The Slooper Monument Project -- BACKGROUND
A Little Bit of History
Jakob Anderson Slogvig (Slogvik) and his wife Serena (Serine) Tormodsdatter Madland were both born in the early 1800's in southwestern Norway. As young people they were aboard the small sloop Restoration which sailed in 1825 with a group of emigrants from Norway to America.* The Restoration (Restaurasjonen) is often called the "Norwegian Mayflower," as these folks were religious dissenters (many were Quakers or Quaker sympathizers) seeking religious freedom much like their English Pilgrim forbearers. The subsequent success of this emigrant group eventually led to major immigration which was of historical importance both to Norway and to the United States. Those aboard the sloop Restoration and their descendants are often called "Sloopers."**
Jakob, taking the Americanized name of Jacob Anderson, married Serena in upstate New York where these emigrants first settled. He moved his family west in the 1830's to be one of the first families to settle in the historically significant Fox River Settlement of Illinois. In 1848 they moved farther west to southwestern Iowa where they had a large fertile farm. In 1854 the family moved west again, this time to Soscol, an early community just south of the town of Napa in northern California. Here Jacob developed a new farm and lived there with his family until his death in 1864. He was buried in the Tulocay Cemetery in the town of Napa. In his 1961 book, The Sloopers, J. Hart Rosdail points out that Jacob died "farther from his native Norway than any other who came over on the Sloop" (p. 425). [See Map for westward movement.]
New information obtained in 2003 provided more information about the land purchased by this family in southern Napa County during the 1950's and 1960's. Search for land records and information about this family's life during this time period continue, but current information and current area photos can be viewed by starting with the new "Napa Area Land Map Page."
After Jacob's death Serena lived mostly with their son Andrew and his wife Melissa. After living in several parts of Iowa and California, Serena died in 1898 on the large Anderson ranch in the Sacramento Valley of northern California, west of the town of Willows. Serena was laid to rest beside her husband and youngest son in the Napa Tulocay Cemetery.
Visiting this Napa cemetery prior to May 2004, one found one simple stone for these 3 members of this historic family. It was a large plot with room for more burials, but the descendants moved from this area and subsequent families have chosen not to be buried here. [The location is: Block 49, Lot 19 (book 2, p. 64); Lot purchased by their daughter, Martha Wheeler.] While the engraving on the stone stated that both Jacob and Serene were born in Norway, there was no further indication that they were pioneers in Norwegian-American immigration.
Sloopers Jacob and Serena are the great great grandparents of Keith Wheeler of Mad River, California, USA, just one of their many descendants. For more information on these Sloopers and the family connections, visit Keith's Slooper Ancestors web page. For photos of just some of their descendants gathering for a California reunion, see the "Slooper Picnic 2002" albums.
MORE BITS OF RELEVANT HISTORY
Conditions in Norway leading up to the Sloopers leaving. Norway had been a Lutheran country since the early 1500's. Early challenges to this State Church came in the late 1700's when Hans Nielsen Hauge and his followers challenged the strict authority of the Church. During the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800's some Norwegian sailors imprisoned in England were converted by visiting Quakers. When these sailors returned to Norway and tried to practice and spread their newfound religion, they were met with stern opposition by the Lutheran Church. This was especially the case in the northern part of Rogaland country - the Tysvær parish area in which was located the Slogvik farm. Present evidence indicates that both Jakob Andersen Slogvik and his wife's Madland family were Quaker sympathizers and probably would have been members were it easier to do so prior to emigrating. Most aboard the Sloop Restoration were Quakers, Quaker sympathizers or "Haugeans" seeking more religious freedom.
* The Voyage. The sloop sailed from the Stavanger harbor on southwestern coast of Norway on July 4th, 1825. It met harsh weather that first day and at least 3 passengers became seasick and these 3 requested to return to land. The 3 passengers in question were the 3 older Madland children, Marta, Jens and Kristine. Reportedly the Restoration put in at "Dusevigen" (a short distance northwest of Stavanger harbor) where these 3 young people left the sloop. It sailed the next day, July 5th, leaving Norway for the final time. With only brief stops on the English coast and the Island of Madeira, this crowded little vessel sailed for over 3 months (98 days) before reaching New York harbor on October 9th.
** Who is a Slooper? "SLOOPER" is the term applied to the approximately 52 (maybe 53 after the birth of a baby girl during the 14-week voyage) pioneers of Norwegian immigration who came to America aboard the sloop Restoration. A list of the original Sloopers can be found online at the bottom of the Restaurasjonen page mentioned above (taken from Rosdail's Slooper book). No official or reliable passenger list has ever been found for this historic voyage. Research on the identity of passengers and the true number continues to this day, but there is no doubt that both Jacob and Serena came over on the sloop. The Slooper group's journey and success in America marked the beginning of the major, and historically significant, influx of Norwegian immigrants during the nineteenth century. The descendants of these pioneers are also called "Sloopers." The Slooper Society of America exists today. Made up of descendants of these early Norwegian settlers, the Society holds its annual meeting in Norway, Illinois, on the Sunday closest to October 9th, the arrival date of the Restoration.
Why was the immigration of this small Slooper group of historical significance?
"Smitten by 'America fever,' one-third of the Norwegian population crossed the Atlantic. While closely preserving their heritage, the Norwegian immigrants have left, and still leave, their distinctive mark on American politics, culture and economy. In percentage of population emigrating to the United States, Norway is second only to Ireland." -- from "Norwegians in the New World: The Historical Experience" on the official web site of the Norwegian Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While a number of individual Norwegian had come to the US prior to 1825, the voyage of the Sloopers is usually given as a reference point, as the beginning of a massive migration from Norway to North America. As historian Theodore Blegen said, they were "the vanguard of a host of more than three-quarters of a million immigrants from the western half of the Scandinavian peninsula." (T.C. Blegen, 1969, p. 24)
Bye's quote above is from his book that was written in connection with the 1975 "celebration" of the 150th anniversary of organized Norwegian immigration to America. Bye goes on to say, "I use the word 'celebration' in the American sense - in Norway we took care to replace it with terms such as 'Utvandrerminne' - 'Emigrant remembrance' or 'Memorial.' We chose to 'observe' the anniversary; one does not naturally 'celebrate' the fact that a substantial part of our population found life so unbearable at home that they packed up and left! There was, of course, much tragedy in the emigrant story, and it was only correct to recognize this, although the story has other and far more cheerful aspects as well. With the exception of Ireland, no single country has contributed a larger percentage of her population to America than Norway."
See "Slooper Links" for more of this interesting history.
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