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Today in his story

When a Hanley, as in Hanley Farm, comes to visit, the memories surrounding a Rogue Valley landmark become entwined with those of a family

Michael F. Hanley IV came home to the family farm on Saturday.

Hanley, 63, a history writer, storyteller and rancher living in Jordan Valley in far Eastern Oregon, is the great -grandson of Michael F. Hanley, who bought the historic Hanley farm in the 1850s from Central Point homesteaders for &

36;3,000 cash.

He was a reluctant farmer, Hanley said of his great-grandfather. He said the Good Lord created grass right side up. He said if the Lord wanted to create grass upside-down, he would have done it.

He also said anything worth doing could be done from the back of a horse, he added. But he did a lot of farming.

Hanley, who last saw the old farmstead about two decades ago, is visiting this weekend with family members, including son Michael F. Hanley V, 29.

— The senior Hanley talked about family history while preparing to hook up six of his horses to a stagecoach to give rides Saturday.

My great-grandfather came out to California in 1849 during the gold rush, he said. When the gold rush opened up in Jacksonville in 1852, he came here. We've been here since.

His father's cousins ' sisters Mary, Martha and Claire ' were the last to live on the Hanley farm, he said.

The farm, which was originally 636 acres but has been reduced to 37 acres over the years, was deeded to the Southern Oregon Historical Society in 1982 by Mary Hanley.

It's highly unique because this land has been farmed for 150 years straight, said Stephanie Butler, education and programs coordinator for the historical society.

Everything on the property, all the furnishings, everything, has been in the same family since the 1850s, she added. It's very unusual to find an historic home that has the original family furnishings.

Giving the property to the society keeps local history alive, Hanley said.

This place had been split up in the family when my great-grandfather died, he said. They fought and raised hell with each other for many years over it.

The family discussed donating it to the community and thought it was a great idea, he said. Good Lord, I didn't want the responsibility. I've got enough to do at home.

When he isn't riding herd on the 1,000 cattle back at his ranch, Hanley, who has a history degree from Eastern Oregon State College in La Grande, is either writing or talking about history. He has written five books on the history of Southern Oregon, and is working on his sixth.

My family was steeped in history and they wanted me to know everything, he explained. They took great pains to tell me about our history. I always loved it.

Although he was born in Medford and attended the first two grades of elementary school in Eagle Point, Hanley has called Jordan Valley home for most of his life.

When the first immigrants came here, they settled in this area, he said. But the next generation, looking for opportunities, went back.

Back to eastern Oregon, that is.

That's when the three older brothers went back to eastern Oregon, he said. My grandfather (Michael Jr.) went back for a little while.

The older brothers stayed in Jordan Valley while his grandfather returned to Jackson County, where he managed the other family ranch along Little Butte Creek.

Michael Hanley IV recalled his early years in Eagle Point.

I was scared to death when I first went to school, he recalled. When I got on the school bus, these big boys grabbed me and threw me down and this little girl kissed me.

So I was in bad shape when I got to school, he added. There were all these strange kids. I looked over in the corner and there is this little kid standing there, just as scared as I was. When I got back home, my mom asked me about school. Between sobs I told her I made a friend. She asked me whether it was a boy or a girl. I said I didn't know but my friend's name was Norma.

That would be Norma Noble Kuyper, an Eagle Point resident who dropped in to see her old friend on Saturday.

He was a nice little kid, she said. But we did get into trouble sometimes.

Her presence reminded Hanley of a story about the two families. Shortly after his father died in 1959, a pickup truck drove up to their Eagle Point home, he said.

It was an old International, red if I remember right, he said. My mother sees it and tries to shoo us kids off. Well, this old fellow gets out and walks over to the fence and says, 'I come to visit Mike Hanley's boy.' He pats me on the head.

Then he said, 'Your father never made moonshine but I did. And every time I'd fire up the still, he'd come over the mountain.

For a moment, both Hanley and Kuyper laugh heartily at the memory.

Another visitor on Saturday was Joanne Broadhurst, 66, of Estacada, whose great-grandmother Martha Burnett was also Hanley's great-grandmother.

I actually got to stay in the house when Mary Hanley was still living, Broadhurst said of a visit in the 1970s. We wanted to get back down here and see Mike. He has so much family history, so many stories.

One of their mutual relatives was Tom Burnett, a driver for the Oregon and California stage line, her distant cousin said.

When the railroad came through here around 1880, he had been driving stage longer than anybody, he said, noting Burnett was given six white horses, a stagecoach and a set of 1876 harnesses when the railroad replaced the stage.

A museum in Roseburg has the stagecoach, he said.

And shortly before Gordon Burnett died ' he was Tom's son ' he gave me his father's harness, he said as he tightened a harness on one of the stagecoach horses. That's it right there, the harness. That goes back to 1876.

Like most families, there once was a rift in the Hanley family.

That happened in 1849, he began. John Hanley and Michael Hanley were flatboat men on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. They were in New Orleans when they heard about the gold strike in California. They resolved to head for California.

But they wanted to settle their business affairs first before heading west together. Michael stayed in New Orleans to do that while John Hanley went up to Ohio to settle affairs.

Well, my great-grandfather waited for his brother to show up but he didn't, Michael Hanley IV said. He assumed he beat him out of his money. He disowned him and came to California without him.

In 1983, Hanley IV received a letter from a distant relative in Virginia who was a descendant of the long-lost John Hanley.

She sent me some letters that showed what happened, he said. About two days after Michael Hanley left New Orleans, John Hanley came down the river to meet him. From then on that was it.

He doesn't know how much money was involved, although noting the brothers apparently had property in Ohio.

Before leaving this weekend, Michael Hanley IV and his son planned to get on their horses and have their photograph taken in front of the old farm house, replicating an old photograph of his father and grandfather.

It's part of our history, the senior Hanley said.

Hanley Farm closes for the season today Today marks the final day the historic Hanley Farm will be open this year to the public as part of Southern Oregon Historical Society's Good Clean Fun series for the summer.

Located on Hanley Road (Hwy. 238) between Central Point and Jacksonville, it is owned and operated by the historical society.

The farm is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Admission is &

36;5 for adults, &

36;3 for seniors and children 6-12. Society members and children 5 and under are free.

Events include stagecoach rides, blacksmithing, traditional threshing and hay-press demonstrations, spinning-and-weaving demonstrations and hands-on instruction.

Youngsters can learn to make crafts, peel apples, churn butter and grind wheat. Wagon rides, pony cart rides, roping and shake-making demonstrations will also be offered.

Michael F. Hanley IV, whose ancestors bought a homestead in the 1850s and turned it into what now survives as the Southern Oregon Historical Society?s Hanley Farm, paid a visit to the historic site Saturday. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven