About Hans and Bertha Hanson

Picture of Hans and Bertha Hanson. Picture of Hans and Bertha Hanson provided by Lynette Thonne.

Picture of Hans and Bertha Hanson provided by Lynette Thonne.


Hans Hanson (born Hans Hansen and later Hans Hansen Tofteeie, after his place of residence at Tofte, a part of Hurum on the sea coast south of Oslo, Norway) converted to the Protestant Moravian faith from Lutheranism after leaving Chicago and arriving in Door County around 1855-56. Hanson was a literate and skilled master carpenter and wooden ship builder who had immigrated to The United States in 1853 with his wife Bertha and two children. Hanson became good friends with Pastor Andrew Iverson in Ephraim around the birth of Hanson’s fifth child, Hans Jr., in Ephraim on October 22, 1858 and recorded in the Ephraim Moravian Church records.

Pastor Iverson was a colorful Norwegian missionary and church planter for the Moravian faith. He had established the Ephraim Moravian church in 1853 and with the help of Hans Hanson and a handful of other Norwegian immigrants, had establish by 1863 a congregation at Sturgeon Bay. In February of 1864 an actual church building was completed. Hans Hanson was to remain an active member in this congregation until his death January 21 1903.

In Norway

Hans Hanson was born March 19, 1815 in or near Nedre Eiker in the District of Buskerud about 5 miles up river from Drammen in the Drammenselva River valley. Drammen is the sixth largest city in Norway and about 25 miles southwest from Oslo. For hundreds of years, Drammen was known as a ship building center, having both access to the sea through the Drammensfjord and good supply of lumber resources coming down on the Drammenselva River. Eiker is in a low mountainous area with some valley bottom and hill side farms. The steeper hill and mountain sides are thickly forested.

On January 23, 1848, Hans Hansen, age 33, son of Hans Hansen and Bertha Helena Knudsdatter Smaelingen, age 31, daughter of Knut Ambrosiusen were married in Hurum, Norway, about 30 miles south and east from his village of birth.

Their first child, Knud, was born in Hurum on November 22,1848, and their second child, Gunnild Margrette, was born on November 9,1850 in Hurum. Their third child, Knud, was also born in Hurum, on March 3,1853. Apparently the first Knud had died by then. Both Knuds die young, the first in Hurum and the second in Chicago.

Later in 1853, Hans Hansen, age 38, along with his wife and two children, immigrate to America, ending up in Chicago, Illinois. They were members of the Lake View Lutheran Church. In Chicago, was born on August 23,1854, daughter Kattin. Within one or two years the family had moved from Chicago to Door County, Wisconsin.

Back in Norway, we notice on our map that Hurum is a sea port area on the southern tip of a large peninsula of low mountains and lakes lying between the Drammensfjord on the west and the Oslofjord on the east. The Bay of Skagerrak surrounds the area just a brief sail from the North Sea and Sweden. On closer inspection, the map reveals that the shore line of Hurum contains numerous natural and man made harbors. Nearby Tofte is a village containing many man made ships dockage indicating a possible reason for Hansen to have settled here. He was identified as a “ships carpenter” in the Hurum Church records for the birth of his first child, Knud. Hurum is about 40 miles south of the Capital of Norway, Oslo. Hanson was a talented wood worker and probably able to construct everything from log houses and barns to all verity of wooden boats. Presumably, he could also build wooden furniture, fix axe handles, and make all kinds of farm equipment and Parts.

Picture from The Historical, Architectural Analysis, And Restoration Plan for the Hans Hanson House, 15 Dec 2009 Prepared by Alan Pape for The Door County Historical Society

Picture from The Historical, Architectural Analysis, And Restoration Plan for the Hans Hanson House, 15 Dec 2009 Prepared by Alan Pape for The Door County Historical Society

 Historic Time Line

  • ¬†19 Mar 1815 — Hans Hansen born near Eiker in the District of Buskerud, Norway
  • 10 Sep 1816 — Bertha Helena Knudsdatter born
  • 1834 — Door County, Wisconsin surveyed
  • 23 Jan 1848 — Hans and Bertha married in Hurum, Norway “a ship builder and carpenter”
  • 22 Nov 1848 — First child, Knud born in Hurum, Norway
  • 9 Nov 1849 — Second child, Gunnild Margrette born in Hurum, Norway
  • 3 Mar 1853 — third child, Knud born in Hurum, Norway. First child died early
  • 1853 — Hans, age 38, and Bertha age 37, and two children immigrate to America
  • 1853 — Ephraim, Door County, Wisconsin established by efforts of Andrew M. Iverson
  • 1853-1910 — Bradley and Cromwell steam saw mill operating in Sturgeon Bay
  • 23 Aug 1854 — fourth child, Katina (Catherine) is born in Chicago, IL
  • 1855 — Hans Hansen comes to “Sturgeon Bay and worked a short time in shipbuilding; then engaged in farming, commencing with comparatively nothing. By his industry and good management he has a farm of 225 acres (in 1881), part improved.” History of Door County as found in The History of Northern Wisconsin by The Western Historical Society of Chicago, 1881
  • 7 Jul 1857 — Thorston Hanson purchases an 80 acre parcel NW1/4 and SW1/4 of Section 9 of Otumba Twp. Door County, Wisconsin
  • 14 Jul 1857 — Hans Hanson purchases Thorston Hanson’s 80 acre parcel for $250
  • Summer / Fall 1857 — Probable year of construction of the Hanson log house
  • 22 Oct 1858 — Fifth child, Hans Hanson Jr. born in Door County. Recorded in the Ephraim Moravian Church records
  • 16 Mar 1860 — Hans Hanson sells 1/2 acre parcel of land for Dist. #4 school use; farm valued at only $400 in Federal census
  • 19 Oct 1861 — Sixth child, Elisebeth born in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
  • 1863-1864 — Pastor Andrew Iverson staying at Hanson house
  • Feb 1864 — Moravian Church building completed in Sturgeon Bay
  • Jun 1864 — Iverson’s last sermon at: Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church and brush fires at Hanson farm destroys a barn and possibly other out buildings
  • 1870 — Hanson Farm only valued at $700 in Federal Census
  • 1872 — Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal blasting of lime stone begun
  • 1879 — Hans Hanson’s brother, Carl C. Hanson arrives from Norway to live with Hans
  • 10 Aug 1880 — Carl C. Hanson dies at Hanson farm from asthma and measles; no occupation listed
  • 1880 — Federal Census shows seven occupants of the farm: Hans at 65, Bertha at 63, Gunneil at 29, Catrina at 25, Hans at 21, Lizzie at 18, and brother Karl at 47
  • 1881 — Professional ship building begins in Sturgeon Bay by Smith & Leathem
  • 1881 — Hans Jr. age 21 assisting father in farming 225 acre farm known as “Big Creek”
  • Ca. 1884 — Hans Jr. marries Gustava and have nine children between 1886-1908
  • 30 Mar 1899 — Bertha Hanson dies. Farm size is 199 acres
  • 21 Jan 1903 — Hans Hanson Sr. dies
  • Mar 1911 — Gunneil Hanson dies at 61 years old
  • 8 Oct 1918 — Mrs. Hans Hanson Jr., Gustava Hanson dies at 53 years old in Daggett, Michigan
  • 27 Jun 1919 — farm sold to Adrian and Mary DeSmidt. Hanson’s have moved before this time to Daggett, Michigan
  • 22 Oct 1919 — farm sold to Moulton B. Groff
  • 29 May 1923 — Farm sold to Guern Weal Farm Corp
  • 13 Jul 1944 — Farm sold to Donald and Margaret Greaves
  • 7 Oct 2002 — Farm parcel containing the house transferred to Peterson Foundation

 Spelling of Name

Hans Hansen’s name is historically spelled with an “en” and an “on”. The “on” spelling is most commonly used by Wisconsin Norwegians, whereas the “en” is most connected to Danish immigrant names.

We have also noticed that different spellings of first and middle names have appeared in different documents over the years.

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