Iowa: Norwegian American Settlement

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In 1839 a group of Norwegian settlers were lead to Sugar Creek, Lee County, Iowa Territory by Hans Barlien and William Tesman. Hans Barlien and William Tesman had left Norway due to dissatisfaction with the political conditions at that time.  The group of settlers had arrived from Fox River and Shelby County where unfavorable circumstances had forced them to leave.  Sugar Creek never became very large, however, due to the fact that land in northern Iowa was better suited for agriculture, and many Norwegians decided to go there.

In 1846 a Norwegian named Ole Valle entered northeastern Iowa and with him a steady stream of new settlers.  Ole settled in Read Township, Clayton County. 
Emigrants Coming to Iowa - History of Iowa.jpg

In addition to the north eastern settlement a couple of counties in central Iowa also became heavily Norwegian. 

Decorah was situated in the middle of a Norwegian settlement, and continued to be a strong Norwegian area with Luther College and the newspaper "Decorah Posten".

The Decorah Posten was published in Decorah.  It was founded in 1874 by Brynild Anundsen, a Norwegian from Skien.  The newspaper included Norwegian stories and comicstrips (Han Ola og han Per), and news contributed by Norwegian immigrants and their descendants.  Decorah Posten was purchased by Western Viking in 1972.


Iowa State Historical Society

Iowa Archives and Libraries


Iowa genealogy: free searches

Iowa genealogy

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Iowa Genealogical Society directory

Iowa history and Genealogy

Story County genealogy home page


Iowa Maps

History  Norwegian Heritage in Story County and Central Iowa  Central Iowa is the third largest consentration of Norwegians in Iowa.  This is a project to write a history of the Norwegians in this area.

Decorah, Iowa Norwegian Heritage.  Decorah is still Norwegian after all these years.  The first Norwegians to settle in Benton, Iowa.

Lee County, Iowa settlements.  Norwegian immigrants to Lee County, and Norwegian settlements.