Matilda Theodora Hansen



Lena & Tillie Hansen


Letter From Karla Smith


  Tom and Lena both grew up in Hussem, a town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. But they didn't know each other. They met and married here. That part of Germany has historically changed hands between Denmark, Germany, and in the early-mid part of the 1800s, became part of Prussia. All Prussian men were required to be in the army at age 18, and that was part of the reason the family came here. Tom was a teenager, and his father had served in the Danish army. He didn't want to be in the Prussian army.  Mom said even when they were old, Lena would have liked to go back home for a visit, but Tom always said he would be shot as a deserter and wouldn't go back. Uncle John told me the story of the voyage over- Tom got seasick as soon as he couldn't see land. It was a 21 day voyage, and he stayed sick till some one told him land was in sight again. He also said he was a stow-away, but the whole family came together. I read one account of a similar voyage, and there is apparently little difference in the German language between "stowage" and "steerage". So my guess is they were in the bottom of the boat. (They never did speak English, and that's why my mom and your dad grew up bilingual- English and German. Mom doesn't remember much, but sometimes she remembers a phrase or two.) Lena came as a servant to a wealthy family. A sort of nanny for their kids. Mom said Lena had two brothers, maybe in N.Dakota. One was a witness at Tom and Lena's wedding, and he is the man in the Golden anniversary picture. (The woman was one of Tom's sisters, the other witness at their wedding,) I haven't had any luck locating Hoefer's or Hoeffer's (Mom's pretty sure it was 1 f) Let me know if you have any other information there. Her parents were Martin and Gretchen. I keep thinking I should write down all the stories Uncle John and Mom have told me. You probably have some too, from your Dad. Maybe this is a good place to post them for anyone interested.....  Karla