The volume herewith presented by the Norwegian-American Historical Association introduces a new series which is to bear the general title Travel and Description Series. It is to be made up of books and pamphlets written by Norwegian immigrants and travelers in America, most of which were originally published in Norway.
Materials of this kind have a many-sided interest. They contain contemporary descriptions of the various settlements established in the United States by Norwegian immigrants, and thus possess permanent value for the history of the Norwegian element in America, Not a few of the books deal generally with the United States, presenting accounts of American institutions and customs as viewed by Norwegians, and thus have a place in that large but relatively little exploited literature designated as general American travel and description.
One of the most interesting aspects of the books is their influence in Norway. In their original form they played an important part in the dissemination throughout Norway of information about America; they were read by thousands upon thousands of prospective emigrants; and they must be studied by the modern reader who wishes to understand the backgrounds of the vast emigration from Norway in the nineteenth century. Nor must it be forgotten that what was happening in Norway had its counterpart in many other countries of Europe. In other words, these Norwegian books and pamphlets are in many respects typical of the travel accounts, emigrant guides, and similar works that went to almost every part of Europe, contributing everywhere to the advertising of America among Europeans in the nineteenth century.
The Norwegian-American Historical Association therefore ventures to hope that this series will be of interest not only to
viNorwegian-Americans but to all who are interested in the backgrounds of American immigration as a whole. In one of his stimulating essays professors Arthur M. Schlesinger of Harvard University declares that "the two grand themes of American history are, properly, the influence of immigration upon American life and institutions, and the influence of the American environment, especially the frontier in early days and the industrial integration of more recent times, upon the everchanging composite population." It is believed that the "America books,"-as Norwegians were wont to call works about the new world to which their compatriots were flocking, are not without interest for the contributions that they make to our understanding of both of these "grand themes" in the story of America.
Theodore C. Blegen
Minnesota Historical Society
In no European country, writes an authority on American immigration, "have the ‘America letters,’ emigrant guides, emigration agents, and newspapers from America played a more active part [in the promotion of emigration] than in the Scandinavian countries," and he declares that perhaps the most interesting of all the guidebooks is Ole Rynning's True Account of America.
Rynning's book appeared thirteen years after the sloop "Restaurationen" had brought to America the first contingent of the nineteenth-century immigrants from the western half of the Scandinavian peninsula. In the intervening period the earliest immigrations had struggled through their first pioneering.
2in western New York. The famous pathfinder, Cleng Peerson, had found in the West - in the fertile Fox River valley of Illinois - a site for settlement to which many of the "sloop folk" and other early immigrants made their way, beginning in 1834.
3ears to tales which emphasized the bread and butter and the freedom of opportunity that America offered. Nor is there lacking evidence that the dissatisfaction with conditions in the old country was not limited to economic matters, but also in many cases touched general social and religious conditions to which America was believed to offer a refreshing contrast.
Though individuals occasionally set off for the El Dorado of the West to join their compatriots of 1825, it was not until 1836 that the experiment of an organized emigrant party was again tried. In that year, influenced particularly by the "America letters" and by the stories told by Knud Slogvig, who had returned to Norway the year before, two parties of immigrants took passage from Stavanger in ships that bore the characteristic names "Norden" and "Den Norske Klippe." After reaching the United States these pioneer immigrants went to the Illinois country, following the paths blazed by Cleng Peerson and his associates. That the migration was beginning to assume the proportions of a "movement" was made evident when in 1837 two more shiploads of immigrants sailed from Norway to America. Officials who had paid little attention to the antecedents of these group migrations now took alarm. The amtmand of Stavanger and Sondre Bergenhus were called upon by the government to investigate and report upon the situation, and the bishop of the diocese of Bergen issued a pastoral letter containing a stern philippic against emigration, taking as his text the Biblical admonition: "Stay in the land and support yourself honestly."
4home was filled, while they now heard that a large part of the new world was unsettled, they decided to disobey the bishop's advice and go to the new Canaan, where flowed milk and honey."
The two emigrant ships that sailed from Norway in 1837 were "Enigheden," with ninety-three passengers aboard, and the "Aegir," with eighty-four.
5Norwegian immigration, joined the party at Bergen after the agreement with Captain Behrens had been made and the arrangements on board completed. He had read a notice of the proposed voyage in a newspaper and had been in correspondence with the owner of the ship.
Ole Rynning was born on April 4, 1809, in Ringsaker, Norway, the son of the Reverend Jens Rynning and his wife, Severine Cathrine Steen. The father was at that time curate in Ringsaker; in 1825 he became minister of the parish of Snaasen, where he remained until his death in 1857, being pastor emeritus in his later years. He appears to have been a man of considerable distinction, and was particularly noted for his writings in the fields of science and agriculture. Ole's parents desired him to enter the church, and in 1829 he passed the examinations for matriculation at the University of Christiania. In 1833, upon completing his work at the university, he gave up the thought of entering the ministry and returned to Snaasen, where he conducted a private school for advanced students. Knud Langeland declares that the immediate cause of Rynning's emigration was a betrothal on which his father looked with disfavor. Confirmation of this assertion is lacking, but a contemporary newspaper reports that Rynning's plan was to return to Norway, after he had established himself satisfactorily in America, to marry the young woman to whom he was engaged. It is believed by some that Rynning's father was of an aristocratic bent of mind and that serious differences in views existed between him and his son, who was thoroughly democratic and sympathized with the bonder. According to the statement of his nephew, Ole had made a contract to buy a marsh with two small adjoining farms for the sum of four hundred
6specie dollars. As he was unable to raise this amount he decided to seek his fortune in the new world. It is probable that Rynning's case is typical of many in that his decision to emigrate was occasioned by a number of reenforcing motives.
Not all Norwegians are sailors, popular ideas to the contrary notwithstanding. Only two in the company of emigrants aboard the "Aegir" when it loosed its moorings at Bergen on
7April 7,1837 were recruited from outside the bondestand.
Interesting both as a scene from an emigrant ship and for its connections with Ole Rynning is a celebration held in midocean on the seventeenth of May, the Norwegian national holiday. The day began with a salvo of cannon shots. The morning was spent by the emigrants - dressed in their best - discussing the land they had left behind them and the prospects of the future. At noon a banquet - probably a very simple one - was held, followed by skaals to the day, the native land, liberty, the king, and the king's son. Thereupon a song composed for the occasion
8was sung. In the evening the day's festivities were brought to a close with a dance.
Deep hid lies Norway's rocky shore.
But longing yearns the sea to brave
For dim oak forests known of yore.
The whistling spruce and glacier's boom
Are harmonies to Norway's son.
Call northern son to alien West,
Yet will his heart in mem'ry turn
To native mountains loved the best,
As longs the heart of a lone son
To his loved home once more to come
In midocean, on May 8, the vessel had a slight collision with the British ship "Barelto," but though the passengers were frightened, no great damage was done; and the "Aegir" arrived safely at New York on the evening of June 9.
9Influenced by Slogvig and by letters from the Illinois country the "Aegir" party intended to go to the settlement in La Salle County. At New York the immigrants took a steamer on the Hudson River for Albany, then went by canal boat from Albany to Buffalo, and from there continued their journey by way of Lake Erie to Detroit. The traveling expenses were greater than they had anticipated, and one of their number, Nils P. Langeland, having a large family and funds insufficient for continuing the journey, remained at Detroit.
10The boat to Chicago was uncomfortably crowded, and the immigrants suffered not a little inconvenience. Shortly after landing, they received from Norwegians reports unfavorable to the Fox River region, in which it had been their intention to settle. Many were discouraged, especially the women, and plans were changed. The suggestion of Beaver Creek, about seventy miles south of Chicago in Iroquois County, Illinois, as a site for settlement seems to have come from a couple of Americans, possibly land speculators, with whom Rynning talked in Chicago. Rynning at this time was particularly useful because he was able to speak English. Disappointed once, the company decided to proceed cautiously, and therefore delegated four men, whose expenses were to be paid by the party, to act as a committee of investigation. These men, Ole Rynning, Ingebrigt Brudvig, Ole Nattestad, and Niels Veste, walked south from Chicago and, after examining the land under consideration, chose a site at Beaver Creek. Ole Nattestad declared later that he did not approve of the site selected because it was too sandy and swampy. Leaving two of the committee at Beaver Creek to build a log house preparatory to the arrival of the immigrants, Rynning and Brudvig returned to Chicago to acquaint the party with the results of their investigation and to pilot its members to the place of settlement.
The land at Beaver Creek was favorably described by Rynning and his companion. Accordingly, oxen and wagons were purchased, and preparations made to leave Chicago. The company was now reduced in numbers to about fifty, some having gone to the Fox River region and others having dropped out at Rochester. The remainder made their way to Beaver Creek
11and began at once to prepare for the oncoming winter. Land was selected, and log houses were built in sufficient number to accommodate all.
No other settlers lived in the vicinity, and there was some dissatisfaction because of difficulty in securing supplies. Langeland states that the nearest mill was seventy miles away. For a time considerable grumbling was directed against Rynning and others who were responsible for the selection of the site; but when Ole Nattestad returned in the autumn from a short trip he found the colonists in good spirits. Later events proved, however, that a tragic mistake had been made. The ground, which was very low, had been examined in late summer, and, because of the dryness and the overgrowth of grass, the men had been deceived. As soon as spring came and the flat land of the settlement was under water, its swampy character was fully revealed; and the unfortunate settlers were in sore straits. To make matters worse, malarial fever swept the settlement. Sickness began to claim daily victims, and most of the settlers, including Ole Rynning, died. Some of the survivors removed to La Salle County in the spring of the following year, but a few remained. The last to leave was Mons Aadland. In 1840, finding his capital reduced to three dollars, he exchanged his farm for a small herd of cattle and went to Racine County, Wisconsin. In realizing something for his land he was more fortunate than most of his companions. They practically fled from the settlement, and could not sell their land. Few persons cared to buy land in a swampy, malarial region. "Only the empty log houses remained, like silent witnesses to the terrors of the scourge, and afforded a dismal sight to the lonely wanderer who ventured within these domains."
12through the Fox River region wrote, "Here I met also some of the Norwegians who had emigrated by way of Bergen two years before and who first settled farther south in Illinois at Beaver Creek, but who, after student Rynning and many others died as a result of the unhealthful climate, fled from their houses and lands after having lost nearly everything they owned."
Rynning's personality left a deep impress upon the minds of those who knew him, and there are not a few testimonies to the inherent nobility and self-sacrificing nature of the man. One of the survivors of the settlement, Ansten Nattestad, is reported to have said of him : "He himself was contented with little, and was remarkably patient under the greatest sufferings. I well remember one time when he came home from a long exploring expedition. Frost had set in during his absence. The ice on the swamps and the crusts of snow cut his boots. He finally reached the colony, but his feet were frozen and lacerated. They presented a terrible sight, and we all thought he would be a cripple for life." In this condition Rynning wrote in the winter of 1837-1838 the manuscript of his True Account of America for the Information and Help of Peasant and Commoner. As soon as he completed a chapter of it, he would read it aloud to Nattestad and others, to get their opinions. There is something admirable in the picture of Rynning, sick and confined to his bed, writing a description of the conditions and
13problems of life in the new world for the benefit of those in the old country who were considering seeking homes within its bounds. A Norwegian doctor who visited the western settlements in 1840 wrote an account of his observations for Morgenbladet, in which he tells of Rynning's activities and of his death. This writer asserts that if Rynning had lived, he would have altered considerably his account of America. This appears to be merely a conjecture that can neither be verified nor disproved. The remarkable thing, however, is that at the time when the book was written its author, though ill in a settlement that had already had more than a taste of misfortune, was able to rise above local circumstance and to view broadly the American situation that awaited the immigrant from Europe. It is possible that the critic of 1840 failed to do justice to the courage and the broad vision of Rynning. When he had regained his health, Rynning resumed his work among the colonists. At some time during the period he labored for a month on the Illinois Canal, then being dug. But in the fall of 1838 he "was again confined to the sick-bed," according to Nattestad, "and died soon thereafter to the great sorrow of all."
14death, - in the latter part of September, 1838. Only one person in the colony was well at the time. This man is said to have gone "out on the prairie and chopped down an oak and made a sort of coffin of it. His brother helped him, to get the dead body into the coffin and then they hauled it out on the prairie and buried it."
To the philanthropic and helpful spirit of Rynning there are many witnesses. When the immigrants in Chicago received adverse reports of the Fox River region, they became completely dispirited. They had come from afar; they had ventured much; this region had been their goal. Little wonder that their courage was shaken! "But in this critical situation," says Ole Nattestad, "the greatness of Ole Rynning's spirit was revealed in its true light. He stood in the midst of those who were ready for mutiny; he comforted the despairing, counseled with those who were in doubt, and reproved those who were obstinate. He wavered not for an instant, and his coolness, dauntlessness, and noble self-sacrifice for the welfare of others calmed the spirits of all. The storm abated, and the dissatisfaction gave place to a unanimous confidence." Ansten Nattestad declares: "All his dealings proclaimed the philanthropist. I have never known any one with such noble principles and such a completely disinterested habit of thought. ... A great and good idea formed the central point of all his thinking. He hoped to be able to provide the poor, oppressed Norwegian workman a happier home on this side of the sea, and to realize this wish he shunned no sacrifice, endured the greatest exertions, and was patient through misunderstandings, disappointments, and loss. . . . When sickness and suffering visited the colonists, he was always ready to comfort the sorrowing and to aid those in distress so far as it lay in his power. Nothing could shake his belief that America
15would become a place of refuge for the masses of people in Europe who toiled under the burdens of poverty."
In the spring of 1838 Ansten Nattestad made a trip to Norway to visit friends and relatives, going by way of New Orleans and Liverpool. He took with him "letters from nearly all the earlier Norwegian emigrants" whom he had met, and was thus instrumental in disseminating in Norway much information about America. He carried with him also the manuscript of his brother Ole's book entitled (in translation) Description of a Journey to North America, begun April 8, 1837, and written on the ship Hilda, and also continued later on the trip up through the United States in North America, which was published in Drammen in 1839;
16to have the testimony of so competent an observer as Rynning on the religious situation. The fact that he wrote such a chapter and that it was stricken out by a prominent clergyman of the state church points strongly to a larger part played by religious motives than has usually been recognized in connection with the emigration after 1825.
Among the bonder and workmen of Norway little was known of America in the thirties; consequently there was great eagerness to get definite information on the problems connected with the emigration, especially regarding prospects in the new land. Not a little light is thrown upon the situation by the following statement of Nattestad: "I remained in Numedal throughout the winter and until the following spring. The report of my return spread like wildfire through the land, and an incredible number of people came to me to hear news from America. Many traveled as far as twenty Norwegian miles
17Norway," writes Professor Rasmus B. Anderson, "and from this time on we may regard regular emigration from various parts of Norway as fully established, though emigrant packets do not appear to have begun to ply regularly until after 1840."
Nilsson, relying on information supplied him by Gullik O. Gravdal, an immigrant of 1839, says of Nattestad's return to Norway and of the influence of Rynning's book: "Hardly any other Norwegian publication has been purchased and read with such avidity as this Rynning's Account of America. People traveled long distances to hear ‘news’ from the land of wonders, and many who before were scarcely able to read began in earnest to practice in the ‘America-book,’ making such progress that they were soon able to spell their way forward and acquire most of the contents. The sensation created by Ansten's return, was much the same as that which one might imagine a dead man would create, were he to return to tell of the life beyond the grave. Throughout the winter he was continually surrounded by groups who listened attentively to his stories. Since many came long distances in order to talk with him, the reports of the far west were soon spread over a large part of the country. Ministers and bailiffs, says Gullik Gravdal, tried to frighten us with terrible tales about the dreadful sea monsters, and about man-eating wild animals in the new world; but when Ansten Nattestad had said Yes and Amen to Rynning's Account, all fears and doubts were removed."
The report of Rynning's death and the pathetic end of the Beaver Creek colony probably dampened the ardor of prospective emigrants. Nilsson gives an interesting account by an eyewitness of the effect of Rynning's book and of his death upon the people of his hometown. "For a time I believed that half of the population of Snaasen had lost their senses. Nothing else was spoken of than the land which flows with milk and honey. Our minister, Ole Rynning's father, tried to stop the fever. Even from the pulpit he urged the people to be discreet and described the hardships of the voyage and the cruelty of the American savage in most forbidding colors. This was only pouring oil upon the fire. Candidate Ole Rynning was one of those philanthropists for whom no sacrifice is too great if it can only contribute to the happiness of others. He was, in the fullest sense, a friend of the people, the spokesman of the poor and one whose mouth never knew deceit. Thus his character was judged, and his lack of practical sense and his helplessness in respect to the duties of life were overlooked. But then came the news: Ole Rynning is no more. This acted as cold water upon the blood of the people. The report of his death caused sorrow throughout the whole parish, for but few have been so commonly loved as this man. Now the desire to emigrate cooled also, and many of those who formerly had spoken most enthusiastically in favor of emigration now shuddered with fear at the thought of America's unhealthful climate, which, in the best years of his strength and health, had bereaved them of their favorite, ‘Han Ola,’ who had not an enemy, but a multitude of friends who looked up to him as to a higher being, equipped with all those accomplishments that call forth the high esteem and trust of his fellow citizens."
When the father of Ole Rynning, in the fall of 1839, received his first intimation of the death of his son and of the tragedy which had befallen the Beaver Creek settlers, he published in Morgenbladet the letter containing the news, and added a number of annotations which made it evident that he
19doubted the truth of the report and clung to the hope that all was yet well with his son.
|IN NORWAY||IN NORTH AMERICA.|
|Freedom from taxes on land, so long as we have peace||Everyone who has land that has been used more than five years must always pay a land tax.|
|Since the Danish period such taxes have been unknown here||Fifty per cent of all movable property.|
|Every man here has to work scarcely one day a year on the roads.||Here every able-bodied man must work four days on the roads.|
|Good air.||In right many regions very bad air.|
|Few or no snakes||An immense number of snakes, which here get into the very houses, and many of them are very poisonous.|
|Here all the citizens of the state, in both of the united kingdoms, have practically all the essential human rights maintained by wise laws||Here in many states two-thirds of the people are slaves, who are bought and sold like cattle in Norway.|
|Here the grain often freezes in many districts||In the warmer regions it often happens that the grain is blighted or damaged by torrents.|
|IN NORWAY||IN NORTH AMERICA|
|Here we have the sea on all sides much nearer than in America, and as regards Norway the most of the districts are either situated in coastal regions with deep fjords or else are not far from the coast||Here they have the great Mississippi River, which at Barlien's place of residence is 230 Norwegian miles from the sea, at Beaver Creek somewhat farther away on that side, but here is also communication by water with all the regions around the Great Lakes and with the sea at New York. Still, the distance by land from here [that is, from Beaver Creek to Chicago] is ten Norwegian miles.|
|Here are plenty of building materials||Here in many places both logs and stones are lacking, which therefore must be brought long distances.|
|Here all who will, live at peace with their fellow beings, safe under the protection of the laws||Here they live in harmony with one another because every irreconcilable person can move out. As to the Indians, one is not sure of a lasting peace with them.|
|The daily wages are small here and necessaries cheap. Every well-behaved and industrious man can also here put something aside each year||Those who can speak English well and who know a well-patronized trade can get good wages here. But everything that they need is expensive, so that the real earnings are on the one hand less than one might suppose, and on the other hand of less value than they would have in Norway.|
|Since the normal ratio obtains here between the two sexes, everyone who is able to support a family can also easily find a wife||Since about 150,000 people immigrate each year, most of whom are males, many must consequently live there in single blessedness.|
There is no doubt that the Beaver Creek tragedy was widely reported in Norway and that the report tended to check the upward trend of the emigration movement for two or three years. Dr. George T. Flom, commenting on the lull in the emigration, suggests that the prospective emigrants, realizing the many serious difficulties that were connected with emigration, were simply awaiting favorable news from friends and
21relatives. The Rynning book was nevertheless distributed in some districts of Norway where no reports of the Beaver Creek colonists came; and, as Babcock says, "by its compact information and its intelligent advice, it converted many to the new movement."
Rynning's Sandfardig Beretning om Amerika, a booklet of thirty-nine pages, is now very rare. One copy is in the library of the University of Illinois. A photograph of the title page of this copy supplies the frontispiece to the present volume. Recently a second copy of the book was found in the library of Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab at Trondhjem, Norway, and this copy has been loaned to the Norwegian-American Historical Association for use in connection with the preparation of the present volume. The text of the original as printed in the following pages is based upon this copy, photostatic reproductions of which are owned by the Norwegian American Historical Association and the Minnesota Historical Society. In 1896 Professor Rasmus B. Anderson published a reprint of the book with the title Student Ole Rynnings Amerikabog, but the edition of the reprint was so small that copies of it are now almost as difficult to obtain as the original. A collation of the Anderson reprint with the copy in the possession of Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab makes it evident that the reprint is based upon a second or later edition of the book. In the reprint the date of publication appears on the title page as 1839, instead of 1838, and its version of the text of Rynning's chapter 13 contains several paragraphs that are not in the 1838 edition.
22Several partial translations of the book have been made, and some years ago the present writer brought out in the Minnesota History Bulletin the first complete translation, together with an introduction and numerous annotations.
Ole Rynning's Preface
Dear Countrymen — Peasants and Artisans :
I have now been in America eight months, and in this time have had an opportunity to learn much in regard to which I vainly sought to procure information before I left Norway. I felt on that occasion how unpleasant it is for those who wish to emigrate to America to be without a trustworthy and fairly detailed account of the country. I learned also how great the ignorance of the people is, and what false and preposterous reports were believed as full truth. It has therefore been my endeavor in this little publication to answer every question that I myself raised, to make clear every point in regard to which I observed that people were in ignorance, and to refute the false reports which have come to my ears, partly before my departure from Norway and partly after my arrival here. I trust, dear reader, that you will not find any point concerning which you desired information overlooked or imperfectly treated.
Illinois, February 13, 1838
1. In what general direction from Norway does America lie, and how far is it away?
America is a very large Continent which is situated to the west of Norway. It stretches about thirteen hundred [Norwegian} miles from north to south, and consists of two chief divisions which are connected only by a narrow isthmus. That part which lies north of this isthmus is called North America, and that which is situated south of it is called South America. Each of these sections includes many countries which are just is different in name, government, and situation as Norway and England, or Norway and Spain. Therefore, when emigration to America is being considered, you must ask, "To what part of America, and to what province?" The most important country in all America with respect to population as well as to freedom and happy form of government is the "United States" in North America. Usually, therefore, this country is meant when you hear some one speak of America in an indefinite way. It is to this land your countrymen have emigrated; and it is this land which I shall now describe.
The United States is situated about southwest from Norway. To go there you must sail over an ocean which is approximately nine hundred Norwegian miles wide. With a favorable wind and on a ship that sails well you can cross in less than a month; but the usual time is nine weeks, sometimes a little more, sometimes less. As a matter of fact the wind is generally from the west, and therefore against you, when you are sailing to America. Depending upon the nature of the weather, you go sometimes north of Scotland, which is the shortest way, and sometimes through the channel between England and France.
Since America lies so far to the west, noon occurs there a little over six hours later than in Norway. The sun - as commonly expressed-passes around the earth in twenty-four hours, a phenomenon experienced every day; hence six hours
70is one fourth of the time required in passing around. It may therefore be concluded that from Norway to America is one fourth of the entire distance around the earth.
2. How did the country first become known?
It is clearly shown by the old sagas that the Norwegians knew of America before the black death. They called the land Vinland the Good, and found that it had low coasts, which were everywhere overgrown with woods. Nevertheless there were human beings there even at that time; but they were savage, and the Northmen had so little respect for them as to call them "Skrellings."
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth over England Englishmen for the first time sailed along the western [sic} coast of North America, and Walter Raleigh established the first English colony, which he called Virginia. Gradually several colonies were established by various nations. Some Norwegians also founded a little town in 1624, which they named Bergen, in that part of the country which is now called New Jersey.
71the country was under their jurisdiction until the fourth of July, 1776, when it separated from England and formed a free government without a king. Since that time it is almost unbelievable how rapidly the country has progressed in wealth and population.
In 1821 a man by the name of Kleng Peersen from the county of Stavanger in Norway emigrated to New York in the United States. He made a flying visit back to Norway in 1824 and, through his accounts of America, awakened in many the desire to go there.
72persons bought a little sloop for eighteen hundred speciedaler
73New York that the Norwegians had ventured over the wide sea in so small a vessel, a feat hitherto unheard of.
74and wished themselves back in Norway; but they saw no possibility of getting there without giving up the last mite of their property, and they would not return as beggers. Well-to-do neighbors assisted them, however, and by their own industry they at last got their land in such condition that they could earn a living from it, and live better than in their old native land. As a result of their letters, more Norwegian peasants were now encouraged to try their fortunes in America; but they went only singly, and commonly took the route by way of Gothenburg, Sweden, where there is often a chance to get passage for America. One of those who went by this route, a man by the name of Gjert Gregoriussen Hovland, wrote several letters to his friends in Norway, which were copied many times and sent about to many districts in the diocese of Bergen.
3. What in general is the nature of the country, and for what reason do so many people go there, and expect to make a living?
The United States is a very large country, more than twenty times as large as all Norway. The greater part of the land is flat and arable; but, as its extent is so great, there is also a great difference with respect to the mildness of the weather
75and the fertility of the soil. In the most eastern and northern states the climate and soil are not better than in the southern part of Norway. In the western states, on the contrary, the soil is generally so rich that it produces every kind of grain without the use of manure; and in the southern states even sugar, rice, tobacco, cotton, and many products which require much heat, are grown.
It is a general belief among the common people in Norway that America was well populated some years ago, and that a plague -almost like the black death - has left the country desolate of people. As a result they are of the opinion that those who emigrate to America will find cultivated farms, houses, clothes, and furniture ready for them, everything in the condition in which it was left by the former owners. This is a false supposition.
4. Is it not to be feared that the land will soon be overpopulated? Is it true that the government is going to prohibit more people from coming?
It has been stated above that the United States in extent is more than twenty times as large as Norway, and that the greater part of the country is not yet under cultivation. If,
76in addition to this, we consider that almost every foot of land the United States is arable, while the greater part of Norway consists of barren mountains, and that America on account of its southern situation is richer than Norway in products for human subsistence, then we can without exaggeration conclude that the United States could support more than one hundred times as many people as are to be found in all Norway. Now it is no doubt a fact that hundreds of thousands people flock there yearly from various other lands of Europe, but nevertheless there is no danger that the land will be filled in the first fifty years. When we were in New York last summer, several thousand immigrants from England, Germany, France, and other countries arrived daily. Many thoughtful men in our company became disheartened thereby, and believed that the whole country was going to become filled once, but they soon discovered that this fear was unwarranted. Many did, indeed, make their way into the interior with but they became more and more scattered, and before we reached Illinois there was not a single one of them in our company.
Before my departure from Norway I heard the rumor that government in the United States was not going to permit further immigration.
77a large number of those who emigrate to America are poor people who, when they land, have hardly so much left as to be able to buy a meal for themselves and their families. However good the prospects for the poor laborer really are in America, yet it would be too much to expect that, on the very first day he steps upon American soil, he should get work, especially in the seaport towns, where so many thousands who are looking for employment arrive daily. His only recourse, therefore, is to beg. To prevent this, the government requires the payment of a tax from every person who lands in America with the purpose of settlement. With this tax are defrayed the expenses of several poorhouses which have been established for poor immigrants. Those who at once continue their journey farther into the country are required to pay less than those who remain in the seaports, for the former can more easily find work and support themselves.
When we landed in New York, the tax there was two and one-half dollars; but there is a rumor that it is going to be raised. At some places the tax is ten dollars.
The immigrants of different nations are not equally well received by the Americans. From Ireland there comes yearly a great rabble, who, because of their tendency to drunkenness, their fighting, and their knavery, make themselves commonly hated. A respectable Irishman hardly dares acknowledge his nationality. The Norwegians in general have thus far a good reputation for their industry, trustworthiness, and the readiness with which the more well-to-do have helped the poorer on the journey through the country.
5. In what part of the country have the Norwegians settled? What is the most convenient and cheapest way to reach them?
Norwegians are to be found scattered about in many places in the United States. One may meet a few Norwegians in New York, Rochester, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, yet I know of only four or five places where several Norwegians have settled together, and these places are as follows. The first company of Norwegian immigrants, as I have already said, settled in (1) Murray Town, Orleans County, New York State, in 1825. Only two or three families remain there now; the others have moved farther into the country, where they have settled in (2) La Salle County, Illinois State, by the Fox River, about one and one-half Norwegian miles northeast from the city of Ottawa, and eleven or twelve miles west of Chicago. From sixteen to twenty families of Norwegians live there. This colony was established in 1834. (3) White County, Indiana State, about ten Norwegian miles south of Lake Michigan, on the Tippecanoe River. There are living in this place as yet only two Norwegians from Drammen, who together own nearly eleven hundred acres of land; but in the vicinity good land still remains unoccupied. A number of Norwegians from Stavanger settled in (4) Shelby County, Missouri State, in the spring of 1837.
Usually the Norwegians prefer to seek a place where they can expect to find fellow-countrymen; but it is always difficult to get good unoccupied land in the vicinity of those who immigrated one or two years earlier.
6. What is the nature of the land where the Norwegians have settled? What does good land cost? What are the prices of cattle and of provisions? How high are wages?
In the western regions, where all the Norwegian immigrants now go, the land is very flat and low. I had imagined that thick woods would cover that part of the land which had not yet begun to be cleared; but I found it quite different. One can go two or three miles over natural meadows, which are overgrown with the most luxuriant grass, without finding a single tree. These natural meadows are called prairies. From earliest spring until latest fall they are covered with the most diverse flowers. Every month they put on a new garb. Most of these plants and species of grass are unknown in Norway, or are found only here and there in the gardens of distinguished people.
The prairies are a great boon to the settlers. It costs them nothing to pasture their cattle and to gather fodder for the winter. In less than two days a capable laborer can cut and rake enough fodder for one cow. Still the prairie grass is not considered so good as tame hay of timothy and clover. The soil on the prairies is usually rich, and free from stones and roots. In order to break a field, therefore, only a strong plow and four or five yoke of oxen are needed; with these a man can plough up one or two acres of prairie a day. Without being manured, the soil produces corn, wheat, buckwheat, oats, potatoes, turnips, carrots, melons, and other things that make up the produce of the land. Corn is considered the most profitable crop, and yields from twelve to twenty-four barrels an acre. Oats and a large part of the corn are fed only to horses and cattle. As food for people wheat flour is most used. Barley and rye grow well in some places, and thrive; but I have not yet seen any of these grains. Barley, like oats, is used only for fodder. Beer is not to be found, and most of the milk is given to calves and hogs. For breakfast and supper coffee or tea is always served, but at other times only cold water is drunk.
80According to the price of beer in Chicago, a barrel would cost about twenty dollars.
It costs nothing to keep hogs in this country. They forage for themselves both in winter and summer, though they must be fed enough to prevent them from becoming wild. This often happens, however, so that in many places whole droves of wild swine may be seen, which are hunted just like other wild animals. Since it costs so little to keep swine, it is not infrequent that one man has from fifty to a hundred. For that reason, also, pork is eaten at almost every meal
It is natural that a country which is so sparsely populated should have a great abundance of wild animals. The Indians,
who were the former inhabitants, lived entirely by hunting. If a settler is furnished with a good rifle and knows how to use it, he does not have to buy meat the first two years.
Illinois and the other western states are well adapted for fruit culture. Apple trees bear fruit in the fifth or sixth year after they are planted from the seed, and the peach tree as early as the second or third year. It is a good rule to make plans in the very first year for the planting of a fruit garden. Young apple trees cost from three to six cents apiece. Of wild fruit trees I shall name only the dwarfed hazel, which is seldom higher than a man, and the black raspberry, which is found everywhere in abundance. Illinois lacks sufficient forests for its extensive prairies. The grass on the prairies burns up every year, and thereby hinders the growth of young trees. Prolific woods are found only along the rivers. Most of the timber is oak; though in some places there are also found ash,
81elm, walnut, linden, poplar, maple, and so forth. The most difficult problem is to find trees enough for fencing material. In many places, therefore, they have begun to inclose their fields with ditches and walls of sod, as well as by planting black locust trees, which grow very rapidly and increase greatly by ground shoots. Norwegian immigrants ought to bring with them some seed of the Norwegian birch and fir. For the latter there is plenty of sandy and poor soil in certain places. Indiana and Missouri are better supplied with forests than Illinois.
In many places in these states hard coal and salt springs are to be found. On the border between Illinois and Wisconsin territory there are a great many lead mines which belong to the government. Whatever other mineral is found belongs solely to the owner of the ground. Illinois is well supplied with good spring water, something which Missouri to some extent lacks.
The summer in Illinois is much warmer than in Norway. On some days the heat in Norway may be just as intense as it ever is in Illinois or Missouri; but in these states the weather is clearer and brighter. It very seldom rains for a whole day until the end of summer; but when it does rain the downpour is violent and usually accompanied by thunder and lightning. The winter lasts from November until the end of March, at which time the ground usually begins to grow green. February is the coldest month. I have heard many Norwegians declare that they have never felt the cold worse in Norway than in America. Nevertheless, the cattle are generally kept out of doors during the whole winter, and the houses of Americans are not much better than a barn in Norway.
The price of government land has hitherto been $1.25 an acre, whether the land has been of the best kind or of poorer quality. The price is now going to be lowered and the land divided into three classes according to quality, and the prices will be regulated accordingly. Thus, I have heard that for
82land exclusively of the third class, half a dollar an acre will be asked.
An acre of land measures about one hundred and four ells on each side.
The sixteenth section in each township is always school land and is common can determine by a majority vote the manner in which the school land shall be used.
It can be seen from the figure that a township measures six miles on each side. The location of a town or township is determined by two numbers, one indicating range and the other, township. That is, one begins to measure from a point toward north or south, and from another toward east or west. For every sixth mile toward north or south there is a new township, and for every sixth mile east or west, a new range.
Where the land has been surveyed by the government, marks and numbers for range, township, and section are found in the corners of all the sections. When one has found these marks for the piece of land which he wishes to buy, he goes to the land office, states which piece he wishes to have in the section named, pays the price set by the government, and receives without special payment his certificate or deed of conveyance. The deed is very simple, as will be seen by the following.
84Copy. Office Of The Receiver, Danville, Illinois
January 6, 1838
Received of Ingbrigt Nielson Bredvig of Iroquois County, Illinois,...... .the sum of fifty..... ...dollars........as full payment for N. W. by W. quarter of section number 14...... in township number 27 north..... .of range number 13 west ..... comprising forty......acres at $1.25.......an acre. $50.00
Sand M. Roberts
When land is purchased from a private individual, who has himself bought earlier from the government, the price will be from two to thirty dollars an acre. Many swindlers are engaged in selling land which they do not own, whereby many strangers have been cheated. The surest and cheapest way is to buy from the government and curtly to dismiss all speculators who, like beasts of prey, lie in wait for the stranger.
The government offers for sale every year only certain tracts. A person can nevertheless cultivate and settle upon land which has not yet been placed on the market, for the settler has the first right to buy it, when it is put up for sale.
85a claim is, therefore, to secure the right to buy the land from the government. Hence a claim is not yet one's property. There are many speculators who enrich themselves by taking up claims and then selling their claim rights.
The prices of cattle and of the necessities of life vary most widely. Here at Beaver Creek a fairly good horse costs from fifty to one hundred dollars; a yoke of good working oxen from fifty to eighty dollars; a lumber wagon from sixty to eighty dollars; a milk cow with calf from sixteen to twenty dollars; a sheep two or three dollars; an average-sized pig from six to ten dollars; pork from six to ten cents a pound; butter from twelve to twenty-four cents a pound; a barrel of the finest wheat flour from eight to ten dollars; a barrel of corn meal (meal from maize) from two and one-half to three dollars; a barrel of potatoes one dollar; a pound of coffee twenty cents; a barrel of salt five dollars. In Wisconsin Territory the prices of everything are two or three times higher. Ten Norwegian miles south of us and in Missouri the prices of most things are lower.
Wages are also very different in different places, and correspond closely with the prices of other commodities. In this vicinity a capable workman can earn from one-half to one dollar a day in winter, and almost twice as much in summer. Yearly wages are from one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars. A servant girl gets from one to two dollars a week, and has no outside work except to milk the cows. In Wisconsin Territory daily wages are from three to five dollars; in New Orleans and Texas wages are also very high, but in Missouri, again, they are lower. At Beaver Creek we can now get men to break prairie for us at two dollars an acre, provided that we furnish board.
86simplest kind of fencing we figure on two thousand rails. In an average woods a good workman can split a hundred or a hundred and fifty rails a day. From one-half to one dollar is charged for splitting a hundred rails. Four thousand rails are required to fence in forty acres; and for one hundred and sixty acres eight thousand rails are needed, all figuring being based upon the simplest kind of fence.
7. What kind of religion is to be found in America? Is there any kind of order or government in the land, or can every one do as he pleases?
Among the common people in Norway it has been a general belief that pure heathenism prevails in America, or, still worse, that there is no religion. This is not the case. Every one can believe as he wishes, and worship God in the manner which he believes to be right, but he must not persecute any one for holding another faith. The government takes it for granted that a compulsory belief is no belief at all, and that it will be best shown who has religion or who has not if there is complete religious liberty.
The Christian religion is the prevailing one in America; but on account of the self-conceit and opinionativeness of the teachers of religion in minor matters, there are a great many sects, which agree, however, in the main points.
87somewhat earnest in his belief holds devotional exercises in his own home, or else together with his neighbors.
I have already said that the United States has no king. Nevertheless, there is always a man who exercises just about as much authority as a king. This man is chosen for a term of only four years, and is called president. In matters which concern all the United States as a whole, the legislative power is vested in the Congress, which is composed of men who are elected by the various states. Each of the separate states has its own government, just as Norway and Sweden have, but their common Congress, their common language, and a common financial system unite them more closely. The number of the United States is at present twenty-seven.
For the comfort of the faint-hearted I can, therefore, declare with truth that here, as in Norway, there are laws, government, and authorities. But everything is designed to maintain the natural freedom and equality of men. In regard to the former, every one is free to engage in whatever honorable occupation he wishes, and to go wherever he wishes without having to produce a passport, and without being detained by customs officials. Only the real criminal is threatened with punishment by the law.
In writings the sole purpose of which seems to be to find something in America which can be criticized, I have read that the American is faithless, deceitful, hard-hearted, and so forth. I will not deny that such folk are to be found in America, as well as in other places, and that the stranger can never be too careful; but it has been my experience that the American as a general rule is easier to get along with than the Norwegian, more accommodating, more obliging, more reliable in all things. The oldest Norwegian immigrants have assured me of the same thing. Since it is so easy to support oneself honorably, thieving and burglary are almost unknown.
An ugly contrast to this freedom and equality which justly constitute the pride of the Americans is the infamous slave
88traffic, which stills is tolerated and flourishing in the southern states. Here is found a race of black people, with wooly hair on their heads, who are called negroes, and who are brought here from Africa, which is their native country; these poor beings are bought and sold in the southern states just as other horses or oxen. If a master whips his slave to death or shoots him dead in a rage, he is not looked upon as a murderer. The children born of a negress are slaves from birth, even if their father is a white man. The slave trade is still permitted in Missouri; but it is strictly forbidden and despised in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin territory. The northern states try in every congress to get slave trade abolished in the southern states; but as the latter always oppose these efforts, and appeal to their right to settle their internal affairs themselves, there will in all likelihood soon come either a separation between the northern and southern states, or else bloody civil disputes.
The taxes, in America are very low. I have heard of only two kinds of taxes here; namely, land tax and property tax. No land tax is paid during the first after land has been bought from government. The property tax amounts to half a dollar on every hundred one owns in money or in chattels. Every man over twenty-one years owes the state four days of road work yearly.
In the event of war every man is in duty bound to bear arms for his country. In times of peace there is freedom from military service.
8. What provisions are made for the education of children, and for the care of poor people?
It has already been pointed out that the sixteenth section in every township is reserved as a school land, and that the inhabitants of the township can themselves determine its use. Public education, indeed, is within reach of all, just as any other thing; but it by no means follows that there is, therefore, indifference in regard to the education of the children. The American realizes very well what an advantage the educated man has over the ignorant, and he spares nothing in the instruction and education of his children. Nevertheless, I have met some elderly men who could neither read nor write. Two schools have now started among the Norwegians at Fox River, where the children learn English; but the Norwegians; but the Norwegian language seems destined to die out with the parents . At least, the children do not learn to read Norwegian. At Beaver Creek no school is yet established, but most of the children who are old enough are taken into American homes, where their instruction is usually well cared for.
In this state I have not yet seen a beggar. The able-bodied man is in no danger of poverty or need. By an excellent system of poor relief care is taken of those who are really needy. If a widow is left in straitened circumstances, the children are not taken away from the mother and made parish paupers as in Norway; but generous help is given to the mother for the support of both herself and her children, and for the schooling of the latter.
9. What language is spoken in America? Is it difficult to learn?
Since so many people stream into the United States of America from all the European countries, one must expect to find just as many
90different languages in use. But the English language predominates everywhere.
Ignorance of the language is, to be sure, a handicap for Norwegian immigrants. It is felt especially on the trip to the interior of the country, if there is no one in the party who understands English. But by daily association with Americans one will learn enough in two or three months to get along well. Some half grown children who came over last summer already speak very good English. Before having learned the language fairly well, one must not expect to receive so large daily or yearly wages as the native born American.
10. Is there considerable danger from disease in America? Is there reason to fear wild animals and the Indians?
I shall not conceal the fact that the unaccustomed climate usually causes some kind of sickness among new settlers during the first year. Diarrhea or the ague afflicts almost every one; but if a regular diet is observed, these sickness are seldom dangerous, and nature helps herself best without medicine. The ague seldom returns unless one has attempted to drive it away by quack medical treatment.
There are no dangerous beasts of prey in this part of the country. The prairie wolf is not larger than a fox; but still is harmful to the extent that it often destroys pigs, lambs, and chickens. Snakes are numerous here, but still; and few of them are poisonous.
91bitten by rattle snakes, and in both cases the patients were cured by simple household remedies. Every where that the rattlesnake is to be found, a kind of grass grows which is usually regarded as the best antidote for its bite. One of the Norwegians who came here earliest has told me that he found the application of dry camphor to be the most efficacious remedy for relieving the swelling.
The Indians have now been transported away from this part of the country far to the west. Nowhere in Illinois is there any longer danger from assault from them. Besides these people are very good-natured, and never begin hostilities when they are not affronted. They never harm the Quakers, whom they call Father Penn's children.
11. For what kind of people is it advisable to emigrate to America, and for whom is it not advisable? -Caution against unreasonable expectations.
From all that I have experienced so far, the industrious Norwegian peasant or mechanic, as well as the good tradesman, can soon earn enough in America to provide sufficient means for a livelihood. I have already spoken of the price of government land, and I shall merely add that I know several bachelors who saved two hundred dollars clear within a year's time by ordinary labor. Blacksmiths are everywhere in demand. A smith who understands his trade can feel assured that his neighbors, in whatever place he settles, will help him build his house and smithy, and will even lend him enough money to furnish himself with bellows and tools. Two dollars or more is charged here for shoeing a horse; a dollar for an iron wedge; a dollar for a hay fork; and so forth. Competent tailors can also command a steady and good income, and likewise
92the shoemaker; but the latter will have to learn his trade anew, for here the soles of the shoes are pegged instead of being sewed. Turners, carpenters, and wagon-makers can also make a good living from their trades. An itinerant trader who is quick and of good habits can become a rich man within a short time, but he must not be afraid to undergo hardships and to camp outdoors night after night. Servant girls can easily secure work, and find very good places. Women are respected and honored far more than is the case among common people in Norway. So far as I know, only two or three Norwegian girls have been married to Americans, and I do not believe that they have made particularly good matches. But there are many Norwegian bachelors who would prefer to marry Norwegian girls if they could.
Those desiring to emigrate to America should also carefully consider whether they have sufficient means to pay their expenses. I would not advise any one to go who, when he lands upon American soil, does not have at least several dollars in his possession. I believe that young people who have enough to pay their passage from New York to Rochester are in a position to emigrate. That will require about four or five dollars. Those who have large families should have enough left to pay their way as far as Illinois, where land is cheap and where plenty of work can be secured at high wages. Expenses for each adult from Norway to Illinois must be figured at about sixty dollars, in addition to expenses for board across the sea. If one goes on Norwegian ships the cost of the passage is just as much for children as for adults. It can be estimated, therefore, that forty-five dollars in all will be spent for children between two and twelve years old, and thirty dollars for children under two years.
93for example, three years for fifty dollars a year. This will be to the mutual advantage of both parties. He who thus proposes to pay the traveling expenses of others must see to it that he does not pay out so much as to be embarrassed himself, and that he does not take with him bad or incapable people. An employee who has come to America through such an arrangement ought to compare his pay and prospects here with what he had in Norway, and thereby be induced to fulfill the engagement upon which he has entered, for he is held by no other bond than that of his own integrity.
People whom I do not advise to go to America are (i) drunkards, who will be detested, and will soon perish miserably
Many go to America with such unreasonable expectations and ideas that they necessarily must find themselves disappointed. The first stumbling block, ignorance of the language, is enough to dishearten many at once. The person who neither can nor will work must never expect that riches and luxurious living will be open to him. No, in America one gets nothing without work; but it is true that by work one can expect some day to achieve better circumstances. Many of the newcomers have been shocked by the wretched huts which are the first dwellings of the settlers; but those good people should consider that when they move into an uncultivated land they can not find houses ready for them. Before the land has been put into such shape that it can support a man, it is hardly wise to put money into costly dwelling-houses.
12. What particular dangers is one likely to encounter on the ocean? Is it true that those who are taken to America are sold as slaves?
Many regard the trip across the ocean as so terribly dangerous that this one apprehension alone is enough to confine them forever to their native country. Of course, solid ground is safer than the sea; but people commonly imagine the dangers to be greater than they really are. So far as I know, no ship with Norwegian emigrants for America has yet been wrecked. Even with a good ship, an able captain, and capable, orderly, and careful seamen, the passenger has to trust in the Lord. He can guide you securely across the stormy sea, and He can find you in your safe home, whenever His hour has come!
Two things about the sea voyage are very disagreeable; namely, seasickness and tediousness. I do not think there is any unfailing remedy for seasickness, but it is not a fatal illness. Small children suffer the least from it; women, especially middle-aged wives, often suffer considerably from it. The only alleviating remedy I know of is a good supply of different kinds of food for varying the diet. I have noted particularly that barley gruel flavored with wine is frequently strengthening and helpful in this sickness. It is well to prepare against tediousness by taking along good books, and something with which to occupy oneself. For this purpose I advise taking along harpoons and other fishing tackle as well.
A silly rumor was believed by many in Norway; namely, that those who wished to emigrate to America were taken to
Turkey and sold as slaves. This rumor is absolutely groundless.
95themselves to pay for their passage, have come only in this way: they have sold themselves or their service for a certain number of years to some man here in this country. Many are said thereby to have fallen into bad hands, and to have been treated no better than slaves. No Norwegian, so far as I know, has fallen into such circumstances,
13. Guiding advice for those who wish to go to America.
When persons wish to emigrate to America singly, they can not expect to chance upon opportunity for sailing direct from Norway, inasmuch as this country has no commerce with the United States. They must go, therefore, either to Gothenburg,
When several wish to emigrate together, they must apply to a broker in the nearest seaport, who will help them to bargain for the cheapest fare. They must investigate carefully whether the ship is a good sailing vessel and in good condition. With reference to the bargain it may be remarked that the fare on Norwegian ships has hitherto been thirty dollars, for children as well as adults. From the ports of other countries the fare for adults is generally less, sometimes only twenty dollars; and for children under twelve years either half of that or nothing.
The charter, or the written contract, ought to be as precise and detailed as possible. It ought to be written both in English and Norwegian. I shall name some particular provisions that ought not to be omitted: (a) The captain (or the owners) are to supply wood and water for twelve weeks. The water is to be provided in good casks, so that it will not spoil,
97and three quarts are to be measured out to each passenger daily. If the water in some casks is spoiled, the good water is to be used up before beginning with the bad, and the captain shall take water for his own use from the same barrel as the passengers, (b) The passengers, indeed, must supply themselves with provisions, but the captain shall see to it that every one takes with him sufficient provisions for twelve weeks. The passengers must also furnish their own light. (c) For the sum agreed upon the captain shall land the passengers at the destination determined upon without any additional expense to them,
I should advise every one who goes to America to exchange his money for silver and gold, and not take a draft. Spanish piasters are worth as much as American dollars, but five French francs are six cents less. In an American dollar there are one hundred cents, and each cent is equivalent to a Norwegian skilling. There are twelve pence or twelve and one-half cents in a shilling. In America there are silver coins which are worth one half, one fourth, one eighth, one tenth, one sixteenth, and one twentieth of a dollar. The smallest coin current in Illinois equals six and one-fourth cents. All kinds of silver or gold coins are accepted in America; Norwegian
98silver coins, indeed, that are less than half a dollar, are disposed of with considerable profit. The best time to leave Norway is so early in the spring as to be able to reach the place of settlement by midsummer or shortly after that time. In that way something can be raised even the first year; namely, buckwheat, which is planted in the last days of June; turnips, which are planted in the latter part of July; and potatoes. It is very unfortunate to go too late in the year to gather fodder for one or two cows and build a house for the winter.
I believe that the best route is to go by way of New York, just as most of the other immigrants do. It is doubtless cheaper and quicker to go by way of New Orleans; but it is too warm and unhealthful there in the summer, and it is not advisable to immigrate at any other time of the year to unbroken land without houses. I must also remark that New Orleans is noted for having the worst people in the United States.
99Those who wish to emigrate to America ought to take with them (a) bedclothes, and clothing of fur and of wadmol,
The provisions for the sea voyage should include a supply of every kind of food which can be kept a long time without being spoiled. One ought to take with him pork, dried meat, salted meat, dried herring, smoked herring, dried fish, butter, cheese, primost,
100For medicinal purposes one should bring (a) a little brandy, vinegar, and a couple of bottles of wine, as well as raisins and prunes to make soup for the seasick; (b) a cathartic for constipation, which often occurs on the ocean. This medicine should not be used unless badly needed, however, (c) Sulphur powder and ointment for the itch. Directions must be secured from the druggist or from a physician as to how to use this medicine, (d) Hoffman's drops and spirits of camphor.
For purposes of cleanliness it is necessary to take (a) linen for change, (b) salt-water soap for washing, and (c) good fine combs.
Again I must advise every one to provide something with which to employ himself on the voyage, as fishing tackle, thread for knitting fish-nets, and other similar articles.
It is a good thing if the immigrants can have a dependable guide and interpreter on the trip from New York to the interior. For those who wish to leave next spring,
Saa dybt i Skjul bag salten Vove,
Men Laengslen higer til den Strand
Med gamle, dunkle Egeskove,
Hvor Graners Sus og JÅklers DrÅn
Er Harmoni for Norges SÅn.
Men om end Skjaebnen bÅd ham der,
Som fordum Bjorn af Leif, at tjelde,
Han vil dog stedse have kjaer
Sit gode gamle Norges Fjelde,
Og laenges Åmt, med sÅnlig Hu,
At se sit elskte Hjem endnu.
Hitherto the Norwegian immigrants have always sought passage to New York. From there to Chicago the least expensive way is to go by steamer up the Hudson River to Albany; from Albany to Buffalo by canal boat, which is drawn by horses; from Buffalo by steamer over Lakes Erie, St. Clair, Huron, and Michigan, to Chicago. From here the route goes by land, either south to Beaver Creek, or west to Fox River. From New York to Buffalo one can get transportation for from three to four dollars with baggage, and from Buffalo to Chicago for from nine to twelve dollars. From Chicago to Beaver Creek drivers from Wabash usually ask one dollar for every hundred pounds. Every contract with the steamboat companies or drivers should be written, and with the greatest particularity, if one does not wish to be cheated. To be on the safe side one should figure that it will take about thirty dollars for every adult from New York to Beaver Creek or Fox River. For children between two and twelve years of age half of that is always paid, and nothing for children under two years or who are still carried in arms. The route mentioned from New York to Beaver Creek I compute to be about two hundred and fifty Norwegian miles.
One of our party who arrived last fall did not take the steamboat from Buffalo any farther than to Toledo on Lake Erie. Here he bought a horse and wagon, and conveyed his luggage to Beaver Creek himself. In this way he and his family traveled to their destination somewhat cheaply, but they were also a good deal longer on the way than those who took the steamboat.
For those who wish to go to Missouri,* unquestionably the quickest and cheapest route is bv way of New Orleans. But it must be noted in this connection (l) that one can seldom go to New Orleans except in ships which are sheathed with copper, and (2) that New Orleans is very unhealthful and insalubrious, except from the beginning of December until April. But this is the worst time of the year to be without houses which is the usual fate of settlers.
* According to the assurance of Kleng Peerson, who knows the country best, and who from the beginning has been the guide of the Norwegians, Missouri is the state where it is now most advisable for immigrants to go. They must then go first to St. Louis on the Mississippi, from there to Marion City, and from there to "the Norwegian settlement on North River, Shelby County."
No contemporary evidence has come to light on the reasons for the change from the text of Rynning's 1838 edition. Though it might be conjectured that the paragraphs given above were added by someone in Norway after the first edition had appeared, internal evidence seems to show that they were written before Ansten Nattestad went to Norway with the Rynning manuscript. The phrase "One of our party who arrived last fall" certainly refers to the immigrant party of 1837. The passage therefore must have been written not later than the fall of 1838. This fact, coupled with the style of the passage, leads the present writer to think that it was written by Rynning. Why it did not appear in the first edition is not known.