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The Norwegian Crop: Tobacco Raising in Wisconsin

August 24, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Long before the days of anti-smoking campaigns, tobacco raising was not only a matter of Norwegian pride in some Wisconsin communities, but also a crop that enabled immigrants to make hard-to-come-by cash and their descendants to thrive or a t least survive on the farm. (Tobacco raising was in Glenn’s own family for five generations.) Norwegians adopted the crop early upon their arrival in  Wisconsin.

Two Ohio transplants, Ralph Pomeroy and J.J. Heistand, were the first farmers to plant tobacco in Wisconsin. The location of that first tobacco field in 1844 is in some dispute — it was either in Walworth or Rock county. What isn’t in doubt is that the major influx of Norwegians moving to southern and southwest Wisconsin at the time, saw tobacco as a crop they could raise profitably. Although Norwegians had no history of raising the crop in their homeland, they became known for their adoption of the crop as their own. (Tobacco field photo  courtesy of John Oncken)

Glenn Borreson is a retired Lutheran pastor, ordained in 1971 in North Beaver Creek Lutheran Church, rural Ettrick, Wisconsin. A graduate of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, he has served congregations in Decorah, Iowa, and South Wayne, Elroy, Mauston, and Holmen, Wisconsin. After he retired, he began researching his family history, a move that led to preparing and presenting programs on his Norwegian-American heritage. Four generations of his father’s family raised tobacco in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin.  Besides doing historic research, he also enjoys woodworking and reads too many mysteries. He and his wife Mary live in Holmen, Wisconsin.



August 24, 2019
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


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