Lewis Edward Hanchett

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Lewis Edward Hanchett

Also Known As: "Lewis Emmett", "Lewis E. Hanchette"
Birthplace: California, United States
Death: February 29, 1956 (83)
San Mateo, California, United States (Heart attack)
Place of Burial: Oakland, Alameda County, CA, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Lewis James Hanchett and Margaret MacLane
Husband of Lucy Upson and Mary Corbet
Father of Lucy Butler; Alice Hanchett; Margaret Hanchett; Lewis Edward Hanchett, Jr.; Burke Corbet Hanchett and 1 other
Brother of Emma Crocker; Anna Louise Wright and Virginia "Jennie" Carroll

Occupation: Developer/industrialist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Lewis Edward Hanchett


February 9, 1934

Reno Gazette-Journal from Reno, Nevada · Page 12

L. E. Hanchett of San Francisco, well-known California capitalist, visited Austin this week and went from here to Ophlr Canyon in Smoky Valley, south of Austin, where he spent I his boyhood. The object of his visit was to revisit scenes or his youth. Mr. Hanchett's father, Lou Hanchett, a well-known mining man of early days, ran the old Ophir mine and mill for many years and also the Jefferson mine in Jefferson Canyon near Round Mountain. Two daughters, Misses Margaret and Alice Hanchett accompanied their father on his trip.


Recollections of L.E.Hanchett from his grandson Lewis Hanchett Butler:

Lewis H. Butler, “A Life of Public Service: Ploughshares Fund, California Tomorrow, Health Policy, HEW, the Environment, the Peace Corps” conducted by Ann Lage in 2008-2009, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2010.

Lage: Tell me about your family. Were they long-time San Franciscans? 01-00:01:30 Butler: My mother [Lucy Hanchett Butler] was born in San Francisco, my father [Vincent K. Butler, Jr.] was born in San Francisco. Their grandparents—my great grandparents—both came in the early 1850s and sixties. My mother’s grandfather—my great grandfather—came in the Gold Rush.

Lage: And what was their—01-00:01:53 Butler: His name was Lewis Hanchett, hence his son was Lewis Hanchett, and my grandfather was Lewis Hanchett, so I ended up Lewis Hanchett Butler.

Lage: Okay. 01-00:02:07 Butler: Anyway, the original Lewis Hanchett came to a place I think called Moors Flat on the Yuba River. He styled himself a mining engineer—I think what that meant was that he could read and write when he got there and that they put him in charge of some gang.

Lage: So did he work for a company, then? 01-00:02:28 Butler: It was his own mine, I think. I’m not sure about that. But then his son—my grandfather—was also a miner and all of his mines he owned. He mined near Tonapah, Nevada, and at the Sweetwater mine out of Mariposa, on Sweetwater Creek when my mother was a little girl, because she went up to the mining camp.

Lage: So when would that have been, what decade? 01-00:02:58 Butler: 1905. My mother was born a couple of months before 1900. Always wanted to live to be 100 so she could say she lived in three centuries but she didn’t make it. So my grandfather made a little pile, I think, up there in Mariposa and elsewhere and moved his family to San Jose. I’m not sure when that was but about 1905, 1906. He took over the Street Railway in San Jose, and I think the story was he ripped up the tracks to his competitor’s land and laid down some tracks to his own subdivision. [laughter] There’s still a Hanchett Avenue down there.

Lage: So he was a real entrepreneur? An old-style entrepreneur? 01-00:03:49 Butler: He was. My godfather told me later, he said, “Your grandfather,” who I think had about four or five years of schooling at best, because I know he supported his mother when he was fourteen or fifteen years old. He said, “Your grandfather lived by his wits,” including everything from rounding up mules in Mendocino County and selling them to the U.S. Army in World War I. Anyway he had the Street Railway and the subdivision and I have a brochure for it, “Hanchett Park, all lots guaranteed to be above high tide.” Then there was a tragedy. My real grandmother died in childbirth of uremic poisoning in the days when they didn’t know how to deal with that. Somewhere, when my mother was seven or eight years old or six, I’m not sure, and it was this terrible blow to my mother in particular and her sister. So my grandfather raised these two girls I think for about, I don’t know, four or five or six years and then he remarried a lovely woman from Palo Alto named Mary Corbett.

Lage: And was that somebody that you knew? 01-00:05:10 Butler: I always knew her as my grandmother, but she wasn’t my real grandmother. She was the stepmother of my mother.

Lage: And did you know your grandfather also? 01-00:05:21 Butler: I knew my grandfather very well. I just loved the guy. He died near broke, but to this day I have two shotguns of his that say L.E. Hanchett on them, and they were the finest guns made in America. That’s about all that’s left. A week ago I went out and shot a mallard duck with grandpa’s shotgun. [laughter]

Lage: Up at your ranch? 01-00:05:48 Butler: Yeah, in Shasta County, but anyway he was a very nice guy.

Lage: What was he like? 01-00:06:00 Butler: He was a typical sort of miner-robber baron. Loved my mother. Hated Roosevelt; when he would say Roosevelt’s name he always hissed, “Roosssevelt,” you know, like a snake. He made a lot of money in the twenties after the war and all of this stuff, and I think he stuck it to the Southern Pacific Railway, which ran California. I think the story is that the Southern Pacific—I’m sure this is right but I’m not sure about the details— Southern Pacific didn’t own the right-of-way across San Jose. They used his tracks to get the trains from San Francisco to Los Angeles. They had only irrevocable license. I believe what happened is—as other people have told me—that he notified the Southern Pacific that he’d like to sell them his Street Railway and if that didn’t work he’d just terminate their license and he’d sever the Southern Pacific line from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Lage: Did the Street Railway provide the link? 01-00:07:20 Butler: Yes, and I don’t know whether it was their tracks or other tracks that was on their right-of-way or what it was. All I know is that Southern Pacific bought the Street Railway in San Jose, and he moved to San Francisco; bought a twenty-six room house on 2006 Washington Street; had six or seven servants, you know the Chinese guys that they always referred to as “Chinamen” down in the basement that did all the work and sent the food out.

Lage: And is that when you knew him, when he was living on Washington Street? 01-00:07:54 Butler: I never knew him at 2006 Washington which is now an apartment house. It was right next to the Spreckels home that’s up the street there that is now owned by the woman who writes hundreds of books and makes so much money [Danielle Steele].

Lage: The Spreckels mansion, it’s usually called. 01-00:08:07 Butler: Anyway, by this time my grandfather was having a new family, and so my mother and her sister were sent to boarding schools and that kind of stuff. But he was living fat and happy right up to the Depression. Of course the classic story—he always operated on huge amounts of borrowed money—and I think the story is he was the largest stockholder in Montgomery Ward, all of it bought on margin where you put down fifteen bucks for every $100. He got that money from his friend Mr. Gianinni at the Bank of Italy, later the Bank of America. Anyway, according to my mother, he owed a few million dollars [laughter] by the 1930s to Mr. Gianinni but she claims he always paid it off, finally paid it off.

Lage: Was he hurt by the crash then? 01-00:09:09 Butler: Well, he was totally—

Lage: Wiped out? 01-00:09:12 Butler: Yeah, he was wiped out on paper, but I’m not sure it changed his style of living because he was always living on borrowed money so I don’t really know. By the time I was old enough and knew him—I was an infant when all this was going on—by the time I knew him, they’d sold that house and moved to a big hunk of brick on Pacific Avenue. It wasn’t as big as the original one but it was plenty big enough and it’s still there. The best part about it was that when he got sick and his wife also had a stroke, the house was sold to Sally Stanford, San Francisco’s greatest madam, who by that time was the mayor of Sausalito or at least owned a restaurant in Sausalito. Sally was terrific because she was just so nice to my grandparents because they weren’t well and said, “Well, I won’t move in until you feel that there’s some place for you to go.” So he basically died pretty much broke. I think he’d squirreled away some money in an apartment house and some other properties so that when they sued him or he went bankrupt that his children and wife would still have some money. So my mother had a little bit of money from that, but he still lived pretty high on the hog even when he was broke [laughter] as far as I can figure out.

Lage: And did he take interest in his grandchildren? 01-00:10:54 Butler: He did, but it was the days when the grandparents came for the Christmas and I would go out to the five-and-ten and buy aftershave lotion in a little bottle for my grandfather, which I assume he threw away as soon as he got out the door. He had a home in Capitola on the cliff called El Salto, which is now a bed-and-breakfast. So we would go down there, and all through this period every summer we spent in a one-room cottage rented from the state of California in the state park that’s now Seacliff Beach at Aptos. It’s now for motor homes and stuff. I think it was 300 bucks a year, and my mother rented this little house, and we spent all summer on the beach, and my grandfather was up there on the cliff at Capitola. I was too young to appreciate it all, but it was a pretty kind of heady time because a lot of people came by, and it was the Depression, and one of my mother’s great friends was Helen Wills, who was the world’s greatest tennis player at that time. Helen would come down and be nice to the little boys, my brother and myself, and she actually stayed there at the house—

Lage: At the little house by the beach? 01-00:12:25 Butler: At the little house on the beach; I think she used it when we weren’t using it. She was quite a nice watercolorist, so she painted. Then she’d go to Wimbledon and win and then come home, and she practiced tennis on my grandfather’s tennis court on the hill in Capitola. Then when she finally had to—she defaulted a match against Helen Jacobs, a famous controversy because she was sort of the Jack Dempsey of her era, and she was in disgrace—well, it turned out she had a bad back and ended up in a hospital, and my father was her lawyer and stuff.

Lage: You mean she actually got sued for this? 01-00:13:06 Butler: She defaulted the match but she never told anybody that she had a bad back and couldn’t continue. She just walked off the court when she was behind to Helen Jacobs. Then she came home and got herself back in shape and went back to Wimbledon and beat Helen Jacobs [laughter] and then retired, so that was a big deal in our family. My mother and father would go down and listen to the wireless broadcast of Wimbledon at five o’clock in the morning in 1935, or whenever this was. So anyway, that was my grandfather, and by the time I was in college I’d come home and see him and go out to dinner and stuff, but pretty soon he faded away.

Lage: Did he leave a lasting influence on you, do you think? A style of operating or anything? 01-00:13:57 Butler: Yeah, the shotguns, I guess [laughter]. No, I don’t think so. I liked him and I always liked the idea that he was kind of a rough-and-ready guy, but I was too young to really have been influenced very much, I think.

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Lewis Edward Hanchett's Timeline

April 23, 1872
California, United States

Name: Lewis E Hanchette
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1930
Event Place: San Francisco (Districts 251-409), San Francisco, California
Gender: Male
Age: 58
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Birthplace: California
Birth Year (Estimated): 1872
Immigration Year:
Relationship to Head of Household: Head
Father's Birthplace: California
Mother's Birthplace: Oregon
District: 0401
Household ID:
Sheet Number and Letter: 7A
Line Number: 22
Affiliate Publication Number: T626, roll 210
GS Film number: 2339945
Digital Folder Number: 4532357
Image Number: 00161

Citing this Record

"United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCNC-DQ3 : accessed 04 Jul 2013), Lewis E Hanchette, 1930.

May 12, 1898
Age 26
California, United States

Mother NOT Mary Corbet.

November 24, 1899
Age 27
California, United States

Name: Lucy Hanchett Butler
Event Type: Immigration
Event Date: 1961
Gender: Female
Marital Status: Married
Nationality: United States
Birth Date: 24 Nov 1899
Birthplace: California
Father's Name: Lewis Edward Hanchett
Mother's Name: Lucy Upson
Traveling With Children: No
Digital Folder Number: 004768753
Image Number: 00054

Citing this Record

"Brasil, Cartões de Imigração, 1900-1965," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V1S1-4M4 : accessed 04 Jul 2013), Lewis Edward Hanchett in entry for Lucy Hanchett Butler, 1961.

September 1, 1910
Age 38
California, United States
January 17, 1914
Age 41
San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA, United States

Name Lewis E Hanchett
Event Type Marriage
Event Date 06 Aug 1949
Event Place San Joaquin, California, United States
Gender Male
Age 35
Birth Year (Estimated) 1914
Father's Name Lewis E Hanchett
Mother's Name Mary Corbet
Spouse's Name Gwynn C Stout
Spouse's Age 31
Spouse's Gender Female
Spouse's Birth Year (Estimated) 1918
Spouse's Father's Name Charles Corbet
Spouse's Mother's Name Leah Beckett
Page 334
Citing this Record

"California, County Marriages, 1850-1952," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8LM-TX7 : 28 November 2014), Lewis E Hanchett and Gwynn C Stout, 06 Aug 1949; citing San Joaquin, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 1,841,887.

California, County Marriages, 1850-1952
GS Film number 1841887
Digital Folder Number 005706904
Image Number 01346

January 17, 1914
Age 41
California, United States

Name Burke Corbet Hanchett
Event Type Death
Event Date 23 Jan 1990
Event Place San Diego, California, United States
Birth Date 17 Jan 1914
Birthplace California
Gender Male
Mother's Name Corbet
Citing this Record

"California Death Index, 1940-1997," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPNB-BMJ : 26 November 2014), Burke Corbet Hanchett, 23 Jan 1990; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.

July 6, 1918
Age 46
California, United States

Name Corbet Hanchett
Event Type Birth
Event Date 06 Jul 1918
Event Place San Francisco, California, United States
Gender Male
Mother's Name Corbett
Citing this Record

"California Birth Index, 1905-1995," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VGQ6-M2B : 27 November 2014), Corbet Hanchett, 06 Jul 1918; citing San Francisco, California, United States, Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Department, Sacramento.


NOTE: Brother's middle name was also Corbet:

February 29, 1956
Age 83
San Mateo, California, United States

Name: Lewis Edward Hanchett
Event Type: Death
Event Date: 29 Feb 1956
Event Place: San Mateo, California, United States
Birth Date: 23 Apr 1872
Birthplace: California
Gender: Male
Father's Name: Hanchett
Mother's Name: Macclane

Citing this Record

"California, Death Index, 1940-1997," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VPDV-FJY : accessed 04 Jul 2013), Lewis Edward Hanchett, 1956.