FOUR MILE PRAIRIE, TX
FOUR MILE PRAIRIE, TEXAS. Four Mile Prairie, on Farm Road 90 twelve miles southwest of Canton in western Van Zandt County, was founded in 1847 when the Norwegian colony led by Johan R. Reiersen moved there from Henderson County. The community, one of three Norwegian settlements in the area, takes its name from a sandy prairie ten miles long that begins on the north shore of Cedar Creek Reservoir in southeastern Kaufman County and runs northeast into Van Zandt County; in width it is bounded by two streams four miles apart, Cedar Creek on the west and Lacy Fork on the east. The settlement was in both Van Zandt County and Kaufman County. Until it became the major Norwegian settlement in the area, the community used the post office at Prairieville, three miles west in Kaufman County; a Four Mile Prairie post office was established in 1849 and operated until 1866. Fourteen Norwegian families arrived in 1850 and brought the population of Four Mile Prairie and Prairieville to a total of 105. Many survivors of an epidemic in the 1850s moved for their health to Bosque County. Fourmile Lutheran Church was established in 1848; it built successive buildings in 1854, 1875, 1941, and 1955. The settlement's first Lutheran pastor, Rev. E. A. Fredrickson, came from Norway in 1855. Aanenson Cemetery was started 1853. In 1884 Four Mile Prairie had a population of 200 and was a rural market center, but the population declined to eighty by 1890, when a school operated there. The number of residents rose again to 300 in 1914, then dwindled. At one time four schools were in operation on Four Mile Prairie, two in each county. In 1936 state highway maps showed Fourmile Church and scattered dwellings at the site, and in 1981 a business, the church, a cemetery, and residences made up the small community.
C. A. Clausen, ed., The Lady with the Pen: Elise Wærenskjold in Texas (Northfield, Minnesota: Norwegian-American Historical Association, 1961; rpt., New York: Arno Press, 1979). Margaret Elizabeth Hall, A History of Van Zandt County (Austin: Jenkins, 1976). Darwin Payne, "Early Norwegians in Northeast Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 45 (October 1961). Terrell Times-Star, May 3, 1890. Terrell Weekly Transcript, January 5, 12, 19, 1899. Lyder L. Unstad, "Norwegian Migration to Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 43 (October 1939). Van Zandt County History Book Committee, History of Van Zandt County (Dallas, 1984).