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translated and edited by DERWOOD JOHNSON 9 Reiersen s Texas In of 1843 Christianssandsposten Johan Reinert Reiersen, (Christiansand, the outspoken Norway), editor of Christianssandsposten (Christiansand, Norway), arrived in New Orleans and from there visited Norwegian settlements in certain northern states, including Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. He returned to New Orleans in the spring of 1844 after boarding a boat in St. Louis that took him down the Mississippi, and then went up the Red River to Natchitoches , Louisiana. He proceeded by stagecoach, carrying only a light knapsack, to Nacogdoches and San Augustine, Texas, where a Dr. Hald showed him around and supplied information. There were then no stagecoaches to points farther southwest, so Reiersen hired a saddle horse for his journey into Austin, the new capital of Texas.1 Reiersen thus describes what he had accomplished in Austin: "Congress had just assembled and I easily gained admittance to the president of the republic, General Houston, who was intensely interested in having immigrants choose Texas as their new fatherland. He assured me that Congress would give a colony of Norwegians all the encouragement 1 Theodore C. Biegen, ed., "Behind the Scenes of Emigration: A Series of Letters from the 1840's," in Norwegian- American Studies and Records , 14:79, 95-111 (1944). 252 REIERSEN'S TEXAS that could reasonably be expected. He believed that peace and quiet were as good as insured since the President of the United States, in his last message, had emphatically declared that a continuation of warlike invasions and forays from Mexico would not be tolerated. He doubted that Texas would be admitted to the Union in the near future. In his opinion, one could consider the Comanche Indian hostilities at an end after their last defeat, and after Texas had established permanent forts along the northwest course of the Brazos and Colorado rivers. Now it seemed that nothing could hinder the rapid progress of the republic in prosperity and wealth, with an industrious and virtuous people occupying the vast stretches of fertile land/'2 After staying two days in Austin, Reiersen took a five-day stage trip to Houston by way of Bastrop, Rutersville, and Washington, on the Brazos River. He arrived at Galveston March 7, 1844, and left two days later for New Orleans.3 Reiersen's American tour had been subsidized by a group of prospective emigrants in southwestern Norway; he was to inspect local conditions in the New World and report his findings. When he returned to Norway, he published these observations in a book entitled Veiviser for norske emigranter til de forenede nordamerikanske stater og Texas (Guide for Norwegian Emigrants to the United North American States and Texas - Christiania, 1844). The volume was distributed among his sponsors.4 The title page of the "Guide" carries the following : "Containing a report to some farmers and citizens of western Norway about agriculture, climate, natural products, animals, machinery for cultivation and land improvement, possibilities for profits for all types of workers, craftsmen, and merchants , prices of products and labor, public lands, and the government and society of the states and their relation to the 2 Biegen, ed., in Studies and Records , 14:108. 3 Biegen, ed., in Studies and Records , 14:108. 4 C. A. Clausen, ed., The Lady with the Pen: Elise WÅ“renskjold in Texas , 158 (Northfield, 1961). 253 Derwood Johnson Union, in western America, namely in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and the free state of Texas." Chapter 9 of Reiersen's book, a translation of which follows , deals exclusively with the republic of Texas. It comments on such matters as its borders, size, physical features, climate, soil, plants, animals, cities, population, public lands, and outlook for the future. Reiersen's view of Texas is generally favorable; nevertheless, he refrains from pointing it out, or indeed any of the American states, as the "Promised Land" for Norwegian emigrants. His preference for Texas was clearly demonstrated, however, in 1845, when he and a small group of followers established the first Norwegian settlement there at a place which he called Normandy, now known as Brownsboro.5 In the present translation, slight errors in spelling have been corrected. When Reiersen's use of a term varies...

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