Immigration to the United States has always been a difficult experience that led many newcomers to question their own identities as they tried to build a new life in their new home. Immigrant groups reacted differently as some quickly learned English and adopted American culture. Others clung to their language and customs as they feared losing their native identities in the crush of American culture. Many fell somewhere in between. One group of Danish immigrants took a very radical approach and created their own community, the Danebod, in Tyler, MN. It was an effort to remove themselves from American popular culture and preserve their native language, religion and heritage.
Danish pastors Adam Dan and Rasmus Andersen created a religious organization in Wisconsin known as the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the 1870s. During a church convention in 1884, an Iowa farmer Rasmus Hansen of suggested the church establish a rural community where the widely scattered Danish immigrants could settle and create an ideal Danish community. A committee was formed and purchased 35,000 acres near Tyler, MN and, by 1885, around 70 settlers had homesteaded on the land.
These Danish settlers were Grundtvigians, which was a faction within the Danish National Church in America. They were nationalists and religious liberals who celebrated worldly life and were devoted to preserving their Danish heritage. To do so, the Grundtvigian colony in Tyler sought to preserve a common land and preserve their Danish heritage through the study of Danish history, language and culture and teach folk songs, food, and dances to their children.
Today four buildings survive in Tyler from this Danish community: An 1895 church; the 1889 Stone Hall; the 1917 Folk School and the 1904 Gym Hall. All are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.