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"Eau Claire County History, 1949"


History of Norseville District

by Dale Olson, Eighth Grader

I, Dale Lester Olson, am proud to help Wisconsin celebrate its Centennial.  It has inspired me to explore into the history of my state, community, school and myself.

I am the son of Mr. and Mrs. Chester Olson.  I was born September 22, 1934 on my parents farm.  I am thirteen years old.  My parents are part American and part Norwegian.  I have an older sister, Phyllis, who is seventeen years old.

The name of the school I go to is the Norseville School.  There are fifteen pupils in our school.  There are seven in the first grade.  One in the third, one in the fourth and six in the seventh and eight grades.  Our teacher is Mrs. Bernice Klick.  I go to the confirmation  classes and to Sunday School at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Strum where Rev. Hjemboe is pastor.

One of my hobbies is hunting, another is farming.  In the winter I like to skate but my desire is to be a farmer.

Looking into the early history of our farm, it was settled about 1865.  It was settled by my great grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Fredrick Olson.  The reason for settling in those days was to find springs for water.  The first building was a sod house.  Then they began to build other farm buildings.  There have been many improvements made since.  The industry has always been farming.  There has been different families living on the farm but they always have been in the Olson relationship.  The farm was the second farm settled in this community.

As we take a glimpse at the early development of Norseville, we learn that the early pioneers who arrived here found traces of Indians who had roamed the country.  Old remains of Indian relics such as arrowheads and bullets have been found.

The first family to take up a homestead in this region was a family by the name of Nelson.  They came from Norway and landed in Quebec, Canada.  By the use of a ox cart and oxen they started out to look for a place to build.  They built a homestead on the farm where now Reinhart Skoug lives.  The first building was a log cabin.  Later misfortune came to the family.  Mr. Nelson was hunting one day and his gun accidentally went off killing him instantly.  The widow then married a man by the name of Paul Anderson.  They died and their daughter married Otto Skoug and took over the farm.  Upon their retiring, Reinhart, their son, took it over and it has been in the hands of him since.

The second family to come was Fredrick Olson.  They came from Norway in a sail boat.  The family landed in Quebec, Canada May 31, 1861.  The people talked Fredrick into buying land there because of the Civil War in the United States.  They didn't like it in Canada because of the high cost of timber.  Misfortune came to this family, also.  A child died of sickness.  There was no funeral except what was provided by the father.  Fredrick, the father of the child, dug the grave with his shovel and with his Bible conducted the funeral sermon, after that they journeyed on.  The family stopped next at Sparta.  Here they met another family from the homeland.  The family was the Nels Knute Hagested family.  The Fredrick Olson and the Hagested family traveled northward from then on.  The Fredrick Olson homestead is now in the hands of his grandson, Chester Olson.

The Nels Knute Hagested family came from Norway in a sail boat too.  It took nine weeks for them to get here.  They landed in Quebec, Canada and left by ox cart and oxen for the United States.  They went down through Milwaukee, Ettrick, and Sparta and came up into this community.  They built a homestead on the land where Nick Zinsmaster now lives.

Other pioneers that came included two brothers, Ole J. and Ole O. Romansted having arrived from Tronhjom, Norway.  They homestead near Fredrick Olson's homestead.  Other relatives settled near the Romansteds and since that time the valley has been known as the "Romansted Valley."

Another early pioneer arriving about this time was Erick Hanson.  He made no homestead at first but traveled from one place to another helping other people build.  Erick Hanson helped build the railroad that ran near La Crosse.  Later he went to Porters mill south of Eau Claire.  He lived there three years.  He then decided to go back to Norway and get his family.  Three years later they came back and took up a homestead near the Evan's homestead.  One son, Hans, stayed on the farm from the age of seven until 1939 turning the farm over to his son Maurice and Hans retired.

Other settlers followed and all helped to bring about the development of our community as years came and went.

The first school in Norseville's early history was built on the present Ernie Deinhammer farm.  The school was built of simple boards.  The first teacher was Mr. Brown and he was paid twenty-five dollars a month of which eight dollars had to be taken for room and board.  The subjects taught were, reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling and history.  The ages of the children ranged from eight to twenty-five years.  The winter months was the only time the older pupils went to school.  In the spring and in the fall there was work to be done so they stayed home.

Later people in our community thought it too far to go to school, so it was decided that a school be built here.  This school was built in 1878 so the school is now 69 years old.  This school was built on the Evans homestead which now is the Art Olson farm.

After the school was built here the first school board consisted of a clerk, C. H. Evans; treasurer, Erick Hanson; and director, Fredrick Olson.  The first teacher was Ida Williams.

These early settlers were interested in giving their children religious as well as school instruction.  Religious school was first taught in the homes by teachers who came around.  The two first teachers were Sigrid and Bollerud.

In the eastern part of the town of Clear Creek there lived a pioneer by the name of McClellan.  His home served as a stopping place for travelers who were on their way between Eau Claire and Sparta.  The McClellan home also served as a post office for surrounding communities.  Our "Norseville" community got its mail from there.  The pioneers took turns getting the mail once a week.

The McClellan post office was twelve miles distant and the settlers here thought they should have a closer one.  The pioneers got a permit from the government to build one.  It was built on Evans homestead near the new school.  The post office was named "Norseville" after the Norse people here at that time.  The school also was named after them.

A Norwegian church was built on the Ole J. Romansted homestead.  It was built with the help of all the pioneers living in the community.  It served only a few years because the town of Tilden grew.  Tilden is better known as Strum (Trempealeau Co.) today.  These pioneers felt they would like to build a bigger and better church.  The old one was sold.

The early settlers at this time were of two different religious sects, the Synods and the Conference Lutherans.  Both sects served the same church.  The church was built several miles southeast of Tilden.  Rev. Hoire was the first minister in this church.

As Tilden grew the Synods wanted a church located in town, so a new church was built on the south bank of the Beef River.  This church is the "West Beef River Church" today.

Five years later the Conference Lutherans withdrew from the Synods and built a church of their own on the north bank of the Beef River in 1877.  This church today is known as the "St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church."

Tilden, or better known as "Strum" had its beginning about five miles from Norseville.  Tilden first consisted of a grocery store, a blacksmith shop, and a hotel.  Soon a railroad was built through Tilden.  After that Tilden was renamed "Strum".  It was named after a well known republican gentleman of that time.

It became settled mostly by Norwegians and today is Norseville's "Trading post."

As we glance over this district today (1949) we find that there are thirty-five families living here.  Seven of the families are renters and twenty-eight families are owners.  Sixteen people in this district live here but work in Eau Claire.  Nine people in this district are attending high school.  Six are going to the Osseo High School and three at the Strum High School.  Two in this district are attending college.

Organizations supported by our district are Red Cross, Ladies Aid, Missions, Adult Education School, Sewing Club and Rod and Gun Club.



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