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Norwegian Genealogy

The Kendall, New York Settlement

Orleans County, New York State

 

This was the first Norwegian settlement in America. Cleng Peerson (1783-1865), "Pathfinder of Norwegian immigration" selected the location and made all of the arrangements in America for the "sloopers" who sailed on the sloop Restauration in the year 1825. The purchase price of $5The Restauration an acre was agreed upon with the landowner, Joseph Fellows.  The Norwegians did not have the full price, but an agreement was reached that allowed the Norwegians to make 10 annual payments.

Each head of household received 40 acres. The first years at Kendall were extremely difficult. Many questioned their decision to come to America, but there was no turning back.  The settlement was made up of the 53 passengers on the Restauration, and 24 of them were packed together into a newly built cabin that measured only 12' X 12'.  They survived the winter and the next year worked out an agreement with their weatlhy American neighbors to harvest their grain.  They were able to keep every 11th bushel that they threshed out of the grain with a flail.  In 1826, each family cleared an average of two acres. so they were then able to raise wheat. Almost all of the crop was used to make bread for the next winter.

The author of an early guidebook about America, Ole Rynning, wrote in 1837-1838 "The land was thickly overgrown with woods and difficult to clear. Consequently, during the first four or five years conditions were very hard for these people....Well-to-do neighbors assisted them, however, and by their own industry they at last got their land in such condition that they could earn a living from it, and live better than in their old native land".

In 1834, Peerson led a half dozen families from Kendall to a new home in Illinois. The Fox River Settlement on the Illinois River was the first Norwegian settlement in the Midwest.


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