The Norwegian Settlement of Muskego

The Growth of the Racine County Settlement Muskego, 1843-1847

See also another account of the this Norwegian Settlement.

Source: A History of Norwegian Immigration to the United States From the Earliest Beginning Down to the year 1848, by George T. Flom, Ph.D. privately printed, Iowa, City, Iowa, 1909

pgs. 241-248

Personal Notes. In Chapter XV we discussed briefly immigration to Racine County in 1841-1842. The period of largest growth of the settlement was between 1842 and 1847; an especially large party came in 1843. After 1847 the arrivals that became permanent residents were few and scattered. In the early fall of 1842 there arrived at one time a party of forty persons. They had embarked at Langesund about May 30th, were over eleven weeks on the ocean, arriving in New York August 16th. Here they met Elling Eielson, who accompanied them to Albany; three weeks later they landed in Milwaukee. Among others there were the following persons:

Hermo Nilsen Tufte and family from Aal in Hallingdal.

Johan Landsverk and family from Tuddal, Telemarken.

Sondre N. Maaren and wife and his brothers Ostein and Nils from Tin.

Osten G. Meland also from Tin.

Tostein E. Cleven and Aanund Bjaan (Bjoin) and family who were the first to emigrate from Siljord.

Of these several remained only temporarily; thus Anders Dahlen went to Winnebago County, Wisconsin, about 1848, in Racine County only a few years, then he went to Stoughton, Dane County.

Sondre Maaren settled on section 34, Town of Norway, where he and his wife lived in a dug-out for a time; later, selling out to a Mr. Sawyer, they moved to Jefferson Prairie and ultimately to Cresco, Iowa.

Aanund Bjoin died in 1847; the son Halvor, then eighteen years old, walked to Koshkonong with the view of selecting land and settling there, and the rest of the family moved there that same year.

Johan Landsverk, who was a brother of Ole Landsverk, an immigrant of 1838, settled on Yorkville Prairie and remained there till 1854, when he moved to Sande in Chickasaw County, Iowa, where he lived till his death.

A son, Peder J. Landsverk, born 1840, occupied the homestead later; he died in January, 1908.

Hermo Nilson Tufte and family located on section 31 in Raymond Township; here he lived till his death.

As has been said, Tufte came from Aal Parish, Hallingdal, and was not only the first emigrant to America from Aal, but it seems, also the first from the Valley of Hallingdal. The Tufte farm lay in the extreme north of the valley close up under the mountains; the region is extremely cold, much of it covered by snow the whole year round. The family was extremely poor; of a pious nature and fervid adherents of Hans Nilsen Hauge. Besides the father and mother there was a son, Nils, and a daughter, Sigrid. The latter, in whom the piety of the mother had found strong expression, was attracted to the young lay preacher, Eilson, and in July the next year became his wife.

The son, Nils, married in 1865 a daughter of Ole Sanderson in Perry Township, Dane County, and lived on the old homestead until he died about 1901.

The daughter, Julia, married Thomas Adland of North Cape, Racine County, and another daughter, Betsey, married 0. B. Dahle of Perry, Dane County.

Hermo Nil son and his wife both died in the latter part of the sixties.

Three different parties of immigrants, nearly all from Telemarken, came to Racine County in 1843. One, the so-called Wigeland party, left Skien early in the spring by ship commanded by Captain Bloom, sailing to Havre, France. The second party, going about the same time, sailed out from Skien by the Olius, Captain Bjornson, also going to Havre. Of the third party we shall speak below.

At Havre those in the first party seem to have engaged passage on an American ship Argo, a five-masted sailing vessel loaded with Swedish iron bound for New York. While Olius was laid up for repairs, the American captain began cutting prices, offering at last to take the new arrivals to New York for nine five-franc pieces each (or about $8). Many did not dare to take passage on the Argo, fearing that some trick was being played on them, but most of them went. Argo proved a good sailer, reaching New York four weeks ahead of Olius. There were, however, long delays in New York and Buffalo, so that the immigrants did not reach Milwaukee before August 15th. Among those who came on the Argo were:

Arentz Wigeland and wife Gunild, his aged father Andrew Wigeland, and his brothers George and Andrew, and two sisters;

Halvor Pederson Haugholt, with wife Tone and four sons and two daughters, Gunild and Ingeborg;

Ole Overson Haukom and family, eleven in all;

Anders Jacobson Ronningen, wife Kjersti and three sons;

Jens Hundkjilen and Anders Smekaasa;

Amund S. Sotholt, his brother, Soren S. Sotholt, Sven S. Klomset;

Lars Tinderholt;

Nils H. Narum,
Halvor Nisson,
John Maaren,
Nils Eue,
John Kossin,
John Husevold, all with families ;

Osten Ingusland,
John Husevold,
Hans Tveito,
Svein Nordgaarden,
Gjennon T. Nordgaarden,
Mathias H. Kroken, wife and children, his wife's sister Anne and their mother Sissel;

Ole 0. Storlie, with wife, four sons and two daughters;

Kjittil Hau-gan and family;

Gunuld K. Maaren, Gro Grave and her mother;

Halvor I. Doksrud, wife and two sons, Halvor and Ingebret.

All these, about one hundred in all, were from different parts of Telemarken.

Besides there were sixteen persons from Saetersdalen as follows:

Tollef Gunnufson Huset, wife Haege Olson and six children from Bygland,

Augun Berge and wife from Vallo,

Kjogei Harstad from Vallo,

Tollef Knudson and wife and three children from Holestad Parish,

Tolleif Eoisland and Ole Nummeland from Vallo,
the first emigrants from Saetersdalen to America. All but the last two of these went to Muskego.

Arentz Wigeland, born 1812, who may be regarded as the leader, had sailed for seven years between Boston and the West Indies and along the American Atlantic coast. Passing the winters in Boston he had learned the English language, and in 1842 returned to his home in Bamle, Norway, to bring his family to America. He became the chief promoter of the considerable immigration from Lower Telemarken that year. Wigeland settled in Yorkville Township. In 1844 he married Gunild Pederson; he died in 1862. The daughter Maren (b. 1845) married John W. Johnson in 1865. Mrs. Wigeland died in Racine in 1897.

Haugholt (b. 1799) was from Saude Parish in Lower Telemarken. He settled on section 18 in the Town of Raymond; there he died in 1882, his wife died in 1876, aged 79 years. Their oldest son Ole, who was drowned in the fifties in the Norway marshes, was the first person buried in the Yorkville Cemetery.

Nels Narum was from Stathelle in Bamle Parish; he settled in Norway Township on section 20. Both he and his wife died in 1887, about eighty-seven years old. Hans Tveito (Twito) settled in the part of the settlement that lay in Waukesha County; he moved to Houston County, Minnesota, in 1855 and in 1866 to Filmore County;

Halvor Nissen who was from Bamle, also settled in Waukesha County.

Ole Overson was from Hviteseid Parish; when they came to Norway they lived for some time with John Dale (who had come from Norway in 1837 with Mons K. Aadland and Ole Rynning). In 1845 he preempted land in section 34, where his son Frank Overson lived until quite recently.

Our third party of emigrants were from Upper Telemarken, mostly from Siljord Parish. They came on the ship Vinterflid. Among those in the party were:

Knud S. Kvistrud and Kari Berge from Tin,

Egil 0. Cleven and family, and a cousin Knut Haugan, wife and two daughters from Langelev;

Bjorn Stondal,
Ole 0. Hedejord and wife Liv, three daughters, Esther, Ida and Etta, and two sons, Ole and Edward;

Torbjorn G. Vik and family, who later moved to Koshkonong;

Aanund Drotning who also went to Koshkonng that same year;

Aase and Ingeborg Olson from Mandal, Telemarken;

John Homme from Siljord, father of Reverend G. Homme, founder of the Indian School at Wittenberg, Wisconsin, also came at the same time;

as also Ole Myren and wife Bergit;

Torgrim Busness and wife Anne from Tin, who moved to Springfield Township, Winneshiek County, Iowa, in 1851.

That year also Ole Heg, son of Even Heg and a brother of Colonel Hans C. Heg, came and settled in Racine County;

as also Knud Langeland from Samnanger, who in 1866 became the first editor of Skandinaven founded that year by John Anderson in Chicago. Knud Langeland lived at first in Muskego, later at North Cape, Racine County. In 1849 he married Anna Hatlestad (born in Skjold Parish, Ryfylke, in 1830), whose parents Jens 0. Hatlestad and wife Anne had immigrated in 1846, and settled in the Town of Norway. Knud Langeland was also the first editor of Amerika, which began publication in Chicago in 1884. During the last years of his life Langeland lived in North Cape and in Milwaukee, where he died in 1888; his wife died in 1908, at the home of her son, Dr. Peter Langeland with whom she had lived since her husband's death.

During 1844-1846 the increase in immigration was constant, though not large. In 1847 there arrived a considerable number. The scattered accessions of these years represent as widely removed parishes as Skien, Laerdal in Sogn, and Namsos in Trondhjem. The following is a partial list:


There came three persons from Voss to Racine County in 1843, namely,

Knut S. Skjerve (b. 1808), and wife Kari, and his unmarried sister, Brita Selheim. Skjerve located in Norway, Racine County, in the neighborhood of Nils Johnson. In 1847 Skjerve sold his land to Knut K. Aaretuen from Sogn and went to Jefferson Prairie, Boone County, Illinois, where he bought a farm and lived till his death in 1892; his wife died there in 1873.


John Larson and Peter Jacobson and family from Stathelle, Bamle;

Johannes J. Quala from near Stavanger;

Thormod S. Flattre with wife Ingeborg (Lydahl) and children from Voss, who settled in Norway Township;

Halvor 0. Skare and wife Margrete and two children from Lower Telemarken, who located in Norway Township in 1845;

John I. Berge and wife Julia and Hans H. Bakke and wife Ingeborg, who moved to Spring Grove in 1854;

Peter Torgerson and wife Anne and five children from Kragero.


Jens 0. Hatlestad and wife, parents of Rev. 0. J. Hatlestad, pioneer publisher, minister, and author of Historiske Middelelser om den norske Augustana-Synode, Decorah, Iowa, 1877;

Elling Spillom, wife Maren and three sons, Ole, Hendrik, and Mikkel and one daughter;

Ole Homstad and Mathias Homstad, both with families, from Namsos in Trondhjem Diocese; they settled in Raymond Township;

Halvor and Ingebret Roswald from Gjerpen;

Knudt K. Hedle, wife and sons Mathias, Peter, and daughter Betsy from Laerdal, Sogn;

Tyke Hendrikson Lokken and wife Anne from Gjerpen, who bought the Aslak Aas farm in Norway Township; they had four children, Hans, Ole, Peter and Maria.


Peter M. Andsion from Namsos, with wife and four children (three daughters and a son); they settled in Norway Township.

In this year Captain Hans Friis from Farsund, Agder, Norway, settled in Muskego. Friis was a sailor with Enigheden in 1837 (see page 96), and between 1837 and 1847 had made nine journeys to America. After settling in Muskego he continued for many years sailing on the Great Lakes.


George J. Bjorgaas from Houg, Voss;

Tollef 0. Oien from Tonset, Osterdalen (removed to Kewaunee County in 1855);

J. H. Skarie, from Hadeland, who located in Town of Norway.

This year also brought to Muskego the pioneer minister Hans Andreas Stub (b. 1822), who had that spring received and accepted the call to the Muskego church.

Knut and Anna Aaretuen from Aurland, Sogn, also appear among the number; they bought the farm of Knut S. Skjerve in Norway Township. In 1854 they moved to Winneshiek County, Iowa, and about 1860 to Gilmore County, Minnesota.

John T. and Christoffer Olson from Eomskogen in Kodenses, Halvor "Modum" from Modum, Norway;

Guro Wait and son Reuben from Osterdalen, Norway.

This brief outline of the growth of the settlement represents fairly completely the increase by immigration from Norway between 1842 and 1850. The wave of migration had long ago moved westward; it had already gone beyond Koshkonong also. It was northern and western Dane County and southern Columbia County that were now the Mecca of immigrants. In the meantime some small settlements in Walworth and Jefferson Counties had already been founded. We shall, therefore, briefly discuss these next….


See also the Norwegian Settlement at Pine Lake

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