Scope and Content
Title: Banning Co. Records Addenda
Bulk dates: 1855-1925
Collection Number: Consult
Approx. 1,800 items
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington Library
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2203
Fax: (626) 449-5720
Abstract: The collection consists of business
papers and correspondence related to the the Banning Company and its subsidiaries,
particularly the Santa Catalina Island Company, as well as personal papers and
correspondence created by members of the Banning, Patton, Glassell, Shorb, Thornton,
and Thompson families.
Language of Material: The records are in English.
Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the
Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual
materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the
Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as
owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain
permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the
Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights.
Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.
[Identification of item], Banning Company records addenda I, The Huntington
Library, San Marino, California.
The collection was a gift of Mrs. Hancock Banning, Jr. and Robert Banning on
October 24, 1985.
Phineas Banning (1830-1885) was born in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1861 he arrived in
San Pedro, California, and worked as a store clerk and stagecoach driver before
starting his own staging and shipping company, which rapidly expanded throughout
California as well as to Arizona and Utah. In the late 1850s, he joined a group of
investors who purchased 640 acres of land near San Pedro to expand the port. This
land was later named Wilmington after Banning’s birthplace. By the 1860s Banning was
heavily involved in most of the operations of San Pedro Harbor. During the Civil War
he was given the honorary title of Brigadier General of the California First
Brigade, and continued to use the honorarium “General” for the rest of his life. In
the 1870s he became a California state senator and campaigned for more elaborate
transportation connections between Los Angeles and San Pedro port. Banning’s first
wife was Rebecca Sanford, with whom he had three children who survived to adulthood:
William, Joseph Brent, and Hancock. After Rebecca’s death he married Mary Hollister,
and they had two surviving daughters, Mary Banning Norris (1871-1953) and Lucy
Tichenor Banning (1873-1929). By 1880 Banning had scaled back his business ventures,
and after several years of illness died in San Francisco.
Following Banning’s death, the consolidated Banning Company was taken over by his
sons William Banning (1858-1946), known as “Captain,” Joseph Brent Banning
(1861-1920), and Hancock Banning Sr. (1865-1925). In addition to running the Banning
Company, the three Bannings developed its subsidiaries, including the Santa Catalina Island
Company (following their purchase of Santa Catalina Island in 1891), the Wilmington
Transportation Company, and the Wilmington Development Company. They were also
involved in a variety of real estate ventures throughout the Southern California
area. The Banning Company officially dissolved following Joseph Brent Banning’s
death in 1920.
Eleanor Brown Thompson Thornton (b.1782) was the daughter of prominent Virginia
politician and lawyer Philip Rootes Thompson (1766-1837). She married William
Thornton (b.1780) and their daughter Susan Thornton Glassell (1804-1836) married
Andrew Glassell (1793-1873). The couple lived in Culpepper, Virginia, before moving
to Greensboro, Alabama, in 1834. The Glassells had six children, including Andrew
Glassell (1827-1901), who became a lawyer in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and
William T. Glassell (1831-1879), who was an officer in the Confederate Navy during
the Civil War. Their youngest child, Susan Glassell Patton Smith (1835-1883), married
George S. Patton, Sr. (1833-1864), who served with the Confederate Army during the
Civil War and was killed at the Third Battle of Winchester in 1864. The widowed
Susan and her four children moved to California to live with her brother, Andrew. Her
son, George S. Patton, Jr. (1856-1927), married Ruth Wilson, the daughter of
prominent California landowner Benjamin Davis Wilson, and became a lawyer, in
addition to working as ranch manager for his neighbor Henry E. Huntington. Their son
was the famed World War II general George S. Patton (1885-1945). In 1855 Susan
Patton married George Hugh Smith (1834-1915). The couple’s daughter, Anne Ophelia
Smith (1870-1951), married Hancock Banning (1865-1925). Their son Hancock Banning
(1892-1982) later worked with his father in the family business.
Maria de Jesus Wilson (1844-1917), known as “Sue,” was the daughter of Benjamin Davis
Wilson and his first wife Ramona Yorba, and sister-in-law of George S. Patton
(1856-1927). She married James DeBarth Shorb (1842-1896), whose land was later sold
to Henry E. Huntington. The couple had ten children, including Norbert Newland Shorb
Scope and Content
The collection consists of business papers and correspondence related to the the
Banning Company and its subsidiaries, particularly the Santa Catalina Island
Company, as well as personal papers and correspondence created by members of the
Banning, Patton, Glassell, Shorb, Thornton, and Thompson families.
Series I: Correspondence
Frequent correspondents include:
- Hancock Banning (1865-1925) – 82 letters.
- Joseph Brent Banning - 12 letters.
- Phineas Banning - 21 letters.
- William Banning - 155 letters.
- Andrew Glassell (1793-1873) - 11 letters.
- Andrew Glassell (1827-1901) - 11 letters.
- Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb - 31 letters.
- Susan Glassell Patton Smith - 31 letters.
- Edith Shorb Steele - 11 letters.
- Eleanor Brown Thompson Thornton - 13 letters.
The business correspondence primarily focuses on the Bannings, and includes
references to professional conflicts among the Banning brothers, the Santa Catalina
Island Company, the Wilmington Transportation Company, the San Gabriel Wine Company,
the operation of the steamers “Hermosa” and Cabrillo,” Mormon Island and surrounding
areas, financial issues, and land sales. There are also 20 letters written between
Henry E. Huntington and George S. Patton (1856-1927) from 1903-1905, and which
relate to land in the San Marino area, including mistakes in marking property lines
between the Huntington and Patton ranches (a Jan.30, 1905, letter from Huntington
notes “you cut out some land at Reservoir Two that I wanted…Be generous now and
correct your lines”), and Huntington’s future land purchasing plans (the same Jan.30
letter notes Huntington’s intention not “to buy much more land with a view of
getting profit out of it, as I have so much [in the San Marino area] now…I…should
[not] buy any more except for the satisfaction of making the place more complete”).
The personal correspondence consists of letters between members of the Banning,
Patton, Glassell, Shorb, Thornton, and Thompson families written from Alabama,
California, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia. Family correspondents include
Ellen Banning Ayer, Frederick Ayer, Anne Ophelia Smith Banning, May Alice Banning,
Katharine Stewart Banning, Lucy Tichenor Banning, Mary Hollister Banning, Ynez Shorb
Buck, Eliza Thompson Fry, Cornelia Fry, Charle Gibbs, E. Thornton Gibbs, Eliza
Williams Patton Gilmer, Hugh Glassell, Susan Thornton Glassell, Maria Hamilton,
Frances Hawes, Ramona Yorba Shorb Murtaugh, Mary Banning Norris, Ruth Wilson Patton,
Burkett D. Thompson, Caroline Thompson, Philip Rootes Thompson Jr., Rootes Thompson,
William Thornton Thompson, George A. Thornton, Daniel Shorb, Donald Shorb, Joseph
Campbell Shorb, Norbert N. Shorb, Ettinge Hugh Smith, and George Hugh Smith.
Some interesting or notable items include:
- A letter from Burkett D. Thompson in Georgia (May 11, 1828) to his sister
Eleanor Brown Thornton Thompson describing “putting up and carrying into
operation an apparatus for making soda and other mineral waters” in which he
had found “amusement and profit.” A second letter (April 5, 1829) describes
a the aftermath of a large fire in Atlanta.
- A letter from Eliza Thompson Fry to her sister Eleanor Brown Thornton
Thompson sent from Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) dated February 5,
1836, and written shortly after Eleanor had moved to Alabama. Fry writes of
the comfort Eleanor must feel in having her “servants” with her, and notes
that “[we have] a great responsibility…to act as the principles of the
gospel require towards these poor dependent beings…my mind has been much
awakened upon this subject.” She also writes that their brother had sold
most of his slaves and was going to “old Virginia to a buy a new
- A letter from Andrew Glassell (1827-1901) to his father Andrew Glassell
(1793-1873) written from San Francisco on May 20, 1856. Glassell writes of
the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance (“the rulers and uncontested
tyrants of the city”), speculates on what contributed to a “general
insurrection,” and writes of the execution of James P. Casey and Charles
Cora for the murder of James King.
- Letters from William T. Glassell to his grandmother Eleanor Brown
Thompson Thornton describing life on shipboard (Apr.11, 1848) and spending
Christmas at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis (Dec.25, 1854).
- A series of letters from Susan Glassell Thornton Patton to her husband
George S. Patton sent from February-April 1861, and which discus her meeting
with “a real abolitionist lady,” “the foul corruption of this once glorious
old state” [Virginia], and “the news…that war was indeed inaugurated,” at
which she was “almost stunned” but that she also “learned the joyous news
that Fort Sumter had been taken.”
- A letter from “Aunt Mattie” in Richmond, Virginia (June 4, 1864) to her
two nieces alluding to the nearness of military operations and that “it is
almost impossible to hear [the piano] even while the army is so near.”
- A letter from Susan Glassell Patton Smith to her cousin Virginia Micon
Ring (Feb.24, 1867) describing the former’s move from Virginia to
- Two October 1905 letters between Hancock Banning and Katharine Stewart
Banning regarding the former’s feud with his brother Joseph Brent Banning.
- Extensive correspondence from 1914 between Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb,
Joseph Campbell Shorb, Ramona Yorba Shorb Murtaugh, George S. Patton
(1856-1927), and Ruth Wilson Patton regarding Norbert Shorb’s criminal
activities, romantic indiscretions, and the financial strain he caused on
the Shorb family.
- Letters from Catalina Island visitors L. Ada James (undated) and Caroline
Matson (July 23, 1918) describing their favorable experiences at the St.
Catherine Hotel in Avalon.
Series II: Letterbooks
The letterbooks contain copies of personal and business correspondence sent by
Hancock Banning Sr. (1908-1914, some also contain correspondence by Hancock Banning,
Jr.), Mary Hollister Banning (1885-1892), Phineas Banning (1879-1880), and William
Series III: Diaries and Address Books
Included in this series are diaries (mainly focusing on daily appointments) kept by
Hancock Banning, Jr. (1892-1982) from 1911-1915 and an address book belonging to
Mary Banning Norris (c.1940s).
Series IV: Financial Records, Contracts, and Land Papers
The financial records include personal accounts, budgets, tax returns, business
statements (including those for the Wilmington Transportation Co.), and receipts
belonging to members of the Banning family. Included is an account book kept by
Hancock Banning, Jr. (1892-1982) while he was a cadet at the Virginia Military
Institute (1909-1911). The land papers focus on various properties in the Wilmington
area, including a chain of title to Wilmington (c.1883).
Series V: Personal Papers, Maps, Plans, Sketches, and Photographs
Included in this series are school essays and poems by the Banning children; copies
of George S. Patton’s accounts of his experiences in World War II; correspondence,
essays, and photographs of the restoration of “The Old Mill” (El Molino Viejo),
c.1965-1969; maps showing Banning harbor properties near Wilmington, San Pedro, and
Los Angeles Harbors; sketches made on board the “Hermosa” in 1889; and photographs
Series VI: Specifications and Receipts for Construction of the Patton House
Includes architect specifications and plans, budgets, and receipts, including those
related to interior furnishings.
Serires VII: Santa Catalina Island Co. and Catalina Island
Included in this series are a variety of Santa Catalina Island Co. business records,
including annual statements, notes on a potential sheep farming business, records of
the steamers “Cabrillo” and “Hermosa,” development plans for Sugar Loaf, memorandum on management and policies, land
papers, and receipt books. Some materials also relate to the Catalina Yacht Club.
Items related to Catalina Island in general include advertising ephemera, a
scrapbook, copies of magazine articles, and miscellaneous printed materials.
Series VIII: Scrapbook and Letter Holder
Includes a scrapbook given to Anne Ophelia Smith Banning containing
photographs and inscriptions from members of the Banning, Ayer, Patton, and Shorb
families and their friends (1897-1912), and a leather letter holder owned by
Series IX: Miscellaneous Printed Material and Ephemera
Included in this series are published books owned by the Bannings, ephemera
regarding San Marino, and blank Banning Co. stationary.
Series X: Newspapers and Clippings
This series includes a variety of articles regarding the Bannings and the San Marino
area. Included is a run of The Cadet, the newsletter of the Virginia Military
Institute, for 1911-1914.
Series XI: Babson's Financial Reports
Includes printed financial advice for the years 1931-1933.
The collection consists of 24 boxes containing 11 series: 1) Correspondence, 2)
Letterbooks, 3) Diaries and Address Books, 4) Financial Records, Contracts, and
Land Papers, 5) Personal Papers, Maps, Plans, Sketches, and Photographs, 6)
Specifications and Receipts for the Patton House, 7) Santa Catalina Island
Company / Catalina Island, 8) Scrapbook and Letter Holder, 9) Miscellaneous
Printed Material and Ephemera, 10) Newspapers and Clippings, and 11) Babson’s
Financial Reports. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically; other series
are arranged chronologically unless otherwise noted.
Contracts, financial records, memorandum, printed material, and notes relating
to the Santa Catalina Island Company and Catalina Island are contained in Boxes
15-18; however, business and personal correspondence related to Catalina Island
and the Santa Catalina Island Company is listed in the general correspondence
A detailed container list is available through the Manuscripts Department.
Banning, Joseph Brent,
Kip, William Ingraham,
Patton, George S.
(George Smith), 1856-1927.
Patton, George S.
(George Smith), 1885-1945.
Smith, George H.
Architecture, Domestic--California--History--20th century.
Domestic relations--West Virginia.
Family-owned business enterprises--California.
Real property--California--Los Angeles.
Slavery--United States--History--19th century.
Los Angeles (Calif.)--History.
San Francisco (Calif.)--History.
Santa Catalina Island (Calif.)--History.
Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Public opinion.
Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Social aspects.
West Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Public opinion.
West Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Social aspects.
Wilmington (Los Angeles, Calif.)--History.
Account books -- California -- 19th
Business records--California--20th century.
Diaries -- California -- 19th century.
Letters (correspondence)--West Virginia--19th
Receipts -- California -- 19th century.
Receipts -- California -- 20th century.