In my American History class, we as a class was asked to pick a file and begin research on the case file that we picked. My first casefile was a slave. I chose a slave because I was always interested in the history behind slavery. My slave was a guy named Cesar. Based off of the information given to me upon opening my folder, Cesar was a mulatto around the age 60 and was sold or inventoried as an individual.
Cesar spoke Spanish and was from Orleans. Cesar buyer was Hilario Boulet. I than turned to ancestry.com for more information about Cesar, maybe his parents’ names, possible spouse and kids but I found nothing. I than began internet searching outside of ancestry.com and I came across the website through google www.Afrolousianahistoryandgenelogy.com. On that website, I found Cesar was freed March 11, 1803 and was freed in Louisiana, US and he was freed through self- purchase.
As I read along I read some of the comments that stated slave was freed, reason was good services, sold or inventoried in a group; members of a group Cesar and margarita; value of sale 290. After realizing I was having a hard time finding information and reaching that dead end, I decided to switch to another case file. I switched to a different case file and this time I had a criminal. How exciting! Eager to jump into this casefile and see what I had I had a young lady by the name of Eleanor M. Hansen. I opened my casefile and saw Eleanor Hansen was in California serving a 5 to Life sentence term. Beginning with ancestry.com I started with her family tree. According to several different family trees, Eleanor Hansen was from Manhattan, New York and was born in or around 1892. Again, I came across several different hits with her family tree, so I am not really sure her exact and accurate birth year or birth place because all of them were different. The place of crime was in Los Angeles, California. And the prison in which Eleanor was institutionalized was San Quentin Prison which is now a prison just for men, how cool is that?
Eleanor was 42 years old and according to ancestry.com her parents’ names were Christian and Carolina Hansen and that she had two sisters. After searching ancestry.com and seeing a few conflicting dates and names I decided to search outside of ancestry. I went to google and stumbled across www.criminalgenealogy.blogspot.com. Wow is all I can say! This website provided me with a lot more information on the actual case so this is where it begins 3,2,1…. Eleanor Hansen was a housewife and had a husband named Hans Terkel Hansen, who was a Hollywood astrologer and motion studio employee and together they had an daughter named Barbara Florence Hansel. Eleanor Hansel crime was murder 2nd degree. Her prison term was five to life as I stated above, and she was later transferred to the Tehachapi Women’s Prison.
According to the www.criminalgenealogy.blogspot.com website, Hans Hansen (Eleanor’s Husband) was to pay $10 a month for support for their daughter. Only $10! That sure was not enough money for a wife and a child; Consequently, Hans did not pay. On October 1, 1934, Eleanor went to Hans boarding house and fired two fatal shots into his chest. As I am reading the story it says, Eleanor fired two shots into her husband chest because her and her daughter Barbara was hungry and had nothing to eat and he wasn’t paying his support. Eager for more information I continued to read on, the story says Eleanor fled the scene on foot and was apprehended less than an hour later at the Thomas Starr King Jr High school where their daughter Barbara attended school who was 13 years old at the time. The story continues to say, when Eleanor was sought by the police she gave her wedding ring and other jewelry to her daughter Barbara and then departed with the police. This is where the story begins to get even more interesting.
According to www.crimimalgeneloogy.blogspot.com, in Eleanor’s confession she told officers she shot her husband in a fit of anger. She also stated, “I did not go into his home to kill him, but when I asked him for money he insulted me, and I shot.” “I think I shot him twice and he fell.” WOW! Was my initial reaction. Mrs. Hansen also told the officers that Mr. Hansen was ordered to pay $10 a month for their child and that he refused to pay and that her and Barbara had no food for at least 4 days and that Barbara became sick from lack of food. I continued to read more into the story and read that even during Eleanor’s confession to the investigators she told them she was hungry so after her written confession the investigators took her across the street to a diner where she had ham, eggs, and toast. That information to me was fascinating because nowadays, I am sure investigators will not take a killer out to eat before sentencing. Later the story says Barbara was placed in the care of a los Angeles family.
After all of that information I was intrigued by this story, so I went to www.newspapers.com. Once I arrived to the newspapers.com website and typed in Eleanor Hansen over 3,000 hits came up in the database. I skimmed through a few newspaper articles, but the Los Angeles Times newspaper article caught my attention. In the Los Angeles Times newspaper article, that was written Oct 5, 1934, at the actual trial a woman named Louise Horton testifies. Louise Horton was the landlady of the boarding house in which Hans Hansen resided. Louise Horton testifies that Mrs. Hansen had made several trips to her house trying to get money from her former husband Mr. Hansen who was out of work. I am not sure when that happened, but reading along, Louise Horton said “Mrs. Hansen forced her way into the door, but Mrs. Horton shoved her back. Mrs. Horton said Mrs. Hansen said, “You Hussy I`ll kill you”. The landlady fled to the back of the house where shortly after she heard the two shots. I kept reading and there was another witness who testified, and her name was W.C Thomson. Basically, this witness said the same thing as the previous witness except that she saw Mr. Hansen laid out on the steps and Mrs. Hansen was running away with the gun in her hand. What I found intriguing about the testimonies I read was, Mrs. Hansen tried to claim self defense by saying Mr. Hansen struck her in the face with his fists. In my mind, I`m thinking all of this for $10. Mrs. Hansen even went as far as to say Mr. Hansen tried to kill her and that is why she killed him. In 1940, Eleanor Hansen was in the Stockton, CA institution for the insane. I checked the divorce records on ancestry and the California state hospital records and I didn’t get any hits from those. I was getting curious about their daughter Barbara, so I logged back into ancestry.com and begin looking through family trees of Eleanor Hansen. I discovered Barbara married a James Phillips they had no known kids and she died October 13,2009 at the age of 88.
In Conclusion, the ancestry family trees also showed that Eleanor and Hans Hansen had another child, but I couldn’t find any information on that. Overall, the beginning to the end of this research was very interesting to me. A Woman who killed her husband over $10 was shocking. The fact that $10 was all that was required for child support in the 1800s is what is really astonishing to me. Eleanor Hansen opened my eyes because it’s the things we take for granted now that was detrimental back in the days. After researching this case file, I ultimately felt sad for the daughter Barbra because she lost both of her parents behind starvation and $10. Times have really changed.
Ancestry.com. California, Prison and Correctional Records, 1851-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.