Title: Christian Westergaard Papers
Collection Number: 10096
Quantity: 3 feet
Abstract: Papers consist of correspondence, notebooks, account books, scrapbooks relating to farming and family affairs, and records of the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, Buffalo Grange No. 60.
Provenance: The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the Christian Westergaard Papers from the Christian Westergaard estate, Waldemar Westergaard, and Gudmundur Grimson in August of 1919. Gregory Camp prepared the inventory to the Christian Westergaard Papers in February, 1985.
Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.
Copyrights: Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs. Researcher should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94‑553, Title 17 U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.
Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection name, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.
00104 Christian Westergaard Photographs
Christian Westergaard was born on February 11, 1848 in the village of Hassing, Denmark. As a youth, Westergaard acquired an interest in gardening and worked as an apprentice in that stead for several years. This interest was brought over to the United States where, in the village of Buffalo, North Dakota, he demonstrated the feasibility of growing evergreens on the northern plains. Throughout his life, Westergaard maintained an active interest in horticulture and husbandry. In fact, he served as secretary for a state husbandry organization at the turn of the century.
Immigration to the United States occurred in 1872 for the twenty-four year old Dane, where he shortly thereafter wed Marie Anderson. The couple lived in Chicago for a few years before moving to Becker, Minnesota. At Becker, Christian established a decidedly radical newspaper, "Dayslyset" or "The Light of Day" for the Scandinavian community. The paper was edited by a certain Marcus Thrane, a political agitator of note in both Norway and the United States. Westergaard himself was a political radical in no uncertain terms. Throughout his papers advocation of such causes as extreme populism, socialism, and even anarchy can be found. His private collection of books and papers was reflective of the omnivorous nature of his reading habits as well as his political and religious leanings.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of Christian Westergaard was his intense interest in metaphysical subjects. Apparently rejecting what he believed to be the "false hope" of orthodox Christianity, Westergaard castigated Christian belief for what he perceived as a failure to measure up to "New Age" circumstances and reality. As a young man, Westergaard embraced Spiritualism for its alleged hope in the next life and rejection of the doctrine of eternal salvation or damnation. This too changed however, as he went from Spiritualism to Unitarianism, only to be followed by faiths such as Theosophy and even Confucism. To what extent he was merely a student or a devotee cannot, of course, be ascertained. What is known is that Westergaard was most definitely searching for answers to the ultimate question of life and existence. Whether or not he settled on one belief in the end is unknown; indeed, letters just prior to his death are filled with dogma and metaphysical debate. His was a quests for both spiritual and physical reality--the latter most pointedly portrayed by his pioneering efforts in Hill township.
The first pioneers of Hill township were Christian and Peter Westergaard, both emigrants from Jutland. As mentioned earlier, Christian settled first in Becker, Minnesota but was lured to the Red River Valley in 1878 by a reader of his newspaper. According to Waldemar Westergaard, Christian and Peter were the only settlers for miles around. In the following years, however, more Danes came to the township at the behest of its founder. As things became more settled and Christian set about farming in the northern half of section 14 of Hill township, the Danish immigrant put to paper a good many of his views described above.
Christian Westergaard's contribution to Cass county and Hill township cannot be overestimated. His musings about politics, religion, and philosophy also put him in a class by himself. As an articulate proponent of social and political justice, he preceded and exceeded the Populists; as a theologian-philosopher, he pushed orthodoxy to its limits and beyond. Westergaard was the quintessential mystic and social reformer--an odd if not colorful addition to North Dakota history.
Sources: Waldemar Westergaard; History of the Danish Settlement in Hill Township, Cass County, North Dakota; Buffalo Express, July 17, 1919; Tower City Topics, July 24, 1919; and the Christian Westergaard Papers.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The Christian Westergaard Papers date from 1863 to 1919 and measure three (3) cubic feet. The papers have been divided into three series: correspondence, personal and business, mostly in Danish, 1870-1914; correspondence, mostly personal and in Danish, incomplete letters in English and Danish, 1870-1914; and bound volumes, business and personal, 1868-1919.
The entire Christian Westergaard Papers collection, 1863-1919, is approximately seventy percent Danish. Those portions in English are largely business in nature and refer to monies owed or received, or other aspects of agrarian business. The personal correspondence to friends and relatives deals with a myriad of topics, but seems to time and again return to agriculture, politics, and religion. Agriculture shows up as a topic in all three series, with politics and especially metaphysics coming into focus more in Series II. These topics are, at times, drawn out in detail, with give and take found across a number of exchanged letters. The bound volumes of Series III are made up of diaries, ledgers, account books, scrapbooks, and musings on the works of Marcus Thrane and the nature of women. In some regards, Westergaard's view of women in general was quite ahead of its time.
Series I is exclusively correspondence of a personal and business nature, divided according to year (1870-1914), and almost exclusively in the Danish tongue. Some political and metaphysical musing takes place here, but not to the same degree as in Series II.
Series II is also strictly correspondence, by year (1870-1914), but deals much more on the personal side. It is in this series that the incomplete letters in English appear, as well as the preponderance of religious and political writing. From these letters, one gleans a portion of Christian Westergaard’s spiritual and physical--not to mention political--world views.
Series III is made up of bound, unfinished diaries, business books and ledgers, as well as scrapbooks containing information on Westergaard’s political roots and opinions on religion and the nature of women. This series contains materials from 1868 to 1919.
Series I: Correspondence, personal and business, mostly in Danish, 1870-1914.
Series II: Correspondence, mostly personal and in Danish; incomplete letters in both English and Danish: 1870-1914.
Series III: Bound volumes: financial and personal. 1863-1919.
Series I: Correspondence, personal and business, mostly in Danish, 1870-1914
1 Letters from Jens Westergaard, 1885-1910
2 Letters: 1872, 1880's
3 Letters: 1874, 1900
4 Letters: business and personal, 1877
5 Letters: 1878
6 Verse and letters, n.d.
7 Letters: business and personal, 1879
8 Letters: 1880
9 Letters: 1881
10 Letters: 1882
11 Letters: business and personal, 1883
12 Letters: 1884
13 Letters: merchandise and personal, 1886
14 Letters: merchandise and personal, 1886
15 Letters: banking and personal, 1887
16 Letters: merchandise lists and personal correspondence, 1888
17 Letters: bank statements and personal, 1889
18 Letters: correspondence concerning land and personal, 1890
19 Letters: hail insurance information and personal letters, 1891
20 Letters: credit sheets a