Nordlyset, the first Norwegian newspaper in
Nordlyset, the first Norwegian newspaper in America needs a longer
discussion. As well, it will be of interest for some to read a letter
from one of the newspaper's first typesetters, who still lives in the
Muskego-settlement where the newspaper was published. The letter in
translated and abbreviated form reads:
Wind Lake, Wis., 20th June 1905.
Mr. Martin Ulvestad!
Your query of 29th last month I received a short time ago.
And yesterday I drove to Burlington, ca. 10 miles from here, to confer
with my cousin Ole Heg, who I worked with on 'Nordlyset' from beginning
to end. Below you will find the total of the information that it is
possible for us to give.
"As early as 1845 some of the more informed Norwegians
began to speak of the desirability of having a newspaper in the
Norwegian language and a couple of years after, James D. Reymert†, Even
Heg† and Søren Backe† agreed to start the same. From
Philadelphia they ordered sent a press and type and in Chicago they got
hold of a typographer - a young man by the name of Erick Anderson† who
had worked for the 'Chicago Tribune' for a time. With the gifted James
Reymert as editor and the able Erick Anderson as typesetter and printer
and with Ole Heg and me as simple typesetter apprentices, 'Nordlyset'
began publication in Norway, Racine Co. in 1847, once a week in a size
of 4 four-column pages. It was an ordinary news and story paper but it
also dealt a little in politics since it took the Free Soil Party's
side- against slavery. It reached a subscription of ca. 300. In 1849 it
was bought by Knud Langeland† and O. J. Hatlestad† who moved it to
Racine, Wis. Ole Heg and I followed as typesetters. At Racine the
publication of the paper continued in the same spirit and form - but
under the name 'Demokraten' and with Knud Langeland as editor. After
having existed for 2 years in Norway and one and a half years in
Racine, it folded."
The newspaper thus ceased publication after an existence
of three and a half years. It had operated at a loss the whole time
which is easy to understand. There could naturally be no talk of any
great circulation since the Norwegians here were certainly relatively
few in those days - and the majority were in reality so poor that they
could not pay for a newspaper. As newcomers they as a rule had enough
to just provide themselves with the most necessary items for life.
*Before Skofstad quit as a typographer, he helped Pastor Ole
Andrewsen of the Fox River Settlement, Ill. with the printing of
'Guldbergs Salmebog'. And for a year he worked in Madison, Wis. on
'Luthers Huspostil' and 'Den Norske Amerikaner' that Elias Stangeland