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Uncovering History in Our Own Backyard Solvang

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Uncovering History in our own Backyard

Dr. Solberg has his own stamp on discovering American history. He has had a long interest in the ordinary person and was quoted as saying "People that carry history are a needed part of our past." He did his doctorates on diaries from the 18th century. And has sent much of his time studying letters sent to Norway during the 1930s and 1940s. Dr. Solberg started the lecture by asking Olle and Marie Mellin to stand up in the audience they are both in the American Scandinavian foundation and have set up scholarships for Scandinavian studies. Solberg was quoted as saying "They where pillars of the American foundation."

Solberg told of a book that he felt had a connection with what he was doing in Solvang. The name of the book was Prairie Earth by "William least HeatMoon." Heatmoon did a cultivation of land in the Midwest wand with that went through the history of the land from the Indians to the present. Almost like a de-mapping of the land.

Slides came on the screen from the American Post magazine. This magazine was what covered American life during the time of Solberg's childhood, almost every American home had one. In an issue dated January 1947 an article told of Solvang being an "Original Danish community." This article had a profound effect on tourism. Land prices went sky high and Solvang became a tourist town.

There are three areas that Solberg will cover in the lecture, the first being the background of Solvang, the second will cover the time from 1911 through 1916, and the third being his own experience from the 60s. After graduating from UCSB Solberg went to Europe and after his return he felt he felt a strong interest in cultivating history. It was at this time he decided to do Solvang. He decided to do an oral history. "If you fail to get oral history you lose parts of history." Solberg did not tape anyone with out there permission was able to collect photos to give a human dimension to his oral report.

Large ranchos gave the backdrop for the Santa Ynez valley. With 40,000 acres the valley became a huge area for cattle. In 1804 the first mission was established. 1888 the first railroad became operational before this time Los Olivous was the business center but by 1888 it had died down and by 1911 Solvang was the center of the Santa Ynez valley. After the civil was many Danes immigrated to America. It was Tyler Min, a Dane, who set up the first Danish settlement.

The brain Childs of the Solvang colonization where three men, Nordentoft, Grefersen, and Hernsyld A ranch, called "Rancho San Carlos de Jonata", was for sale in Santa Ynez at 40$ an acre. The three men with other investors bought the land and named it Solvang; Sol means sun and vang means meadow. It was split up into 27 parcels of land and what ever land was not sold right away Gragerson took over while Horsyld sold parcels through newspapers back east. He advertised for a folk school that would mold children into good citizens.

There was some argument between Gregersen and Nordentoft whether or not the church or school should come first. Gregersen said that the church should come first but Nordentoft was so dedicated to opening the



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