Scandinavians, Midwest, Civil War, Danish, minority


The number of Scandinavians in the upper Midwest in 1850 was insignificant compared to the tens of thousands who arrived annually after the Civil War; but the early settlements, primarily in northern Illinois and eastern Wisconsin, typically served as way stations for the Scandinavians who came later, staying near the Great Lakes for shorter or longer periods of time before moving westward where more favorable conditions beckoned. It is in this connection one finds the nominal beginnings of a Danish presence in the prairie states, the region of the country most favored by the somewhat more than three hundred thousand Danes who immigrated in the half century after 1865. Pre - Civil War settlement by Scandinavians in the Mississippi Valley was dominated by Norwegians and Swedes, with an incidental number of Danes among them. The Scandinavians as a group were at this time a small minority of the white population which pressed hard against the eastern boundaries of the constantly decreasing Indian lands as yet unacquired by the United States government.