Returning to his Danish Roots - Tim Hannibal of Dannebrog, NE

  • January 31, 2021
  • February 04, 2021
  • Dannebrog, Nebraska


In our E-News January 24, NFDA  published a story about Tim Hannibal by Shannon Heckt of Hastings, Nebraska television station KSNB.  Hannibal, a descendent of the man considered the "Founder of Dannebrog, NE" was seriously injured in a fall while working on the roof of a neighbor's house.  A fundraiser to help Tim with his medical bills and recovery is planned for February 6 in Dannebrog.

(Photo - Tim Hannibal tells KSNB news about his injuries and his caring community)

NFDA reached out to Tim, to learn his story of moving back to Dannebrog, and his family history.  He begins by telling us about his recovery...

"I'm feeling optimistic. My leg is healing on schedule and I've begun walking. My elbow was shattered and there is a lot of hardware in it now so, physical therapy is helping me there. I may not regain vision in my eye. But, that's ok. That's not going to stop me from doing what I do.

Growing up in Omaha, NE, our family knew of Dannebrog but didn't talk about it much and visited even less. It really wasn't until my father passed away (approx. 8 years ago) that I was enlightened. He was diagnosed with Leukemia. From diagnosis  to death was 6 months. He knew he was terminally ill and wanted to leave something for the family. He began collecting notes for constructing a family tree. Well, he got too sick, too fast and couldn't complete this task. After his passing, I found these notes (very few, pretty much his parents, grandparents, and a few great grandparents) and completed the tree for him. In doing so, I rediscovered Dannebrog, founded in 1872, by my great, great, great grandfather. He was born Lars Hannibalsen in Fuglse on the island of Lolland in Maribo County (1822-1882), migrated to the US in 1856 then, dropped (sen) prior to enlisting in the Civil War in 1861. You can follow his life's journey in a biography, written by Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen, titled "Dannebrog on the American Prairie". It's an extremely detailed account about an immigrant and town builder. (You can still find copies on Amazon.)

Photo: Sgt Lars Hannibal (US Civil War photo)- Born 1822 in Lolland, DK, Veteran of the Dano-Prussion war of 1848-50, Immigrated and settled in Pine Lake, Wisconsin 1856, Enlisted in Union Army 1860, Founder of Dannebrog, NE 1871 - Photo courtesy Tim Hannibal

Knowing how precious life is and it could be taken from you in just a short time, anytime, is when I realized I was in a position in my career, in California, I could start becommig more increasingly involved in the community, long distance. With several visits to the village in the next comming years, I decided to retire from my 30 year career and move to Dannebrog. There have been so many small towns that have dissapeared in the past 150 years, I'm greatfull to be able to live here and hope my ggg-grandchildern can visit Dannebrog in another 150 years from now.

Lars Hannibal wanted to develop a Danish settlement, as written on the State Historical Marker #411 located in front of Columbia Hall. It was my great grandfather, Oliver T. Hannibal, whom married a German lady, Jeanette H. Rensch, and moved from Dannebrog to Omaha to work at the U.P. Railroad. Omaha has since become 'home' for our immediate family. Other family members remained in Dannebrog for many decades later, until they died off. There hasn't been a Hannibal living in Dannebrog since the 1960's.

By becomming a member of the Danish Brotherhood immediately, and the Danish Sisterhood soon after, I hope to help preserve the Danish heritage, culture, traditions, and values this village was founded on; people helping people. With my involvement in the community since 2013 (moving here in 2016) I've come to realize I belong here. This community would help anyone in need. When it was my turn, due to an accident I had in September of 2020, the community has stepped up and have really made me feel like I'm a part of it now. Thank you.

I'm extremely proud of my Danish heritage, although I'm only 5% Scandinavian now (according to 23&me DNA test). It shows Eastern European and Italian for several generations prior to receiving my Scandinavian genes. Since, German, Irish, British, and French has been added. Good old America, being 6th generation American, I'm quite a variety mix now".

To learn more, NFDA highly recommends the book "Dannebrog on the American Prairie" by Torben Grøngaard Jeppesen.  (available on Amazon)  The book provides great information about early Danish immigration, as well as a detailed account of the life and immigration of Dannebrog founder Lars Hannibal and his family, and the origins of Dannebrog.

Each year, Dannebrog hosts two Danish festivals - Grundlovsfest in early June, and Old Fashioned Danish Christmas in December.  Although these were canceled in 2020 due to COVID, it is hoped the festivals will return in 2021.  NFDA will provide information on these festivals in our events listings.  Here are additional links to more information on Dannebrog...

Dannebrog Website

Tim Hannibal Fundraiser

Lars Hannibal

National Foundation for Danish America
PO Box 1003
Wilmette, Illinois 60091

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