Wisconsin: Norwegian American Settlements
From the very beginning Wisconsin was a primary destination for Norwegian immigrants. By 1850's 8,600 Norwegians lived in Wisconsin; by 1860 the number was well above 44,000. The high consentration of Norwegians Communities living in Rock River Basin formed the center of Norwegian settlers. By 1900 25 % of the Norwegians in America lived in Wisconsin.
The earliest Norwegian settler in Wisconsin was a man named Ole Knudsen Nattestad. He arrived in Wisconsin in 1838, and settled at Jefferson Prairie, Rock County. Ole was born in Vægli in Numedal, Buskerud County, Norway and came over with his brother Ansten. They worked in Illinois for a while, then separated; Ole went to Wisconsin and Ansten went back to Norway where he gathered about 100 persons to come back to America with him.
One of the earliest settlements in Wisconsin was the Muskego Settlement. (Today the town of Norway). John Nielsen Luraas was the leader of the group. The settlers came primarily from Telemark County in Norway. One of the prominant men in Muskego was Even Heg. Even had been a wealthy Innkeeper in Drammen, Buskerud, Norway. After buying the farm of John Luraas he erected a barn that was to be used for many things. The barn proved to be a refuse for many new immigrants who needed a place of rest, hospitality, and assistence. This special place also became a center for religious services; Claus Clausen organized his Sunday school there, and when the cholera outbreak hit Muskego 1849, 1850, and 1852, the barn was used as a 50 bed hospital.
On 31 Jan 1848 the first Temperance Society of the Norwegians was organized in Muskego, again at the home of Even Heg. Even was elected President and his son, Hans C. the future Colonel of the 15th Wisconsin Volunteers, became the secretary.
1860 Wisconsin Census: Norwegians in Wisconsin
Wisconsin Genealogical Societies
County Historical & Genealogy Societies
Jefferson Prairie Cemetery: Clinton Township,
Laaland/Johnson Cemetery, Barron County
Norwegian Lutheran Cemetery, Westford, Richland County
Norwegian American Newspapers:
Nordlyset 1847-1850 Muskego, Wisconsin
Emigranten 1852-1868 Wisconsin