J.O. Hanson is the present postmaster of Jamestown, and one of the most efficient that city ever had. He is one of the old landmarks, having located a homestead two and one-half miles northeast of Jamestown, when that part of the country was almost unpopulated. The township was, at that time Buffalo, but he is now located in the part included in Grant, and was one of the organizers of that township; the others were, John McCracken, Mr. Woodford and W.T.F. Ansdell, in 1873.
Mr. Hanson was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1842. He emigrated to America when a young man, and after a brief stay in the city of New York, removed to Chicago, and in 1871 came to Cloud county, and still retains and lives on the homestead be located at that time. With the organization of Jamestown he opened a furniture and undertaking business and was one of the first to erect a building in the town. He was prosperous until the hard years came, and having given credit to so many of his patrons, when the panic came he was forced to retire and was succeeded by Pence & White, of Jewell City, who were succeeded by various others, who likewise nearly failed, until Mr. Ratliff embarked under more favorable auspices. Mr. Hanson farmed one year after going out of business and in 1896 traveled for an undertaking house until receiving the appointment of postmaster.
Mr. Hanson was married in 1870 to Caroline Hanson, a young woman from his own country, whom he met in Chicago. They were both members of the same Baptist church in that city, and in this way formed an acquaintance, which resulted in their marriage. They are the parents of three sons and one daughter, and have five children deceased, three of whom died with diptheria within a week, in Concordia, where they lived two years. Anna, the eldest daughter, is the wife of Reverend H.P. Anderson, a Baptist minister, of Newell, Iowa. William F., is a jeweler and optician. He graduated from the Omaha Optical Institute in March, 1901, and has a stock of optical goods and jewelry in the postoffice building. Elmer is assistant postmaster at Jamestown. Eddie is the youngest son, aged sixteen. Mr. Hanson is a Republican in politics and has served several terms as mayor of his town. He had been a Mason for many years and has held the chair of Master of Jamestown lodge, but has withdrawn his membership.
Mr. Hanson occupies a comfortable home at the present writing, but in the primitive days of Kansas, lived like most of the pioneers. He broke prairie and utilized some of the sod in building a place of habitation, which sheltered them until building a crude house of stone with dirt roof. While speaking of his career Mr. Hanson remarked in substance. He would not be brave enough to again undergo the hardships entailed upon him and his family to secure a homestead and recited a few of their many experiences:
Wife shaking with ague, no well of pure water, neighbors few and far between, no team but oxen, but better off than some of the settlers who drove an ox and a cow yoked together. He had ten acres of promising corn, and during the noontime hour, while resting and partaking of the frugal meal, he heard a great roaring, whirring noise, and upon looking for the cause found the "hoppers" had arrived in droves of millions, filling the earth, skies and every available space, and by two o'clock not a single vestige of vegetation nor a blade of his field of corn was left, not even leaving a small garden of thriving tobacco plants.
In his early life Mr. Hanson learned the carpenter's trade and upon the occasion of the following incident he was building a house for a neighbor, Mr. Iverson, who lived near the Republican river. He returned home one night after having walked from his place of labor, several miles distant, footsore and weary, to find his family for some unknown cause had deserted their home. The Indians had committed many murderous deeds, and from the appearance of things, the empty beds that had been slept in, the disorder generally prevailing, showed a hasty flight or exit had been made.
Mr. Hanson at once repaired to a neighbors and found the same condition existing there, beds vacated, clothes scattered about, etc. He then went to the camp of a brother-in-law, who had homesteaded one mile north, but were still living in their wagons. His kinsmen were new in the country, consequently greatly alarmed concerning the Indians, and had been told that when the savages made a murderous attack they dressed up in fantastic style and made a great noise. As they retired for the night they were serenaded in the distance by a pack of hungry, howling coyotes; imagined they were Indians and in their fright and excitement routed and gathered all their neighbors together for protection against the prospective attack. When Mr. Hanson arrived at the Christensons he found the fugitives congregated together and the men with their guns had established an arsenal. Although chagrined, Mr. Hanson was amused at their predicament. Another brother-in-law, James Nelson, however, saved his own life and the lives of his family perhaps, at the same time Miss White was captured, by pointing a rusty revolver at the savages.
Mr. Hanson has experienced many of the quicksands and vicissitudes of life, but is now on a solid foundation and lives in a comfortable home which he built in 1880, and made more commodious by an addition in 1886. He also owns the postoffice building and a stock of books and stationery, which nets him a considerable income. His sons are prepossessing and manly young men, who will evidently make a success in life, and like their father, good citizens and honorable men.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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