NORSE, TEXAS. Norse is on Farm Road 182 forty miles west of Waco in southwestern Bosque County. Norwegians had arrived in East Texas by 1845, but in 1853 the malaria then prevalent in Henderson and Kaufman counties forced them to search for new homesites. Two differing stories explain how they chose southwestern Bosque County. One version credits Cleng Peerson, the "father" of Norwegian immigration to America, with suggesting the locale to his countrymen. The second story states that Nicholas Hanson, a soldier at Fort Graham, directed a Norwegian scouting party to the area. At any rate, the Scandinavians visited the area and found a rolling landscape reminiscent of the terrain of eastern Norway. The first settlers, including the Questad, Ringness, and Grimland families, arrived the following year. Later, additional Norwegians settled the regions of Meridian, Gary, and Turkey creeks. The isolated families soon centered their social life upon a scattered group of buildings, including a rock school and a few shops, which they named Norse. Religious services were held in the school until Our Savior's Lutheran Church was dedicated in 1878. A post office opened in 1880. In the mid-1880s community citizens established the Norse Mutual Fire Insurance Company, a nonprofit, shared-risk organization, which was so successful that within a few years its directors were forced to limit membership to Scandinavian families living within twenty miles of Norse. As late as 1956 the company was still headquartered in the rural community; it ceased operation in 1984.
The arrival of paved roads, which channeled economic growth to other nearby towns, induced the decline of Norse. The post office closed in 1929; over the years the school and shops also closed. In the mid-1980s descendants of the early immigrants still gathered at the church, the only remaining public structure in what was once the largest and most successful Norwegian settlement in Texas. Each November since 1949 a Norwegian Smorgasbord has celebrated the area's heritage. The community received special recognition in 1982, when King Olav V of Norway visited Our Savior's Lutheran Church to honor the accomplishments of Cleng Peerson, who is buried in the church's cemetery. The population of Norse remained about 100 in the 1980s. In 1990 and again in 2000 it was recorded as 110.
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Patricia L. Duncan, "Norse, TX," accessed May 24, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hln26.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles