Here we have the first Norwegian settlement in the State of Iowa. And the first settlers were Ole Halvorsen Valle and Ole Tollefsen Kittilsland, both from Nummedal. They came here to the area of St. Olaf from Koshkonong, Wis. in 1846.*
The land was for the most part covered in forest, but as soon as they removed it, they began to prepare for growing wheat, which became the main source of income. The nearest marketplace was McGregor. They used oxen for driving and plowing. Day pay at that time was 50 cents.
The first white child born in the settlement was Jørond Halvorson Valle, b. 20 Sept. 1846.
The second oldest Norwegian woman in Iowa lives in this county. Her name is Kari Olsdatter. She was born in Norway, the 26th Sept, 1806. In 1869, she came to Gunder, Ia. where she has lived, at least until recently. (The very oldest Norwegian person in Iowa is mentioned in Webster County)
There are 4 Norwegian churches and 5 congregations in Clayton Co., 4 of them belong to The United Church and 1 with Hauge's Synod.
The Norwegian Ole Nielsen has held the position as Co. Surveyor. For further information, see the section 'Norwegians in public positions in America'. St. Olaf Township and post office is of Norwegian origin. The same is the case with Gunder P.O.
*Here it must be noted that the pioneer Halvor Valle, who was mentioned in Clayton County in connection with the first permanent Norwegian settlement in Iowa, stayed in Winneshiek Co. for a time - as early as 1842. He was there in government service and so, not as a settler at that time, but later - after having lived in Clayton Co. for some years, moved back and settled in Winneshiek.
© 2004 All Rights Reserved. Translated by Olaf Kringhaug Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. Published by Olaf Kringhaug (deceased) and Margit Bakke at:
Republication or redistribution of content or any derivative work for "private use only" is permitted, as long as users acknowledge and attribute any use of material found on this website to Olaf Kringhaug. No part of this translation may be reproduced or reused for commercial use without written consent from Margit Bakke.
~Source: Nordmændene i Amerika by Martin Ulvestad, 1907
~Posted on the Clayton co. IAGenWeb with permission of Margit Bakke & Olaf Kringhaug. Click on the link to her website (above) to read Olaf's translations for other Iowa counties.
~Note! The above credit and copyright notification was revised to acknowledge Olaf's death and to replace the original URL for Margit's website with the one that now appears in the notification - 4/16/2012 by the Clayton co. coordinator
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