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Joseph Mills Hanson  

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Last Updated: Sep 13, 2016 URL: http://libguides.usd.edu/hanson Print Guide RSS Updates

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Collection Summary

Title Joseph Mills Hanson   
Span Dates 1866-1960
Bulk Dates
Quantity .75 linear ft.
Printed Material Single article located in Box 2.
Location     Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries, University of South Dakota.
Summary

Joseph Mills Hanson was the son of Annie Mills and John R. Hanson.  John R. Hanson, a native of New Hampshire, arrived in Nebraska in 1858, and lived opposite Strike-the-Ree’s camp.  He befriended the Sioux chief and was one of the first to stake claim on the land when the Sioux were forced out in 1860.  John R. Hanson played a key role in the development of the city of Yankton.  He served as a clerk of the first territorial legislature, territorial auditor, and judge advocate.  In 1865, President Lincoln appointed him Indian Agent for the Upper Missouri region.  Hanson also dealt in real estate and successfully landed a grading contract for the Dakota Southern Railroad from Sioux City to Yankton.  He married Annie Mills in 1872, and they lived just outside of Yankton in a house (which ultimately burned down) known as Prospect   Place.  J. R. Hanson died in 1912.  Hanson County is named in his honor.  Annie M. Hanson died in 1923.

Joseph Mills Hanson was born in Yankton, Dakota Territory, in 1876.  He attended school in the east, and was a student at Chauncey-Hall School in Boston and a cadet at St. John’s School in Manlius, New York.  After his schooling, he went to work for the Otis Elevator Company as a salesman.  This undoubtedly was the result of his uncle’s influence, since his mother’s brother was a ranking officer in the company.  Hanson stayed in the position for eight years before turning to writing.

Hanson’s most successful writing was his 1909 publication of “The Conquest of the Missouri.”  In that same year he married Frances Lee Johnson.  She died in 1912.

During World War I, Hanson became a commissioned officer in the South Dakota National Guard.  He was Captain of Yankton’s Company M, which served on the Mexican border in 1916 and then was activated for overseas service.  Hanson left field duty to take a staff position with the American Expeditionary Force in France, and began to write a chronological history of American involvement in the war for the “Stars and Stripes,” a paper for enlisted personnel.

Hanson returned to Yankton after the war and married Rosamond Brightman Wellington in 1926.  In 1930, they left Yankton to reside in the east, abandoning his efforts to cultivate the Hanson family farm.  Hanson worked as a Civil War historian, and an Assistant Historian for the National Park Service.  He became Superintendent of Manassas National Battlefield Park in 1942 and served in this position until his retirement in 1947.  He died on February 11, 1960.

During his lifetime, Hanson published several historical works, pageants, poetry and the marching song for the state’s Young Citizen’s League.  In addition to “The Conquest of the Missouri,” he published many other works including “Frontier Ballads,” “With Sully into the Sioux Land,” “With Carrington on the Bozeman Road,” “Pilot Knob,” “South Dakota in the World War, 1917 – 1919,” “The World War through the Stereoscope,” and “The Trail to El Dorado.”  He also published historical articles and poetry in various journals and papers.

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