History of Norway Township, Fillmore County, Minnesota
From: History of Fillmore County, Minnesota
Compiled by Franklin Curtiss-Wedge
H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.
Chicago 1912


Norway Township is the second township south of the northern county boundary, with Rushford between, and next to the eastern boundary, with Preble on the south and Holt, with which it was formerly associated, on the west. The town is quite well elevated and the small streams that arise within its borders run off in various directions. There is very little land in its territory that is incapable of cultivation and it is very well settled, mostly with immigrants from Norway, who are thrifty and industrious.

Early Settlement. In March, 1854, John Olson Overland and his three sons, Ole, Steiner and Knud, and a brother in law, Halver Erickson, with Harold Olson and Hans Franson, came to this township from Winneshiek county, Iowa, selected claims and provided for their families by putting up a residence 14x18 feet, then went for their families, and returned May 18.

Hans Franson procured a place in section 15, where he lived up to the year 1881, when he moved to the Red River country. Ole Johnson Overland was born in Norway September 20, 1823, and served three years in the army during the war against Prussia. In 1851 came to Walworth county, Wisconsin, with his father, mother, two brothers and four sisters. Two years later the party moved to Winneshiek county and, as above stated, came to Fillmore county

The year before this Ole Johnson and Halver Erickson were through this region looking for lands upon which to locate. They were through the town of Rushford and found two colonists in the valley, Halver Goodrich and Ole O. Tuff. They passed by the place where they finally settled and, finding no water, concluded that it was not a desirable place to attempt to live, but on their second visit, as above mentioned, in 1854, a little digging developed a spring in section 15, and from this supply for the whole party was obtained during the first summer. There was quite a camp the very first season, as many as sixty persons in the colony, the most desirable and fashionable residence being a covered wagon. The Indians were still around and would sometimes crowd into any shelter they could find during a shower.

Ole Johnson himself took a claim in sections 15, 16, 21 and 22. He had been married in 1850 to Gunill Franson. He was one of the first supervisors of the town when it also embraced Holt under the name of Douglass, and was also one of the officers of his town after it was divided. He was one of the first trustees of the Highland Prairie Church, and one of the building committee. Halver Erickson was born in Norway in November, 1829. In 1850 he came to Wisconsin, and to Iowa in 1853, and here the following spring, driving his stakes in section 15, where he still remains. In the autumn of 1854 he was united in marriage with Caroline Johnson. He was one of the early town officers. Knud Johnson was born in Norway in 1834 and came with others and took a claim in section 16.

Ole Kettleson came from Norway by the way of Walworth county, Wisconsin, and secured a local habitation in section 7. Ole Carlson Rue began his career in Norway on February 16, 1838. In 1851, with his father, he came to Walworth county, Wisconsin. In 1854 they came here and the father secured a home in section 20. The young man, in 1860, married Kari Kettleson and took a homestead on the same section. Peder Erickson Helgeland located in section 32. In 1854 Knud N. Melve and his father came and took land in section 31. Ole C. Berg came at the same time and died in 1869. Hans Gunderson was born August 9, 1820, came to Wisconsin in 1852, and in 1854 came to Norway, the namesake of his native country, and secured of his adopted government 160 acres in section 18. On January 23 he married Este Johnson Ole Arneson Grinland was born in November, 1817. In 1851 he transferred himself and family to Wisconsin, and in 1854 to the Minnesota Norway, and secured 160 acres in section 11. Ole Jorgenson, a Norwegian sailor, came to this place in 1854 and settled in section 14, but afterwards removed to sections 23 and 24. John Sanderson came from Wisconsin in 1854. He died in April, 1873. Hagan Olson was from Norway and came to Wisconsin in 1848 and here in 1854. Kittel Olson was an early arrival in 1854 and took a place in section 21, but removed to Becker county early in the seventies.

Thomas Thompson came with his father in 1855, having stopped a while in Illinois. He secured 120 acres in sections 20 and 19. The old gentleman bought land in the town of Holt, but lived with his son, and must have been one of the oldest men in the county at the time of his death at the age of ninety four years. Simon Thompson came to Dane county in 1852 from his native Norway, and in 1854 to Iowa, and here in 1855, taking a place in section 7 and remained until August 23, 1881, when he died. Aslack Gunderson arrived in this township in 1855 and secured a stopping place in section 12, where he remained until 1881, when he went to Dakota.

Ole Olson Thorud was among the comers of 1856. He married Mary Thompson and secured a farm in section 7. Lars L. Humble was among the settlers of 1857 and his local habitation was in section 13. In 1846 he was married to Catharine Jenson, who died early in the decade of 1870, leaving eleven children. John L. Jahr was one of the arrivals in 1857 and the next spring bought a farm in sections 14 and 23. He was a leading man and was in the state legislature, but died on May 28, 1880. In 1857 Even Ellertson, with his sons, Isaac, Elling and Nels, came and took farms in section 11. Mikkel Kittelson came by the way of Wisconsin and placed himself upon section 23. Even Gisleson located in sections 11 and 14. John Larson Stensgaard secured a claim and lived in section 24. He died in 1878. C. Olson and Ole Jacobson settled in section 23.

Land Office Records. The first titles to land in Norway township were issued by the government in 1855. The one who obtained land that year was as follows the date of the issuance of the warrant being given first, then the name of the owner and then the section in which the land was largely located: August 30, John Sanderson, 2.

Those who obtained land in 1856 were as follows: January 15, Tovel meson, 11; March 2, Lars Estenson, 13; March 28, Toni Tounson, 6; May 6, John Oleson, 28-33; May 21, Isaac Evens, 3-4-9-10; May 30, Ole Jorgensen, 24; May 30, Wilhelm Oleson, 14; June 2, Jens Larson, 3; June 13, Austin Evenson, 3; June 13, Jeremiah Griffith, 18; June 13, Oliver Hansen, 8; June 20, Knud Johnson, 4-9; June 20, Michael Kittelson, 34-35; June Gunnell Swenson, 28; July 8, Andrew Nelson, 30; July 9, Ole G. Berge, 31; July 9, Knud Nelson (Melve), 31-32; July 26, Halvor Halvorsen, 22; July 26, Halvor Swendson, 14; August 15, Kneut Tollefson, 18-19; August 27, William L. Brown, 30; September 22, Lars Halverson, 19-30; September 23, John Jacobson, 30; December 2, Jens Larson, 3.

Early Events. The oldest house is said to be that of John Olson, which was built in April, 1854, in section 16. The first resident minister was the Rev. N. E. Jensen. The first religious service was held by Rev. Mr. Koren in 1855. The first schoolhouse was in District No. 13. The first school teacher was Hannah Onstine. The first child was Ole Gunderson, on August 26, 1854.

The first marriage of Norway residents was performed in Iowa. The parties were Halver Erickson and Kari Olson.

Political. This town was a part of Douglas from May 11, 1858, until April 3, 1860, when a separate organization was effected. An early history of Douglas will be found in the sketch of the township of Holt, to which the reader is referred. The first town meeting was at the house of Even Ellerston on April 3, 1860. The following officers were elected: Supervisors, Ole Johnson (chairman), John Larson and Ole Jorgenson; clerk, A. S. Byholt; assessor, Simon Thompson; justices of the peace, A. S. Byholt and E. Evenson; constables, Ole H. Wentoel and K. Kittelson-Stockland; treasurer, N. E. Ellertson; superintendent of schools, Andreas Byholt. The name of the town is said to have been suggested by John Semmen in honor of the native country of almost every inhabitant of the township. The town hall is located in section 15.

Postoffice. Ole Johnson persuaded the postmaster general in 1860 that the great need of this section was a postoffice, and so a commission was duly forwarded to him. Becoming weary of the onerous duties of the position, he transferred it to Halver Jensen, who kept it at his brother's, Rev. N. E. Jensen, for a time, in a shanty about one half mile north. Afterwards it was taken to the store at Bratsberg and Ole Hendrickson was postmaster. When the store changed hands O. E. Evenson became postmaster. E. J. Overland was the last postmaster, the patrons now receiving their mail by rural route from Rushford. Rud postoffice flourished for a while. The last postmaster was S. Sjervem. The people now receive their mail by rural route from Whalan.

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