I received a very interesting email the other day. It was from Dr. Frank Hansen from Bonstrop, in Northern Germany (near Flensburg). He was working on his family history and mentioned Friedrich Hansen, the brother of his great grandfather. In 1881 Friedrich emigrated to the United States and changed his name to Fred. First he settled in Freeport,
Illinois and then moved to Quincy where he adopted two children, Lydia and Walter. Of course Walter is my grandfather. Frank had checked out the funeral home website (www.hansenspear.com) and looked over Walter’s history which matched up with what he knew of the ‘long lost’ relative who moved to America.
My side of the family has always self-identified with Grandfather Spear’s Greek heritage (as my wife says, not the highest percentage but certainly the ‘loudest’ part of our heritage). My brother John and cousin Jana Tobias have been doing some legwork on Walter’s birth father, but that’s another saga in and of itself.
To be contacted by strangers who now will be considered family was quite a shock. I am glad that Frank reached out to us, and I have been sending him pictures of our clan as well as the picture above with Fred and his young family. He recently had his family get together for a picture to send to his new American family. And of course, we all got out our maps of Germany to see where Fred lived. Frank had also included a picture of Fred’s home in Germany.
The question now is who will be the first to visit…us to Germany or them to the United States. Either way it will be fun to enlarge the family.
The History of how the Hansen’s came to the United States: Friedrich Christian Hansen was born on April 6, 1853 in the small village of Bönstrup in northern Germany (near Flensburg). Friedrich was the brother of the great-grandfather of the relative that contacted Jeff. That family still lives in the house where Friedrich was born. He was a smith and worked in Bremerhaven where he married the widow Helene from Werningerode. Helen had a son, Wilhelm. They moved to Rapstedt in Denmark before deciding to emigrate to the Untied States in 1881. Their journey took them back thorough Bremerhaven to Southampton and finally to New York on January 9, 1882.
Friedrick changed his name to Fred. They settled in Freeport, Illinois and later moved to Quincy where they adopted a daughter, Lydia, and a son, Walter.