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               May, 2011

      Charles Hansen, Editor

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  Civil War Challenge
  — by Charles Hansen

       Bill West from the blog, West in New England [1], proposed this Civil War Challenge; so let us take the challenge and maybe a few new people will join in with us.

       Did you have ancestors in America on 12 Apr 1861? If so, where were they and what were their circumstances? How did the Civil War affect them and their family? Did the men enlist and did they perish in battle or die of illness? On which side did they fight, or did you have relatives fighting on BOTH sides?

       How did the women, left at home, cope or did any of them find ways to help the war effort? Were your ancestors living as slaves on Southern plantations and if so, when were they freed? Or were they freemen of color who enlisted to fight?

       If your ancestors had not emigrated to America by the Civil War, what was their life like around the time of the Civil War?

       I have always been envious of people with a bunch of Civil War ancestors and so far, I have not yet found a single ancestor who fought in the Civil War.

       My story begins with my grandfather Anton Hansen, who came from Denmark in 1887, a few years after the Civil War:  Denmark and Prussia were having a dispute about the duchies of Schleswig-Holstein during our Civil War. It actually started in 1846 when the duchies demanded independence, Denmark attempted to absorb them and German troops were sent to their assistance, Denmark triumphed but in 1864 Austria and Prussia sent troops and occupied Schleswig and Holstein. The Danish War started and Prussia and Austria won. All through the rest of the 1860s and 1870s Denmark kept preparing for war with Prussia to get Schleswig and Holstein back, but never did go to war. Just the preparing was enough for a lot of young Danish men and they left Denmark in droves. Five of my seven Hansen brothers emigrated to Austin, Minnesota just before they were to get drafted into the Danish military. All five moved to other places in Minnesota, but one my grandfather Anton was the only one to leave Minnesota, first to Montana and finally to north Idaho.

       Anton Hansen married Anna Dillingham, and her family traces back to 1632 in New England and they married some Mayflower descendants, so her family was here long before the Civil War. Her father Stanislaus P. Dillingham was the correct age to have been in the Civil War, but did not serve, I could not figure out why for a long time. He had brothers that served. I finally found that he had problems with his legs and could not stand or march for longer than about ten minutes, so my assumption is that he was medically not able to serve.

       On my mom's side I should have six great grandparents that would have been about the right age. The latest one I have found is the Hert family and it looks like the men were either too old or too young for the Civil War, I am still researching them so maybe I will find more. I have a Joseph Vanderpool and his obit says he was a Civil War soldier, but the records show differently; he was in the Missouri Militia during the war and his unit was never called up by the Federal government, so he never left home, and was kind of a home guard. He applied for a pension and was denied as his unit was never called to serve.

       Thomas Kelly and his family were living on a War of 1812 Bounty Land Claim bought by his Father in Law Robert Forsyth near Ursa, Illinois when the war started. In 1862 Thomas packed up his family on a wagon train and went to California settling near Danville, California. In 1865 he went down to San Francisco with his family, they got on a ship to Panama, across the isthmus and on to another ship to New York and back to Ursa, Illinois. In the 1880s they moved to near Trenton, Missouri.

       The 150 year celebration of the Civil War is a great source for those of us writing about our family history. So, let's do a little research over the coming months. Find out the answers to the questions Bill asked and write about them. Post them on the this Message Board.

Note:  [1] Here is the URL for some replies to this challenge on Bill's Blog,
           to give you an idea of the replies. click here

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