Judge John M. Hanna biography

JOHN M. HANNA. The citizens of Stanford and other communities in Texas have met different conditions than are found in old established towns. When systems of government are thoroughly organized, business placed upon a safe and sure foundation and the educational and religious development of the people constitutes the result of a definite plan of action and systematic organization, the business man who comes to such a community has but to concentrate his energies upon the up building of his individual interests. Those who come to a new community, however, have to divide their time between the up building of the town and their private affairs. Judge Hanna is one whose efforts in behalf of public improvement and progress have been far reaching and beneficial and who at the same time has controlled his individual interests as to win a gratifying measure of success. A native of Christian county, Kentucky, he resided there until 1881. His father, Stephen Hanna, was a farmer of that locality and was a native American but was of Scotch parentage. John M. Hanna was reared on his father’s farm and attended the old time schools until he had passed the period of his youth, when he became a student at Elkton, Kentucky, and afterward in Bethel College, a Baptist school at Russellville, Kentucky.

When his education was completed Mr. Hanna spent a short time at farm work but his health began to fail and he decided to seek a change of climate in the hope of being benefited thereby. After making preparations for the journey he went to the Mississippi river and embarked upon a steamer at Tyrene, just below Memphis, whence he proceeded southward to New Orleans, and from there fifty miles by rail to Brashear City, Louisiana. At the latter place he boarded a steamer bound for Galveston, Texas, whence he made his way to Bremond, at that time the terminus of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad. He continued the journey by stage to Waco and on to Belton, Bell county, where he made a location. There he hired to a man, going to Abilene, Kansas, with a bunch of cattle. He sought that employment for the sake of living out in the open air and roughing it after the experiences of such a trip, and he arrived at the end of his journey greatly refreshed and benefited by the outdoor life.

Returning to Belton, Mr. Hanna joined the Texas minutemen, an independent organization which was supported by private individuals to act in conjunction with the regular rangers in defending the country against lawlessness of all kinds, including Indian depredations. The company was organized in Brown county and from there went to Fort Griffin and reported to the commander of the government troops stationed there. The command was detailed for scouting expeditions in the west and southwest and went to Fort Chadbourne and thence to Fort Concho near San Angelo, Mr. Hanna remaining with the organization for eight months. After severing his connection with the troops he hired an interpreter and started an independent trip of his own on horseback into Mexico, going by way of San Antonio, Fort Ewell, Laredo and on to Monterey. He remained there for two months, after which he returned by way of San Antonio and on to Goliad, where he located a sheep ranch, conducting it from February until September, 1875. He then started for his own home in Kentucky, but while en route was delayed at Indianola for eight days on account of high water and the flooded condition of the country. At that point he rendered valuable service in the care of the dead and injured. Finally he took a steamer at Indianola for New Orleans and reached home in due season greatly improved in health. In fact such was the change in his appearance that his own father, his sweetheart nor the old Baptist congregation who years before had baptized him did not recognize him.

In November of that year John M. Hanna was married to Miss Nannie Penick, a native of Kentucky, and they remained in that state until 1881, when, fearing a return of his old troubles that had caused his ill health, and also prompted by the interest which had been aroused in him for Texas during his stay in this state, he returned and has since remained here. He reached Abilene on the 14th day of May, and after making a general survey of the surrounding country finally located land in Jones county. Here he embarked in the stock business, dealing principally in cattle and horses, the latter bringing a high price that year. Everything appeared very favorable for the business and with strong courage and determination Mr. Hanna began in the cattle industry in the west. He was the first to bring into the county a thoroughbred bull and he turned his attention to the raising of a higher grade of stock. Later, however, the price of cattle went down and the business becoming unprofitable he finally sold his stock and turned his attention to real estate operations, to which he has since practically given his attention to real estate operations, to which he has since practically given his attention. He first located at Anson, Jones county, where he remained until Stamford was created in the spring of 1900, when he changed his residence to the latter place. During the early period of his residence in Anson he was in partnership with L. M. Buie in the real estate business, which connection was continued from 1888 until February, 1895, when they divided their interests, Judge Buie taking the real estate department of the business, while Judge Hanna remained in charge of the abstract department. He then continued in the abstract business until 1892, when he sold his set of books. He is now in partnership with E. B. Williams in the real estate business at Stamford under the firm style of J. M. Hanna & Company, this relation having been maintained for a year. He is thoroughly conversant concerning property values and has negotiated many important realty transfers.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Hanna have been born two children: Forman G. Hanna, who is now located at Globe, Arizona; and Maude, the wife of W. A. Biard, of Ladonia, Texas. Judge Hanna had the misfortune to lose his wife on the 18th of November, 1904. She was devoted to the welfare of her family and was a lady whose many excellent traits of heart and mind endeared her to all with whom she came in contact. Mr. Hanna has been a member of the Baptist church since seventeen years of age, faithful to its teachings and its principles. He is also identified with the Knights of Pythias, his membership being with the lodge in Stamford. He has led a busy, useful life, being held in high regard for his genuine worth and successful accomplishment. He is well versed in the geography of western Texas and has taken an active part in many of the stirring events relating to its early history. Since locating in Jones county he has been an active figure in bringing forward its just claims to the outside world and in presenting the great advantages of this particular section as an ideal farming country. It is a conceded fact that through his personal efforts large numbers of settlers have been induced to come to this state and make this section of Texas their permanent abode, the number now including many of the most progressive, valued and prominent citizens of Jones county.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 667-669.