John Hansen was born on 18 June 1853 to parents Hans Torgussen and Anna Jonsdatter in Nykaas under Norde Landsverk, Heddal, Telemark, Norway1. This means that his last name at that time was Nykaas. In Norway, until 1925, a person normally had three names: their given name, their patrynom (based on their father’s name), and a place name which indicated where they were living at the time.
When John was born he had an older brother Torger (or Torjus) was three. John had a younger brother Hans born in 1857 who died at the age of six in 186317. He also had a younger sister named Anne (1861)5.
He was baptised on 3 July 18531and had his confirmation on 6 October 18612. By that time, his family was living at the cotter’s place Haugen under the Huristveit farm in Heddal, Telemark, Norway. A confirmation in Norway was required by law, you could not gain the rights of an adult without a confirmation16.The confirmation record indicates that he had been given his vaccination on 1 December 1854, which was also a requirement to be confirmed.
In 1868, Hans and Anna with Torjus, John and Anne left Norway for the Americas18. The most likely reason for them leaving for America was land, as Hans was a crofter not a land owner in Norway. However, as well as the call of land ownership, in 186619there was a three-year famine in Sweden and Norway, which likely would have been the last straw along with the death of young Hans.
By August of 1870 they were living in Military Township, Winneshiek, Iowa4when John was 17. They did not stay there long, but soon moved to Lac qui Parle, Minnesota where they were in 18755. Lac qui Parle means talking water and had only been settled by Norwegians in 1868 so there was good land available20.
In 1878, John married Ingeborg Rollefsdatter Holte who had recently emigrated from the same county in Norway that he was originally from9(though not the same Parrish).
John and Ineborg remained living in Lac qui Parle, Minnesota for the next 30 years6-9. After that, John is listed in Clearwater county, first in Greenwood10, then in Leon11, but always as a farmer. On their farm, John and Ingeborg raised seven children, six girls and a boy: Anne Louise (1879), Lena Maria (1881), Emma Janette (1883), Hilda Randine (1885), Tilda Caroline (1887), Henry Rudolf (1890) and Ingeborg Oleana (1892).
Remember I mentioned that in Norway everyone had three names. Well, in moving to America, John was not that bothered by which name he was called. When his oldest two daughters were baptised, he used the name Hansen and Hansen Haugen, but by the time Emma was born, he used the name Torgersen. On the census, in 1870 and 1875, the family used the Torgerson last name, in 1880 John used Torgerson, in 1885 he used Haugen, in 1895 he was back to Torgerson. It was that name that he used when he received his naturalization papers as a US citizen on 04 May 1897. After that time, he retained the name Torgerson. In contrast, his father and brother switched to Haugen.
John died of cancer of the stomach at the age of 73 in 192613. He is buried in Silver Creek Cemetery in Lac qui Parle, Minnesota14.
1Baptisms. Norway. Heddal, Telemark. NYKAAS, John Hansen. 18 June 1853. https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/view/5959/132: accessed April 2019.
2Confirmations. Noway. Heddal, Telemark, HAUGEN, John Hansen. 6 October 1867. https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/view/5960/239: accessed April 2019.
3Census. 1865. Norway. Lisleherad, Heddal, Notodden, Telemark. https://media.digitalarkivet.no/view/38140/104: accessed April 2019.
4Census. 1870. USA. Military Township, Winneshiek, Iowa. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-XCDS-38J?i=37&cc=1438024: accessed April 2019.
5Census. 1875. USA. Baxter, Lac qui Parle, Minnesota. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-61F2-XZ?i=2&cc=1503053: accessed April 2019.
6Census. 1880. USA. Baxter, Lac qui Parle, Minnesota. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YBK-8Q?i=4&cc=1417683: accessed April 2019.
7Census. 1885. USA. Baxter, Lac qui Parle, Minnesota. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DBB7-ZYN?cc=1503044: accessed April 2019.
8Census. 1895. USA. Baxter, Lac qui Parle, Minnesota. http://www.ancestry.ca: accessed April 2019.
9Census. 1900. USA. Baxter, Lac qui Parle, Minnesota. http://www.ancestry.ca: accessed April 2019.
10Census. 1910. USA. Greenwood, Clearwater, Minnesota. http://www.ancestry.ca: accessed April 2019.
11Census. 1920. USA. Leon, Clearbrook, Clearwater, Minnesota. http://www.ancestry.ca: accessed April 2019.
12Deaths (CR) USA. Leon, Clearwater, Minnesota. 27 November 1926. TORGERSON, John. No. 2831.
13Monumental inscriptions. USA. Silver Creek, Clearbrook, Clearwater, Minnesota. 27 November 1926. TORGERSON, John. https://images.findagrave.com/photos/2010/110/51450907_127190893990.jpg: accessed April 2019.
14Minnesota. District Court, Twelfth Judicial District. County of Lac qui Parle. Citizenship Declaration. 04 May 1897. TORGERSON, John H. http://www.ancestry.ca: accessed April 2019.
17Deaths (CR) Norway. Heddal, Telemark. 10 November 1863. HANSEN, Hans. https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/view/5960/369: accessed April 2019.
18Parish records: In and Out Migrated. Norway, Lisleherad, Heddal, Telemark. TORGERSEN, Hans. 04 April 1868. https://media.digitalarkivet.no/en/view/5960/444: accessed April 2019.