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August Newsletter

      Carol Sanderson, Editor
      Charles Hansen, Technical Advisor

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2002 Reunion - by Charles Hansen

Webmaster's Note: Click on each of the underlined links for a small photo of interest.

        This was the year for our fourth "Hansen" reunion. It is really a reunion of all the descendants of Hans Mikkelsen. Hans and his wife Karen Jorgensen (women. kept their maiden names after marriage) had 10 children. Five brothers came to Austin, Minnesota in the late 1880s. Peter Hansen was first, then Anton Hansen (my grandfather), then Martin Hansen, John Hansen and Lawrence Hansen. Two children died young in Denmark and the other three stayed in Denmark. Martin later moved to Minneapolis and worked for the Pillsbury company, but we have yet to find any of his three children. Peter moved to the south east part of Minnesota, and John, Lawrence and Anton moved to Wadena county about half way between the towns of Sebeka and Wadena, so this years reunion in Sebeka was close to where three of the brothers had farms.

        My sister Jacque Lane and my dad Claude Hansen and I flew to Denver and then to Fargo, North Dakota, which is about 90 miles away from Wadena, Minnesota on the old highway 10. On July 4th, we wanted to go see Helen Shereda, one of "Pop's" few first cousins who is still living. She just had her 94th birthday a couple of days before we came. Helen is a daughter of John Hansen, and while she is very sharp yet, her hearing is getting pretty bad. She kidded "Pop" that she will catch him yet (he will be 96 August 8th). To get to Helen's apartment we decided to take a scenic route across Minnesota. We saw the Minnesota hero, Paul Bunyan on the way, but July 4th is a bad day to take the scenic route. There were tons of cars, and boats heading for one of the 10,000 lakes, and in Walker, Minnesota they were having their Fourth of July parade right down main street. This is also the highway route, thus we elected to travel on some very narrow back streets, and finally arrived at Helen's apartment.

        After leaving Helen's we had about a three to four hour drive back to our motel, so we took the quick route this time. Just about dark we ran into our first detour, that seemed like we went miles and miles the wrong way before we finally got back on the road. Now we were starting to see fireworks at farms and a few towns, and the worst was arriving in a town just as the fireworks were over. People everywhere carrying chairs, walking across the highway, and cars pulling out between the pedestrians. We finally got through three towns like this and our second detour before we finally got back on highway 10 and found our motel at New York Mills, Minnesota. Sebeka only has one motel and it was filled before we called.

        The next morning we got up, had breakfast, and headed for the farm house of our hosts, Harlow and Bernice Names. Harlow is a grandson of Lawrence Hansen, and one of my second cousins. They were going to take their motorhome over to the park at Sebeka and we were going to have a clean up party as the covered enclosure was pretty dirty about a week before and we wanted it clean and ready for Saturdays get together. We followed them over in our rented van and when we got there some of their kids had set up tents in the park and were saving a spot for the motorhome. Harlow parked the motorhome and we walked over to the Lions Club shade and it was spotless. The kids said the city had come about an hour before and washed the whole place down with a hose, so we did not have to do any cleaning.

        That evening was the first get together, a dinner with Harlow and Bernice at their farm house. When we arrived, the wind was blowing about twenty-five miles an hour, and the picnic tables were lined up outside. About forty "Hansen's" were in attendance and most were descendants of Lawrence Hansen. Eating in a twenty five mile an hour wind is interesting. The paper plates and even some of the food blew away if you did not hang onto them, along with the napkins. One of Harlow children had worked at a fireworks stand and was able to purchase fireworks for half-off on the 5th, so we were able to see a very nice fireworks display. The mosquitoes were really out in force after dark. If you stood in the wind, they blew right past you.

        Saturday, we were to have a lunch at the park under the Lions shade, and a dinner at a restaurant south of Sebeka. We headed from our motel toward Sebeka and stopped at the New York Mills Sculpture Park, which was just across the Highway 10 from our motel, and I had my picture taken while standing by the huge iron tractor, and also took another picture of another sculpture and a picnic table. About 45 relatives came for the lunch. We sat and talked all afternoon except for one picture taking session. I had also taken the latest Hansen book with me and we asked everyone to put in all the updates and changes. We will send them an updated copy later this summer.

        Sunday was to be spent in Sebeka for lunch in the park, under the shade. When we awakened that morning, the weather channel was predicting flash flooding for the northern half of Minnesota. It was cloudy, and the first day that was not very hot. We headed for Sebeka and found only about 35 relatives there, as some were already heading home. We talked a lot more, and were so sad that everyone had to leave, but promised to meet again in three years.

        My first cousin Patty and her husband Don were not going home till Monday, so all of us hopped in the van and headed to Itasca State Park, and Lake Itasca. The water that runs out of Lake Itasca is the beginning of the Mississippi River and so at 1475 feet above the ocean we looked on the lake and the rocks that go across the river. Downstream a hundred feet or so is a log bridge, so I walked across the Mississippi River. It was raining lightly when we were there and pretty cloudy so I was surprised that the pictures came through so well. After we left the head waters, we headed back to Wadena for dinner and then said good bye to Don and Patty.

        We then headed back to the Harlow's farm, as they had some paperwork for us, for the next reunion. On the way, it was raining and there was quite a bit of thunder and lightning. We finally got through that bit of weather and the sky turned from dark to white, and then I thought someone turned on a firehose. I have never seen rain like that. The ditches on both sides of the road filled up, and there were two rivers running down the Harlow's driveway when we finally arrived. We attended to family business, and then headed for the motel. When we got there the rain had stopped, and the sculpture park was flooded. Just the top of the picnic table was above the water and about half of the motel parking lot was under water. In the picture is a yellow sign, that indicates, bump, that was what looked to me like a drain that ran across the road there when it was dry, and there was three and a half feet of water there that night. It had rained FIVE inches most of it in one hour. Overnight, the area received another inch and a half of rain. The farms around the area were very dry, so it soaked into the ground very fast and most of the standing water was gone the next day.

        We returned to Fargo; turned in the van, flew to Denver and then arrived home on Monday night.

Using City Directories - by Carol Sanderson

        One tool that we use is a city directory. These date back to some time in the 1800s for most of them. There are a few places where one might find some earlier ones. These handy tools contain a wealth of information and are quite easy to use.

        I had a friend who was looking for one of her ancestors but didn't know what port through which he had entered the United States. She did know where he was in a certain year. I was in a library that had the city directories for this place. I used them to find him in the year that she had for him. At that date I learned that he was still unmarried and was a student studying and working at the same time. I used the directories to trace him back until he didn't appear in one. At that time I assumed he had just arrived in the United States.

        I decided to see if I could also trace him forward in time using these directories. I could and found the date he finished his studies and had his first full time position. I followed him as he moved from rooming house to rooming house within this city. I found when he married and his wife's name and learned her occupation. Later as they moved into a rental house I learned that they had started a family and found the sex of the child. Later directories gave me the names of the children and also the addresses as they moved as he was promoted to better positions.

        This was an easy study as he and his family stayed in the same city although the addresses changed with their circumstances. One question remained unanswered. At which port had he arrived? A couple of weeks later I was at the National Regional Archive for that area. They had a file of cards for people who were naturalized in that area. On an off chance, I looked and found the man. I was able with that information to get a copy of the naturalization application. There was the information as to the port of arrival, with whom he had arrived along with the date of arrival, and his age. This verified her belief as to the town or area in England where these people lived. It verified some of the oral history of the family. Other than checking a couple of the Federal Census to verify that what I had seen was so, I left more of the hunting to my friend.

        Not too long ago, I was reading an article written by Juliana Smith that appeared in "The Ancestry Daily News." This was about one of her times at using city directories. She was searching for some of her ancestors and trying to verify by use of the directories the time they moved from one city to another. Fortunately, on this one attempt there was only one person in those cities with the name she was looking for. When she found him she knew it was the same person because other items in the search checked with what she had in the place from which they had moved.

        Later, when she was looking for another family with a common name so that she had to choose which was hers, it was more difficult. It was still possible. While she knew the first names of some of the family she didn't know all of them so she had to check all that she found. Isn't this what we sometimes find ourselves doing when we are conducting other types of searches? In this instance, she found people with an occupation dealing with silk flowers. By checking and using directories of adjacent years she was able to build a list of names and addresses. Then she was able to put families together. Some were people that she knew were her ancestors and she found their spouses. She also was able to follow some of them as they grew more affluent and changed occupations and addresses.

        She had to follow up on what she had found to further document her work. In this she used census records both state and federal. She talked of using historical maps to locate churches. These will help her find church records of the family. In doing that she feels that she can possibly narrow down dates to use in seeking vital records of the family.

        These should give you some ideas for using city directories. One of my thoughts was not all places have directories. True. But I found in looking that even some of the smaller areas had directories of the region...some in groups of two or three towns. I even found a few that were for county areas. So, look for some in the area and time of your ancestors. They may help you flesh out the person or family that you have.

Recommended reading:
Straw Goods, Artificial Flowers, and Feathers: Seeking Common Threads in City Directories by Juliana Smith, published in the Ancestry Daily News on June 17, 2002.

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