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lars and grethe anderson house

an 1866 norwegian home built in chippewa county, wisconsin

Further Information

The Journey to America

 

Staking a Claim

 

A Home on Big Elk Creek

 

Daily American Life

 

The House in Later Years

Related Reading

Farm Life by Frank Smoot, Chippewa Valley Museum Press

Contact Us

PHONE:
(715) 834-7871

MAILING ADDRESS:
Chippewa Valley Museum
PO Box 1204
Eau Claire, WI 54702-1204

PHYSICAL ADDRESS:
1204 E. Half Moon Drive
Eau Claire, WI 54703
(This is NOT a mailing address!)

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THE JOURNEY TO AMERICA

 

On April 20, 1853 — three weeks after they were married — 27-year-old Lars Anderson and 22-year-old Grethe (Paulson) Anderson left Christiana, Norway (now Oslo). They sailed to America accompanied by Lars’ younger brother Jens.

At the time, Norway was a land of very little opportunity. More than a million people lived in Norway and three-quarters of them were trying to make a living from the land, less than 5 percent of which was tillable. There was virtually no land left to homestead, and much of the land that might be inherited was mortgaged beyond any young family’s ability to pay. Many couples starting out studied immigrant guidebooks like Ole Rynning’s True Account of America.

The Andersons spent seven weeks at sea. Under the best circumstances the trip was miserable. Overcrowding was severe, and seasickness was universal. On voyages like theirs, typhoid, dysentary and measels claimed scores of lives. But on June 7, Lars, Grethe and Jens arrived safely in New York, three of more than 6,000 Norwegians who reached the ports of New York and Quebec in 1853 alone.

Lars and Grethe Anderson traveled to Milwaukee by lake steamer and walked to Waupun, 50 miles to the northeast. Waupun was a common destination for Norwegian immigrants. They stayed three years, working, saving money, and getting used to new customs and a new language. In the fall of 1856, carrying all their belongings and Lars and Grethe’s one-year-old son Carl, they traveled by foot and covered wagon from Waupun to Eau Claire, a journey of more than 150 miles.

They wintered on the banks of the Chippewa River and lived the next year in what is now the town of Pleasant Valley. The following spring, Lars and Grethe moved with Jens, and a number of friends from the old country, to Chippewa Falls township, where they would all live out their lives.

“[Waupun was] a stopping for all [Norwegian] immigrants bound for the West, as a great number of old settlers were residents of that city at one time.”
— Mrs. Ole Tilleson, who came to Elk Mound from Waupun in 1862, quoted in the Eau Claire Leader, November 12, 1911

 

the trunk Lars and Grethe Anderson brought from Norway

the trunk Lars and Grethe Anderson brought from Norway

 

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