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Two Men of Old Waupaca
    by Malcolm Rosholt (Volume 22: Page 75)

The influx of Norwegian immigrant families into the "Indian Land" in central Wisconsin in the early 1850’s made Waupaca County an important area in the development of an interesting pioneer culture in America. Nowhere in the whole section is the life of the times better epitomized than in Scandinavia Township. There the first Lutheran church was organized — and there, in the very center of the village of Scandinavia, flourished the first country store. In the local history recorded in the following sketches the earliest years of a pioneer pastor and a pioneer storekeeper point up the primitive but rapidly developing social order of the new region.


A popular misconception has arisen about the location of Pastor O. F. Duus’s first congregation in Wisconsin, the subject of Frontier Parsonage, published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association in 1947. {1} Duus was a pioneer among pioneer pastors, and it is important to state that he served, not in Waupaca, Wisconsin, but in Scandinavia [76] Township, Waupaca County, and that he lived in a parsonage in that township.

My great-grandparents on both sides of the family were pioneers in Scandinavia, Wisconsin. My great-grandfather, Jacob Tollefson Rosholt — from whom most of the Rosholts in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and the Dakotas are descended — immigrated to the United States in 1845 and first settled at Pine Lake, a short distance west of Milwaukee. In 1850 he pre-empted a quarter section on the so-called "Indian Land." This land lay, roughly speaking, along the lower watershed of the Wolf River in Waupaca-Outagamie counties. By the Treaty of Lake Poygan, 1848, the Menominee Indians were to give up four and a half million acres for $350,000; in addition, they were to be granted a big reservation in Crow Wing County, Minnesota. But the Menominees refused to move to Minnesota and the treaty was held in abeyance. Thus when the first Norwegians began to settle above Lake Poygan at Winchester in the late 1840’s, and in Waupaca County in 1850, the land still belonged, technically, to the Indians. In

1854, with the Treaty of Keshina Falls, a compromise solution was reached and the Menominees agreed to move to a reservation north of Shawano; the Indian title was finally extinguished. The first pioneers referred to the former Menominee lands as indilandet, and the expression continued to be used by storytellers and writers long after 1854. {2}

In 1853 Jacob Rosholt was one of a committee of three that solicited subscriptions for Pastor Duus’s $300 salary, and he also acted with members of a group from Winchester, Wisconsin, that was sending a call to Norway for a minister. The misunderstanding over Pastor Duus’s residence stems from his own repeated references to "Waupaca parsonage." [77] Probably there were two main reasons for his doing this: The township of Scandinavia had been organized only a few months before he arrived, and had no post office; and the community was known to the Norwegians as the Waupaca settlement. Hence, when the first Norwegian Lutheran congregation was organized there in 1854, it called itself "Waupaca Menighed" (congregation), although it was legally incorporated as the Norwegian-Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Waupaca. The meeting was held at Jacob Rosholt’s home December 1, 1854, and the incorporation was received for record December 5. {3}

The name "Waupaca Menighed" appears early in a blue-paged ledger begun by Duus. On the basis of earlier records preserved by the parishioners, he entered information of ministerial acts performed by his predecessors, Herman Amberg Preus and Nils Brandt, for the year 1853—54. This was followed by a day-to-day record of his own. The ledger also includes a list of the charter members enrolled in the Waupaca congregation on November 12, 1854. Nearly all the members were from Scandinavia Township and most of them appear in the first tax rolls.

The other congregation that called Duus in 1854 is referred to in Frontier Parsonage as "Landsverk, Neenah Settlement, Winnebago County, Wisconsin." This congregation was, as might be expected, not in the city of Neenah, but at Winchester, today a wayside village on a high hill about ten miles west of Neenah-Menasha. On December 4, 1856, Duus said, "Beginning November 4, 1857, I shall be rid of the troublesome Neenah congregation," meaning, of course, the group at Winchester. {4} [78]

On January 11, 1856, a post office was opened in the village of Scandinavia, which lies about in the middle of the township bearing the same name. It seems odd that Duus, less than a year later, was still referring to his residence as "Waupaca parsonage," and told his "dear ones at home" that he hoped there was a letter waiting "for us at the post office in Waupaca. Because of high, hard-packed snowdrifts it is so difficult to get there that we must be patient." From this it would appear that he was still picking up his mail in Waupaca (also then known as Waupaca Falls), not at the Scandinavia post office. The mail may have arrived in Scandinavia only once or twice a week; perhaps Duus preferred to have it sent directly to Waupaca, where he almost certainly did some of his shopping and often stopped en route to Winchester. He finally told his people in Norway to write him at "Scandinavia Post Office, Waupaca County, Wisconsin, North America." This complicated address hints that he was not taking any chances on having his mail diverted to the Indians on the Amazon. His cautiousness on this point may also suggest why he delayed changing his address. {5}

The name Olaus Fredrik Duus appears in the town clerk’s book in a long list headed "Land held on contract with the state." We know that Duus invested in a piece of land; on July 8, 1856, he reminded his relatives that he was thinking "of selling my land here." {6} He may have owned property elsewhere in the county as well, but the land he paid taxes on (NE 3¼-NW ¼, Section 22) in Scandinavia Township lay next to Thomas Knoph’s "forty," a short distance west of the village and Scandinavia Creek. For reasons unknown, this forty is not entered in the first available assessment roll (1856). In the list for 1857, it appears, under the name of O. F. Duus, on a back page with another entry, when a tax of $1.86, plus 9 cents collector’s fee, was paid. No personal property assessment was listed for 1856. For 1858, his forty acres were [79] assessed at $120 and his personal property at $1,708, bringing the total value to $1,828, on which he paid $22.45 in taxes, plus a collector’s fee of $1.12. The valuation on his personal property, compared with that of others in the township, most of whom declared less than $300, made him one of the wealthy men of the community.

On February 3, 1856, Duus drew a map of his location for the benefit of relatives in Norway. He referred to a map of Waupaca County, which apparently he had sent them earlier, and explained that there were twenty "squares" (townships, obviously), four east and west and five north and south. (More were later set off in eastern Waupaca County.) Continuing, he said: "We live in the middle of the most westerly five running north to south, and one through which the two tributaries of the Waupaca River flow. . . . The black dot marks the location of the parsonage. You will notice that we, old Hartvig, Knoph, and Paus all reside in the same township or square, along the river." {7}

This river is patently the one that originates above Iola, Wisconsin, and flows south through the township and village of Scandinavia; a short distance below the village it joins Peterson Mill Creek, which comes from northwest of the township; together they form the south branch of the Little Wolf River. Duus apparently was not yet well acquainted with local geography, because both of these are tributaries of the Little Wolf River, not the Waupaca. The five westerly townships he mentioned lie in Range 11 east of the fourth principal meridian; and Scandinavia Township, 23 north, indeed lies "in the middle," that is, between townships 21-22 and 24-25.

On January 27, 1858, Duus gave a little more information about the location when he referred to "the little town of [80] Scandinavia, Knoph’s and Paus’s home, which is an English mile from here"; that is, a mile from the parsonage. {8}

Probably the best account of Pastor Duus’s life at Scandinavia is Thor Helgeson’s Fra "Indianernes Lande." Helgeson probably arrived in Waupaca County in 1864; he says that he taught the first parochial school in Ogdensburg, about seven miles east of Scandinavia, in October of that year. {9} He almost surely passed through Scandinavia to reach the "Burg," as Ogdensburg was usually called.

Pastor Duus noted in the church minutes that he arrived in Scandinavia Township November 4, 1854; he gave his farewell sermon November 7, 1858, preparatory to leaving for his new pastorate at Whitewater, Wisconsin. This means that Helgeson arrived on the scene only six years after Duus left, and he tells us that the first parsonage, located paa Ytterbø ved Hellestadfarmen (at the Ytterbø place on the edge of the Hellestad farm) was torn down and a new one erected; timbers from the old building were later used in the first church. {10} The 1889 plat of Waupaca County reveals that the parsonage stood a few rods west of the present Scandinavia Lutheran cemetery, which in turn was a mile north of Scandinavia village on the old road to Iola. The first church was built in 1856—57 on the east side of this road opposite the cemetery.

Work was progressing on the new parsonage as early as October 9, 1854. While it was being built, Duus and his wife Sophie were the guests of Thomas Knoph, an acquaintance from their native coastal city of Kragerø in Norway. {11} Pastor [81] Duus probably moved into the parsonage sometime in December, for he performed a marriage there December 27, 1854. This is the first mention of the building in the church record. All three of the Duus children, Olaf Irgens (named for his grandfather), Morton, and Petra Fredrikke, were born there between early 1855 and 1858. The youngest was delivered by an Indian midwife. There, too — not in Whitewater, Wisconsin — Sophie Duus died. In a postscript to the last letter in Frontier Parsonage, dated June 28, 1858, Sophie said, "God be praised, I feel my strength returning, but progress is slow." Death came less than a month later. {12}

The following entry in the church record, made by Duus July 23, 1858, recalls this sad occasion: "The last sacrament was given my beloved sick wife, Sophie Duus, who after long suffering in childlike faith and with true Christian joy, departed to her God the 25th of July, the 18th Sunday after Trinity, at 10 o’clock in the morning, leaving me and my three children born in the congregation. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord."

Duus probably did give Sophie communion July 23, although he mentions her death on July 25 in the entry of the earlier date. His last reference to the occasion was on July 26: "I myself committed my blessed departed wife after a service held by my friend and brother, Pastor N. Brandt of Rock River." Sophie was buried in Scandinavia Lutheran Church Cemetery. {13} The epitaph on the flat, upright headstone, with a relief of a weeping willow tree, reads:

Sophie (Sophie
Charlotte Duus Charlotte Duus
født Lorenz. Hun fødtes i née Lorenz. She was born in
Christiania den 28de Februar Christiania February 28
1828 og døde paa Waupaca 1828 and died at Waupaca
Præstegaard den 25de Parsonage July 25
Juli 1858 1858) [82]

A quotation in small print appears below the inscription; without expert methods of identification of the letters and words, it would be difficult to decipher. The Reverend Oscar Hellestad thinks it is the familiar verse, in Norwegian, from Revelation 14:13— "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." On the back of the stone are these words: Hengivne Menighedslemmer reiste deres Prestekone dette Minde. In translation, this reads, "Devoted members of the congregation raised this memorial to their pastor’s wife."

Mrs. Stina Leean, daughter of Stephen Jacobson Nygaard, a pioneer of Scandinavia Township, told me that her mother often talked about the Duus family. Mrs. Nygaard was especially fond of Mrs. Duus, who "came down and poulticed Mother when she was sick, and Mother said I must get some flowers for her grave. Oh, she was such a lovely woman, Mother said." {14}

After leaving Scandinavia, Pastor Duus remained at White-water less than a year; he returned to Norway with his three children born on the "Indian Land."


The first pioneers who settled on government lands in Wisconsin usually had to drive many miles by ox team to the nearest trading center or post office. And when one of their own people or some enterprising Yankee decided to open a store in their midst, he was a welcome guest and at once a friend. These country stores, whose business was both bartering and selling, played an important role in the transition of the frontier community from wilderness to village. Located in log cabins or rude clapboard buildings, they became the centers of neighborhood life. Often the first town meetings and elections were held within their walls, and commonly the storekeeper was elected town clerk or treasurer. The [83] pioneers knew that a man who extended credit to them would protect their interests on the township level.

There was always an element of irony, however, in the storekeeper’s peculiar position. He seldom got rich — mainly, no doubt, because of the difficulty involved in making collections. The people were poor, and they probably reasoned that a man who could afford to have groceries on his shelves (and liquor under the counter) surely could carry them over until harvest time. Actually, the storekeeper had a hard time paying his own bills. He had to have the patience of Job, the courtesy of a gracious host, and the compassion of a good Samaritan.

A fairly typical country store of the early period was located on the south branch of the Little Wolf River in the Waupaca settlement, nine miles north of the present city of Waupaca, Wisconsin. It was established by Thomas Knoph, an immigrant from Kragerø, Norway. Certainly this pioneer storekeeper had studied the terrain along the river before he chose a site and in doing so he had also observed the possibilities for a natural backwater and dam. Perhaps the beavers were there ahead of him. With a shrewd eye to the future, he purchased two diagonal forties of land to insure control of half a mile of river frontage. By selecting this site, he determined the location of the future village of Scandinavia.

Knoph’s log cabin, now restored through popular subscription, stands in Ellison Park near the grounds of what was once Scandinavia Academy. A one-room building, 15½ by 21½ feet, it is fairly high for a log structure and may once have contained a loft for sleeping quarters. It has front and back doors and five rather large windows. It is doubtful whether there were that many windows, or of such size, when it was built. Possibly the back door led to a lean-to that served as kitchen quarters, for it is difficult to see how else the family could have found adequate living space.

Mrs. Stina Leean remembered Knoph when I talked to her in 1962. She said, "He was kind of a respected man . . . good to everybody. One of those men. I used to go there and get the paper for Father, Emigranten, which Father had to have [84] every week." Mrs. Leean, who was born in 1867, knew Knoph in the 1870’s when he was married to his second wife, Birgit Rollefson, better known as "Betsy." His first wife, Petronelle Romke, died in 1859. She may have come from a family of some standing in Norway; in the record of a baptism at which she acted as sponsor, she is referred to as "Madam Knoph." Helgeson also called her Madam Knoph. {15}

An account book of 132 pages has been preserved from this store, and while it carries no name, evidence definitely points to Knoph as the bookkeeper. He often referred to himself in the first person possessive. For example, he entered a debit to someone who used "my horse and buggy," and he credited the account of Gregar Gregarson of Iola Township, whose "son worked at my place 25 weeks @ .50." The handwriting is the same throughout.

Many of the accounts in the book are carry-overs from an earlier ledger, not now available, which was probably begun sometime in 1852, two years after the settlement was founded. The first account in the second book begins July 25, 1853, and runs through September 27, 1854. Most of the others begin in 1853 or are continued from 1852. The majority run on to the end of 1854, when they were carried over to a third book, also unavailable. From the second book, a bound ledger written in Norwegian, it is possible to study the life of a frontier storekeeper and the history of a pioneer community in Wisconsin. It is a record, not only of the prices of commodities and of credit extended, but also of credit received by the settlers for their first crops. It mentions the hiring of help and the exchange of labor, rentals, and transportation facilities. And it is a social document that reveals the kind of clothing people wore, which ones went to communion, who could afford to buy a kerosene lamp or a candle, and who drank the most liquor.

This study will be confined to those among Knoph’s customers who apparently lived within the six square miles of Scandinavia Township, organized in the spring of 1854. The [85] accuracy of the listing has been fairly well established by comparing the names in the ledger with those in the church records up to 1853 and with the first available tax roll, that of 1856. There are eighty-nine names in the book. Of these, fifty-five are probably residents of Scandinavia Township and twenty are residents outside, mostly from Iola Township to the north and St. Lawrence Township to the east. Seven accounts deal with wholesalers in Stevens Point, Waupaca, and Berlin, Wisconsin; one is for Herman Amberg Preus, visiting Lutheran pastor from southern Wisconsin, and six are for miscellaneous individuals who were passing through or were temporary residents. One such was the schoolmaster, Alexander Harris, who, Knoph duly noted, was an engelsmand (Englishman). Such a person had to be identified.

Most of Knoph’s customers were farmers. Within Scandinavia Township, three small accounts were those of unmarried women, two were of widows. One of the widows, Mrs. Jacob Nygaard, actually operated a farm. Two men who carried accounts probably were not full-time farmers. One was a day laborer, and the other, besides raising hops, made shake shingles. Thus, with the exceptions mentioned, it may be said that of the fifty-five accounts in the township, forty-nine were farm units.

The term "farm unit" is used because in at least two instances three brothers shared an account. While they may have been developing separate farm lands, they shared houses with a mother, a sister, or a married brother. Several others shared accounts. A few farm units had no charge accounts. Ole Olson Sannes and Gunstein Tollefson Krostue, who lived in the southwest part of the township, probably traded in Sheridan in Farmington Township, where there was another store. Osten Olson Flaten lived in the same neighborhood, and carried only a small account with Knoph. The other farm units or laborers either paid cash at Knoph’s or traded in the village of Waupaca or in Sheridan.

Among the forty-nine farm units with accounts, there were probably thirty-four married men, two widowers, and one [86] widow. The others were bachelors who lived either alone or with relatives. At least twenty-seven of this number arrived in the township in 1850—52; the others came in 1853 and early 1854. It was a homogeneous community. With the exception of one Swiss family, all apparently were Norwegians, and nearly all originally were from Telemark in southern Norway. Most of them came to Scandinavia from the mother settlements at Muskego, Rock River, and Pine Lake, Wisconsin, where they first went in the 1840’s. In a few years, Scandinavia became the most important mother settlement for Norwegians in all northern Wisconsin.

The items Thomas Knoph had for sale were, as might be expected, the bare essentials for simple living, with no frosting on the cake. He bought and sold flour, grain, meat, eggs, and butter. The grain may have been stored in the stable where he kept his horses. He did not deal in any heavy farm equipment, and he apparently had only a limited stock of kitchen utensils. The small supply of the latter suggests that most of the settlers had brought their own pots and pans from southern Wisconsin. Such items had been needed on the trip, for most of the immigrants traveled by ox team and cooked along the way.

Knoph’s most popular merchandise included nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, vinegar, saleratus (baking soda), salt, pepper, camphor balls, starch, syrup, coffee, tea, sugar, pork, beef, venison, rye flour, candles, smoking and chewing tobacco, soap, matches, nails, lead for making bullets, fine shot, powder, and percussion caps. He carried shoes and boots for all members of the family, although there were relatively few calls for children’s shoes. Most children went barefoot from early spring until late autumn. For the women, he had such dress materials as calico, gingham, cotton and woolen goods, and trimmings. In addition, the women could choose from a stock of knitting and sewing necessities. For the men, there were shirt and trouser materials, mittens, socks, suspenders, caps, and hats, including straw hats.

In the period under review (July, 1853, to December, 1854) [87] twenty of the forty-nine farm units brought in homemade butter which was credited to their accounts at 14 to 15 cents per pound; Knoph retailed it at 20 cents. The family of Torkil Kittilson Lisleru brought in 92½ pounds of butter, more than twice as much as any other family. This suggests a well-established herd of cattle and also an industrious household. Making butter was a tedious process that required three or four hours of up-and-down action with the plunger of a churn. The butter that Knoph could not sell locally he disposed of in Waupaca and Stevens Point. Only six local customers bought butter. Others may have had family cows but no surplus butter. Many of the ones who made their own butter were also buying corn syrup, which was probably used mainly as a spread for bread. In these early days butter was no doubt used for shortening and other cooking purposes as well. Only one sale of lard is mentioned in the entire record.

The first mention of hog raising appears in the account of Caspar Zwicky, the Swiss farmer, who, on December 31, 1853, sold Knoph two small pigs for $1.25. In July, 1854, Ole Torkildson Listul delivered one small pig for $1.25, and in August Ole Christianson Gurholt was credited with 38 cents "owing on small pigs."

Only seven farm units brought in eggs to sell, usually for a credit of 8 to 10 cents per dozen. These Knoph sold for about a penny more per dozen. Rasmus Johnson Bestul delivered the most eggs. A few chickens were brought in for credit, but they were hardly big enough to eat. Jørgen Leiuldson Postmyhr sold Knoph two spring roosters for 20 cents. {16} A prairie chicken sold for 20 cents. The evidence suggests that most of the farmers had no chickens, pigs, or sheep during the first four years of settlement. The reason for this is [88] obvious. When a pioneer moved from southern Wisconsin, he could lead a cow behind the wagon, but not a chicken or a pig. Some tried to drive pigs along, but such optimists invariably realized their mistake at the first big river crossing. Moving farm stock north took time; it probably involved a second trip to Berlin or Milwaukee to purchase a sow that could be hauled north in a wagon or sleigh.

Knoph, besides operating the store, was developing a farm on one of his forties. He had two horses, Bill and Charlie, probably the only ones in the township at the time. These animals were no doubt driving horses, not used for farm work. Seemingly Knoph did not do much work on the newly broken land himself, but used hired help. Apparently only oxen were used for hauling, plowing, or harrowing, to judge from the credits given to customers for this work.

An entry on page 1 of the ledger, here translated, may well be judged as typical of these accounts. The name Andreas Anderson Waller appears at the top. The system of entries is a little confused, because Knoph was always trying to conserve space by entering a purchase on the same line with another of an earlier date.

This account opens with Knoph owing the Wallers 7 cents in change. Apparently just at this time Mrs. Waller came in and the storekeeper asked to borrow $7.00 from her, to be credited to their account. Andreas Waller, who was married to Jørand, a daughter of Torkil and Turine Listul, lived in the southeast corner of the township in Elm Valley. The Listuls resided in the extreme northwest. Waller’s mother-in-law, Turine, charged 7 yards of calico to his account, and Jacob Listul, a distant relative, charged 23¼ yards of trouser material. These transactions suggest that both parties had performed some service for the Wallers, who told them to buy what they needed from Knoph and charge it to their account. This method of paying debts occurs throughout the record book.

The Wallers’ first purchase of soap was for 4 cents. The second entry involving soap lists two stanger (bars) for 25 cents. [89]


This probably was the long, brown laundry bar that was generally used well into the twentieth century. There is no evidence that the pioneers of this early period had learned to make their own soap.

There was no post office in the Scandinavia Township community until January 11, 1856, and Knoph’s store served as a collection and distribution point for mail going to or coming from Waupaca. Knoph paid 5 cents postage due on a letter for Waller that came from Milwaukee. He had stamps on hand for outgoing mail; and apparently many letters, including one from Norway, arrived with postage due.

Waller’s account shows that he bought both fine shot and lead from Knoph, which indicates that he owned a hunting rifle or had the use of one. Twenty-four other accounts from the township reveal at least one purchase of fine shot, lead, powder, or percussion caps. A number of customers bought these items on several occasions. In the first four years, evidently less than half the settlers had firearms.

On July 19, 1854, Waller paid Knoph for the materials used in the communion service by him and his wife. Knoph refers to this item as vin og brødpenger, literally, "wine and bread money." As there was no resident pastor, Knoph’s store was the logical center for services when visiting Lutheran pastors from southern Wisconsin came to conduct them. The minutes of Scandinavia Lutheran Church reveal that a communion service, probably the first, was in fact held in the store on June 5, 1853, with seventy-eight communicants attending — including Knoph and his wife.

The Waller account ends with a down payment of 92 cents. Either that day or earlier, Waller sold Knoph an umbrella for $1.25, which, with the 92 cents, balanced the record. It is uncertain whether this account was carried over into the third book. Waller, whose farm was a hilly one, not easy to work, remained in the township only a few years. He first moved to Michigan, then returned to Scandinavia for a time, and finally left for Oregon. [91]

One confusing item in the Waller account refers to a credit of 2 cents on November 3, and reads udlæget for lys. Lys means "light," but in all the other accounts, "one lys" means "one candle," which sold for 4 cents. Udlæget for lys suggests money paid out for light. As it was only 2 cents, it may be that Waller provided light for a special occasion held at his home or at Knoph’s. The few who bought candles seldom took more than one or two at a time. Two cents "for light" sounds fantastic, but, with wages at 50 cents a day, even candles were a luxury.

Most of Knoph’s accounts reveal how carefully every penny was spent. Page 3 of the ledger contains the record of Jacob Tollefson Rosholt (great-grandfather of the writer). From the tax rolls and personal property assessments, Rosholt clearly had more capital than most of his neighbors. Yet when Mrs. Rosholt went to Knoph’s store, she, like other customers, bought one nutmeg at a time for 3 cents, or 2 pounds of sugar at 20 cents. Rosholt took home boots that cost $1.50, but returned them later for others at $1.25. He was one of three persons in the township who subscribed to the weekly Norwegian newspaper, Emigranten. Like the other subscribers, Hans Jacob Eliason and Jens Jacob Torgerson, he never subscribed for more than half a year at a time and never paid down more than 25 cents in advance.

One entry in the Rosholt account was for a pint of lamp oil at 15 cents. This was the only purchase of such oil by anyone in the township and suggests that a lamp was a status symbol, to be used only when company came. On the other hand, if one is to judge by the comparatively few purchases of candles, use of commercial candles might have reflected economic well-being. Possibly most people had learned to make their own candles. It may be assumed, however, that most of the pioneers probably were using the familiar fæt fille, a rag in a saucer filled with drippings of deer tallow or other fat; the rag that served as a wick extended over the lip of the dish. It was not a light to read by. Most of the time the [92] pioneers ate their supper at twilight; after that they sat in the dusk until time to go to bed.

The Rosholt account, which begins September 4, 1853, was carried over from the first book. It runs through three full pages in several sections of the second volume, and ends October 30, 1854, when it was carried over to the third ledger. Rosholt and Knoph, both telernarkings, were no doubt old friends; both served on church committees when the congregation was organized. In 1853, Rosholt delivered 2 bushels of rye to Knoph for a credit of $1.00. In January, 1854, he sold the storekeeper 2 bushels of oats for 50 cents and one for 37 cents. On January 31 he bought 21 pounds of rye flour at

2 cents per pound, the only purchase of flour recorded in the account. Between May 23 and June 28 that same year, Rosholt delivered 142 pounds of rye flour to Knoph.

Meanwhile, Rosholt’s neighbor, Jacob Listul, was raising wheat as well as rye and potatoes. In October, 1853, Listul delivered 158 pounds of wheat flour for a credit of $2.96; 6 bushels of potatoes for $1.50; 4 of rutabagas for $1.00; and 60 pounds of rye flour for $1.12. {17} In December, he brought in another 88¾ pounds of wheat flour, for which he was credited $1.77. A comparison of these figures reveals that Rosholt got better prices for both his rye flour and his potatoes by holding them until the spring of 1854.

Sixteen other farm units brought in either oats, rye, or wheat — or flour made of rye or wheat. Of this number, twelve resided in the township before 1853. If there were others who raised grain, they either had no surplus or sold it in Waupaca village or Parfreyville, where grain was probably being ground at the time.

Seven customers brought in potatoes for credit. All these farmers had arrived in the township before 1853. Only two brought in corn: Ole Rollefson, who got a credit of 44 cents [93] for two partial bushels in December, 1853, and Jørgen Postmyhr, who delivered one bushel in December for 25 cents. Knoph uses the term kornaks in these two entries, indicating that the corn was probably being sold for seed. The date of delivery tends to substantiate this assumption.

Ole Ellertson sold Knoph half a bushel of onions in January, 1854, for a credit of 37 cents. It is the only mention of this vegetable in the careful accounts of the storekeeper. In May, 1854, Engebret Erickson Tvetan brought in 2 quarts of beans for 8 cents credit, the only reference to beans in the period under review. Jens Torgerson, who did not arrive in Scandinavia until 1853, may have started growing beans in 1854. There is a legend in the community that he raised beans especially to feed the immigrants who passed by his place. He lived on the main road going north through Iola Township and to New Hope Township in Portage County, where many immigrants from Gudbrandsdalen were settling in the late 1850’s.

Torgerson may have helped the newcomers, but probably the story has been slightly distorted and the man who actually aided the immigrants with beans was Engebret Tvetan. He lived about a mile south of Torgerson on the same road. It was there that the travelers came first, and there they were fed by Tvetan and sheltered for the night, either in the house or in the barn. {18}

Ole Olson Wogsland, Jr., who moved into the township in the spring of 1854, brought in 2 pounds of hops in October, for which Knoph gave him a credit of 62 cents. This is the only mention of such a crop — if, indeed, it was a crop —in all the storekeeper’s accounts. Hop raising did become a major part of Wisconsin agriculture for a time after the Civil War, but the farmers of Scandinavia Township apparently never were interested in it.

Hay was not raised as a crop in the early years. Most of [94] the farmers cut marsh hay in the lowlands or wherever it could be found free. The favored areas were on state lands and absentee-owner forties. There was probably prairie hay in the open areas in the oak woodlands as well. Knoph had no time to do any haying; he bought hay for his horses from the neighbors. In December, 1853, Mathias Halverson Lien delivered hay at $2.50 per ton for a credit of $2.69. In February, 1854, he brought in another load for a credit of $3.50. Knoph may have installed some sort of scales that could weigh a loaded wagon or sleigh.

It has been said that the pioneers did not know the value of bran — the roughage left over when grain has been ground into flour. Nils Stianson, however, bought 23½ pounds of rye bran from Knoph for 15 cents in August, 1854. In the same month Jacob Listul bought 39 pounds for 25 cents. In September, Ole Rollef son delivered 2½ bushels for 25 cents. While these are the only entries involving bran, it is probable that other farmers were feeding livestock their own bran from the rye and wheat that they ground. The price was so low that it hardly paid to sell the bran. Some early flour mills dumped the roughage into the river.

There are quite a few entries in Knoph’s account book for the purchase of nails (including shingle nails), which indicates that the pioneers were busy with building and roofing. The nails, probably square ones, were handmade and sold at 8 to 9 cents per pound. The nails that came out of the old Scandinavia Church when it was razed were all square. Knoph sold several auger bits of various sizes; they were used to bore the holes that held wooden pegs in frame construction work.

For shingles the pioneers used the long homemade shakes, made from cork pine; that is, white pine free of knots. Splitting shingles and shaving them thinner at one end was a task for spare time in the winter months. There was no white pine in the township; the logs were probably hauled from the forests in Iola and Helvetia townships. Jacob Kjendalen brought one [95] bundle of shakes to Knoph in May, 1854, for a credit of 62 cents. Jacob Listul sold a bundle for the same price, but Knoph noted that these were daarlig (poor) shingles. By 1855, Listul was able to deliver 3,000 shingles at $2.00 per thousand and Ole Wogsland, Jr., 5,000 at the same price.

The food that was used during these first years has been mentioned. The people ate more rye bread than wheat bread. Purchases of syrup appear in many accounts, but none of molasses until August, 1854. On July 4, 1854, however, Hans Jacob Eliason bought 4 gallons of "molasses" for $2.00. Later the same day he got still another gallon. This was an extraordinary purchase for America’s Independence Day. Closer examination of these entries reveals that Knoph first entered the word "whisky," then, in heavier ink, superimposed the word "molasses."

This same account, continuing through December, has several entries in which the word dramme (shots of liquor) has been partially blotted out by the word vare (merchandise) or by edik (vinegar). This maneuvering suggests some sort of cover arrangement. Several other customers bought "molasses" or "vinegar" on occasion. No more molasses was recorded until August, 1854, when Ole Ellertson bought a legitimate gallon for 63 cents. In December, when Christian Olson bought a gallon, the price had gone up to 72 cents. No other purchases were recorded. Molasses cake, a favorite of the logging camps a generation or two later, apparently was not yet known to the housewives.

For meat the settlers ate pork, beef, and venison. Simon Torkildson Lisleru bought 9 1/8 pounds of "salted pork" for 99 cents in February, 1854. On all other occasions, the record mentions only flesk (pork). In many cases this may be an abbreviation for salt pork. Knoph could hardly keep fresh pork on hand except during the winter months. One customer took 20 pounds of pork — at 10 cents per pound — in the middle of August, 1854. Unless he was expecting a threshing crew within the next day or two, this almost surely was salt pork. [96]

Beef is called kød (meat), but in two accounts salted meat is mentioned. No clue to the source of the beef appears until October 4, 1854, when Knoph bought a bull for $20 from a customer in St. Lawrence Township. The seller’s name appears at the top of the page as "Jens Rasmussen, dansk." (Knoph had to mention that he was a Dane.) On October 6 Isak Eliason received a credit of 38 cents for half a day’s work "slaughtering an ox."

Many customers bought no beef at all; for those who did, months often passed between purchases. Probably more venison than beef was eaten during the first four years. People who had no firearms could buy venison from Knoph at 4 cents per pound, and no doubt those who did have guns often shared game with the neighbors. The open areas in the oak woods and river bottoms obviously were more alluring to deer than the more heavily pine-timbered townships to the north, where they were relatively scarce until recent times.

Jørgen Postmyhr must have been more interested in hunting than in farming, for he brought in no grain, flour, or butter, and — up to the end of October, 1854 — only half a dozen eggs and 2 small roosters. But in December, 1853, he sold Knoph 245 pounds of venison at 4 cents per pound, and in January, 1854, nearly 200 pounds at the same price. Knoph unaccountably disregarded making any profit and retailed the meat at 4 cents.

Rasmus Olson Reine and others also brought in venison. Reine, moreover, was shooting prairie chickens, which Knoph credited to his account at 6 cents each. He delivered one patrik (partridge) for 5 cents, and in March, 1854, one fugl (bird) for one cent. In April he was credited with 12 cents for birds, the number not given. Probably these were passenger pigeons, which flocked north by the millions during the mid-nineteenth century, finally to become extinct because of unrestricted hunting.

Reine must have been one of the few who did any fishing. His land bordered Sand Lake on the north. On July 7, 1854, [97] he bought 7 cents’ worth of fishing line, and the next day he sold Knoph 6 pounds of pickerel for 24 cents. Jacob Peterson Kjendalen, who lived north of Silver Lake, may have heard about Reine’s luck. On July 14 he came in for 2 cents’ worth of fishhooks.

In February, 1854, Knoph bought 60 cents’ worth of fish from E. J. Putnam of Waupaca, with whom he maintained a wholesale account, and in March he purchased $1.16 worth of "cold fish." In neither instance is there any clue to the kind of fish or whether it was fresh, smoked, or pickled. Only a few sales were recorded. Either the Norwegians in Scandinavia could not get the kind of fish they were accustomed to, or what was available was too expensive.

Isak Eliason bought 25 cents’ worth of pankins in October, 1854. This may well have been Knoph’s way of spelling pumpkins, although a later generation of Norwegians usually called them ponkis. They were mentioned only once, with no clue to the grower given.

Peter Knutson bought 3 quarts of cranberries for 12 cents in October, 1853, but Christopher Thorbjornson (Voie) and Ole Ellertson each paid 5 cents for a quart in November and December. These were undoubtedly the wild fruit. In November, 1854, John Gunderson Heisholt from Iola Township sold Knoph one bushel for a credit of $1.50. Knoph sometimes used the word kranebærs, sometimes "cranberries."

Sixteen customers in the township purchased at least one pound of rice each in the period under review. In an early entry, Knoph wrote the Norwegian term risen gryn for rice; in all the others he called it ris. A Christmas delicacy called risen gryngrød — a rice porridge topped with butter, cinnamon, and milk — is to this day enjoyed by some NorwegianAmerican families. Although the times of purchase were not confined to any holiday season, the fact that only sixteen customers bought rice suggests that in these early years it was used only for special occasions.

At this time wages around Scandinavia varied a little [98] according to the nature of the work, but they were never higher than 75 cents a day. In October—November, 1853, Ole Jacobson Kjendalen chopped wood for Knoph for three days at 50 cents per day. Ove Wilhelmson threshed oats for Knoph for one day in August and was credited with 75 cents. In January, 1854, Wilhelmson chopped a cord of wood for 39 cents.

Knoph did not have time to work off his poll tax; in June, 1854, he hired Ole Anderson Solveru to serve in his place and credited his account 50 cents. Peter Olson Hoyül (today Hoyord) tightened three shoes on one of Knoph’s horses and replaced a fourth, all for 10 cents. In April, 1854, Jacob Listul got $5.65 credit for breaking 3 1/10 acres of land at $4.00 per acre, and in June he earned $5.80 for breaking 1 15/16 acres. Engebret Tvetan plowed with his oxen for Knoph, "not a full day and a half," for $1.25. Christian Olson cut and split 300 oak rails at 50 cents a hundred in February, 1854. In March, Ole Christianson Gurholt got 50 cents for hauling 300 rails "from the other side of the river." It is apparent, aside from the fact that Knoph squeezed every last word into the pages of his ledger, that he was running a tight ship. He charged one customer 13 cents "for my trouble writing a letter."

Knoph had a hired girl, Anne Bergithe Eriksdatter, who worked for him eight weeks and two days in the fall of 1853. Her wages were 50 cents a week, and when she quit she had $4.14 coming. She had a small account at the store, mostly for purchases of potatoes, butter, and venison, and the $4.14 was credited to her, leaving an unpaid balance of 11 cents. When her father protested the wage settlement, Anne Bergithe received another dollar, from which her father appropriated 89 cents, paying 11 cents to settle the account. While the girl worked for 50 cents a week, it is fairly certain that she boarded with the Knophs.

Another insight into the wage situation appears in the account of Jacob Nygaard’s enke (widow). Her husband, [99] Stephen Jacobson Nygaard, had died February 10, 1853, and was buried in the community’s first cemetery, later occupied by the Hellestad School. The widow, Anne Katrine, had two sons, Stephen and Tallak, and a daughter who, Knoph wrote, "works at the [Waupaca] county seat." {19} Mrs. Nygaard, to keep her family in groceries, hired out with her oxen. On June 12, 1854, Knoph credited her account with $1.00 for hauling rails. On July 3, she again hauled rails for $1.00, and on the same day she bought a quart of whisky for 13 cents. It was the only purchase of liquor that she made. It may have been a Fourth of July treat or intended for medicinal purposes. Such a remedy might well have been needed for a person who had been out all day in the July heat shouting at a yoke of oxen.

On June 19 Knoph debited Mrs. Nygaard’s account $10 for the rental of his horse and buggy for a trip, apparently on urgent business, to Madison, Wisconsin. {20} A few days earlier, Knoph had sold Mrs. Nygaard an envelope, paper, and a stamp for a letter to Pastor H. A. Preus. Possibly she actually went to Spring Green, about fifteen miles northeast of Madison, where Preus was then serving as pastor.

Engebret Tvetan rented Knoph’s horse and buggy for a trip to Pine Lake in March, 1854, and was charged $16 for the use of it for fourteen days. In June, Jacob Kjendalen rented the horse and buggy for two persons for a trip to Stevens Point, about twenty miles from Scandinavia. He was charged $3.00. Jens Torgerson was debited $1.75, for "my horse," Knoph said, for a trip to Gills Landing in April, 1854. He did not mention the buggy and it may be that Torgerson went on horseback. Gills Landing, three miles east of Weyauwega on the Wolf River, is about twenty miles from Scandinavia. A day’s rental for horse and buggy was usually $1.00.

The bulk of Knoph’s merchandise came from wholesale [100] firms in Berlin, which he calls several times by its early name of Strongs Landing. This was the staging area and ferry point across the Fox River for most of the pioneers moving into Waupaca County during 1850—54. John Gill did not complete his plank road across the swamp from Weyauwega to the Wolf River until 1853, and the river-lake route by steamer from Oshkosh, which many of the later pioneers used, was just being initiated.

The road north, after crossing the Fox River at Berlin, ran more or less along present Highway 49 but probably northwest from Bloomfield to Waupaca instead of by way of Weyauwega. It is about forty-six miles from Waupaca to Berlin on Highway 49. The distance to Knoph’s store would add another ten miles to the trip, but no comparison of distances can take account of the rivers that had to be forded and the swamps, mudholes, and sand hills that had to be crossed. Yet Knoph had no difficulty in hiring men to drive their ox teams to Berlin with loads of grain, flour, or deer hides, returning with merchandise for him.

In the summer of 1853, Ole Torgerson — also known as Ole Torgerson Kragerø — hauled a load from Berlin to Knoph’s store for $5.00. In June, 1854, Rasmus Olson Reine hauled a load for $6.37. In August, Reine’s brother Ole drove Knoph’s team to Berlin and $1.75 was credited to Rasmus’ account. It probably would have been $2.00, but Knoph had already debited Rasmus’ account 25 cents because Ole and a companion had lost his water pail. His notation about Ole’s trip says, "for driving the team to Strongs Landing 3½ days." Ole and his companion were probably using Knoph’s buggy. If they actually made the round trip to Berlin in three and a half days, they must have established some kind of a record. Little wonder that they lost the water pail. Customarily Knoph paid his neighbors $1.00 a day to work with oxen, and perhaps the trip to Berlin with oxen was calculated at 75 cents a day. It is difficult to believe that the round trip could have been made in five or even six days.

The price of meals and lodging at Knoph’s is revealed in [101] several accounts. Then, as now, the cost of a meal was determined by circumstances and by how much a person ate. Daniel Tollefson, who spent some time at Knoph’s in the spring of 1854, paid 25 cents a day. Henry Zwicky had dinner there in August and was charged 18 cents. Usually a night’s lodging and breakfast cost 25 cents. John Gunderson Heisholt spent a night in April, 1854, and paid 38 cents, but this amount included at least one meal for Heisholt and hay for his oxen. In this entry, Knoph used the term nattelogis—literally, "night lodging." {21}

Alexander Harris, the schoolmaster, spent several weeks at Knoph’s at various times in February and March, 1854. Lodging for the night of February 13 was 13 cents. On February 15, Harris paid 50 cents for breakfast, dinner, supper, and bed. In March, Harris stayed at Knoph’s most of the month for $1.75 per week for "boarding," which apparently included lodging. He also paid 25 cents for the washing and ironing of four shirts.

On March 26, Harris was credited with $15.50 owed him for one month of instruction (undervisning). The nature of this instruction is not explained, but it patently refers to a class in English. Four different customer accounts reveal a debit of $1.50 about this time for "instructions," the students being Christopher Thorbjornson (Vole), Bent Knutson, his brother Peter Knutson, and Caspar Zwicky. Zwicky’s account was debited an additional $1.50 for the fee of Mikkel Olson Reine. Apparently four persons besides Knoph were in the class; this reckoning fails to account for the extra 50 cents, but the charge may have been for writing materials. As the township was to be organized in April of that year, future office seekers were preparing for the opportunities ahead. This fact is borne out by the results of the election. Knoph was elected the first town clerk and Zwicky the first treasurer. Bent Knutson was going into the sawmill business, and Thorbjornson, though a farmer, was the local moneylender. [102]

Knoph handled other items besides groceries and dry goods. He sold Isak Eliason an empty whisky barrel for $1.00. In January, 1854, he sold puppies (hundhvalp) to two customers, and in August he sold two more. The price was 50 cents each. One of the purchasers was Stephen Nygaard, the son of the widow. Stephen also bought a deck of playing cards for 20 cents. Jørgen Postmyhr bought a pair of eyeglasses for 50 cents. There were several calls for the "ABC," an elementary reading book for Norwegian pupils, and additional sales of slate pencils, lead pencils, pens, paper, ink, and post cards.

Knoph had taken on the task of supplying the local congregation with catechisms and Forklaringer, Pontoppidan’s explanation book, used by children preparing for confirmation. Pastor H. A. Preus brought 10 copies of the Forklaringer from southern Wisconsin in October, 1853, and turned them over to Knoph for $1.50 each. No sale was recorded until 1855, although Knoph was letting them go at cost. He sold several catechisms at 10 cents each. Many of the families from southern Wisconsin may have had these books before they arrived in Scandinavia.

Knoph accepted foreign money. He took a pound sterling from Hartvig Peterson in May, 1854, and credited his account $4.84. He accepted a 5-franc note from Jacob Listul in May, 1854, and credited his account 94 cents. He lent $12 in gold to Jørgen Postmyhr in July, 1854, and in October he borrowed $49.84 in gold from Nils Larson Greina.

Scattered entries in the account book reveal that the settlers got together now and then for a Dutch treat party. One sammenlag, or festive occasion, was held New Year’s Eve. Several customers came to the store during January, 1854, to pay their shares of 64 cents for the party. Stephen Torkildson Loite was credited with 75 cents for his share of a spisebord (dinner party) held shortly before Christmas in 1854. On April 19, 1854, Lars Erickson Tvetan paid 38 cents on Christian Olson’s account for his share of a sammenlag held at Jacob Kjendalen’s place. Another party was held July 4, 1854, the day Hans Eliason bought the 5 gallons [103] of "molasses." Knoph credited Eliason’s account 14 cents for his own share of this lag.

The new parsonage that Pastor O. F. Duus was Waiting to occupy probably was raised early in November, 1854. On November 10, Ingebret Tvetan’s account was debited 45 cents for 3 quarts of whisky. Knoph first wrote in the words "for raising of parsonage," then inserted forlangende (request). He probably meant "demanded for raising of parsonage." No doubt it was a house-raising, at which the volunteer workers had chipped in for a treat.

These brief glimpses into the past suggest that our great-grandfathers were social creatures not much different from their descendants of a hundred years later. They attended church services and went to communion. They worked hard and played hard — and they must have liked their new life in America for, as the church records reveal, only one person in the Scandinavia settlement returned to Norway.

A number of entries in the ledger indicate that Knoph was accumulating materials for a dam he was building across the river a hundred yards or so south of the store. In June, 1854, Daniel Tollefson was credited with $12, part payment for "setting up a dam," that apparently was finished in July by Bent Knutson. The latter was credited with $18 for "raising a dam guaranteed to hold water" (opførelse af en dam i tæt forsvarlig stand).

Knoph sold his water rights in the dam to B. F. Brown of Waupaca in 1855. In 1857, Adolph Sorenson and Andrew Gasmann opened the first general store. Knoph did not try to compete by modernizing his own establishment. His personal property evaluation in 1858 was $89.50; by 1860 it was down to $47. Just how long he continued to operate the store is uncertain, but he lived there until his death in 1878. The late Mrs. Amelia Nottelson, who remembered Knoph from the 1870’s, once told me that he always kept a jug under the bed for his old friends who came to call. They must have had much in common. They were among the first on the Indian Land.


<1> Theodore C. Blegen, ed., Frontier Parsonage: The Letters of Olaus Fredrik Duus, Norwegian Pastor in Wisconsin, 1855—1858, 3, 4, 6 (Northfield, 1947): Caroline D. M. (Keyser) Preus, Linka’s Diary on Land and Sea, 1845—1864, 135n (Minneapolis, [1952]).

<2> The expression indilandet (the Indian Land) was widely used by Norwegian pioneers of central Wisconsin. It appears repeatedly in H. R. Holand, De norske settlementers historie (Ephraim, Wisconsin, 1908), and in T. Helgeson’s two collections of sketches entitled Fra "Indianernes Lande": Nogle minder om indilandets første beboere og de første rydningsfolk (np., nd.).

<3> See the opening pages of the daily record preserved in Scandinavia Lutheran Church, Scandinavia, Wisconsin, This record states that the incorporation was entered in "Mortgages," vol. A, p. 630, Waupaca County. There is no reference to this book at the courthouse today, nor of the incorporation of the congregation.

<4> Blegen, Frontier Parsonage, 81, 45. Probably the congregation was named for the home of John Landsverk, a native of Sauland, Norway; he was a Winchester pioneer.

<5> Blegen, Frontier Parsonage, 45, 87.

<6> Blegen, Frontier Parsonage, 29.

<7> Blegen, Frontier Parsonage, 16. Duus referred to Hartvig Peterson, Thomas Knoph, and Hans B. Paus (spelled Pouse in the town clerk’s books). The first two were from Kragerø; Paus came from Porsgrund. In 1856 Paus and Nils Anderson started a flour mill on a dam built by Knoph in 1854.

<8> Blegen, Frontier Parsonage, 96.

<9> Helgeson, Fra "Indianernes Lande," 1:65, 303—320.

<10> Helgeson, Fra Indianernes Lande," 1:54. The Hellestad farm, named for Ole Olson Hellestad, was originally settled by Ole Ellertson, variously known as Ole Helgeson Ytterbø, Ole Heljeson, or Oluf Ellerson.

<11> An account book in Norwegian was kept by Thomas Knoph, who operated the first store in Scandinavia. A microfilm of this record and a translation of it made by the present writer are in the archives of the Norwegian-American Historical Association. Knoph’s reference to the building of the parsonage is on page 123. The original account book is in the possession of Floyd Helgeson, Iola, Wisconsin. See also Helgeson, Fra "Indianernes Lande," 1:303.

<12> Blegen, Frontier Parsonage, 114.

<13> Minutes, Scandinavia Lutheran Church Cemetery.

<14> Interview with Mrs. Stina Leean at Waupaca, Wisconsin, March 9, 1962. Mrs. Leean died the same year at age ninety-five.

<15> Helgeson, Fra "Indianernes Lande," 1:55.

<16> The spelling of the Postmyhr name varies. There were several members of this family, but their relationships are uncertain. Besides Jørgen, who was married, Halvor, Ole, and Thor were charter members of the Scandinavia congregation; a notation made by the pastor reveals that all three moved to Minnesota. Jørgen, who remained, had one of the first "large" houses, apparently a frame dwelling. Pastor Duus conducted services there in November, 1854, and January and March, 1855.

<17> The term Knoph used here was rødder (literally, roots), by which he probably meant rutabagas. In another reference to this vegetable, he called it ruttebek.

<18> See Alfred O. Erickson, "Scandinavia, Wisconsin," in Norwegian-American Studies and Records, 15:185 (1949).

<19> Tallak Jacobson Nygaard was a charter member of the Scandinavia church. According to the pastor, he moved to Minnesota. His mother later followed.

<20> The distance between Waupaca and Madison is about a hundred miles

<21> An early lodging house in Wausau, Wisconsin, was known as the Nattelogis.

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