This week’s challenge is “October” with the suggestion of writing about an ancestor who had an October birthday. I am writing about my great-grandmother’s (Ingrid Olauson Seeber) first cousin, Olaf Hansson.
Olaf was born to Hans Persson and Karna Nilsdotter in Katslosa, Malmohus, Sweden on October 5th, 1885, exactly 130 years ago from today! Olaf was the ninth of ten children in the family. He worked on his father’s farm until his father died in 1904. That same year, Olaf immigrated to the United States. He was nineteen years old. Six of his siblings were already living in the United States when Olaf came.
It is reported that Olaf was unemployed for “a long time”, but eventually he became a shoemaker like his older brothers.
Olaf Hanson is found in the 1910 Peoria, Peoria, Illinois Census living with his in-laws and his brand-new wife Hilda Caroline (Johnson) on Blaine Street. Hilda was about five years older than Olaf. Olaf was listed as a shoemaker.
Olaf was naturalized as a US citizen in Peoria on the 17th of July in 1912. In 1917 he registered for the WWI Draft and was listed as thirty-two years old, living on Blaine Street; he reported that he owned his own shoe repair shop at 3117 S. Adams in Peoria. He was described as medium height, small build with gray eyes and brown hair.
In 1920, Olaf and Hilda were still at the home on Blaine Street. Hilda’s father was living with them, along with a ten year old “adopted daughter” Pearl Durant. In the 1920 Census Olaf was listed as a shoemaker in his own shoe shop. 1930 shows the family still on Blaine Street. In this census, Pearl Durant was listed as a “roomer” and she worked as a grocery clerk. Olaf was listed as a shoe-repairer. Pearl was not listed with Olaf and Hilda in 1940. They remained on Blaine Street and Olaf was listed as a shoe repairman.
In the 1942 WWII Draft Records, Olaf reported living at the same Blaine Street address and that he still owned his own shoe repair shop on Adams Street.
Olaf’s brothers Per Hanson, Magnus Hanson, Nils Hanson and John Hanson all were shoemakers in Peoria, Illinois also. Pers eventually returned to live in Sweden, but the others married and raised families in Peoria. Their sister Emmy, also settled in Peoria. The oldest sister, Kersti, had settled in Evanston Illinois when she emigrated in 1887.
Olaf Hanson died on the 23rd of December in 1943. His wife Hilda died in 1949. Both of them are buried in Peoria, Illinois.
It is interesting that I have no memory of ever hearing of any of this family from my great grandmother, my grandmother, nor my mother. Perhaps my great-grandmother was not close to her cousins, although I do know that Olaf’s brother, Nils, was who met her at the train in Chicago in 1894 when she emigrated here from Sweden.
The only other information on the “adopted daughter” who was always listed as “Pearl Durant” that I have found was that she was listed as a housekeeper in the 1942 Pekin, Illinois City Directory. However, I have found listings for the family of a William Durant, born in 1829, who was a shoemaker and lived in Peoria. He had two sons who also lived in Peoria. His son, Wesley was widowed in both the 1900 and 1910 census' but William's son, Oliver, married in 1898 to a woman who had two daughters. It is possible that they had a daughter after they married that for whatever reason ended up living with Olaf and Hilda.
I am going to see if there was possibly a will left when Olaf died. Perhaps that will give me some additional information on this seemingly quiet settled man, who lived in the same house for at least thirty-three years kept his shoe shop in the same location through-out his life in America.