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OSLO, TX

OSLO, TEXAS. Oslo, in the northwestern corner of Hansford County, was founded in 1908 by the Anders L. Mordt Land Company. Mordt, who immigrated to the United States from Norway in 1904, established his company headquarters in Guymon, Oklahoma. He became a sales agent for the ranch holdings of R. M. Thomson and R. T. Anderson in Hansford County, Texas, and placed advertisements in several leading Norwegian-language publications in the Midwest, including the Skandinaven, edited by his father-in-law, Nicolay A. Grevstad. Mordt arranged for potential buyers to make excursions by train to the site he named Oslo after the Norwegian capital. Norwegians throughout the midwestern states quickly responded to Mordt's ads, and by the spring of 1909 the first settlers had arrived. The first building was a schoolhouse, which doubled for a time as a church and community meetingplace. Pastor Christian Heltne of the United Norwegian Lutheran Church organized a congregation in December of that year, and under his leadership they built a wooden church building in 1911. A copper bell and altar painting were commissioned and shipped from Norway, but the bell went down with the Titanic. As part of his promotional campaign, Mordt published a weekly paper in the Norwegian language, the Oslo Posten, from his headquarters in Guymon. He platted a townsite three miles south of the church and named the streets. However, the town was doomed by the failure of the Denver and Gulf Railroad Company to build a line through the area. A prolonged drought beginning in 1913 resulted in the end of Mordt's land scheme.

Despite the famine, more than thirty Norwegian families stayed to farm the plains. By the 1920s they had formed a tightly knit community centered around the school and church. Oslo retained much of its ethnic character into the 1930s; such foods as lutefisk and lefse were featured at festive social occasions, church services were conducted in Norwegian, and the language continued to be spoken in many homes. But then the improvement of highway transportation and the consolidation of the Oslo school district with that of Gruver, eighteen miles southeast, resulted in a gradual assimilation. Nevertheless, the Oslo community had remained well defined. In 1949 the area residents built a new church of Austin stone. The building burned to the ground on February 18, 1950, the eve of its dedication, and the congregation, with help from emergency funds, rebuilt and dedicated the structure in October of that year. A new pipe organ was installed in 1969, and a new addition was completed in 1974. Attended by descendants of the original settlers, the Oslo Lutheran Church remains one of the most imposing churches in the Texas Panhandle.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Hansford County Historical Commission, Hansford County, Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Taylor, 1980?). Peter L. Petersen, "A New Oslo on the Plains," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 49 (1976).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

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

H. Allen Anderson, "OSLO, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hro26), accessed December 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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