With the Anderson Barn, Anderson Dock, Anderson Store, and various other Anderson properties in the area, we frequently talk about the Anderson family here in Ephraim. Brothers Halvor and Aslag were hugely influential in Ephraim’s earliest days, thanks in large part to their construction of a deepwater dock. Today’s blog post is not about an Anderson, but this woman nonetheless shaped the Anderson family’s history in the community.
Andrea Tjøstolfsdatter was born in Brunlanes, Norway in 1806. She married Hans Hanson in 1829 and the couple immigrated to Wisconsin with their children and other family members in 1854, only a year after the founding of Ephraim.
Tragedy struck the family later that year when Hans Hanson and six others died of Asiatic cholera. They are buried on Horseshoe Island, though the exact location is unknown. After the death of her husband, Andrea helped support the family with nursing, and several of her grown sons also contributed to the family income.
In 1858, Aslag and Halvor Anderson arrived in Ephraim, where they began work on the dock. Aslag later built the Anderson Store, and Halvor established a farm to the north. In 1861, the Anderson brothers married two Hanson daughters: Aslag married Anna Margareta “Greta” Hanson and Halvor married Anna Tonetta “Nettie” Hanson. The two couples had 25 children between them, with 19 surviving to adulthood. The stories of the Anderson family, particularly Aslag and Greta’s children, Adolph, Miss Lizzie, and Miss Munda, are still shared today in the Anderson Store Museum.
Andrea’s life had a tragic end, and her last five years were marked by decreased mental health. In a July 21, 1885, note written by Pastor Anders Petterson of the Ephraim Moravian Church, he stated:
“She was constantly watched because she always wanted to “travel” and she often ran away from home. She ran away around midday on Saturday, July 18, 1885, and in spite of the fact that one immediately started searching for her, she was not to be found. It was first on Sunday morning, July 19th that her body was found 2 miles from Ephraim, by the beach. She had walked along the shore the whole night and was found, drowned in the water…”
Andrea Tjøstolfsdatter Hanson is buried in the Ephraim Moravian Cemetery, and her descendants still reside in Ephraim today, nearly 165 years after the Hanson family left Norway.
-Guest Blogger Emily Irwin