet en betyde-lig Mængde Nybyggere. Den almindelige Regel for at udtage Land er at rage claim paa 1/2 Section, halvt Skov og halvt Prairie, men kan man ikke vente at kunne kjøbe saa Meget, maa man naturligviis hellere udtage Mindre, da man ellers blot udelukker Andre for at faae Land.

Denne Beskrivelse er nu aldeles ikke giver for at lokke Nogen til blindthen at begive sig paa Reisen, Pastor Clausen har frem-stiller baade Fordelene og Manglerne ved Pladsen, og Enhver maa naturligviis først see med sine egne Øine; men vi gjentage der, at der ikke er megen Tid at give bott, naar man vil have Land, før det falder i Speculanternes Hænder, Pastor Clausen reiser om nogle Dage atter dertil for at sætte Arbeidet i Gang, og til Vaaren flytter han, om Gud vil, med sin Familie derhen.



The generous communication of Pastor C. L. Clausen makes it possible for us to give to our readers a general description of the land which Mr. Clausen observed on his recently completed journey, For those who have not yet decided upon any definite place to settle, this account will serve as a guide. They should, however, mark well both the advantages and the disadvantages of each place.

Pastor Clausen first visited a region in the vicinity of the Turkey River, known as "The Big Timber of Turkey," a tract of woodland about twenty miles square composed of fine trees, principally oak. Wooded land is a great advantage; on the other hand, the land is very hilly and rough, continuing thus for a mile and a half or two miles out from the woods, where good prairie land is found. If farmers are satisfied to own woodland which is a distance from their other land, there is opportunity here. The supply of water is good but that of hay is not. Another point which must be taken into consideration is the fact that sixteen or eighteen woods claims have already been taken.

At the upper end of the Iowa River cleared land, of which a part was quite good, was found. There was little woodland here and in wet years the prairie land tended to be rather marshy. Even on higher places the many underground springs caused the land to be somewhat swampy. A farmer would find it most advantageous to lay stress on cattle raising, for the meadows were very fine and there was plenty of water.

There is a fine location for a small settlement on the western branch of the northern tributary of the Turkey River. There is not much woodland there but the soil is exceptionally rich.

Along the Wapsipinicon River in Howard County there is very little of woods. The land was generally swampy and full of springs. The vegetation was very luxuriant but the soil was decidedly not suited to cultivation.

On the Little Cedar River the land was better. Here more woods were found, the prairie was higher and drier, and consequently the soil was more suited to cultivation. The best land which Pastor Clausen found, however, was along the Big Cedar River. The prairie here was high and dry -- a little rolling but scarcely as much so as in the Luther Valley settlement [Wisconsin]. The prairies are very large in comparison with the amount of woodland, which is found only along the river and its tributaries, but the woods are very dense and fine and are composed largely of linden, elm, sugar maple, black walnut, ash, and oak. The trees are exceptionally tall, and, what is quite rare, are of all ages. There are also advantages in that the slope from the prairie through the woods to the river is even and that the soil is firm, although one usually finds a steep bank and swampy ground at the edge of such wooded areas. The soil on the prairie was found to be black loam a foot and a half deep; there was a little sand in it, although less than at Luther Valley. Underneath the loam there was firm clay with a slight intermixture of sand. The grass growth was so luxuriant that if it could have stood at its full height it would have served to conceal a horse and wagon. Here there was no swampy ground. In the meadows there grew fine grass for grazing. At several places there were springs with excellent water. The river itself is of about the same size as the Fox River at Rochester, Racine County [Wisconsin] and its clear water flows over a bed of solid rock. There were many large fish there but no trout. Wild animals, including a number of elk, were found in great numbers. Ali of the land hereabouts, with the exception of four or five claims which were taken while Pastor Clausen was there, is still open; the same is the ease with the land along the river reaching into Minnesota.

There are possibilities of making a large settlement at this place, a settlement which could extend along both sides of the river for about thirty miles. On the claim which Pastor Clausen took, there is excellent opportunity for manufacturing, {7} and inasmuch as the place is situated in the center of the county [Mitchell County], there is ground for the expectation that the county seat will in time be located there. The place is situated eighty-four miles directly westward from the Mississippi, although the distance from MacGregor's Landing is about one hundred miles. It is to be observed that the trip itself is expensive and also that it will at first cost much to live because of the fact that the place is so far from the nearest market. It will, consequently, be almost impossible for people who have no capital to enter upon this plan, for live stock will be a necessity from the beginning. Pastor Clausen plans to emphasize the raising of live stock and to raise only as much grain as is necessary for the household. The land is as yet not surveyed and is also not yet on the market, but it is rumored that the surveyors are to start the surveys at the beginning of next year. If this is true, the land will be on the market soon. Those who might desire to try their fortunes here have therefore no time to waste but must take claims either this fall, or, at the latest, early next spring. For this reason the Americans have already taken note of the many advantages of the region. A considerable number of new settlers have come this year to Floyt [Floyd] County, which lies immediately to the southward. {8} The customary method of taking land is to lay claim to a half-section of land, one-half wooded and one-half prairie. If one finds it impossible to buy so much, one must take less, but no one is prevented from obtaining land.

This description is not given in order to entice anyone to go blindly on the trip. Pastor Clausen has set forth both the advantages and the disadvantages of the place, but each must, naturally, first see with his own eyes. But we reiterate that there is not much time to waste, if one wants land, before the land falls into the hands of speculators. Pastor Clausen is leaving for this place again in a few days in order to get work started there, and in the spring, if God so wills it, he will move there with his family.


[Emigranten (Inmansville, Rock County, Wisconsin), April 29, 1853]


Der er i den senere Tid indløben mange Forespørgsler til mig angaaende Landers Beskaffenhed ved Cedar-River i Staten Iowa, om der er meget frit Land der endnu, og om Veien dertil &c. Da der er umuligt for mig at besvare hvert enkelt Brev, indeholdende saadanne Forespørgseler sore er ankommen til mig, saa griber jeg dette Middel til at besvare dem alle i Korthed paa een Gang, og idet jeg beder Vedkommende undskylde, at jeg ei for næværende Tid seer mig istand til udførligere eller mere specielt, at besvare deres ærede Breve, haaber jeg, at de i disse Linier ville finde de nødvendigste af de Oplysninger, som de ønske dig.

Der Sted ved Cedar-River, hvor jeg bar udtaget Land, og agter at fiytte hen i Vaar reed min Familie, er i Mitchell-County, omtrent 10 Mile sydfor Grændselinien mellem Iowa og Minnesota. Langs med Elven, saavelsom ved de Bakke og Bi-Elve, sore forene sig med Samme, er der et Skovbælte af forskjellig Vidde udfra Elven, -- nogle Steder er dette Skovbælte omtrent et Par Mile bredt, andre Steder neppe en Fjerdedeel Miil. Skoven bestaar af forskjellige Træsorter, fornemmelig: Eeg, Lind, Black-Walnut, Elm, Ask, o.s.v. -- og maaler sig mangesteds fuldkommen med de bedste Skove i Nærheden af Milwaukee og Port-Washington. Tæt ved Elvedragene er der saaledes næsten overalt Skor, og udenfor den igjen ligge Prairierne, som i Bekvemhed og rig Jordbund visselig likke staae tilbage for nogen af Prairierne i Wisconsin eller Illinois. Prairicn østenfor store Cedar-River er 8 a 10 Mile bred og stræckker hid ti1 lille Cedar-River hvor der ogsaa er endeel Skor og Anledning til et betydeligt Setlement. Vestenfor store Cedar-River har jeg blot været en 3 a 4 Mile ud paa Prairien, og veed derfor blot efter Jægeres Beretning, at den skal være omtrent 12 Mile bred, og grændser mod Vest til en Green af Cedar-River som kaldes Shell-Rock, hvor der ligeledes efter Beretningen skal være deiligt Vand og Skov, sore endnu ei er optaget. Sidstnævnte Elv har sit Udiøb af Albert-Lea-Lake eller Clear-Lake, sore ligger 16 a 18 Mile i Nordvest fra min Claim red Cedar-River. Nævnte Indsøe skal være omtrent 16 Mile lang, og fra 2 til 6 Mile bred, og overordentlig riig paa Fisk. Paa Nord- og Østsiden af Ind-søen skal der være særdeles vakkert og godt Land, forsynet med alle Fornødenheder til Agerbrug, men en Deel af der er allerede setlet.

Jeg vii blot tilføie, at Alle -- saavidt mig bekjendt -- som have reist over Lander deroppe, have syntes overmaade vel om der, og jeg har endnu blot hørt tvende Ankepunkter imod det, nemlig: 1) at Prairierne ere for store i Forhold til Skovene, eller med andre Ord, at der er for lidet Skov til at Prairierne kunne blive setlede overalt, og 2) at der er for langt fra Markedet, saasom der er omtrent 84 Mile i ret Linie vestfor Mississippien.

Der er imidlertid Skov nok til at betydelige Setlementer kunne danne sig ved de forskjellige ovenfor nævnte Elvedrag. Da jeg kom til Cedar-River i sidstleden August Maaned, var der endnu ikke en eneste Setler, eller taget en eneste Claim i Mitchell County; nu er der maaskee taget henimod 100 Claims tilsammen ved store Cedar-River i nævnte County, men endda er der ved denne Elv vistnok Anledning til at tage 4 eller 5 dobbelt saa mange Claims, forsynet med alle Fornødenheder til Farming; thi Landet langs Elven for en lang Strækning ind i Minnesota har samme Characteer som i Mitchell County. Ved lille Cedar-River er der en Strækning af over 30 Mile paa begge Sider af Elven, godt Farming-Land, som endnu i December Maaned var frit, og er der sandsynligviis endnu. Ved Shell-Rock og Clear-Lake er der ligeledes Anledning til gode Setlementer.

Hvad Markedet angaaer, da ville vi rimeligviis for de første Aar have tilskrækkeligt Hjemme-Marked til nye Emigranter. Hvis nemlig Emigranterne ville til Iowa, da nødes de shaft til at reise saa langt vestover sore til Cedar-River, og længere, hvis de skulde erholde Regjerrings-Land med alle Fornødenheder til Farm. Naar Hjerame-Markedet ophører, ville vi uden Tvivl for nogle Aar have lung Vei til Markedet, indtil der utter med Tiden kan bringes hjem til os ved Jernbaner og andre Anlæg, som der er al Grund til at troe, vi ogsaa med Tiden ville have vor Andeel i deroppe, skjøndt det gjerne kan være noget længe til. Dog maa det bemærkes, at Cedar-River Valley indtager omtrent den samme Stilling i Nordre Iowa, som Rock-River Valley i det sydlige Wisconsin, og vil sandsynligviis om faa Aar tiltrække sig samme Interesse og blive af samme Vigtighed i det nordlige Iowa, som Rock-River Valley i det sydlige Wisconsin, og dette er nok til ikke at tabe Haabet om et godt Hjemme-Marked i Fremtiden.

Angaaende Reiserouten til Stedet hat jeg endnu nogle faa Ord til at tilføie: Den bedste Vei, man kan tage, er at gaae over Mississippi ved Junction-Ferry, ved Udløbet af Wisconsin-River, da man derved slipper med at betale Færgeløn een Gang. Rigtignok er der ved Prairie du Chien en Fri-Færge over Mississippi, men jeg maa advare Alle mod at tage denne Vei, da de derved aldeles komme ud af Routen. Naar man er kommen over Mississippien ti Mac-Gregors Landing, gjør man bedst i at følge den saakaldte Military-Road, som fører derfra til Fort Atkinson, indtil man kommer til Whiskey-Grove, omtrent 6 Mile fra sidstnævnte Sted, hvor man hos Norske som boe der, vii kunne erholde nøie Efterretning om Resten af Veien.

Da jeg har hørt tale om, at Nogle skulde staae i den Formening, at jeg havde opgivet der hele Foretagende, maa jeg til Slutning blot tilføie, at jeg om tre eller fire Uger, om Gud vil, agter med min Familie til at tiltræde Reisen.

Luther-Valley den 21de April 1853.



A great many inquiries have been received of late in regard to the character of the land along the Cedar River in the state of Iowa: whether there is much free land remaining there, what route to take, and so forth. As it is impossible for me to reply to each individual letter, I have taken this means of answering all of them at once. While apologizing to those concerned, for my failure to make individual replies to their respected letters, I hope that the most essential information that they desire will be found in these lines.

The place near thc Cedar River where I have taken land, and to which I plan to move with my family this spring, is in Mitchell County, about ten miles south of the boundary line between Iowa and Minnesota. Along the river, as well as along the brooks and tributary streams, there is a belt of woods of varying width. In some places the woods are two miles in breadth, while in others they are scarcely a quarter of a mile wide. The woods are composed of various varieties of trees, notably oak, linden, black walnut, elm, ash, and so forth. In many places the trees compare favorably with the best woods in the vicinity of Milwaukee and Port Washington. {9} There are woods along almost all the river courses. Outside these are again the prairies, which, as far as commodiousness and rich soil are concerned, are certainly as fine as any of the prairies in Wisconsin or Illinois. The prairie east of the Big Cedar River is from eight to ten miles in breadth and extends to the Little Cedar River, where there is some woodland and where a considerable settlement could be established. I have gone no more than three or four miles out on the prairie to the westward from the Big Cedar River, but, from the reports of hunters, the prairie is about twelve miles in width and is bounded on the west by a branch of the Cedar River called the Shell Rock. Here also, according to report, there is fine woodland, with a good water supply, which is as yet not taken up. The last-named river, the Shell Rock, has its source in Albert Lea Lake or Clear Lake, which lies about sixteen or eighteen miles northwest of my claim on the Cedar River. This lake is reported to be about sixteen miles in length and from two to six miles in breadth, and is exceptionally rich in fish. On the northern and eastern sides of the lake there is supposed to be particularly fine land, with all the features requisite for farming. Part of this land, however, has already been settled.

I only want to add that so far as I know, all who have traveled over the land out there have been highly pleased by it, and that so far I have heard only two charges against it: namely, that the prairies are too large in comparison to the woods, or, in other words, that there is too little woodland to make possible the settlement of all the prairie; and secondly, that it is too far from market -- for it is about eighty-four miles in direct line west of the Mississippi.

There is, however, sufficient woodland to make possible several large settlements along the rivers named above. When I arrived at the Cedar River last August, there was not a single settler there, nor had anyone taken a single claim in Mitchell County. Now approximately a hundred claims, in all, have been taken along the Big Cedar River in the above-named county. There is still opportunity, however, for taking four or five times as many claims along the river, all possessing all the requisites for farming; for the land along the river on into Minnesota is of the same character as that in Mitchell County. Along the Little Cedar River there is, on each side of the river, a stretch of over thirty miles of good farm land that in December was still open, and, in all probability, is open yet. Along the Shell Rock River and Clear Lake there are likewise many possibilities for settlements.

In regard to marketing, there will naturally be a great home market for new immigrants. That is, if immigrants want to go to Iowa, they will soon have to go as far westward as the Cedar River, or farther, in order to obtain government land with all the requisites for farming. When the home market is gone, we will undoubtedly have a long ways to go to market for a few years, until, in time, the market is brought home to us by railroads and other developments, which, there is every reason to believe, we will share in ultimately, although it may take quite a long time. It is also to be remarked that the Cedar River Valley has about the same situation in northern Iowa as the Rock River Valley has in southern Wisconsin, and will probably, in a few years, attract the same interest and become of the same importance in northern Iowa as the Rock River Valley in southern Wisconsin, and that is enough to cause one to retain hope for a good home market in the future.

As to the route to take in traveling to this place, I have a few more words to add. The best route one can take is across the Mississippi at Junction Ferry, at the mouth of the Wisconsin River, thus making it unnecessary to pay ferry charges more than once. It is true that there is a free ferry across the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien, but I must advise everyone against taking that route, for it is far out of the way. When one has crossed the Mississippi to MacGregor's Landing, it is best to follow the so-called military road which leads to Fort Atkinson, until one reaches Whiskey Grove, about six miles from Fort Atkinson. Directions as to the remainder of the route can be had from Norwegians who live there.

Inasmuch as I have heard that some people think that I have given up the whole project, I must in closing only add that within three or four weeks, if God wills it, my family and I plan to set out on the journey.

Luther Valley, April 21, 1853.


<1> Margreth Jorgensen, "Claus L. Clausen, Pioneer Pastor and Settlement Promoter, 1848-1868." This is a manuscript thesis submitted for the degree of master of arts at the University of Minnesota in June, 1930. A copy is in the possession of the Minnesota Historical Society.

<2> G. J. Malmin, ed., America in the Forties; The Letters of Ole Munch Raeder, 136 (Norwegian-American Historical Association, Travel and Description Series, vol. 3 -- Minneapolis, 1929).

<3> Jorgensen, "Claus L. Clausen," 74.

<4> H. R. Holand, De Norske Settlementers Historie: En Oversigt over den Norske lndvandring til og Bebyggdse af Amerikas Nordvesten fra Amerikas Opdagdse til Indianerkrigen i Nordvesten, 403 (Ephraim, Wisconsin, 1909).

<5> Emigranten (Inmansville, Rock County, Wisconsin), August 18, 1854, August 24, 1855. A file of this paper is in the library of Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul.

<6> Jorgensen, "Claus L. Clausen," ch. 8, 11, 12.

<7> Clausen built a sawmill on the Cedar River during his first year them, but it was wrecked by a freshet soon afterwards. Jorgensen," Claus L. Clausen," 83.

<8> This county adjoins Mitchell County to the southward.

<9> Port Washington is located about thirty miles north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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