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Oregon and Washington Territory in the 1870's,
As Seen Through the Eyes of a Pioneer Pastor
By Nora O. Solum (Volume XVI: Page64)

No doubt many a Norwegian of the 1850's and 1860's lifted an eyebrow at the mention of Anders Emil Fridrichsen, the roving pioneer pastor whose eccentric and unclerical activities in the Middle West made him renowned and remembered among them in legend long after his name was forgotten. And yet it was he who was destined to preserve much of the information which now enables us to reconstruct the story of Oregon and Washington and the beginnings of the Norwegian settlement there in the 1870's. Character and circumstance combined to make this contribution possible.

He went to Portland in 1871 and there on April 19 organized the first Scandinavian Lutheran church to be established in Oregon. Prior to this he had had a fairly long and colorful history. Hjalmar Rued Holand describes him as one of the strangest candidates for the ministry ever to have come to America. Having received a call from the Four-Mile Prairie colony in Van Zandt County, Texas, in 1854, he arrived in Texas in 1855 and served congregations there until 1857, in the meantime making trips that took him as far as Missouri. His status as a pastor seems, however, long to have been in doubt. Holand describes him as never having been in reality a minister, "merely a sort of theological candidate from Christiania," where "according to legend, he had been a real gay blade and social lion." From Norway he had after a time, "on good and sufficient grounds, now forgotten," been "accommodated with passage on an emigrant ship" bound for America. {1}

As the story goes on, it was because Fridrichsen could get none of the pastors or synods in this country to ordain him that he resigned from his charge in Texas after a couple of years and came northward into the Middle West to become one of the first settlers in Freeborn County, Minnesota. From sod-hut headquarters near Albert Lea he traveled about in the Norwegian pioneer settlements, baptizing children and preaching sermons. He was never particular about the form of his fee, provided it was generous, though his preference was for hides, meat, tallow, young pigs, wool, and socks. He drove around the countryside with a horse and wagon, attracting notice everywhere and immortalizing himself as the "Leatherbreeches Minister" because of the shaggy yellow skin pants and boots which he wore for everyday. When he had a full load of gifts in kind, he would set off for Winona to exchange it all for jingling currency, which he would in turn invest in mortgages at attractive rates. This profitable business he carried on for several years. It is said that when Pastor U. V. Koren once took him to task for his business practices and asked him if he had ever taken more than forty per cent, he replied cheerily that he had even got as much as sixty.

Failing to get Koren to ordain him as a preacher of the gospel, Fridrichsen, angered, decided to work independently and eventually to gather new settlers out on the prairies into a synod of his own. For two or three years he traveled among them, going from Fillmore County in the east to Brown County in the west. The earth cellar in which he lived stood near the church of the Freeborn congregation. The spot was to be long remembered as "Praestelandet" (The Preacher's Land). {2}

A pioneer pastor, the Reverend Ole Paulson, tells an amusing and characteristic story about Fridrichsen:

Just before we reached Prairie du Chien, a tramp-like man, lugging an ordinary sack of flour, got on the train. When the conductor came to collect his ticket, the man had none, of course. Where was he going? Clinton. The conductor named the fare. At this the tramp began fumbling around in his numerous pockets and found a few pennies here, a few there. In spite of all he dug up, however, he didn't have enough. The conductor grinned, disgusted, and let him go. The following day an elegantly dressed man wearing a silk hat and carrying a cane walked in to a church meeting. The man looked familiar --- still, for a moment, I couldn't place him. Then it came to me --- he was none other than the tramp of yesterday. And who was he? The widely known pastor, the Reverend Mr. Fridrichsen, of course. He had come to the church meeting in the hope of being accepted. He knocked at the doors of all the synods, but none would admit him. {3}

Whether or not the Leatherbreeches Minister was as unwelcome in the settlements as the legends say and whether the language of his sermons was so "vulgar" that samples of it were "not suitable for a mixed audience," it also appears that he himself was favorably impressed with Minnesota. Theodore C. Blegen finds Fridrichsen corroborating impressions which the pioneer pastor Laurentius Larsen had obtained from his missionary travels, made in Minnesota during 1858, noting, moreover, that "A minister in 1859 after a somewhat similar missionary journey wrote that he had visited regions in Meeker and Monongalia counties, the beauty and attractiveness of which surpassed anything he had ever seen, north or south. Thus the ministers preached the gospel of Minnesota." Blegen's footnote explains that the second minister was A. E. Fridrichsen, who wrote a "Beretning om en reise gjennem en stor deel af de miterste og vestlige ay Minnesota og flere norsk-evang.-luth, menighets oprettelse," in Emigranten, October 10, 17, 24, and November 7, 1859. {4}

Gaps and differences in the records of Fridrichsen's pastorates seem natural in the light of Holand's remark that the less said about his ministerial activities, the better. Who's Who among Pastors lists the following: "Four Mile, Prairieville, Texas, 1854-57; organized Norwegian Lutheran congregations in Four Mile and Brownsboro, Texas; pastor, Bear Creek, Minn., 1856-59; Bloomfield, Minn., 1858-59; Rosedale, Grogan, Minn., 1859-63; Jackson and Delavan, Minn., 1859; Halfway Creek, Wis., 1861; Blue Earth, Minn., 1861; Dell, Minn., 1861; Portland, Ore., 1871-76." {5} Supplementing this record is the following excerpt from a letter written by the Reverend H. O. Hendriksen to Professor Kenneth Bjork and dated March 8, 1949:

In 1854 he received a call from a Norwegian Lutheran congregation in Kaufman County, Texas, and emigrated to Texas in 1855. He served in Texas until 1857. He undertook some trips into the state of Missouri. Between 1858 and 1861 he served in the Norwegian settlements in Mower, Fillmore, Freeborn, and Watonwan Counties in Minnesota. From 1866 to 1870 he served three or four congregations in Houghton County, Michigan. From there he went to Portland, Oregon. There he organized a Scandinavian Lutheran congregation on April 19, 1871.

Fridrichsen did not, however, go directly from Michigan to Portland, since there is evidence that he had been in San Francisco en route. He is one of two Lutheran ministers mentioned by the Reverend Christian Hvistendahl as having attempted to organize a congregation in San Francisco during Hvistendahl's five-month absence from the city between the fall of 1870 and the spring of 1871. The effort had failed. In commenting on his rival, Hvistendahl says: "Shortly before my arrival here Fridrichsen, who could win no confidence, left for Portland, Oregon. There he got a church built by providing the money for it himself; but from what I have heard from trustworthy sources, he will be unable to organize a congregation." {6} But time was to prove Hvistendahl mistaken. Pastor Hendriksen says that Fridrichsen went to Portland upon invitation of an English Lutheran pastor there and that he came to work among the Scandinavians.

During a visit to Norway in 1916 Pastor Hendriksen made some researches into the history of Fridrichsen, examining among other sources the graduate directories of the University of Christiania, 1813-94. He submits the following data in his letter to Dr. Bjork:

Anders Emil Fridrichsen was descended from a family of public servants, who in the eighteenth century lived at Nyvold in Holme, near Mandal. He was born to Jakob F. and Anna Dorthea Fridrichsen on October 2, 1810, in Kristiansand, S., where his father was a teacher in the Cathedral School, and later parish pastor in Tveit and West Moland. He was privately educated for artium [degree entitling him to matriculate for graduate study at the university], passing the examination in 1833. He took his theological examination in 1889, and on the basis of his four major examinations attained a rating of "not unpraiseworthy" (Haud Illaudabilis).

For some years Candidate A. E. Fridrichsen served as a teacher and precentor in East Moland, near Lillesand. Thereafter he operated a farm at Storemyr in that vicinity . . . .

A younger brother, Elling Hagbarth Fridrichsen, was a minister in Norway. A sister was married to the editor Knud J. Fleischer in America.

Mr. Hendriksen also submits a copy of the secretary's report of the first meeting of the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon:

On April 16, 1871, the Reverend Mr. A. Emil Fridrichsen, Candidatus Theologiae of the Royal Frederick's University of Christiania, Norway, and an ordained Evangelical Lutheran minister and pastor of the Norwegian Evangelical Church in Hancock, Houghton County, Michigan, was presented and recommended upon invitation of the Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes assembled under the direction of the Lutheran ministers in Portland and of the Reverend A. Meyers, who had examined his credentials and found them to be wholly satisfactory.

Pastor A. E. Fridrichsen then greeted the assemblage in the name of His Lord and Master Jesus Christ, and told them that the love of Christ had compelled him despite his age to undertake the long and dangerous journey to the Pacific coast at his own expense in order to look after the scattered sheep of his Lord among the three brother nations --- Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes --- and if possible to bring the straying ones back to their mother church. Provided it met with the approval of those assembled he would conduct services according to the Norwegian ritual in so far as it was feasible. {7}

The Pacific Northwest had attracted very few Norwegians before 1870. United States census figures for that year show sixty-five Norwegians in Washington Territory and forty-seven in Oregon. Exact information concerning the first Norwegian to settle in Oregon is lacking. A correspondent to Washington posten, May 11, 1893, claims the distinction for John Nilsen, a farmer who came to Shedd in 1850. The same correspondent also mentions J. L. Larsen as being an "old Norwegian farmer at Shedd." More recently, Pastor Hendriksen thinks the first Norwegian settler may have been Z. M. Toftezen. {8} The story of those who were in the vanguard of the migration of the 1870's and 1880's is one to be investigated and written.

That a lively interest in the region was developing, particularly among Norwegians in the Middle West during the depression years of the 1870's, is clear from the many articles and letters which appeared in the Norwegian-language press of the period. As first-hand accounts, published in response to numerous requests concerning opportunities for and conditions of settlement in Oregon and Washington Territory, these articles are both illuminating and stimulating of historical vision.

One reason for the development of interest in the region at this time was the news of the projected extension of the Northern Pacific Railroad to Puget Sound. In its June 15, 1870, issue Nordisk folkeblad (Minneapolis) printed part of a private letter "recently received" from a writer at Steilacoom, Puget Sound, which alluded to "talk" out there about the Northern Pacific Railroad, but added, "We are too far away from the project's headquarters to say much about the company's intentions." Three months later, however, the same paper published another letter signed "Traveler," which gave greater certainty concerning the company's plans. The great future which naturally and inevitably lay ahead for the Puget Sound country enthralled this writer. He was certain, he said, that the region, though now practically unknown, was destined to become one of the most important parts of the world, and he concluded his glowing predictions with an invitation to his readers to come and see for themselves. People living east of the Rockies, with their mistaken ideas about these "high latitudes, so near the Arctic Circle," find it difficult, he wrote, to comprehend the great promise of this country. "An ounce of experience is worth a pound of argument." The article indicates the nature of the information that stimulated the interest of Norwegians in the Pacific Northwest in the 1870's. The omitted passages describe the Puget Sound country, comment on climate, soil, crops, and the extent of the clearings. The letter reads in part:

Today from near the door of my temporary home on the southernmost coast of Puget Sound I see engineers at work on the first surveys for the Northern Pacific Railroad, which is soon to cut through our country in its widest and most northerly latitudes. The future of Puget Sound gives an interest to this event which it is easy to take note of even for one who does not have a speculator's telescope --- it is unescapable to anyone who has observed the area's geographic relationship to the great trade route and its delightful though changeable climate.

There is probably no place in the world where building timber can be had at so little cost. Fir and cedar here reach a size even beyond the capacity of the present sawmills to handle. The trunks most commonly used are those of average size --- from thirty to sixty inches in diameter. Ships of varying tonnage loading with lumber for Japan, San Francisco, the Sandwich Islands, Australia, South America, France, England, and other lands are a daffy sight. Immense beams and planks skid down from the mills, which always stand high enough to permit it, and into the ships with surprising ease, and a lading can be sawed ready within the space of a few days. Enormous quantities of shingle and lath are manufactured from small pieces. Even so, every mill has its Gehenna, where the fire never burns down --- and that after the town has been supplied gratis with firewood.

Shipbuilding is still in its infancy, but what other place has such natural advantages for this important industry? It has been said that before many years New Bedford will be moved to Puget Sound. And why not? This is the right place for building ships, and here in these northerly waters are whales to fill them with. When the ship is full, it will come here to unload, take on provisions, and within a few weeks resume its work, while its cargo of oil and bone will have been carried across the continent for either domestic or foreign markets. Moreover, in these seas, where our flag flies unmolested, we can in all likelihood carry on codfishing more successfully than in any other waters. Here, too, the fur trade will find its greatest depot. Another factor which will go far toward assuring the development of Puget Sound is the absence of any natural harbor along this coast between San Francisco and the strait. The Columbia River may be regarded as an exception; but the dangerous sandbar at its mouth must always be an obstacle to shipping, whereas the broad inlet of the strait is always open and large enough for foreign commerce and seafaring. Still another of Puget Sound's advantages is its geographic location, in that it is the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad and lies within the trade belt which stretches from Europe to Japan straight across our continent. Nor is there any danger that San Francisco and the Union Pacific Railroad will ever draw this future commerce their way. Puget Sound is almost five hundred miles nearer to Japan than San Francisco is; while the ocean currents are such as to give it a practical advantage of better than a thousand miles. Moreover, it is claimed that the northern railroad, crossing terrain with less snow and no high ascents, can be operated with far less power, less hard work, in shorter time, and' through territory having an abundance of wood and coal.

Every sort of crop grown in New England will also be found here, except peaches. Edible roots are much better than in New England. In these respects there is nothing to keep anyone away; on the contrary there will be much to attract the farmer and the craftsman as time goes on and the country develops. It is difficult for people who live east of the Rocky Mountains to comprehend that in these high latitudes, so near the Arctic Circle, where the snow ought to defy the summer sun and the polar bear ride the ice, cities will in the future spring up, civilization establish its seat, and commerce attract and enrich millions of its minions. But an ounce of experience is worth a pound of argument, and I would advise the ladies who before long will want to take a trip to Puget Sound via the Northern Pacific Railroad not to bring their skates. {9}

Simultaneously, Oregon was attracting attention. According to an unnamed writer, hundreds of letters were pouring into the land office in Portland asking for information about the state. These, the writer said, he would try to answer. In a one-and-a-half-column article in Skandinaven, May 10, 1871, he explained the topography, climate, resources, development of the state, and the opportunities it offered for employment and settlement, and he closed with the prediction of a great future for Portland. The most important occupations, he wrote, were agriculture, cattle raising, mining, milling, and fishing. As for industries, there were four woolen mills, the largest of them in Salem; several ironworks; and a big paper mill in Oregon City. People with capital would find good investment opportunities in timber on the lower Columbia and in stock raising east of the Cascades. Land prices varied from two to forty dollars an acre, depending on its nearness to railroads, towns, and steamship lines. Good horses cost from seventy-five to one hundred dollars; dairy cows from thirty to fifty dollars; sheep two dollars. If one rented land, worked it, and supplied everything, the owner received one third of the crop. If the owner supplied everything except the labor, he got one half.

Employment was not hard to find, the writer continued, but not much outdoor work could be done during the rainy season. Masons and stonecutters received five to six dollars a day; common laborers a dollar and a half to two dollars and maintenance; farm laborers twenty-five to thirty dollars a month and maintenance; teachers, clerks, and the like, forty to one hundred dollars. There was much building and raft-road construction going on.

Complaints about lack of real information concerning the coast continued, however, to come in to Skandinaven. Those who complained, said an editorial item of August 31, 1871, had an interest in the territory and wanted to know about it, but they seemed never to get satisfactory information as to how farming was carried on. They should know, the editors added, where most of the Norwegians lived. The article suggested that perhaps Pastor Fridrichsen could supply this information.

Meanwhile, Fridrichsen, following his arrival at Portland, had sent an article to Fædrelandet og emigranten describing his first impressions of Oregon and Washington and his journey to Portland. He wrote:

The first glimpse of Oregon and Washington Territory certainly does not leave a good impression. Washington to the north and Oregon to the south are separated by the Columbia River, a stream navigable by sizable ships. The river itself is very deep, full of salmon, trout, and other excellent fish, for which reason one also finds along its banks many of our homeland's energetic fishermen. Many of these, so far as I could learn, felt deeply the absence of the home and church conditions to which they had been accustomed in Norway, though some, I regret to say, seemed to be little concerned about either. Most of the fishermen work for great and powerful companies that furnish them with the necessary equipment, salt the catch, and store it in salmon boxes until the market is the most favorable, whereas only a few Scandinavians can afford to do this. Nevertheless, those with whom I talked felt well satisfied with their lot and greeted me with heartiness as they gave me slyly to understand that they wished I could, by mentioning them publicly, help them get neighbors and good Christian wives from among people of their own nationality.

The strong current of the Columbia River and the ebb tide of the ocean cause a large and very dangerous sandbar to form just outside the mouth of the river, and this is often in such a state of agitation and so shifting that vessels cannot be piloted in, despite the fact that Congress or perhaps the legislature has appropriated a large sum to maintain a steamboat to tow them. Here I had my first uncomfortable sight. I arrived from San Francisco on a sailing vessel. After seven days of good sailing we sighted Cape Disappointment at four o'clock in the afternoon. We escaped fairly well, however. The next morning the steamer brought us a pilot, and after having circled and swirled around on this sandbank, we landed about noon in the harbor at Astoria, some twelve miles from the mouth. Except for a sandy point where the United States has built a military fort, the whole seacoast, the banks along the Columbia as far as one can see, and the mouth of the Willamette River (also a deep navigable arm of the Columbia) are a solid mass of fir forest and in general of high wooded mountains. Above the ridges one can count seven peaks said to be from eight to fifteen thousand feet high and always white with snow. One of them appears to be close to the city, though actually by direct line it is eighty miles away, in other words, about thirteen Norwegian miles. This combined with the sea air, it is said, causes the unusually pleasant and cool summer, while the prevailing south wind during the winter moderates the cold, so that ice and snow are rare. The rainy winter, on the other hand, is said to be very disagreeable and the damage done by the flood here in the city streets proves that the winter must have been as fearful as reported. In comparison with the records on temperature and rainfall in other states in the same latitude, however, Oregon has a big advantage. I can also cite information in a pamphlet issued by the Board of Statistics, Immigration Labor Exchange, of Portland, Oregon. The men who publish it are, so far as I dare assume on such short acquaintance, honest and good men, who sincerely wish to see this great rich state with its excellent natural resources settled and made use of. The speculators and railroad companies have clearly known how to feather their nests, but according to report there is still much, yes, very much exceptionally good land, prairie and open country, still to be had as homestead. It looks as though the speculators themselves would gladly favor the first settlers in the hope that they will be able to sell the rest of their land later at a higher price. Meantime, access to the desirable areas will continue to be difficult until the railroad is completed. Ben Holladay has arranged for a steamship line from Bremen via Panama and here direct with steerage accommodations [passage and board] for the unusually low price of $70. This will of course cause an enormous influx, which would undeniably be very joyous, provided the immigrant has some reserve to draw on temporarily, for it will naturally be difficult for him to obtain work. If he does not have the money, the result will be that he, disappointed in his expectations, will condemn the state and those who have praised it. For this reason I do not yet dare to encourage anyone without means to come, in spite of my conviction that when the railroads now under construction are completed, particularly the one from Kalama to Puget Sound, which apparently will be within five years at the utmost, and connection with Lake Superior is established, Oregon will be the greatest state in the Union on account of the extraordinary fertility of its soil and the mildness of its climate. But when that day comes, Portland will also gets its deathblow just as San Francisco has already got its from the coming of the Pacific railroad. For Puget Sound wll draw all the ocean traffic from China and Europe to itself, inasmuch as the whole length of the Pacific coast cannot show a single safe harbor except there. The depth of the Sound, however, makes anchoring difficult in several places. {10}

Fridrichsen had no more than arrived in Portland before he was besieged by letters from Norwegians wanting information about Oregon. These indicated to him that the state had "of late" been attracting much attention, as he says in a letter dated May 16. {11} The letters being too numerous for him to answer individually, he began at once to use the Norwegian newspapers of the Midwest to spread the information which so many were eager to get, and in so doing he became one of several on-the-spot writers to preserve a variety of facts concerning Oregon and Washington Territory and the Norwegian settlement of the Pacific Northwest during the 1870's. His first letters were naturally cautious, since he had to depend on second-hand information. His statements were therefore guarded by such expressions as "they say," "are said to be," and the like. Land, he assured his correspondents, was reported to be plentiful. His May 16 letter is interesting from that point of view as well as for its contents, as a partial summary will indicate:

Soil, so far as he could judge, was a rich clay mixed with sand, in which fruit trees thrived. Trees were said to bear fruit in two years, and Oregon apples, pears, and strawberries were much sought after in San Francisco. Wheat was reported to yield heavily and to bring its highest price in London. Every day he received requests to come here or there to see valleys and open country which would be easily accessible for colonization. Those who had known "our staunch and industrious countrymen in the East" were eager to have them settle in Oregon. The cheap fare from Bremen to Portland via Panama would, he thought, attract many, and he advised those who were not afraid to break woodland (inasmuch as most of the prairie land of western Oregon had already been taken) to hurry out to the coast, since there was no doubt that Oregon and Washington had a great future before them, once the many railroads under construction were completed. On the other hand, he would not like to see many poor families come, because they would find it difficult to obtain work at once, and they might easily suffer hardships if they had nothing to live on, especially during the winter when the rainy season was very bad. The president of one of the Oregon railroads had said that he preferred "our countrymen" above all other nationalities.

Should some prefer to settle in the southern or eastern parts of the state, the best thing for them to do perhaps would be to share in renting a freight car from Omaha, bring a team of horses and a wagon each, and go by train to Kelton, from which point they could continue overland with their wagons for about five hundred miles.

Fridrichsen thought Portland a prettier city than San Francisco. Businessmen, he said, lived in little palaces surrounded by large fruit and flower gardens. The city was built on a large plateau along the Willamette. A new city, East Portland, on the other side of the river, was growing rapidly. A railroad, the Oregon and California, ran from East Portland south to Eugene and it was to be extended to San Francisco. Another railroad on the west side would have twenty-five miles completed in the summer and would run to Astoria and Hillsboro.

Fridrichsen apparently lost no time in becoming acquainted with the new country. Within a few weeks after the founding of his church in Portland, he had made trips to Kalama and Oysterville in Washington Territory. In the letter dated May 16, 1871, he described a recent visit to Kalama on the Columbia River in Cowlitz County, Washington. This was the starting point in the West, he said, of the Northern Pacific, and according to what he had heard, the town was six weeks old at the time of his visit. It then had a sawmill, various carpenter and smithy works, and two butcher shops. A Norwegian owner of a butcher shop was paying eight dollars a month in rent for a pool of water about 12 feet long by 8 feet wide, over which he had built his shop on piles. Some said there were thirteen hotels in the place, others fifteen; one of them was three stories high, but most of them had one story. A couple of the hotels had as yet only canvas walls, but in spite of this they flaunted such impressive signs as "City Hotel," "Hotel du Nord," and "New York Hotel." There were also several stores --- even a drugstore and doctors' offices. A Methodist church, the first building to be erected, was already in use; Episcopal and Catholic churches were also under construction. But who could take in all of a town stretching 3 miles up the mountainside and filled with and surrounded by a smoking forest? The transport steamer on which he had come carried 28 freight cars and a considerable amount of other items for the railroad. Several vessels later brought more freight cars, iron, and other materials. Many Chinese worked on the railroad, but most of the whites were idle, refusing to work unless they were paid the high wages they had received before.

A few weeks later Fridrichsen made a ministerial visit to Oysterville, on the Washington coast, where he succeeded in organizing fourteen people into a congregation, with Peder Olsen, Ole Strom, and Heglund as helpers and trustees. He himself accepted a call as their pastor. Of Oysterville, he recorded:

It seems to be a place with many advantages. For some hours of the day its bay, Schoolwaterbay [Shoalwater Bay?] is completely dry for several miles, clear out to the channel; at other times there is up to fifteen feet of water. Here oysters are planted, just as seeds are on land. Each man has his own oyster bed staked out; this he cleans and replants just as carefully as a farmer does his field. The oysters lie undisturbed for three years, growing and reproducing themselves. Then the large oysters are taken out for marketing and the small ones are set out again. The white people earn so much in this work that they turn the sorting over to the Indians, who get a dollar a bushel for their labor and earn a good daily wage. It was said that there was a place here for many more people in this sort of work, and some of my old parishioners at Hancock [Michigan] were written to about coming out. I was told that homestead land was to be found at some distance in from the ocean. The land I saw was certainly not suitable for farming, so far as I could determine. But it was said to give a good yield, and that it was particularly well suited to cattle raising, which was obvious from the cattle I saw. To the north there is another bay called Grays Harbor, where there is also said to be homestead land of much better quality. The coast is heavily forested but between it and Olympia, the capital of the territory, there is said to be prairie land, some of it untaken because it has not been surveyed, so that speculators have not been able to get hold of it. Those therefore who want to assure themselves a home would do well to hurry out there, provided they have something to tide themselves over with at first. For where the land has not been surveyed, one can acquire it by settling on it and as nearly as possible describing his claim to the survey officer. I do not imagine the stretch of prairie land can be very large. {12}

Descriptions showing Fridrichsen's acquaintance with a much more extended territory appear in a letter dated East Portland, May 29, 1872. A part of this letter was written in answer to requests from readers of Skandinaven for information about the Puget Sound area. It reads:

I found myself highly disappointed because the landscape consists almost exclusively of enormous fir forests. The trees are not felled near the roots but with the aid of a scaffold are cut down about sixteen feet up from the roots. To cultivate land there would seem to me to take an eternity. Meantime, however, wherever there are sawmills nearby, the woods are a good source of income. It's true there are said to be prairies near Lea, Attel [Attalia?], and Olympia. but that land is already in the hands of greedy speculators. I therefore advise the emigrant against going there, unless he has means. If he has, he can unquestionably expect to reap a huge profit from having been on the spot when the Northern Pacific Railroad eventually decides upon its terminal on the Sound, or when the railroad is completed. One may be certain that the whole Asiatic commerce, particularly that of Japan and China, will be drawn there because of the northern route and the ocean current, which, according to the talk of trustworthy seamen, forces all ships to come within sixty miles of Puget Sound before they can set their course for San Francisco. The entrance to Puget Sound is also reputed to be much less dangerous than the one to San Francisco. A further advantage claimed is that since the line from Puget Sound to Duluth on Lake Superior is shorter than any of the other lines, it will be cheaper, because direct sailing from Duluth to Europe can be expected as soon as the canals are widened and improved. Work is now in progress on the railroad from fruitful Oregon to Puget Sound. The land east of Puget Sound in Washington Territory, as, for instance, near the Spokane River, the Jokama [Yakima?] River and several others having outlets in the Columbia, which in turn forms the main part of the boundary line between the territory and the state of Oregon, all this land, together with vast stretches of Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains, is said to be excellent, each region in its own way, namely: the larger plateaus are overgrown with a certain kind of grass (bunch grass) and they are best suited to cattle raising; whereas the valleys are suited to grain farming. Rich gold mines are also to be found there; but since eastern Oregon suffers greatly from lack of rain, the land cannot be cultivated without the aid of expensive irrigation canals. But some such canals are now under construction in several places in east Oregon. And eastern Washington lacks woodland, but coal is available for fuel. The distance to woods, however, is said not to be as great as in many places in Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa.

This fall I tasted peaches and grapes from these areas which were just as good as California's. And I myself have fig trees with fruit 125 miles from Portland. You may take it for a certainty that no region in the United States can be compared with the state of Oregon and a part of Washington Territory so far as fruit raising is concerned, especially apple raising. Oregon potatoes also bring a good return. London pays the highest prices for Oregon wheat, and a considerable quantity of seed wheat is shipped direct to England. The largest part, however, is said to go to San Francisco. . . . Statistics also show Oregon's production of other kinds of seeds to be very high, as a rule many times greater than that of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

I have just returned from a trip through the Willamette Valley, where I was told there were many prairies. For a man who has traveled through Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, and many other states, and has seen their enormous prairies, it seems incredible that anyone could think of calling a 20- or 30-mile stretch of land a prairie. But when I saw how much land lay uncultivated or was used for small herds of cattle, I marveled exceedingly where all the wheat came from which I myself have seen hauled by rail to be shipped to England in sailboats or to San Francisco in steamships. This, I repeat, is wholly incomprehensible to me, unless the productivity of the cleared land is so much greater than what I am used to; but the facts here speak for themselves. If a man is to judge the soil at first glance he will unquestionably say: "I wouldn't give a snap of my fingers for either Oregon or Washington Territory." Sailing up the Columbia and Willamette rivers one saw nothing but forest-covered mountains. If one cuts down the trees, the roots, if they are not altogether too large, will rot and can easily be pulled up inside of two years. The soil usually seems to be sand or a gray clay --- in places yellow. Since it is mixed with marl and rain falls in abundance during the winter and a part of the spring, this soil, as stated, is exceedingly productive. {13}

According to the newspaper articles from Fridrichsen and others, the migration of Norwegians to Oregon in the 1870's was slow, and there were no Norwegian settlements for some years. Fridrichsen, in an article in Fædrelandet og emigranten of July 20, 1871, spoke of building a Norwegian Lutheran church in East Portland, where a number of Norwegians had settled, but added that there were more Danes there than Norwegians. The following year he stated that there was no Scandinavian settlement of importance in Oregon. "They live scattered among other people," he explained. "During the year several Swedish families have come from Colorado, where they read my articles." These families had settled in Klickitat Valley, Washington Territory --- 25 miles from The Dalles, Oregon. They had found conditions as he had described them, and were well satisfied. Fourteen Danes had also just arrived from Fyen, Denmark. He found little time, he said, to answer the many letters he received --- even those from Norway. In 1874 he still reported that there were no Norwegian settlements as yet, but added optimistically that the prospects were good. Meantime the articles reported the arrival of some individuals. Peter Fredriksen from Hardanger had bought 200 acres of forest and hay land for nine hundred and seventy-five dollars. He had come from Nebraska and preferred Oregon to other states. Jacob Jensen Rosland and family from Fillmore County, Minnesota, accompanied by a girl, Bendikte Andersen Skouge, and two young men --- Andreas Anderson Hjerpeland and Even Torstensen Strande --- had arrived in Portland by steamer on November 26, 1875. {14}

The slowness of the migration was a little difficult to understand for those who were already on the scene. "Humorist,'' writing from Oysterville in the March 27, 1872, issue of Skandinaven, could see no reason for it unless it was the cost of the journey and perhaps wrong information in the East --- stories about lawlessness and the like, which were not true. A bill to provide twenty thousand dollars for the promotion of immigration to Oregon was vetoed that year by Governor Grove, but readers of Skandinaven were assured that the Norwegian-Swedish consul, Henry Hewitt, and others would give aid to immigrants. Land speculators and agents were looking for workers and renters. {15}

In an effort to attract Norwegians to Oregon, one company owning 100,000 acres offered to sell land at two and a half dollars per acre with ten per cent on time payments as soon as Fridrichsen could gather one hundred families of "good character and a little means." The land was 25 miles from Portland, near the Oregon Central Railroad. In a letter to Skandinaven, June 8, 1872, Fridrichsen said he would gladly investigate the land if his expenses were paid. Some months later the company modified its offer by agreeing to sell on the same terms if as many as thirty families came to start a colony.

Fridrichsen suggested the possibility of organizing a company, say, at La Crosse, Wisconsin, using the newspapers to call a meeting, and he advised the election of officers and the sending of the chief official to investigate the land, with authorization to pay for all of it if it met his fancy. In the event of a shortage of money, he thought a bank loan could be arranged. But they must act quickly. The land was cheap because the speculators got it even more cheaply. There was talk, he added, of a German Catholic colony settling there.

The same letter contained travel information. The cheapest fare from Omaha to San Francisco as of April 30, 1872, was fifty dollars by emigrant train --- a slow means of travel. Express trains generally required only five days from Chicago. The usual price of steerage passage on a steamer from San Francisco to Portland was fifteen dollars, but for emigrants it was ten dollars, with everything free on board. Travel by stagecoach he considered inadvisable. Excess baggage on an express train cost fifteen dollars per hundred pounds; he therefore advised sending baggage from Chicago by freight, which cost five dollars and twenty cents per hundred pounds and would require from eighteen days to three weeks to arrive at San Francisco.

The names of some of Fridrichsen's correspondents were given with the suggestion that they make contact with one another. They were Marius Olsen, Black River Falls, Wisconsin; N. Heierdahl, La Crosse, Wisconsin; Knud Larsen, Vermillion, Dakota Territory; Ole J. Waage Hesper and P. K. Johnson, Clinton Junction, Rock County, Wisconsin; John C. Nelson, Springville, Kansas; M. I. Norde, Alexandria, Minnesota; and Ellef H. Sørlien, Brown County, Minnesota. {16}

Peter K. Johnson of Clinton Junction, Wisconsin, was one of the group who organized a travel company to Portland. He reported that there were about twenty-five people for sure who planned to leave Clinton Junction on April 22. They would go to Rock Island on the Mississippi, thence by the Illinois Central to Omaha, and from there by first-class coach to San Francisco, though the coach would be attached to a freight train. Each grown person would pay sixty-five dollars for a through ticket; children from five to twelve years, half fare; those under five would travel free. From San Francisco to Portland each grown person would pay ten dollars in gold for steamer passage. The people were from various places in Minnesota and Wisconsin. One hundred pounds of luggage would be carried free and excess would be charged at the rate of six dollars per hundred pounds. Most of the group planned to look for land and settle as farmers either in Oregon or in Washington Territory, but they were free to change their plans if they wished. {17}

At a somewhat later date, B. T. Lande of Seattle gave a more descriptive account of such a journey from Chicago to Seattle. He left Chicago August 9, 1875, and reached San Francisco August 20, after an eleven-day journey. In spite of the tales he had heard of "wild parties" in the mountains along the route of the Pacific railroad, he found the journey really pleasant, as pleasant as one could expect. But it was tiring. It was hard to sleep on the train, but if one put boards across the seats one could sleep on a bed of sorts. At Omaha he had to pay for excess weight on his baggage. He was allowed a hundred pounds on his ticket, but had to pay ten cents for every pound in excess. The scenery was not unlike that of old Norway. One could buy food at the stations along the railroad. At Sacramento he was transferred to a river steamer and had fourteen hours of good travel to San Francisco.

The ill-fated steamer "Pacific" took him to his destination, Seattle, in six days. The food was very poor on the steamer. Together with a number of other passengers, he had purchased a second-class ticket, and as a result had "to be content with accepting the crumbs that fell from the tables of the rich. Our food consisted principally of dry biscuits and meat." He advised others to take first-class steamer tickets, because the difference in price was not great and they would then have good food and a bed. His ticket cost six dollars, but prices varied from six to twenty dollars for second-class, and from twenty to thirty dollars for first-class tickets. {18}

Not all emigrants made the trip by rail and steamer. Some ventured wagon travel. The experiences of such a trip, made in 1877, have been described by Samuel Wegland of La Grande, Union County, Oregon. He wrote that those who took the overland road via Cheyenne followed the railroad for the most part. From Cheyenne it was necessary to have a sturdy team and a strong but not heavy wagon, and it would be wise, he said, to have two teams. Mules were best as draft animals; oxen were not good in the mountains, as they often died of the alkaline water and the strain of pulling. Good equipment on the wagon, excellent harness, and other details were exceedingly important, for everything might depend on them. On his journey he had seen many sad consequences of poor preparation in little things. Teams should not be driven hard and it was advisable to rest a day or two where there was good grass. He cautioned future travelers to take along only what was absolutely necessary, "for the journey is long." From Omaha to La Grande, the distance by wagon was, in fact, 1,497 miles.

Wegland urged people from the East to exchange their greenbacks for gold and silver. At Green River they should provide themselves with salt, soap, coffee, and tea, for the country was unpopulated from there to Baker City in Oregon, though in a few places it was possible to buy flour, oats, and barley. There were some ferry charges and tolls to pay en route. A man with a family should not travel overland with less than fifty dollars in his pocket and provisions adequate for his family. He should use ferries and not risk fording streams unless certain of their depth. He should bring rifles for shooting wild game and ask along the way about horse thieves, though beyond Green River there was no danger of the latter. Ask, he wrote, about grass and water, and about dangers and difficulties on the way. Grande Ronde Valley, in northeastern Oregon, was a good point at which to add provisions, for prices there were reasonable. Next summer, Wegland said, he would go on to Washington Territory. Any Scandinavian would be able to get information about him at La Grande, where he would leave an address with the postmaster. {19}

Many aspects of pioneering in Oregon are disclosed by writers whose articles appeared less frequently than those of Fridrichsen. There is, for example, the letter from Wegland, just referred to, which was written from the Grande Ronde Valley in answer to many letters asking for information. He explained that the Grande Ronde had 295,000 acres of cultivated land, that homestead land there could be taken on pre-emption and government land purchased at from one dollar to a dollar and a quarter an acre. It could be bought on easy terms and it yielded 35 to 40 bushels per acre of the best quality wheat, 40 to 60 bushels of barley, and 50 to 80 bushels of oats. The soil was described as deep, black loam in which potatoes yielded 300 bushels per acre, sometimes more. Crops were certain and there were no grass- hoppers, chinch bugs, or drought to worry about. The valley was bordered by mountains covered with fir and spruce and tamarack --- the latter trees being very tall. Water could be found anywhere at a depth of from 10 to 12 feet. The Grand Ronde River had salmon in it during the summer. In January the soil froze to a depth of 6 inches and there was snow in the mountains over which people could bring wood and lumber down on sleds. He added that as yet no other Scandinavians lived in the valley. } {20}

Another such writer signed himself "Constable'; he had come from Albert Lea, Minnesota, and had settled at Shedd, Linn County, Oregon. His letter of 1878 describes the burning of trees to clear land and is otherwise informative. "Constable" saw trees "between Martin Pederson's place and Sandy P.O." that were 30 feet in circumference and one that was 250 feet tall, but the average was 3 to 6 feet in diameter and 150 to 200 feet high. A "doomsday job" it was to clear the land. They used a large brace and two drills, one drill being 1 1/4 inches and the other 1 inch in size. The larger drill was bored in about 12 inches at the root of the tree, and the smaller about a foot above it and downward to meet the other hole inside the tree. One then put "live coals inside the lower hole, blowing them into a fire with a small bellows or with one's mouth." "Constable" continues:

The small hole, slanting upward, creates a draft. Large trees burn for several weeks before they topple over; and with luck the huge roots will burn deep down in the ground. One has to be careful when many trees are burning, because the large hole, which burns out in a short while, is just like a big funnel with an enormous fire in it. And it is especially important to keep the cattle away, which meantime may be difficult enough, because they want to stand near these burning places to keep warm during the rainy season in winter. Then there is a roaring and crackling and rumbling as if from an earthquake, night and day, but if the fire is extinguished, I'll tell you it's an ugly sight. Then one has to begin all over again. Six feet apart one bores two holes that run together about a foot down in the trunk, and sets a fire inside as before. Big sections of the trunk burn off completely; of others a thin shell may be left; and still others are left like huge shakes. These are then rolled together and set fire to. The usual pay for each tree which one drills and sets fire to --- boring two holes at the root and igniting --- is five cents.

From this it will he seen that the fire does most of the work, and by observing those who have been in the woods a short time, one knows that they have accomplished a great deal. A trip through such a newly settled area is really dismal, for if you spot a little opening of light up toward the sky ten to twenty rods ahead of you, it will be a farm, and to come up to it will he like getting into a cellar. In spite of that, the cattle live here in the woods and appear to thrive; only dairy cows need to be given a little hay during the winter. Clover grows well. And some settlers burn down a few of the largest trees, chop off the bark around the trunks of those left standing, and in a year they are dry. The needles fall first, letting the sun shine down on the ground, and then one can raise excellent clover. Eighty acres is about enough land for a farm, and of school land one can get as much as that for $100, with three years to pay and one third to be paid each year. Railroad land costs $3 an acre on a ten-year contract and one tenth is paid each year; and with six or eight cows, some chickens, and ten acres of tillable land, one ought to live pretty well and perhaps make money. Fruit trees thrive and bear fruit early. A two- to four-acre orchard would provide enough for the house and leave some fruit for sale. One can sell good butter in Portland for the highest prices, and the same is true of eggs. Hogs live well in the woods, and in this way I believe one could live here doing less work than on a farm in Minnesota, where wheat raising often means cash expense of two thirds and where a cow is expensive when one figures the feed for the long winter and the time and work in taking care of stock which could be used in other ways.

The Indian war, however, had been serious during the summer. Indians had taken many cattle and killed some whites. Many people joined a kind of militia and hunted Indians on horses. {21}

In the late 1870's Fridrichsen's articles appeared less frequently in the papers. In the January 25, 1877, issue of Norden, Ole Mikkelsen, a former Chicagoan who had settled in Portland in 1876, remarked that he had seen no letter from "our minister, Pastor A. E. Fridrichsen, for a long time." The once prolific correspondent did not entirely cease writing, however. A letter to Norden, July 10, 1878, that in a recent election the first Norwegian was elected to the Oregon state legislature; he was J. Fretland, a Republican. The legislature, he said, would be Democratic. Another Fridrichsen item in the same paper, June 25, 1879, observed that because of heavy immigration a considerable number of workers were unemployed. In September of the same year he again spoke of the hard times. Formerly, while for a time competition kept steamship rates between San Francisco and Portland down to from three to seven dollars, people were "streaming in by the thousands." Following the sinking the "Great Republic" this had stopped. In a way the results had been salutary, for the immigrants had brought little money to enable them to settle down on the plentiful good land which they could get for nothing, or to start factories which would undoubtedly pay in time. "They lived largely on credit, and now that system was showing its weakness; for what I have never before known here, bankruptcies, are now, I regret to say, not uncommon. Among the bankrupts must be mentioned the proprietors of Burton House, Lewistown and Fretland (Norwegians ). {22}

Whether the Leatherbreeches Minister was any less eccentric during his days on the coast than he had been in the Midwest, it would not be possible to determine from his articles of the 1870's. His interest in matters of finance certainly remained with him, and his fondness for furs and his sense of humor showed no tendency to decline. In a long article of April, 1878, part of which discussed the climate, he warned immigrants not to sell good wool clothing and skins. He added:

I find it very pleasant to sleep in my fur rug both in winter when I use the fur side and in summer when I use the inside, since I often take to the floor when the bed seems too warm. What is Madam laughing at now and shaking her head at? I want to tell her I let no woman make my bed. No. Women are undeniably blessed creatures; nevertheless, I have found out that there are moments when it is good to be a bachelor, even though the fair sex wrinkles her nose at a sixty-two-year-old bachelor like me.

The Reverend H. O. Hendriksen speaks of Fridrichsen's pastoral work in Portland and vicinity as having been energetic. He built both a church and a parsonage on the corner of East Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue in Portland. This property was deeded to Fridrichsen. The buildings were paid for with his money. At times he also preached in Astoria, Skamokaway, Brush Prairie, and Tacoma, conducting services for the most part in Norwegian, but occasionally in English and at times in German. According to the protocol of the congregation, he was a member of the Joint Synod of Ohio and other states. But when this synod could not assume charge of the work in Portland, he willed his property to the Missouri Synod with the wish that the money be used for mission work on the west coast. He died in 1882. {23}


<1> See Hjalmar Rued Holand, De norske settlementers historie, 386, 439 (Ephraim, Wisconsin, 1909); Theodore C. Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860, 188 (Northfield, 1981); Reverend H. O. Hendriksen of Edmonds, Washington, to Kenneth Bjork, March 8, 1949.

<2> Holand, De norske settlementers historie, 439-441.

<3> Quoted in Holand, De norske settlementers historie, 441.

<4> Holand, De norske settlementers historie, 440; Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 1825-1860, 376.

<5> Holand, De norske settlementers historie, 512; O. M. Norlie and others, Who's Who among Pastors in All the Norwegian Lutheran Synods of America, 1843-1927, 168 (Minneapolis, 1928).

<6> Kirkelig maanedstidende (Decorah, Iowa), 16:345 (November 15, 1871).

<7> Concerning this document, Pastor Hendriksen says: "The above-named protocol is in Central Lutheran Church, Portland, Oregon. The handwriting is legible and fine. I think the secretary pro tern was Hilmar Krogh (who was a son of a pastor in Norway). Pastor A. E. F. wrote in that protocol, which served as a Ministerial Book. It has names of 486 children that he baptized in and outside of Portland --- one in Tacoma, Washington." Pastor Hendriksen appends the following list of sources on Fridrichsen: Norske studenter ved Christiania Universitet, 1813-1894; Forhandlings protokol for d. skand, ev. luth. kirke i Portland, Oregon, 1871-1881; a letter from the Reverend Jacob S. Fridrichsen, a nephew in Skogn, Norway, 1915; a conversation in 1914 with O. Madsen of Portland, who knew A. E. Fridrichsen in Norway; conversations with two members of Fridrichsen's Portland congregation; and records in the Portland courthouse. Hendriksen to Bjork, March 8, 1949.

<8> Carlton C. Qualey, Norwegian Settlement in the United States, 188, footnote (Northfield, 1938); Minneapolis tidende, August 6, 1931; Skandinaven (Chicago), June 16, 1939.

<9> Nordisk folkeblad (Minneapolis), September 14, 1870.

<10> Fædrelandet og emigranten (La Crosse, Wisconsin), May 25, 1871.

<11> Fædrelandet og emigranten, June 14, 1871.

<12> Fædrelandet og emigranten, July 20, 1871.

<13> Skandinaven, June 26, 1872.

<14> Skandinaven, May 15, November 20, 1872, and March 17, 1874; Skandinaven og Amerika (Chicago), December 28, 1875.

<15> Skandinaven, November 20, 1872.

<16> Skandinaven og Amerika, April 15, 1873.

<17> Skandinaven og Amerika, April 8, 1875.

<18>Norden (Chicago), February 10, 1876.

<19> Tillæg til Skandinaven (Chicago), March 6, 1877.

<20> Tillæg til Skandinaven, March 6, 1877.

<21> Budstikken (Minneapolis), September 4, 1878.

<22> Skandinaven, September 23, 1879.

<23> Hendriksen to Bjork, March 8, 1949. At the time of Fridrichsen's death, a short item written by Jakob Andersen of East Portland appeared in several Norwegian-American newspapers. It referred to Fridrichsen's "restless life," his efforts in organizing a congregation, and the "disappointments and loneliness" of the "honorable old man's" last days. "He has willed his estate, consisting of church, house and a half-block of land of considerable value, to the German [Missouri] Synod; but among the Norwegians here there is great resentment over this, and the will may be declared invalid." Norden, February 1, 1882; Folkebladet (Minneapolis), January 26, 1882.

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