Trønderlag of America
From "Trønderlaget of America 1908-1984" . .In March of 1904 a group of Tronders got together to plan a Trønderlaget stevne, but abandoned the idea because of bickering over what territory in Norway they should include. They were afraid they would cut a poor figure in comparison with the Valders group. A Trønderlag was hastily created in June of 1907 but received little support and failed.
The Trønderlaget of America was finally organized on September 17, 1908 at Fergus Falls, MN. Before the organization, there had been much writing and correspondence in the Norwegian papers, "Scandinavian" and "Decorah Posten". They had a difficult time finding someone to take the leadership. Faculty members of Tronder background at Park Region College in Fergus Falls, headed by the president Rev. D.G. Ristad, were among the promoters. Prof. Thomas Wollan and Prof. I. Darrum on their own called an organizational meeting. All Tronders from the eight fylkes were to be included. Later there were 15 more stevnes organized. Prof. Wollan, a banker and businessman from Glenwood, was the first president. Other officers included D.G.Ristad, John Wist, Thomas Warloe, O.C. Hauan, A.C. Floen and Lars Hayseth. There were 120 charter members but before the next stevne, more than 400 joined. In 1925 the membership had grown to 2,556 to become one of the largest stevnes.
The Tronderlaget early published yearbooks and were early members of Nordmans-Forbundet (today - "Norwegians Worldwide"). They also helped organize Bygdelagens Fellesraad. Money to help build a Kors Altar (choir altar) was donated to Trondheims Domkirke and they also presented an expensive model of Nidaros Kirke to the Norwegian-American Museum at Decorah, Iowa.
In 1926 the Tronderlaget in Duluth was unkindly characterized as an "old folks coffee party," because it did not attract the younger generations of Tronders.
A magazine called the "Trønder American" was published from 1935-39. In 1936 a gathering of all the separate stevnes was held at Madison, MN with a good attendance. During World War II, no Tronderlaget stevnes were held. When the Tronderlaget met in 1966, it was decided that because of the discouraging low attendance at the stevne, it had served its purpose and thus was disbanded. Henry Nycklemoe of Fergus Falls was president at that time.
The lag was brought back to life in 1982 in Dawson, Minnesota. The group responsible for that stevne included Agnes Boraas, Floyd and Selma Boraas, Irvin and Anna Kleven, Lowell and Bernice Oellien, Rudy and Bernice Prestholdt, Bervin and Arlene Skjei, Mildred Skurdahl, Ellsworth and Sylvia Smogard, Orvin and Josephine Larson, Selma Torstenson and Berdeen and Mable Vaala. They raised money by selling bumper stickers, pins, and other items and holding a raffle. They only charged $1.50 for a membership "so that no true-blooded Tronder would feel they couldn't afford to belong." At the business meeting, the following were elected to the Executive Board: Co-chairmen Bernice Oellien and Mable Vaala; Secretary Orvin Larson, Treasurer Ellsworth Smogard, Historian Meredith Ulstad; Directors Curtis Olson, Esther Opien and Ilene Chapman.
In 1999 the lag was renamed "Trønderlag of America" and a new set of by-laws were ratified by members at the business meeting.
Below is a list of the 15 local lags that were organized at one time in addition to the National Trønderlaget:
Chicago Tronderlag; organized in Chicago in 1924
Chippewa Valley Tronderlag; organized at Eau Claire, Wis in 1920
Duluth Tronderlag; organized in Duluth in 1920
Tronderlaget in Everett, WA; organized in Everett in 1955
Grand Forks Tronderlag; organized in Grand Forks, ND in 1917
Brulle Tronderlag; organized at Emmett, SD in 1936
Lake Hendricks Tronderlag; organized at Lake Hendricks in 1930
Minneapolis Tronderlag; organized at Minneapolis in 1913
Tronderlaget Nidaros; organized at Tacoma, WA in 1927
The Northwest Tronderlag; organized at Minot, ND in 1929
Park Region Tronderlag; organized at Ashby, MN in 1926
Pope County Tronderlag; organized at Starbuck, MN in 1921
Sioux Valley Tronderlag; organized at Baltic, SD in 1922
Thief River Falls Tronderlag; organized at Thief River Falls in 1926
Tronderlaget Tordenskjold; organized in Seattle, WA before 1925.
The "Umbrella" Organization over all of the lags.
Officially "Norwegian-American Bygdelagenes Fellesraad".
With the help of Tronderlag of
America (Trønderlaget), Fellesraad was created
November 17, 1916. The organization celebrating its
100th anniversary in 2016. The 2019 Fellesraad annual
meeting in Minneapolis was attended by representatives
from each of 29 bygdelag.
From a translation of entries
found in the 1929 year book come the following
statements of purpose:
*To stand as a connecting link between bygdelag.
*To create a forum for the member groups where questions of mutual interest and meaning could be drafted by lag representatives.
*To be an advisory organization, to support and guide development of the lag movement and to influence its cultural activities.
*To manage cooperative projects for the good of all bygdelag.
SOME HISTORY: Odd Sverre Lovoll
in his book "The Bygdelag Movement" (Volume 25: Page
3) said "The immigrants were not content with merely
flocking together in settlements of fellow Norwegians:
They took one step further and formed colonies with
people from the same valley, fjord, or parish in
Norway. Thus there came into being in this country
Halling settlements, Trønder settlements, settlements
of immigrants from Telemark, Setesdal, Nordland, and
other definable districts in the old country. "
Each lag might have a different
set of core values or beliefs that was the framework
for the creation of the lag. Of Tronderlaget, Lovoll
says "Trønderlaget represented a new idea: it emerged
as an expression of unity among people from a whole
diocese (stift) . Few groups encountered so many
difficulties as the Trønders before their lag achieved
a viable and permanent form. Their halting start
defied the proud slogan of many of its promoters: "It
won’t amount to anything before the Trønders arrive"
(Dæ bli ‘it no taa før Trønderan kjem)"
Many lags would make gifts to
the area they came from to show support for that area.
It might be aid to the poor or to help pay for
something they learned the old district desperately
The bygdelag movement was
greatly reduced during WWI and was declining in the
1920s. Today with the popularity of genealogy many
bygdelags have become family history/genealogy
organizations and help those working on research or
simply wanting a place to connect to their heritage.
Just as the early Norwegians
bonded together for mutual benefit, today many
bygdelags bond together. This is especially true of
the annual stevner.
With several bygdelags holding a
joint stevne, they are able to have a nicer venue,
more and better presentations, fun activities, larger
shared genealogy research facilities, and an overall
more enjoyable experience.
It also makes sense as the
bygdelags that join together are often for bygder
physically next to each other in Norway. Attendees
often have ancestors from more than one fylke (county)
Tronderlag of America joins with
Hedmark og Nord
Hedmarken and Gudbrandsdal lags
for this reason. When we take lag group photos at our
stevne, some attendees are in all three photos.
You can learn more at our other
fellow bygdelags at:
**Hedmark og Nord Hedmarken
Learn more about Bygdelagenes