Danish settlements, Danish emigration, Danish colonies, Howard County


What I write here is not historical but is simply experiences and memories after having lived in Howard County some 48 years. Last summer in Dannebrog we had an Old Settlers' Picnic, but there were not many of the old settlers left from 1871 and 1872 when the first Danes began to settle in this county. Mrs. Lerke Sorensen and Mrs. Lars Hannibal were the first white women to settle in Howard County, along with their husbands. Lars Hannibal and Lerke Sorenson were actually the founders of the colony which was organized in Wisconsin with the objective of going to Nebraska to find good farm land and to form a Danish colony. Insofar as I remember, only five men made the trip. They traveled as far west as Grand Island and then walked north until they reached the Middle Loup River. How did they cross the river? Well, they walked across. 1 The river ran deep in some places, but these places they had to avoid insofar as possible. They succeeded in crossing the river. A short time before that they had crossed into Howard County, one of their goals. They now looked at different places to settle and eventually discovered Oak Creek Valley. They agreed that there was not only good land but also wooded areas alongside the creek. Wood was of great significance to the beginning settlers. I have talked with people who settled in other parts of Nebraska where they had a terrible beginning. They lacked not only wood for fuel, but lumber for their sod houses and barns. The five men, therefore, decided to develop the colony in the Oak Creek Valley and named the colony Dannebrog. A large tree still stands where Lars Hannibal later built his home.