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Manuscripts by Subject - Business / Commerce - #10217

Title: Louis Benjamin Hanna Papers

Dates: 1824-1928

Collection Number: 10217

Quantity: 3 feet

Abstract: Consists of correspondence, speeches, notes, telegrams, deeds and abstracts, printed material, photographs, bonds and stock certificates, ephemera, political memorabilia, journals, ledgers, programs, invitations, scrapbooks, postal cards, records of the Clough and Hanna Lumber Yard and the L. B. Hanna General Store, and artifacts. Papers relate to business and personal affairs, politics, Masonic activities, banking, activities as Governor of North Dakota, travel in Europe, and the Peace Ship expedition.

Provenance:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the Louis B. Hanna Papers as a gift from Edwin and Geraldine Clapp in May, 1985.  Gregory Camp prepared the inventory to the collection in October, 1985.

Property Rights:  The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights:  Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, and author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code and an archivist at this  repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access:  This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation:  Researchers are requested to cite collection title, collection number, and State Historical Society of North Dakota.

146 photographs were transferred to Photo Collection 00099.
Published secondary materials were transferred to the Library collection and are listed at the end of the inventory.


Louis Benjamin Hanna was born to Jason R. and Margaret Hanna on August 9, 1861, in New Brighton, Pennsylvania.  Both of Hanna's parents died when he was a small boy, leaving him to be raised by his aunts.  Jason Hanna, a Civil War veteran, served in Company "C" of the 63rd Pennsylvania regiment.  Near the end of the war, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and put in command of another volunteer regiment from Pennsylvania.  Prior to his death, reportedly a result of injuries sustained in the War Between the States, Jason Hanna worked as a supervisor of railroad shops on the Cleveland and Pittsburgh line, later renamed the Pennsylvania Line.

Louis B. and his brother Robert were schooled in Massachusetts, Ohio, and New York.  Both men ventured into northern Dakota Territory in 1881 in search of a homestead.  Robert took a homestead near Hope, but Louis moved to Page in order to establish a retail lumber business in 1882.  Louis Hanna's operation was almost immediately successful.  Encouraged by such positive reaction, Hanna built a grain elevator in Page when it became apparent that a business of that nature would also turn a profit. The crowning achievement of Hanna's enterprises however, was the establishment of a private bank in Page, which later became the State Bank and then the First National Bank of Page.  All of his endeavors were crowned with success. Hanna's Horatio Alger story would continue with his entry into politics. 

In 1895, Louis B. Hanna was elected to the North Dakota Legislature as a representative.  By 1905, he had served in both the State House and Senate for Cass County residents.  Hanna had moved to Fargo in 1899 to assume the post of vice-president of the First National Bank of Fargo.  The high point of Hanna's political career was undoubtedly his election to the office of Governor of North Dakota.  His terms of office, 1913-1917, was marked by fiscal responsibility and concern with debt.

The four years in Bismarck as Governor of North Dakota were spent attacking the $300,000 debt inherited by Hanna upon assuming office.  At the end of four years, the entire amount was paid off; in addition, the bonded debt of nearly one million dollars was reduced to $462,000.  Hanna, a life-long Republican, was active in his party's county, state, and national politics throughout his life.  After unsuccessful attempts at a United States Senate Seat in 1916 and 1926, in which he was defeated by Porter J. McCumber and Gerald P. Nye respectively, Hanna refrained from seeking further public office.  In 1924, Louis Hanna handled Calvin Coolidge's presidential campaign in North Dakota.  Except for the senatorial race in 1926, and occasional public outings thereafter, Hanna made fewer and fewer public appearances.

Perhaps the high point in Hanna's life was his visit to Norway in the summer of 1914 during which time he was presented the Grand Cross of St. Olaf of the First Rank by Haakon VII, King of Norway.  Hanna had also been honored with a Doctor of Laws degree from North Dakota State University in Fargo.  Both honors, as well as his membership in the Legion of Honor, were indications of Hanna's active political and social life and the high regard he commanded.

Hanna was active in a number of social and political organizations throughout his life.  The Red Cross, the Sons of the American Revolution, and Legion of Honor are among the better known social groups with which Hanna was involved.  In addition, Hanna was a member of the Hiram Blue Lodge Masonic Body in Page, as well as the Elks, Modern Woodmen of America, and the Yeoman.

After his active political career, Hanna re-entered the business world and enjoyed the same success which had rewarded his earlier efforts as lumberman, mill operator, banker, and member of the Federal Reserve.  He constructed a much-needed streetcar line in Fargo, and was heavily involved in the Benson Lumber Company of San Diego, California.  Hanna's involvement and experience with both ventures proved challenging.  During the 1930s, huge rafts of logs were chained together along the Oregon coast and floated south to San Diego for processing. These rafts were equal in size to some of the largest ocean-going vessels of the day and were a fantastic feat of transportation genius.  Other business interests of Hanna in North Dakota may not have been as spectacular, but they certainly were remembered.

Louis Benjamin Hanna settled down to retirement in Fargo, having built himself and wife Lottie a new house in an exclusive part of town.  In the spring of 1948, Hanna was tested for a stroke, from which it appeared he had recovered.  In April of the same year Hanna once more entered the hospital for an unknown ailment.  He was in bed for a couple of days until on Friday afternoon, April 23, 1948, he died.  Hanna was survived by his children, Jean Clapp, Dorothy Burrit, and Robert Hanna.  His eldest daughter, Margaret, and wife Lottie, whom he had married in 1884, preceded him in death.

Fargo Forum, April 24, 1948
Louis B. Hanna Collection


The Louis Benjamin Hanna Papers date from 1824 to 1948 and occupies three feet.  The Papers consist of six records series: Business Records (of Clough and Hanna and the L. B. Hanna General Store), 1883-1890; State Bank of Page and other Bank Records, 1898-1945; North Dakota Bankers' Association files, 1920s-1930s; Personal and Family Papers, 1824-1948; Gubernatorial Material, 1913-1917; and Scrapbook of newspaper items collected by Hanna, 1920-1948.

The Business Records Files date from 1883 to 1890, occupies approximately three quarters of a foot, and is arranged chronologically. The files consist of eighteen bound "counter books" which were used to keep an account of monies owed and payments received of the two companies.  The ledgers kept a careful account of individual and business dealings.  Among the eighteen books are two ledgers which contain some personal observations by Hanna concerning his business.

The State Bank of Page and Bank Records date from 1898 to 1945 and occupies approximately one and one-quarter feet, and is arranged chronologically.  A large portion of this series is made up of land abstracts held by the bank in Page between the years 1898 to 1945.  These document the legal description of the land, property which was often mortgaged to the State Bank of Page. The balance of this series deals with such miscellaneous bank business as charters, officers, proxies, bonds, stock certificates, deeds, farm loans, check registers, and correspondence to and from the State Bank of Page and the First National Bank of Fargo.

Series III is but two folders in size, and is primarily correspondence and bulletins from the North Dakota Bankers' Association between the years 1920 and 1933.  In addition, Folder 19 contains Northwest Bancorporation correspondence. Despite its size, this series gives an account of the importance of the NDBA to even small banks like the one in Page.

The Personal and Family Papers date from 1824 to 1948, and occupies approximately one-half to three quarters of a foot. The material found herein include letters from Hanna's mother to Louis B. when he was a child, old currency, personal and business correspondence, income tax material of the Hanna family, passports, copies of speeches, a scrapbook of Prince Olaf of Norway's visit to Fargo in the late 1930's, and Louis B. Hanna's Last Will and Testament. This series, as one would expect from the title, gives the researcher a short but revealing look at the family and personal thoughts of Governor Hanna.

The Gubernatorial Records are limited to a series of invitations to attend presidential inaugurations, a letter from the President of the United States in 1910, blank letterhead from the Governor of North Dakota's office, and correspondence to and from Hanna when he was North Dakota's chief executive, 1913-1917.

One hundred and forty-six photographs were transferred to the Photo Archives. They include eight 17" x 11" portraits of Hanna, as well as five 5" x 6 ½" reproductions of the larger portraits. There are twenty-seven photographs of various Hanna family members, as well as forty-seven "vacation" shots, most of them in Europe.  The balance of the photo collection is comprised of miscellaneous pictures detailing aspects of Hanna's political and private life.


Series I: Account Books and Correspondence of the Clough and Hanna Lumber Yard and the L.B. Hanna General Store, 1883-1890

Box 1:
1 2 Counter Books, Cough and Hanna, June 24, 1887-March 31, 1888, n.d.
2 2 Counter Books, Cough and Hanna, Sept. 1, 1887-Jan. 18, 1888; Apr. 2-May 25, 1888
3 2 Counter Books, Cough and Hanna, May 26-July 15, 1888; July 16-Aug. 30, 1888
4 2 Counter Books, Cough and Hanna, Aug. 31-Oct. 20, 1888; Oct. 20, 1888-March 25, 1889
5 2 Counter Books, Cough and Hanna, March 26-July 17, 1889;  July 18-Oct. 7, 1889
6 2 Counter Books, Cough and Hanna, Oct. 8, 1889-Apr. 1, 1890; Apr. 2-June 27, 1890
7 2 Counter books, n.d.
8 Counter book, n.d.
9 Counter book, n.d.
10 Small Business Memorandum book, n.d.
11 Small Business/Personal Memorandum book, n.d.

Series II: Bank Records

12 Abstracts of Title in Barnes County, 1898
13 Abstract of Title, #11051, in Page, ND 1908
14 Abstract of Title, #528A in Barnes County, 1911
15 Abstract of Title, #1321, in Page, ND 1912
16 Abstract of Title, #1867, in Barnes County, 1912
17 Abstract of Title, #1914, in Page, ND, 1914
18 Abstract of Title, #3056, in Page, ND, 1914
19 Abstract of Title, #4570, Page, ND, 1916
20 Abstract of Title, #2792, Page, ND, 1917
21 Abstract of Title, #16477, Page, ND. 1918,
22 Abstract of Title, #7044, Page, ND, 1919
23 Abstract of Title, #6713 (Partial), Page, ND, 1920
24 Abstract of Title, #17789, Page, ND, 1924
25 Abstract of Title, #157491, Page, ND, 1927
26 Abstract of Title, #17305, Page, ND, 1931
27 Miscellaneous Abstracts

Box 2:
1 Bank Charter, Renewal, and Articles of Association, First Bank of Page, 1940
2 Resignation of Officers and Directors - Proxies, 1905-1910
3 Bonds for lost certificates of deposits - Drafts and miscellaneous receipts, 1908-1916
4 Mary Bowers Warranty Deed, 1936
5 "Parson Property" Deeds and Abstracts, 1931-1943
6 "Parson Property" Deeds and Abstracts, 1931-1943
7 Western Union Material with regard to First Bank of Page, ND 1937
8 Miscellaneous Deeds and Abstracts, 1887-1930
9 Correspondence to and from Page, ND, and financial statements of the same, 1930s-1940s
10 Federal Loans through the First Bank of Page, ND, 1930s
11 Bonds and the First Bank of Page, ND, 1930s
12 Bond register book, 1932
13 Minnesota-Dakota Oil Co. Stocks, 1920s
14 First Bank of Page, ND Stock, 1930s
15 Check Register, 1912-1916, cut into two equal parts (top)
16 (bottom)
17 Miscellaneous Business correspondence to and from Page State Bank, 1930s-1940s
18 Correspondence and Hanna tax returns and final liquidation papers of the First Bank of Page, ND 1940s

Series III: North Dakota Bankers' Association, Northwest Bancorporation Material; 1920s-1930s

19 Northwest Bancorporation and Affiliated  Banks, 1930
20 NDBA, Correspondence and bulletins, NDBA, 1935

Series IV: Personal and Family Papers, 1824-1948

Box 3:
1 Family letters, summons, and old Currency, 1757-1869
2 Order of St. Olaf document, n.d.
3 Invitations:  Presidential, Senatorial, et al, 1920-1945
4 Invitations:  Presidential, Senatorial, et al, 1920-1946
5 Passports, 1916-1925
6 North Dakota 50th Anniversary speech, 1939
7 Scrapbook of Prince Olaf's (of Norway) visit to Page in 1939
8 Political Speeches, 1914-1916
9 Personal Correspondence, 1917-1920
10 Personal Correspondence, 1930s-1940s
11 Personal Correspondence, 1943-1945
12 Business Correspondence of Hanna, 1920s-1930s
13 Income Tax Material, 1920s-1940s
14 Income Tax Material, 1920s-1940s
15 Last Will and Testament, 1948

Series V: Governor-related Material

16 Letter from President of U.S., 1910
17 Letter from and campaign picture of Hanna, n.d.
18 Correspondence to Hanna, 1913-1917
19 Correspondence, 25th Anniversary Celebration of founding of State Government 1914

Series VI:  Scrapbook of newspaper items collected by Hanna (1920-1948)

Published Materials

House Bill Book, c. 1900-1901
House Bill Book, 1909
Message of Governor L.B. Hanna, 13th Legislative Assembly
Message of Governor L.B. Hanna, 14th Legislative Assembly
Message of Governor L.B. Hanna. 15th Legislative Assembly
North Dakota Banker's Association, 5th Annual Conference, 1907
Jamestown Centennial Commission, 1909
List of Passenger aboard the "Empress of France" cruise ship, 1922
North Dakota:  Pioneers, Farmers and Farms, Churches, Schools,
Hospitals, Prominent People, c. 1920's
Henry Ford's Peace Expedition, n.d.
The Peace Ship, n.d.
Panama-Pacific Exposition, n.d.
Bad Gun, n.d.
The Caduceus, 1918
The Caduceus, 1919
The Caduceus, 1919
O Seculo, Lisbon newspaper, 1919
Map of France. c. 1920's
Map of Great Britain, c. 1920's


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