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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hansonhurst Town, Shelby County, Tennessee

The specific and distinctive office of biography is not to give voice to a man's modest estimate of himself and his accomplishments but rather to leave a perpetual record, establishing his character by the consensus of opinion on the part of his fellowmen. Throughout Memphis Charles Clinton Hanson is spoken of in terms of admiration and respect. His life has been so varied in its activities, so honorable in its purposes and so far-reaching and beneficial in its effect that it has become an integral part of the history of the city and has left an impress upon the annals of the state. In no sense a man in public life he has, nevertheless, exerted an immeasurable influence on Memphis: In business life as one of the most prominent factors in connection with the cotton industry; in social circles by reason of a charming personality and unfeigned cordiality; in public affairs by reason of his devotion to the general good as well as to his comprehensive understanding of questions effecting the progress of the municipality and the commonwealth.

Mr. Hanson was born near Opelika, Alabama, March 29, 1867, and his youthful days were spent in the usual manner of the farm bred boy. His early education was acquired in the public schools of his native county and while the opportunities of a college course were not accorded him he has remained throughout his life a student of men and affairs, has delved deep into literature and science and in the school of experience he has also learned many valuable lessons. He has ever embraced the opportunities that have come to him, never fearing to venture where favoring opportunity has pointed out the way. Fortunate in possessing character and ability that have inspired confidence in others the simple way of his character and ability has carried him into most important relations. After leaving home he obtained a position as railroad telegraph operator at Eufaula, Alabama, and in 1890 he became the agent for the railroads at that place. Soon afterward, however, he accepted the position of chief clerk to the traffic manager of the Ocean Steamship Company and the Central of Georgia Railroad at Savannah, Georgia, and his next promotion made him terminal agent jointly for the railroads at Augusta, while still later he was made special agent for the executive officers of the Central of Georgia Railroad and the Ocean Steamship Company at Savannah. Each step in his career has been a forward one, bringing him a broader outlook and wider opportunities and with his developing powers he has extended his efforts into new fields, which have eventually brought him to a commanding position as one of the representatives of the cotton industry in the south. His initial step in this direction was made in 1898, when he leased the compresses of the railroad and steamship companies, which he represented and three years later he was at the head of the Atlantic Compress Company in Atlanta. Still expanding his interests in this direction he became president of the Gulf Compress Company in 1902 and in 1908 he came to Memphis, from which point he owns and controls the long chain of compresses throughout Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama, which are operated under the name of the Churchill Compresses. The mammoth enterprise that he has developed has been most wisely guided through his administrative direction and executive ability until he today occupies a point of leadership in business circles, by reason of the extent and importance of his interests and the keen sagacity which he displays in business affairs.

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In June, 1889, Mr. Hanson was married to Miss Marie Adele Shorter, a daughter of Colonel Henry R. Shorter, and they occupy a most attractive home known as Hansonhurst, on Mr. Hanson's country place near Bolton College. This excellent educational institution near which he lives owes its existence in very large measure to the efforts of Mr. Hanson and Judge Young, who rejuvenated the Bolton College farm, while Mr. Hanson is now serving as chairman of the board of trustees of the school. For seven years he occupied the position as a member of the state board of education and he has been a trustee of the Shelby County Industrial and Training School. There is no man in Memphis, who has manifested a deeper or more sincere interest in educational affairs and he has one of the most comprehensive libraries on education owned individually in the entire country. Anything which tends to bring to man intellectual freedom finds in him a stanch supporter. He is now the president of the Bureau of Municipal Research and the president of the Memphis chapter of the International Business Science Society. He succeeded the late Dr. R. B. Maury as head of the Audubon Society for Shelby county and his labors are a most effective force in the preservation of birds through actual practice and through propaganda work as well. His farm in the vicinity of Bolton College is a bird sanctuary. Politically Mr. Hanson is a democrat but he has never sought nor held public office. No man, however, more fully realizes the duties and obligations of citizenship and he has given freely of his time and means in support of all progressive public movements. He is identified with the Chamber of Commerce and heartily endorses its thoroughly organized plans for the up building of the city, the extension of its trade relations and the advancement of its municipal standards. He is the secretary and treasurer of the Mississippi Valley Compress Association. Fraternally he is a Mason, who has taken the degree of both the York and Scottish Rites and has become a member of the Mystic Shrine. He is also identified with the Knights of Pythias and the Knights of Khorassan and he has membership in the Kiwanis Club and the Memphis Country Club. He infuses life and vigor into any organization with which he becomes identified and he attacks everything with a contagious enthusiasm that is far reaching in its results

Hansonhurst Town in northeast Shelby County was a model community founded in the 1920’s by C. C. Hanson on the east side of Brunswick Road, across from Bolton High School. Hanson claimed that Hansonhurst had greater wealth, per capita, than any other town in the nation. He called attention to it with a checkerboard marker at every curve along the crooked road to Hansonhurst. The primary business was the Hansonhurst Creamery, which could turn out 6,000 pounds of butter a day. Served by a two floor ice plant with 25 tons of refrigeration, a 35,000 gallon water tower stood on a 100 foot steel tower. There also was a gin, a cotton warehouse, a machine shop, a large barn, two implement sheds, and an electricity generator. A store in a brick building sold standard merchandise at chain store prices. Hansonhurst failed in 1929, with the hit of the Great Depression, and the Mississippi superintendent of banks came to the Shelby County Courts for a foreclosure auction on the courthouse steps in which the whole village, creamery and all, sold for $30,000. Today you can drive past Hansonhurst without knowing you have been there.

Source: Shelby County Archives /