History of Our Club
Cleng Peerson –
Sons of Norway Chapter #525
35 years of history….
After several months of hard work by George Strand, organizer, Cleng Peerson Lodge
was instituted on October 29, 1972. The lodge was named for the first Norwegian immigrant to America , Cleng Peerson, and
at the time it was chosen, had not been used by any other lodge.
The charter president, Lester Seversike, and the first
secretary, Leif Myre, spent long hours getting the lodge going, and welcomed the guidance and counsel of Mr. Strand.
largest charter in the history of Sons of Norway (with over 1000 charter members) was received at Cleng Peerson Lodge's first
Syttende Mai banquet on May 17, 1973 in Ottawa .
The lodge first met at Holiday Inn in Morris and then Ottawa , then
at the Masonic Temples in these cities. We now meet in the Norway Improvement League Building in Norway , IL.
Over the years our money making projects have been baked food sales, flea markets,
garage sales, and a booth in the La Salle County Arts and Crafts Shows in Ottawa .
We donate annually to many local worthy
organizations and members ring the bells for Salvation Army each Christmas season.
We meet the third Sunday of the
month at 2 p.m. and we welcome all lodges to come visit us. Our sister lodge is NorDeka at DeKalb and Polar Star Lodge of
A significant extension and pride
of the lodge is their Norsk Museum . This building represents a significant portion of our Norwegian-American
history. Not only is this the oldest Norwegian Lutheran Church in North America, it was built in the oldest
permanent Norwegian settlement in North America, founded in 1825 by pioneer Cleng Peerson and the Sloopers. Cleng
Peerson is known as the Father of Norwegian Immigration. The Sloopers were Norwegian Quakers and Quaker
sympathizers, who came to America in 1825. They sailed on the Restauration with 46 passengers and a crew of 6.
This museum is dedicated to Norwegian art, worship and industry.
The church/museum is located in Norway
, Illinois on highway 71, and 9 miles northeast of Ottawa , Illinois . Cleng Peerson Lodge’s interest
in this historic building is a natural outcome of working our lodge’s strategic plan to raise awareness of Sons of Norway
and Cleng Peerson Lodge throughout the Chicagoland area. The Norsk Museum allows us to promote and preserve
Norwegian heritage and culture while supporting the ongoing work of this viable community organization.
The Norsk Museum is open year-round to
visiting groups of students, teachers and international visitors; and is open to the public on weekends between the months
of June and September, hours 1-5 p.m., being staffed solely by volunteers.
Material for the present building
was hauled 70 miles from Chicago to Norway (IL) by wagon and oxen. It was used as a house of worship from
its dedication in 1848 to it’s decommissioning in 1918. From then on, it was used by the nearby Fox
River Lutheran Church as a meeting place. In 1977, the Cleng Peerson Lodge purchased the old church for
The museum collection was donated by local
families in honor of their ancestors, including many articles brought with emigrants from Norway . The
Thompson sisters, Eunice and Chrystal of Pontiac, IL, were the major contributors. Since 1977, the museum
collection has outgrown the original church, so the museum board built its first addition to include room to display kitchen
artifacts and “indoor plumbing” bath rooms (not 1840’s authentic however). Later, a large
second wing was built to hold the expanding collection of furniture and farm tools.
The church building is a testimonial
to Elling Eielsen (Hauge Synod), the Norwegian who first began Lutheran worship services in North America (in the Fox River
area of Norway , Illinois ) in 1839. In 1841, the first church built by Eielsen, a log cabin structure,
burned after several years use, and the building there today took its place. Eielsen was born in Voss , Norway , 70 miles
east of Bergen on September 19, 1804. As a young man he went to Bergen to learn the trades of blacksmithing
and carpentering, which was later helpful for the immigrants in America .
His Majesty King Olav V of Norway
dedicated the Cleng Peerson Memorial on October 17, 1975 as part of our 150th Anniversary of Norwegian Immigration.
During that week King Olav V also stopped to view the Norsk Museum .
Our community building, home of the
Cleng Peerson Lodge, is just across the highway from the museum, and sits on 4.5 acres which was part of the original farm
owned by Cleng Peerson.
Sunday, at Ottawa Women’s clubhouse, Cleng Peerson Lodge, held first membership meeting, Lester Seversike, president.
Membership at 272.
lodge initiated 350 new members at Ottawa inn.
membership 1,000, [largest SONS chapter in USA and Canada ]
- Kumla Supper held every March from 1973-1998
Syttende Mai banquet at St. Francis Hall, Ottawa at 7pm, to receive charter.
- bon fire to celebrate St. Hans Day, the
longest day of the year, every July from 1973-1974
- lodge has new song, written by Evelyn
Brue Roeder, called “Norwegian Dream” on 12/1973
- Norwegian Yule Party every December from
- Fish dinner in Nov 1973-74, then lutefisk-meatball
dinner in October 2004-present
- Syttende Mai banquet held every May from
Lucille Wallem presented drawing of proposed Norwegian Center building
King Olav V of Norway to visit Ottawa High School for luncheon
- 1977 The
Norsk Museum at Norway , IL was an old Norwegian Lutheran Church purchased by Cleng Peerson Lodge. It has its own board elected
from Sons of Norway members, chartered as a non-profit organization. The museum is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday
afternoons from 1 to 5, May through September.
Mervin Eastwold presented preliminary floor plans for theNorsk Museum
- 1978 Cleng
Peerson’s Dugout, a replica of the first home of Cleng Peerson was built in cooperation with the Illinois Bicentennial
Commission, and is located next to our community building.
Johny Johnson working as advisor of museum interior restoration.
Norsk Museum adding kitchen addition.
restoration begins on Norsk Museum , property of the Norwegian Center, Inc. [holding corp of Cleng Peerson Lodge]
restoration on Norsk Museum steeple and belfry
Norwegian Slooper annual meeting held at Norsk Museum
Norsk Museum windows repaired, added security screens
Norsk Museum in need on $3,000 to purchase Norwegian kitchen artifacts.
construction beings on new community building, on 4.2 acres in Norway , in Cleng Peerson Memorial Park , by Norway
State of Illinois erected historical marker highway signs, on Rt 71 [dedication]
Cleng Peerson Memorial Park adding second ball field.
dedicate newest addition to Cleng Peerson Memorial Park , Hart Rosdail Field, in Norway
- clean-up day at Norsk Museum every April
from 1979 to present
- 2006 lodge
website created, please visit www.clengpeersonlodge.com.
Persons of note:
- Wayne (Buck) Borchsenius served as the
first president of Norsk Museum board from 1975-1985.
- Howard Eltrevoog served as president of
Norsk Museum board from 1985-president.
- Florence Eltrevoog serving as treasurer
of Norsk Museum and Cleng Peerson lodge from 1985-present.
- Marion Marshall, a member of Cleng Peerson,
has served on the Fifth District Board for eight years, first as a director and then as Cultural Director.
- George Strand, organizer, Cleng Peerson
- Richard Larson, first vice president
- Wayne (Buck) Borchsenius, past president,
lodge, Norway Improvement League , Norway Center.
- Harold Ugland provided for the museum’s
future, through his estate, when he passed away in 1985.
Cleng Peerson – Sons of Norway Chapter #525
1. 1973-1975 
Lester Seversike (1918-1982)
2. 1976-1977 
Bjarne Eltrevoog (1926-1989)
3. 1978-1979 
Henry L. Barschdorf (1908-2001)
4. 1980-1984 
Marion J. Marshall (1916-2007)
5. 1985-1988 
Edwin Farmer (1911-1990)
6. 1989-1990 
Marion J. Marshall (1916-2007)
7. 1991-1993 
Lowell Varness (1925-2005)
8. 1994-1998 
Wayne (Buck) Borchsenius
9. 1999-2002 
Marion J. Marshall (1916-2007)
10. 2003-2006