New York: Norwegian Settlements

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 History:[edit | edit source]

Post-Columbian settlement
There was a Norwegian presence in New Amsterdam (New York after 1664) in the early part of the 17th century. Hans Hansen Bergen, a native of Bergen, Norway, was one of the earliest settlers of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam having  immigrated in 1633. Another of the first Norwegian settlers was Albert Andriessen Bradt who arrived in New Amsterdam in 1637. Approximately 60 persons had settled in the Manhattan area before the British take-over in 1664. How many Norwegians that settled in New Netherlands (the area up the Hudson River to Fort Oranje—now Albany) is not known. The Netherlands (and especially Amsterdam and Hoorn) had strong commercial ties with the coastal lumber trade of Norway during the 17th century and many Norwegians emigrated to Amsterdam. Some of them settled in Dutch colonies, although never in large numbers. (For further reading, see for example J.H. Innes, New Amsterdam and its people.) There were also Norwegian settlers in Pennsylvania in the first half of the 18th century, and in upstate New York in the latter half of the same century.
On 9 Oct 1824, the first organized group of Norwegians arrived in New York. They came in the sloop "Restauration" and were often referred to as the 'sloopers'. They were met by Cleng Peerson, who helped them settle on the shores of Lake Ontario, and created the Kendall Settlement.

The Kendall Settlement Survived
by Richard L. Canuteson (Volume 27: Page 243)
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Adapting the principle that "a cat may look at a king," the writer of this brief paper ventures to disagree with two statements made by the late Professor Theodore C. Blegen in his scholarly work, Norwegian Migration to America, 1825-1860.
The history of the 1825 Slooper colony of Norwegian immigrants in New York State reveals that these settlers found conditions in their new home not entirely to their liking. This writer has pointed out in an earlier essay that the Kendall area, where they first bought land, has been known for generations as "the Black North" because of a stand of timber so dense that at times it cut off the rays of the sun. {1} This growth had to be cut down and the stumps grubbed out to make possible the planting of crops. In common with many early settlers, the Sloopers found that swampy areas near slow-moving streams tended to breed mosquitoes which spread the "fever and ague" reported in so many early "America letters." Because of these unfavorable conditions, Cleng Peerson, leader of the immigrants, set forth in 1833 on a walking journey that led him to the area southwest of Chicago; there he found available land lacking the thick forests of Orleans County. {2} After he reported on his journey, six families sold their New York holdings and in 1834 moved to Illinois. {3} In that state they founded the Fox River Settlement.
In 1834 many in the group followed Cleng Peerson to Fox River near Ottawa, Illinois, which became the first permanent Norwegian settlement in America.

Early Norwegian Settlements in New York

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