Georg Hermanus Nissen was brought up in Norway in a ship building family based in Bergen. As was normal in their period, the second and later sons were obliged to emigrate as there was not enough to keep them in Norway.
He was the father of Colonel Peter Norman Nissen 1871-1930, who was the inventor of the Nissen Hut.
Georg emigrated to the USA in 1857 (aged 25). He left a written memorandum describing his life in the USA:
“I arrived in the USA in 1857 and left Chicago in the Spring of 1858 for Fort Searenworth Kansas (a real frontier place).
[I think that there is a typo here and he means Fort Leavenworth – Richard Nissen]
In the fall of that same year I went to Missouri where I was engaged in contracting for and building houses.
In the spring of 1860 I left for Pike’s Peak in Colorado, where I remained until 1867. During my residence in Colorado I was engaged in mining and erecting mining machinery. I did a great deal of mechanical work, viz I built two of the largest overshot water wheels in Colorado. I built two blowing cylinders for smelters and a couple of furnaces, which was the first smelter put up in the state. I also built several stamp mills and did much patent work for different parties.
I left Colorado in 1867 for Boston where I was engaged as a pattern maker in the Boston Machine Works. In the spring of 1868 I went to Nova Scotia. I was engaged by a party for one year to go there and open a mine and to build a ten stamp mill. This I did and afterwards took contracts for erecting stamp mills. Three fifteen-stamp mills, I built in Goldenville and following that I built a ten stamp mill in Louistown and one in Country Harbour.
See History of Goldenville from Wikipedia:
The history of Goldenville is defiantly a sad but majestic history. At one point in time Goldenville was large enough to rival that of any modern day town, it was the centre point for many decades of gold in Nova Scotia. During the late 1800s gold was found in Goldenville and with the gold people from everywhere flocked to rural community to try and make as much money as possible. The community literally overnight turned from a small forestry community into a raging gold mining town. Hotels, houses, and boarding houses sprang up from nowhere in order to house all the prospectors. Post Offices, schools, restaurants/bars, general stores, churches, and much more also sprang up at this time.
I left Nova Scotia in the Spring of 1870 for New York where I remained until 1878. At that time I was engaged in pattern making.I went down to Georgia where I built a ten stamp mill, and from there to North Carolina where I erected a forty stamp mill, an eight stamp mill and a roasting furnace.
I left that state in 1889 and again went to Nova Scotia, where I built one fifty stamp mill and two ten stamp mills
I left Nova Scotia for Upper Canada where I was engaged in mining until 1898. At that time I made the invention of my one stamp mill which I had contemplated making for years. I made four of these mills in Canada and I placed one in the Exhibition in Toronto, for which I was awarded a silver medal. I had every reason to believe that I was the first inventor of the one stamp mill, at least, of one that was at all practical. I considered that if any one had such and invention they would have brought it before the public.
His son Peter Norman Nissen was born in 1871 and became a mining engineer like his father. In 1910 he went on to try to sell and develop the stamp his father had first invented. To do this he went to the leading mining equipment manufacturer in the world : Head Wrightson and Co ltd on Teeside in the UK. He agreed a deal to develop and sell his stamp made by them and went to the Transvaal in South Africa to prove and sell the Nissen Stamp there.
I believe that his father gave his tools to his son when he left for the UK. Georg himself died in 1913 at the age of 81, so he had no further use for his tools by 1910 when Peter Nissen left the USA. In any family where working with your hands is part of the tradition, family tools would have been the most precious belongings of the family and carefully passed down from father to son. My father (Peter Norman Nissen’s son –Peter Nissen) and I (Richard Nissen) continue to use his tools.