© Copyright May 5, 2006 by Richard S. Hanson.  All rights reserved.  Revised July 15, 2008

This history is limited to those descendants of Michael and Mary Kilduff Hanson who were antecendents of Richard Hanson and his descendants.  It includes the Hansons Byrnes, Konechnes, and Souleks.


This family tree traces the direct antecedents of Richard Hanson and does not include all the decendents of Michael and Bridget Hanson in America.

Most of the information in  this family tree was obtained from The Hanson Family Tree compiled by Father Morrin in 1947.  We added dates of birth and death when known and other information we could obtain.

Generation 1

  1. Michael Hanson1786 - 1851
    + Maria (Mary) Kilduffunknown
    • 2. Thomas Hanson1809 - 1890
    • 2. Stephen Hanson I1814 - 1888
    • 2. John Hanson1820 - 1895
    • 2. Edward Hanson1825 - ?
    + Catherine Casey? - 1849
    • 2. Hugh.1827 - ?
    • 2. Cathryn1829 - ?
    • 2. Patrick1830 - ?
    • 2. Anne1836 - 1911
    • 2. Joseph1836 - ?

Generation 2

  1. Stephen Hanson I (Hensen in 1850 census)1811 - 1888
    Married 1843 or 1844
    + Anna Maher
    • 3. Mary  (Sister Anthony in Green Book)1847 - 1900
    • 3. William?
    • 3. Bridget1848 - 1863
    + Margaret Dunn (Catherine Dunn in Green book).1832 - 1873
    • 3. James1852 - ?
    • 3. Elizabeth1854 - ?
    • 3. Michael1856 - ?
    • 3. Thomas1857 - ?
    • 3. Catherine1859 - ?
    • 3. Sister Julianaunknown
    • 3. Stephen II1864 - 1928
    • 3. Rose1867 - ?
    • 3. William (Willie)  (Died at 10 months of age)1869 - 1869
    • 3. Lucy1871 - ?

Generation 3

  1. Stephen Hanson II1864 - 1929
    + Annie Byrne1867 - 1919
    • 4. Margaret1891 - 1932
    • 4. Walter1892 - 1962
    • 4. Mervin1894 - 1935
    • 4. Juliana1896 - 1949
    • 4. Catherine1898 - ?
    • 4. Leonard1899 - ?
    • 4. Helen1901 - ?
    • 4. George1902 - ?
    • All the children of generation 4 above were born in Iowa. Those below were born in Charles Mix County, South Dakota.
    • 4. Agnes1904 - ?
    • 4. Rose1905 - ?
    • 4. Stephen1909 - ?

There were 650 known descendents of Michael Hanson in America in 1947.  The descendents of Walter Hanson are presented in a tree found later in this family history.



© Copyright January 23, 2006 by Richard S. Hanson.  All rights reserved.  Revised September 7, 2008

Michael Hanson (1786-1851) was my great-great-grandfather.  He was born in Athlone, County Westmeath, Ireland and was married first to Maria (Mary) Kilduff, my great-great-grandmother.  Her given name was Maria in parish records in Athlone, Ireland according to documents provided me by Brent Hanson.  She  died in Ireland.  Michael then married Catherine Casey who died in 1847 of typhus fever during the trip of Michael, and some of their children from Ireland to the United States. There is one source that specifies the year of their emigration from Ireland to America that I have seen: The History of Williamsburg Iowa, Volume II. The original source was not cited.

The children of Michael's two marriages are listed in the Hanson family tree published in 1947 and the modified trees presented in this history.  I have corrected some errors in the Hanson Family Tree and added birth and death dates when I could find them.  The lives of some persons are described later in this brief history.  A copy of the Hanson Family Tree is available to members of our family.  It will soon be available on the Iowa GenWeb for Iowa County for others who wish to obtain it.

Athlone is the largest city in County Westmeath, Ireland.  It is considered the center of the island.  It is located on the eastern bank of the River Shannon that is famous for it’s fishing and boating.  Westmeath had a population of about 141,000 prior to 1845.  From 1845-1851, the population decreased by 21% primarily due to emigration and partly due to deaths resulting from malnutrition during the famine.  The potato blight began in Ireland in 1845.  The British exported cereal grains from the island and left the Irish farmers with little to eat.  The “troubles”, related to the persecution of Catholics and the militancy of various organizations that resisted British and the Church of Ireland influence caused great strife and affected the lives of many, particularly the Catholics before and during the famine.  These problems were the cause of the emigration of many Catholics, including the Hansons who first arrived in America.

John McCormack (1884-1945), a world famous Irish tenor, was a native of Athlone and Oliver Goldsmith, the Anglo-Irish author, poet and Physician (1728-1774), was from Westmeath.  Major families in Westmeath included the O’Growney, Brennan, O’Coffey, O’Malone, O’Daly, McAuley, and McCormack families.  In 2005, the population of Athlone was 23,670 and is said to be one of the fastest growing inland cities in Ireland.

Michael Hanson’s sons, Thomas and Stephen I, my great grandfather, were listed among the first settlers in Iowa Co., Iowa in a History of Iowa County.  They first migrated to Troy, New York in 1831 when Thomas (the oldest) was 24 years old and Stephen I was 17 .  In the version of their migrations presented in The History of Williamsburg, Iowa Volume II, published in 2007, they first arrived in Nova Scotia.  However, their obituaries and other sources indicated that they arrived in New York.  Thomas had been a farmer in Westmeath County, Ireland until then according to their biographies and obituaries.  Thomas and Stephen worked as stonemasons in Troy, NY, spent one winter in Charleston, NC, and moved to Ross County, Ohio in 1837.  Thomas married Bridget Meagher in 1837 in Troy, NY.  Bridget had immigrated to New York from county Killkenny Ireland while Thomas and Stephen were in Troy. Thomas and Stephen were listed in separated households in the 1840 census of Ross County and lived in Springfield Township northeast of Cincinnati.  Thomas, his wife and their son were listed in one household.  Thomas and Stephen I lived and farmed in Ross county Ohio from 1837 until they moved to Iowa territory in 1844.

The Black Hawk Indian treaty of 1832 had allowed settlement in Johnson County.  Iowa County is west of Johnson County.  The boundray was established in 1843 and this allowed settlement in Iowa County.

Thomas and Stephen settled in Green Township, section 23 in 1844.  They were both appointed viewers for surveyors shortly after they arrived in Iowa.  This part of Green Township later became Troy Township in 1850-51. According to The History of Williamsburg, Iowa, they returned to Ohio during the winter of 1844-45.  The next spring, Thomas’ family (Thomas , his wife, Bridget, and two sons), Stephen and his new wife, Anna, returned together to Iowa.

There has some confusion about the maiden name of Stephen’s first wife.  In his obituary, his first wife was said to be Anne Maher, later in The Hanson Family Tree, referred to as the Green Book and in the History of Williamsburg Iowa 1854-2007 she was listed as Anne Casey.  Various other sources after the family tree was published are not consistent.  Further research has clearly shown that the Hanson Family Tree is in error.  Her real name was Anna Maher  and the error in the Hanson Family Tree was perpetuated in some subsequent histories.  Anne’s name was spelled Meagher in one source.

Hugh Hanson was born to Thomas and his wife in July 1846.  He was the first white person born in the township.  Edward Hanson arrived in the spring of 1846 and John Hanson came in the fall of 1846. Their official address was Sec. 23, P.O. Lytle City, IA.  Thomas’ first home was described as follows in the 1815 History of Iowa County:  “a one room log cabin--a typical pioneer home, with clapboard roof and puncheon floor”.  Thomas’ picture was in the History of Iowa County, vol. 2, and the centennial edition of the Friends of Old St. Michaels newsletter. I have added it to my family albums as well.

Their homestead was on a ridge looking down on Old Man Creek.  The views from the two subsequent home sites of Thomas and Stephens families were beautiful.  The vistas were very long.  They were near and old Indian trail that followed the ridge tops and is now a road leading from Williamsburg to Holbrook.

When Troy Township was formed, Thomas and Stephen were on the board of trustees.  Thomas and the former Bridget Meagher of Killkenny, Ireland had six children: Michael, John, Hugh D., Stephen B., Thomas M. and Edward.  He had several other notable achievements mentioned in his obituary that I have included with other genealogical documents in my photo collection.

A newspaper obituary reported that John, who died in 1895, came to America in 1845, the year that Thomas and Stephen settled in Iowa County IA.  He would have been 25 years old and Thomas and Stephen I had been in America for 14 years and in Iowa a short time.  John arrived in New York, went to New Haven for a month, then by steamer up the Hudson to Troy, through the canal to Buffalo, and through the great lakes to Fort Dearborn, Illinois (later Chicago).  It was reported that he went by stagecoach from Illinois to Iowa City where he was met by Thomas and Stephen.  Note; it is unusual that he came across the great lakes in 1845 in a steamer.  Most of the passenger ships on the Great Lakes at that time were sailing schooners.  Sailing ships also carried cargo at that time according to most accounts that I have read.  John worked for Thomas and Stephen for a year, and then rented land just west of what became South Amana.  He and Edward purchased a large tract of government land in Iowa County where John lived the remainder of his life.  In the 1850 census of Iowa County, Anne (16 years old), Patrick (22), and Joseph (13) were listed as living with John who was a prosperous farmer then in Brush Run Township on the bank of the Iowa River.  Both John and Patrick were listed as farmers in the same household in the 1850 census.

John’s funeral was held in St. Mary’s church in Williamsburg and he was buried in Calvary cemetery in Iowa County.  He was highly regarded and his funeral was said to have a greater attendance than any other recalled by the reporter.

Stephen, Thomas, John and Edward each appear to have been very prosperous farmers according to the land values recorded in the census documents between 1850 and 1890.

They were among the first settlers just north of Old Man Creek in what became known as the Irish Settlement or Hanson settlement.

In late 1845, Green Township had 20 persons listed on the voting registry.  Thomas and Stephen Hanson, plus their wives and Thomas’ two sons accounted for 6 of them.  The Evans family accounted for at least 4 more, and Richard Pugh plus William Evans and their wives accounted for a total of 17 of the residents.  When additional Hanson brothers settled there soon after 1845, the area near their homesteads became known as the Hanson Settlement.

Irish societies were formed which raised money to assist with the immigration of Irish Catholics who arrived in America.  The Hansons in Iowa saved money and assisted their father and other children of Michael Hanson who remained in Ireland when Thomas and Stephen left.  Michael and at least 5 children who were half-siblings of Thomas and Stephen remained in Ireland.

Michael, left for America with his second wife, Catherine Casey Hanson, in 1847 according to the Williamsburg family history.  Their children including Hugh, Cathryn, Patrick, Anne and Joseph were apparently with them.  They were part of the famine exodus that included over 1 million emigrants by 1855.  Catherine Casey Hanson, died of typhus fever and was buried at sea according to the Williamsburg history and the Hanson Family Tree.  Thomas (1809), Stephen (1815), John (1820), Edward (1825) , Hugh (1827), Catherine (1830), Anne (1834), and Joseph (1836) were all born in Ireland and all were on farms owned by Stephen and John Hanson in Iowa County, IA according to the 1880 census information (birth years in parentheses).  Catherine (or Cathryn in different census documents) did not marry.

Joseph would have been only 11 years old, Anne 17 years old, and Patrick 19 years old when their father Michael emigrated to America in 1847.

Census records indicate that Michael and his children that were the half-siblings of Thomas, Edward, John and Stephen lived with Stephen and John for some time after their arrival.  Michael, the father, was listed in the 1850 census of Iowa County as living with Stephen I, my great grandfather.  Catherine was also living with Stephen in 1850 while Joseph, Anne and Patrick were living with John.  They were all listed under the name Henson in the 1850 census and Catherine’s name was spelled Catharine.  This is important because she could easily be confused with Stephen’s second wife who was misnamed Catherine in the Hanson Family Tree or Green Book.

Michael died in Iowa County in 1851 so he did not live long after arriving in Iowa.  He is buried in the Catholic cemetery in Iowa City because St. Michael’s cemetery, Holbrook, was first opened in 1864 (See photo of grave marker in my photo history and the Hanson Family Tree).

Anne was married to William Butler in 1854 and they moved to Missouri and most of her children (14) were born there.  William was born in County Tipperary, Ireland.  The first child, Joseph, was born in 1855 and the last, Lucy, in 1874.  They moved to Green Township, Iowa in 1875.  Their farm was located near the Hanson settlement shown in the Plat maps.  They retired to Parnell before she died two weeks after her husband in 1911. She and William are buried in St. Joseph’s cemetery in Parnell.  Her obituary was obtained from Netha Meyer.

Therefore, a rather large number of Hansons lived in Green Township, later Troy Township, or nearby in 1880 before the village of Williamsburg was established to the north of Holbrook.

St. Michael’s church was built in Holbrook, Greene Township and the unincorporated town of Holbrook was established there.  Catholic services were held in Thomas and Bridget’s home and other homes, and then a small frame church was built nearby in 1850 that served the congregation until St. Michael’s was completed in 1867.  The major schools were the Hannon School located 2 ½ miles west of Holbrook and the Spratt School in Holbrook.  We were told during our visit to Williamsburg in August 2008, that by 1880, four masses with full congregations attended mass each Sunday.  The 1200 members of the congregation arrived from 5-10 miles away on foot, horseback and by wagon.  It is a remarkable structure and breathtaking to me when I first entered the church.  The upkeep is now difficult and The Friends of Old St. Michaels are very challenged to keep it in  good repair.  It is still used for various functions about once a month and for celebrations, including Irish concerts on a few occasions each year.  Some of the people we met during our trip to Williamsburg were baptized, received their first communion, were married and regularly attended the church until about 1990 when it closed for regular services.  The Friends of Old St. Michaels publishes a newsletter announcing events held at the church and gathering hall and provides other information on families.  It is worth subscribing to if you are interested in the Hanson Family history or the history of this area.

The great, great, great granddaughter of Michael Hanson, great, great granddaughter of Thomas, great granddaughter of Stephen B. Hanson, granddaughter of Bert and daughter of yet another Stephen Hanson who is named Hanorah Hanson, was married in St. Michael’s church in October 2004.  I mention this to emphasize the long history of St. Michaels, the generations it served and the continued use of traditional Hanson names.

We named our sons Michael, Stephen and Thomas.  We did not know of Thomas when our Thomas was named.   His name was totally without regard to family names.  I think Stephen was named because of our liking of the name and my respect for my uncle Stephen.  Michael was also the name of the first Glynn to come to South Dakota, Doreothe’s grandfather, and a well liked uncle, Michael Glynn.  Michael Glynn was the first well documented male Glynn ancestor of our family.  The reasons for our son’s names, except Michael are a bit fortuitous.  The best reason is that we liked these traditional names.

In 1874, Stephen Hanson owned about 340 acres about 4 miles southeast of where Williamsburg was founded.  Thomas (300 acres), Edward (300 acres), Hugh, John, and Michael Hanson owned substantial land in the same area.  All their properties were adjacent as shown in the attached plat maps.  Michael and Thomas owned about 30 acres each on Old Man’s Creek, south of their farms.  These were probably their woodland holdings.  It was common for farmers to have woodlands near creeks for firewood and wood for building.  The acres owned by each were large considering that horses were used to farm and tractors were not yet common.  By 1886 Edwards holdings had grown while the land of his other brothers remained the same or decreased in size as younger brothers bought the land of the older siblings and children took over land of their fathers.

The Meyers and the Dunn families, which included my grandmother and great grandmother, lived nearby. Their families are described later in this part of this Hanson Family History.

We have tried not to present too many anecdotes because they are available in the literature in our collection, and material we have collected and will be provided some Hanson descendants so they will be preserved.  However, some including the following information that Thomas Hanson furnished an historian that was recorded in the History of Iowa County Vol. I seem appropriate.  It is copied verbatim from that history.  He called it the “law of borrowing”.  It was also repeated in the 2007 History of Williamsburg Iowa Volume II.

“My brother Stephen and myself traveled from Ohio by wagon.  I had a wife and two children.  Stephen was lately married and this was his wedding tour west.  We arrived on the 1st of May 1845, on section 23, Township 79 north, range 10 west, now Troy Township.  We had no houses, but encamped in wagons until we could put up a log cabin.  We cut and hauled logs, but to make clapboards we needed a crosscut saw.  We did not know where to find one.  I saddled a horse and started to hunt a saw.  The first man I met was Charles Gillian.  I asked him if he could tell me where I could find a saw.  He replied that the man breaking prairie for him had a saw.  That man’s name was Charles Jones.  I went to him and asked him if he had a saw, and he answered he ought to have one, but did not know where it was, if I would find that last house that was raised I might get the saw.  ‘Well’, said I, ‘I am as bad off as ever; where will I find that house?’  He said the last raising was at was a stable for Erasmus Converse.  I then inquired how far that was and he replied that it was only a little way, four or five miles, and gave me directions.  Meeting Charles Jones and not knowing where he lived, I asked him where I should return the saw when I was through with it.  He said: “Keep it till the next man wants it.’  “Look here,’ he continued, ‘everything in this country is public property; you must loan anything you have and never carry back anything you borrow.’  I replied, “You are a man after my own heart.  I shall observe that law.’  In this neighborhood this law is kept to this day.  To show how well that law has been kept, I will state the following fact:  Seventeen years after the above law was passed, I loaned a fanning mill to a neighbor.  When I wanted to use it I was compelled to go six miles for it.  The borrower excused himself for not bringing it home, but I immediately told him that it was all right, that if he had returned it he would have broken the law.  The law was made by Charles Jones and approved by Thos. Hanson may 7, 1845, on the land where Jones was breaking in section 31, Township 79, range 9, now York Township.”

The necessity for cooperation in order to survive on the frontier was evident in many biographies and historical books.



Stephen Hanson I, my great grandfather served on a Jury early in the history of Iowa County and also was prominent in service to the community from 1845 until his death.  He attended the first Fourth of July Celebration in Holbrook.  Stephen married Anne Maher in 1844 before he and Thomas left for Iowa.  Stephen and Anne Maher Hanson, who was born in Ohio, had three children: Sister Anthony (Mary), William, and Bridget.  The children were all born in Iowa.  William was not listed in the 1856 or 1880 Iowa County census documents and he was not listed in the 1947 Hanson family tree as having been married and having children.  He apparently died young. Another child born to Stephen’s second wife, Margaret, was also named William. He also died very young.  A daughter, Mary Hanson, born in 1847 and listed in the 1856 and 1880 Iowa County census documents, was not listed as one of Stephen’s children on page 16 of the 1947 Hanson Family Tree.  That is because she became a nun in 1890 or 1894 at the age of 43 or 47 according the History of St.Michael’s Church and the Old Man Creek.  She was listed as Sister Anthony in the Hanson Family Tree.  She was 2 years older than Bridget in the two census documents that I found in which she was a member of Stephen Hanson’s household as a daughter.  She died in 1900 according to the History of St. Michael's Church Holbrook and the Old Man Creek.  Anne Maher Hanson died in 1850.

Obituaries were not written for newspapers until later.  There were no local newspapers and death records were not available for years before 1880 in the Iowa County courthouse so her history is hard to obtain.

Bridget, Michael, Rose, and of course, Sister Juliana, and a second son of Stephen’s named William (Willie )who died very young (10 months old) were children of Stephen’s second marriage, that were not listed as having married in the 1947 Hanson Family Tree.

Margaret Dunn, Stephen’s second wife, and my great grandmother was listed in census lists of 1856, and 1860 as Margaret and was not listed in 1870. In both of the 1856 and 1860 census lists, Stephen and Margaret’s names were listed.  Her original name was Margaret Dunn and was known as Maggie according to a History of Williamsburg Iowa and a granddaughter, Mrs. Kathleen Jones.  She used this name on her marriage certificate as well. Margaret was born in New Hampshire in 1832 as was her mother.  Her Parents were Patrick and Elizabeth Dunn.  They moved to the township of Muscatine Iowa, County of Muscatine. They were my great,great grandparents.  I found that Margaret Dunn married Steven Hensen April 21, 1851 on the Muscatine, IA. GenWeb site.  The misspelling of Hanson is not unusual nor is the use of Steven for Stephen.  Mrs. Kathleen Jones, a granddaughter of Patrick and Elizabeth Dunn provided me with a copy of Stephen and Margaret’s marriage certificate and verified much of this information.  Stephen would have been 40 years old and Maggie would have been 18-19 years old when they married.  Their first son, James, was born in 1852.  The other nine children born to them, including my grandfather Stephen J. Hanson, born in 1864, are listed in the family tree at the beginning of this history.  There was no wife listed in Stephen’s household in the 1870 census.  Margaret, my great grandmother, died in 1873 at the age of 40. She is buried with Stephen in St. Michael’s cemetery, Holbrook.   Their last child, Lucy, was born in 1871.  I have a photo of her gravestone that lies next to Stephen’s in St. Michael’s cemetery in Holbrook.  Stephen died in 1888.


NameYears of birth-deathPlace of birth
  1. James Dunn
    + Elizabeth Delucy
    • 2. Maggie
    • 2. Lydia
    • 2. James
    • 2. William T.
    • 2. Richard
    • 2. Clara
1802 - ?

1832 - 1873

New Hampshire
New Hampshire

James Dunn purchased (or homesteaded) 35 acres of land for $200 in Muscatine county Iowa on 1/13/1854.  It was on the NE corner of the NW1/2 of section 6 of Bloomington Township, William T. Dunn, a son obtained this land on a quit claim deed in 1872 for $1.00.

A woman named Mary, listed as a schoolteacher, aged 34 was listed as keeping house in the Stephen Hanson family household in the 1870 Troy Township, Iowa County census.  She was born in Connecticut.  It was not unusual for school teachers to live with families and Stephen Hanson was said to have a large home.  His seems to have been a popular residence for teachers.  This is mentioned to prevent future searches from confusing her with family members.

Stephen’s family members were said to be devout Catholics and two daughters became nuns.  It is also obvious that Stephen and John were generous in their support of their father and half-siblings who arrived with him.  Stephen was apparently a humble man and received little mention in the various histories of St. Michael’s Church, Iowa County and Williamsburg.  In his obituary, he was described as “an early pioneer settler who was ever a leading citizen of Iowa County, and always took an active and reliable interest in its rapid growth.  He was a good and faithful member of the Catholic Church and dearly loved by his family, respected by his neighbors, and honored by all.  His whole life was filled with loving deeds of charity and devotion”  “Stephen had suffered greatly for a year and was bedridden for more than three months prior to his death at nearly four score years”

It is curious that the death of Maggie was not mentioned in Stephen’s obituary although she died 15 years before he did. 

I am deeply grateful to Rita McDonald, Mary Hanson Miller, Stephen Williams and Netha Meyer for assistance in the form of copies of plat maps census information and obituaries.  These people are not only expert at what they do but they have been very generous.



Stephen and Annie Hanson
Stephen II and Annie Hanson
Stephen Hanson: 1864 - 1929
Annie Byrne: 1867 - 1919

Stephen Hanson I was a prosperous farmer.  His real estate value was listed as $8,500 and his personal estate had a value of $2,200 in the 1870 census of Iowa County.  These values were well above the mean for Iowa County, IA at that time  Most of the farms were valued between $1,000 and $3,000 with little personal estate in the 1870 census.

Stephen J. Hanson (Stephen II), my grandfather, was born in Troy Township, Iowa County, the eleventh of 12 children born to Stephen Hanson I and his second wife, Margaret Dunn Hanson.

Stephen II bought 20 acres of land from John and Elizabeth Nolan in Benton County, IA in 1892 for $650.  The deed, which was in my father’s possession, was passed on to me.  There is no record that I found that he lived there.  According to the 1900 census, he owned land and was a farmer in Iowa County.


NameYears of birth-deathPlace of birth
  1. Patrick Bryne
    + Catherine O’Neil
    • 2. Annie Byrne
    • 2. Anastasia Byrne
    • 2. Katherine Byrne
    • 2. William Byrne
    • 2. George Byrne
    • 2. Margaret Byrne
    • 2. John Byrne
    • 2. Garrit Byrne
    • 2. Joseph Byrne
1831 - 1914

1847 - 1909
1867 - 1919

New York
S.J. Hanson Home
The S.J. Hanson Home
Near Platte, SD

Annie Byrne, my grandmother, was born in Fillmore Township, Iowa County in 1867 according her obituary in the Platte Enterprise, Platte, SD. Fillmore Township is adjacent to and east of Troy Township and York Township was to the south. When the 1880 census was recorded, they were living in York Township. They owned land at the southern edge of this township and the land was close to Holbrook and the Hanson’s home. Her birthplace, different than the township of their residence, could be due to one of several possible circumstances. It is assumed that the handwritten Byrne on the original census document on the Family History LDS site was mistranscribed as Byme. This error seems very plausable according to Stephen Williams, an experienced genealogist with the Iowa County GenWeb project. Annie’s parents are listed as Patrick Byrnes and Catherine O’Neil Byrnes. Her father was born in Ireland and her mother was born in New York according to this census document. There are many O’Neil’s buried in St. Michael’ cemetery. Annie was the oldest of the siblings in the two census listings. She received a teaching certificate in Iowa County dated Sept. 4, 1886 valid for ten months after 15 days of training. My father had the certificate, which was passed on to me. She was living and apparently teaching school near Holbrook, IA when she married Stephen J. Hanson at St. Michael’s church, Holbrook, IA in 1889 according to her obituary in the Platte, SD Enterprise.

Hanson Boys
The Hanson Boys
Leonard: 1899 - ?, Mervin: 1894 - 1935,
Walter: 1892 - 1962

Annie was 22 or 23 years old when they married. Six of Stephen J and Annie’s twelve children were born in Iowa; They were Margaret (1891), Walter (1892), Mervin (1894), Juliana (1896), Kitty (Catherine, 1897) and Leonard (1899). The family moved to SD in 1903 (Stephen’s obituary). A news article in the Platte Enterprise in September 1902 indicated that Stephen Hanson had been in Platte, SD to look for land. In 1908 Stephen J. was listed as a School Board member at Castalia Township southwest of where Platte was founded in 1900 (Epic of the Great Exodus, a history of western Charles Mix County, SD).

Leonard Hanson, who was 4 years old at the time, later told of memories of moving with horses, wagons, other livestock and equipment in boxcars of a train according to my Aunt Rose Toller. When they stopped, they exercised the horses, fed and watered them and reloaded. From the railhead that was extended to Platte in 1900, they must have gone to a homestead in Castalia. Stephen patented a homestead claim in Castalia Township, Charles Mix County in 1903, and he is listed as an owner of a quarter and a half of land there on the township homestead maps. Stephen J. Hanson owned the SE quarter in Section 2 of Castalia Township in a 1904-1906 platting map, Charles Mix County, 6 miles west of Platte (established in 1901). Interestingly, there was a school (Castalia #1) on a piece of this quarter section owned by Stephen J. Hanson west of Platte and Doreothe’s mother, Helena Glynn, taught there for ten years after 1945. Stephen II and Annie sold the land in Castalia Township on Feb. 28, 1910 for $8,000 and purchased land northeast of Platte for $18,000 (320 acres) in section 10 of township 19 on March 11, 1910. This was a developed farm with buildings and cultivated land. Children born to Stephen and Annie in South Dakota included George, Helen, Rose, Agnes, and Stephen.

Annie Byrnes Hanson died in 1919 following surgery for a goiter at the hospital in Sioux City, Iowa about 150 miles southeast of Platte. Margaret, her daughter, was then a nurse at the hospital. The four siblings of Annie who attended the funeral apparently lived in Parnell, Iowa in 1919. Parnell is a few miles west of St. Michael’s church at Holbrook. Those listed as attending the funeral were Mrs. J. E. Noone and Mrs. P. Griffin, as well as two brothers, Joe and Garret Burne (note misspelling).

Stephen J. died in 1928 in the hospital in Yankton, SD. He was living with Mervin, his son, in Platte at the time and owned land in Lyman County (a quarter section) and a lot in Vivian, SD. Vivian is about 60 miles west of the Missouri River directly west of Chamberlain while Platte is about 10 miles east of the river and 40 miles south of Chamberlain. His ownership of the land is documented in the probate documents for his estate that were filed by my father, Walter Hanson, and passed on to me. Stephen J. survived his wife Annie by 9 years.

Stephen and Annie are buried in St. Peter’s Catholic cemetery in Platte, S.D.

Hanson Brothers
The Hanson Brothers

The children of Stephen and Annie Byrne Hanson except Walter and Mervin, who died in Platte SD in 1935, left South Dakota during the depression and drought in the 1930s. Juliana Hanson was the first to move according to my memories of what was told me. George Hanson married in S.D. and moved with his family to join others near Los Angeles. Leonard Hanson, Katherine Hanson Reid and Rose Hanson Toller moved to the Los Angeles area and married there. Agnes Hanson Berends graduated from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Oklahoma and moved to Amarillo Texas. She was a pharmacist in Amarillo when I visited (two times in 1953 and 1954) and when Hanson Brothers & Sisters
Hanson Brothers & Sisters
she visited Platte on a couple of occasions. Helen Hanson Stokes moved to Gallup and later to Albuquerque New Mexico. Stephen lived with Leonard and his family until he graduated from high school in Platte, SD. He went to live with Agnes in Amarillo after he graduated and attended the University of Oklahoma. He was a pharmacist’s mate in the Marines during WWII. Hanson Family
The Hanson Family
He served during the invasion of Guadalcanal and later was in Australia and New Zealand. After the war, he joined other Hansons living near Los Angeles, married and raised his family there. Kathryn Boland married Mervin Hanson and moved with her daughters, Mary Lou and Patricia several years after Mervin’s death to join other Hansons already in California. I knew Aunt Kathryn, Mary Lou and Patricia as a young person in Platte. They moved to Sioux Falls, SD and lived there for a few years before leaving for California.



KONECHNE FAMILY TREE (Richard’s Maternal Antecedents)

Generation 1

  1. JAN KONECHNE; Born 5 June 1818, in Sebakov, Bohemia.
    + MARIE FABER; Born 8 September 1843, in Vienna, Austria. Living in Sebakov, Bohemia when married.
    • 2. John Jr.
    • 2. James
    • 2. Mary
    • 2. John
    • 2. Joseph J.
    • 2. Frank

Generation 2

  1. JOSEPH JOHN KONECHNE; Born 19 March 1873 in Spillville, IA. Died 27 March 1964 in Chamberlain SD.
    + STELLA ANASTASIA SOULEK; Born 17 Nov. 1874 in Tabor, SD. Died 8 January 1927 in Kimball, SD.
    • 3. Mary Ann (Mayme)
    • 3. Louis
    • 3. Paul
    • 3. Helen
    • 3. Charles
    • 3. Elsie
    • 3. George
    • 3. Leotta
    • 3. Leo
    • 3. Lucille
    • 3. Harry (Infant who died soon after birth)
    • 3. Joseph

Generation 3

  1. MARY ANN (MAYME) KONECHNE; Born Nov. 14, 1898 in Kimball, SD. Died 1996 in Platte, SD.
    + J. WALTER HANSON; Born 1892, in Williamsburg, IA. Died in 1962 in Platte, SD.
    • 4. Dwight10/02/1934 - 10/04/1955
    • 4. Richard11/14/1935 -
    • 4. Theresa05/03/1938 - 04/12/2003

My grandmother, whose maiden name was Stella Anastasia Soulek was born in Tabor SD March 17, 1874 while her husband and my grandfather Joseph J. Konechne was Born in Spillville IA March 19, 1873. Stella, as indicated below, was one of several Souleks who came to Brule County, SD from Tabor SD that is in eastern SD. The family originally came from Sebakov, Bohemia. The family tree of the Souleks goes back much further than that of other families in our history.


Generation 1

  1. VACLAV SOULEK; Born in Bohemia; Date of birth and death in Bohemia unknown.
    + KATERINA DAUBKOVA; Born in Bohemia and died there on an unknown dates.
    • 2. Frantisek Soulek

Generation 2

  1. FRANTISEK SOULEK; Born in Sebokov Bohemia in 1805.
    + KATERINA WACHOVA; Born in Sebokov Bohemia in 1807.
    • 3. Frantisek Soulek
    • 3. Josef Soulek
    • 3. Katarina Soulek
    • 3. Barbora Soulek
    • 3. Marie Soulek
    • 3. Anna Soulek

Generation 3

  1. FRANTISEK SOULEK Jr.; Born in Sebokov, Bohemia on 13 July 1831 and died in Kimball, SD on 5 March, 1907.
    + MARIE MATOUSEK; Born in Sebokov, Bohemia on 2 February 1841 and died in Kimball, SD on 11 April 1916.
    • 4. Josephine Soulek
    • 4. Marie Soulek
    • 4. Stella Anastasia Soulek
    • 4. Frank Soulek
    • 4. Mark Soulek
    • 4. Anna Elsie Soulek
Joseph & Stella Konechne
Joseph & Stella (Soulek) Konechne
1896 Wedding Picture

Josefa (Josephine) and Marie Soulek were born in Sebokov, Bohemia and the remainder in Tabor, SD. They emigrated from Bohemia in approximately 1870. Stella Anastasia Soulek married my grandfather Joseph J. Konechne as shown above. I do not know where they were married or how they met. I presume they met in Brule County after the Souleks moved there from Tabor. I knew the Frank Soulek family as they had grandchildren near my age and would have been my second or third cousins. They lived across a road and ¼ mile east of my grandfather’s farm that his father originally homesteaded near Bendon. I had met several other Souleks at Konechne-Soulek family gatherings when I was young but do not remember them very well. Many at these gatherings spoke bohemian and I did not nor did my father.

The Soulek family tree goes back three more generations in Bohemia in the tree given to me by Lucille Konechne Houda. It is too extensive to be reproduced here, but I will retain a copy and I am sure a copy is in the museum of Holy Trinity church in Kimball SD.

By Lucille Konechne Houda.

Konecny became Konechne when the second generation (in America) was born. John F. and Marie (maiden name Faver) of Sebokov, Bohemia came to this country with their son John Jr. in 1869. Their reason for coming was that, in Bohemia, they lived in semi-serfdom and the Austrian lords held the valuable lands. The common people did not have enough land to subsist on.

They lost their firstborn son on the way over. They first settled in Spillville, Iowa and their family grew to five with the arrivals of Joseph J., Frank, James (who later changed his name to Kean), and Mary.

They came to Brule County in 1882 and homesteaded just west of the present Don Geppert farm. They looked out across the land and said, “We will name this Richland because this is the richest land in the world”. Thus, the origin of the name for Richland Township. It took two years before they realized a crop, planted first with a hatchet in virgin soil. It took a few years before they had a team and wagon.

Most of the people who settled in this area were Bohemian and they formed the Bohemian Western Catholic Union. John and his sons helped to build their beloved Holy Trinity Church at the village of Bendon. Fred Shereda was the master carpenter who directed the building. He also directed the building of St. Precopious Church at Red Lake. The church was completed in 1893 and it was here that the family spent Sundays. First Mass, then a potluck dinner, then the ladies to the Benda’s general store, the men to Stan Zingler’s saloon. In the afternoon a ball game in the pasture to the east. Three characteristics dominant in the Bohemian people were their love of music, love of art, and their strong faith. John was a fun loving man, a tailor in Bohemia. Marie was a worker and lost patience when he went to visit his grandchildren and sing songs with them. They loved to see him coming across the pasture.

Their strong faith has been carried through five generations of Konechnes. It is a name they carry with pride, honest, hard working Christians.

John passed away in 1918, Marie in 1915, but the name will live as long as the earth stands. They lie at rest in the Bendon cemetery as does John Jr., Joseph J., and their wives. Frank is buried beside his wife Anna in St. Margaret’s cemetery at Kimball, Jim and his wife, Pauline, in the Catholic cemetery in Sioux Falls. Marie is buried in the Eagle Presbyterian cemetery. She died Mrs. Posspickal.

As they look down from heaven, John and Marie must be truly proud of the heritage they brought here from Bohemia in their decedents.

A Mass, held in the Bendon church, now at Kimball, was a wonderful tribute to them, the church filled with their ancestors, great grandchildren participating, in the summer of 1983 and again on June 28, 1986.


Konechnes continued by Richard Hanson

There are many stories told in the Konechne-Soulek family get-togethers and not all of them have been recorded. The following is one of them told by my mother at a family gathering within my hearing.

Joseph & Stella Konechne Family
Joseph & Stella (Soulek) Konechne Family
George, Leo, Joe, Paul, Harry, Lewis, Charles,
Elsie, Leotta, Hellen, Lucille, Mayme

My mother, Mayme Konechne, helped to prepare meals for her brother Harry and a threshing crew, on a farm south of Kimball during threshing season. Harry was a bachelor at the time. This was during the time of prohibition. Harry, who liked a nip now and then, had a still and he shared his production with the crew. Apparently, there were prohibitionists locally who knew of the still and reported it. The revenuers came and discovered the still, broke it up, confiscated some whiskey as evidence, and arrested Harry. Later he appeared in court and was pronounced guilty and assessed a fine. Harry asked if they had any evidence, which they did not because the judge and prosecuting attorney had consumed it. The judge dismissed the case and Harry left without a fine.

My Aunt Lucille Konechne Houda and my Uncle Harry verified this story. I had a couple of nips with Uncle Harry and his wife Margaret later in life, after prohibition was repealed of course. I liked to visit with them at reunions or whenever. They and my grandfather told me many stories that I have forgotten partly because I did not recognize some of the people in the stories and as a young person was not very interested.

Louis Konechne went to school at Marquette University in Milwaukee where Leo Konechne and his wife Verona lived. Leo and Verona were very important to us when we lived in Chicago and Madison. They were Michael’s godparents and we liked to visit with them. Verona was one of my very favorite people, a very gentle woman, with a great sense of humor, shared by Leo, and a person of great compassion, humility and serenity. They had a wonderful family.

After Lewis graduated from Marquette University, he worked for a paving contractor in the summer until the job was finished. He and a friend, Smith Brookhouse, decided to buy a 12-foot canoe and set out on a trip rather than sit around unemployed. They started down the Rock River at Milwaukee and wrote the following description of their trip. I have retyped parts of the article from a Brule County, SD Newspaper, which was also published in Milwaukee’ and New Orleans’ newspapers. The article was saved by my mother but was too faded to scan and use here. Both were 25 years old and this trip occurred in 1934 when the depression was affecting the lives of most Americans.

“Brickhouse said, my pal had never been in a canoe before, but he soon learned when we hit the rapids in the Rock River below Milwaukee.

During the trip, the two young men had to wade in cold water in the Rock River in Illinois at shallow points. They had to do some hard paddling where the Missouri river enters the Mississippi river near St. Louis and had several upsets.

Konechne said. In our long paddle we camped along the banks at night and in addition to the provisions we took with us we kept ourselves supplied with game along the way. With our small rifles we shot squirrels, ducks and marsh hens.

We paddled from Beloit to Sterling, Ill., and then entered the Hennepin canal, then down the main canal and down the Illinois River to the Mississippi.

After getting on the big river, with the exception of one or two upsets, we had few adventures. We made the trip to New Orleans in good shape. We plan to sell our canoe, get an automobile and drive to Kimball, SD to visit relatives and friends for Christmas and then return to Milwaukee.

The oddest couple that they encountered, they said, was an Arkansas River bank moonshiner and his wife. We stumbled into the pair and were sure for a moment that we were goners, but the man put down his gun when he saw we weren’t ‘revenooers’ and finally gave us a drink. The moonshiner was in the deepest stages of dejection because he allowed he could make a fortune if he could scrape up enough money to buy labels for his stuff. We didn’t stay with him that night because there was a pig sleeping in the hut and the old woman spat tobacco all over the place.

When we started out there was no name on our boat, but every time we got to a government canal they demanded a name and tonnage. Finally, we painted a name on the boat and our craft is registered as Viking-tonnage 200 pounds.”

Lewis entered the Catholic seminary shortly after the trip but did not complete his training to become a priest because of poor health. He worked in Pierre in an office until he regained his health then returned to Milwaukee where he worked with the church until he was ordained in his 60s after entering a seminary in Kentucky. After his ordination, he served the Navajo Indians near Gallup New Mexico until his death in 2003 in Gallup where he was a chaplain for the Sisters of the Poor. He was born in 1909.



Walter Hanson was one of the members of generation 4 of the Hanson family in America.


  1. J. Walter Hanson1892 - 1962
    + Mary Ann (Mayme) Konechne1898 - 1996
    1. Dwight W. Hanson1934 - 1954
    1. Richard S. Hanson1935 -
      + Doreothe A. Glynn1935 -
      • 6. Michael O. Hanson2/20/1965 -
      • 6. Stephen F. Hanson12/25/1965 -
            + Kristine Gemulke11/14/1968 -
        • 7. Ryan Hanson6/20/1995 -
        • 7. Corrine Hanson7/13/1998 -
        • 7. William Hanson11/04/2001 -
      • 6. Thomas Hanson7/31/1970 -
            + Erin Mack
    1. Theresa Hanson1938 - 2003
      + Duane Herrlein
      • 6. Julie Herrlein
        • 7. Two children
      • 6. Kathy Herrlein
        • 7. Three children
      • 6. Dorothy Herrlein
            + Robert Kuipers
        • 7. Kaylie
        • 7. Clayton
      • 6. Kenneth Herrlein
        • 7. One child
      • 6. James Herrlein
      • 6. David Herrlein
      • 6. Mary Herrlein
        • 7. One Child
      • 6. Mathew Herrlein.
Walter & Mayme Hanson
Walter & Mayme Hanson
Wedding Picture, 2/8/1934

Walter Hanson (1892-1962), was the second oldest of eleven children born to Stephen J. Hanson and Annie Byrne Hanson. The oldest, Margaret, was a nurse who succumbed to tuberculosis in a sanitarium in Santor, SD. She did not marry. After his mother died, he farmed a quarter section of land. He bought this land (the NE ¼ of section 19 of Township 99) on March 19, 1919 from William and Margaret Kane for $11,000. Note the rather high land prices for the time. The land in the 1960s was worth about $200 per acre in Brule County while Walter paid about $70/acre in 1919. In 2000 the cost per acre was approximately $750 in Richland Township, Brule County and about $1,000 per acre in Charles Mix County.

Walter settled in Academy about five years later. He worked at Ward Academy, a boarding school, for a short time. Academy is 17 miles Northwest of Platte, SD and the U.S. Postal Service employed him as a rural route carrier beginning about 1922.

Sadly, according to a letter written to Catherine Hanson (who had moved to California) by Mervin Hanson in 1933, there were simultaneous typhoid and influenza epidemics with 200 cases of typhoid that caused 23 deaths in Chamberlain, SD and some on my fathers rural mail route. He was fortunately immunized against typhoid. Platte did not report a case.

Walter married Mary Ann (Mayme) Konechne of Richland Township, Brule County, SD in Feb. 1934 at Bendon, Brule Co. SD. Bendon had a Catholic Church (Holy Trinity), which had masses, once a month and a community hall (used for some dances and family gatherings) when I was a child. Richland Township was north of the Bijou hills and Mary’s fathers home was about 10 miles north of Academy.

Walter was a rural letter carrier for 40 years at Academy SD. until his death in 1962. His rural route included 38 miles, with only 3 miles of gravel road when I was a child. The rest of the roads were dirt and graded infrequently. The roads were a challenge after rain and in the winter and rutted even in good weather. In one low place along a dirt road a farmer would tie a team of horses harnessed with a hitch so Dad could pull the car through the mud and go on along his route. It was important to get the mail through because rain and snow could isolate the farmers who depended on the mail for communication and information including the daily papers which arrived a day late from Mitchell. He had a model A ford with high clearance for mud and snow on muddy and unplowed winter roads along his route in addition to a 1939 ford that I remember. The model A Ford could go where newer models could not.

Dwight Hanson
Dwight Hanson
Dwight's Graduation, 1952

My father and mother first lived in a house owned by Alton and Jesse Parrish near businesses in Academy. They lived there when Dwight and I were born. My father built what for the time and place was a fine new home by himself about half a mile east of the post office and businesses in Academy where the general store, blacksmith shop, creamery and icehouse were located. The house was built in 1936 when the depression was still affecting that part of South Dakota. That was the year of the great grasshopper plaque when no plant part above the ground was spared, nor was paint on homes in many cases. We had about five acres of land there devoted to a large garden, a large chicken house that was moved in from an abandoned farm I think, a barn later built from lumber obtained by tearing down the old parsonage in Academy by my father with the little help Dwight and I could give at our young ages (mostly pulling nails from boards as I remember). I am amazed that my father could accomplish all that he did. He was quite crippled. He had broken a leg and ankle that never healed properly and the ankle would not move so was immobilized at an angle that caused a severe limp. However, he could do amazing things like fit rafters to a roof without help. I watched him do this on the barn we built. He rigged a crane out of lumber and a block and tackle to lift and hold the rafters constructed on the ground and then climbed a ladder to fix them in place. He plastered walls in the house, later installed plumbing and a pressure system to take water from the cistern to the house. He obviously had good skills in terms of construction and farming. He luckily did not have to depend on them for a living because of his handicap. The rural letter carriers position that he held for 40 years was ideal for him. He also had an extraordinary rapport with his patrons who thought he went the extra mile.

Like most people in the area, we heated the house with corncobs and waste wood when available using a wood burning stove. There were few trees for wood and I don’t remember anyone with propane gas for heating. It may not have been available. The house was not heated at night probably for safety reasons as well as a shortage of fuel. Much of our heat came from the kitchen stove during the day when Mom cooked or baked and heated water in the reservoirs at the ends of the stove. It had warming ovens above the cooking surface. It was a marvel and my mother had mastered its use well. Bricks were heated in an oven, wrapped in rags and towels and used to heat the beds when we went to bed on cold nights. We had feather blankets. Feathers were collected from every fowl source possible, particularly ducks and geese and we had deep layers of feather blankets for the cold nights. The kitchen was the largest room in the house and was the most used room during most of our waking hours. Later, when I was in high school they installed a space heater stove that burned fuel oil and was used at night as well.

We grew small crops like oats and barley to feed the chickens and other stock. Dad would borrow a team of horses, a plow and drag from Harry Dimick who still used horses for some farming. Our acreage was small so the job did not take long. I was amazed at my father’s ability to handle horses. It was obvious that he acquired the skills at a younger age when he lived on his own farm or worked on the family farm. The seed was planted and dragged in. The crops were harvested by hand. Later Dad bought a small Fordson Tractor and with the trailer, he would haul grain the 100 yards or so to the livestock in or near the barn. He also had a plow and disc that fit the tractor for cultivating the garden and lots used to grow grain crops.

We did not have running water, electricity, or a telephone while I was home. We used kerosene lamps or gas lanterns not unlike present day Coleman camping lanterns for light at night. We got water from a cistern. Rainwater was collected from the house roof. The water was passed through sand and charcoal filters into the cistern. We pumped water out by hand and carried it to the house. Livestock and gardens were given well water that was too alkaline for domestic use in the house. We had many chickens. My mother raised about 1500 spring fries for sale and traded eggs at Graf’s Store in Platte. I remember well plucking feathers from chickens scalded in barrels of hot water. We had a cow, and goats for milk as well. We ate a lot of wild game. My mother also baked breads, pastries, and pies of several kinds on Saturdays. She also made noodles and dried them over chair backs. I particularly remember the Kolaches, prune rolls and cinnamon rolls. I suspect that some of the baking was suspended during WW II because of sugar shortages. The wonderful sticky cinnamon rolls made with brown sugar were probably the first to go. She made soap for laundry and household cleaning using fat from butchers, farmers, and anyone who slaughtered animals. She also used lime and some ashes for the process. The washing machine was powered with a gasoline engine. Carrying the water from the cistern to wash and carrying the waste up was a chore for the kids. She washed in the cellar of the house. Clothes were dried on a clothesline. In case of rain or windborne dust they were dried in the house. Monday was washday rain, shine, or dust. Sun dried bedclothes had a wonderful feel and smell that cannot be duplicated with the best perfumes in clothes dried in modern laundry machines.

My mother owned a quarter section of land (160 acres) in Brule County across Bijou Hills that was given to her by her father when he quit farming. I later bought the land from her when she was in the Platte Nursing home. Mom took a 1/3 share of the crops as rent from her brother Charles to use as animal feed or to sell. We stored grain in a granary to feed the chickens and animals. We stored several sacks of potatoes; carrots etc. in a root cellar and my mother canned a very large amount of vegetables and meats. Shelves in our basement were full. She cooked and baked on a wood, cob or coal burning range that was very large (about 8 feet across, 5 feet high and 3 feet deep. It had reservoirs for heating water at the ends and two ovens. She ironed with flat irons heated on the stove. The kitchen was always warm when the stove was used and unbearable in the summer even with all the several kitchen windows wide open.

Neighbors cooperatively slaughtered some animals. When the Platte locker plant opened, my parents rented a locker in a freezer room where some meat was stored and picked up on Saturdays. We killed a lot of wild game including ducks, pheasants, and an occasional goose.

Mom was an excellent seamstress and made some clothes. She also mended many and hand-me-downs were a way of life for us. She liked to embroider and made very fancy doilies as they were called. They were placed on tabletops, the arms of sofas, and on other furniture.

We were quite self-sufficient except for the need to charge a battery for our radio, some household products, occasionally animal feed, and hardware, etc. Later Dwight and I raised purebred hogs for 4H projects. Some did very well in the state fair showings.

The Sears and Roebuck Catalog was an important source of shoes, some clothing and some other items for most people in that part of the country. There was little selection at stores in that part of South Dakota. The large and fashionable house for its time that was next to Doreothe’s family in Platte was ordered from the catalog.

As you can imagine, our cost of living was rather low by modern standards but the salaries were also very low. I do not believe that dad made over $5,000 per year until after 1950 and he saved a great deal of that. He did get health and retirement benefits that were a godsend. We drove to Mass in Platte on Sunday morning, sometimes with the Graves family from Bijou Hills or occasionally to Bendon once a month when the roads were passable. After church we usually visited in Platte with Aunt Mary Lynch or my father’s brothers family, Katherine Hanson and her children Mary Lou and Patricia. After church once a month at Bendon we stopped at one of my mother’s brother’s families for noon dinner and usually stayed the afternoon and visited with the Konechne families whose farms were in Brule County.

My most vivid memories were of the grasshoppers everywhere about 1940 and thick in our yard but I do not remember the worst of it because in the years that I remember grasshoppers, some crops survived. When we were in the Platte, Geddes and Lake Andes area in the summer of 2004, there were again many grasshoppers, but crops were doing quite well yet. I remember using the smaller hoppers as bait for bass fishing in Academy Lake. They were excellent bait with a willow pole cut from a tree near the lake and some line and hooks. We caught quite a few bullheads and bass. Great fun.

I remember a trip to Williamsburg Iowa for the 1944 reunion of the Hanson family where the information for the Hanson Family Tree was gathered. This is the first and only trip I made out of South Dakota until I graduated from high school. Everything was still rationed in support of the war effort. Dad and Mom had a 1939 ford that he drove on his rural mail route. His route was 38 miles long so he had over 200,000 miles on it by that time. The tubes in the tires were heavily patched. Along the way we had some sort of breakdown (a tire or some part) somewhere in Iowa. We finally got whatever we needed and went on to Williamsburg where we stayed with the Charles Collins family. Charles, like Dad, was a rural letter carrier. They visited SD every few years when I was young. I vaguely remember the reunion and a large number of people in the town hall. It was for me quite an adventure.

My parents were devout Roman Catholics and practiced their faith daily. My mother, like most of her family were particularly devout and lived her religion as best she could 17 miles from the nearest church with daily mass.

World War II had a dramatic impact on our lives and those of most Americans but obviously less than on the British and other allies. Ration stamps were required to purchase sugar, gasoline and other items rationed for the war effort. Farmers had increased gas rations for crop production and Dad had extra rations for his mail route. We did a lot of car-pooling to get to town for Mass and shopping on Saturdays and Sundays particularly with the Lloyd Graves family in Bijou Hills and the Frank Dimick family who lived on a farm east of our home. I remember going to town with the Lloyd Graves family. They had a Model B ford sedan that had three rows of seats so could hold the 4 adults and 5 children who rode on these trips. It was the equivalent of the modern station wagon except it looked like an extended Model A Ford with a few of the corners rounded off. It was very economical in terms of gasoline mileage. We had a couple of unusual experiences in it. Returning one day, a wheel came off and rolled past us before the axel dropped. On another we were hit by lightening in a thunderstorm and a ball of fire zoomed off into a field. Noone was hurt but we were all quite astonished and maybe a bit dazed.

Dad was allowed only two shotgun shells per purchase (week or month when they were available). He would get 2 in Platte and 2 in Kimball. He saved them until the pheasants bunched up under a grove of planted trees in a snowfall and would average about 6-9 birds per shell. He could not replace his 1939 ford that had over 250,000 miles on it until he got a new car after the war. He was on a waiting list for some time after they became available. It was very hard to buy new tires and tubes. The inner tubes were patched so much that one could hardly see the original rubber. Tires were retreaded. When the war was over, we could finally buy chewing gum, candy, and bubble gum that were much desired. Sugar for food was a real treat after a long deprivation. Many other things were rationed as well. I am sure that diets were better for us without refined sugar and we had healthy garden vegetables and other food in abundance compared to the drought and grasshopper years. The weather was good for growing crops during the war. We had blackouts when we covered the windows at night for reasons that do not seem rational to me in a relatively unpopulated area in the middle of the continent with no installations of military significance within two hundred miles and a very sparse populace. Academy had a population of less than 25 persons at that time.

German neighbors did suffer persecution, as did some Bohemians later during the cold war. The Bohemians regularly communicated with relatives behind the Iron Curtain. Mom was regularly visited by the FBI to talk about friends who did not speak English and it was well known that they had sent money to relatives in Czechoslovakia. Most thought it a good idea except Senator Joe McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee of scoundrels. The Bohemians were nice people but some were very open about their sympathies with the communists. The daughter of one family Anne Vaseka was a very good friend who married Leo Travis and she gave the eulogy at my Mother’s funeral. I now miss her on visits to Platte because she died a few years after my mother. Her son told a story about his birth. Anne asked my mother to stay with other children on the farm while Leo took her to the hospital in Platte to have Tom. It snowed very hard and Leo could not reach her on the phone or get home because of the snow drifts covering the roads. The roads were finally plowed and Leo got home. My mother, who did not have a phone at home, said that the phone disturbed the children’s sleep so she stuck it in a cupboard so they could not hear it and be awakened. It was a party line and rang often.

Health care was and is not as good in much of South Dakota as in larger cities. We did not have a dentist on a regular basis and preventative dental work was unknown to us. My teeth suffered terribly and needed a lot of treatment when I went into the army. Drinking soft rainwater without minerals and fluoride probably did not help either. The doctors were not the better ones from medical schools and ours was a graduate of a Nebraska osteopathic medical school, who tried to do everything. He missed many health problems including a stress fracture and a broken heal that I had that were later diagnosed in Mitchell. Mitchell had some fairly good doctors but probably did not have the facilities present in Sioux Falls or larger cities. The life expectancy in these rural areas was not that great. The Polio epidemic of the early 1950s hit Platte very hard when I was in grade school and dramatically impacted our life. It was primarily a summer disease but really shut down social contacts, shopping, church, and school until cold weather came. I think there were 17 deaths in Platte and some who survived but were affected for life by muscle problems. It seemed to abate in a couple of years because most people were immune due to nonsymptomatic exposure. This was before a vaccine was available.

The construction of the Fort Randall dam on the Missouri river at Pickstown southeast of Platte and introduction of a rural electric cooperative brought electricity in about 1953. The community cooperative constructed telephone lines and connected to the phone service serving the area and we finally had telephones about the time I left high school. Dad installed running water in the house and the house had modern conveniences including a bathroom and their own freezer and refrigerator by the time I returned from the army. They still had to collect rainwater and when they ran out, water was delivered in a tank truck to fill the cistern.

Dad died almost on the day that he retired, a couple of weeks before my Ph.D. thesis defense. Mom came back with us to Peoria and went to Urbana when I did my final thesis defense for my Ph.D. I was so happy she could be there. She sold the house in Academy and moved into a home in Platte where her grandchildren (Theresa’s children) were normally present. Mom had survivor benefits from Dad’s government pension that were adequate until she went into the nursing home and we supplemented some of it by buying her land in Brule County and with extra funds. We sold her house to Bob and Dorothy Kuipers on a contract for deed and when they were paid off, she was on Medicaid and money from us. Dorothy Kuipers was Theresa’s child and thus my mother’s grandchild. Dorothy had lived with her for several years before she went into the nursing home. She lived in the nursing home about 16 or 17 years.

Dwight, Theresa, and I attended a country school on the western edge of Academy and went to high school in Platte where we stayed during the week in rented rooms. Dwight and I worked for various farmers, ranchers or our uncles (Konechnes) during the summers and on construction jobs when we grew older. He owned a gravel truck and hauled gravel at the time of his death.

Dwight died in a car accident in October 1955. Theresa married Duane Herrlein and they had 8 children. She died in a nursing home in 2002 near Sioux Falls, SD.


Part IV >< Part II