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Norwegians Become Americans
    translated and edited by Beulah Folkedahl (Volume 21: Page 95)

In 1857 Kari Endresdatter Eidsvaag and her husband, Hans Mathias Johannessen Lindaas of Storøen Parish, Bergen Bishopric, Norway, emigrated to the United States. Since 1849 they had been receiving letters from friends and relatives in Wisconsin who stressed their faith in the resources of the New World. These America letters (the Lindas Papers) discuss not only economic opportunities but also problems connected with land purchase, soil values, the raising and marketing of crops, animal husbandry, the cost of farm labor, the westward movement, housing, storekeeping, and transportation. {1} Worries and grievances accompanied this process of acquiring status. The inability of the newcomers to communicate in English was the greatest hindrance to their adjustment in America. Sickness and disease were prevalent and immigrant doctors few. The Civil War upset patterns of living and took its toll of men and income.

In spite of these hardships the Eidsvaag and Lindaas families made the most of the cultural resources that were available. They enjoyed freedom of worship in the local Norwegian Lutheran church, enrolled their children in academies at near-by villages, helped establish a Norwegian Lutheran school, attended concerts in Madison, were married to [96] non-Norwegians, and took part in Wisconsin politics. Within a score of years they were established citizens.

In Norway the Eidsvaags had been farm owners and fishermen. Johannes Lindaas (father of Hans) was a lensmand (sheriff) and daughter Matthihanne his secretary. Hans Lindaas and his wife, who owned the Lindaas farm and its cotter’s place, employed household servants. However, in spite of this social and economic security, the family began emigrating to America, its first members, Sjur and Nils Endresen Eidsvaag, arriving in 1849. Because Sjur’s homestead near Deerfield, Wisconsin, was on high land surrounded by swamp, his surname became Holman, holm being the Norwegian equivalent of "island." {2}

Nils left America to mine for gold in Australia, returned to Wisconsin, married Torbaar Nilsdatter Okland, and became a merchant in Dane County before removing to Yankton, South Dakota. Their daughter, Lydia, married Peter Nor-beck, who became governor of South Dakota and United States Senator. Endre Endresen Eidsvaag, brother of Kan, married Matthihanne Lindaas; they emigrated in 1851 and purchased a homestead near Deerfield which they called Bøe; and, in accordance with Norwegian custom, the place name became the family surname. Their son, Nils (Nels), became the father of L. W. Boe, president of St. Olaf College at Northfield for a quarter of a century. Martha Eidsvaag and Erick Valler, who also arrived in 1857, and Kristofer Eidsvaag and Sara Ulverager, who arrived in 1859, settled in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. {3}

Early in 1857 Hans Lindaas and Kari Eidsvaag sold their farm in Norway; in April they bought passports for 64 shillings, passage from Bergen to Quebec for 158 specie dollars, and landing rights for some 9 specie dollars for themselves, their seven children, and a servant girl. Kari was then forty [97] years old, Hans about thirty-eight. When they arrived at Marshall in eastern Dane County, Wisconsin, they bought a large farm which they named Lindaas. About 1862 Hans died; Karl later married Arndt Hanson. Hans’s sons John and Endre entered military service during the Civil War, and Endre died of disease. John later became a prosperous lumber dealer in Lamed, Kansas. Another son, Mathias, acquired the Lindaas farm. Malene (Melinda), Hans and Karl’s daughter, taught school; later she married a man named Ellingsen and went to Red Wing, Minnesota. {4}

The Lindas Papers in the manuscript section, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, consist of four legal documents and ninety-seven letters written by and to members of the family from 1849 until the turn of the century. The John Lindas Civil War letters (fifty-six in number) reveal the loyalty of this young Norwegian to his new homeland. And a couple of letters include discussions of problems attending the Atlantic crossing and the long overland journey in America. Another group of Lindas family letters is in the possession of Agnes Lindas of Madison, Wisconsin, a retired schoolteacher; she is a daughter of Mathias.

The letters to follow are numbered consecutively. Originals of numbers 1—7, 9, 24, 29, and 30 are in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin; numbers 8, 10—23, and 25—28 are the property of Agnes Lindas. Elision dots in these documents indicate omissions of illegible words or phrases, of obscure passages, or of irrelevancies that have been discarded in the interest of brevity. Some of the letters were written in English; these are labeled accordingly. The rest are translations from the Norwegian. B. F.


This letter, from Slur and Nils Eidsvaag to their relatives in Norway, was written from Cambridge, Wisconsin, September 23, 1849. Slur and Nils were brothers of Kari Eidsvaag Lindaas. [98]

Since we know you yearn to hear from us, we must no longer postpone writing, but must let you know how we are in America. Speaking for ourselves only, we must admit we are satisfied in this country and, when we have learned the language, we will look to a future free of care for temporal livelihood. We have had no discomfort to complain about since we came out into the country, but, because of cholera, immigration has been bitter for many others. Children have died, leaving parents, and parents have died, leaving children. That happens especially to the latest arrivals from eastern Norway. Cholera has raged all over America this summer, particularly among the impoverished immigrants from all parts of the world, who continue to enter in undiminished numbers. When immigrants have mastered the language of this country and have secured houses and arable land, they are fairly well established for this life; but poor families must work for two years before they can purchase land. During that time they maintain themselves and put the rest of their wages into savings.

Here ten-year-old children can earn more than adults in Norway. A day’s wage is from $.50 to $1.00 and monthly wages for adults are from $10 to $12. Monthly wages on the [Great] Lakes for those who own . . . boats and other craft are from $16 to $20. The price of government land is $1.25 and speculators’ land is $3.00 per "æker," but prices of farm implements are high. . . . Usually oxen are used for driving and plowing.

Two oxen cost $50; a plow, $12; a cradle, which is used for cutting wheat in place of a sickle, as in Norway, $2.50. .

Foodstuffs in the country are very inexpensive. A bushel of wheat is 50 cents; half a pound of butter, 4 cents; half a pound of pork, 2 to 3 cents; and other food is also low priced. . .

We live on the Koshkonong "Præri" in a little town called Cambridge, with Helge Andersen from eastern Norway. . .

He operates a cooper shop. Pastor Dietrichson from Stavanger lives at Koshkonong. He has two churches where he conducts [99] services, and has 1,400 people in his congregations. {5} It is like attending Norwegian church. We have both Norwegian and English schools. In the matter of emigration to America, we would like to remain neutral, but if one must make a decision about it, we would then favor rather than disapprove the move. However, since several persons here have cursed those who wrote favorably about coming to America, we suggest placing the matter in God’s hands, and not blaming those who recommended the transfer if the plan should fail because of some circumstance. Some immigrants become ill for a time, but after a couple of years, having met that test, they are in such circumstances that they would not under any condition return to Norway to live. Many have been in Wisconsin for seven or eight years without being sick. But this we can vouch for, that America is vastly superior to Norway and that the soil of Wisconsin’s prairie and forest land bears, without fertilizer, many times more produce than Norway’s.

Because all persons in America are equally important, wearing apparel and manner of living are the same in the country and in the city. For example, a mason, a judge, and a legislator may sit down together at the same dining table, as I myself have seen. One must wash his face and hands and brush his hair before going to the table.

We must close our letter with a friendly "thank you," should we never again see one another in this life, for the companionship we had in our fatherland. We must use our time to glorify God and for our own gain so that we can gather in the Savjour’s bosom, where separation is no more. Most sincere greetings to you and all who were in Musterhavn when we were there together. Regards to Baar and Johannes Økland and several others who know us. {6} . . . Likewise, greetings from [100] Bjørn, who worked for Beretsen in Stavanger; he is well and earned $14 a month this summer. We are not returning to Norway. Also, remember us to our parents and to our sisters and brothers.

Sjur has been out harvesting at $12 a month and Nils has been a carpenter’s apprentice at $5 a month.

Write us if you are coming; tell us how things are going in Musterhavn and about other events in the country.

Since clothing is less expensive here than in Norway, you need not provide yourselves with much when you come to America. Coats and light clothing are preferred here. When you arrive in New York, purchase a three-years’ supply, because cloth is more expensive in the country.

When you write, address us thus: To Mr. Sjur Endresen [by way of] New York, North America’s city, [and] Milwaukee, Cambridge [Wisconsin].


"From the Brothers": Sjur and Nils again wrote to relatives in Norway from Madison, December 12, 1849.

Because I did not know what God’s will was concerning my going to America, I was often in great doubt about what to do. But now, as I explore this country and discover its food resources, I believe it would have been better for me had I left when I was twenty years old instead of later when I was thirty. By this time I would have learned the language, the most essential element in a culture, and become acquainted with the geography and natural resources of this country. But it is not too late yet. I am considering attending school this winter in order to gain some knowledge, little by little. We want to tell you what we are doing and where we are. We are 1,500 miles from New York and 80 miles inland from Milwaukee in Wisconsin. . . . Two days after we arrived [in Cambridge] Nils hired out to an American as a carpenter’s apprentice. He was to have $60 a year plus board and room. After he had been there three months, the man sold his [101] property and quit his job. Then Nils went to another town called Madison, 25 miles away from there, and hired out in the same kind of apprenticeship. He was to have had $30 a year and room and board. At first we were dissatisfied with many things. Nils could neither speak the language nor do the work. It was not easy. Sjur has worked at different places, but now he is with an American, one Norwegian mile [seven English miles] from Madison. That man has a large farm and sells $500 worth of produce from it.

Sjur earned $12 a month this winter. We do not want to write any more about America, since you have adequate information beforehand from . . . Beskrivelse, . . . which is much better informed about this country than we are. {7}

What is written there is the truth, according to our four-months’ experience. . . . Wheat and oats are the main crops.

Good barley and oats are grown here. Wheat is for the people and oats for the horses. A horse must have a measure or two of oats each day. Indian corn is another crop, used mostly for hogs. Many kinds of garden produce, which I have not seen in Norway or anywhere else, are also cultivated. One is a garden product called a pumpkin, which gets so large a man can hardly carry it. It is red and round and grows on the ground. .

In Milwaukee, from the middle of August until spring, there are as many people with wagonloads of wheat drawn by horses and oxen as sailboats on the Karmsund[?] during fishing season. . . . In the forenoon the streets may be full of wagons and by afternoon they are empty. As every man can have as much livestock as he wants, because it is not difficult to get feed, there are many cattle, hogs, and chickens here. Those who have grassland cut as much hay as they want. They do not fence it in, as in Norway, but mow their hay on [102] the summer’s grazing area. Only the [grain]fields are fenced in. The grass grows tall, so tall in the marshes that cattle can hardly find one another, and every man stacks his winter feed.

The great stretches of prairie land resemble the ocean during a storm. . . . We have, moreover, large stretches of forest containing various kinds of trees, including oaks. There are many bushes, more than knee-high, that bear nuts. Houses are built of oak. Roofs are of oak, called "siengel" [shingles, shakes] split from blocks of oak wood. . . . They are half an ell [two feet] long and a quarter ell wide; they are thin at one end and a quarter of an inch thick at the other; they lie in rows fourteen inches apart . . . and make very good roofing. Shakes are used in both the country and the city.

For the most part, people in the country have only one building. . . . Cattle and hogs lie out under the open sky winter and summer. Hay is stacked outside; wheat is stacked in the fields until threshing time, when machines are used to thresh out 200 "busel" a day. Women have stoves on which they can cook in several kettles and bake their bread, all at the same time. Their bread is as good as that baked in the best ovens. Flat bread is not a part of the diet here. The kitchen utensils are of tin and crockery. . . . The weather is good in America. . . . The climate is not so very different from that of Norway. There is good water everywhere. Wherever we have been, the water in summer is better than that in Norway because of the deep wells, 40 feet down. {8} . . . As the land is flat, it is possible to see streams and lakes more than a mile away. It is like seeing vessels on the broad ocean. . .

If anyone should be planning to come here, we want to tell him what provisions to bring along. Although that which the eye has not seen the heart does not understand, and everyone must decide for himself, yet we want to express the opinion that single folk should not marry before migrating unless they have enough money to buy land; but if they marry and are [103] willing to hire out and work with their hands, both of them, then in three years’ time they will have enough money for land. A man . . . gets $10 a month, which comes to $120 a year, some of which has to be used for clothes and shoes. A girl can earn $4.00 a month after she has learned the language, but because there are so many girls who know both the work and the American language, folks are unwilling to pay wages the first half year to girls who are learning to speak American.

We do not know what to say about families coming. It is advantageous for children to come here when they are young. After a man has secured land and a house, he can live like a prince, but before that he may find it difficult to live with his employer’s large family, as you yourself know from experience. Emigrants should bring along [from Norway] dry bread, dried fish, flat bread, rusks, butter . . . oat grits, barley grits, peas, and lots of potatoes to make dumplings and potato cakes. Bring a rasp, and have pure oatmeal for the children, also barley and wheat so you can make pancakes. . . . Also bring some milk. It will keep sweet for about three weeks. And some coffee and a little tea and ale, and some port wine in case of illness. Regarding heavy clothing, women should not bring more . . . than they need to wear on the ocean, where it is cold. Instead, they should make lighter garments for themselves. . . . They can buy the cloth in New York; employers will not hire women unless they wear American dress. Young boys who want to work should not bring large chests or too much homespun. Instead, they should have little trunks in which they can store their clothing, but not more bedclothes than they need on the trip, because in America light quilts made of cotton are used. . . . Coats, long shirts, and lightweight trousers are worn here. Women dress like ladies, with blouses and hats and veils. . . . Because Bibles and Testaments are less expensive in New York than in Norway, do not bring any, but bring Guldberg’s hymnbook. {9} . . . [104]

We are grateful for the two letters from Hans Lindaas and Endre, in which you encourage us, both spiritually and temporally. We wrote two letters from Stavanger, one of which reached its destination, we hear, but the one to H. Lindaas had not been received when they wrote. {10} We sent one from Milwaukee about our trip . . . which, we believe, has arrived. We wrote to K. Knutsen, Musterhavn, from Cambridge in October. Talak Engelsit from Strømøn, Johannes Egeland, and Helge send greetings.

Address us thus: Mr. Nils Endresen, Madison, Wisconsin, North America.


This letter, which begins "Good Friend," lacks heading and signature.

I must answer your questions about my health. During the journey, from the time I left Bergen until I arrived in Wisconsin, I was quite well except that my face and hands were swollen and I had some rash after I arrived. I consulted a Norwegian doctor in Cambridge by the name of Das, a middle-aged man who has the reputation of being well educated in the art of healing. {11} He explained that if I wished, he would try to heal me, and that he thought he could. He gave me some medicine, which was very hard on me; I also [105] did some cupping on my own accord, and then I became so sick that I was in bed for a long time. Even after I got on my feet again, I was ill all summer. I went to the doctor off and on for medicine, but because I was ill, the trips took so much strength that I could not continue with them. The illness consisted mostly of abdominal disturbances. By October I was somewhat improved. . . . I made a trip to Columbus, Wisconsin, the first of November, when the weather was rather cold, and then I became ill again and had to go to bed. {12} It began with a sharp stomach pain and developed into a painful ache in the joints, especially in the knees.


This letter, written in English and addressed "Dear Cousin," lacks heading and signature.

The time have passed away almost without perceiving it my friend you recuist one to let you know how far I have got in my Studies but i am sory that I must tell you that my Knowledge about the English language is yet but very little and if I had been the same time in the same skools as you have I ought truly to be ashamed of my ignorese and I fear that I ought to do it yet. As you very veil know that both the time and the oportunity of getting educasion (on which it most Depends) is very different betveen me and you and then of cours I dont expect at all to reash [reach] to it sam mesure as you and I do not think you expect mea. Then if you do you must have done a little progres in your exercises both this vinter and before.


This fragment of a letter, lacking heading and signature, was addressed to "Esteemed Hans Mathias Johannessen Lindaas" in Norway. It is believed to have been written by Endre Endresen Eidsvaag, brother-in-law of Hans; he came to America in 1851.

If you received our letters from New York, you have heard of our trip across the ocean. We left New York on a large [106] steamboat July 1st at six o’clock in the evening, and arrived in Albany at nine o’clock the next morning. There our baggage was weighed and loaded on two canalboats, and the thousand passengers of several nationalities boarded them, finding tidy, good rooms. We were allowed 100 pounds of baggage and were charged $1.00 for each 100 pounds overweight; I paid $2.25 freight charges for the transportation from New York to Milwaukee. I took cabins for my family at $1.00 per person. On the canal trip, which had many delightful and also some unpleasant features, we passed several fine towns, both large and small.

On July 9 [1851] we arrived at Buffalo, where we boarded a large steamboat for the journey across the great body of water called Erie Sea or Lake. On this boat, too, we had good, tidy rooms. Each one had his own bed, except some Germans and others who came late and had to lie on deck wherever they could find room. The boat also carried livestock across "leiken" [the lake]; at Buffalo about 200 were loaded on our craft. . . . They were splendid-looking animals. Buffalo is a large city. In its harbor are many sailing craft of various sizes, and even more steamboats. I believe it is true that Erie Sea is as large as the whole North Sea. . . . We stopped at many cities on the way, going into town to see the sights. We met several canalboats on the way, all carrying Buffalo products made of different materials: wood, stone, cotton, coal, brick —besides corn, wheat, hogs, etc. . . . On the trip a little boy became ill and died and was buried in Buffalo, where his father, who was in our group, purchased both a casket and a cemetery lot for $3.00. I also want to tell you that we talked to Elias Haugsjerd, who had married a Swedish girl and had rented a house a short distance from town. He was about to sail 1,000 miles southward on a large schooner.

We left Buffalo the afternoon of July 10, and on the morning of the 16th arrived at the big Milwaukee wharf, which, I believe, is as long as from Kragevigen to the Lindaas boathouse; and there were many such wharves. After we had unloaded [107] our baggage, many drivers were waiting to load up our goods and then haul both us and the baggage to the city. . . . There we passengers bade one another a fond farewell. We stopped with a Norwegian from Faresund by the name of Reinertson; at his house we found a letter from Sjur [Eidsvaag] advising us what drivers to engage and what necessities to buy. Then I bought a cookstove for $22 and such utensils as kettles, boilers, pans, etc. .

Because we were tired after the journey, we spent a day in Milwaukee. For one who cannot speak the American language, the trip from New York to Milwaukee is more difficult than that across the ocean, because of the problems involved with transportation changes, illness, provisions, contracts, tickets, and interpreters. However, it happened with us that there was no difficulty, only pleasure. We kept well and had friends in our company who knew the language, traveled the whole distance with us, guided and instructed us. The 17th of July we left Milwaukee. A Norwegian from Voss, who lives in Cambridge, provided the transportation. We had two loads: one, drawn by horses, cost $12, and the other, pulled by oxen, $5.00. The journey from New York to Cambridge cost, in all, about $55. We arrived at Cambridge on the 18th. First we stopped in town and talked with Helge Andersen and Sjur, staying that night with the man who had hauled the goods.

In the morning my brother Sjur and Tollack Ingebrigtsen came to receive us. Sjur lives half a Norwegian mile [3 1/2 miles] from here. Shortly afterwards Christofer arrived with oxen and wagons to transport us, but we kept the same driver all the way to Sjur’s place. {13} There we were received in a kind and brotherly fashion and found our brothers and their families in good health. We also met Lars Vig. He had been ill with cholera for awhile but is now well again. We stayed for a week, and then Lars Vig and I went out to look around, traveling to two Norwegian settlements. One, 30 English miles from here, is called Blue Mounds. The land there has deep [108] valleys, high hills, and abundant grass and forest hand. We then went south to another settlement called Primrose, where we met Jens Gramskeg [sp. ?], who is in good health and well satisfied. {14} He has bought 100 "æker" of land. We were there two nights. It took us six days to make the trip. Later, I cradled wheat for Sjur, and mowed hay for the two cows Sjur had purchased for us at $18 each before we arrived in Wisconsin. Thus we had butter and milk at once. Then I took day work and spent time looking around for a farm, as there is plenty of land under plow for sale. Almost every day since I arrived I have had chances to buy land, but various difficulties hindered this. Farms are just as expensive here as in Norway and they have no buildings. . . . Houses are made of round oak logs, split in two and piled almost like the underpinning of a wharf. . . . The reason for not using lumber is not a lack of forests and sawmills but the high wages for both craftsmen and laborers, which people cannot afford to pay. Consequently, since nearly all settlers in Wisconsin are newcomers who have enough to do just on the farms, very little in the way of construction has been accomplished.

I have bought myself a farm with that kind of house for $1,250; included were half of the year’s harvest, all necessary tools and machinery, and a plow and four oxen. The farm, which lies close to Sjur’s, consists of 200 "æker," 50 of which are "opbrækkert" [plowed], called ager in Norway but "fil" [fields] in America. The harvested crop includes 200 barrels of wheat, as well as corn, potatoes, hops, flax, tobacco, all kinds of fruit. . . . The farm also has oak . . . groves. A quarry on the farm will provide stone for a house, should I decide to build one, but there is scarcely another rock on the farm. There is pasture for 20 or 30 cattle. Cattle are very high priced. Calves are never slaughtered; instead, they are raised for market, offering a most lucrative source of income.

Farms here are abundantly productive, but conditions are such that the low prices of farm commodities do not offset the [109] high wages paid for labor. The price of wheat is 30 cents a "busselt" [bushel], the market cities are far away, and a day’s wage this harvest season is either $1.00 or, instead, two or three "bussel" wheat. Since all kinds of foodstuffs are inexpensive and all work and labor are high, the laborer is better off than the farmer at the present time. Wages of servants, too, are high, so it does not pay to employ them. Hardly a single Norwegian here has servants. We do not have any. We must be glad that our children are well and healthy so that in due time they may help us.

Karl was with us for three weeks after we came. Then she went with her brother to look for work at a place called Skoponong, 30 English miles from here, where she lives. {15} .

Ingebrig and Tallack are in the harvest fields 150 miles to the south. Erik and Nils have been working in the neighborhood. We have not found Sjur Haugsjerd and Nils Okland, but when we were in Milwaukee we heard talk about them at the place where we lodged. They had also lodged there, and we then left the letters and legal documents that we had for them. Nils sailed the [Great] Lakes at $18 a month and Sjur worked in a sawmill for $12 a month in a state called Michigan, about 150 English miles to the northeast. I send you greetings from Johannes Egeland and his family. . . . He lives one Norwegian mile [7 miles] from here and has five heifers, five hogs, and food in abundance. Kristi has saved $60, which she has put in a savings bank; she wears good clothes and is highly respected. .

We are thinking of letting our children go to English school this winter. . . . Schools, pastors, and churches have devotional meetings nearly every Saturday night and on Sunday afternoons. . .

I remember well many good friends in Norway, brothers, sisters, and others, but my tenderest feelings are for my [110] mother. Since I know our separation was hard on her and that likely she has had many sorrowful times because of our going away, both before we left and afterwards, and has shed many tears out of love for us and our children, we greet her heartily and ask her to relinquish her sorrow and place the case in God’s hands. Because he heard our prayers, both yours and ours, and because he helped us lovingly to our destination, we should all praise and thank the merciful God for everything. I believe and have learned that God is very near where we are.


Ole Pedersen, a family friend, wrote to Hans Lindaas in Storøen Parish, Bergen Bishopric, Norway, from Columbus, Wisconsin, October 22, 1855.

A sincere "thank you" for all the bother and trouble you have had on my behalf . . . both in regard to my inheritance and in every other respect. . . . I can also greet you from Endre Endresen [Eidsvaag] with the information that he also has received his inheritance. . . . Our gratitude last summer was mixed with sorrow, when it pleased the all-wise God to call by death our youngest child after a four-weeks’ illness. Recalling that experience brings sadness, of course, but it is mixed with the happy thought that he has entered into the joy of the Lord and will in all eternity praise God. . . . I wish to tell you that since there is a great demand for all my work and services in my own cooper shop, I have a good income. This town is developing and prospering more and more in every respect. There is hope here that in about eighteen months we will have a railroad from Milwaukee. . .

The country folk had a good harvest generally and they are getting high prices for their produce. Wheat is $4.50 per barrel here, and when it is hauled to Milwaukee, it brings $6.00 and more. Wheat flour is $7.00 a barrel at the Columbus mill. Potatoes are also higher priced this year, from $1.50 to $2.00 a barrel. . . . Daily wages on the farm are good, ranging from $1.00 to $1.50. [111]


Endre and Matthihanne Eidsvaag addressed this letter to Hans and Karl Lindeas in Norway, February 7, 1856, from Bøe, their farm near Deerfield, Wisconsin.

We wrote you a few words and sent them with a letter from Samson Stølen to Hans Hope. {16} Immediately afterward we received letters, and also our money, from you, and since Ole Pedersen wanted to write at once, we asked him to relay a message from us, so we hope you received that report. .

We can report that we received the money, and also accurate and orderly statements. . . . The $5.00 . . . you must not bother sending us. You deserve to have that for all the inconvenience you have had on our behalf. . . . We cannot do anything for you in return, but we thank you most kindly for all your generous and brotherly service to us; the confectionery delivered by Baar Haugsjerd was also just what we wanted and we thank you for it. . .

We had good weather at the beginning of summer and it was moderately warm throughout. After harvest, however, there was a spell of rain which, we think, injured the potatoes. After that the temperature was mild almost until Christmas. January was blustery, but now we have moderate winter weather. We have not had any kind of plague or dangerous disease this past year, but this fall many got the illness called "ægren" [ague]. It is not contagious or fatal but for some it lasts a long time. Endre had it for eight days and then we got medicine that stopped it. Since then he has been well, and our whole family also, God be praised. . .

Wheat has been $1.30 a bushel; barley, $1.00; oats, $.50; potatoes, $.50; Indian corn, $.50. Pork is 6 cents a pound; beef, 8 cents; and butter, from 18 to 20 cents. A team of horses costs from $300 to $400 and more; a team of driving oxen, $130 and up; and a cow, from $20 to $30. [112]

We want to tell you we bought a team of four-year-old horses this summer for $250, so now we can drive wherever we wish. The harness for a team costs from $30 to $40. Sheep are worth from $3.00 to $5.00 apiece. There are also black sheep here costing $10 a head. Although there was no dearth of sheep this fall, one man brought in a flock of 160. If you take your wool to the carding machines, you can get it carded for either half of the wool or for 6 cents a pound. We have our last year’s supply on the machines now, a more convenient procedure for us, and they do a better job [than we do by hand].

We must also tell you that the price of farms partly under plow ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 and up. There are many who want to sell their farms and move farther out on the frontier where they can buy unfenced land for much less, namely $40 for a "førti" [forty acres]. There are good farms and good harvests here but a scarcity of farm hands. This last year there were too few newcomers; by the time immigrants have been here a year or two, they have earned enough to go farther north and west and purchase good farms for themselves.

Monthly wages this summer ranged from $20 to $30, and in winter they were from $10 to $15. Hired girls get from $1.00 to $3.00 a week, depending on how well they can work and if they can speak the language. . . . There is a shortage of all kinds of laboring people and craftsmen, but especially carpenters, because of all the construction under way. Thus we are engaged putting up buildings for ourselves. . . . We have often wished that someone like Halvor Halvorsen Haugsjerd were here . . . because as surely as God grants health and one has a desire to work, there is no doubt one can get ahead. Anyone who wants to emigrate should not be dissuaded but rather helped to find a way to come.

We have no other news than that we have recently received letters from Australia, namely from Nils and Sjur, which is [113] enough news for you if you have not heard from them. {17} These letters were quite unexpected, since we had not heard anything from them since they left New York. One letter was written August 28, 1855, and it came to us January 1, 1856. It gave us great pleasure and joy to learn that both were well, for which God be praised. The reason for their not having written before was that each had gone his separate way to try his luck and they were not reunited for almost two years. Neither wanted to write until he had found the other. They have been lucky, too, and say they were out mining for gold part of the time. . . . But now they have decided to leave either in January or February of this year, which is warm summertime there, and to go to England and then Norway to visit their parents, and later, they think, they will visit us again if God wills they live that long.

Will you please give our kindest greetings to Ingebregt and Gonelde Strømøen, and tell them we cannot yet give them any reports from their son Ingebregt? We have not heard from him for two years, but we rather think he has gone to California. If he is alive, we promise to let you know, provided we hear something from him. . .

Christi Johannesdatter Egeland died five weeks before Christmas, after a long illness. All your other acquaintances who are here are well, as far as we know.

We can also tell you that Sjur Endresen [Holman] has been remarried, to a girl from Sogn, Ragnhild Larsdatter. Sjur and Christofer and their families send their friendliest greetings; they are well and prosperous thus far, God be praised. Samson Jacobsen Hope is doing well, and we believe the family does not regret, and has no need to regret, that they emigrated, because God has given them health and they can earn an easier [114] living here than in Norway. He has all the work he wants whenever he wants it. .

We have received two letters, one for Nils Nilsen Okland and one for Taarbjørn Arentsen Bjerkeland. Although the latter is far from us, we have done all we can to get the letter to him. .

You must also greet Nils Eidsvaag, both the elder and the younger, and their families, and give our thanks for the letters.

We notice from Nils’s letter that he has retired on a fixed income, which, we think, is praiseworthy when circumstances are favorable. If the distance were not so great, we would wish very much he could use the opportunity to make a trip to visit us, but perhaps that would be to expect the impossible.


From a printed public notice; it concludes, "Lindaas, January 12, 1857, Hans M. Lindaas."

Because of moving away, I intend to sell my farm, Lindaas, where I live, including the cotter’s place, the tax evaluation of which is one bin of butter and one hide, or, instead, three specie dollars, two ort, seven shillings, situated on the seashore in Farespolen one half mile within Tjørnagel in Valestrand Parish. The farm and cotter’s place together produce 55 barrels of grain and 95 barrels of potatoes; winterfeeds 17 cattle, 60 sheep, and 2 horses; and pastures the stock in the summer.

The property has large areas, fenced and open; has great possibilities for extensive improvements; and includes considerable forest, partly fir, which is suitable for ship and other building materials, and also a great many foliferous trees, including apple trees.

The said property will be sold as one unit, and such remaining furniture as I will not take with me on the journey can also be secured in the same purchase if so desired. The highest bidder is to appear at my place as soon as possible, when the property can be looked over and the deal completed. [115]


Two responses to Hans Lindaas’ notice survive; they were written from Bergen, January 22 and 25, 1857, and signed, respectively, "J. E. Folkedahl," and "J. C. Bartz, at the custom house."


Seeing in [Stavanger] adresseavis for today that you plan to sell your farm, Lindaas, I should like to ask you to give me, as soon as possible, your price and terms of sale. Likewise, tell me:

1. If the property is far from the church.
2. If there is a school for children in the neighborhood.
3. If there are people of quality in the vicinity and, if so, who they are.
4. If there are opportunities for free trade at that place.
5. If the farm is flat or steep and hilly; also if the farm will be sold free of odel right [family claim], and finally, when the farm can be taken over.


Since transportation south is . . . too expensive and uncertain, I feel free to request you, before I undertake the trip, to send me a detailed description of the farm and of the cotter’s place, each by itself. Is it leased for a certain length of time or for the lifetime of the cotter and his wife? If that is the situation, are the people old? . . . I would also like a statement of the lowest price, etc.

When you have kindly answered this, and [if] I find it reasonable, I will immediately send someone to look over the property more closely and if possible close the deal.


John H. Lindas, eldest child of Hans and Karl, wrote his parents in Deerfield from Madison, September 27, 1857. He was then about seventeen years old.

I must not postpone any longer writing to you but ask you to forgive me for my tardiness in this matter. In the first place, I had no writing materials until last Monday, and since that time I have had no opportunity to write. The second day after [116] I came here I was in town, and then forgot to buy ink and paper. Sjur Haugsjerd was there then arid I had Halvor Gabrielson ask him to take greetings to you. When I left you the last time, I did not get work in Madison; Halvor Gabrielson said he believed it best to ask the farmers down the road for work; this I did, and thus I secured this place. I am four and a half miles from Madison, with a "Jenke" [Yankee] farmer by the name of Miller; a better place I couldn’t find. When I hired out to him, I offered to work for "bording" [board] in order to learn to speak [English] but he said I would receive some money, how much I do not know. He has said he needs me two, three months. I plan to stay here as long as he wants me.

Last Monday, when I was in Madison, I talked to Gunilde and Inger Ulverager. {18} They were at Halvor Gabrielson’s and did not have work. Gunilde did not care to stay any longer at the place where she had been, and the people for whom Inger had worked moved away. While I was there, Halvor was out looking for work for them.

I must explain in detail where I am. When one comes past the German settlement there is a new house close to the road on the south side, and when one comes from Madison it is the second house after one leaves Madison "Leiken" [Lake]. If anyone should come by that road, I would surely like to have a chance to talk to him.

I have not been the least homesick, except a little on Sundays because it is so lonely here. There are only two other persons on the farm, and I cannot speak to them, and they keep no Sunday customs, but work nearly all day.

I do not know when I shall come home. All of you are most lovingly greeted.


Mathias Lindas, third son of Hans and Kari and seventeen years old, wrote to an acquaintance whom he designated simply as "Dear [117] Friend Hans" from the Lindaas farm in Medina Township, March 17, 1865. Mathias’ brother John was in the Union Army at the time.

I have no news of importance but I must write what I know. Of the Norwegians I know, S. S. Bøe and Lars-on-the-Hill and Hans Haring and Annanias in Hanchettsvile have "inlistet. {19} They were in Madison until a short time ago, but now they have gone south. . . . Baar Nelson Bøe has also "inlistet." .

We received a letter from John a short time ago. He was 36 miles from Mobile, Alabama, on an island. . . . They lived comfortably as long as they were permitted to be there, because there were "plenti" oysters . . . as many as they wanted. But I have not heard since they moved to Mobile.


John Lindas wrote his brother Mathias, in. English, from Whitewater, Wisconsin, January 31, 1866.

We are only two clerks now here besides a little boy that sweeps out and builds the fire; so we are busy all the time nearly. Trade is very good yet.

They have Lyceum here and last night I went and heard their Lectures in the Metropolitan Hall and this Evening the Ladies Aid Society have a festival for the benefit of the poor, but I did not go. .

You must let me know how you are getting along in School and how every body else are getting along too; maybe that will be a little too much though.

Study hard and learn all you can you will not regret it when you grow older. The day will come soon when you will look back on the days that are gon never to return and say "How foolish I have acted in my youth." I might have done better than this but folly is just the same now as it was when Adam and Eve ate the Apple in Paradise we do not see the blackest [118] side of it before it is too late. . . . Write soon and often to your forever true Brother.


Nils E. Anderson (Bøe), son of Endre and Matthihanne Eidsvaag, had been in military service during the Civil War. When he wrote this letter, in English, to his cousin, Mathias Lindas, January 27, 1867, he was a student at Augustana College and Seminary, Paxton, Illinois.

I am well and are getting along nicely although having hard work evry Days, and my time is taken up by pounding at the Latin, Greek. . . . We have to sit up from 5 P.M. to 11—12 in the Nights for to learn our Lessons. I have for tomorrow five lessons to learn; and have not looked over but my German Lesson. The Lessons are as follows: German, Norwegian, Latin, English, and Theology. I have 10 Studys in all, and are as follows: Greek, Latin, German, English, Norwegen, Algebra, Theology, Universal History, United States History, Simboloc [Symbolics], and it is all I can accomplish at once.

Here is now nice Slaying, and the Foalks around here are riding with slays, that do not look like slays. . . . I can not see a nice slay where I go.

I am your true Cousin.


Mathias Lindas, himself a student at Marshall Academy, Marshall, Wisconsin, replied to his cousin in English, February 21, 1867.

I am in school hear in Marshall Academy wich I sopos you know before and I am gitting along prety well and am well satisfied with the School.{20} And I should like to keep on a copple terms more if I was abel to. But I think when the air gits milder and the snow all melted af that it will be rether hard for me to sit in the room all Day bot it is not so bad now as it was the first weeks for now I am bether used to it. Hear is about 80 scholars now in the building except the District [119] scholars and half of them ar girls. Hear is tow Norwegen girls and 7 boys. I will now let you know what my study is my studis is as following. Arithmetic, Grammer, reading, writing, and spelling. The wether is very good op here. Here is not very much snow so it is very poor slaying bot for my part it dos not make no diferent what cind of whether it is. I have not hade many slay rides this winter as some others has hade. I receved a letter from NJN a while ago and he braged very mush of the good slay rides he hade weth the girls down there. . . . I must now close my simpel wrighting fore this time for we have no right to sit up efter 11 oclock our regelar study hours is from 6 to 8 1/2 in the morning and from 7 to 9 in the eavning and than we have a free hour from 9 to 10 to write letters if wee plase. . .

From your forever true frend and Cousin.


Mathias wrote "Dear Cousin N. E. Anderson" again from Marshall on March 6, 1867; an English letter.

All that I have to say about the school is that we have all-most got to the close of the term and we have it busy now for to git our peais [piece] perfectly lirned to the last day of the term. Last Sunday Riv O Torgeson preached her in the fore none and our Proffesser in the efter none. {21} Proff prech here evry second Sunday. I have only hird him twis for I usualy go home Fridays or Saturdays and if there is meeting to . . . liberty Church I go there. . .

I am dear sir most entirely your affectionate faithful

Obliged frend and cousin.


Nils wrote Mathias, in English, from Augustana College, March 17, 1867.

The school goes off as usual and here is no change in the programe, only that our . . . Proffesors are away at present. [120] They went away last Wednesday and they will not be back before Thursday comming. They are on a conference up in northern Illinois As they have been off we have had a little rest for a few Days, and which has been very necessary; because we commence to be a little tired to sit with the book all the time. We have now but three months left of this Term, and then we are again free for a while, and I am glad that it will then be close . . . but when I look on what I have lernt I do not wished it to be close, because I have accomplished so little. . .

Today I have been to the English church. Las Sunday there was dedication of the presbyterian church. I was there and meny other students. D. W. Wallace the Presedent of the Monmouth College spoke. He was the best English Minister I have heard.


Mathias wrote Nils from Marshall, April 10, 1867; an English letter.

I am her in Marshall in school yet and I hope that I will be here thill the close of the term if nothing hinders me.

This term was opened the 27 March /67 and will keep on thill 3 July. Here is about 100 skoalers now in skool 7 of tham ar norwegans 6 boys and 1 Girl. I have the same kind of study as I had last term. .

I can let you know that wee have singing School evry Tuesday and Thursday Evnings. I have Cornelious Krog for room mate this term I must now quit my writing for this time for I can let you know that we have longer and harder lessons this term than we had last term so wee have not many minutes to spand in idleness. . .

Your most affectionate Cousin.


Nils to Mathias, in English, from Augustana College, April 19, 1867.

I was glad to see that you was well, and that you were yet continuing to go to school. It is a good thing to go to school [121] while young and when you have the opertunity. The time will come when you will not have the opertunity as you now have, and therefor keep on while the opertunity is. The school here, is now at close for a few days, but it will soon commence again. . . . The school closes for this year the 10 of June and I will then be home the 11 or 12 inst. and then I shall visit your school if it do not close before I come home. I see you have improved in your writing since you first came there. Today I have been in church, and Prof. Hasselquist preached. {22} He mad a wery good sermon. To night I am going dow town and hear a lecture, which Rev. Rose is going to give on temperance. He shall be a wery good speaker. Last Sunday night I was down on the methodist church and heard that minister preach, but I got all I wanted, he preached so entirely against the bible, and I promised myself, never to go and hear him anemor.


John Lindas wrote in English to Betsy Williams, whom he later married, January 31, 1868, from Stoughton, Wisconsin.

I was up to Madison and listened to the heavenly strains of Ole Bull fidle I suppose you was there so I will give no descriptions only that french singing girl that was covered over with cosmetics gave me the palpitation of the heart but I have got over it now. . .

I remain yours ever true JOHNNY.


John wrote Betsy again, in English, March 15, 1868.

We had theatrical performance here a week ago last Friday and Saturday nights. The piece was "Ten nights in a barroom" and the village here furnished the art and talent for the occasion. It was pronounced tip top by those competent to judge. They had full houses and many an old toper who enacts it every day in real life was present and was undoubtedly struck [122] with the scenes so fameliar and natural to them. . . . Dont you think Stoughton is comming up in the world, boasting a dramatic troup. I saw a pair of "Opera Glasses" and a "Meerschaum Pipe" here yesterday and behind them came Diekenss hero Pickwick but I did not see the [Pickwick] papers. .

I remain Ever thine JOHN


Hanes A. Rue (Bøe) was a student at Albion Academy near Koshkonong Prairie. This letter to Mathias Lindas, in English, is dated December 17, 1868.

Dear Sir:

I never has felt as happy as I do now and I never can have a better time then I have now it gos yest as my will. I hope you know what I mean without expressing eny more to you about the matter. I can let you know what studes I hav, Rethmetic, Grammer, Bookkeping, Penmanship and translating the U.S. History to Norwigen and Penmanship. The Bocksare Robeson Higher Arethmetic, Clarks Gramer, S.B. Bookeping (Large). Here about 100 students and about one third of them ar Americans and the rest Norwegens. . .

from your cuson.

I was to Madison week before I came down here and I tell you I had a gay time the most part of the night.


Nils Anderson wrote Mathias Lindas from Paxton, again in English, on February 24, 1869.

But as you say in your letter that the means are scarse and therefor can not continue and that is althogether so. It is allways so with those that shall go to school that they are allways out of money. It has been so with me and is yet. — all the money I got in my pocket at present are about 25¢ and I believe about half of the Students here are no better off then myself. . . [123] I have today been to church. Our Proff. preached he spoke wery good which he always does. This eavning he shall also preach, and I believe I shall go. I hope your proff preaches for you, but I would not advise you to go and hear him often, but as you have no other, then it is better to go then to spend the time in foolishness.


Mathias Lindas wrote from Marshall, February 28, 1869, to "Friend Thom, whom I often remember," in Trempealeau County, giving news about the academy and about the neighbors.

I can first let you know that I am here in Marshall, or Hanchettsville, as it was formerly called, at the high school or academy. I have been here all winter, but how much longer I can attend I do not know. Maybe I will be here this summer also but I am not sure. . .

We have a rather large high school building or academy, which has 20 rooms and cost $7,000 without the bell, which cost $400 alone. . . . I can also let you know that N. Anderson has sold his store to John Bøe. {23}

Jon Valders has sold his farm . . . and has bought himself another up near La Crosse. Ole has been up there all winter. John is going in the spring. Ole Berdal has sold his farm and is going to Minnesota. Ingeborg Semenson has gone to Minnesota. Even and Vetle Barstad and Kjøtel Breiland, besides others whose names I do not have time to enumerate, have sold and gone to Minnesota. A newcomer, who is a brother of Ragnhild Mølster, has bought the land on which you lived before you left. . . . You must be sure to write and let me know how you are getting along, what kind of work you have in Trempealeau [County], how much land you have, and how much land you have broken. [124]


Svein Nileson, the editor, sent the following discussion of political maneuvering to Mathias Lindas from Milwaukee, May 14, 1869.

The political organization among the Scandinavians is making progress rapidly. {25} I will be traveling all summer organizing local societies. By the time of the fall elections these groups should include around 8,000 voters. We can probably round up 20 delegates for the state convention. By and large, we can depend on the influence of the Augustana pastors. The ministers, of course, do not know the origin of the organization and its real principles; but they can serve us well. Pastors belonging to the other synod will at least contribute toward weakening the prestige of Skandinaven here in the state. This will and must happen. I have already taken steps in that direction. I shall speak of this in greater detail when I see you.

Fædrelandet og emigranten has as much as finished its role. The newspaper cannot last another month if it is not supported by the politicians. People know this and therefore its influence is gone. It will hardly last until fall. Besides, only a few words about Mr. Fleischer’s past are needed to make him politically out of the question. {26} The kind of respect [125] people have for slavery prevents their having any association with a man who takes any cognizance of this institution. I will keep silent until it is necessary to speak. So far as Solberg is concerned, he is known among Scandinavians as very immature in his attitude and approach. {27} . . . Maybe there are Yankees who still believe he has some influence among Scandinavians. Apropos, I have been told that Solberg was dismissed from Fædrelandet’s staff because of a break with Mr. Fleischer, and to give the case a respectable appearance the story is that Solberg, because of his health, will live with his parents in Minneapolis this summer. Meanwhile, Fleischer is rumored to have promised that his name may continue to appear on the newspaper’s masthead in the hopes that it will help him secure an office. Probably the Americans, who do not know the sentiment among the Norwegians, will bite on this hook.

We can rely on Fremad, which is now Republican, and also on Nordisk folkeblad. {28} I am going to secure correspondents for these newspapers from the various parts of the state. By and large, the editors of the newspapers know nothing of our organization. On occasion I will discuss political problems [126] in Billed-magazin. A new paper, which will be merged with Billed-magazin, will start coming out about a month before election. Thus, we have three or rather four newspapers to present against the one Fædrelandet og emigranten, if indeed it lasts until fall. We should not yet undertake anything against Skandinaven. I am going to Chicago soon and it is possible that the editor will agree to certain conditions. Until later, therefore, we shall let him rest in peace. {29}

We can consider later how extensively individual influential Americans should be accepted into the organization. That matter should be handled with the utmost care. When I see you, I will give you the names of the two co-workers in your circuit. . . . No chairmen have yet been named for the three societies at Koshkonong. That will soon be done. I have not as yet traveled in the northwestern part of the state, nor in Waupaca County. The number of societies in the whole state will probably be around 100, with 300 supervisors and 33 chairmen; that is, one chairman for every 3 societies. Only a chairman will have to take an oath before the president, and no one else but he [the latter] has the names of all the members. The membership rolls are in code. We must be able to bring at least 8,000 Scandinavian votes under our influence. The deepest secrecy is necessary. If a Judas should be found among us, he could yield up the names of only three besides a chairman. There are other matters to consider, but they can wait until I see you. You realize, of course, that this letter must be burned as soon as you have read it.

I hear you have sent in an application for an appointment to the land office. Unfortunately, I can do nothing for you in the matter now. At present even my business activities are nil at the capitol. But let time take its course, and we shall see what can be done. There are four others who are thinking of seeking this post. All have served in the army. I talked to two of them, a captain and a lieutenant, about a month ago. [127] Both have promised to withhold their applications until we see the results of your application. I have written to the two soldiers about the same matter and asked them to wait until your case is settled. All are members of the organization. Notify me as soon as possible of the outcome. We should not yet agitate in the newspapers about the problem. If it should become necessary, we could arouse such a storm in the papers that there would be lightning and thunder around the ears of the lords in the capitol until they come to their senses and sanity. You know that as one of our own you can count on our common co-operation.

You ask about Colonel Ole Johnson’s candidacy. His case is lost; we can give him up at once. The old soldiers are raving with bitterness about the trick he played at Michelet’s installation [in office] at the capitol. {30} J. A. Johnson’s political career is also at an end; he probably has some prestige yet among the Americans, but among Scandinavians his conduct does not stand in high repute. In a short time Borchsenius will likely become the most popular Scandinavian; he has certain qualities that equip him for leadership among people. {31} [128]

You tell me of a letter I am said to have written Morgenbladet in Norway, in which I was supposed to have criticized American institutions. About that I can report the following:

Some of my correspondence to Norway has gone through other hands for corrections before being sent on its way. Thus, the one letter in question was sent to a man in southern Illinois. Since proof is already in my hands from Morgenbladet that the letter accompanying my article was written by him, I am soon expecting a statement explaining that I did not write it. These documents will serve well during the election campaign. Word has it that Michelet started the rumors circulating. I have known of this for a long time. In retribution I have received through a friend in Christiania a copy of a letter written by Michelet about two years ago in which he tears down everything American. I will come to stand completely exonerated in the eyes of the public as against Michelet’s scornful outpourings about American institutions. That will be very effective during the election campaign; until about that time I will keep everything secret. What I write about America can be found and read in Billed-magazin. I have worked too long in journalism to commit the stupidity of writing the above-mentioned letter, by which I would openly give my enemies weapons against me.

The Society for the Advancement of Natural Science is progressing nicely. I have only a little time to give to the cause, yet I must belong because of certain objectives. The Society for the Publication of Religious Writings has just been organized. Pastors Hatlestad and Krogness, two of my intimate friends, are the leaders of the society. {32}

I do not know who will be president of our [state] organization. That depends on the choice of the chairmen [of the local societies]. I wish someone who lives in Madison would be elected, and in that case there could hardly be talk of anybody [129] but Borchsenius. If you should go to live in Madison in the future, you could assist as secretary. I must teach myself to handle type well enough so that I myself can set and print the circulars, which cannot be entrusted to our workers in the print shop.

I repeat: Burn this letter as soon as you have read it. Usually I do not write so openly to others; but your dependability is beyond doubt. Besides, you have done me so many great services, which I will try to repay when there is opportunity.

Work diligently! Remember that silence is a duty, and caution a necessity. It surely would be good if we could get individual influential Americans over to our side. Talk to Borchsenius about this. I am not acquainted among Americans. They should not, however, in my opinion, know about the origin of our organization and its extent, and neither should they be accepted as members.

I have recently been offered a professorship at the Augustanans’ college and theological seminary. It is possible that I will accept this call and act in this capacity a couple of months in order to have the prestige that is connected with having been a teacher at the Scandinavians’ high school. Otherwise, I have very little interest in that kind of work. {33}

I have now gathered testimonials about me, both from Norway and from notable men here in the state, and had them translated into English and German. It is probable that in the immediate future I will have use for them. If mistakes are made within the [state] organization, I must be ready to accept the consequences in order not to expose it. My position will be that of a traveling agent and corresponding secretary, or the president’s helper.

Mr. Lindaas! Observe the political constellations within your circuit and give the chairman (whose name I will give you when I see you) reports on the situation. Do not commit [130] much to paper . . . (secrecy can be betrayed by carelessness), but express yourself orally. If you cannot undertake to be a correspondent for one of the newspapers with which I am associated . . . I have promised to supply correspondents; but I have been so occupied with other business that I have as yet accomplished little in that direction. All correspondents, as a matter of course, must work according to a common plan with the same objectives. A circular will soon be sent out to give detailed announcements.

I would like to get the church paper, Den norske lutheraner, on our side. The editor is my intimate friend, and in the fall the paper will be printed in Billed-magazin’s shop. In that way we can work in the field with five papers that support our cause. {34}

When you talk with people, keep my name in the background as much as possible. For the present I can work with the greatest success by being known only by the dedicated. More as soon as we meet.


John and Betsy Lindas wrote these comments on economic conditions to John’s brother Mathias from Stoughton, January 18, 1872. John’s brother Sivert was then twenty-two years old.

I will try to come over as soon as I can, but hiring a horse at $3.00 a day is too expensive. Sivert [Lindas] came down here and went to Chicago the same evening. . .

I am expecting the general agent from Chicago here this week and . . . I am thinking of getting the agency for the [sewing] machines. The [tobacco] strippers are waiting anxiously for the tobacco dealers, who do not seem to appear. Trade is dull and money is scarce.


John Lindas addressed this letter, headed "Stoughton, May 26, 1872," and written in English, to his wife’s sister. His wife Betsy was critically [131] ill at the time; her subsequent death perhaps accounts for the fact that the letter was not finished or sent.

Dear Sister Bella:

I have been thinking for some time back that I should drop you a few lines but it has been delayed untill now.

I will begin with telling you that we have had another member added to the family recently. On the evening of Friday May 24th we had another boy born. Mother and child is as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Yes, thank God, rather better than we have reason to expect. . .

I cannot pass over a circumstance which has lately come to our knowledge and which marks an era of such vital importance in your own life. We have been informed that you are really engaged. .

Although I know nothing about him except what I have seen of him a couple of times and that he has been in this country a very short time, I should judge you to be as near antipodes . . . as any two persons well can be. Remember that you are born and brought up in this country and have absorbed the ideas habits and tastes peculiar to this country from babyhood. Your training teaching and education has been american more so than most of the girls around you. Your hopes aspirations and desires have all been in that direction. Your associations habits and modes of thinking talking and reasoning are all american. Your notions throughout even to housekeeping and entertainement are all american. You soto speak move in an athmosphere that partake of the liberal nature of american institutions. These things have become part of your nature as they will to anyone who is exposed to them for any length of time while young. You may endeaver to ignore them but they will make themselves manifest on every and all occassions and they can only be disposed of by having them crushed out by force. He is diametrically the opposite. He has been born and brought up under the stiff formularities of the social straight jacket of old country semiaristocratic. His ideas are different his training his associates [132] habits tastes and modes of reasoning are entirely different. The class of society into which he will naturally gravitate will have no charms for you. In the society which you as american woman (I mean american in ideas) will feel most at home he will be a stranger. The notions of living and getting along which you as american has imbibed his class generally looks down upon as simple and litle less than barbarian. Moreover your ideas formerly, and I think yet, when unbiased are entirely opposed to what they now seem to be.


John wrote to Mathias in English, from Stoughton, March 25, 1873, about his projected trip. Eventually he became a lumber dealer in Larned, Kansas.

Well Mathias I have nothing new to write only that I intend going to Kansas next week, and I have several things I should like to send over to your place and leave there till I get back. My Pony I also should like to take over there. I have another Horse now she is in tip top order.

I have two cutters . . . one cutter that is a real good one, worth $25 or $30. If I go to Kansas I shall not use it myself.

I should like to have you come down with me . . . and take a few things up, that is if I do not find a place here to put them in. If I can leave them here it would save hawling them as they will have to hawled again when I ship them. . . . A runaway and one mare half killed is the only news. . .

Sewing Machine business a little better I believe I can do well this Summer if I stay. No market for Tobacco.

Love to all from Your True JOHN.


This letter, addressed from the Lindaas farm in Medina Township, May 18, 1873, to "Brother Sivert," is believed to have been written by Mathias Lindas to his younger brother.

We must not complain of there being too much rain, even though it rains every other day, because in that way [133] everything has gotten a good start and the wheat and oats look very good. . . . I am not planting much tobacco this spring because there is no show here of disposing of what we already have on hand . . . and since I have 5 acres of clover I will make use of my tobacco shed just the same.


Melinda Lindas, who was a schoolteacher, wrote her brother John, December 4, 1873, from Utica, a small inland village in eastern Dane County; an English letter.

I am getting more acquainted lately so I shall find it pleasanter as time passes. . . . I have visited the two families.

They are Americans that I visited very nice people to asociate with. . . . The Americans are more sociable than the Norwegians being I am a stranger here they try to make it pleasant for me.


Melinda wrote Mathias, in English, from Utica, January 26, February 20, and July 12, 1874; she wrote him in Norwegian on May 17.


The time does not seem to pass very swiftly down here amongst the Sabbathterens and Ottesenens. {35} I cannot feel at home amongst such people. . . . I have been to the Sabbathterien church on Saturday. . . . Mr. West visited my school last week, he is an old school teacher, and quite well educated . . . next to the Superintendent. . . . He said he liked my principle of teaching several branches. I was glad to here that because I did not know I had any principle. . . . I was out on quite an excursion Sunday before last. The people I board with and I were going to meeting in the "eastern church" but in coming there we found there was no meeting, so went to Clinton in order to visit some of there folks, and when we came there they were not at home, we then [134] went to another place, where we were fortunate enough to find the folks at home, but if we had come a few minutes later, they would have been from home too, we were cold and hungry, we got something to eat, got warmed and went off. We had quite a sport over it afterwards. . . . When is Rev. Gjertsen going to preach at Marshall. {36} . . .

My love to all at home from your sister.


I had this morning the awfulest skolding that I ever heard, from the woman I board with, and that was because I scoldid one of her boys at school yesterday for not doing as I told him. . . . I was to Albion last Sunday we were eight of us, it was Mr. West that drove, five of them were Albion Students and all Americans except myself. I presume you receive many valintines, now days, and how many nasty ones well I have not received any yet. . . . Martha is going home with us, she wants to go to Marshall and visit the school too.


I saw so many go to Liberty church today [May 17]. . . I am happy here in Utica. It is so beautiful in the summer and a few more people to see than out on the farm. . . . I should like to come home for Pentecost. . . . I do not have to have school the second day of Pentecost.


I saw you did not come to Stoughton the 4th and I don’t think there was anything worth while going for either. I got a chance to go, and I went and stayed until Sunday night, when I got an extra conveyance.

Pastor Lunde is going to move into Utica this week. {37} By the way, I think they are glad to move away from Ottesen’s. I do not know the reason. [135]

I presume you have heard of the great circus, that is to be at Stoughton, next Friday the 17th. It is the great "Forepaugh Circus" the greast in this country. I should think you would go to it. Olsen’s folks are all going, and I think many will go around here. I would like to go too, if I can get a way from my school. I think I shall go for once, it is only 50 cents a ticket. It begins at 10 o’clock. {38} .

My school closes the 24th of July. . .

I should speak to you for Mrs. Olsen about that she would like to go with us to Simon Olsen’s when I go home. And if Arent comes and takes the buggy to take more than one seat, and if he takes a lumber wagon to take a spring seat. {39} . . .

I am your true sister.


<1> In the second generation the name Lindaas became Lindas.

<2> Earle S. Holman of Antigo, Wisconsin, grandson of Sjur, to Beulah Folkedahl, January 18, 1961.

<3> Information from Agnes Lindas; Eidsvaag Genealogy, a manuscript record compiled by Martha Haugsjerd Eidsvaag, in the possession of Agnes Lindas.

<4> Legal documents, Lindas Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin; information from Agnes Lindas.

<5> The Reverend J. W. C. Dietrichson, the first Norwegian university-trained clergyman to serve the immigrants, was pastor for the Koshkonong district, 1844—50.

<6> Musterhavn was a post office near Lindaas, Norway. Baar Haugsjerd (Brown Suverson), a nephew of Sjur and Nils Endresen Eidsvaag and a cousin of the Lindaas children, emigrated about 1856 and died in the Civil War; Eidsvaag Genealogy.

<7> The term Beskrivelse (The Account) possibly refers to Laurits J. Fribert, Haandbog for emigranter til Amerikas vest, med anvisning for overrefsen samt beskrivelse af livet og agerdyrkningsmaaden, nærmest i Viskonsin (Christiania, 1847), or to Ole Knudsen Nattestad, Beskrivelse over en reise til Nordamerika (Drammen, Norway, 1839).

<8> In the mid-nineteenth century most wells in western Norway were shallow, rarely more than a few feet in depth, and were filled by springs.

<9> L. Harboe and O. Høegh Guldberg, Psalmebog, eller en samling af gamle og nye psalmer (Christiania, 1845).

<10> Hans Lindaas was a brother-in-law of Sjur and Nils. Endre Endresen Eidsvaag was married to Hans’s sister Matthihanne. Their son Johannes married Martha Haugsjerd, niece of Sjur and Nils and author of the family genealogy; Eidsvaag Genealogy.

<11> Dr. J. C. Dundas (1812—88), whose Scotch ancestors emigrated to Norway in 1647, was a nephew of the poet and clergyman, Peder Dass (Dundas). In 1847 Dr. Dundas took an emigrant ship to New York, where he was advised by Adam Løvenskjold, the Swedish-Norwegian consul, to go to Koshkonong to serve his disease-smitten countrymen. Later he spent three years in Chicago, St. Louis, China, Japan, and London, eventually returning to Cambridge, Wisconsin. He was considered one of the ablest physicians in the Northwest. He was a picturesque character and a writer of verse and polemics. Eivind Kiaveness, Norske læger i Amerika, 1840—1942, 11 (St. Paul, 1948); Knut Gjerset and Ludvig Hektoen, "Health Conditions and the Practice of Medicine among the Early Norwegian Settlers, 1825—1865," in Norwegian-American Historical Association, Studies and Records, 1:43 (Minneapolis, 1926).

<12> Columbus is twenty miles north of Cambridge.

<13> Presumably Christofer was Sjur and Nils’s brother.

<14> Blue Mounds and Primrose are townships in western Dane County.

<15> Skoponong (from Scuppernong, a stream in the vicinity) is a settlement near Whitewater, east of Madison; Earle S. Holman to Beulah Folkedahl, January 18, 1961.

<16> The mother of Hans Lindaas was Malene Hansdatter Hope. Presumably Hans Hope was a relative.

<17> Nils Endresen Eidsvaag arrived in Koshkonong in 1849. In 1852 he and his nephew, Sjur Haugsjerd (S.S. Bue) went to Australia to dig for gold. They acquired a quantity of nuggets, which were stolen from them; then they separated for two years; by this time both had money again. They returned to Norway in 1856 and to America the next year. Earle S. Holman to Beulah Folkedahl, January 18, 1961.

<18> Gunilde and Inger were sisters of Sara Ulverager, wife of Christofer Endresen Eidsvaag.

<19> Annanias Throndsen (Thompson) was a truck farmer who lived on the outskirts of Hanchettsville, later called Marshall. Some of the students at Marshall Academy boarded at Throndsen’s home.

<20> Marshall Academy was at first sponsored by a corporation of local citizens. In 1869 it was purchased by the Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Synod of North America.

<21> Ole Enock Torgerson was Lutheran pastor in Koshkonong, 1864—72.

<22> T. N. Hasselquist, Swedish clergyman-journalist, was then an instructor at Augustana College.

<23> The bell was Endre Endresen Eidsvaag’s gift to the school; A. Sophie Bøe, The Story of Father’s Life (N. E. Anderson), 29 ([St. Paul, 1929]). John Bøe was the son of Endre Endresen Eidsvaag (Bøe), who was instrumental in securing the removal of Augustana College and Seminary at Paxton, Norwegian division, to Marshall in 1869.

<24> Svein Nilsson, best known for his pioneer studies of early Norwegian settlements in the Middle West, migrated to America in 1867, became editor, in turn, of Billed-magazin (Madison), Skandinaven (Chicago), and Nordvesten (Madison); for a short time in the 1890’s he also edited a labor paper in Chicago. His concern for the common people and his political idealism, given full expression both in Norway and in America, are not apparent in this letter, which does reveal a liking for secrecy and a capacity to ferret out backstage political deals that earned him the title of "political detective" for Morgenbladet during his student days in Christiania. In Billed-magazin for April 3, 1869, he voiced objection to certain lobbying activities in the Wisconsin legislature, extravagant use of public money, and the self-seeking of legislators and newspapers. See D. G. Ristad, "Svein Nilsson," in Trønderlagets aarbok, 1931, p. 63—70, and Johs. B. Wist, "Pressen efter borgerkrigen," in Norsk-amerikanernes festskrift 1914, 51 (Decorah, Iowa, 1914).

<25> Nilsson’s practical interest in politics in 1869 seems to have arisen from his eagerness to get Scandinavians of ability and character into party and public life, especially at county and state levels. In the April 3, 1869, issue of Billed-magazin he pointed out that there were only three Scandinavians in the state legislature; this number, he said, should be increased to ten to give these national groups adequate representation.

<26> Fædrelandet (La Crosse, Wisconsin) was established in 1864 by Frederick Fleischer. Emigranten (Inmansville, Wisconsin), was founded in 1852 with Pastor Claus L. Clausen as editor; it was absorbed by Fædrelandet in 1868. Fædrelandet og elnigranten actually survived until 1892. It was edited by Frederick Fleischer until 1872, was Republican, pro-Lincoln, and pro-Reconstruction. In Billed-magazin for April 30, 1869, Nilsson criticized Fædrelandet og emigranten for having accepted money from the legislature for publishing the governor’s message, and stated that by so doing the paper had lost the confidence and support of its subscribers. Nilsson may be referring in his letter to Fleischer’s questionable handling of a financial matter while he was serving as Swedish-Norwegian vice-consul in Madison. See Rasmus B. Anderson, Life Story of Rasmus B. Anderson, 293—297 (Madison, Wisconsin, 1915).

<27> Carl Fredrik Solberg was editor of Emigranten, 1857—68. He and his newspaper were Republican. Solberg believed that Norwegians, because of their native modesty and integrity, were disinclined to seek public office, and he was tepid toward the practice of Norwegians appealing to their fellow countrymen for political support. In 1869 Nilsson criticized the legislature for endorsing Solberg’s application for the post of minister to Denmark. See Billed -magazin, April 8, 1869.

<28> Fremad was published in Milwaukee, 1868—70; the editor, Sophus Beder, was Republican. Nordisk folkeblad was published in Rochester, Minnesota, and Minneapolis, 1868—75.

<29> Skandinaven (Chicago, 1866—1940) was conservatively Republican. Its editor in 1869 was Knud Langeland.

<30> Ole C. Johnson commanded the Fifteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry toward the end of the Civil War. According to Anderson, Life Story, 126, he was a popular but unsuccessful candidate in 1869 for the Republican nomination for secretary of state in Wisconsin. Nils Michelet, a graduate of the University of Christiania, migrated to America in 1866, became an associate editor of Emigranten two years later, and in 1869 was employed by the Wisconsin land office. He later practiced law in Madison; Decorah-posten, July 20, 1920.

<31> According to Arlow W. Andersen, John A. Johnson, a brother of Ole C. Johnson, ran for the Wisconsin legislature in 1868 on the Republican ticket. He was clerk of Dane County — an elective office — 1861—69, and was associated with Fuller and Williams, General Agents, in the sale of farm machinery, 1868—78. Hans Borchsenius, a Dane and a Democrat, was editor of Nordstjernen (Madison), 1858—60. After the founding of the Republican party in 1854, Norwegians flocked to its antislavery banner, and Nordstjernen lost subscribers to the point where Borchsenius was forced to sell out to his rival Solberg in 1860. He was a member of the governing board of Marshall Academy. See Arlow W. Andersen, The Immigrant Takes His Stand, 24, 142n (Northfield, 1953); Skandinaven, September 30, 1868; State Journal (Madison), July 20, 1869. Apparently Nilsson shared the view of some of his fellow immigrants that the loyalty of the Johnsons to the Norwegian element was inadequate, socially and politically.

<32> Ole J. Hatlestad, a pastor and editor of Democraten (Racine and Janesville, Wisconsin), 1849—51, became president of the Norwegian-Danish Augustana Synod in 1870. Samson M. Krogness (Krognaes), a pastor, was editor of Den norske lutheraner (Chicago), 1867—69.

<33> The Norwegian-Danish Augustana Synod bought the Marshall Academy buildings and in 1869 established Augsburg Seminary; it was the first Norwegian Lutheran theological seminary in this country. David T. Nelson, Luther College 1861—1961,9 (Decorah, Iowa, 1961).

<34> Den norske lutheraner was founded in Chicago in 1866 by the Norwegian-Danish Augustana Synod; it was moved to Marshall in 1870.

<35> The "Sabbathterens" were Seventh-Day Baptists. Jakob Aall Ottesen was Lutheran pastor in the Koshkonong churches, 1860—91.

<36> The "eastern church" was East Koshkonong Church; Clinton, a village near it, is now called Rockdale. The Reverend M. Falk Gjertsen was the Lutheran pastor in Stoughton, 1872—81.

<37> The Reverend Gudbrand Lunde was a Lutheran pastor in Koshkonong, 1872—75.

<38> Adam Forepaugh (1831—90) took to the road in the spring of 1866 with Adam Forepaugh’s Circus and Menagerie ("4—Paw"); it was combined with Barnum’s circus in 1887. George L. Chindahl, History of the Circus in America, 103—106 (Caldwell, Idaho, 1959).

<39> Arndt Hanson was Kari Lindaas’ second husband and Melinda’s stepfather. Hans Lindaas had died about 1862.

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