EXHIBITS - ELVERHØJ MUSEUM OF HISTORY & ART
November 20, 2020 Update
Dear Members & Friends,
With the recent changes implemented to protect our community from the spread of COVID-19, the museum indoor exhibit spaces are now closed by order of the governor and county health officials.
However, we are fortunate to have all the elements in place to be able to pivot and continue welcoming visitors to our historic building.
The Museum Store and Museum Grounds are OPEN
Saturday & Sunday · 11 am to 4 pm
Friday by appointment
1624 Elverhoy Way
Solvang, CA 93463
SKÅL SOLVANG - CELEBRATING 110 YEARS OF HISTORY AND CULTURE
Elverhøj Highlights Solvang’s Founding throughout 2021: Skål Solvang – Celebrating 110 Years of History & Culture
Visitors to Solvang today are welcomed by a picturesque downtown of half-timber Old World, Danish-style buildings and windmills. The story behind the downtown facades dates back 110 years.
After an extensive land search, nearly 9,000 acres of land were purchased on January 12, 1911 for a new Danish colony in the Santa Ynez Valley. The founding of this agricultural town was based on three deeply held principles: community, education and church. Within a month, settlers began to arrive and a name was selected for the new town: Solvang, literally “sunny field” in Danish.
Downtown Solvang grew quickly. Danish entrepreneurs built new businesses that provided goods and services to the growing community and the surrounding Santa Ynez Valley. Atterdag College, the Danish folk school built on a hill overlooking town, educated young adults and was the hub of the community. Solvang’s evolution from a rudimentary beginning into a success story was driven by perseverance and collaboration – a blending of American economic ideals with Danish community cooperation.
Following World War II and the January 18, 1947 publication of a feature story in Saturday Evening Post, enthusiastic tourists started visiting Solvang looking for “Little Denmark” as described in the Post article. The town turned to tourism with ever-increasing success, emphasizing Solvang’s heritage by rebuilding downtown structures in the Danish architectural style that has received national and international recognition.
Perhaps one of the most astonishing aspects of Solvang is that it has survived where many larger, more established Danish colonies in the United States did not. Through tenacity, forward thinking, sheer determination … and location … Solvang today is a vital and ever-evolving community.
The celebration of Solvang’s founding in 1911 and its 110th anniversary will be celebrated by the Elverhoj Museum of History and Art throughout 2021. “Skål Solvang – Celebrating 110 Years of History & Culture” will include special exhibitions and programming, an email series highlighting community milestones, and events when allowed.
CELEBRATING 110 Years of History and Culture
Elverhøj will celebrate Solvang's founding in 1911 and its 110th anniversary using the theme “Skål Solvang – Celebrating 110 Years of History & Culture” for a series of emails highlighting community milestones and, when permitted, in-person special exhibitions and events.
Visitors to Solvang today are welcomed by a picturesque downtown of half-timber Old World, Danish-style buildings and windmills. The story behind the downtown facades is a fascinating and unique story that dates back 110 years.
Travel to the isolated Santa Ynez Valley in the early 1900s was difficult and circuitous. The Pacific Coast Railway, shown approaching its final stop in Los Olivos, brought northern travelers from Harford's Wharf near San Luis Obispo. Horse drawn carriages or wagons took them the rest of the way.
After an extensive land search in northern California, they arrived in Los Olivos riding the narrow-gauge railroad. The land they saw had once been part of the sprawling Mexican-era Rancho San Carlos de Jonata land grant. Later it had been purchased by R.T. Buell, who ranched it until a drought hit and he was forced in 1890 to sell 10,000 prime acres to the Santa Barbara Land and Development Company.
Even though the Santa Ynez Valley was then a remote area, the founders saw possibilities that made it a viable location for a new town and Danish folk school. The soil looked promising for agricultural production, the sizable Santa Ynez River flowed nearby, and best of all, the price – $338,000 – was within their reach.
They incorporated their informal land-search committee as the Danish American Colony (DAC). On January 12, 1911 they signed an agreement offering a down payment of $5,000 and a promise to pay installments of $100,000 per year for the first three years.
Within a month, settlers began to arrive and a name was selected for the new town: Solvang, literally “sunny field” in Danish.
To begin the daunting task of selling land to would-be settlers and investors, the DAC immediately advertised in all the major Danish-American newspapers. The founders sent letters and brochures to their wide network of friends and supporters, encouraging them to buy stock or land in the new colony (at prices that ranged from $25 to $130 an acre), and inviting Danish youth to attend the first co-ed folk school in the nation. The mild California winter climate was an added incentive.
Danish and American flags fly briskly in front of the folk school (left), constructed in 1911 on Gaviota Road (present day Alisal). Adjacent is the Solvang Hotel, while behind the school stands a white tent that accommodated overflow settlers waiting for their homes to be built.
The DAC founders wasted no time. After four months, the colony had built a hotel to feed and house new arrivals while their homes and barns were being constructed. The Solvang Hotel and its busy kitchen would become the center of activity during that first year. Then, on November 15, 1911, the founders opened the Danish-American folk school (the last such school built in the United States).
Early residents gather in front of the Solvang Hotel. The building was funded, in part, through stock certificates.
By the end of 1911, 80 adults were residing in Solvang, and because of robust land sales, the DAC was successful in meeting its first $100,000 payment. The first residence – the H.P. Jensen home – had been built, the folk school was a resounding success, and the nucleus of a strong business community was forming. The Lutheran church held its first services. And Solvang’s first baby had been born to the wife of the town surveyor in late summer.
On the surface, Solvang was living up to expectations. But this idyllic beginning soon began to show signs of stress.
Learn more when we continue in February!
With appreciation to Ann Dittmer for historical research.
MUSEUM STORE & GROUNDS OPEN
Saturday & Sunday – 11 am to 4 pm
Shop-by-Appointment: For Members and those who prefer a more private experience. (805) 686-1211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guests must wear face covering and practice social distancing. Guest capacity is limited.
Want to learn more about the history of Solvang?
220 page, hardcover, full color book. Shipping available: $7.95 in US. To place an order phone 805-686-1211 or email email@example.com
ELVERHØJ EXCLUSIVE! $39.95
SOLVANG CHAMBER OF COMMERCE - 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Solvang evolved from a rudimentary beginning into a success story driven by perseverance and collaboration – a blending of American economic ideals with Danish community cooperation. The Solvang Chamber of Commerce, an organization that grew from its beginnings as the Solvang Businessmen’s Association (SBA), is one example of this cooperative spirit.
The SBA was formed one hundred years ago on January 16, 1921.
At the first meeting, six Solvang business owners met in the Solvang School House and elected butcher H.C. Hansen as president. The SBA quickly grew and 14 members were in attendance at the second meeting at Dania Hall (built in 1912 on the site of present-day Peasants Feast restaurant). Discussion focused on business matters of the day, including the need for road signs.
The by-laws, formally adopted in 1931, define the purpose of the SBA “ … to foster industries already established and to encourage the establishment of new, and to promote the welfare and interests of the town of Solvang and Santa Ynez Valley.”
When the SBA was formed, there was no electricity and no street lighting. There were no paved roads in the Santa Ynez Valley and the road to Santa Barbara was Gaviota Road (present day Alisal Road, shown on right in photo) and over the Nojoqui grade.
Accomplishments of the SBA in the early decades included bringing electricity and phone service to town, sponsoring annual celebrations, funding fire equipment and building a firehouse, supporting construction of the Veterans Memorial Building and Atterdag Gym, lobbying legislators for bond funds for road improvements, and advocating for the formation of lighting, water and sanitary districts.
Solvang did not incorporate until 1985. In the interim, many civic services were provided by volunteers with support from the SBA. The association's members raised funds for fire equipment and a fire house. The fire chiefs in this 1959 photo are standing in front of the original fire house on Main Street (now Copenhagen Dr.).
In 1967 the organization merged with the Solvang Businesswomen’s Association and Solvang Merchants Association and took on a new name: Solvang Business Association.
Nearly three decades later in 1995, the Solvang Business Association officially became the Solvang Chamber of Commerce.
Today, the Chamber continues to look for ways to improve the local business environment and support businesses, an especially important role during this time of COVID-related restrictions and financial challenges.
Stay safe and support your local businesses!
ELVERHØJ MUSEUM STORE & GROUNDS OPEN
Saturday & Sunday – 11 am to 4 pm
Learn more about the history of Solvang!
220 page, hardcover, full color book.
Shipping available: $7.95 in US. To place an order phone 805-686-1211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ELVERHØJ MUSEUM of History and Art
1624 Elverhoy Way
Solvang, CA 93463
SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICES
Bethania has suspended in-person services. You are invited to join us via live-streaming. See the links below.
Click the link to read my letter about what will be happening and how we'll stay connected. Also, Bethania Preschool will be communicating directly should they choose to close.
Pastor Chris letter
VELKOMMEN TIL BETHANIA LUTHERAN CHURCH
Journeying Together: Rooted, Growing, Branching Out
Sunday Worship 9:30 a.m.
Coffee Time 10:30 a.m.
Worship Service 11:00 a.m.
Sunday School 11:00 a.m.
Bethania Lutheran Church
603 Atterdag Rd
Solvang, CA 93463
Telephone - 805-688-4637
Email - email@example.com
Bethania Lutheran Website
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN DANISH AMERICA? - OUR WEEKLY NEWSLETTER
Subscribe Here for our FREE Sunday Evening E-News delivered to your email.
January 31 Issue
Here are some of the News and Events we'll be covering for the week of January 31 - February 7
-ASF Translation Competition 2021 Opens & 2020 Winners Announced
-Fundraiser for Dannebrog, NE Founder Descendent Tim Hannibal - Feb 6
-Profile on Lars Hannibal - Founder of Dannebrog, NE
-Live From Denmark - Photo Tour with Benedikte Ehlers Olesen - Fanø, Ribe, Mandø, Rømø, Møgeltønder, Sild, Eiderstedt, Frederiksstad - Feb 2
-A Great Danish American Birthday - Dale Thomas Mortensen - Feb 2
-A Great Danish American Birthday - George Peter Nissen - Feb 3
-A Great Danish American Birthday - Gwili Andre - Feb 4
-A Royal Birthday - Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth - Feb 5
-The Danish Pioneer Newspaper - Special Issue
LIVE FROM DENMARK! Photo Tour with Benedikte Ehlers Olesen
Many of us have taken tours across Denmark led by Benedikte. She has taken groups from America all across the country including many of the Danish Islands.
Benedikte has offered to help us through this long Covid winter by presenting a series of photo tours to help us dream of the days ahead when we can travel back to Denmark. We will present them on Zoom, live from her home in Denmark, and recordings will be available following each show. In each program, Benedikte will present a different area of Denmark, and a few minutes at the end for Q&A. The series will begin with "Christmas in Denmark" on December 22. The entire series schedule is shown here. All are free, and after you register, you will receive a Zoom link. The Tuesday programs will begin at 11:00AM Central (Chicago) time...
December 22 - Christmas in Denmark Recording
January 5 - Læsø, Samsø, Bornholm and Christiansø Recording
January 12 - Møn, Lolland, Falster, Fejø, Ærø, Fyn Recording
January 19 - København, Rungsted, Helsingør, Fredensborg Recording
January 26 - Christiansfeld, Åbenrå, Dybbøl, Sønderborg, Gråsten, Flensborg, Gottorp, Lyksborg Recording
February 2 - Fanø, Ribe, Mandø, Rømø, Møgeltønder, Sild, Eiderstedt, Frederiksstad
February 9 - Ringkøbing, Nørre Vosborg, Hjerlhede, Livø, Glenholm Vingård
February 16 - Jammerbugt, Tannisbugt, Skagen, Sæby
February 23 - Rebild, St. Restrup, Aalborg, Ebeltoft, Aarhus
March 2 - Skanderborg, Ry, Himmelbjerget, Viborg, Hjarbæk, Skive, Kokkedal
March 9 - Jellinge, Vejle, Kolding, Lillebælt, Bogense
March 16 - Odense, Tåsinge, Egeskov, Nyborg, Korsør, Roskilde
Zoom link will be provided with your free registration! Register by clicking here:
Free Registration and Zoom Link
Program is presented by NFDA and The Danish Pioneer Newspaper
MADS TOLLING - CONCERT SCHEDULE
Venue & Tickets
Internationally renowned Danish violinist, composer and two-time Grammy Award-winner Mads Tolling is a former member of the Turtle Island Quartet and The Stanley Clarke Band. He has toured internationally and has released three studio albums: “The Playmaker,” “Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty-Live at Yoshi’s,” and “Mads Tolling & The Mads Men — Playing the 60s.” Mads has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, and his recordings have received rave reviews in Downbeat Magazine, Strings Magazine, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Mads Tolling and The Mads Men bring a fun and exciting program that is as nostalgic as it is contemporary, with reimagined classic songs from 1960s television, film, and radio. The repertoire in the music of the mad men era ranges from “Mission Impossible” and “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” to “A Taste of Honey” and “Georgia on my Mind.”
In addition to his illustrious career as a performer, Mads Tolling is also an active composer and educator, creating work on his original albums and leading masterclasses and workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada as a certified Yamaha clinician.
Mads Tolling Website
Mads Tolling Facebook
FASTELAVN BUNS - SCANDINAVIAN BAKING WORKSHOP 2021 (VIRTUAL)
Date: Saturday February 13
Time: 11AM - 1PM
Swedish Teacher: Leda Jessen
Location: The Scandinavian School
Native Dane and baker extraordinaire Leda Jessen is back in her kitchen in San Francisco for a new Scandinavian baking event.
Fastelavn, ( Mardi Gras) is a family celebration in Denmark, and usually also means a fun afternoon with games and good company at the Scandinavian School and the Cultural Center. This year we'll have to do it differently, and decided to focus on the always so delicious Fastelavn buns, a round sweet roll usually covered with icing and filled with cream.
You will be sent a list of the ingredients needed prior to the event, and together with Leda you will bake the day away.
Baking together as a family will work great, but children should be accompanied by an adult.
The class is virtual and will be conducted in English.
Sign up here
The Scandinavian School and Cultural Center
You will receiving a zoom-link with a list of the ingredients at least 48 hours prior the event. If you can't find the message in your inbox, please check your spam. For further questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The celebration of Fastelavn comes from the Roman Catholic tradition and that's why it takes place on the last Sunday before Lent (usually between the first of February and the seventh of March). But after the Reformation, the holiday became secular. Fastelavn which means 'fast-evening' was first a celebration for adults with different competitions, games and activities, but later became associated with kids.
What's Fastelavn all about? From The Local DK
During the festivities, you'll see lots of decoration like colorful air balloons and birch branches with sweets.
There are two main traditions connected with Fastelavn. The first is eating buns with different fillings like marzipan. They are sold in every bakery during the holiday. The second is that the kids put on costumes and play a game. They have to hit a barrel filled with sweets and presents. The first kid to make a hole in the barrel will be proclaimed the "king or queen of the cats." That is because back in the day there used to be real cats in those barrels and the aim of the custom was to drive the evil spirits away (people used to believe cats are connected to the evil).
There are different ways to experience Fastelavn in Copenhagen. One of the options is within a local family, a parish or other small communities. The National Museum of Denmark hosts festivities every year, but participants have to sign up for them. Also, Dragør on Amager island south of the capital offers a big celebration featuring a horse procession, flags, and music. In fact, this procession begins on Saturday in Sundby and continues across the island reaching St Magleby on Monday, and finishing in Ullerup on Wednesday. Another Fastelaven procession takes place throughout the weekend in the district of Vanløse.
Outside of the capital, one of the most outstanding celebrations takes place on Æro island. The traditional songs by kids start at 5 am. Adults also have fun wearing masks and guessing who is who. They take them off only at midnight to finally enjoy a drink together.
CHURCH AND LIFE - NEW ISSUE
For more information and to Subscribe...
CHURCH AND LIFE: A BRIEF HISTORY
by Thorvald Hansen
Church and Life (originally, Kirke og Folk) was begun by the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1952 as an exclusively Danish publication in line with its original purpose which was to serve the Danish readership of the church. Until the 1930s the official church paper had been Kirkelig Samler, but when this had been replaced by the English language publication, Lutheran Tidings, the Danish readers were served by a page called Kirkelig Samler in the Danish language Dannevirke, a privately owned weekly which was unofficially related to the church. When this publication ceased in1951, Danish news of the church was no longer available and this was missed, particularly by older readers. It was to fill this vacuum that the new Danish publication was begun.
The first issues were distributed gratis to some 750 individuals who might be interested, but within a short time it became a subscription paper with some 1,000 subscribers. It was a 16 page paper issued twice monthly. When the Lutheran Church in America was born in 1963 and Lutheran Tidings ceased publication, some of the readers of that paper became subscribers to Church and Life. Today it has become an exclusively English language publication of 12 to l6 pages (depending on the material available) and is issued monthly. The subscription price is $20 per year. Gifts and memorials make up the shortfall, and the paper continues to function in the black. For its content the paper depends upon the voluntary contributions of a significant number of writers. The December issue is at least twice the normal size for Christmas .
In 1983 the name was changed to Church and Life. This is not, nor was it intended to be, a translation of the Danish, but rather an indication that the church body out of which it grew was concerned also with this earthly life.
Throughout its long history the paper has had six full time editors: Holger Strandskov, Paul Wikman, Michael Mikkelsen, Johannes Knudsen, and Thorvald Hansen. The present editor, Joy Ibsen, is the daughter of a former pastor in the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Currently the paper serves some 460 subscribers as a tie that binds them, not only to one another, but to the religious and social environment with which they have been familiar. This is not an exclusive group, nor are they guided by nostalgia, but one to which any and all who share similar values are more than welcome.
Reference: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
REBILD VIRTUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING ON ZOOM
Saturday March 27, 2021 at 11:00am Central (Chicago)
The Spring Rebild Membership meeting will be held on zoom. Topics to be discussed will include...
* New Rebild Board member elections
* Status of July 4 Rebild Festival in Denmark
* October 2021 Rebild Membership gathering in Phoenix, Arizona
The Rebild National Park Society is the Danish/American Friendship Association. You do not have to be a member of Rebild to participate in Rebild events, although only Rebild members are allowed to vote on issues and elections. Rebild encourages anyone interested in Danish/American Friendship to attend and participate in Rebild events!
Watch your email and this website page for the zoom link!
Rebild July 4 Festival
Rebild Arizona - October 2021
Palm Sunday which is the Sunday before Easter Sunday and the start of Holy Week for Christians is a feast day commemorating Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on a Donkey (symbolizing peace versus a horse which symbolized war).
The name Palm Sunday comes from the palm branches the crowd scattered on the ground in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem.
BODTKER GRANTS - DEADLINE
Deadline for Submission: April 15
The Danish American Heritage Society is pleased to offer grants to qualified researchers for study in area of common interest. Bodtker Grants provide stipends of up to $5,000 for students or graduates interested in exploring topics related to Danish history and heritage in North America.
A Bodtker Grant is primarily intended for research and internship at Danish American Archive and Library in Blair, Nebraska; the Danish American Archive at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa; or the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa. At the Board's discretion, proposals involving other Danish cultural and archival institutions may be considered.
Deadlines: April 15 (Notification: May) or September 15(Notification: October)
Stipend Amount: Up to $5,000
GOD PÅSKE (EASTER SUNDAY)
Easter, also called Påske (Danish) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Most Christians refer to the week before Easter as "Holy Week", which contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In Western Christianity, Eastertide, or the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the 50th day, Pentecost Sunday. In Eastern Christianity, the season of Pascha begins on Pascha and ends with the coming of the 40th day, the Feast of the Ascension.
Danish Easter Traditions
Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts which do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars which follow only the cycle of the Sun; rather, its date is offset from the date of Passover and is therefore calculated based on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established two rules, independence of the Jewish calendar and worldwide uniformity, which were the only rules for Easter explicitly laid down by the council. No details for the computation were specified; these were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and generated a number of controversies. It has come to be the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March. Even if calculated on the basis of the more accurate Gregorian calendar, the date of that full moon sometimes differs from that of the astronomical first full moon after the March equinox.
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast is called by the words for passover in those languages; and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs (symbols of the empty tomb). The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades. There are also various traditional Easter foods that vary regionally.
REBILD FESTIVAL IN DENMARK
Celebration of Danish American Friendship - The annual Rebild Festival at the Rebild National Park near Aalborg, Denmark
Official Detailed 2021 Schedule to be Announced
July 3 - Rebild Park events and Gala in Aalborg
July 4 - Tent Luncheon and Festival in the Rebild Hills
July 5 - General Membership Meeting
Rebild - Denmark
We are a Danish-American Friendship organization,
playing an important part in these areas:
Unique 4th of July Festival in Denmark with Royalty and dignitaries from both countries
Preservation of Danish culture and heritage in USA
Assistance to Danish newcomers with acclimatization and business networking
Help and insight into Danish thinking for Americans doing business with Denmark
Friend-shipping and socializing
Study abroad scholarships to Denmark
Professional full color news magazine two times a year plus Rebild E-News.
Annual Conference (each year in a different state in the US)
Ties of Friendship
It all began more than one hundred years ago in America. A gathering of Danish-Americans came up with a vision ofa special place in Denmark where they could gather once a year to meet with relatives and friends. And symbolically, as a statement conﬁrming that those who had left would not forget where they had come from. Emigration began gradually in the economically difﬁcult years following the Napoleon Wars, when the country was going bankrupt and having lost Norway. it is estimated that as many as 300,000 Danes emigrated in the years up to the First World War. Exact numbers are not possible because, after 1864, Danes from Southern Iylland were registered as German emigrants.
Their incentive to leave was the dream of ﬁnding freedom and a better life. They especially sought out the northern states in the USA, as did other emigrants from the Scandinavian countries, because the climate and land reminded them of what they had left behind. It had an especial attraction for farmers. The western part of the country offered free land, with the provision they would fence the property, cultivate the land, and by the end ofthe ﬁrst year, have erected a house with a door and window. Normally only the door and windows that were made of wood, the rest of the house was made of sod! It was hard work but worth the effort. For most, it was a good decision.
But the emigrants never forgot their homeland and early in the twentieth century they purchased land in the old country. In the beginning they ﬂocked to outdoor meetings near Himmelbjeret, as recorded by Ieppe Aakjaer on “Ienle” and Johan Skjoldborg on "Dynaes." These large outdoor gatherings are a popular tradition we have perpetuated through the years. Most of the emigrants had Iyske roots and it was instinctive for them to seek to meet here. The man with the most initiative was Max Henius from Aalborg, and the land eventually selected was the beautiful hilly heather covered ground in the outskirts of Forest of Rold — Rebild Bakker.
There were more than 10,000 participants at the ﬁrst Rebild Festival in 1912, and it was estimated that more than 1,000 came from America. Viewed through today's eyes it was impressive. It was expensive and difficult to travel so far — across America by land and the Atlantic Ocean by boat. The King Christian the 10th participated with Queen Alexandrine and accepted the deed for 140 tender land (equal to approximately 1,363 acres) with the requirement: “... that every year on July 4th, America's Independence Day, a "Rebild Festival" would be held in the Hills." Throughout the intervening years the Royal Family have been active in the Festival. We are happy and thankful for that.
We have been told that the 4th of July celebration in Denmark is the largest outside the USA. We are proud of that. It’s a wonderful tradition that has continued over the past 100 years. It is a testament to the unbreakable friendship that exists between our two nations who share a common appreciation for freedom and democracy. We stand together!
Deadline for Submission: September 15
A GREAT DANISH AMERICAN BIRTHDAY - TOM KNUDSEN
Thorkild Rostgaard (Tom) Knudsen was born September 10, 1890 in the Danish country village of Lohals on the island of Langeland. Shortly after his birth his mother passed away and Tom's father, Valdemar Knudsen, had to raise four children by himself. Tom found his first job as an errand boy for a tobacco manufacturer when he was nine years old. He attended school in the mornings and worked in the afternoons. In 1902, Tom won a scholarship to a technical school and, at sixteen, he graduated with high grades. He dreamed about owning his own farm. For the next three years he worked his way up to better and better jobs on various dairy farms in Denmark. He soon realized he could not earn enough in Denmark to make his dream come true. He had a strong sense of adventure. Tom decided to travel to America where there were “golden opportunities”.
Tom left Denmark when he was twenty years old and emigrated to America. He paid his way across the Atlantic by peeling potatoes. He arrived in New York on May 30, 1910. He believed one should have integrity, ambition, and live by the Golden Rule. He was not afraid of hard work and worked as a hospital janitor in his first job. He soon became a farmhand on a progressively managed dairy farm. He learned a management style that he would carry forward to his own business. He was treated as an associate, and his boss gave suggestions rather than orders. Management and employees dined together and each employee was addressed by his first name. This was in stark contrast to prevailing customs, and highly unusual in an era when most employees were treated with little or no respect. Employees were considered members of the family. He studied the American dairy production process and determined he could improve the quality and taste of many products. He then discovered he could make more money as a fireman on a locomotive and get paid to travel, so he took a fireman’s correspondence course. He found a job with the New York Central railway. By 1912 he had saved enough money and returned to Denmark to buy a dairy farm and fulfill his dream. It only took him a few days to realize that the American way of life had “gotten under my skin”. He returned to America a year later.
He earned his way across America by shoveling coal, and finally in the fall of 1914 he founded a consulting dairy laboratory called Knudsen laboratories with his brother Carl who had preceded him to Southern California. They acted as consultants and showed dairies how to keep their products fresher longer. The brothers soon patented a process for making cottage cheese which they licensed to dairy product manufacturers throughout the nation. The new product was well received and they prospered. But the war came in 1917 and the two brothers gave the government their patented process as a contribution to the “Food Will Win the War” campaign. In doing so they gave away the lab’s most important asset. Tom and Carl Knudsen relinquished personal financial security to help in the war effort.
At the end of the war the Knudsen brothers were without their patent and the laboratory was no longer profitable. Tom had to start all over again. Tom and Carl began producing their own buttermilk for the Southern Pacific railroad and Knudsen Laboratories began its rapid expansion. Quality, taste, and customer service were the engines of growth. In 1924 Tom and Carl decided to divide the business between them. Carl wanted to specialize in yogurt and Tom took the remainder of the dairy products including ice cream, mixes, buttermilk, and cottage cheese. On July 17, 1925 Tom made his full commitment to America when he became a naturalized citizen.
He subsequently changed the company’s name to Knudsen Creamery. He began with three employees, a second hand delivery truck, a few hundred dollars in borrowed capital, some used machinery, and his personal philosophy of high-quality and fair dealings. His zeal for excellence created superior products. His philosophy became the company’s slogan: “The Very Best”. The Knudsen Creamery became known for its high quality products, it's impeccable customer service, and a great place to work because Tom Knudsen treated his employees like he had been treated years before on the New York dairy farm. Eighteen years after arriving in America Tom Knutson was recognized as an undisputed authority within the dairy industry and set the standards that others would follow. The business grew to 32 dairies in California
Tom met his wife Valley at the Danish American Club in Los Angeles in 1916. They were married December 14, 1917. Tom and Valley became the proud parents of Elinor Gene and later adopted Marie, an orphaned Danish American girl. As time passed Tom and Valley both became more and more involved with civic activities and gave both time and money to help others. In the 1930’s the Knudsen’s raised money to help underwrite expenses for Danish athletes competing in the 1932 Olympic games in Los Angeles. The funds left over were used as seed money for the Danish Cheer Committee, now part of The Danish Lutheran Church and Cultural Center, which aided and assisted needy Danes.
After World War II when many Danes wanted to immigrate to the United States, Tom and Valley personally sponsored more than 100 people. They were, in effect, the uncrowned leaders of the Danish community and created strong ties between Denmark and California. For their involvement, Tom was Knighted by His Majesty King Frederick IX of Denmark as Commander of the Order of Dannebrog and Valley was awarded the King Christian X Liberty Medal.
Valley Mary Knudsen (Filtzer) was born March 24,1895 in Chicago, Illinois and moved to Los Angeles when she was nine. Valley became one of the most active civic leaders Los Angeles has ever known, at times holding literally dozens of civic posts simultaneously. Her greatest and certainly her most lasting achievement was the founding of Los Angeles Beautiful in 1949. She served as president for the next 20 years. This organization planted trees and removed trash from the cities streets. Her campaign was so successful that by one estimate Los Angeles Beautiful had planted 250,000 trees valued at $6 million in 15 years. Under her leadership the organization helped landscape numerous public facilities, converted fourteen miles of deserted railways into green spaces and fought a tireless battle against urban litter. Los Angeles Beautiful became the model for similar efforts in communities across the country. Tom passed away October 29, 1965 and Valley September 10, 1976.
The Danish Church and Cultural Center in Yorba Linda would not have been built without the financial support from the Tom and Valley Knudsen Foundation. The Tom and Valley Knudsen Foundation was established in 1951 and provided moral and financial support to worthy community causes. The Tom and Valley Knudsen Foundation had generously donated over $1 million to construction of the Danish Lutheran Church and Cultural Center. The Danish Cultural Center was named the Tom and Valley Knudsen Cultural Center in honor of their support to the entire Danish community.
Knudsen Biography from The Danish Lutheran Church of Southern California 100 Years - A Century of Trials and Triumphs
Photos of portrait and bust from the Tom and Valley Knudsen Cultural Center
THIS DATE IN DANISH AMERICAN HISTORY - THE DANISH SISTERHOOD OF AMERICA
The Danish Sisterhood of America was founded on December 1, 1883 by Christine Hemmingsen, a Danish immigrant from Orup, Denmark. Inspired by the success of the Danish Brotherhood of America, Mrs. Hemmingsen established Christine Lodge #1 in Negaunee, Michigan. The Danish Sisterhood of today continues to grow with numerous lodges located throughout the United States and Canada.
The Danish culture is rich – its history long and distinguished, going back thousands of years. Membership in the Danish Sisterhood of America is a wonderful opportunity to connect with your Danish heritage, learn more about Danish customs and traditions, and strengthen your connection to Denmark. A cordial invitation is extended to you to join the largest national Danish organization dedicated to preserving and sharing these deeply rooted traditions.
Danish Sisterhood History
Danish Sisterhood Website
THIS DATE IN DANISH AMERICAN HISTORY - SOLVANG CALIFORNIA LAND PURCHASE
On Jan. 12, 1911, nearly 9,000 acres of land were purchased for a new Danish colony in the Santa Ynez Valley. Within a month, settlers began to arrive and a name was selected for the new town: Solvang, literally “sunny field” in Danish.
The Danes who eventually founded Solvang were a part of the great 19th-century European exodus to the United States. Neither Denmark’s agricultural communities nor industrial cities could successfully employ the burgeoning lower and middle classes, and by 1881 emigration was in full swing. All in all, between 1865 and 1914 some 300,000 Danes headed to the United States.
Many Danes, determined to remain true to their agricultural roots, settled in the American Midwest, sometimes clustering in Danish colonies in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Nebraska, as well as in Montana and Texas. But these immigrants were a restless crew. When they saw new opportunities and greater prosperity in the West, many pulled up stakes and moved to Washington and California.
One of the most enthusiastic proponents of the Danish approach to religion and education was Benedict Nordentoft, who was born in Brabrand near Aarhus in 1873. After graduating in theology in 1898, he was soon tempted to travel to the United States, where he began coordinating relations between Danish Lutheran churches in Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine. In 1901, he returned to Denmark specifically to be ordained in Aarhus Cathedral. Back in America, he continued his work as a lecturer at Grand View College, a folk high school in Des Moines, Iowa, which was also set up by the Danish Lutheran Church. He was appointed president in 1903, a post which he held until 1910, when disagreements with his Grundtvigian colleagues forced him to resign.
From 1906, Nordentoft, together with Jens M. Gregersen, a pastor from Kimballton, Iowa, and Peder P. Hornsyld, a lecturer at Grand View, had discussed the possibility of creating a new Danish colony with a dedicated Lutheran church and school on the west coast. In 1910, together with other Danish-Americans, they created the Danish-American Colony Corporation in San Francisco. Later that year, suitable land was found in the Santa Ynez Valley northwest of Santa Barbara. On January 12th, the Danes purchased almost 9,000 acres (36 km2) of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata land grant, paying an average of $40 per acre.
Among the other early arrivals with Mads Frese were Mr. and Mrs. Sophus Olsen, Hans Skytt, John Petersen and John Ahrenkild. Skytt was to play an important role as the carpenter, who constructed many of Solvang's early buildings. The first to be constructed was a hotel close to the Mission where new arrivals could be housed. Gregersen became president of the Danish-American Colony Company, and Nordentoft was named head and Hornsyld a teacher at the school, which opened on November 15, 1911, with 21 students.
More Solvang History from the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art...
Elverhøj Museum Website
A GREAT DANISH AMERICAN BIRTHDAY - BENEDICT NORDENTOFT
Benedict Nordentoft (17 January 1873 – 12 December 1942) was a Danish educator and cleric, principally remembered for the years he spent in Solvang, California, where he and his colleagues established a Danish community with a Lutheran church and a folk high school.
Photo: Nordentoft was the 3rd President of Grand View College 1903 - 1910
Benedict Nordentoft was born in the rectory at Brabrand, a town just west of Aarhus, Denmark, on 17 January 1873. He was the seventh of the thirteen gifted children raised by Pastor Peter Nordentoft and Vincentia Christiane Michelsen. In the footsteps of the famous theologian and philosopher N. F. S. Grundtvig, from the age of 11 he attended the Aarhus Cathedral School before studying theology at Copenhagen University. Later he would comment: "Although I was often moved by the sermons of Grundtvigian priests and although many of my student friends were Grundtvigians, I have never been able to accept Grundtvig's excessively dogmatic views." After graduating with honours in 1898, he became a substitute teacher at Herlufsholm School before becóming a tutor for Count Brockenhuus-Schack's eldest son in Ringsted in 1899.
Though pleased with his position, he could not resist the urge to go to America where he had been offered a post as a lecturer at Grand View College, a Danish seminary and folk high school in Des Moines, Iowa, believing that America would open up new horizons for him.
One of his first tasks as a lecturer at Grand View was to coordinate relations between Danish Lutheran churches in Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine. In the summer of 1901, he returned to Denmark specifically to be ordained in Aarhus Cathedral. Back in America, he continued his work as a lecturer at Grand View. In 1903, when he was only 30 years old, he became the college's third president, a post which he held until 1910. That year, as a result of differences with his colleagues at the college who were far more Grundtvigian than he, Nordentoft was pressured to leave.
From 1906, Nordentoft together with Jens M. Gregersen, a pastor from Kimballton, Iowa, and Peder P. Hornsyld, a lecturer at Grand View, had discussed the possibility of creating a new Danish colony with a dedicated Lutheran church and school on the west coast. In 1910, together with other Danish-Americans, they created the Danish-American Colony Company in San Francisco. Later that year, their land agent, Mads J. Frese, found suitable land in the Santa Ynez Valley northwest of Santa Barbara. On 23 January 1911, the contract was signed and Solvang was founded. The Danes had bought almost 9,000 acres of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata land grant, paying an average of $40 per acre.
Soon after the establishment of Solvang, a school was opened with 21 students on 15 November 1911 with Nordentoft as president.
At the end of 1912 when it became almost impossible to sell any more plots of land, the company's income was vastly reduced. The shareholders persuaded Gregersen to give up his position as Solvang's pastor and travel to Iowa and Nebraska to convince Danish immigrants to buy land in the new colony. He enjoyed considerable success, relieving the colony of any further threats. After Gregersen's departure, Nordentoft became the pastor. Before long, Solvang also had a store, a bank, a lumber yard, a barbershop and a post office with Hornsyld as postmaster. Where there had just been fields, there was now a small town.
Nordentoft was not content with the little school established in Solvang. When he was unable to convince his Danish colleagues that a larger educational institution was needed, he bought them out and started to raise funds for a bigger and better school. The following year, in August 1914, a rejsegilde, or topping-out ceremony, was held for the impressive new building which Nordentoft called Atterdag College in memory of Valdemar Atterdag who did much to consolidate the kingdom of Denmark in the 14th century.
Photo: Atterdag College
What surprised many of those who came to the celebration was the great similarity the building had with Grand View College. Standing on a hilltop with a commanding view of the village, the new college or folk high school was designed to teach Danish-speaking students in their late teens how to lead more meaningful lives with an emphasis on lectures, singing, gymnastics, folk dancing and fellowship. A difficult period followed as World War I put a stop to Danish emigration to America leading to a reduction in the number of young people requiring a school education. It also became difficult to maintain a Danish-speaking school at a time when American nationalism was steadily growing.
On 26 April 1918 when he was 45, Nordentoft married 20-year-old Mary Hansine Christiansen, the daughter of a Danish farmer from Newell, Iowa, and one of his earlier students. By 1921, the family had two children and a third was on the way. Nordentoft, who felt he had achieved his ambitions in America and wished to have his children educated in Denmark, sold the college to the congregation of Solvang's Bethania Church in 1921 for $5,000. He then returned to Denmark with his wife and family.
Back in Denmark in 1921, he was first a priest in Tranebjerg on Samsø, then in Mariager and in March 1926 he became pastor of St Nicolai Church in Kolding. The family who raised no less than 11 children were always very welcoming to anyone who wished to visit them at the rectory in Hyrdestræde. All the children were given the middle name Atterdag in memory of the college.
Nordentoft not only taught at the high school in Kolding but became a popular public speaker in the area, thanks to his entertaining and humorous delivery. He often spoke affectionately about his years in America and was active on the committee for the Danish-American Mission. In 1941, he was awarded the Order of the Dannebrog for his services to Danish-American relations.
Benedict Nordentoft died in Kolding on 12 December 1942. A few years later, the authorities in Solvang decided to name two streets in his memory: Nordentoft Way and Kolding Avenue. - Wikipedia
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