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DANEVANG, TX

DANEVANG, TEXAS. Danevang, on State Highway 71 in south Wharton County, started as a colonial effort in 1894. It is the most coherent, and only colonial, area of Danish settlement in the state. The first settlers, Danes who for the most part had spent some years in the north central United States, arrived following a land acquisition by the Dansk Folkesamfund (Danish People's Society). The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church supported the settlement as a church colony-a place for the preservation of Danish culture. In the first year of the colony some seventy families arrived, some directly from Denmark. The area was soon named Danevang, "Danish Field," and a post office was established in 1895. The first years were so difficult, numerous families left and moved to California where they started a town "Solvang" (Sunny Fields). Currently it is a popular tourist attraction. After several difficult years, the Texas colony prospered as an agricultural center, depending initially upon cotton. The settlers established cultural institutions to preserve their heritage. The first public school opened in 1895, and for many years the children were taught Denmark's history and language. The town maintained its own lending library. In the early years Danish was the local language and was used in church and club meetings until 1971. Today, the Christmas observance and special church holidays are still noticeably Danish in origin. The inhabitants of Danevang maintained a Danish tradition of cooperation in their economic institutions. They established a fire insurance company in 1897 and their own telephone system in 1913. The Danish Farmer's Cooperative Society was formed in 1920 to facilitate cooperative buying, selling, and processing of supplies and farm products. In 1923 there were ninety-seven Danish families in the community, but four years later the population, then over 500, was declining. The 1967 population was 125. In 1980 Danevang had a population of sixty. In 1990 and again in 2000 it had sixty-one residents. Danevang, widely known as a community of cooperatives, first used the word "cooperative" in 1896, when the United States Weather Bureau appointed L. Henningsen as a "Cooperative Observer." This weather station was the first in Wharton County and the first of its kind to be established between Sugar Land and Victoria. Danevang continues to keep records for the Weather Bureau. As of 1993 only seven persons have acted as recorder. All were men except one woman, Johanna Allenson, who was the recorder for thirty-one years. Rainfall and temperature are recorded each day, and all the past recordings have been kept on file and stored at the assembly hall. In 1994 the Danevang community and church celebrated their 100th anniversary, with festivities including Danish food, music, and dress and a display of the weather bureau records.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Thomas P. Christensen, "Danevang, Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 32 (July 1928). John L. Davis, The Danish Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1979; 2d ed., 1983). Grace Cone Grantham, The Danes in Wharton County (M.A. thesis, Texas College of Arts and Industry, 1947). Dennis Petersen, "Danevang," Junior Historian, January 1967.

John L. Davis

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

John L. Davis, "DANEVANG, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnd04), accessed December 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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