Celebrating their commemoration of 40 years in 2015, the Norwegian Society of Texas published a book of their history, from the years of Norwegians gathering in Texas.
The Norwegian Society of Texas was established March 8, 1975. Norwegian immigrants began arriving in Texas in the 1830’s, then under Mexican rule. And, over the years, people often talked about of having some sort of society, but being obverse to formal organizations it took a while.
After many years of being in the making, in February of 1975, the original planners met in Dallas, and decided the name – Norwegian Society of Texas. Wayne Rhone was selected as Legal Advisor and charged with the official applications. Gunnar Engen was charged with developing a Constitution and By-laws.
In the 40 years since it has grown from a Dallas group to a statewide organization with chapters in 8 of the major cities in Texas. It publishes a Medlemsbok (membership directory), a statewide Nyheter (newsletter), and each chapter issues newsletters on subjects of interest to the members. In l976 they became affiliated with Nordmanns-Forbundet/Norwegians Worldwide.
Close ties with Norway were established early, with Ambassadors of Norway and Consuls General as guest speakers at events. Presidents of Nordmanns Forbundet, including General Wilhelm Mohr visited often and Hon. Paul Thynnes, as well as Directors General of the organization. The most outstanding visitor was King Olav V who spent several days in Texas in 1982. He appeared at the Texas State Fair in Dallas and visited Clifton/Norse which is now named the Norwegian Capital of Texas.
History of Norwegian immigrants to Texas, such as Elise Warenskjold, also known as the Lady with the Pen (and the first Norwegian woman to get a divorce) is studied by many. An immigrant house has recently been restored. This was the house of Jens Ringness in Clifton. This is a special project by the NST Chapter in Bosque County supported by all the members and the Historical Society of Texas.
Major holidays of Norway and the discoverer of America are celebrated at the society— 17 Mai, St. Hansaften, Leif Eiriksson Day and Jul. They have a folk dance group called Leikarringen which performs in Texas and even in Norway. Their members take part in learning Norwegians, baking, discussing current events in Norway, and having a good time promoting the heritage.
NST offers Academic and Heritage/Cultural scholarships yearly to members and youth of members. The Scholarship Fund was established in March 1982.
To learn more about the Norwegian Society of Texas, go to www.norwegiansocietyoftexas.org