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Banning Company Records, Addenda I
mssBanning Company records addenda I  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials in the Huntington Library
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Banning Company Records, Addenda I
    Dates: 1819-1979
    Bulk dates: 1855-1925
    Collection Number: mssBanning Company records addenda I
    Creator: Banning Company
    Extent: Approximately 1,800 items
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection consists of business papers and correspondence related to the Banning Company of Southern California 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.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Banning Company Records, Addenda I, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Gift of Mrs. Hancock Banning, Jr. and Robert Banning on October 24, 1985.

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library

    Historical Note

    The Banning Company was started by Phineas Banning (1830-1885), a transportation leader in the Los Angeles area and founder of the city of Wilmington, California.
    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 (1887-1951).

    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 set.”
    • 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 California.
    • 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 Banning (1920).
    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 of steamships.
    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 Phineas Banning.
    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 section.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Personal Names

    Banning, Hancock, 1865-1925.
    Banning, Hancock, 1892-1982.
    Banning, Joseph Brent, 1861-1920.
    Banning, Phineas, 1830-1885.
    Glassell, William Thornton, 1831-1879.
    Huntington, Henry Edwards, 1850-1927.
    Kip, William Ingraham, 1811-1893.
    Patton, George S. (George Smith), 1856-1927.
    Patton, George S. (George Smith), 1885-1945.
    Smith, George H. (George Hugh)

    Corporate Names

    Banning Company--Archives.


    Architecture, Domestic--California--History--20th century.
    Domestic relations--Alabama.
    Domestic relations--California.
    Domestic relations--Virginia.
    Domestic relations--West Virginia.
    Family-owned business enterprises--California.
    Land use--California.
    Real property--California--Los Angeles.
    Slaveholders--United States.
    Slavery--United States--History--19th century.

    Geographic Areas

    California--History--19th century.
    California--History--20th 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 century.
    Business records--California--20th century.
    Diaries -- California -- 19th century.
    Ephemera--United States--19th century.
    Ephemera--United States--20th century.
    Letters (correspondence)--Alabama--19th century.
    Letters (correspondence)--California--19th century.
    Letters (correspondence)--California--20th century.
    Letters (correspondence)--Georgia--19th century.
    Letters (correspondence)--Virginia--19th century.
    Letters (correspondence)--West Virginia--19th century.
    Maps--California--19th century.
    Receipts -- California -- 19th century.
    Receipts -- California -- 20th century.
    Photographs--California--20th century.