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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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WILLIAM HANSON, a prosperous citizen and retired agriculturist of Cass County, Mich., was for years one of the representative farmers of the State, and, a man of ability and excellent judgment, won his way from small beginnings steadily upward to an honorable position of usefulness and influence. Born November 14, 1824, in Montgomery County, N. Y., our subject is now entering the evening of his age and, residing in Edwardsburgh, enjoys the companionship of a large circle of old friends and acquaintances. Mr. Hanson was the son of John and Lydia (Schenck) Hanson. His paternal grandfather it is supposed came from Holland to America, and settled near Fonda, N. Y. He participated in the struggles of the Revolutionary War and, captured, escaped by running the gauntlet of the enemy’s fire. He was engaged in the battle of the Mohawk. By occupation he was a tiller of the soil, and upon the old homestead on the Mohawk River reared a family. His son, the father of our subject, trained to the duties of agriculture, was also a farmer. In the fall of 1835, John Hanson journeyed by canal and lake to Detroit, starting by wagon from Fultonville, N. Y. From Detroit he made his way to Cass County and settled in Ontwa Township, where he wintered.

In the spring of 1836, the father located on section 31, Jefferson Township, and entered one hundred and twenty acres, which he improved, transforming the unbroken prairie into productive fields. He died in 1857, at fifty-seven years of age. He voted the Democratic ticket, and was in religious belief a Presbyterian. His widow, a devoted Christian woman, also a Presbyterian, survived until 1871. John Hanson was twice married, and his first wife was Miss Salisbury. She became the mother of two children, Sarah and Maggie. By his second wife the father of our subject had his household increased by the birth of ten children: William; Ann Northup, of California; Daniel, who died in infancy; Ralph, killed in the mines of California; James; Rebecca Blair; Victor P., of Montana; Benjamin, who served in the Sixth Michigan, and died at Ship Island; John, of California; and Mary, who died in early youth. The mother of these sons and daughters was a native of Montgomery County, N. Y., and was a daughter of William Schenck, of New York. Mr. Schenck was a prosperous farmer and ran a plaster-mill, also grist, saw and carding mills. He accumulated a handsome property, and three times entered the bonds of matrimony.

In the ‘40s Mr. Schenck emigrated to Rock County, Wis., where he later passed away. Throughout his long career he was an active business man and reared a family by each wife. The mother of our subject had one brother, Ralph. The maternal great-grandfather was a farmer of the Empire State. Our subject was reared upon the home farm and received but a limited education, having been obliged very early in life to aid in the support of his father’s large family. Arrived at manhood, self-reliant, energetic and industrious, Mr. Hanson began to work for himself, and for three years ran a breaking team with eight and ten yoke of cattle. When twenty-two years old he invested his savings in eighty acres, which he diligently improved, and was soon able to add forty acres more to his farm. Prospering, he purchased eighty additional acres and located on section 31, Jefferson Township. In 1859 he sold out his former interests and bought ninety acres on section 27, Jefferson Township, and, constantly adding to this homestead, finally owned five hundred and sixty acres in one large body, and was also the owner of another valuable farm of one hundred and fifty acres. The tract of five hundred and sixty acres has been brought mostly up to a high state of cultivation and is one of the finest farms in this section of Michigan, being improved with substantial, commodious and handsome buildings.

Our subject has been married twice. Elizabeth Crawford, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (Solomon) Crawford, was his first wife. Mr. Crawford was a pioneer farmer of Cass County, and settled within its boundaries in 1836. He was a native of Ireland, a man of ability, and was highly respected. Mrs. Elizabeth Hanson was the mother of six children: Mary, wife of P. Head, of Texas; Henry; Charles; Ann, wife of Charles Thatcher; and two who died in infancy. The first wife died September 7, 1865, aged forty-two. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was an estimable woman, beloved by all who knew her.

The second wife, Matilda Hownover, born in Columbia County, Pa., was the daughter of Richard and Catherine (Dye) Hownover, natives of New Jersey. The Hownovers emigrated from the East to Michigan in 1840, and settled in White Pigeon. In 1846, the father and mother returned to their early home, and there Richard Hownover died in 1861, in the month of November. He was an active man and engaged in various occupations, principally milling and farming. His wife passed away in 1859. Their home was blessed by the birth of two sons and four daughters: David, William, Mary, Deborah, Margaret and Matilda. Richard Hownover was a son of Ralph Kovenhoven, a native of Holland, who early emigrated to America. His wife, a Baptist in religious belief, was Anna Lake. The maternal grandparents of Mrs. Hanson were the father and mother of three sons and one daughter. Our subject and his estimable wife are the parents of one child, Minnie J., now the wife of Edwin Harris. Mr. Hanson, essentially a self-made man and the architect of his own fortune, has acquired a handsome competence, and since 1881 has been in the enjoyment of a well-earned rest. From his earliest youth having faithfully performed every duty of life entrusted to his care, he may with pleasure review the annals of his long and successful career.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Cass County, Michigan family biographies here: Cass County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Cass County, Michigan here: Cass County Michigan Map

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