Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blogger's Prologue

As previously stated, I am striving (to the greatest degree possible) to transcribe the original document verbatim.  Scanning of the document is not possible, as the original was typed using one of the old cloth-tape typewriters (which frequently lint-fills the center of the 'e' and 'a', or loops of the 's'), and my copy is at least a second-generation reproduction, so any issues of quality are exacerbated.  I tried scanning one of the best pages of my copy and...well let's just say that typing from scratch saved time.

The "ligit" search feature on the right-side of the page will allow searching posts for specific words.  I have found the tool to be inconsistent.  But, in general, very useful when searching for all entries that contain a specific family name.

You will encounter apparent errors in spelling, grammar, and potentially even facts.  It is my opinion that such 'flaws' need to be retained in order to convey the flavor of the original document.  The archaic spelling "drouth" occurs frequently instead of the more modern "drought".  Colloquialisms are common.  And, in the first month of posting, I had one comment that a family genealogy is incorrect.  But, I hope that readers will overlook these 'flaws' and realize that many of the chapters were written in the form of letters in response to requests from Madge Bischoff Dickerhoof.  And, were almost certainly written from memory, without scholarly research.  Lastly, that most of the anecdotes and information are unavailable anywhere else.

When necessary, I have changed some formatting of the original document.  The post on "Veterans" is the most significant example.  The original document used a column format that was simply not possible with the narrower format used by blogspot.  I hope the reader will forgive this deviation from my original intent and trust that only the formatting was changed.

In the course of this transcription, I have thought much more deeply about each chapter than I ever did when 'just reading' the original.  I find that I am more-than-impressed with the Kansas pioneers (and American pioneers in general).  They were not only survivors in the truest sense of the word.  They were visionaries and builders.  The first permanent settlers to the area arrived around 1869.  The first bridge across the river wasn't built until about 1887 (be sure to read the post about the Hutchins family and their Diphtheria-stricken father swimming the river to get to a doctor).  And yet, by about 1910, they had a very functional community.  This accomplishment, I find impressive.  They had none of the infrastructure that we take for granted; clean water, roads, emergency teams of any kind, or even an effective form of long-distance all had to be created.  In addition to dealing with the basics of food, water & shelter, they found time to coordinate efforts to build churches, schools, roads, and government.  The word "pioneer" does not seem strong enough to describe these amazingly tough and resilient people.

Some of the comments make me want to rethink the history we were taught.  For example, if one reads history books about the "Dust Bowl", they will likely see family farmers blamed for almost the entire event.  Usually blamed on 'unsustainable' farming methods.  But, if you read Roy Moore's comments in this document, you find that Republic County farmers were terracing their land to control erosion as early as 1900.  And, the 1901 publication "A History of Republic County Kansas" reports that "Artificial Forestry" (planting of trees) accounted for 2663 acres of trees (in one county).  Further that "Nearly every farm has its artificial grove".  Both of these efforts at soil preservation run counter to what we are taught about the dust bowl.  Further, there are references to "black blizzards" in the 1840s (long before cultivation in the area).  Lastly, the document being transcribed in this blog reports of deep layers of "Loess" discovered while digging wells, etc.  Loess is wind-blown sand that can be many feet thick and is a well-documented geological characteristic of Kansas.  And, it is evidence of past "dust bowl" type events in the plains.

I find the number of social clubs fascinating.  It appears that the population of Norway never got much above 400 people.  And the average populations is likely far lower.  So it seems likely that each person in the community knew almost every other person in the normal course of community activity (e.g. school, shopping).  Even so, we find several 'fraternal' organizations, and a sizable number of social clubs.  It would be interesting to learn what drove the creation of all these clubs.

The chapter on "jug houses" also fascinated me.  Whiskey was sold in much the same manner as we have seen with magazines, books and recordings.  That is, with the seller's objective being to send-a-new-one-every-month-until-the-day-you-die.  Seriously, who would think that such a business model could survive for so long...unless there really is consumer demand?  But that possibility is too depressing to consider.

I hope you will find this document interesting, and perhaps even entertaining.  I am thankful that I was inspired/motivated to get this information posted online.  And, I hope that it will remain available for a very long time to come.


     The grassy quadrangle which geographers called Kansas.  Her undulating fields are the floors of ancient seas.  These limestone ledges underlying the prairies and cropping from the foreheads of the hills are the cemeteries of the marine insect life of the primeval world.  The inexhaustible humus is the mould of the decaying herbage of unnumbered centuries.  It is only upon calcareous plains in temperate latitudes that agriculture is supreme, and the rich nourishment imparted essential to bulk, endurance and speed in animals, to grace, beauty and passion in women and in man to stature, courage and longevity.

John James Ingalls, 1833-1900


     To the brave pioneers with vision who began the shaping of Norway Township in Republic County, Kansas in 1869, to all those who have or have had homes here, and to those who in the future may call this home--to them this story is dedicated.
     Today's future is more uncertain than ever before.  Our part of Kansas has never been ordinary or dull or subdued, and we have no reason to expect it ever to be different.  There has always been happiness and beauty and tragedy here.  Life is made up of all three.  Should our future become even more vague, Kansas may still continue to be our safest and best home.


The Indians lived in this land of ours for countless years before any white man arrived.  Coronado and his band came first in 1540 looking for gold which he did not find.  His second expedition, according to most historians, came to Kansas in 1542 as far north as Saline County, the Smoky Hill River, and to Junction City.  His journals say that the expedition found the blackest loam they had ever seen, that any grains, fruits, or vegetables grown in Spain could be grown here and more abundantly than in any lands of Spain.

We do not know much more about Kansas until nearly three hundred years later when in 1806 Lieutenant Pike was sent out in command of an exploring party, to visit the Indian Tribes in Kansas.  He entered Kansas at a point which is now Linn County.

He traveled northwest and by the time he had crossed the Solomon River he found that a Spanish expedition was ahead of him.  He came to a Pawnee Village and here found blankets, bridles, saddles, and other things the Indians had received from the Spaniards.  After having been visited by this lordly army, the Indians were not inclined to be courteous to Pike and his small band of dusty bedraggled men.

After much unpleasantness and delay a council attended by four hundred braves was held.  Pike addressed the council and spoke of the Spanish flag flying above the old Chief's tent.  The Indians paid little attention to Pike.  He demanded that this flag be lowered and the American flag be raised and that they must choose between American and Spanish governments.

Finally, the old Chief arose, hauled down the Spanish flag, laid it a Pike's feed received the American flag, and unfurled it above the old Chief's tent.  As far as is known, this is the first time the Stars and Stripes had floated over Kansas.

Later Major Steven Long was sent to Kansas by the United States government in 1819 and 1820.  Neither man liked Kansas.  They said the land west of the 98th meridian was excellent pasture for millions of bison but of no value for human habitation.  Pike thought the plains made a barrier against settlement of the mountain regions, which did not appear to him to be of any value whatever.

Before 1855 there were very few white people in Kansas.  Some missionaries who had come to try to teach the Indians religion and a better way of life and some other white people who had married Indians and accepted their ways of life.

One hundred years ago when Kansas became a state, all was virgin prairie covered with bluestem and other luxurious grass and with trees along its streams.  Its inhabitants were Indians and the bison.  Beautiful country, described by an early Kansas writer as "God's Masterpiece".

The first mention we have of Republic County is by the Kansas Legislature of 1860 which defined its boundaries and gave it a name from the Republican River, which enters  this county at its northwest boundary and leaves it about eight miles east of the Southwest boundary.  Norway Township was platted on April 3, 1870.  In less than ten years civilization had moved westward and the first settler built a log house on the S. E. 4 of Section 17.  He broke prairie and planted corn.  He left in the spring of 1869.  The Indians and the soldiers harvested his ????, ??? ??? ?????? ???????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ??? ??????? years.  When Indians took his good team, he too, became discouraged and moved to Jamestown where he died a few years later.

The first permanent settler was Rasmus Rimol who came to America from Tronhjeim in Norway, Europe.  After working for two years in Chicago, he came to Norway Township at the age of thirty-two years.  He settled on his homestead N. W. 4 of Section 27 on February 11, 1869.  This was his home until his death in 1917 at the age of sixty-nine years.  Mrs. Anna Pherson settled on her homestead in July 1869 and lived there many years.

Mr. Rimol was soon followed by the rest of the Norwegian colony of ten families who also came from Norway in Europe.  The river valley and its tributary streams on the east side of the river were nearly all settled in 1869 and 1870.  The prairie on the east side of the township was settled in 1871 by a good thrifty colony of eight families from eastern Indiana.

West of the river was settled in 1872 by people from many states and foreign countries.  Agents had scoured Europe offering every inducement possible, to get the frontier settled up.  The results were that most of these settlers were poorly equipped, poorly armed and ignorant of the dangers of this new country so primitive and so different,  They had very little money.

Those who came between 1865 and 1870 encountered severe Indian trouble, but it was fairly quiet after 1870.  Before that time very early settlers found it necessary to eat, sleep and work with a gun nearby.  There was some dissatisfaction with the government for furnishing the Indians with Spencer Carbines which could fire eight shots without reloading while the colonists had only muzzle loading guns such as the Civil War soldiers used.  These Indians had a contract with the government as to land and had been given Spencers to protect themselves from hostile tribes and later used these guns on the settlers, that they considered also hostile.  They had horses other than those taken from the settlers.

Olaf Peterson had his team taken from him by Indians one very hot day.  He was carrying a water jug, seed corn, and gun, and everything seemed peaceful, had had laid down his gun.  The Indians were hidden close by and he was fortunate to escape with his life.  After the arrival of the United States Cavalry, the Indians did not make much trouble.

The blizzard of Saturday, April 3, 1873, following fine weather and a mild day, increased in fury and lasted three days.  The air was filled with thick powdery snow and did not subside until Tuesday.  A new settler and family had arrived on Saturday.  He found a dugout and took his family and cow into this shelter.  People were frozen to death and also lost their lives in other ways.  Much stock perished and no one could venture out to care for them stock for three days.

In 1872, '73 and '74 considerable wheat was raised.  In 1874 the rainfall was ????? ??????? ????????? ????????? ???????? ????????? ???????? since the settlements in the Township.  In '72 and '73 there had been 22 and 28 inches of rain.  In 1874 the prospects were bright.  The drouth set in on June 15th with temperatures reaching 110° on July 25.  On September 10th rain fell in abundance, with sixteen rainy days in September and eight inches of rain.  But on July 26th the grasshoppers came.  They ate every green thing in an incredibly short time.  Onions, peppers, and tobacco they seemed to like extremely well.  Sorghum cane was all they spared.  No grass, corn, weeds, gardens or leaves on the trees were left and even the clothes on the lines were devoured.

Nothing was left except people and livestock.  Some wheat had been raised.  That fall abundant rainfall.  In the spring a crop of grasshoppers was hatched from the eggs left in the fall but these soon moved on and did no damage.  Nothing was left that fall and people faced a hard winter.  1874 was the Aid Winter.  The government provided some money but not enough to be of much help.  The people in the East sent all kinds of food and clothing and Eastern Kansas sent some help although they, too, had suffered, but not as badly, from the hopper invasion as this locality.  People came through the winter and faced another year.

In the spring of 1875 many gave everything they possessed for a team and wagon and enough money to get back to their former homes.   At the end of twenty-five years there were only five homesteaders remaining west of the river.  Dr. Scott, Erastus Stanton, James Nelson and two other families.  In 1875 these remaining went to work with whatever corn and wheat they were able to obtain for seed and had a fair crop that year.

After the Blizzard of 1873 and Grasshopper invasion of 1874, it does not take a very vivid imagination to see why so many were so thoroughly discouraged.  There was still some threat of Indians although they had made very little trouble after the arrival of the United States Cavalry and the local arming of the settlers.  In the fall of 1874 all the food available for their stock was a small amount of wheat which they fed to their hogs, butchering them for whatever meat they would make, when the wheat was gone.  Corn was much more profitable because it could be fed to stock while wheat had to be hauled many miles to market.  These farmers took their wheat to Waterville.

Among the settlers were carpenters, cabinet makers, stone masons, brick layers, blacksmiths, farmers, lawyers, teachers, doctors, clergymen, merchants, and many more.  In 1864 the editor of "The Kansas Annual Register for Farmers" said in his paper that Kansas had everything needed to make a farmer happy and prosperous--water, stone, for all purposes needed, sufficient timber, coal and prairies ready for the plow.  Daniel Wilder, State Auditor wrote, "One year a large tract of country without homes, or cultivated fields; Indians wander over it without doing a thing to change the face of nature.  Ten years hence, this desolate waste has become the homes of thousands of people from every state in the union and from territory of every European power."  Norway township is a part of this vast territory and now does its share in making Kansas the bread basket of the nation.

Those who weathered the first few years in Norway Township were the sturdy pioneers with vision.  They came with plows, guns, teams and Bibles.  Whatever kind of house they were able to establish was Home and they had come to stay.  They wanted comfortable homes for themselves and their families, education and a good life.  Probably our most valuable heritage is being descended from these people.  They worked together, their ties were very strong and the joys and sorrows of one where the joys and sorrows of all.

The food of the Pioneers was very simple.  For meat they had fish, wild turkeys, geese, ducks, prairie chickens, and rabbits in the valley.  Antelope, deer and bison for those who were good shots.  Cornbread was a standby and later wheat made bread.  Vegetables were scarce and the women picked greens to go with the salt pork.  Sugar was rarely on hand and homemade sorghum and molasses were the pioneers' "sweetening".  When no one had any money, they roasted corn, wheat, or rye, and ground it in a coffee mill, or more often between two flat stones and made "coffee".  They used a weed called "shoestring," dried, for tea and shoestring was also used for tobacco.

Waterville and Junction City were the "out posts" where those who had a little money could buy sugar, coffee, and bacon.  The Indians came to call sometimes and to see what they could get from the settlers.  While under protest they were given Limberger cheese and then were sure that they were poisoned.

Clothing, like every thing else the pioneer possessed was simple, coarse and homemade.  Much clothing was made from floursacks and many pioneer babies began their lives in floursack clothing.  The women and girls knit mufflers and mittens for the families and some families kept a few sheep, carded and spun the wool into yarn.  Occasionally cloth was woven.  Calico dresses with several muslin petticoats, slat sun-bonnets and high-topped shoes were worn.  Blue and black were the colors.  For Sunday wear, a few women had poplin dresses.  Silk dresses were rare indeed.  When the men's shoes were worn out they were resoled with wood.

Only two holidays were observed during these times.  Christmas was nearly always kept, ad was the only holiday.  Little trees were wound with paper and decorated with strings of popcorn and popcorn balls.  For Christmas dinner there was head cheese and pickled pigs feet and a little later, cookies made with molasses.  If there was a little money, there were little 10¢ gifts and at other times home knitted mufflers and mittens brought just as much happiness.  A little later Christmas included cake and pumpkin pie, and sometimes the flour used was rye flour.

Grease lamps and homemade tallow candles were the pioneers first lighting equipment.  Any time there was a kerosene lamp, it was cleaned and polished for use at Christmas time.

After the first hard years, the fourth of July always meant a country wide picnic with a barbeque and political speeches and some read the Declaration of Independence.  There was gunpowder for noise.  In the early '80's the celebration included a concert by the Norway band, composed of eight pioneers, in the '90's the Clod Hopper Band and later a younger Norway Band.  Doctor Scott's Grove perhaps could tell of many July 4th picnics and also John Hugos' grove saw many such celebrations.

In the earliest pioneer times life was incredibly hard but still people were happy and very close.

The earliest pioneer marriage was Jerusha McCathron and Reuben Everhart on May 30th, 1871.  Nels Rimol was the first white child born in Norway Township.  He was the son of Rasum and Ann Lehn Rimal and was born on October 13, 1870.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The first schools were subscription schools that is, the funds were raised by the settlers.  The first religious services were in the dugouts and soddies and the schools, of course, were just as primitive.  Among the settlers a small amount of money was raised to hire a teacher for a three-months term.  The teachers' pay was very meagre.  The first school in Norway Township was taught by Mary Dutton, daughter of Chester Dutton on the Ole Hammer farm S. W. 4 of Section 35, two miles east and three miles south of present day Norway, in the spring of 1871.  The second in the fall of the same year by Julie McCathron in the Peder Hammer dugout in the S. E. 4 of Sec. 11, a mile and a half north and a ½ mile east of Norway.  Alfred Hammer now owns and lives on this quarter, homesteaded by his father.  A very early school was held in a dugout in the bank very near the place where Hungry Hollow school was built later.  Alfa Scott Moore attended this school.

Another was in a sod house in the bank on the Chester Lewis homestead across the highway from the present "48" schoolhouse on N. E. 4 of Section 24.  Mrs. Josephine Taggart Smith was the teacher.  Mary Rhoda Kelly was a pupil.  Mrs. Bill Ainsworth taught a school on the Isaiah Burk homestead in Section 1 in 1872.  Her pupils were Margaret Evans Bowling, Sarah Fritzinger Ames, Laura Hall Kelly and her sister, and Charles, Will and George Fritzinger.

Indians on the trail from Nebraska to a reservation in Oklahoma came by the school house one day.  They ran around the house and put their heads in the windows crying, "Many papoose! Many papoose!"  The children were really frightened but the teacher was not.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Some of the oldest people now in Norway Township, say there was a dugout school on the farm now owned by Amos Dulen east of Norway.  A depression in a bank there indicates a dugout but no one now seems to know anything about this school.

In 1872, in Fairview Dist. 93, forty-five dollars was raised among the settlers for a three months school, but no teacher was available.  Mrs. Dan Hanson wrote to her sixteen year old sister in Illinois saying she could teach the school if she would come to Kansas.  She was Lucy Dickerhoof and she arrived by train and stage on Oct. 10, 1872, in the evening at Scandia, at Mrs. Henry Hanson's Hotel with no money left after paying her fare.  She had chicken, cake, and sandwiches for the journey.  There was no one to meet her since her letter had not arrived.  Mrs. Hanson took care of her and the next morning Lucy went with the mail carrier in his buckboard to find her brother, Owen Dickerhoof and her sister, Mrs. Dan Hanson.  She taught the first six weeks in Dan Hanson's kitchen and in the fall the second six weeks in Ole Tiller's sod house with frame top on the N. W. ¼ of Section 21, a mile and a half southeast of Norway.  The older boys went to school when there was no work needing to be done at home.  The seats were blocks of wood with planks for seats.  There were no windows and her father sent her $14.00 to buy a stove.

The first school board in Fairview Dist. 93 was Mrs. Mary Dutton Arnott, Mr. Brynjulf Stensaas, and Mr. Ole Tiller.  Some later teachers were Mrs. Ella Rockhold-1885; Mr. Osmond-1881; Anna Rimol-1905; Mr. Smart for several years, Owen F. Brewer, Very Houghton Anderson, and a Miss Williams.  Mrs. Rockhold taught in 93 for a number of years.

The pupils in 1873 were: Charles Pearson, ???? Larsen, Walter and Willie Meade, Selma Larson, Oscar Hanson, Frank Poore, Andrew Mellon, Ellen and Rachael Merica, Pete Pherson, a Rodgers boy, Lars Hammer, Betty Pherson, Lide moore, and Alfa Scott.

The school districts were platted in 1871 and the next step was making plans for school houses.  Subscription schools continued until school houses were built and sometimes longer.

On March 18, 1871, an organization meeting was held and these officers were elected for Norway District #23: Amos Austin, director; James Raymond, clerk; Joe Merica, treasurer.  Then ten days later, on March 28, these officers were duly elected and qualified: John McCathron, Director; Ezra Harding, clerk; and Ole Hugos, Treasurer.  The earliest teachers were Julia McCathron, Annette Burge, Charles Dutton, Ida Carey, George Page, E. Sheldon, and Laura Stanton, who was only fifteen years old.

The first schoolhouse was native stone built on the corner a half mile east and a mile north of Norway, N.E.4 of Section 16.  It was later replaced with a good frame building, very comfortable and well equipped for that time.  School was held whenever finances permitted and teachers were available.

In the fall of 1873 eight youngsters, including Lucy Dickerhoof, went to Clyde, in a lumber wagon, to take a teachers' examination given by Sam Doran of Clyde and Mr. Robinson, principal of Concordia Schools.  In the Illinois Geographies, Kansas was spoken of as the "Great American Desert".  One of the questions was "Bound Kansas" and missed by all but a boy by name of Shrader.  They stayed a week with Mrs. Langworthy and she didn't charge them any board or lodging.  They all received the necessary certificates for teaching.  Those taking the tests besides Lucy were Josephine Taggart, Rose Patrick, Nancy Shrader and her brother, Emma Patrick, Ferd Kunkle and one other boy.

Both teachers and funds were scarce in the 70's.  Schools were in session whenever finances were available.  The terms ran from twelve to twenty weeks and usually the twelve week term was decided upon at twenty-five per month.  Then later the settlers could manage a twenty-four week term at twenty-five dollars a month.  By 1900 many schools had from six to eight months terms and twenty-five to thirty dollars per month.  In 1889 in district 23, J. F. Dickerhoof was Director and Osul Thompson was Clerk and Tena Dickerhoof was teacher.  Before 1890 some of the teachers in 23 were-- Dr. Way, Harry Heaten, Tena Dickerhoof, Charles Houghton, and Vera Crossen.

In 1893 David E. Dickerhoof, Anna Throbeck Nelson, and Selma Anderson Frankforter were eight grades graduates in 23 and in 1895 May Dickerhoof Carney, Miss Nellie Tosslin, Karen Hammer Ross, and Thressa Nelson Mancill were the eight grade graduates.

The first eight grade graduate from 93 was Julius Olsen.  He then attended Bethany in Lindsborg, Kansas and later graduated from Harvard.

In 1908 Norway became one of the few consolidated districts in Republic County.  District 95, two miles west of Norway, and Norway District 23 were united and became Consolidated District Number 3.  Hungry Hollow, as district No. 95 was called, was organized July 19, 1873.  In 1889 P. O. Larson was director, Nelson was clerk, and Miss Jennie Workman was the teacher.  One of the earliest graduates was Andy Moore.  The district presented him with a gift.  Other early teachers in District 95 were Margie Stanton, Grace Carney, and May Dickerhoof Carney.  The Hungry Hollow schoolhouse was moved to the Alex Scott farm and used in the construction of his farm home.

In 1908 the last board to serve in 95 was: W. J. Dunlap, Director; Alex Scott, clerk; and F. W. HolgersonBlosser, director; A. D. Norris treasurer and C. L. Ross, clerk; Teacher T. L. C. Hall.

The old frame building, northeast of Norway was moved to town and remodeled into a two-room school building and in 1914 the two room building was moved over on the main street remodeled and enlarged and has been the township hall since that time.  It has been useful in many ways.  Also in 1914 a brick building replaced the two room school.  In 1916 a four year high school was established.  The high school was discontinued nearly thirty years later because of decreased attendance and increased expenses.

Norway now has an excellent grade school with an attendance of sixty.  Three regular teachers and a music teacher.  A fine auditorium and gymnasium was built two years ago.  They now have a lighted ball park, playground equipment, and hot lunch program.  Mr. Dart, Mrs. Ahrends, Mrs. D. Sheets, and Mrs. Nystrom make up the teaching staff.  There is an excellent grade school band.  The members of the Board are Mr. Milton Stensaas, Mr. Bob Raney, and Mr. Burt.  Consolidated No. 3 is made up of six districts.  1961.


In 1879 Gust Nelson gave the land for pioneer Norway.  He lived across the road (section line) on the north side in a stone house which he had built earlier.  He had a small grocery store in his home.  His homestead was NW4, Sec. 21.  The original townsite contained thirty-six lots, each lot 25 feet wide.  Block one on the east side had 12 lots and Block two on the west side had 24 lots--12 lots on each side of an alley.  Between the two Blocks was Nelson Avenue 100 feet wide.  On the east side of Block 1 there was a roadway between the railroad and Block 1.  (It is the same today.)  The section line was on the north side of the village and a street 40 feet wide on the west and south sides.  Farm land west, south and east of the Lutheran church and parsonage.  This land was also a gift of Gust Nelson to the Lutheran congregation.

The plat of the present Norway in the 1884 Republic County Atlas gives "Elgo Village" instead of Norway.  In some of the early deeds to lots in this village the description says "Original townsite of Elgo".  It was changed later to Norway at the suggestion of John McCathron the first postmaster in the township, honoring the first ten settlers who were Norwegians.

The 1884 atlas shows--one church and parsonage, three cemeteries, five schools, many groves and orchards on farms and along the streams and coal on the Peterson homestead on the NE4 of Section 30.