Sioux County, Iowa


Hemmingson Brothers

Who Settled in and around what became known as Highland in Eagle Twp, Sioux County, Iowa

The obituary posted for Knute J. Hemmingson, taken from the Hawarden Independent of April 15, 1916, is horribly inaccurate. Anyone researching the family or Highland could readily be set off on a wild goose chase should they happen upon this obituary.
In this message, I will simply give you the facts as they are.  My info is backed up primary source documentation.  So, here it is:
            Knute is one of the Hemmingson brothers who obtained land grants and settled in and around what became known as Highland, in Eagle TWP, Sioux County, Iowa.  One of the brothers was my great-grandfather, Joseph J. Hemmingson, who gave the land for the Rock Creek Norwegian Lutheran Church (now just the cemetery) at Highland.  He came in 1883 along with brothers Oliver and Knute.  Edward came later.  They were the sons of Johannes Hemmingson and Ingeborg Hauge, the Norwegian immigrants.  Johannes and Ingeborg had 13 children, altogether, with there being two named Henry. The first Henry was born in 1859 and died in 1863.  The other Henry was born in 1870.  Johannes and Ingeborg initially went to the area of the historic Fox River Settlements in Kendall County, Illinois, west of Chicago.  This is where many Norwegian immigrants went when they first arrived in America via the St. Lawrence - Great Lakes immigration pathway (which for Norwegians was Bergen to Quebec by sailing ship to Detroit by river craft, then by rail to Chicago, and out to the settlements by wagon).  
The story of the immigration of Johannes and Ingeborg begins about two weeks after their marriage, in the early spring of 1854, Johannes and Ingeborg left Norwayfrom Bergen aboard the Odin and arrived at the Fox  River Settlements in July of that year.  While living there in Kendall County, Illinois, 4 of their children were born.  In 1860, Johannes and Ingeborg obtained a land grant and moved to Polk County,  Iowa, just south of Huxley. Their other 9 children were born at Huxley, with my great-grandfather, Joseph, being the first Iowa-born child.  Henry (b. 1859) died at Huxley in 1863. Then, of course, the three brothers, Oliver, Knute and Joseph, obtained their land grants and moved to Sioux County in the vicinity of what became known as Highland.  Historical maps of the county show the locations of their farms.  Joseph’s farm was known as Highland Stock Farm.  That land is now owned by the Gradert family, with the original large home having been moved west to the corner and then south to be placed and remodeled on the present Wagers place - where the old house is still lived in to date.  It is my understanding from conversations with my grandfather, the late Alfred S. Hemmingson (of Ireton) that the brothers and their families traded primarily at Ireton, and secondarily at Hudson and Hawarden.  There were, of course relatives and descendants of the brothers who settled in and around both towns - Hawarden and Hudson - as well as Ireton.
The relatively brief stay of the family in Kendall County, Illinoiswas much the same as for most of the Norwegian immigrants who came through the Fox River Settlements.  I like to think of the settlements as a “half-way” house for Norwegian immigrants as they became acquainted with their new country, established citizenship, and obtained their land grants further west.  In the 1850s, land grants for the most desirable land were being given for central Iowa. There were also Norwegians leaving the settlements for places such as Texas.  Later, when my wife’s Norwegian immigrants came over - a little more than a decade after my family, the land grants were going fast in southern Minnesota.  By the late 1880s, NW Iowa was the hot spot.  Still later, the land grants were going fast in the Dakotas.
Johannes and Ingeborg never moved from Huxley during their married life.  Most of their other children married and lived in and around Huxley.  However, Ingeborg did travel seasonally to Highland after Johannes’ death to stay with her sons.  She died while at Highland, but she is buried at the Fjelberg Lutheran Church Cemetery back at Huxley, right beside Johannes.  Fjelberg is both the name of the church at Huxley and the name of island and church parish in Norway where Ingeborg’s family came from.  Johannes’ family came from across the fjord at Skanevik.  Skanevik and Fjelberg are to the southwest, near Bergen.  The name Highland has no particular significance other than to literally describe the elevation of the land around the place.  Others sometimes called it Mt. Joy (as in one of the other churches there).   
Family descendant and submitter ~ MLH





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