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Notes from the Paynesville Historical Society. . .

Area agreed with Scandinavian settlers
By Dolores Hislop

This is the second in a series of articles giving a brief history on how people were enticed to come to Minnesota from Europe.<P> This weekıs focus will be on the Scandinavian people and their contributions to Minnesota and Paynesville.

The Romans called the southern part of Sweden Scania and the people of the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are closely linked in language and history.

Scandinavia generally refers to only Norway and Sweden; however, this article will include some references to the Danish people, also.

There is one feature associated with Minnesota that is not common to many other states - the large proportion of Scandinavian immigrants. There was a steady stream of immigrants from Sweden, Norway, and Denmark from 1850 to 1860.

In the fall of 1850, Swedish author Frederika Bremer described Minnesota as - the climate, the situation, the character of the scenery agrees with our people better than that of any other state. He also included phrases describing the landıs features as comparable to the Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish countrysides.

In 1855, Minnesota sent a commissioner of emigration to New York whose job it was to represent the territory of Minnesota. He was also to give practical aid to the newly arrived immigrants.

The early Scandinavian immigrants were generally people who were hard working and looking for a place to establish a home, develop a farm, and to better themselves. Very few sought permanent employment in the cities.

The Norwegians who came in 1850 settled near Red Wing; however, Fillmore and Houston counties became a place where Norwegians moved to from Wisconsin and then went to other areas, also. A large number of Norwegians settled in the Red River Valley region extending to the North Dakota side and became the largest concentration of Norwegians outside of Norway itself.

The first Swedish settler is said to have been Jacob Falstrom. He left Pembina in 1837 and went to the Minnesota Valley where he married a Chippewa woman. A large number of Swedish people live in Carver and Meeker counties.

The church was a focal point of the Scandinavian people as it brought them together as a community. The church services were held in their native language and foods that were served at their gatherings kept their heritage alive.

Examples of food will only be a brief list as there are many favorite foods enjoyed by the people:

Norwegian: lutefisk, lefse, sweet or fruit soup, krumkake, and fattimand.

Swedish: meatballs, Swedish pancakes, flat bread, herring, dumplings, various soups, kringler, and fruit pudding.

Danish: pork roast, herring, sausages, kringla, thick vegetable soups, similar desserts as the Swedish and Norwegian people.

Among the early Sandinavian settlers in the Paynesville area were John Applegren and Conrad Winther.

John Applegren was born in Sweden and learned the millers trade. He came to America in 1869 and after working in various mills came to Paynesville and bought a grist mill. He manufactured flour which won a gold medal and a certificate at the Chicago Worldıs Fair in 1893.

Conrad Winther was born in Paynesville and became a noted dentist of our area. He graduated from dental school in 1906, practiced dentistry in Paynesville and in surrounding towns. He had the first Victor dental x-ray machine using a gas tube in the state and was considered a modern up-to-date dentist.

There are many people in the Paynesville Area that have a Scandinavian heritage and we will celebrate their contributions to Paynesville on Ethnic Day on Saturday. Aug. 18. Please come and join us.

The historical museum is setting up the butchering exhibit and in need of pictures to display that process. Please consider donating them to the museum.