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Nordlyset, the first Norwegian newspaper in America!

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."
     Yours obligingly
     Even Skofstad*
   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 published.

"Nordmændene i Amerika Main Page"



Translated by Olaf Kringhaug
Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
Nordmændene i Amerika by Martin Ulvestad, 1907
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