HISTORY: Dells built on Norwegian way
May 07. 2013 3:19PM
The Dell Rapids vicinity is comprised of many nationalities. One in particular is the Norwegian heritage. With them, they brought their traditions, cultures and ideals, which had a strong influence on the culture and development of Dell Rapids.
In 1868 John Thompson, a Norwegian Immigrant, had come to Minnehaha County. When his daughter, the first white child born in Minnehaha County, was baptized on Aug. 11, 1868, it marked the beginning of the Nidaros Church.
The Paulson brothers, Engebrigt, Emeric, Chris and Gunder, all pioneer stone masons, learned the mason and stone cutting trade in Norway. They erected many of the granite buildings in Dell Rapids, including the Lutheran Church and the Odd Fellows Home.
A well know photographer in Dell Rapids and across the state, Ole H. Eide, was also from Norway. He operated a photo studio here for more than 50 years. Eide photographed many of the buildings in the area, activities that took places, major snow storms and community families, sharing and preserving them in our minds forever. Those who emigrated brought their culinary traditions, too. Famous for their typical cuisine, lefse and lutefisk are more common in our area. Church-sponsored lutefisk meals have been taking place for years, gathering our ancestors together, giving them time to reminisce of the old days in their home country.
In 1879 Anna Strom came to America with her family. In 1896 Anna married Ole H. Smith, president of the Granite City bank in Dell Rapids. She came from a family of educators. Her maternal great grandfather, Lauritz Andreas Oftedahl, was one of the “men of Eidsvold” who in 1814 framed the Norwegian Constitution.
During the 1860 census there were 129 Norwegians in South Dakota. In 1880 one-tenth of the population was Norwegian. By 1889 one-third were Norwegians. In the year 2000, 115,292 individuals said that they have Norwegian Ancestry.
The early immigrants spoke Norwegian as their primary language and learned to speak English as a necessity and to assimilate to their new culture. By the 1920’S the number of Norwegian speakers decreased, with second and third generations using English as their primary language.
In honor of all Norwegian descendants, on Friday, May 17th I say to you “Glad Norsk Konstitusjons Dag” or “Happy Norwegian Constitution Day”. Thank you for sharing your traditions and cultures with the rest of us.
I close with one final word, a quote from Bethel Goodale “Uffda!”