James (Jim) Dewey Hansen Family Memories
by WGS Member Jim Hansen
The Walnut Genealogy Society and an Overton visit to Walnut in July 2003, in search of family history, brought Jim Hansen and Marlene Fennern (3rd cousins) together for a first time meeting.
After returning home to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Lee Overton’s wife, Marlene sent an email back to Jim and Karen Hansen asking them to keep watch for a few names other than Overton.
Peter Hansen and wife Margretha Stein
Two of the names were her great-great grandparents Peter Hansen and Margretha Stein, Jim’s ancestors. What a surprise since nothing was mentioned, during the visit, of a Hansen connection.
The Peter Hansen family left Schleswig, Germany and traveled to Walcott, Iowa between 1856 and 1859, where Mr. Hansen owned and operated a blacksmith shop, stable and smokehouse until 1865. They sold out and invested the proceeds in a 240 acre farm located two miles west of Durant, Iowa where they farmed until 1882.
Mr. Hansen traveled to the Walnut and Avoca areas in 1880 in search of cheaper farmland. He purchased a farm about two miles southeast of Corley, Iowa where two of his sons, Peter H. and John M., along with an older sister, took residence in March of 1881.
The three siblings farmed the newly acquired land in Shelby County, Iowa until the farm in eastern Iowa was sold to the oldest daughter and new son-in-law in 1882, when the remaining family members traveled west by train. The railroad that passed through the Hansen farm near Durant also passed through Walnut.
Story has it that the Johann Woltmann family traveled with the Peter Hansen family on the same train. About a year and a half later, one of the Woltmann daughters (Bertha) married one of the Hansen sons (Peter H.) and they would become great-grandparents of Jim Hansen.
A family with four adult sons and five adult daughters required a fair amount of land to divide. The farm in eastern Iowa had sold for $46 per acre and land was selling for $16 per acre in western Iowa. With over $11,000 in his pocket, Mr. Hansen could buy several farms; which he did.
When Margretha Stein Hansen died in 1893 and Peter Hansen died in 1895, they had provided handsomely for their children.
Peter H. and Bertha Woltmann Hansen were successful farmers two miles east of Corley, Iowa, but not so lucky with children.
Peter H. Hansen and wife Bertha Woltmann
They married on 28 September 1883 and had their first son (Ernest Peter) on 18 May 1885. He would be the only child to survive. One more son (Henry J.) and three daughters (Mallie M., Meta and Meda) all died in infancy.
Upon the retirement of Peter H., Ernest married and operated the family farm.
Ernest Peter Hansen and Mamie Ingwers were married on 16 October 1912, and operated the family farm where all four of their children were born. The four children were: Alvina Minnie born 1 Sept. 1913, Hazel Bertha born 15 Mar. 1915, Walter Peter born 18 Sept. 1916, and Dewey Ernest born 28 Nov. 1918.
After 37 years of Hansen ownership the farm was sold and a larger farm of 280 acres, just across the field, was purchased.
The family moved across a very snowy landscape that March in 1919. Bobsleds were used to move the family possessions as fences were cut or let down where necessary.
Three-month-old baby Dewey, who was bundled tightly and held closely to mom on that miserable trip, was to become the father of Jim Hansen.
Ernest Peter died 10 Oct. 1942 and thrust the operation of the 280 acre crop and livestock farm on the only son remaining at home. Dewey farmed with horses during most of the 1940’s while supporting his widowed mother.
Dewey Ernest Hansen married Alta Berniece Hamdorf on 19 Sept. 1945.
Dewey and Alta reared four children on this family farm during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Their children are: James Dewey born 27 Aug. 1946, Vernon Lee born 4 Sept. 1949, Darrell Allan born 14 Dec. 1951, and Nadine Kay born 5 Dec. 1954.
James (Jim) remembers the trips to Corley to visit his great-grandmother Bertha.
A special treat was sitting on the front porch watching the trains fill with grain or just pass through and sound the whistle. The Rock Island Railroad line was just on the other side of the street and it’s passing by caused everything to shake.
Another fun task was being sent to the lumberyard office next door with the Post Office key to get grandma’s mail.
Some Saturday nights found the Hansen family on a grassy slope watching a silent movie on the side of the Corley Elevator.
Dewey’s mother, Mamie, continued to live on the farm until 1954 when she went to live with and care for her mother-in-law Bertha.
On 1 March 1955 Bertha passed away and the home in Corley became the home of Mamie Ingwers Hansen where she lived until her passing on 13 Jan. 1974. At this writing, Dewey and Alta continue to live on the “home place”.
James Dewey Hansen married Karen Diane Karstens on 31 May 1970 in Trinity Lutheran Church in Avoca, Iowa.
Karen was born 15 Aug. 1949 to Vernon L. Karstens and Jeraldine Nora Glissmann in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Jim and Karen made their home in Ames, Des Moines and Atlantic, Iowa before settling in Walnut, Iowa in 1976.
The three children born to this union are: Kevin James born 19 May 1973, Nathan James born 27 Jan. 1977 and Philip James born 9 Sept. 1982.
Jim has worked in the telephone industry since 1970, first for Northwestern Bell in Des Moines, Iowa and Atlantic, Iowa before becoming manager of the Walnut Telephone Company in 1976.