Ringness House History

In 1854, Jens and Kari Ringness were one of eight Norwegian families who came to Bosque County, settling in the area which came to be known as the Norse Community. Jens claimed a farm along Neils Creek and built a two-room log cabin, bringing his family of three children in the fall. In 1859, in response to the need for more room for his growing family and for guest quarters for newly arriving immigrants from Norway, the six room dobblehus was built.

The house and farm is noteworthy to the Norwegian settlement for a number of reasons. First, it was the site of many worship services held by the early pioneers, who were mostly of the Lutheran faith. They gathered in the home to sing hymns, hear a reading from the Huspostel (a book of sermons for each Sunday of the year), and to pray together. The years of the Civil War prolonged the period when no church could be built, and it was rare that they had even a visiting pastor. But in January 1867, riders went from house to house to announce a special service to be held at the Ringness House with Pastor S. S. Reque presiding. Afterwards they voted to call a pastor and organize a church, thus creating the congregation of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Norse, which still operates today. On Highway 219, in front of the house, stands a monument erected by Our Savior’s Church which commemorates the Ringness House as “the site of the first Lutheran service in Bosque County.”

The second noteworthy aspect of the Ringness House is the blacksmith’s shop on the property, where the disk plow was invented. When Jens Ringness’ son, Ole, drove a wagon to deliver mail from Norman Hill to Fort Worth, his experiences in the heavy mud gave him the idea to make a plow shaped like a disk. He constructed the prototype in his father’s blacksmith shop (which still stands on the property), and then traveled to New York City to apply for a patent for his invention. Later, the family was informed by the NYC Masonic Lodge that Ole had met with an untimely death, but they never found out if he died from accident, illness, or foul play. They did discover, at a later date, that the initial part of his trip was successful, because they received a notice from the Patent Office saying that the disk plow patent had been approved, and would be granted if a fee were paid. Unfortunately, they declined the offer, so the patent was never issued.

Descendants of Jens and Kari Ringness held title to the property until the death of Eddie and Ada Ringness, when the farm was sold to Ole Pierson. At the present time, it is owned by Don and Alice Brandenberger, who have graciously granted the Norwegian Society of Texas a perpetual easement for the house in its restored location on the property near the highway.