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Inventory of the Banning Co. Collection, 1859-1948
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • History
  • Subject Matter
  • Catalogue Cards
  • Arrangement
  • Bibliographical Notes

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Banning Co. Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1859-1948
    Creator: Banning Co.
    Extent: 12,104 Pieces
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Gift of Hancock Banning, Jr., in 1962, with a small quantity of addenda acquired from Green Door Books in 1972 and another from Mrs. Hancock Banning, Jr., and Robert Banning in 1985. Addtional material donated in 1996 by Nancy Call is currently being processed.


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Banning Co. Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Phineas Banning was born in 1830 in Wilmington, Delaware, went to Philadelphia to work as a clerk in the law office of his brother William L. Banning, and came to California at the age of 21 as an assistant to a merchant. On arriving at San Pedro in 1852, he took a job with commission merchants Douglass & Sanford. Soon he became the partner of David W. Alexander in the freight and stage lines between San Pedro and Los Angeles. In 1858 Alexander became a silent partner and the firm was known as Banning & Co. After a short period of partnership with A. F. Hinchman, Banning took over sole leadership for the Banning Co.
    In 1857 the Dominguez family sold Banning a large parcel of land at the head of the slough northeast of San Pedro. Banning started a settlement called New San Pedro, then in 1859 changed the name to Wilmington after his birthplace. He built a wharf, warehouses, and a lumber yard. He built lighters and steamboats and bought stages and wagons to carry passengers and freight from San Pedro to Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and even as far as Yuma and Salt Lake City.
    In 1865 Banning was elected state senator and through his exertions railroads were encouraged in Southern California. Los Angeles voted the necessary bonds to build a railroad from Los Angeles to Wilmington. In time, the Southern Pacific Railroad purchased this Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad and work began on improving the harbor. A suit was initiated to definitely settle the title to the tidelands which had been purchased by Phineas Banning. The litigation began in 1880 and continued until 1917 when the final settlements were made, generally in favor of the Banning family.
    Phineas Banning passed away in 1885. The business was carried on by his three sons, William, Joseph Brent, and Hancock. The company purchased Santa Catalina Island, developed it as a resort and provided the ships for transportation. Wilmington Transportation Company, Santa Catalina Island Company, and Wilmington Development Company were subsidiary firms of the Banning Company. The company's real estate interests also grew and included land in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Newport Beach, as well as petroleum leases near Wilmington and Newport.
    The final dissolution of the company came in 1920 at the time of the death of Joseph Brent Banning. After this period, business papers are in the names of William Banning or Hancock Banning individually.

    Subject Matter

    • Land in Wilmington, San Pedro, Pasadena, Compton, Newport Beach, Los Angeles
    • Santa Catalina Island
    • Railroads - Los Angeles & San Pedro, Southern Pacific, California Pacific
    • Inter-urban lines - Los Angeles Inter-urban, Pacific Electric
    • Los Angeles Harbor
    • Petroleum Industry
    • Yuma, Ariz. and Fort Yuma, Calif.

    Catalogue Cards

    Cards have been made for the Alphabetical Section of the Manuscripts Catalogue for only the most outstanding correspondents and subjects, for example:
    • Banning, Adelaida (Mellus)
    • Banning, Anne Ophelia (Smith)
    • Banning, Hancock a
    • Banning, Hancock b
    • Banning, Joseph Brent
    • Banning, Phineas
    • Banning, William a
    • Banning, William L.
    • Brent, Joseph Lancaster
    • Douty, F. S.
    • Horter, J. W.
    • Kerckhoff-Cuzner Mill & Lumber Company
    • Los Angeles Trust Company
    • McLellan, Hayden
    • Patton, George Smith b
    • Polhamus, Albert Alexander
    • Smith, George Hugh
    • Vail, Walter L.
    • Bard, Thomas Robert
    • Central Pacific Railroad Company
    • Crocker, Charles Frederick
    • Goodman, T. H.
    • Hancock, Winfield Scott
    • Hewitt, Eldridge Edwards
    • LeDuc, William Gates
    • Los Angeles & Independence Railroad Co.
    • Southern Pacific Railroad Company
    • Yuma (Ariz.). Mayor & Common Council


    Business papers and correspondence for Banning Co. as a whole, then for individual family members, i.e., Anne Banning, Hancock Banning, Phineas Banning, and William Banning (Boxes 1 - 32)
    Volumes of letterbooks, account books, and miscellaneous (stock ledgers, minute books, etc.) (Volumes 1 - 203)

    Bibliographical Notes

    Krythe, Maymie, Port Admiral Phineas Banning, California Historical Society, S.F. 1957 (F 867 B3 K7)
    Newmark, Marco R., Phineas Banning: Intrepid Pioneer, Historical Society of Southern California, Vol. XXXV, No. 3, Sept. 1953
    Banning, Hancock, Jr., The Banning Family in Southern California, University of California, c. 1971 (F 868 L 8 B 35)