Stirpes, Volume 30, Number 1, March 1990 Page: 4
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Midnight Sun to Lone Star:
Norwegians in Texas
1990 by Richard L. Hooverson
ONLY A FEW hundred Norwegians came to Texas, a small number compared to
the many Germans and Czechs who found their way to the Lone Star State in
the early years, and a very small number compared to the thousands of
Norsemen who settled in the upper Middle West.
THE LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN
In 1814, after Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig, under the Treaty of Keil
the Danish king ceded Norway minus her dependencies to Sweden, and the
Kingdom of Sweden and Norway came into being. During the depression
which followed (1815-1830), grain prices collapsed, a chaotic currency
situation caused inflation, and shipping, lumber export, and industry in the
eastern part of the country were affected. Heavy taxation and currency
reform were the solution that was chosen and the rural population became
dissatisfied. In those times, members of the 5torthing (Parliment) were
elected from an upper class of government officials which insisted that the
lower classes remain inferior.
Only ten percent of Norway's land area was suitable for farming and
less than one percent was actually under cultivation. Over ninety percent of
the population lived in the countryside and one-half of the populace formed
the lower class of servants, day laborers, and cotters (husmann).
Originally in Norway the husmand were freemen, hired workers with
no domestic ties who moved from place to place. Eventually they were
required to have a fixed abode and thereafter a husman? came to exchange
his labor with a bonode (farm owner) in return for a holding and a small
wage, which he used to pay nominal rent on his husmannssstue (cotter's
cottage). The work was seasonal and offered the possibility of side work
and these tenant farmers usually had tenure for life. Similar social classes
existed In Scotland and Ireland.
This, along with a system of primogeniture under which farms were
inherited by eldest sons while younger brothers found other means of
livelihood, meant that there were too many people and not enough productive
land. To the early emigrants, Norway was not a desirable place to live,
Early immigrants did not come from the spacious and fertile southern
and southeastern regions. The America fever started on the southwest
coast near Stavanger and spread northward to the western fjords in
hardanger, Voss, and Sog?, and by the 1840's, inland across the mountains
to Telemark, Vadres, AlaNumeda!, Ha///ngda/, and Hledemark, and then to the
mountainous area of Gudbrandsda/en, north of Kristiania (Oslo).
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Texas State Genealogical Society. Stirpes, Volume 30, Number 1, March 1990, periodical, March 1990; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth29495/m1/5/?rotate=90: accessed September 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Genealogical Society.