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NORWEGIANS

NORWEGIANS. Most Norwegians who came to Texas were from the rural areas of Norway and became farmers in their new homeland. Norwegian settlement in Texas was never as large as that of several other European groups, the census of 1860 listing only 326 persons of Norwegian birth then in Texas. Those Norwegians who did come were seeking economic and social betterment. The first known settler, Johannes Nordboe, was in his seventies when he came to Texas to live with his wife and three sons on a farm a short distance from Dallas in 1841. In 1845 Johan Reinert Reiersen had land for his colony surveyed several miles west of the Neches River in Henderson County. Another group of settlers became part of a small settlement started in Van Zandt, Cherokee, and Kaufman counties between 1846 and 1853. The 1850 United States census listed 105 Norwegian-born persons living in Texas. Cleng Peerson, who had corresponded with Johannes Nordboe, came to Texas with Ole Canuteson and Carl Engebretson Quaestad. The three scouted along the Bosque River, and in 1854, when Bosque County was established, they led the first Norwegian settlers into the area. Among the first settlers were Hendric Dahl and Jens Ringness. Ole Ringness, the son of Jens Ringness, invented the disc plow. Immigration to Texas, particularly to the settlement of Norse, continued until 1872, and old-world customs were maintained until the early years of the twentieth century. The census of 1900 reported 1,356 Norwegian-born persons in Texas; that of 1940 listed 1,169. By 1940, however, the language had all but disappeared, and descendants of the original pioneers had been integrated into the fabric of Texas rural life. Some of the architecture of the Bosque County area showed European influence, and names on mailboxes were still largely Norwegian. An old-world custom that remained in 1970 was the annual smorgasbord held at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, near old Norse in Bosque County. In 1975 the Norwegian Society of Texas was formed to preserve the group's cultural and ethnic heritage. In the 1990 census 94,096 Texans claimed Norwegian ancestry.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Theodore Christian Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America (2 vols., 1931; rpt., New York: Haskell House, 1969). Richard L. Hooverson, "Midnight Sun to Lone Star: Norwegians in Texas," Stirpes 30 (March 1990). Oris Emerald Pierson, Norwegian Settlements in Bosque County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1947). University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, The Norwegian Texans (San Antonio: Encino, 1970). Lyder L. Unstad, "Norwegian Migration to Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (October 1939). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

W. Phil Hewitt

Citation

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

W. Phil Hewitt, "NORWEGIANS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ptn01), accessed July 31, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.