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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Mrs. Belle Hanson

The splendid civilization of Iowa did not come into existence easily but through hard labor and endurance of privation by the early settlers.  In 1850 when northern Iowa was a great field of prairie grass James Johnson and his wife, Rusie Brannen Johnson, came from Indiana and settled on a farm in Iowa county, west of Marengo, which farm is still in possession of the family.  In the family were ten daughters.  Walt Whitman says that "The mother of a large family is one of the surest sources of wisdom:" if this be true then Mrs. Johnson was a wise mother.  We know she was a good mother, judging from her children.  The youngest daughter was Belle J. Hanson of Ida Grove, who was born in Marengo June 4, 1858.  On Aug. 27, 1877, she was married to Dwight Smith.  To them were born two children, Nina de Estelle, and Dwight Curtis, the latter died at the age of two years.  The daughter is now Mrs. Babcock and has three children, Phyllis Belle, Dwight Vincent, Dean Curtis.  In 1882 Mr. Smith died and his wife bravely took up the burden of the support of herself and her daughter.  For twenty-five years she conducted a millinery establishment at Ida Grove and had a photographic establishment in Marengo and in Ida Grove for a number of years.  Her business experience has made her an earnest advocate of equal suffrage, for some time she was on the executive board of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association.  On Dec. 31, 1885, she was married to Neil Hanson, who died in 1893.  She is a member of the M. E. church, of the P. E. O. sisterhood and an equal suffrage club.  She has a beautiful home in Ida Grove which is seldom without guests under its hospitable roof.



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