Hans T. Jensen and Johanna Larsdatter Denmark is home

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Hans T. Jensen (1823-1888) and Johanna Larsdatter (1835-1928)

Records are limited

There are discrepancies in the records for the dates of birth and death of Hans Jensen, but most sources indicate he was born on 3 Aug 1823, in Farup pr. [parish] Ribe, Denmark, and died on 31 Oct 1888, in Darum, Denmark.

The Homeland of Denmark

Denmark is a small country in northern Europe; it consists of a peninsula and nearly 500 islands. 2 Denmark’s peninsula, called Jutland, shares a 42-mile border with Western Germany. Sweden and Norway lie north of Denmark, Sweden to the east and Norway to the west. Today, more than half the people of Denmark live on the islands near the peninsula. Copenhagen, Denmark's capital and largest city, is on the largest of these islands. 3

Ribe County in Denmark

Ribe County, where Hans Jensen was born, was located on the western coast of Jutland (but it does not exist today). The city of Ribe was located on the Fiads River, near the western coast of the peninsula. Water from melting glaciers flow over this nearly flat region which is known as the Western Sand Plain.

On 1 January 2007, Ribe County (as well as the municipality of Ribe) was merged with an area known as Region South Denmark.

The dark red area on the map at left shows where Ribe county was located. 4

The Dispute over Holstein and Schleswig

Explaining the long dispute between Denmark and Germany over the Schleswig/Holstein area is complex. The city of Ribe lies within this area. Suffice it to say, it was confusing and certainly affected the people who lived there. In 1848, when Hans Jensen was 25 years old, a revolt broke out in Holstein and Schleswig, which at that time were in Germany’s hands but they were ruled by the Danish king (you see how confusing it already is). A revolutionary government of Schleswig-Holstein was set up. It wanted to throw off Danish control and join the German Confederation, of which Holstein was already a member. Danish troops defeated the rebels in 1850; perhaps Hans was a part of that military activity. It would seem that he certainly considered himself Danish, not German, as did his sons, Hans and Lars, who eventually immigrated to the United States in 1888 (after Hans Jensen's death) to avoid conscription in the German army.

In 1863, Schleswig was made a part of Denmark; Hans Jensen was then 40 years old. However, Prussia and Austria, its ally, invaded Denmark just one year later in 1864. They won a quick victory and took over Schleswig and Holstein. Assuming that Hans wanted this area to remain in Danish rule, it must have been a bitter disappointment. He would not live to see the situation resolved with a public referendum in 1920 when North Schleswig was returned to Denmark.

Hans marries Johanna

Just two years prior to that Prussian/Austrian invasion, Hans married Johanna Larsdatter on 31 Oct 1862, in Farup pr. Ribe, the same place where Hans had been born; Hans was 39 and Johanna was 27. They were probably older than other couples to be getting married, so one wonders if they might have been married previously or what reasons kept them from an early marriage.

Johanna had been born in Darum, Denmark, on 22 Mar 1835. (Darum, Denmark cannot be found on modern maps.)

It is believed that Johanna and Hans had as many as five children. Although dates and places of birth are somewhat uncertain, family records indicate that their names were:

After Hans’s death, Joanna Immigrates with her Sons

Hans and Joanna had been married for 26 years when he died, at 65, on their wedding anniversary, 31 October 1888.

After Hans's death, Johanna joined her two youngest sons, Hans and Lars, and immigrated to the United States. As mentioned earlier, the province of Schleswig, where Hans and Johanna's family lived, was often under dispute between Denmark and Germany. Clearly, Johanna and her two sons felt much the same about the situation as her husband, Hans, had felt. It must have been, however, a difficult decision for Johanna to make. Not only was it the only home she had ever had, but she was 53 years old — not young to begin a new life. At least one daughter, Marie, followed them to the United States within the decade.

Life in America

Johanna and her sons first went to Chicago and no doubt lived with the large Danish community in that area. Shortly afterwards, however, they settled in Minden, Nebraska, where Hans Thomsen worked for and eventually purchased a farm implement business.

Joanna lived for the remainder of her life in the United States — from 1889 to 1928 — nearly forty years. During most of that time, she lived with her youngest son, Hans Thomsen, in Minden, Nebraska. One can only wonder how she felt when the people of Schleswig voted to be Danish in 1920, just eight years before her death. She died in Minden, Nebraska, at the age of 93, on 31 Oct 1928.

Hans and Katherine (Joanna's son and daughter-in-law) on the left and Joanna on the right.

The date, October 31st, became a significant one for Hans and Johanna. It was the date of their wedding anniversary and both of their deaths — a rather strange and unusual coincidence. One can only wonder if they are all accurate.

[This page researched and written by Susan Overturf Ingraham, a descendant of Hans and Johanna. Updated May 23, 2019.]

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

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  1. These three dots behave exactly like a footnote. Click on them and you will get more information about the topic. 

  2. Greenland, off the northeastern coast of Canada, is a province of Denmark, even though it lies 1300 miles away. 

  3. Map at right courtesy of Wikipedia

  4. Map courtesy of Wikipedia

  5. For more about Hans's life, click on his name.