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Hans T. Hansen (1870-1945) and Katherine Marie Nissen (1875-1953)
Life Begins in Denmark
Hans Thomsen Hansen was born in Darum, Denmark, on 3 Jan 1870. He was the son of Hans Jensen and Johanna Larsdatter. His last name was Hansen because in Denmark the child took the surname of his father's first name. Thus, Hans Thomsen was the son of Hans, so his last name was Hansen — which literally meant “son of Hans.” This practice makes tracing names in Danish families very confusing, and most families abandoned the usage when they came to the United States. 2
Immigration to America
Four years before Hans's birth, the area where he was born (Schleiswig-Holstein) was invaded by German and Austrian troops. This area had switched loyalties between Denmark and Germany several times throughout history, but when Hans was 19 there was a good possibility he would be conscripted into the German army. Many young men left Denmark to avoid conscription and Hans was one of them. Only a year after his father's death, Hans, his brother, Lars, and his mother, Johanna, left Denmark in 1889 and immigrated to the United States.
Marriage Vows for Hans and Katherine
Hans married Katherine (Katie) Marie Nissen on 13 Jan 1894 when he was 24 and she was 19. Katherine had been born in Kasso, Denmark, on 13 Jan 1875 but, unlike Hans, had immigrated to the United States as a child, perhaps as early as 1880 (nine years before Hans), settling with her family in Chicago. Her parents were Hans L. Nissen and Marie Rasmudatter.
Hans and Katherine probably spoke Danish all of their lives. Hans’s mother, who came with him from Denmark, lived with Hans and Katherine for many years after they married, and she probably did not learn English well.
It is unknown how Hans and Katherine met; however, there were strong Danish communities in both Minden, Nebraska, and Chicago, Illinois, so it is assumed that they met through common acquaintances, perhaps in their church.
Hans and Katherine settled in Minden, Nebraska, and with the exception of eighteen months in Chicago in 1896-1897, they lived the remainder of their lives there. They built a home 3 where they lived together for more than 50 years.
Hans and Katherine had two sons, one born just ten months after their marriage, and the other five years later. It’s possible that Katherine lost some children as well, but that is not known. Their sons were:
- Hans Lloyd b. 6 Nov 1894 in Minden, Kearney, Nebraska 4
- Everett Thomas b. 1906 in Minden, Kearney, Nebraska (Everett grew up to marry a young woman named Constance Fuller. Her father, Charles Fuller, was the founder of Angus Auto Co, who owned Fuller cars in the early 1900's. You could choose from six colours with up to 18 layers of paint. It's difficult to find a Fuller car today.)
Both Lloyd and Everett would eventually move to Hastings, Nebraska, and spend their adult lives there, neither of them wishing (apparently) to take over their father’s business.
A Farm Implement Business in Minden, Nebraska
Hans owned and operated a farm implement business and did very well.
Minden, the capital of Kearney County, was a farming community. It was the perfect place to sell farm equipment. Today, it is known for Harold Warp’s Pioneer Village, which displays many of the old equipment, wagons, and stages that were used in the early history of Minden. Its theme is “How America Grew” and it displays William Henry Jackson’s paintings of the Oregon trail which went through Minden.
Among the family memorabilia, there are several photographs of Hans at his place of business.
After Hans’s retirement from that business, he served nine years on the Kearney County board of supervisors, serving as chairman for part of that time.
50 years of Marriage
Hans and Katherine lived to celebrate together their 50th wedding anniversary on 3 Jan 1944. The photograph below was taken at the time of that celebration.
Hans and Katherine were members of the Bethany Lutheran (also called the Danish Lutheran) Church in Minden. It would appear that family and community were the most important aspects of their lives.
Hans dies at 75, Katherine at 78
Hans died on 9 Feb 1945, in Minden, Nebraska, and is buried there. He was 75 years old, but did not quite see the end of World War II.
Katherine died eight years later, on 14 Jan 1953, in Hastings, Nebraska, where she had been spending time with her two sons, Everett and Lloyd, due to failing health. She was 78 and is buried beside Hans in Minden, Nebraska.
[This page researched and written by Susan Overturf Ingraham, a descendant of Hans and Katherine. Updated February 5, 2016.]
These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. ↩
Denmark passed a law to change the practice in the late-1800s, but many families continued the practice for quite some time. ↩
Pictured at right. ↩
To learn more about Hans Lloyd's life, click on his name. ↩