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FIELDS OF FORTUNE: ‘Viking’ Farmers In America
In the spring of 1853, a family of eight drove their wagon to the wharf in Bergen, Norway. They unloaded their belongings alongside the other stacks labeled, AMERICA, MINNESOTA, ILLINOIS, MICHIGAN, NEW YORK CITY, CHICAGO and boarded the crowded ship.
Hopeful, nervous Norwegians—giving up everything for a place they knew of only through second-hand tales of freedom and opportunity—watched as the shoreline retreated, knowing they would never see their homeland again. Their trip ahead would be spent in cramped conditions for two or three months until they reached Ellis Island. The United States, where they were immigrating to, was facing many problems including tensions over slavery and the subsequent beginning of the Civil War.
The family moved west to farm the free land that was offered to them but were met with resistance, as it was land that had been cultivated by Native Americans for thousands of years before. The family was nearly eliminated during these times, often referred to as the American Indian Wars.
Future generations carried on to the Dakotas and Alberta with difficulties. These Norwegians persisted. Through ardent research and narrative biography, Robert Dodge reflects on the immigrant experience of one Norwegian family from the mid-19th century through World War II in FIELDS OF FORTUNE: ‘Viking’ Farmers in America.