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.
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, W. Phil Hewitt, "Norwegians," accessed May 05, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ptn01.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles