Exploring Ancestral Roots Overturfs, Hansens, McDonalds and Mahoneys

Going Back to my Roots

When I was three years old, my family moved away from Nebraska and although I went back for numerous family visits, I never lived in the state again. While I can trace my heritage back to Denmark, Ireland, Germany, and Scotland, as well as states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Illinois, I have always thought of Nebraska as my roots. I suppose this is because both my parents and my grandparents talked far more about their Nebraska experiences than of the ancestors from faraway lands who came before them. As well, most of my great-grandparents are buried in Nebraska, and both my maternal and paternal grandparents are buried in Hastings. Below are the four surnames from whom I descend.

Susan Overturf Ingraham

The Overturfs

The name was once Oberdorf; they left Germany where they were serfs to live in a country where they would be free. They came to America in 1754 and, by 1877, they had come to Nebraska. Begin reading about the first Oberdorf — Balthazar Oberdorf I and Margaretha — or choose any couple’s name from the Table of Contents below. The Overturfs married into other families, including the Debolts, Tegardens, Lakes, Sheldons, Beavers and Corbins, Hatches, and the McDonalds. For an overview of the Overturfs, see Overturf Family History.

My paternal grandfather — George Edwin Overturf — was born on a farm in southeastern Nebraska. Although he eventually became an accountant and worked and lived in Hastings, Nebraska, he never forgot his farming roots. He was an active participant in city affairs of Hastings, including helping to develop a large museum, and serving on both city council and the school board. To read more about his life, just click on his name in this paragraph.

The Hansens

The Hansens chose to live in a free country rather than in a disputed area of Denmark (Schleiswig-Holstein). Had they remained, two sons might have been drafted into the German Army. Hans T. Hansen, at the age of 19, emigrated to the United States in the mid-1890’s, married, and had a family in Minden, Nebraska, where he had a small farm equipment business. Begin reading about the first Hansen — Hans T. Jensen and Johanna Larsdatter — or choose any couple’s name from the Table of Contents below. You can also go to a family overview first.

My maternal grandfather — Hans Lloyd Hansen — was born in Minden, Nebraska, in 1894. His wife — Estella Mary Mahoney — was born in Heartwell, Nebraska just a year later. They met in high school and married in 1915. They moved to Hastings, Nebraska shortly thereafter and began a family. In the photograph at the right, they posed for a Christmas card. From left to right: Bill, Stella, Jo (my mother), Jim, and Lloyd.

The McDonalds

It is assumed that the McDonalds came from Scotland, but that has not been researched. The McDonalds explored Kentucky, but eventually migrated to Illinois. The first McDonald to go to Nebraska was my grandmother, Nellie Allison McDonald. The McDonalds joined with other strong families, including the Powers, Hornbacks, Allisons, and Overturfs. For an overview of this family, see McDonald Family History, or click on any particular couple in the Table of Contents below.

My grandmother — Nellie Allison McDonald — was born and raised in Illinois. She lost her mother when she was only five years old and was raised by her maternal grandparents and her Aunt Lizzie. Her father — Charles H. McDonald — visited his daughter when he could, but he was often out of town, working as an auctioneer. He eventually married again and had a son. Nellie became a teacher and later moved to Hastings, Nebraska, where she met and married George Edwin Overturf.

The Mahoneys

Like thousands of other Irishmen, the Mahoneys left their homeland where there was little food and no hope. By 1865, the Mahoneys were in America and by 1893 they had settled in Heartwell, Nebraska. Begin reading about the first Mahoney couple — Dennis Mahoney and Mary O’Connor — or choose any couple’s name from the Table of Contents below. The Mahoneys joined with other families, including the Turpins, the Steels, and the Porters. For a brief overview of the Mahoneys, see Mahoney Family History.

My grandmother — Estella Mary Mahoney — was born on a farm in Heartwell, Nebraska, the daughter of Michael James Mahoney and Josephine Amanda Porter. Stella was always very proud of her Irish heritage and of her childhood growing up on a Nebraska farm. In the photograph at the left, Stella is about 10 years old (she is the girl at the right). The other girl may have been her sister, Freda, as she had only one sister and five brothers. A closer look at the photograph will show you that there are many chickens on the stand in front of the girls. You can learn more about Stella and her life by clicking on her name at the beginning of this paragraph.

Table of Contents:

The Overturfs:

The Hansens:

The McDonalds:

The Mahoneys:

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