Hansen Family History From Denmark to America

Tracing Hansens is Not Easy

Unfortunately, the Hansen line has not been traced very far back, partly because of the difficulties of finding records in Denmark. In the early years of the country's history, the child took the surname of his father's first name. Thus, the son of Jens Hansen would be Eric Jensen. Eric's son would become James Ericsen. This practice (which is thankfully no longer used) obviously makes tracing family names very difficult. It was so confusing that even the Danes realized it, and they passed a law in 1828 which aimed at simplifying the system. However, there are so many Hansens, Petersens, Larsens, Jensens, and Nielsens in Denmark today that any one surname is listed in the telephone directory according to occupation.

Directly Descended from Three Hansens

There are only three men, their wives and children, to research in the Hansen genealogy: Hans T. Jensen, Hans Thomsen Hansen, and Hans Lloyd Hansen. It may never be possible to determine the ancestors of Hans T. Jensen. You can read more detailed biographies of these three men by linking from their name, but here’s a quick overview of the three men and their families:

Hans T. Jensen

The known Hansen genealogy begins with Hans T. Jensen (1823-1913), who was born in Farup parish Ribe, Denmark in 1823.

When Hans was 39 years old, he married Johanna Larsdatter (1835-1928) in 1862; Johanna, who had been born in 1835 in Darum, Denmark, was 27 years old.

In 1888, Hans Jensen died in Darum, Denmark at the age of 65.

One year later, his widow Joanna immigrated to the United States with two of her sons, and lived in Nebraska until her death in 1928.

Hans Thomsen Hansen

Hans Thomsen Hansen was born in 1870 in Darum, Denmark. When he was only 19 years old, he made a decision which permanently changed the lives of the Hansen family and their descendants: he left Denmark. He was among 25 million Danes who immigrated to the United States between 1870 and 1916, perhaps some of them to avoid subscription in the German Army, which is why Hans T. left. He settled in Nebraska where it must not have seemed much different than Denmark, a county where it is almost always windy as there are few hills higher than 100 meters to provide protection from sea breezes. Nebraska had the same rolling hills, but no coastline and sea breezes.

Hans T. Hansen met and married Katherine Nissen (1875-1953) in 1894. Katherine was also Danish, born in Kasso, Denmark, in 1875, but she had come to the United States as a child with her parents. She was the daughter of Hans Nissen and Marie Rasmudatter.

Hans and Katherine had two children, both boys. Their eldest son, Hans Lloyd Hansen (1894-1954), was born in Minden, Nebraska, in 1894. By this time, the family had given up the Danish custom of changing the last name, although for Hans Lloyd it was appropriate for him to be called Hansen, and to prevent confusion with his father's name, he was always called H. Lloyd or just Lloyd.

Hans lived to be 75, the owner and operator of a farm implement business, and died in Minden, Nebraska in 1945. Katherine lived to be 78, passing away in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1953.

Hans Lloyd Hansen

Hans Lloyd Hansen (who usually went by his middle name) married Estella Mary Mahoney (1895-1967) in Heartwell, Nebraska, in 1915. Estella (who was called Stella) had been born in Heartwell, Nebraska, in 1895; thus, she was 20 when she married Hans. Stella came from Irish ancestry and she was proud of it.

Stella and Lloyd moved to Hastings, Nebraska, where Lloyd worked as a bookkeeper and eventually owned his own building business. They had three children, including one girl, Josephine Marie Hansen (1916-1988). Josephine married Donald Sheldon Overturf (1916-1998) in 1937 and Jo and Don had four children.


[This page researched and written by Susan Overturf Ingraham, a descendant of three Hansen men. Updated on September 17, 2011.]

Return to Table of Contents for Exploring Ancestral Roots: Overturfs, Hansens, McDonalds and Mahoneys

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