Present-Day Cousins Put an End to Hanley Family Rift


Monday, May 21, 2018


Sharon Bywater


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As young men, Michael Hanley and his brother, John, shared a business shipping goods down the Ohio River to New Orleans.  With the discovery of gold in 1849, they decided to meet in New Orleans, then go West together to make a fortune.  However, the two brothers never met and never spoke again.  Each told a slightly different story about the rift.

Michael said he had arrived in New Orleans before John.  Convinced that John wasn’t coming, he went on his own to California.  He later moved to Southern Oregon, married and settled down on Hanley Farm near Jacksonville. The present-day farm is owned by the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

John insisted he did arrive in New Orleans, but couldn’t find Michael, even after sailing to California searching for him.  John returned to his wife and family in Ohio, eventually settling near Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The story of family rupture was told for generations until two Hanley cousins, John Hanley of Virginia and Michael Hanley IV of Oregon, met in Jordan Valley in Central Oregon in 1979 to bury the hatchet at a happy reunion.


Sources: Wright, Jan. "A Hanley Family Rift is Healed." Southern Oregon Heritage Today, vol. 6, no. 4, 2004, p. 14.


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