Else Elisabeth Hysing, an upper-class Norwegian woman, married Ulrik Vilhelm Koren on August 18, 1853 and, almost immediately afterward, the couple made the perilous Atlantic Crossing to America, where her husband had been called to serve as the first Lutheran pastor west of the Mississippi.
The diary Elisabeth kept chronicles that crossing and the first years of their life in America, eloquently capturing the stark contrast between the comfort and privilege of her life in Norway and the rugged rigors of pioneer America. She describes traveling the Wisconsin River by dugout canoe, crossing the iced-over Mississippi River, and traveling by wagon through snow. She also captures in all of its homely detail the daily life of a pastor and his wife on the Midwestern frontier—the cooking, the laundry, the monotonous diet, the clumsy furniture, and the hard-working neighbors and friends that made up a pioneer community.
Elisabeth faced both the adventure and the tedium head-on, emerging as the kind and accomplished mistress of Washington Prairie Parsonage until her death in 1918.