Jens Wilhelm and Sarah Helena Hanson Family

2019 By LaVonne Bomsta Hookom

February 2019 posted here by Gary Gauer

Jens Wilhelm Hansen was born on May 8, 1828 in Ramfjord, Troms, Norway. His parents were Hans Hansen and Caroline Haagensdatter. Hans and Caroline moved to Karlsøy Troms, Norway. Jens Wilhelm married Sarah Helena Nilsdatter on November 3, 1851 in Karlsøy, Troms, Norway. Sarah was born June 11, 1827 on the farm Sjursnes, Ullsfjord, Troms, Norway to Nils Johannesen and his wife Maren Marie Olsdatter. She was baptized at the Karlsøy Church, Troms, Norway. Sarah’s mother and Magdalena Fredrickson Hanson’s mother were sisters. They descend from Sami folk.

Jens and Sarah had five children born in Norway: Caroline born 1853, Jens Nicolai born 1856, Simon Peder born 1857, Morten Jeremias born 1859, and Christina born 1861. James William was born shortly after his father drowned in the Mississippi River in 1864 aboard the steamboat.

*Read more about Sarah and her second marriage in the Sedevart and Sarah Nelson story.

Sarah Helena Hanson

I am going to digress for a bit from Jens and Sarah Hansen and have you read this account which gives information that adds details to Jens and Sarah’s story and a glimpse into what life was like during this era. This account of their journey is recorded in a book:

The Hanson-Jorgenson-Robertson-Genealogy. A History of Three Lines of Ancestors and Their Descendants.” The author Hans G. Jorgenson is a grandson of Hans Hanson Gaard, a brother to Jens Wilhelm Hanson.

He writes – Hans Hansen Gaard. Hans Hansen, who later added Gaard to his name, was born January 13, 1834 in Breivik, Karlsøy, Norway. In 1860, he married Ovidia Mortensen Indahl, a widow with four children. They made their home at Gammel Gaard, which is located at the northern end of Reinøy Island, Troms, Norway. As a youth in this twenties Hans Gaard had a real spiritual conversion experience during the so called Lammers revival, which spread over northern Norway about 1857. He became interested in knowing all he could about the Word of God, but since his education had been so limited in the area where he grew up that he had not learned to read, this now became his great ambition. After he was married, it was his wife who did the most in helping him to learn to read as well as write. Fishing, and farming on a miniature scale, were the means by which he supported his family.

In April of 1864, together with his family and a number of others from the Karlsøy area, he sailed from Tromsø, Norway enroute to America, “The Land of Promise.” Besides Hans Gaard and his wife and five young sons, the oldest twelve years, there were other passengers including his brother Jens Wilhelm Hansen with his family. The ship on which they came was one of only two sail ships ever to sail direct with passengers from Tromsø, Norway to America. The passengers carried their own provisions for their journey, such as flat bread, butter, cheese, cured meat and fish. Due to bad weather and contrary winds their journey across the ocean stretched out to nine weeks. Many of the passengers were already out of food and were dependent on the generosity of fellow passengers.

What was the hardest for the Gaards was the loss of their baby, who became ill and died during the voyage and had to be buried at sea. Having arrived at Quebec, Canada they continued by boat up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and on into Lake Ontario and through the Welland Canal to Lake Erie. They boarded a train in Chicago to travel to LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Here they took a small steamboat up the Mississippi River to Prescott, Wisconsin. On the 10th of July the river boat ran aground on a sandbar. The weather was hot and being dressed in homespun woolen clothing, Jens W. Hansen, Gaard’s brother waded into the shallow water to cool off while the crew was trying to dislodge the boat. The sand being loose and treacherous he was suddenly swept away by the current and was never seen again. His wife was left a widow with five children and gave birth to the sixth child two days after her husband perished. This child was named Jens Wilhelm after his father. He later went by the name James William Hanson and settled on a farm near Lake Lillian, Minnesota where the author visited him in 1937 and again a couple of years later. He died in 1950.

A former Norwegian immigrant and an early Minnesota pioneer transported the newcomers by horse drawn wagon from Prescott to Carver, Minnesota, a distance of about 50 miles. From Carver to Norseland (which was then called Scandia Grove) northwest of St. Peter, Minnesota, they had to walk a distance of about 30 miles. In the terrific heat of July, to which these immigrants were not accustomed, two children died of sunstroke, one of which, was the son of Mrs. Gaard by her first husband. The boy’s name was Lars Indahl, named after his father. They stopped by the road and prepared a box in which they committed the body to the ground, and his spirit to the God who gave it, after which they continued on their laborious way. After arriving at their destination the men soon found work in the harvest fields and were thus able to secure the necessities of life for their families. Deciding to avail himself of the opportunity to get free homestead land, Mr. Gaard with his family and that of his late brother, Jens Hanson came to Lake Lillian, Minnesota on October 23, 1865. Due to the fact that there were three Hans Hansens who settled in the same community after he arrived in the U.S. he adopted the name Gaard from the name of the farm on which he lived in Norway. Here the Gaards resided until 1879—the first two or three years in a dugout in the hillside with a timber and sod roof until they built a log cabin. Their arrival at Lake Lillian was only a short time after the Indian massacre of 1862, in which many settlers had lost their lives. The fear of the savages, who roamed the prairies, had hardly subsided. More than once the women and children in this community were frightened by the redskins, who would come and beg for food while the men were away at work. Hans Hansen Gaard sold his farm in Lake Lillian in 1879 and moved his family to Big Stone County, Minnesota. They came in a covered wagon with their cattle following behind on the hoof. He bought a new farm on the west bank of Artichoke Lake. He was very active in the Baptist Church leadership and became a pastor


Story continues written by LaVonne Hookom ---

James W. Hanson married Ida Olson in 1887. Ida was born 15 May, 1870 near Atwater, Minnesota and was the daughter of Oliva Segelson and Lars Olson who was also a Lake Lillian pioneer. Ida's half-sister Carrie married Emil M. Hanson who lived nearby. They both had large families. (In America the spelling changed from Hansen to Hanson)

Lars Olson emigrated to America in 1862. His family stayed in St.Peter, Minnesota until the frontier was opened up. Lars found it difficult to wait so he went out riding on his horse. Indians shot the horse in the neck with an arrow. He first settled in Greenleaf Township of Meeker County. His first wife died from tuberculous and struggling with the hard life of a pioneer woman. He married Oliva Segelson from Sweden in 1867. She was born 1831, died 1931. (The Hanson children must have inherited her genes for longevity.) She is buried at the East Lake Lillian Cemetery with some of her children. Lars is buried at the Pioneers Union Cemetery in a large plot with a fence around it. Oliva lived with her sons after Lars died in 1895.

James and Ida with their large family lived on a farm east of the Tromso Lutheran Church. Children: Ruth, Laura Melvina, James Ingal, John Leland, Winifred, Olive, Lorinda Elizabeth, Russell Eugene, and Inez Cornelia. Their son, James Ingal Hanson, was known for his oxen and he would demonstrate how to break prairie soil with them. He enjoyed bringing his oxen and covered wagon to Centennial Celebrations and parades.

James and Ida Hanson Family around 1900

James W. 1864-1950, Ruth 1888-1973, Laura 1800-1973, Winifred 1900 - 1958, Ida Olson Hanson1870- 1958, James I. 1896-1982 and John 1898-2001. Olive, Lorinda, Russell and Inez are not born yet.

West Central Tribune, May 25, 1950

Conduct Funeral for James W. Hanson

Final services for James William Hanson, 85, retired farmer who died on Monday May 8 at this home in Lake Lillian Township after an illness of about 22 months duration was conducted on Thursday, May 11 at the Lake Lillian Methodist Church by Rev. Frank Williams. Interment was in the church cemetery.

James William Hanson was born on July 12, 1864 aboard a streamer on the Mississippi River near St. Paul, Minnesota to Jens and Sarah Hanson, both of whom are deceased. During his youth he lived in Fahlun Township and attended school in Lake Lillian.

Since he was two years of age he had lived in the Lake Lillian community and became of a member of the board of directors of the First Co-operative Creamery in the village and served as a member of the school board in District 43.

On November 22, 1887 he was married to Ida Olson in Willmar.

Surviving are his widow; nine children, Mrs. Ruth Nielson of Las Vegas, Nevada; Mrs. Laura Gunner of East Lake Lillian; James, John, Russell and Lorinda of Lake Lillian; Winifred (Mrs. Amos Loven) of Wayzata; Olive of Minneapolis and Inez (Mrs. Oliver Nelson) of East Lake Lillian.

One nephew, Lewis Pearson made his home with the family since he was four years of age. Other survivors include 11 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren, and one half-brother Hemming Nelson of Lake Lillian.

Pallbearers were E.J. Strom, August Carlson, Henning Bomsta, Harry Hawkins, Nels Nelson and Clarence Lund. Mrs. Clarence Petterson sang “Beyond the Sunset” and Mrs. Frank Williams sang “Hold the Fort.” Accompanist was Mrs. Stancie Swenson.

Attending from a distance were George Martin of Rochester; A.J. Olson and Mrs. Laura Olson of Renville; Mr. and Mrs. Harry Martin of Spicer; Mr. and Mrs. Nels J. Lund and Mrs. Ray Iverson of Willmar; Mrs. Emery Bomsta and Mrs. Corinne Barber of Minneapolis and Mr. and Mrs. Carl Lussenhop and Mrs. Grace Clausen of Redwood Falls.

A Sidelight on the Life of James W. Hanson

The passing of James W. Hanson, in point of years of residence one of the oldest citizens in the Lake Lillian community, brings to mind the strange and stirring story of his birth. “Jim” Hanson was born within the United States, yet not a native of any state. He was born on board a steamboat on the Mississippi River under tragic circumstances. His father and mother were on the way from Norway, bound for Minnesota. Next to the last lap of their journey was by steamboat from LaCrosse to St. Paul. The boat ran onto a sandbar, and the crew had a hard time of it working the vessel loose, Hanson a passenger, was helping the crew. Somehow he was caught in a swift swirl, carried away and was drowned. Before the packet reached St. Paul the recently bereaved widow gave birth to a baby boy—it was James. The last lap of the journey was on the Minnesota River from St. Paul to St. Peter, where the widow and child were cared for at public expense for some time.

A Tribute to the late James Hanson

Written by Clarence A. Lund

By the passing of James W. Hanson it seems the last link between the very first pioneers of Lake Lillian community and the present has been broken. His span of life was from the first years of settlement to the present. He had all of the characteristics of the first settlers, rugged, straightforward, truthful, and thorough honesty.

The history of the community he knew in every detail and could with accuracy as to time and place give a vivid description of the people how they lived, and the many struggles and happenings that occurred in pioneer life. No written record was ever taken of the vast amount of stories and anecdotes that our friend James carried in his memory and now are lost to posterity. What interesting reading it would have made.

Blessed be his Memory.

May 25, 1958 – West Central Tribune

Mrs. Ida Hanson 1958

Funeral services were held Saturday, May 3, at the Lake Lillian Methodist Church for Mrs. James (Ida) Hanson. She passed away on April 29 at her farm home after an illness of a number of years, at the age of 87 years, 349 days.

Mrs. Hanson was born May 15, 1870 in Gennessee Township near Atwater, at the age of four years she moved with her parents, Lars and Olivia Olson to Fahlun Township. She grew up and was educated in rural schools in Kandiyohi County. She was baptized by Rev. J.A.J. Bomsta at the age of 11 years.

Ida Olson was united in marriage to James W. Hanson, November 22, 1887 at Willmar. He proceeded her in death on May 3. 1950. Nine children survive, and they are: (Ruth) Mrs. William Polanski of Minneapolis, Mrs. Laura Gunner of Lake Lillian, (Winifred) Mrs. Amos Loven of Wayzata, (Olive) Mrs. Edwin Swanson of Minneapolis, (Inez) Mrs. Oliver Nelson of Lake Lillian, James, John, Russell and Lorinda Hanson of Lake Lillian. Also surviving are 13 grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and two great great-grandchildren.

Pallbearers were Maurice Nelson, Dale Nelson, Buell Gunner, Leslie Gunner, Corell Nelson and James Martin.

The Rev. Edwin Bissell officiated at the service. A vocal solo was rendered by Mrs. Clarence Petterson, “Each Step I Take the Savior Goes Before Me.” A duet number was sung, “I Will Pilot Thee” by Mrs. Glen Boll and Mrs. Kenneth Yarmon.

Blessed Be Her Memory

Willmar Tribune (Willmar, Minnesota) 13 August 1895 – Page 4

Lars Olson Obituary (Ida Hanson’s father)

Lars Olson died at his home in Lake Lillian, Minnesota, August 7, 1895, of cancer in the stomach, at the age of 73 years and 3 months. He was born in Vardalen, Norway, May 4th, 1822. He came to this country in 1862. He and his family reached St. Peter, Minnesota in July the same year, where he rented a farm. At that place, three weeks later when the Sioux Indian outbreak occurred, he had a very narrow escape, as the horse on which he rode was shot through the neck but fortunately not killed, so he escaped. His family had taken another team before.

After some time he moved to Greenleaf, Meeker County, this State, where he resided until 1868, when he and his family came to Kandiyohi County, and settled on his homestead in Town of Gennessee. In 1873 he moved to Lake Lillian, where he has remained ever since.

He leaves a wife and eight children to mourn the loss of a kind and loving husband and father. He was married twice and had four children with each marriage, five girls and three boys, all full grown.

The funeral was held August 8th, all of his children being present, with the exception of Mrs. Nels Peterson, of Fisher, Minnesota, and Mrs. C.M. Johnson, of Grantsburg, Wisconsin May he rest in peace.

CENTENARIAN HAS PASSED ON (Ida Hanson’s mother) 1931

Mrs. Oliva Olson Would Have Been a Hundred Years of Age October 7th Next

Mrs. Oliva Segelson Olson passed away January 19, 1931 at her home in Lake Lillian at the age of 99 years, 3 months and 12 days. Mrs. Olson had been confined to her bed for two years but was seriously sick for a few days. A cold developed into pneumonia, which with old age, caused her death.

Funeral serviced were held Januarys 21 from the home at one o’clock and from the Lake Lillian Methodist church at 1:30. At the home Mrs. Floyd Summerlet and Mrs. Gerald Bomstad sang “Rock of Ages.” At the church Mrs. Clarence Peterson sang “When I Get to the End of the Way” and the Misses Alice and Evangeline Petterson sang a duet. Interment was in the East Lake Lillian M.E. church cemetery. Three grandsons, James I., John, and Russell Hanson, and three great-grandsons, Buell Gunner, Newell Hanson and Correl Nielson were pallbearers.

The following friends and relatives from a distance were present at the funeral: Mr. and Mrs. P.P. Olson and Simon Olson of Renville; Mrs. Arthur Lind of Minneapolis, Misses Olive Hanson and Pearl Nielson of Minneapolis; Mr. and Mrs. Amos Loven of Wayzata, Louis Peterson and son Victor of Gennessee; Mrs. Casmer Foss and daughter, and Mrs. Applegren and daughter of Atwater.

Oliva Segelson was born October 7, 1831 at Sellerud Parish, Varmland, Sweden, where she spent her youth, moving to Norway in 1854, where she remained until 1866, when she came to the United States, coming to St. Peter, Minnesota. She had very little education attending school but for a few days. Later she read considerably to become confirmed in the Lutheran church, which in those days was compulsory. She lived in St. Peter in 1866 and 1867, being married in the latter year to Lars Olson, a widower, with five young daughters, by a former marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Olson lived in Greenleaf, Meeker County, in 1867 and 1868, and for the next five years, until 1873, they lived in Gennessee Township. In 1873 they moved to Fahlun, where Mrs. Olson lived for 40 years, until 1913, moving to Atwater and remaining there until 1921.

In July 1868, when Mr. and Mrs. Olson moved from Greenleaf in Meeker County to Kandiyohi County to settle upon a homestead in Sec.28, township of Gennessee, they made the trip by ox team. Owing to an accident to the team early in the spring, they had no roof on the dugout, as was then used by most of the early settlers. The family was forced to camp in the open, using the wagon box as a shelter from the rays of the hot sun and when it rained one of the young girls or the mother had to hold an umbrella over the five-week old child for protection. The nearest railroad at that time was at Howard Lake, so it was necessary to go to Forest City or Greenleaf to get flour ground or groceries and other supplies. The hardships through which the early settlers were forced to pass, can hardly be realized by the present day people. At that time Kandiyohi was little more than a barren wilderness.

In 1921, Mrs. Olson moved to West Lake Lillian, where she resided until her death. Mr. Olson died in 1895. Surviving are the following children: Laura (Mrs. P.P. Olson) of Renville; Gertie (Mrs. Nels Peterson) of Fisher; Ida (Mrs. James W. Hanson) Emil C. Olson and Lewis Olson, all of Lake Lillian, A son John Ludvick Olson died June 10, 1903. Nine grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and one great-great granddaughter survive. Two nephews, Alfred Segelson and Edwin Segelson of Minneapolis, also survive.

Mrs. Olson lived the life of a true Christian and possessed an absolute faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior until the end. During the past two years of her life, when she was continuously confined to her bed, she spent much time in prayer. The last words she was heard to utter were “Lord” and “God.”

In the childhood, Mrs. Olson was brought up a member of the Lutheran faith, in which she remained until sometime after her marriage, at which time she joined one of the Christian Free churches, but as long as her health permitted she often attended the services of other denominations.

Information from the 1905 Kandiyohi County History, Karlsøy Bygdebok and church books, Hans G. Jorgenson story, newspaper clippings, Lake Lillian – First 100 years, Inger Giæver, obituaries and photos from Clarence Lund’s Scrapbook shared by Janelle Higdem and scanned by Laurel Porter.