Snowshoe Thompson & the Slogvik Brothers, Jacob & Knud;

Did Their Paths Ever Cross?

By Keith Wheeler, 7 February 2004

While there were significant age differences and they arrived in America on different dates, these three early Norwegian immigrants most probably encountered one another at different locations, and possibly different times, during the process of settling in to their lives in this new country.

My great great grandfather, Jakob Anderson Slogvik, was born in 1807 north of the city of Stavanger on the southwest coast of Norway .  His brother Knud was the eldest in this family, being born 10 years before Jakob.  They were “3rd cousins once removed” of the famous “Pioneer of Norse Emigration,” Cleng Peerson.  All three of these immigrant pioneers were from the Tysvær parish in north Rogaland, an area known to be one of the most, if not the most, active areas in early Norwegian emigration to America.

Having just turned 18, Jakob was the youngest crew member on the historic sloop Restoration on its voyage to the US in 1825.  Like other “Sloopers,” he settled first in northwestern New York where he started his family with his young wife Serene Madland, also a passenger on the sloop.  While some historians believed brother Knud was also on the Restoration, many now believe that Knud joined this New York group later, probably around 1829.

In the summer of 1834 Jacob Anderson (adopting this Americanized name) sold his New York land and moved his young family to the Fox River area of north-central Illinois .  Here he was one of the first to purchase land along with his “cousin” Cleng Peerson.  Brother Knud also came at that time to Fox River , but he was soon to head back to the New York settlement and then on back to Norway .

Returning to Norway in 1835, Knud was received in southwest Norway with great excitement and interest.  Knud “became the Slooper's chief ambassador to inform their countrymen in Norway of life in America, and to encourage and even lead immigration to join them there" according to Slooper historian Rosdail.  Many of Knud’s countrymen traveled great distances to hear his reports from the New World .  This has been noted as the beginning of “American fever” that started to spread throughout Norway.  Knud returned to the US in 1836 with two boatloads of immigrants, most with the general destination of the Fox River Settlement.

Two traveling men from Numedal have been credited for spreading the “American Fever” to the municipality of Tinn in 1837.  They had visited the Tysvær area and had heard and read the fresh reports of the “American wonderland.”  These fellows were known to have spent some time on the Rue farm in Tinn, Telemark.  Resulting from this encounter, the first emigrants from Tinn left for the US in the summer of 1837.  Among this group was the widow Gro Johnsdtr. Rue and her ten year old son John Torsteinsen, later to become known as the famous Snowshoe Thompson.  John’s brother and sister would join them later, coming to America in 1839.

Following the pattern of most early Norwegian immigrants, this family from Tinn went to the Fox River Settlement in La Salle County, Illinois.  According to noted immigration historian Kenneth Bjork, this Rue family “in 1838 formed a part of the group that founded the first Norwegian settlement in Shelby County, Missouri, under the inspiration of Cleng Peerson, pioneer trail blazer among the Norwegians in America.”  The respected Slooper historian J. H. Rosdail in his Slooper book points out that, “On March of 1837, Jacob and Knud Anderson Slogvig yielded to suasion of pathfinder Kleng Peerson, and went to Missouri .  Kleng’s new settlement was in Shelby County, about sixty miles drive by wagon west of Hannibal.  Here was new land, fine appearing, and unsettled.  Haaeim and J. Nordboe (in May) and eight or ten others were in the group.  However the Slogvigs returned to Fox River, Knud almost at once, and Jacob before Christmas.”

Could the Slogvik brothers have met and become acquainted with the young John from the Rue farm in Tinn?  This is highly probable.  These early Norwegian immigrants were known to be a cohesive group and the earliest settlers helped those who came later.  Both Jacob and his brother Knud were known for the hospitality they extended to newcomers.  While there are some conflicting dates, the Slogvik brothers and the future Snowshoe Thompson must have had several opportunities to become acquainted in the Fox River area or Shelby County, Missouri. 

Bjork goes on to state that, “The Rues left Missouri in 1840 and settled at Sugar Creek, Iowa, where the mother died.”  Knud Anderson Slogvik was known to have returned to the Missouri settlement probably in 1839, but then also settled in Sugar Creek of Lee County in southeast Iowa sometime later.

After John’s mother died, members of the Rue family moved to Wisconsin, but John ventured out to California in 1851.  Knud stayed until his 1867 death in the Sugar Creek area of southeast Iowa.  Jacob took his growing family from the Fox River Settlement in 1848 and moved to a new large farm in the area known as Wheelers Grove in southwest Iowa.  Jacob and his family moved again in 1854, this time all the way out to California by wagon train. They very well might have crossed the Sierras in the area where Snowshoe Thompson would later carry the mail.  Jacob and his family settled south of the town of Napa where he farmed before he died in 1864.

Bjork’s writing on Snowshoe Thompson states that in 1854 John “turned to cattle raising on a ranch at Putah Creek, in the Sacramento Valley.”  This could have been about 20-30 miles northeast of where Jacob settled.  Could these two immigration pioneers have met again in California?  There are no records of any such meetings, but it is fun to speculate that John from the mountains of Telemark and Jacob from the fjord country of Rogaland might have met and reminisced far from Norway in the early years of California’s statehood.


  1. Rosdail, J. Hart.  THE SLOOPERS, THEIR ANCESTRY AND POSTERITY, The Story of the People on the Norwegian Mayflower -- The Sloop, "Restoration," published by The Norwegian Slooper Society of America, 1961.
  2. Bjork, Kenneth O.  “’Snowshoe’ Thompson: Fact and Legend” in Norwegian-American Studies, Volume 19, pp. 62-88, published by The Norwegian-American Historical Association, available online at:
  3. Svalestuen, Andres A.; translated by C. A. Clausen. ” Emigration from the Community of Tinn, 1837-1907: Demographic, Economic, and Social Background” in Norwegian-American Studies, Volume 29, pp. 43-88, published by The Norwegian-American Historical Association, available online at:

Back to Slooper Links page

Hit Counter since 10 Feb. 2004