Debora Van Dam was born about 1670, the daughter of Albany carpenter Claes Ripse and Maria Bords Van Dam. Their family was small and she was left without siblings when her only brother was sent to New York for business training.
With no sisters, the dowry of a carpenter's daughter was larger than usual. Consequently, Debora was able to marry well. In 1692, she wed upwardly mobile Hendrick Hansen in the Albany Dutch Church where the couple remained lifelong members. As the Van Dam family passed from Albany rolls following the death of her parents, Debora's life became more closely tied to the more numerous Hansens. The couple settled into the Hansen house on Market Street where they raised seven children.
Hendrick Hansen was a prominent trader, landholder, and public official who was appointed mayor of Albany in 1698. He later served several terms in the provincial assembly. Official and personal business often took him to New York leaving Debora to manage the Albany home and their young children. Successful and prominent, Hansen was able to shower extensive resources on his family.
Debora's husband died in 1724. Hansen's will left her the use of his estate during her widowhood. She lived on in Albany until her death in November 1742. She was buried beneath the Dutch Church.