Hans T. Hansen was born September 16, 1865 on a farm near Albert Lea, Minnesota. Early on in his career, Hans built himself a traveling photograph studio and hired a livery team to move it from town to town. His travels took him up to Ada, Minnesota where he met Inger Sarina (Torvestaad) Nelson who was working for distant relatives of his on a farm near the Red River.
Inger was born in Norway in 1870 and had come to Minnesota in 1887. Hans and Inger were married June 25, 1890. After their marriage Hans continued to be a traveling photographer until their first child Harry was born in Hope, N.D. The family then settled in Fargo in 1891 where Hans and Inger raised five children: Harry, Lillian, Clarence, Lester, and Edward.
Hans’ first photograph studio was located at the corner of Second Avenue North and Broadway. The June 1893 fire consumed his own business, yet a photograph of the aftermath of the fire has Logan & Hanson embossed upon it. The 1893 directory states he is an “operator” at the studio of James R. Logan.
At the time of the fire he was also assistant chief of the Continental Hose Company and fought the great Fargo blaze. After the fire the family toured North Dakota in a photography car, similar to a cook car, outfitted with a skylight and all the equipment to finish pictures. They returned that same fall in 1893 and established a new photography business, but he apparently continued to operate a traveling studio for he opened a photo car at Cooperstown, N.D. in September 1894.
For many years he used the name Hanson, but later changed his last name to Hansen because there were so many Hansons. He appears again in the 1895-1896 Fargo city directory as having his own studio at 508 Front Street with Theodor Larsen, but by June 1897 he is in partnership with Robert M. Stene as Hanson & Stene. Around this time Christian T. Lee was an employee of Hans Hanson. In 1898 he relocated his business to 205 N.P. Avenue and was in partnership with Carl J. Reis as Hanson & Reis. Mr. Reis left the partnership in the summer of 1900, and Hans continued on his own at this location until January 1905 when he moved to 230 Broadway. Hans then when into partnership with Harold M. Rudd, and the 1909 city directory lists the firm as Hansen & Rudd.
By 1910 Rudd was no longer in partnership and Hans had moved to 409 N.P. Avenue, where the studio went under the names “Hansen’s Photograph Gallery” and “The New Studio.” The family lived on the second story at the same address.
By 1915 he moved his business to 318 1/2 Broadway and by 1919 he was working for photographer Elwin B. McCracken. Around 1930 Hansen again operated his own studio at 64 1/2 Broadway for a short time, and by 1932 he was retired.
Due to poor health he and his family, except son Lester, moved to California in 1932 where Hans and Inger settled in Santa Monica. He died on August 4, 1941 in Los Angeles, and Inger died on January 20, 1956.