The first week has been spent driving on the roads of Minnesota and Wisconsin meeting the descendants of the Norwegians who lived in Oleana, the utopian colony founded by Norwegian violinist Ole Bull in Pennsylvania. Their forebears came in 1852 intending to settle in the Midwest. However, after disembarking in the New York harbour, they were sidetracked by Bull with promises of land and of a good life. The area around Blair and Whitehall in Wisconsin attracted a group of 8 families after the colony failed. For some of the descendants of these eight families the stories of how their ancestors came to America have been handed down, while others know very little other than they are connected to Norway. I met with descendants young and old in their homes and at the country fair of Black River Falls. I listened to their stories and looked at old family pictures.
Guilia Mangione, August 2019