Biography of C. B. Hanner
Merced County, CA Biographies





C. B. HANNER
Merced County has been unusually fortunate in attracting men of broad vision and the practical experience to carry out the possibilities they could see in this most fertile part of our wonderful State. Among these C. B. Hanner has played a prominent part in the extensive development work done in the county during the past few years, where the face of this section of California has been changed from a haphazard grain field into one of the most productive fruit growing valleys in the world. Mr. Hanner was born in Waverly, Iowa, the fifth of seven children born to his parents, John and Margaret ( Jewell) Hanner, both now deceased. John Hanner was a native of Montreal, Canada, of Scotch parents, farmers who migrated to Rockford, Ill., in the early sixties, and later located in Iowa, crossing the Mississippi River on a ferry, and drove overland with ox team to where the town of Waverly now stands. John Hanner became a widely and well known rancher and stockman in Iowa, and his family are among the present day representative men and women of that State.

C. B. Hanner was reared in a good home on the farm in Iowa, attending the Waverly Grammar and High schools, and also taking a dairy course at Ames College, Iowa. At the age of nineteen he took an active part in the conduct of the home farm with his father and a brother, and continued so engaged for several years. In the early nineties he purchased a farm near Forest City, Iowa, and endured many privations in order to get ahead quickly, and he soon became one of the leaders in that section, and in 1895 organized the initial Farmers' Cooperative Creamery in Madison County, becoming its secretary and manager until he resigned, in 1899, to come to California. He was a breeder of high grade cattle and thoroughbred hogs and was very successful, and also as a breeder of imported Percheron horses from Riga, France, always selling his stock at top prices, for they were the best obtainable. His knowledge on all farm problems and market conditions is well rounded from both a theoretical and practical standpoint and in all fields of land development he is an able authority, as has been well proven by his success since coming to California.

He came West in 1899, and reached Fresno at a time when building was active. With considerable knowledge of the trade, and being a good carpenter, he soon started out as a builder there, and followed it through until 1918, devoting his attention to residence and home structures, and doing his own planning and designing. His work stands out in Fresno today; the H. Swift home, on Calaveras and L Streets, the Creighton, Beane, and scores of Fresno's finest homes are from the plans drawn and work done by Mr. Hanner. In the meantime he was always interested in land development, and owned a ranch of 160 acres in Lone Star, which he held until it came into bearing, growing Muscat grapes; and a highly developed vineyard of 115 acres in the Dinuba district.

In 1918 Mr. Hanner left Fresno, having a big contract to fill at Chowchilla, Merced County, $75,000 worth of construction and development work on the D. Hayes property. He incidentally became interested in a 1000 acre tract himself, which he subsequently sold off until he now holds but 200 acres of this. It was in 1919 that he came to Merced County to do his greatest piece of work.

On August 15, 1919, he brought from Chowchilla over the highways into Planada $60,000 worth of land developing implements to carry on his work, consisting chiefly of the following: seven Holt caterpillar tractors, subsoiler and full equipment, land levelers, etc.; and a gang of twenty men started to Work almost at once, near Tuttle. People looking on did not realize then what they were destined to see today on the land, the largest orchard in the world, peaches, and apricots, embracing some 4000 acres. Mr. Hanner was in full charge of operations, the property being owned by the California Packing Corporation, owners of the Del Monte brand. Through 1919-1920-1921, this great project worked slowly but successfully into a state of being. It is conceded by authorities that the remarkable growth of the 350,000 trees which stand today in such splendid symmetrical lines could not have attained such growth had it not been for the skilled work performed with Hanner's wonderful outfits the subsoilers.

While this was being accomplished, this energetic man had to have something to do for himself, so he bought 160 acres, the former home place of M. L. Holt, in December, 1919, and started at once to transform it from a grainfield into a fine vineyard, surrounded by a border of Kadota figs.

The marriage of Mr. Hanner, at San Francisco, May, 1923, united him with Miss Nellie Mae Backus, a native of Boston, Mass. She came to California in 1918, and is an ardent supporter of "our" climate and other factors which make California a pleasant place in which to make one's home. Mr. Hanner's parents both came to California in 1894, from Iowa, locating at Fresno, where the home they built is still standing, on East Avenue. The father returned to Iowa on a visit to his sons there, in 1898, contracted a severe cold en route, and died in Waverly, in January, 1898. The mother remained a steadfast devotee to Fresno, and her death occurred there in 1911.

From:
History of Merced County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by John Outcalt
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1925


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