The diaries of William Hanson describe his life as a rancher in Yuba County from 1862-1879, then moving to Willows, California
until his death in 1889. It includes recollections of Honorable D. M. Hanson crossing the Plains in 1849, written in 1919.
William P. Hanson was the fourth child of George and Polly Hanson. He was born in Prestonburg, Kentucky on August 15, 1826.
He married Lydia A. Wilson on March 1, 1853 in Illinois. Together they traveled to California with part of Lydia’s family,
William’s relatives, and some cattle. William lived in Marysville for a while, working at the mines on the Feather River.
Indians from Lake Country went to Rancherias along the Sacramento River to hunt and fish, sometimes visiting Marysville. Their
bartering attracted the attention of William who found some Indians to acts as guides, going with them to upper Lake County.
They traveled by way of Sulphur Creek, through Grizzly Canyon, and William decided to settle there with his family. They
lived in Lake County from 1856 to 1860 before deciding to return to “civilization,” making their new home in Yuba City until
1873. In 1873, William bought the Sam Brannan Ranch and lived the life of a farmer, an occupation common for ex-miners.
In 1879, he decided to move to Willows after leasing the Brannan Ranch to his brother, Daniel. William’s family remained
in Willows until his death in 1889.
William and Lydia had eight children--the first and the last both died as children. In December 1889, Williams was hit by
a train on Christmas Day while waiting to meet his daughter Clara. His leg was amputated afterwards, but he failed to recover
from the shock and died four days later.