Feb 18: Martin Hansson, was a stone cutter from Sweden

Martin Hansson was born in Perstorp, Kristianstad (now Skane) County, Sweden, September 4, 1855, the son of Hans Christensson (b. 1817) and Johanna Månsdotter (b. 1820).  By 1890 Martin lived at Stenhuggeriet, Eketånga No. 5, Söndrums Parish, Hollands County, Sweden, where he married October 3, 1890, Sofia Matilda Torbjornsdotter (1867-1944), daughter of Torbjorn Christiansson (b. 1835) and Johanna Christina Larsdotter (b. 1840).  She was born in Snöstorp, Hallands County, Sweden.

Martin’s family’s immigration to Westford was more convoluted than most.  Martin left Söndrums, Sweden on May 16, 1893, traveling alone and took a steamer from Göteborg, Sweden, to Hull, England, then by rail to Liverpool, England, by steamer to Quebec, Canada, by rail to Boston arriving about June 8.  He first settled in “Swede’s Corner” in West Chelmsford. Swede’s Corner was the area on the Chelmsford/Westford border on Frances Hill that was settled largely by Swedish immigrants who came to work in the granite quarries.

Martin’s wife and two sons emigrated from Halmstad, Sweden, on January 13, 1894, by steamer to Lubeck, Germany, then by rail to Bremen, Germany, by steamer to New York City, and by rail to Boston before joining Martin in West Chelmsford.  Their sons Carl Hjalmer (1890-1962) and Axel Fridolf “Friel” (c. 1892-1956) were born in Söndrums, Sweden. By 1894 the family had moved to Westford where Victor George was born (1894- ) as well as daughters Emily Linier (1896-1980; married John W. Spinner) and Hilma Sofia (1899-1991; married Walter B. Doane).  A third daughter died in infancy in 1898.

Martin Hanson (he dropped the double “S” after moving to America) became a naturalized citizen on September 24, 1898, at the District Court in Ayer.  This was sooner than most other immigrants who came to Westford. Martin died tragically of drowning while swimming with his collie dog, Pon, in the Graniteville mill pond July 23, 1917, aged 61.  The papers reported that Martin had heart disease. He was buried in Fairview Cemetery, as was his wife Sofia who died in Westford on August 4, 1944.

Martin was a stone cutter in Sweden, and he worked in the quarries in Westford when he arrived.  He probably worked in the quarries near the Westford/Chelmsford line initially. By 1900 he was living in Graniteville (originally called Stone Quarry) and probably worked in the quarries on Snake Meadow Hill above North Main Street that gave Graniteville its name.  He lived in an area called “Swedeville” located on the north side of North Main Street between St. Catherine’s Church and what is now the J. A. Healy Sons Funeral Home. Other Swedish families who lived in this area included Johnson, Lundburg, Mattison, Anderson, Lawson and Benson.  None of Martins sons worked in the quarries.

Martin’s oldest child, Carl Hjalmer Hanson, married Esta “Esther” Frederica Johnson (1894-1974) who was born on Hurricane Island, Maine, to Swedish immigrants August (c. 1859-1939) and Bertha Christina (Eliason) (c. 1871-1923) Johnson.  August had come to Hurricane Island in 1883 to work in the quarries as a paving cutter. Hurricane Island is near Vinalhaven Island located off the Maine coast near Rockland. The quarry was at its peak from the 1870s to the 1890s. These quarry owners went to Europe for labor, hiring Swedes, Finns, Irish, Scots, English, and Italians.  Between 1900 and 1910 August moved his family to Swede’s Corner in Chelmsford and was working as a paving cutter in the local quarries.