Niels was born 28th November 1835 on the farm
Handemyre in Vestre Slidre, Valdres, Oppland County,
Norway, to Halvor Pederson Hande and Barbro Nilsdatter
Høyne. . . . Niels' father purchased the farm Handemyre (No. 48) in 1830. On that farm, Niels, the third born, and his
brothers and sisters, Tosten, Peder, Halvor, Guri,
Ole and Ingeborg were born. . . .
Heeding the call of 'free' land in the Americas,
Niels emigrated in 1857 to the United States
(the time at sea being about seven weeks) and
travelled by various means to the Manitowoc County,
Wisconsin, area.* Niels was followed in 1866 by his
brothers Tosten and Peder, together with their wives
and children. They were recorded as passengers on
board the ship 'Frederik Pettersen', with port of
entry Quebec, Canada.+ Peder and Niels made their
way to settle near Holmes City, Douglas County,
Minnesota. . . .
Records indicate that Niels, on 23 October 1861, 'joined
for duty and enrolled at Manitowoc, period 3 years'
as 'Nils Halvorson, Pvt., Capt. Gustaveson's Co., 15th
Wis. Inf. [subsequently became Company F, 15th Regiment,
Wisconsin Infantry]' at 'age 26.' He served with
Company F in the Army of the Ohio, later Army of the Cumberland, until 27 November 1862. He then served with
Company D, 2nd Battalion, Pioneer Brigade, Army of the
Cumberland, until July 1864, when he returned to his
original Company. The Pioneer Brigade, an Engineer
duty unit, was organized by details of twenty men each
from all Infantry regiments of the Army of the Cumberland,
in November 1862. It was broken up in July 1864. Men having more than one year left to serve were transferred to 1st Regiment, U.S. Veteran Engineers, while the remaining
men were sent back to their respective regiments.
During this time Niels would likely have seen action with the 15th Wisconsin at the Battle of Perryville on 8 October
1862, and with the Pioneer Brigade at the Battles of
Stone's River, 31 December 1862-3rd January 1863, and
Chattanooga, 23-25 November 1863. Chattanooga is considered
to be a decisive victory for the Union, marking the virtual loss of the War in the West for the Confederacy.§
Following his mustering out on 13 January 1865
at Chattanooga, Tennessee, Niels made the long 1000
mile trek home in his army issue uniform, carrying his
bedroll and other meager possessions, and his rifle.
(This rifle, now owned by descendants of his brother Ole in Minnesota, has four notches on the stock, indicating
it was used to shoot four soldiers.) Niels settled in Douglas County, Minnesota, where warranty deeds were executed in 1876
granting him NE section 20 and NE of NE section 33 in
Moe Township; another on 25 May 1891 granted him more
land. On 25 May 1891 and again on 18 May 1894, Niels
sold part of this land. In the census of 1900 it is
seen in Douglas County, 'Moe Township #33, Hande, Nils
H., White, Male, born Nov. 1838, age 61, single, born
in Norway, emigrated to U. S. A. in 1857, 43 years in
U.S. , naturalized, Farmer, can read, write and speak
English, owns home free of mortgage . . . .'
In the Douglas County Register of Deaths is found
'Nils H. Hande, Male, White, Single.
Date of Birth - Dec. 1835.
Date of Death - 11/26/14.
Age 79 years?
Occupation - Farmer.
Cause of death - Sepsis from inflammation of urinary
bladder; chrome prestatitis.
Birth place -Norway.
Parents - Halvor Pederson
and Barbara Nelson.
Attending physician - C. W. Meekstroth.
Undertaker - C. V. Anderson.
Registrar - Lauritz Severson, Garfield, 12-5-14.
Place - Moe Township.'
Niels died intestate, leaving real and personal property in the value of about $12,000, which was disbursed in
accordance with Douglas County Probate Court, dated
30 January 1917.
So ended the life of this courageous and hardy
Norwegian immigrant, pioneer settler, Civil War
veteran, and farmer. Niels Halvorson Hande now lies in
peace in the West Moe Lutheran cemetery, near
Alexandria, Douglas County, Minnesota. His obituary
from the Fosston Thirteen Towns newspaper of 1st
January 1915 reads:
A Minnesota Pioneer and Civil War Veteran
Nels Halvorson, one of
the pioneer settlers of Moe
died at his home on Thanks
giving evening. He was
born in Norway and came to
Minnesota when twenty-six
years old. He settled in
Kandiyohi county and served
three years in the Civil
War. Then he came to Douglas
county and bought the
farm he now owned. He was
a single man and somewhat
eccentric in his ways. The
last few years he at times
objected to having people
call on him and being old it
was felt that he was not
receiving the care he
should. The neighbors and
others, though, did every
thing they could under the
circumstances. He was
always strong and healthy
and it was reported that he
was ailing only a couple of
days before death. He was
saving and careful in all
his transactions and it is
supposed that he was in
possession of considerable
cash but he mistrusted banks
and neighbors, did not
confide any of his financial
affairs to anyone. It is
generally supposed that
there is considerable money
hid around the premises.
The farm and about $1,000
in cash is all that has
been located so far. This
is valued at $13,000.
A brother, Ole Halvor
son of Kandiyohi county was
here and took charge of the
affairs. He is the only
brother living. Also
[among others] three nephews,
Nels and Robert Handy
of Fosston [Minn.], and Ole
Handy of Mohall [N. D.] were
here, to attend the funeral
which took place from West
Moe church, Rev. Magelson
This item written by Donald A. Quickstad and published in
The Hande Newsletter, No. 2, October 1989.
* A search of the 1860 U. S.
Census of Manitowoc County,
however, revealed no reference to Niels.
+ A son of Peder, by the
name of Nils Pederson Hande,
is the grandfather of Alair
Quickstad, wife of the
writer of this article.
Nils Pederson was born on
the 'Frederik Pettersen' off
the shore of Canada. on 30th
§ Bruce Catton, The Civil
War (New York, 1980),