arly Norwiaws inI
by DARWIN PAYNE
THE FIRST TWO NORWEGIAN SETTLEMENTS IN TEXAS resulted
after friends of journalist Johan Reinert Reiersen induced
him to visit America in 1844 and investigate the social and
economic possibilities for Norwegian settlers.
After being supplied with three hundred "specie dollars,"
Reiersen sailed to New Orleans to investigate the New World.
He visited Illinois and Wisconsin, where numerous Norwegians
already lived. He looked at Missouri and Ohio but decided Cali-
fornia was too far for consideration as a place for colonization.
At New Orleans the consul from the young Republic of Texas
heard of Reiersen's plans and made a generous offer for settlement
in Texas. Reiersen was induced to travel by stagecoach to Austin
for further information. He was met in Austin by Sam Houston,
president of the republic, who promised governmental support
for the settlers if they chose Texas.
Back in Norway Reiersen published a book giving information
to all prospective emigrants to America. The book included an
informative chapter on Texas. His views also were given space
in many Norwegian newspapers, including his own paper,
Christianssandsposten.2 This publicity helped convince many Nor-
wegians to settle in the New World.
The next spring, 1845, Reiersen was back in New Orleans with
his father, his brother, Christian Grogaard, and a small vanguard
of friends. While en route they decided to wait until their arrival
in Louisiana before making a decision as to where they would
settle. Before choosing Texas they wanted to hear assurance that
it would go into the Union. That assurance came when they
1Lyder L. Unstad, "The First Norwegian Migration Into Texas, Four 'America
Letters,'" Norwegian-American Studies and Records, VIII, 40.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/. Accessed July 10, 2014.