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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Hanson, Magnus (1822-1881)


Cabinetmaker and furniture manufacturer; founded Morse, Hanson and Company (later Hanson Furniture Company). Born in Norway in 1822, Magnus Hanson settled in Janesville in 1853 with his wife Mary Larson. Hanson began his career in Wisconsin as a wood carver and cabinetmaker. In 1863, he entered a partnership with J. F. Morse of Janesville to establish a furniture manufactory known as Morse, Hanson and Company. Morse and Hanson added a third partner, Ole Evenson, in 1865. The company's products included heavily ornamented walnut bedroom sets typical of the furniture manufactured in Grand Rapids, Michigan and other Midwestern cities in the 1860s and 1870s.

On January 14, 1867, a major fire destroyed the furniture factory and warehouse, but by 1871 the company had rebuilt the factory as well as a second warehouse and office. Business was successful, and in 1871, Morse, Hanson and Company employed between 30 and 40 workers and shipped their furniture to markets in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota.

In 1878 and 1879, Morse and Evenson left the business. Hanson took on two new partners, Hans Troften and Lars Engebretson, and changed the company name to M. Hanson and Company. Hanson died on September 15, 1881, but M. Hanson and Company (also known as the Hanson Furniture Company) continued to expand. In 1890, the company was incorporated with a capital stock of $35,000. Henry Hanson, a son of Magnus Hanson, acted as superintendent of the company and was appointed company president in 1908. From the 1890s to the 1920s, M. Hanson and Company was best known for its extending pedestal tables, which were distributed nationally on a wholesale basis. In 1925, Henry Hanson sold the business, which soon went bankrupt and was dissolved by 1927.

View examples of furniture manufactured by Morse, Hanson and Company; M. Hanson and Company; and other Janesville furniture factories in the Wisconsin Decorative Arts Database

[Source: Julie Shade, "M. Hanson and Company, Janesville, Wisconsin," typescript, Wisconsin furniture exhibit research files, Wisconsin Historical Society.]
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