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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 308~


Thomas Hanson

Thomas Hanson, an early settler and prominent farmer of Jefferson Township residing on section 17, is of English birth. He was born in the town of Keighley, Yorkshire, on the 9th of December, 1823, and is a son of Joseph and Ahinoarn (Wood) Hanson, who were also natives of Yorkshire, England. His father was born April 1, 1787, and died on the 28th of March, 1865; his mother was born February 23, 1790, and her death occurred December 24, 1861.

Under the parental roof in the usual manner of farmer lads our subject spent his boyhood days, and in the public schools of the neighborhood acquired a knowledge of the common English branches of learning. When eighteen years of age he was apprenticed to the stonemason's trade and after serving his term worked awhile as a journeyman, then engaged as a contractor and builder. He was married on the 21st of June, 1845, to Miss Ellen Smith, daughter of John and Jane Smith. She was born May 20, 1823, in Yorkshire, and while yet residing in England four children, three sons and a daughter, were born of their union: Thomas L., born May 30, 1849, married Miss Viola Baldwin and resides in Central City, Neb.; Isaac, born June 20, 1851, is at home; Sarah A., born February 16, 1855, is the wife of J. W. Drayton, a resident of Antelope County, Neb.; Joseph, born April 8, 1857, is a farmer of Clay County, Iowa. Emigrating to America Mr. Hanson took up his residence in Fayette County, Iowa, and here the family circle was increased by the birth of four other children: John W., born March 9, 1860, married Miss Emma Ridler, now deceased, and is engaged in the mercantile business at Ruthven, Palo Alto County, Iowa; Alfred, born May 3, 1862, married Edith May Scott, is engaged in farming in Jefferson Township and is also Secretary of the Farmers' Creamery Association of this county; Martha Alice, born April 6, 1861, died October 21, 1871; Minnie, a young lady in her eighteenth year, born April 4, 1873, is still with her parents.


Mr. Hanson continued to pursue the business of a contractor until his father's death in March, 1855**, when he returned to the old homestead and carried on a farm until the spring of 1857, when he emigrated with his family to America. Leaving the old country in April of that year he at length reached New York and came directly to Iowa, locating where he now resides. He at first purchased eighty acres of land, the present homestead, which is situated one mile north and one mile west of Oelwein on section 17, Jefferson Township. That thriving young city was not established until fifteen years later and its site was then covered with wild prairie grass, a home for deer, wolves and wild fowl. Mr. Hanson improved his land and increased his acreage by subsequent purchases until he now has six hundred and thirty-five acres of valuable farming land. His residence is situated in an attractive and beautiful spot and his home is supplied with all the comforts which are suggested by the earnest wish of the father to enhance the happiness of his family. When Mr. Hanson arrived with his wife and children in Jefferson Township he was a poor man, and after securing his land found himself without means to purchase a team with which to improve it. He hired ten acres broken the first season, for which he paid partly in cash and partly in work. The following spring by borrowing some money he was enabled to buy a yoke of two-year-old steers. His only vehicle was a home made sled. With this insufficient and crude outfit he made his way as best he could during the year 1858, after which time his circumstances rapidly improved.

(** in the first paragraph the author states Mr. Hanson's father died in March 1865.)


Mrs. Hanson, who was a most exemplary wife and mother, lived to see her children grown to be men and women and useful and respected members of society. Her death occurred February 6, 1884, in the sixty-first year of her age. Mr. Hanson was again married November 12, 1885, in this county, leading to the marriage altar Miss Eliza Mary Hanson, who was born in Racine County, Wis., May 4, 1850, and is a daughter of Hiram and Eliza Hanson. Her father was born in England and was a cousin of her husband. One child graces their union, a son, George Leslie, born on the 18th of November, 1886.


Mr. and Mrs. Hanson attend the Baptist Church. He is a Republican in politics and has acceptably served as Trustee of Jefferson Township for eight years. In the autumn of 1871 he went to Europe and visited his native town, returning to Iowa in the following spring. On his way out it happened that he witnessed the great Chicago fire of that year. Mr. Hanson has invested considerable capital in the city of Oelwein, having confidence in the future prospects of that thriving railroad center. He is the owner of one-third interest in the Union Block and in the new building at its rear. He also owns the harness-shop and lot on the same side of the street to the eastward, and a house and lot in Paign's Second Addition to Oelwein. Although beginning his career in this township in such limited circumstances, he has long been known as one of the substantial and prosperous farmers and business men of Fayette County. His life has been one of industry and frugality and has been shaped by sagacious management and strict integrity. At this writing he is in the enjoyment of robust health, and exhibits that enterprise and public spirit that has for years characterized his course in life."




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