A brief history of George Major Hanson's life, obtained from Hanson file, Coles Co., IL, Genealogical Society; PO Box 225; Charleston, IL 61920, author unknown

GEORGE MAJOR HANSON
(1st Postmaster of Coles co. Illinois)
March 13, 1799 - August 1, 1878

In the Sixteenth Century, George Major Hanson's ancestors fled from Sweden to the north part of Ireland on account of religious persecution. They learned the Irish language and were of the Presbyterian faith.

His father, David Mark Hanson., met and married Sidney Major, a nobleman' s daughter, without the nobleman' s consent. They sailed for America aboard a sailing vessel in the seventeenth Century. Their eldest daughter died and was buried at sea.

They located at Hansonville, Virginia, which was named for them. They lived on a large plantation, every acre of which is still owned and occupied by David Mark Hansonís descendants.

It was here that George Major Hanson was born March 13, 1799.

George Major Hanson married Polly Ellington in 1819, and in 1821 they moved from Virginia to Prestonburg, Kentucky, where he became a merchant.

In 1826 the Hanson family migrated to Illinois, where he resided near Wabash Point Community in Coles County until 1849. He was a Methodist preacher, known as Rev. George Major Hanson. He built his house on the prairie at Wabash Point about 1829.

He became a prominent citizen of Coles County. He displayed great energy and intelligence in his efforts in behalf of the young community at Wabash Point and vicinity, including Dry Grove.

George Major Hanson, with Joseph Harvey and Andrew Caldwell, drafted and circulated a petition for the new county of Coles, to be named for Edward Coles, the second Governor of the State of Illinois.

Hanson was made the bearer of the petition to the State Capitol, then Vandalia. While there, with the assistance of Colonel Wm. B. Archer, a: member of The legislature from Clark County, he obtained the passage of the bill on Christmas Day 1830. He returned home inside of two weeks bringing with him a copy of the bill as passed.

Hanson circulated a petition for, and obtained the establishment of the first post office in Coles County. He named its location Paradise, Illinois, for his native town Paradise, Virginia (now West Virginia). This was near the Wabash Point settlement in the northern part of the present Paradise Township. Hanson was appointed the first Postmaster February 18, 1830. He kept the office at his own house.

He was elected to the first Board of County Commissioners, along with Isaac Lewis and Andrew Caldwell, at the first special election held in February 1831.

Hanson later was elected and served as Representative from 1842 to 1846 and as State Senator from 1846 to 1848. Politically, he was an old-line Whig, later joining the Republican Party. It was during his term in the Illinois Legislature that he became personally acquainted with Abraham Lincoln.

His wife died in 1845 and was buried at Wabash Point. In his tribute to Polly E. Hanson Rev. N. S. Bastain stated that she "was born in Russell County, Virginia, April 10, 1802 and was married May 20, 1819. At a night meeting in the autumn of 1823, about twelve persons were powerfully converted to God and joined the church. Sister Hanson, two of her sisters, and Sister Sidney Hanson Apperson, were of the number. An account of this happy and interesting meeting can yet be found in one of the old 'Methodist Magazines." She left three daughters and seven sons.

Hanson's second wife was Jane Linder.

When gold was discovered in California, Hanson decided to leave Illinois and go west.

In the meantime, his daughter Jerusha P. had been married to John Lewis Allison on March 21st 1843 by J. B. Woolard, Methodist minister. She died May 8, 1848.

Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth Allison married Lapsley Campbell Henley Jan. 7, 1864.

Their daughter Elizabeth Hanson Nabb remained in Illinois until 1853 when she took her three children and went to California with her brother when he returned to Illinois for a visit in 1852 via Panama and New York. Seven sons moved to California with their father along with his wife and daughters Polly, and Sidney Linder and her family. The sons were William Patton, George Major, Nathan Ellington, James Francis, Daniel A., Rufus, and David Mark.

Hanson started to California on April 1, 1849, with a family carriage drawn by horses and three wagons drawn by ox teams. The wagons were loaded with several thousand dollars worth of supplies. At Independence, Missouri he cast his lot with Captain John G. Allender's train. (Several years later Hanson's daughter, Elizabeth, married Captain Allender). Later he left the Allender train and chose the Northern entrance to Sacramento Valley over the Lassen Trail with Peter Lassen as guide. The wagons had to be abandoned in the Sierra wilderness and the party continued on foot with pack animals. They finally arrived in Yuba City in November 1849, almost in destitute circumstances.

He endured many hardships and much grief. His daughter Sidney Linder died leaving five small children. He cared for Margaret and Nannie Linder as his own. His wife Jane died Feb. 2, 1850, and his baby daughter, Polly, was drowned in Feather River May 20, 1850. The markers on their graves are the oldest in the Yuba City, California cemetery.

Many stories have been recorded about Hanson's personal traits and his life in California. He gave each of his children a good education. His youngest son, David Marcus (called David Mark by his family) was educated for an editor and lawyer. When he was married to Catherine O'Donnell in 1861, the well known General John A. Sutter gave a reception for them at his famous Hock Farm. David Mark was later appointed clerk of the U. S. District Court under Judge G. M. Mott and filled that position for three years at Virginia City, Nevada. While in Virginia City he became a great crony of Samuel Clemons (Mark Twain).

Hanson also educated his niece, Sidney Hanson, paying her way through college.

George M. Hanson built a home in Yuba City in 1853. The material for it was shipped in sailing vessels around the Horn, as was most of the building material for California in that period.

He also built the first bridge across Feather River at Yuba City in 1853. In a letter to his sister Sidney Apperson, in Illinois, dated Marysville, California, Sept. 11, 1853, he wrote, "The bridge will be completed in two weeks. It will cost me over $23,000. It was contracted for $20,000 but the contractor failed and it will cost me some $3,000 to finish----------It is generally believed the receipts of this bridge will net clear of all expenses $100 per day----------I sold my hotel to Hanson and Brown----------I took a notion to build a private dwelling, which has cost me between eight and nine thousand dollars. It is said to be the finest dwelling in a California. It is built of brick, 30 x 36 feet, two stories, besides the cellar and garret. Two verandas seven feet wide belting the entire building; two halls seven feet wide; double parlor 15 x 30 feet; 32 French windows; nine rooms; observatory is 5 x 15 feet, banistered and seated; brick painted flesh color; and verandas white and outside doors grained oak. My location is upon the west bank Feather River, one hundred yards above the bridge, in Yuba City. Having no post office address is still Marysville.''

In l854, Hanson invaded the wilds of Lake County. He was guided by Indians who came from Clear Lake to visit the Indians on Feather River and to catch salmon and kill and trap wild geese on the plains. They crossed the Colusa plains and went west over the mountains to Bear Valley. They followed Bear River to Wilbur Springs, then turned west and climbed the steep mountain to the summit. While on top of a large formation of rock they encountered a grizzly bear. Hanson killed the bear with his rifle. The bear rolled down the steep rock to the bottom of Grizzly Canyon, the name Hanson gave it. The canyon retains the name to his day.

In 1851, a Methodist Missionary in Syria sent some fig trees to Hanson, who planted them in his back yard in Yuba City.

In 1856, prices of food and other things were very high in California. During that year he attended the State Fair at Sacramento and purchased two hives of bees, paying $200 or them.

Hanson played a prominent part in early California history.

In 1851, George Major Hanson assisted in establishing Pacific University at Santa Clara, which was later changed to College of the Pacific and moved to Stockton, California. On April 23, 1856, he contributed $100 to the University to be used as a scholarship for his heirs. The certificate entitles the heir to six years tuition.

While serving as State Senator in Illinois he had become an admirer of Abraham Lincoln.

He attended the republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 1856, as a delegate from California. At that convention, he paid Abraham Lincoln a tribute of respect by putting his name before that body as a candidate for Vice-President. When Lincoln was nominated for president during the following National Convention, Hanson became a warm and active supporter of Lincoln. He made his influence felt upon the stump and in the columns of political papers. He was a very effective debater and clear and forceful writer. Few men of his day were better read in general politics and more clearly understood the system and ideas of our form of government.

He was appointed and served as U. S. Indian Agent under Abraham Lincoln when Lincoln became President a few years later.

Hanson was the founder of several newspapers - The Sutter County Sentinel, Marysville Evening Telegraph, Daily Appeal, Clear Lake Sentinel, and the Gilroy Advocate. The last named is still published.

For many years it was the custom of the family to gather at the residence of one of the sons and invite all the relatives and immediate friends to participate in the celebration of George Major Hansonís birthday, March 13, 1799.

Dependents of this Pioneer held an annual family reunion on his birthday for over fifty years. On May 2, 1954, his descendants gathered for another reunion in Campbell, California. Ninety-three descendants were present, ranging in age from eleven months to eighty-four years of age, and representing five generations.

Hanson retired from business and resided with his children until his death on August 1, 1878 in Long Valley, Lake County, California, where he is buried.

Information obtained from: "As I Remember" by Nicholas Wilson Hanson "Bateman's History of Illinois and Coles County", "San Jose Mercury" -San Jose, California - May 3, 1954, Hanson and Henley family Bibles.

PLEASE NOTE: I stopped updating the web page around 2001, but I've continued to work on my project. My family history is now in Word document format, with the goal of publishing it once I consider it to be as complete as I'm going to get it. While I'm greatly indebted to those who have assisted me in my research, I'm finding that the demands of everyday life don't allow me to consistently respond to email inquiries. So, I'm offering my most up-to-date volume for sale, at a price of $19. For those interested, it is at 118 pages right now, printed by a laser printer on 8.5x11 32-lb./98 brightness paper, and wire bound. The table of contents, revision history, and index are available at the following links. To order a copy, please email me at [email protected], and I'll send it within 3 days of payment. If you indicate the family line you are interested in, I'll send you a new bound copy if and when I update my research for that line. Thanks,
Jay


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