Donnellson Public Library
Local and Family History Department
500 Park Avenue
Donnellson, IA 52625


Sugar Creek  at Lee County, Iowa
  Our Scandinavian settlers left their homeland parish,  family and friends to emigrate to America.  Their dream was for a better life,  they were poor,  lacked enough food and they were tired of submitting to a rigid church and the political climate of their homeland.  There were also those who were adventurous and wanted to see the world


First Norwegian Settlement in Iowa
Sugar Creek, Lee County
Here they found a place much like home.  The southern part of the county has one of the largest wooded areas in the state of Iowa. Lee counties eastern border is the Mississippi River and the western border is the Des Moines River.  These large bodies of water compared to the great lakes of Norway and Sweden.

The story of the Norwegian immigration has been written up in many places.  There are several versions written by different historians.  This is a brief summation of what I took from these accounts.

1825  The Sloopers
Lars Larson was a sailor, he was captured in the Napoleonic wars and kept a prisoner in London for seven years, being released in 1814. In 1815 he and several other prisoners returned to Norway.  They had been converted to the Quaker faith in London, upon their return to Stavanger, they founded the first Norwegian Quaker society.  In 1821 the Stavanger Quakers began to form plans for emigrating to America.  Two men, one being Kleng Peerson, left for America, with the purpose of establishing a colony,  a Quaker colony.  Upon his return plans were made for emigrating to Orleans County, in the state of New York.  On July 4, 1825 a group of fifty-two people left Norway on the sailing ship "Restaurationen"  This was the first ship to leave Norway for America.  On this ship were the brothers Knud Anderson Slogvig and Jacob Anderson Slovig.   

Note:  Some, not all, historians say the brother Knud came to America at a later date.

New York & Illinois
Norwegian immigrants who came to America in the early 1820-1830 time period, usually located in Orleans County, but rarely remained as the western states were beginning to open for settlers.  The early Norwegian settlements were often found by the wandering Kleng Peerson.  He wandered through Michigan, Ohio and Indiana before arriving in Illinois where he found a likely spot in LaSalle County.  He returned to New York, and in the spring of 1834 left for Illinois again,   among those who traveled with him were the brothers Jacob and Knud Anderson Slovig.

1836  Second Wave of Immigration
Knud Anderson Slovig returned to Norway in 1835, later leading a party which left Norway in a ship called "Norden"  The Norden was the second ship to leave from Norway to America, arriving at New York, July 12, 1836.  Most of these people went to La Salle Co.

1837 Missouri & Illinois
Kleng Peerson, Jacob and Knud Anderson Slovig, Andrew Simonson and a few others left Illinois for Shelby County Missouri.  Peerson had selected a spot about fifty miles west of Palmyra, Missouri.  The same year Klegg Peerson went to Norway to gather recruits for his Norwegian settlement in Shelby Co., Missouri.  The following year he brought back with him, from Stavanger County, the three brothers, Peter, William and Hans Testman, Nils Olson, and others, all of whom went to Shelby Co.  This colony didn't suit the Norwegians and in the spring of 1839, nearly all who had gathered there left for Iowa.  It is thought that Peerson had traveled through this part of Iowa in his earlier travels.   

Note:  There are historians that say 1840 was the date they came to Iowa

Hearing of the natural resources in the Territory of Iowa, the settlers decided to move on in the spring of 1839.  This group was led by Andrew Simonsen, and included Omund Olson, Knud Anderson Slogvig, Jacob O. Hetletvedt, Mrs. Thorstein T. Rue and her sons, Thorstein and John, Peter Omundson Gjilje, Erick Olson and the three Testman brothers.  They went north into Lee Co. about six miles, finding a small colony of Norwegians which had recently established themselves.  With the exception of Hans Barlien it is unknown just who they were.  

Note:  Through the process of elimination and because Flom, in his book also said it was possible, I believe Gjermund Helleikson was at Sugar Creek with Hans Barlien. Another name that fits the time frame is Samuel Anderson and his family.   

Other early settlers who followed from Missouri were Jacob Anderson Slovig, Ole Soppeland, Hans William, C. Pearson and Nils and Chris Nelson.  These located at Sugar Creek before 1846.

Sugar Creek is important because it was the start of Norwegian settlements in Iowa, by some of the earliest Norwegian immigrants to America.  Its growth was stunted by the inability to get title to land from the federal government, due to the Half Breed Tract and because land speculators had now poured into the new territory grabbing up the land.  The settlers were accustomed to a cooler, more northern climates and some of the land they settled on wasn't the best.  Many who came were able to overcome and stayed in Lee county, some went on to other places.  It has been written that many went west with the Mormons.  I don't think this is true, although there may be evidence that a few left with the Mormans.  More Scandinavians came to Lee County during the building of the Mississippi River canal, which was a tremendous job, lasting from the mid 1860's to 1877.  This work gave them a good start and more families, from Norway and Sweden settled in Sugar Creek.

Norwegen Immigrants to Lee County

Hans Barlien
Iowa was organized as a territory in 1838.  Shortly after Hans Barlien, hearing of the natural resources in this southern part of the territory,  came to this place and called it Sugar Creek. He emigrated from Trondhjem, Norway due to political difficulties.  He had come to the United States in 1837 as an exile from Norway with the purpose of founding a colony for Norwegians,  who like himself,  were dissatisfied with conditions in the home country.  He spent time in St Louis, Missouri before coming to Lee Co., 
in 1838-1839.

1840 Lee Co. Census   Des Moines Twp.   (Hans Pullen)
Hans Barlien:  70-80 years old
Unnamed Women:  20-30 years old
Unnamed Female Child:  0-5 years old
Notes:   Died in August, 1842 at Sugar Creek, burial place unknown.

In the summer of 2001,  Ivar Buch,  a native of Norway,  came to visit the Sugar Creek area hoping to find more information about his ggrandfather,  Hans Barlien,  his wish was to find his burial place.  We followed the creek from its start to the mouth where it emptied into Sugar Creek,  which again empties into the Des Moines River and the Des Moines into the mighty Mississippi River.  We drove past the parcels of land owned by the Norwegian families,  visited the Scandinavian Cemetery.  At the end of our tour we decided that surely,   he had walked or been near a place Hans Barlien had traveled during his short stay at Sugar Creek nearly 160 years ago.Picture of Barlien Creek running thru the Sugar Creek area in Des Moines Township    Creek
Picture of Ivar Buch standing at St Francisville, Missouri, looking across the Des Moines River into Iowa 

Note:   See Hans Barlien   "Norwegian-American Historical Association"

Kleng Peerson
Early Emigrant (1821)
1840 Lee Co Census Klunk Peerson (60-70)

Notes:   He was in Lee county for a short time and then went back to Missouri, selling his land in 1847 and joining a Norwegian Colony in Henry Co., Illinois. He went to Texas in 1849 and died there in 1865.

The brothers Knud and Jacob Slovig had a part in the settlements in Orleans County, New York, LaSalle County, Illinois, Shelby County, Missouri and in Lee County, Iowa.

Knute Anderson
Knud Anderson Slogvig
Early Immigrant (1825)  (1830)

1850 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp    (Newton Anderson) Knute Anderson, age 50; Ann, age 43; Bertha, age 9; Ann, age 8; Milena, age 6; Serena, age 2; Andrew, age 5 month

See Scandinavian Cemetery
The Scandinavian Cemetery started on the Anderson farm.

Notes:   Emigrated on the George Champlin to Newport in 1830, returning to Norway in 1835. Emigrated again on the Norden in 1836 to LaSalle Co., Illinois., moving soon to Shelby Co., Mo. Came to Sugar Creek in 1843.  Married June 30, 1839 in Edina, Mo., to Anna Olsdatter Hetleveldt, daughter of Ole Knudsen Hetleveldt.  Six children, Bertha 1841-1915; Anna 1842-1907; Mallena 1844-1854; Anders 1845-1926; Serine 1848-1917; Martha 1850-1854.  .

Notes:  Some believe he was part of the 1825 voyage on the "Restaurationen"; Another version of Knud's marriage, from the Flom book. On his return to Norway, in 1835, he
married a sister of Ole Olson Hetletvedt

Note:  See  Knud Anderson Slogvig    Immigrant Shiploads of 1836/1837 "" "Norwegian-American Historical Association"

Andrew Simonson
Early Emigrant
Left La Salle Co., Illinois and went to Shelby Co. with the other early immigrants, coming to Lee Co. in 1839

Notes:  The only reference I find to this name is on the 1880 Census, in DM Twp.,   Andrew Simonson, 69 years old, farmer and Yoorand Simonson, 76 years old.

Omund Olson

Early Immigrant
Left La Salle Co., Illinois and went to Shelby Co. with the other early immigrants, coming to Lee Co. in 1839

1850 Lee Co. Census   Des Moines Township
Ommund Olson, 33 years;  Sunia, 43 years

Notes:    As early as 1842, several of the settlers joined with him in erecting a Quaker meeting house on his farm. This is thought to be the first house of worship erected by a Norse in America.

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Jacob Olson
Jacob O. Hetletvedt Early Immigrant
Left La Salle Co., Illinois and went to Shelby Co. with the other early immigrants, coming to Lee Co. in 1839

1840 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp    (Jacob Holson)
Jacob Olson: 30-40 years old, Unnamed women 20-30 years old

Notes:    Lived in Lee Co. til his death in August 1857, his widow married Sven Kjylaa, with whom she moved to the Fox River Settlement in Illinois.

Mrs. Thorstein T. Rue
Early Immigrant
Left La Salle Co., with her husband, Thorstein Thorson Rue for Shelby Co., Missouri. Came to Sugar Creek as a widow in 1839.

Notes: She and her sons Thorstein and John Lived here until 1846, when she and son, John went to Wisconsin to join the Blue Mound Settlement.  From 1850 Census; Hanns P Thorson 15 m f Norway.

Note:  See Snowshoe Thompson  "Norwegian-American Historical Association"

Peter Omundson
Peter Omundson Gjilje (1803-1895)
Early Immigrant (1836)
1850 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp Peter Omanson, age 48, Katherine Omanson, age 34. The census says the children were all born in Iowa. Peter, 11; Nelson, 10; Christian, 10; Elisabeth, 6; Hellen, 4; and Cornelius, 1.

Notes:    Immigrated in 1936 on the "Norden" Emigrated to Fox River, Shelby Co., Illinois, later moved to Shelby Co., Missouri, and then to Lee Co., Sugar Creek. Removed to New Sharon, Iowa in 1864 where he died in 1895. His wife, born Karina Bornevik, Naerstrand, Norway, died in 1902.

Erick Oleson
Note:    Could this be Ole Erickson?

Hans Testman
Early Immigrant (1838)
Came from Stavanger, Norway with Kleng Peerson in 1838 to Shelby Co. Missouri

1840 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp Hans Testman, 20-30 years old
1850 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp Hans Tisman, age 37, Christena, age 26; Hans

Peter, age 6, born in MO; Caroline, age 1, born in Iowa

Notes   There are several families living in Lee Co. that are descendants of Hans Testman. His ggrandaughter still lives on the Sugar Creek farm he purchased in 1844.

See Scandinavian Cemetery

William Testman

Early Immigrant (1838)
Came from Stavanger, Norway with Kleng Peerson in 1838 to Shelby Co. Missouri

1840 Lee Co Census    Des Moines Twp William Testman, 30-40 years old, Unnamed female: 20-30 years old

1850 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp William Tessman, age 40; Sarah Tessman, age 40, born in Norway

This is the last information we could find on William Testman.

Peter Testman
Early Immigrant (1838)
Came from Stavanger, Norway with Kleng Peerson in 1838 to Shelby Co. Missouri

Peters own account of his time spent in No America was written & published.

Notes: Excerpt from article; I set out upon my return journey and was accompanied by my two brothers as far as the banks of the Mississippi, whence they again returned to their places of residence. After a trip of a day and a half on a steamboat down the river, I reached St. Louis." He doesn't mention Sugar Creek but was reported as having been here in the Flom book. His writing was done in 1839

Note:  See Peter Testman  "Norwegian- American Historical Association" 
          He wrote a book and it is at the Keokuk Library

Nelson Oleson
Early Immigrant (1838)
Came from Stavanger, Norway with Kleng Peerson in 1838 to Shelby Co. Missouri

1840 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp.    (Nelson Holson)
Nelson Olson 50-60 years old, Unnamed women 15-20 years old

Note: 1856 Census shows a Nelson Olson, a 67 year old widow, with a 23 year old male.

Hanson Nelson

Early Immigrant

1840 Lee Co. Census   Des Moines Twp
Nelson Hanson, 30-40 years old, Unnamed female: 30-40 years old, Unnamed male:
under 5 years old, 2 unnamed female: under 5 years old

Notes:    This family could be one of the group found with Hans Barlien

Canute Erickson

Knud Erichsen Lodve
Early Immigrant (1838)
1840 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp    (Canute Arickson)
Canute Erickson, 30-40 years old
1850 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp.    (Kanute Areson)
Knute Erickson, age 53, Osar, age 50
Notes:    (Knud Erichsen Lodve) Born in Voss in 1801. Emigrated from Voss in 1838. Came to Lee Co. in 1839, where he died in 1863. Married twice (1)One child from first marriage, Martha 1839-1928.
See Scandinavian Cemetery    lot owned by Erickson, no stone

Ole Erickson
Ole Erichen Lodve
Early Immigrant (1838)

1840 Lee Co. Census    Des Moines Twp.    (Ole Arickson)
Ole Erickson, 30-40 years old

1856 Census Ole 55; Martha 32; Nels 2 and Bertha and Rundy, newborns.
Notes: (Ole Erichsen Lodve) Born in Voss in 1800. Emigrated to Lee Co., Ia; died in Ashton, Mo., 1875.   Married Martha Nelson, Sept 19, 1850, in Lee Co. Eight Children, Nils 1854-1913; Bertha 1855-; Randi 1855-1897; Elias 1858-1912; Andrew 1861-1909; Anne 1863-1895; Erik died in infancy

Samuel Anderson
1840 Lee County Census    Montrose Twp.    (Samuel Inoson)
Samuel Inoson, 50-60 years old; Unnamed female: 15-20 years old, Unnamed female: 10-15 years old

Notes:  Could be one the settlers that was here with Hans Barlien


Other of the earliest settlers mentioned in the "History of Norwegians Immigration to The United States"   as being at Sugar Creek.   Coming from before 1846

Lars Tallakson
Early Immigrant

Notes:    From Bergen, Norway, came from Clark Co., Missouri, where he had settled in 1838. About a decade later he removed to LaSalle Co., Illinois where he lived to a good old age, dying about 1900.

Gjermund Helleikson
Early Immigrant

1850 Census
Jerome, 40; Ingleborg, 44; Alexander 17 and Mary, 10 years old

Notes:    Mentioned in the Flom book that he may have been a settler who came with Hans Barlien.

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Jacob Anderson Slogvig
Early Emigrant (1825)

Notes: Brother of Knute Anderson; went to California about 1850, became wealthy before his death in 1864. (Wheeler website)

Ole Soppeland

C. Pearson

Nils Nelson
Early Immigrant

Notes:   Brother of Aad and Christian Nelson

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Christian Nelson
Early Immigrant (1843)

1850 Census
Christian, 28; Anna, 28 and Christian 2/12

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Note:    Emigrated from Nedstrand on the "Haabet" in 1843. Married Anne Evaensdattar Soppeland, daughter of Eivind Jonsen SOPPELAND.  She is thought to have emigrated in 1849. Brother of Aad and Nils Nelson.

Aad Nelson
Early Immigrant

1850 Census
Otto (Aad) 30; Christena, 30 and Christian, 2 years old
Notes:   Brother of Nils and Christian Nelson.

See Scandinavian Cemetery

New Information from Larson family

Lars Larson
Early Immigrant (1836)
Information from family:
Lars Larson, born in 1794 in Alsaaker, Norway Marthe Tostensdatter, born in 1824, Bergan, Norway.  Sons; Lars, Torstien and Johannes were born in Norway

Notes:   Immigrated in 1836 on the Den Norsk Klippe. The family was thought to have headed to the Fox River Settlement.  A fourth son, Thomas was born in Scotland Co., Missouri in 1840. Lars died in 1842, Thomas died in 1843 and Martha in 1846 at Sugar Creek.  Marthe had joined the Mormon Church in 1843.  The boys left Sugar Creek in 1846, traveled to western Iowa, Lars Jr. preaching to the Ponca Indians and Torstien joining the Morman Battalion.


Early settlers found in the 1850 Census

Lars Monson
Early Immigrant (1839)

1850 Census
Elias, 47: Toran, 43; Ann, 10; Jandy, 7 and Martha 5 years old
1856 Census  Lars is still living at that date. It also shows the family living in Iowa 14 years. (1842)

Note: Emigrated as Lars Monsen Ygre; born at Voss, February 18, 1808. Emigrated on the "Christina" in 1839, to the Sugar Creek settlement where he died in 1856/1857.   Ann Munson married Andrew Jacobson; Rundy married Jacob Lind and Martha married Charles Brudewald.

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Johan Joseph Laumann
Early Immigrant (1839)

Notes:   Son of LORENTZ Laumann and Anne Kristine Resch. Born at FAABERG, Sep 02, 1792. Glassblower at the Jevne glassworks, Faaberg. Emigrated to the Norwegian settlement near Keokuk, Lee Co., IA, where he he purchased a farm in 1841, then died Dec 11, 1942. Married in Faaberg, Oct 16, 1817.   

Note:  There was a burial ground reported on the farm, perhaps his grave, plus seven children were born to son, Gerhardt S., and four died in infancy.

Barier Anderson

1850 Census
52 m lab Norway
Notes:    On 1856 Census as Barry Anderson 56 Lived in Iowa 10 years (1846)


Early settlers appearing in the 1856 Census

Elias Brudewald
1856 Census
Elias Brudevold 42; Gerttre 38; Ellen 14; Elizabeth 12; Theodore 10; Mary Lufa 6; Anton 2; Mary and Martha 1 years old.
Notes: 1856 Census say family in Iowa six years. (1850)   Oct 12, 1864 Charles S. Brudewold married Martha Munson.   Mar 9,1865 Eliz Brudaval (Brudewold)married Canute Stone (Stonewall) ??

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Note:  WPA - S.E. Brudewald Died 1929 73y 8m 9d (Born 1856/1857) Martha Munson Brudewold is said to be buried in the Scandinavian Cemetery, no stone

Ann Hanson
1856 Lee Co. Census
Ann, 55 years, widow; Henry 20; Caroline 11; Jane 9, Hans 10 and Lars 5. Living in Iowa 5 years (1851)

Notes: Family emigrated to the U.S in 1848.

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Sjur Peierson
1856 Lee County Census
52 years, male; in Iowa 10 years (1846)

Notes: 1874 Atlas; S Pearson landowner DM Twp.

John Peterson
1856 Lee Co. Census   Said born in Norway
John 40; Christina 39; Peter A. 10; in Iowa 5 years (1851)

See Scandinavian Cemetery
John Peterson    05 05 1817      09 23 1895

Notes: 1874 Atlas; John Peterson landowner, DM Twp. in the same area as the other Norwegians.

Early immigrants found in the 1880 Census

Christian Larson
Emigrated 1863

See 1880 Census

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Berant Larson
See 1880 Census

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Jacob Lind
See 1880 Census

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Andrew Jacobson
See 1880 Census

See Scandinavian Cemetery

 Notes: Immigrated in 1862 from Stavanger, Norway

Canute Oleson
See 1880 Census

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Sjur Oleson

See 1880 Census

See Scandinavian Cemetery

Jobe Alvis
See 1880 Census

See Scandinavian Cemetery

 See 1880 Census
Notes: Plot in Scandinavian Cemetery owned by Stonewall.  No stones



See 1880 Census

See Scandinavian Cemetery

For more information on the Norwegian families buried in the Scandinavian Cemetery. See Scandinavian Cemetery Page

 See 1850 Lee Co. Census Pag e  
 Norwegian Immigrants, with information known about each person.

See  1880 Lee Co. Census Page   
Norwegian Immigrants, with information known about each person.

Much of the above information was found in the book;  History of Norwegian Immigration to the United States by George T. Flom, Ph D.,  published in 1909.

Available at the Keokuk Library


"Norwegian-American Historical Association"
Records of all kinds about emigrants  from Norway 

Hans Barlien
Sugar Creek
Knud Anderson Slogvig

Peter Testman

WorldGenWeb Norway site

Donnellson Public Library   500 Park Avenue, Donnellson, IA 52625