Venersborg’s start was somewhat typical for Clark County as land developers bought cheap land from the rail road, government, and old homesteads in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s reselling at a profit with small plots (10 to 40 acres) specifically to ethnic people groups immigrating from Europe and Scandinavia. Venersborg was started by the Swedish Land and Colonization Company of Portland to specifically attract Swedish immigrants by advertising in Swedish on street corners, light poles, and sandwich boards in all the major immigration entry points in eastern USA and Canada. To Venersborg’s south, Hockinson, began in a similar fashion focusing on those from Finland. Those coming to Venersborg following the advertisements and buying sight unseen found clay soil, rough terrain, large rocks, and huge stumps from a previous Yacolt Burn, all advertised as excellent farm land, a place of their dreams. Venersborg town was plotted with streets and houses in close proximity somewhat like Swedish customs.
However, the Swedes were not easily discouraged especially considering the conditions they came from which incorporated a caste system that was difficult to escape, forced religion (Lutheran) with “state authorized” sermons, single leader governments, and dismal economies. They were determined to take advantage of new freedoms and despite having to overcome cultural differences and language; they willingly shifted loyalties to their new country beginning as Green Card holders. Further, the Swedes came from an ethnic background that was known for being hard workers so they cleared the land the hard way by hand and attempted to farm. But, they discovered the ½ inch of top soil was depleted in a year and farming wasn’t working well enough to provide as a sole source survival off the land. However, south of Venersborg (such as Prune Hill) were other ethnic group settlements that had found the soil supported certain fruit trees.
So, they planted hundreds of acres in prune trees providing an income that lasted through WW I and worked together to build dryers and a cannery with their own co-op.
Unfortunately, the market for dried prunes began disappearing as refrigerators provided food storage and as the Great Depression unfolded. As WW II approached, few Venersborg men served because of government ethnic loyalty suspicions and Green Card status. Instead, they found they could contribute at the Kaiser Shipyards in Vancouver. This outside work provided incentive to really learn English and a skilled trade (steam fitters, welders, machinists, ship builders, electricians, painters, etc.) so, when the war was over, they generally followed their new trade enjoying the easier life style it allowed. Venersborg became somewhat a ghost town until the ‘60’s when folks were looking to escape the city life with all the noises, smells, violence, gangs, schools with problems and moved to the country where they could be alone and their kids could grow up in a safer environment. The Swedish heritage disappeared within a few years, but, surprisingly, not the Church.
Generally Venersborg continues as a bedroom community but without much of the original spirit forged by common hardships during a tough economy. Gone is the need to band together and clear the land, build houses, bring mail, put in telephone lines, excavate for roads as those are accomplished by other means. Also gone are the thrills of realizing freedoms and equal opportunities to succeed. The ‘pursuit of happiness’ has new meanings where it is acceptable to minimize the importance of families, marriage, spiritual training, and involvement in government. Rejuvenating that community spirit built by common adversities has competition today with folks’ wealth, careers, ‘toys’, school sports, land, houses, and more. This new life style has had a dramatic effect on the interest in God and Godly values with the results matching the Scripture’s predictions as history repeats. Through incremental desensitization, there’s a tendency towards a selfish lifestyle producing compromised values, redefinitions of sin as OK, and sees God and spiritual things as fairy tales. From the Bible we see the character of our country matching every failed empire on the earth but the Bible tells us how to avoid that dilemma and, more importantly, how to escape Hell. Venersborg Church exists to bring to light the solutions offered from the Scriptures which gives a genuine heart joy and peace in spite of circumstances for the future of those who believe. This is what is offered to you in our Church that’s name is Venersborg which roughly translated means Friendly Haven.