2 October 2018

Our Savior's Church and Cemetery, Norse, Bosque County, Texas, USA

In the summer of 2005 I made a round-trip to the central and Eastern part of Texas, USA. Due to my interest in Norwegian-American emigration history, I stayed a day and night in Clifton, Bosque County in order to visit places where Norwegian settlers made footprints. There was a large Norwegian settlement starting in the 1840s and 1850s in Bosque County.

Now, it has been a while since 2005, so I don't remember all the details of what I did. I am not sure why I have waited so long to write a blog article about the visit either. Up to now I have only published a couple photos of my visit for an article in Slektshistoriewiki, the Norwegian genealogy wiki. I remember, however, that I visited the Bosque Museum in Clifton, which among others houses a chair made by Cleng Peerson (1783–1865), who organised the first group of Norwegian to emigrate in 1825 and has thus been nicknamed «the Father of Norwegian Emigration to the US»). Peerson eventually settled in Norse, Texas. I made a stop near the farm where he died. I also visited three churches and cemeteries in the area – Our Savior's Lutheran Church, the Old Rock Church near Cranfills Gap and the Norse Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Based on the timing of the photos, it seems that I visited Our Savior's Church twice, maybe because I felt the photos of Cleng Peerson's grave were not good enough the first time around. It was also a very warm and sunny day, so it was not too easy to take photographs due to reflection problems. I wish I had taken more grave photos. Don't know remember why I didn't. Can I blame the weather? Or that I wanted to see more «Norwegian» places before I returned to Clifton?

The first group of settlers arrived in Bosque County in the 1840s, and in Norse in 1854. The church was organized in 1859 and the church building was erected in the period 1875–1885.

Text: «Our Savior's Lutheran Church. Mother Church Former Evangelical Lutheran Church in Texas. Organized June 14, 1859 by Norwegian settlers of Bosque County. Building erected 1875–1885.
Cleng Peerson. Pioneer of Norwegian emigration to U.S. (Landed 1821) is buried here. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark – 1965.» And beneath:

«Our Savior's Lutheran Church E.L.C. 1869 – 1876 – 1956 Soli Deo Gloria.»

Memorial of the 17 original Norwegian settlers in Bosque County, Texas, 1854. Hendrick [Henrik] Olsen Dahl & Christine Pedersdatter Furuseth, Ole Canuteson [Knudson/Knutsen] & Ellen Malene Gunderson, Jens Jensen & Tonje Knudsdatter, Jens Olsen Ringness & Kari Jensdatter, Ole Larsen Ween, Knut Canuteson & Berte Olson, Carl Engebretsen Questad & Sedsel [Sissel] Oldsdatter [Olsdatter] Ringness, Berger Tollefsen Rogstad & Anne Eriksdatter Furuseth Bronstad, Ole Pierson [Perssen/Pedersen] & Anne Helene Oldsdatter [Olsdatter].

Cleng Peerson's grave.

Text: «Cleng Peerson. / The Pioneer of Norse Emigration / to America. / Born in Norway, Europe / May 17, 1782. / Landed in America in 1821. / Died in Texas / December 16, 1865. / Grateful countrymen in Texas / erected this to his memory.» Most sources give 1783 as his birth year, though. A discussion about his birth year (in Norwegian) can be found here.

Backside of the headstone: «Cleng Peerson. / Den förste norske Indvandreren / i [til?] Amerika. / Födt i Norge Europa den / 17 Mai 1782 / Kom til Amerika in 1821. / Döde i Texas, / den 16 December , 1865. / Taknemmelige landsmænd i Texas reiste ham dette minde.»The claim that he was the first Norwegian immigrant is wrong, though. Many Norwegian settled before him, for instance the Norwegians arriving on Dutch ships in the 17th century.

King Olav V visited Our Savior's Lutheran Church in 1982 to commemorate the birth year of Cleng Peerson. Nils Olav Østrem settled on 1783 as birth year in an artice in Ætt og Heim in 1999. See also the NBL article (also in Norwegian).

War memorial of Nels Grimland (1839–1924).

I write «war memorial» above as here is the actual headstone at the grave of Nels Grimland and his wife Maria (1848–1925).

Pauline Rogstad (1863-1944).

The following are photos taken on my second visit later in the evening on 15 July 2005.

Cleng Peerson's headstone (again).

«Her hviler stövet / af / Even Qvæstad / Födt 17de October 1842 / paa Gaarden Öde / Qvæstad i Norge / Död 31 August 1862» («Here rests the dust of ...»)

All photos: © 2005 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

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