THoMAs P. CHRISTENSEN
The history of the Danes in Texas occupies but a small place in
the history of the Danes of the United States.' Texas, however,
is in an interesting way connected with the beginnings of Danish
immigration to the United States, and it has the only larger
Danish settlement in the whole South.2
The first permanent Danish settlement in the United States was
founded near Hartland, Wisconsin, in 1845. But before that time
a company of Danes had evidently planned to settle in the Lone
Star Republic. These emigrants sailed from Aarhus, Denmark,
in 1838, on a ship which they had purchased themselves, bearing
the German name Die Elbe (the Elbe). The emigrants consisted
of several families, destined, it seems, for "somewhere" in Texas,
possibly Matagorda Bay.3 The voyage was an Odyssey of woes.
In the Bay of Biscay Die Elbe sprang a leak and had to put into
a Spanish port. There the passengers had difficulties because of
a revolution then raging in that distracted country. With the as-
sistance of the Danish consul in the Spanish port, the aid of the
home government was invoked and the emigrants returned, much
disappointed no doubt, for not having effected the purpose of the
During the following decades individual Danish immigrants are
mentioned not infrequently as trying their luck in Texas as plant-
ers, business men, and in other capacities. But no attempt at set-
tlements appear to have been made until in the middle nineties
when other Scandinavians-Swedes and Norwegians-also sought
and found homes on the fruitful plains of Texas.
At that time the Danish Lutherans in the United States split
into two factions, the Grundtvigians and the Inner Mission People,
1There are about a half million Danes in the United States, many of
whom live in rural settlements in the Upper Mississippi Valley and on
the Pacific Coast.
2A few Danes are found at points in Florida and Oklahoma and at
3Contemporary accounts have it that they were going to Mexico. But
it does not appear that there was any emigration to Mexico at that
time from northern Europe while there was to Texas, where many Ger-
mans were then settling.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 32, July 1928 - April, 1929. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101089/. Accessed October 20, 2014.