Friday, January 15, 2021

Amanda Hansen, Sheffield, Illinois 1890-1900s


Amanda Nielsen was born July 4th, 1881 in Lolland, Denmark, to Hans and Anna Nielsen. She had one older sister, Christina, and two brothers, Chris and Peter. Christina emigrated to the United States in 1885 when she was 20 and settled in Sheffield, Illinois with her husband, Hans Carlsen. The rest of the Nielsen family arrived in the U.S. in 1890, when Amanda was 8. They joined Christina in Sheffield, where Amanda would live for most of her life.

On February 6th, 1901, 20-year-old Amanda married farmer Peter H. Hansen, also an immigrant from Lolland. They had one daughter, Leora, born in 1907. Leora seems to have been a well-loved girl. Upon her engagement to Ernest LeBahn in 1929, her friends held several parties in her honor. Leora wed Ernest in the Lutheran parsonage of Manlius, a nearby town, and they soon set off to start a farm of their own.

In combing through newspapers, I was able to catch glimpses of Amanda and Peter's life together in Sheffield. I found that Sheffield had a thriving community of Danish immigrants who arrived in the 1870s and 80s, and who in 1894 built themselves the Danish Brotherhood Society Hall. According to a 1935 article in the Moline Dispatch, this "one-story frame building...touches the history of practically every Danish family whichever lived in Sheffield." I have to imagine Amanda and Peter gathered here with friends and family often for the various "weddings, silver and gold wedding celebrations, Christmas programs...and dances galore," held at the Society Hall. In 1926, Peter and Amanda celebrated their own silver wedding anniversary in the hall. By 1939, when the Hansens celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary, the Society Hall had been sold, converted into a tavern, and moved to a new location. A Dispatch article notes that the Hansens held a large party at their home instead. 

Peter farmed until about 1931 when the Hansens moved from their farm into town. Following a long illness, he passed away in 1950 at age 75. Amanda lived to be 78, passing away from a heart attack in 1960. At the time of her death, she had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

If you know who this may be, let us know in the comments!