Hans T. Hansen and Katherine Marie Nissen From Denmark to Nebraska

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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 in Minden, Nebraska, 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.

Settling Down

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.

A Family

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:

This photograph of Hans and Katherine and their two sons, Lloyd and Everett, was taken in about 1907 or 1908, most likely in Minden, Nebraska. Lloyd is the older boy, with the younger son, Everett Thomas, on Hans’s lap.

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.

This is the main display floor of the farm equipment business. It is not known if either man is Hans.
Hans (left) and another man are sitting in the office at the store. The large books on the shelf above and at the back were apparently the recordings of items sold. One of those books was handed down to Everett, Hans’s youngest son, and to two more generations. Here is a photograph of one page from that book:

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 May 20, 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. Denmark passed a law to change the practice in the late-1800s, but many families continued the practice for quite some time. 

  3. Pictured at right. 

  4. To learn more about Hans Lloyd's life, click on his name.