Michael Finley Hanley was born on June 24, 1824, in the Ohio River town of Guyandotte, West Virginia to William Hanley and Elizabeth Hutchinson. He was raised in Ohio and, as a young man, was involved with the flatboats operating on the Mississippi River before sailing to San Francisco to join in with the Gold Rush of 1849. After trying his hand at mining, he and Col. John England Ross began a successful business of selling beef to the miners. Michael met Martha Burnett and her family, who had arrived in Douglas County via the Oregon Trail and settled on a land claim there.
Together, Michael and Martha purchased the Clinton and Welton Donation Land Claims of 636 acres in Jackson County, and raised nine children (six survived into adulthood). Michael Hanley continued to purchase land and pursue multiple business opportunities until he became an invalid and, after being pronounced legally insane, died on June 14, 1889. On October 15,1887, Martha Mortimere Burnett Hanley had died of tuberculosis. Hanley Farm was inherited by their children. The family home and its surrounding acreage went to Alice Hanley.
SOHS owns extensive Hanley family archives that may be viewed in the Library.