Monday, August 24, 2009

The First Hansen Family Reunion

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My Sister Jacque Lane and I are kneeling in front of our six cousins. Jean Koch, Patty Milligan, Clara Watson, Dorothy Anders, Alice Porter and Beulah Whitman.

My sister Jacque Lane decided in 1990 that we needed to have a family reunion of the Hansen family. My dad Claude and mom Margaret Hansen were getting pretty old and so they might not be around a lot longer to get together with the rest of the family.

Jacque sent out letters to every Hansen she knew we were related to and asked them to forward a copy to anyone else in the family. She also got some old addresses from a cousin and sent letters to those addresses too.

One of the letters we got back was from a Lorraine Erickson in Arizona. She was a volunteer at the local Family History Center and sent us some family group sheets of the Hansen family and the five Hansen brothers that came to Minnesota from Denmark. She also sent us some blank group sheets and suggested we send copies to everyone in the next mailing and ask them to fill out the blank group sheets for themselves, their children and their parents and grandparents if they knew them.

Now the group sheets started coming in and I started entering the data in a program I had found called the Enhanced Family Tree. It did a lot of nice charts and tables and so I eventually printed a book for the reunion. I knew nothing about sources, so I did not write on the group sheets who they came from, but I have 350 group sheets on the family. Many are duplicates although quite a few duplicates do not have duplicate information on them. It is amazing how few people know where their parents were born, they did get the dates correct. We asked for the group sheets about a month before the reunion, but one of the letters Jacque had sent to an old address had been forwarded FIVE times and finally caught up with Evelyn and Caroll Anderson. Carroll was a minister and the letter had been forwarded from one church to the next that he had been a minister, so the last group sheets came in just a few days before the reunion. I then printed out the book and made copies for everyone that was coming and a few that could not make the reunion that still wanted copies.

Jacque has a big back yard and she borrowed a couple of picnic tables and we got the one our parents had and with a few other tables about half of her back yard was filled with tables and chairs. Since the book was not collated I figured with the early people that came we could use the tables to collate the pages and then put them in the three ring binders I had purchased. We started putting out the pages and about that time the wind came up and blew all the pages on the ground, we looked for weights for the pages, but finally gave up and moved the tables into Jacque's garage, collated the pages put the books together and moved the tables back into the yard.

One of our cousins brought a video camera and filmed the reunion, including collating pages in the garage, and a small interview with most of the people that came. He made copies for all that wanted one and so the Hansen Follies video tape is really fun to look at. About every three years after that we had a new Hansen reunion till 2003 when so few showed up they just kind of died off.

I made a couple of mistakes in doing the book, one was not recording sources, and the second was using the Enhanced Family Tree. While it was a good genealogy program it did not have GEDCOM and so a couple of years later I had to retype all the data I had in the Enhanced Family Tree. Not to long after I had retyped all the data a GEDCOM for the Enhanced Family Tree became available, but by then I did not need it.

Since we still did not know a lot about the family we enrolled in a beginning genealogy class at the community college, and since then we have kept researching the family

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