Ames Immigrant Stories - Denmark

Immigration to Ames

Rasmus Hansen, a weaver, emigrated from Denmark to America in 1880. His wife stayed behind with their two children. Hans Jacob Hansen followed his father to America in 1886, when he was 15 years old. Because he was under the age of 18, Hans was considered a natural citizen.

Building Work

Hans lived on his father’s farm north of Ames and worked for builders in the area. To learn English, he attended Bloomfield School with students much younger.

When he was 25, Hans returned to Denmark and studied at Kjong Hojskole in Glamsberg to develop his carpentry skills. Returning to Ames in 1898, he worked for Thompson and Duntz Construction. The next year he started his own contracting business building barns on Story County farms.

Barns and Homes

One of the first barns Hans built, in 1900, was on the back lot of 612 Burnett. He lived in two rooms of this barn which had plastered walls and heating stoves. The barn had a haymow on the second level and below was stable and wagon and buggy space. Hansen lived in the barn until he married in 1907 and moved into a show house he had built on the lot in 1903, complete with birch floors, living room, and parlor.

In 1940, after a long and noteworthy career, Hans retired from building barns and homes, but continued using his carpentry skills by making furniture. He lived in his house until he died in 1962 at the age of 90.