Heading photo

Home Page

vert line


vert line

Yearly get together

vert line


vert line

History Laget

vert line

N Norway/Map

vert line


vert line


vert line


History Lag

Nordlandslaget was Founded in 1909 - Fifth Lag organized

We hold an annual convention (stevne) end of June (mid week)

Nord Norge is the official quarterly publication

We have Members in the United States, Canada and Norway

The counties of Norway (21) represented are Nordland, Troms and Finnmark


Purpose of Bygdelags: "To link the past with the present and future"

The "Nord-lands-laget" Bygdelag is one of many Norwegian organizations (Lags) comprised of descendants of emigrants from Norway to North America. Every "Lag"seeks to preserve and strengthen bonds with its home district or community-of-origin in Norway

(Nord-lands-lag-et) Nordlaqndslaget Av America Og Kanada is an organization of the descendants of immigrants who came to North America from the northern counties of Norway, beginning around the middle of the 19th Century. The "Lag" formed as those immigrants developed a mutual support network for their kinfolk and for the Nordlendinger who would follow to the new world.

Today Nordlandslaget continues in that tradition -- networking to sustain the spirit, maintain ties to the homeland and to find connections to those who came seeking opportunity in North America.

Genealogy is a major focus of many lags today. Perseving the culture of the regions thru annual get togethers (Stevnes) that bond the Lag members together now and into the future.

How did the Lag and Sons of Norway come about

According to the Sons of Norway Lodge History and the history of Bydelags from Norwegian Americian Historical Association, the Minnesota Historical Society and Wikipedia the history of these two groups could be described as one of steady and deliberate progress. By the 1870s, Minneapolis had a very active nucleus of Norwegian emigrants, many of whom had come from the Trondheim area to form a colony in the northern part of the city.

Norwegian pragmatism ("pragmatism" in ordinary contexts referring to dealing with matters in one's life realistically and in a way that is based on practical) rose to the surface during the severe depression which began in 1893 and was a time of economic disaster throughout the land. The Panic of '93 was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced. The founders of SON were cautious men, not taken to dreams of big business but of mere survival for their families and neighbors. They recalled the group assistance plan about which some of them knew from Trondheim where members paid a small amount each week and in return received free medical care for themselves and their families. It was in this spirit of real necessity that Sons of Norway was founded as a mutual assistance society, one built on the moral principles of American fraternalism.

"Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson" was the name first selected for the new organization. Impossible to pronounce and why the name of Norways most famous poet?, "Sønner av Norge" was the name settled upon and the formal inception with 18 founders when completed on 16 January 1895.

The organization provided not only security against financial crises and a forum to celebrate their new nationalism, but it also served to preserve the many things Norwegian which were treasured by those who had left Norway: the literature, music and art which formed such a large part of their heritage. Article three of the incorporation document lays down the solid foundation on which the society was built: "This corporation is organized upon fraternal principles, for the purpose of creating and preserving interest in the Norwegian language by its members, insofar as compatible with the loyalty they owe the United States of America; to labor for the development, enlightenment and progress that conduce to honest citizenship, in order that the Norwegian people in this country may be properly recognized and respected; to aid its members and their families in case of sickness and death, by according them financial assistance of such magnitude, and upon such conditions, as may be determined by its by-laws."

This first lodge changed its name to Nidaros Lodge l-001 when a second lodge was formed under the name Oslo Lodge 1-002. Quickly, others were formed around Minnesota so that by the start of 1900 there were 12 in all. At about the same time, a similar organization was forming on the West Coast.

The start of the FIRST BYGDELAG

Norwegian-American Bygdelags and their Publications
By Jacob Hodnefield

In the papers of Andrew A. Veblen in the Minnesota Historical Society is a manuscript labeled Bygdelag Origin, which gives an account of the beginning of the bygdelags. Andrew Veblen credits the origin of the bygdelag movement to one Thomas Lajord who later became Vice President in 1902 of the Valdris Lag. A letter from Lajord in the February 2, 1899 issue of Nordvesten (St. Paul) suggested a get-together of immigrants from Valdris. A second letter appeared in the same paper February 28, 1899, favoring the idea of a meeting.

Following these suggestions, a Valdris convention was held in Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, June 25, 1899. About 800 persons gathered at this meeting. A second meeting, which was held at the same place, September 9, 1900. The third meeting took place September 8, 1901, in Como Park, St. Paul. At this meeting it was decided to organize a Valdris society. An organization committee was appointed. The name Valdris Samband (Vaidris Union) was agreed upon. The fourth meeting, at which a constitution was adopted, was also held in Como Park, August 31, 1900. The society dates its beginning from this meeting. About 280 members were present. It was decided to hold annual meetings. Thus the first bygdelag of many to follow was on its way. It was a pathfinder and a model for the later lags.

The big 3 Norwegian newspapers, the Skandinaven (Chicago), Decorah-Posten, and Minneapolis Tidende. Also 3 smaller papers one being the "Nordvesten, (page 40) founded in St. Paul in 1881, was one of those Norwegian newspapers which in its time strongly influenced political developments in Minnesota. The newspaper was edited by Christian Brandt between 1881 and 1887. He came to U S 1876; worked at Daily Scandinavian in Chicago as city editor 1876-78; on La Crosse paper 1878-80; published Red River Posten until 1881. Søren Listoe (a Dane) in 1888 replaced him. Listoe had for several years been a co-worker in Nordvesten. Johannes B. Wist for extensive parts of the 1890s was involved with Nordvesten, was to become a household name in the Norwegian American press. He was the editor in chief of Decorah-Posten (page 40) from 1901 onwards, and was also the editor of Norsk Amerikansk Festskrift (Norwegian American - a collection of writings published in honor of a scholar)1914. The other two of three small political papers where the Fergus Falls Ugeblad and the Rodhuggeren

The Valdris Samband (Vaidris Union) quickened the interest of other immigrant groups, and similar societies sprang up rapidly in various parts of the Northwest, notably during 1907-18 and again in 1925 and the years immediately following. Customarily, in the organization of such societies, someone would write to a Norwegian newspaper, such as Skandinaven (Chicago) or Decorah-Posten, (page 40) suggesting a get-together of immigrants from a certain district in Norway. More correspondence would follow, after which a preliminary meeting would be announced in the newspapers. When this took place, the procedure would be election of temporary officers, appointment of a committee on organization, and the making of plans for further meetings. Later a constitutional committee and arrangements for a permanent organization would be taken care of.

According to several authors, the bygdelag movement was stimulated by the May 17th Norwegian Constitution in 1914 at which time large groups of Norwegian Americans visited Norway. Members of certain lags went in bodies. Several societies made gifts to home districts. Another stimulant was the Norse-American Centennial in 1925 in St. Paul (page 300), celebrating the centenary of the first group immigration of Norwegians to America. President Coolidge spoke on this occasion and an estimated 200,000 attended. This celebration was largely managed and financed by the bygdelags (page 301) and their general council, the Bygdelagenes Fællesraad.

Similar societies were organized in Canada from 1925 on ward. The objectives of Canadian lags include the preservation of Norwegian literature, history, music, and art. These lags have emphasized the contributions to Canada made by the Norwegian immigrants.


Mr. C. B. Morck had lived in Minneapolis several years and had been quite involved in the Norwegian business life of the Upper Midwest area. He also was a personal friend of Professor Andrew A. Veblen who would soon give help to form a Nordlandslaget. In the summer of 1908, Bishop Anton Christian Bang visited America and was Born in Lofoten, Nordland he became President of Nordlendingernes Forening (northerners Association) in Oslo, 1892-1893. During Bishop Bang's visit that summer he met with three Nordlendinger (northerners) Mr. C. B. Morck from Leirfjorden (born in Nordland), Dr. Hendrik Nissen from Harstad (born in Troms) and Dr. Knute Hoegh from Kaafjord (born in Finnmark). The Bishop was very interested in these individuals' thoughts on forming an association of North Norwegians in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. He likened it somewhat to Nordlendingernes Forening (northerners Association) in Kristiania (Oslo).

It was the renowned cultural personality Ole Tobias Olsen from Rana and hymn writer Elias Blix from Gildeskål that in 1862 a great time with classmates from the north took the initiative and founded the nordlendingernes-forening association. a "Northern Norwegian uprising" to ensure justice for the region, economically, socially and culturally (Read what people thought of the uncivilized northerners). From 1862 and until today the association has been an anchor for many immigrants with ties to the three northernmost counties, a social networking and meeting place where northern Norwegian culture and many of the region's rich traditions have been kept alive for nearly 140 years. The association is currently the oldest immigrant association in the capital.

In August of 1908, Mr. Morck called together a meeting at Richman Hall in Minneapolis to seriously discuss the formation of a Nordlandslaget. At that meeting Mr. Morck was elected as a temporary president and it was decided to call a second meeting. At the second meeting 33 people came together and Minneapolis. O.A. Tinglestad Report about the meeting (Oct. 5, 1908)

"It is quite certain that there will be a Nordlandslaget formed in not too long a time. A preparatory meeting was held yesterday afternoon and a formal organizational meeting will be held shortly. A great number of Nordlendings came together at Richman Hall and Mr. C. B. Morck led the proceedings. Those in attendance spoke about their common interests for a Nordlandslaget. Nordlandslaget will be the fifth Bygdelag which will be organized in the wave of the Bygdelag's Movement which is now traveling through Norwegian-America."

At this first meeting of what has become Nordlandslaget, a great many Nordlendings (northerners) from St. Paul and Minneapolis were invited. One of the individuals present was Andrew A. Veblen (representing the frist lag formed in United States - Valdres Samband) who informed the gathering about how a Bygdelag could be organized. Andrew A. Veblen later wrote a manual called "The Valdris book; a manual of the Valdris samband"

The first Nordlending to speak from the group was Pastor I. A. Johnsen. He gave a rather lengthy speech about the battle which was to begin. One of his projects at the time was to inform the public about the battle which the Nordland fishermen had to fight against the elements, and that often times this battle ended in a "watery grave covered by tears." In conclusion he proposed a worthy project for Nordlendings here in America. They should gather-in money for a lifeboat to be used along the Norwegian coast. The organization has sent numerous gifts to Nordland, Norway, including a lifeboat in 1913 for Lofoton Islands

It is not important to name all who spoke at this meeting, but the end result was that a national Nordlandslaget was formed and the name was Nordlandslaget i Amerika, which later was changed to av Amerika og Kanada. Also at this same meeting a temporary committee was named to make certain that a general meeting would be held in Minneapolis in June and this group was to function as leadership for that meeting. The following people were elected as temporary officers of the organization: President, C. B. Morck; Secretary, Pastor I. A. Johnsen; Vice-President, Pastor Tollefsen; Financial Secretary, A. C. Hoegh; and Treasurer, Dr. Knute Hoegh.

The first Nordlandslag Stevne (Gathering)

The first stevne of Nordlandslaget was held at Dania Hall on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis, June 24-26, 1909. The highlight of that meeting was an organized tour from Dania Hall to Lake Minnetonka by special streetcar. On Lake Minnetonka the members took a short steamboat ride around the beautiful lake. For entertainment, a group of young men formed a choir - the name Nordkap (In 2010 it was disbanned-and members joined other choirs).

At the same time a local organization, just for the Twin Cities called the Nordlands Minde, that was to meet more often than a Stevne was formed. Nordlands Minde and Nordkap Male Choir sailed out into the world together on the 18th of March, 1909, as a result of the organizational meeting for the first stevne. The first day of the lag's first national convention took place under pleasant sunshine on June 24th, 1909. It is estimated that approximately 250 persons attended.

The Stevne was complete with membership badges and Nordlenging being spoken (as remembered by Iver O. Iverson, of Lamberton, Minnesota) "Do you need to ask if we had badges? Yes, you can certainly believe. We even had a picture of a Nordlands boat on the badge and we talked Nordlending (Northern Norway)" It was decided to make this an annual affair. Iver Iverson continues, "The next meeting was to take place on the 22nd of June, 1910. At that time we desired to have the meetings as close to St. Hans Day as possible. For this reason the meeting was also very often called a St. Hans or a Jonsokk Fest."

Nordlandslaget has issued a serial publication, beginning December, 1912, and continuing to date. Julius Baumann became editor with Johan Gregor as assistant editor.The first two numbers were entitled simply Nordlandslaget, December, 1912 and December, 1913, after which the title was changed to Nord-Norge. The issue for December, 1950, was number 138. The publication is characterized by material descriptive of the home district, Nordland, Norway. There are lists of officers and members; reminiscences; sketches; stories; letters; biography.

Dr. G. M. Bruce lists the common resolves of all the bygdelags as follows: Foster, strengthen, and maintain fellow feeling and co-operation among Norwegian Americans, the native-born as well as those who emigrated, preserve and enrich our inherited culture values, such as language, history, literature, and art; promote a knowledge of and interest in the history of our people and their contribution to this country, both on the part of those who are here in the western world and those of our kin across the water; collect and preserve for the future mementos and memorials from pioneer days, books and newspapers; preserve, broaden, and strengthen the contact and fellow feeling with the land and people of our forebears.

A bygdelag, in Norwegian speech, is a society whose members are of one community. According to Andrew A. Veblen (Carleton College-Valdres Samband - the Oldest Bygdelag in America -1899), An American bygdelag is a society composed of natives of some particular settlement or group of settlements in Norway and of their descendants in this country. Theodore C. Blegen defines bygdelags as societies made up of immigrants, and the descendants of immigrants, who originated in particular districts in the old country. Again, The membership was made up of immigrants from given districts and their descendants; the bonds of union were dialect, common customs, songs and music, acquaintanceship, and shared traditions.

The meetings of the lags, consequently, partook of the nature of family reunions, although on a larger scale, and they are not dissimilar to reunions in larger cities of residents from some particular rural community. However, in the case of the lags there are stronger ties than those of place. There are bonds of language and dialect, education, religious training, common scenery, a common emigration experience, common pioneering, common homesickness. In the annual conventions of such societies, visiting, or social conversation, is of first importance. The social aspect is characteristic of all lags. Despite other qualities that characterize some of these organizations, visiting retains first place, and visiting cannot be ignored by any of them.

The bygdelags object is primarily social, to foster friendship and acquaintance of former neighbors, and to cultivate the traditions and keep alive the memories of the ancestral home localities. They have other aims, collecting, preserving, and publishing historical and biographical information regarding immigrants to America who came from the districts that the lag represents.

The word bygdelag is made up of two parts: lag, as used in the compound noun, means society or association; bygd means district, parish, community, settlement. Bygge means to build. Hence, a bygd is a place that is built up, inhabited. The word is often applied to a small community. Along the mountainous coast of Norway the traveler comes upon fords and inlets where there are buildings and habitations. It was natural to call such a place a bygd. Many of the names of the societies have an et ending, as Sognalaget. The et is the definite article, corresponding to the English the. Sognalaget means The Sogna Lag, the name of the home district being Sogn.

The programs of the lag conventions reflect the culture of the home districts in Norway. If the home district was deeply religious, the programs of the corresponding lag will be of a religious character. If plays, music, or folk dances were of great interest in the Norwegian community, the lag program in America will show that. A greater variety has characterized the programs as time passed, and that music, plays, and films of Norway have had a larger place on the programs.

The individual lags often set forth their objectives in their constitutions or published them separately.

To gather the people who emigrated from the country districts and their descendants in an annual convention, there to meet relatives and friends, to form new acquaintances, and to work for the preservation of the Norwegian language and the old traditions, and, so far as possible, to help needy people in the country districts in Norway.

In view of the make-up of the bygdelags and of their objectives, publication activities would naturally be incidental. Visiting, renewing acquaintances, reminiscing are foremost. Some societies have issued no publications; some have issued a few unimportant ones; some have had ambitious publication plans but have had to drop them. A few have undertaken programs of issuing yearbooks and other publications in which they have recorded their immigration history, pictured the homeland, told of their pioneering, related adventures, issued biographies and genealogies of immigrants, written the history of pioneer communities, re ported church history, and otherwise set down their story as an immigrant group and emphasized their contributions to American life. Such publications were the responsibility of members who were aware of their value, frequently men of education, clergymen and editors.

Nordlandslaget was Founded in 1909

We hold an annual convention (stevne) end of June (mid week)

Nord Norge is the official quarterly publication

We have Members in the United States, Canada and Norway

The counties of Norway represented are Nordland, Troms and Finnmark

Officers Since June 2014
President: Shirlely Samson From Hoffman, Mn
Great Grandparents from

Vice President:Linda Havir From Minneapolis, Mn
Great Grandparents from

Secretary: Laurel Dikken From Sacred Heart, Mn
Great Grandparents from

Treasurer: DeVon Jokstad From Fargo, Mn
Great Grandparents from

Financial Secretary: Barbara Moe From New Hope, Mn
Great Grandparents from

Web Volunteer Edward "Mike" Wick From Eagan, mwick4249@comcast.net
Great Grandparents from Hunstad Gard, Bodin (10 mile East Bodo) Nordland
Great Grandparents from Skjeltstad Gard near Skau, (20 mile north Bodo) Nordland

Geneologist: Jay Liedman From Paynesville, Mn
Great Grandparents from

Nord Norge Editor: Open