Hance History

A profile on the Hance Family of Hanceville

This pioneer family profile has largely been compiled from public records.  Thanks are due to Becky Frank who has contacted me with additional family information and offered to share/exchange information on the Hance Family with others interested.   Please forward any comments/corrections or additions on this profile to Wanda Story.

1812 - Thomas Hance was born on August 15th in Bennington Township, Delaware Country, Ohio in the United States.  He is said to be from a long line of Welsh Quakers.

1831 - Thomas married Phoebe Dewitt in Seneca County , Ohio.  Phoebe is said to be from a long line of Dutch that settled in New York.

1835 - Around this time, Thomas and Phoebe moved from Seneca County in Ohio to Pacatonica in Winnebago County, Illinois.  It is said that their son Ogden was the first white child to be born in that county.

1844 - Orlando Thomas "Tom" Hance was born on January 11th in Pecatonica, Winnebago County, Illinois in the United States to Thomas Hance and Phoebe Dewitt.   Tom was the 5th of 7 children.

-Orlando Thomas "Tom" Hance fought for the Union side in the US Civil War.   After the war he travelled to California.  For a time he played in a brass band but his true love was the violin which he took everywhere with him.

Late 1860s -Tom Hance would travel to the Cariboo lured by the gold rush.  He got work at the Gang Ranch under the Harper Brothers.  He spent the following winter in Clinton and worked as a bookkeeper.  The following spring he would head back out to the Chilcotin.

- Orlando Thomas "Tom" Hance, would be the first permanent settler in the Chilcotin Valley. He staked 270 acres, known as Lot 377, Pre-emption No1 of the Chilcotin. To preserve peace and show respect he paid the Native Chilcotins $500 and began to build.

-Hance partnered with Benjamin Franklin "Doc" English and established the TH Ranch

- Doc English took a pack train to Yale loaded with the year's take in furs. Along the way he made bets with some Oregon traders he met over his fast quarter horse and won $500.00

- Two years later, Doc English again taking the years furs down to Yale met up with the same Oregon traders. They again made bets over their horses and this time Doc lost the value of his furs, some $3,000. When he returned home he turned his share of the TH Ranch over to Tom Hance to square up is debts. Doc moved on to Deer Park.

-Tom Hance would meet Annie Tlilkwa.

1878 - Eugene was born to Thomas and Annie Tlilkwa.  Eugene was baptised in the Catholic Diocese.

1881 - Thomas Hance is listed in the 1881 census as a 40 year old trader, born in the US, of German descent.  He is listed with a son Eugene who is 3 years old and living in BC.  The two are listed as Methodist.  No wife is listed. 

1884 - A daughter Alice was born to Tom Hance and Annie Tlilkwa on March 30th.   Alice was baptised on June 30th at St. Joseph's Mission in Williams Lake by A.G. Morice.  It is said that two other children were born to Tom and Annie.

1886 - Tom's father, Thomas Hance died at the age of 73 in Pecatoniga, Winnebago County, Illinois.  At the time of his death the local paper stated that it had been over a year since the family had last heard from Orlando Thomas.

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1887 - Orlando Thomas Hance, now 43 years old,  married July 7th to Mary Ellen "Nellie" Verdier, a 16 year old French girl, in Victoria. (Reg. Number: 1887-09-003023). When Nellie arrived in the Chilcotin she was the only white woman in the region. 

1888 - A son Grover O. Hance was born on April 19th in 150 Mile House under a doctor's care. Grover was the first white baby to be born to the Chilcotin area.  The birth was registered as in Lytton (BC Reg. Number: 1888-09-245483).

1889 - Tom Hance applied for and received a grant for a post office which was opened on October 1st. The Post Office was named Hanceville. Robert Graham took the contract to carry the mail weekly between Soda Creek and the TH Ranch. The Post Office would be run by the Hance family for 77 years.

1890 -  A son, Percy Royal Hance,  was the first white child born in the Chilcotin at Hanceville on February 15th.   The birth was registered as in Lytton. (BC Reg. Number: 1890-09-245485)  In June, Tom Hance took over the contract to carry the mail between Soda Creek and the TH Ranch. Hance and his pack train of 30 horses and 30 mules were busy all summer packing supplies from Quesnel to Stuart Lake for the Hudson Bay Company. The round trip took 25 days. Surplus supplies were taken to Soda Creek, across the river and then on to the mines at Barkerville.  In the fall he began to cut a new sleigh road that would by pass the  difficult Bald Mountain Trail.   It was finished the next year and called the Hance Timber Road.

1891 - A daughter, Hattie Ellen Hance was born on the 16th of October in Hanceville.   It is registered as in Lytton (BC Reg. Number: 1891-09-245486 )

1894 - Tom Hance, acting as a Provincial Police Constable, was advised to seize and hold a stolen calf.  Thomas Hance is listed in the 1894 Voters List under the Williams Lake Polling Division as living in the Chilcotin.

1895 - Hance 1895 Williams Directory.   Tom Hance was one of 6 men appointed and officially sworn in as Provincial Police Constables on August 16th. He received a police badge and $50 per month in wages.  View his letter of appointment.  A son Thomas Ray "Judd" Hance was born on July 6th in Hanceville.  The birth is registered as in Lytton (BC Reg. Number: 1895-09-245488)   On September 6th a William Hance is born on the Lytton Indian Reserve (BC Reg. Number: 1895-09-997738).

1898 - A log jail was constructed on the TH Ranch, and was described by Government Agent William Stephson of Quesnel Forks as "a good strong place with 2 good cells in the back and a room 10 feet by 14 feet in the front". Tom was the jail keeper. Robert Pyper of the North-West Mounted Police was dispatched to the Chilcotin as a full time mounted Provincial Constable, later that year Tom was suspended from the police force under criticism that he was not aggressive enough with the law-breaking Natives.

1899 -  On May 2nd Tom Hance was sent papers appointing him Coroner for the Province of BC, but Tom declined saying he did not feel that he would like to hold a position of the kind.

1900 - Alice Hance, 16 years old daughter of  Thomas and Annie,  married George McNeil on May 13th in High Bar (Reg. Number: 1900-09-175347).  Charles Eugene Hance was born on October 7th at Canoe Creek to Eugene and Suzanne Hance.

1901 - Constable Pyper was transferred to Soda Creek and Tom Hance was appointed Constable for the Chilcotin. In the 1901 census for the Chilcotin, Orlando T. Hance, age 57 and his wife Marie E., age 29 are listed with 4 children.  Grover O. age 12, Percy R. age 11, Hattie E. age 8 and Thomas R. age 5.  Tom is listed as a farmer of Dutch descent and Marie is listed as being French Canadian.  The family is listed as attending the Church of England. A son, Rene was born on August 11th, at Hanceville bringing the family to 5 children, four sons and one daughters.

Early 1900s - The Hance's lavishly furnished home burned to the ground and most of the families possessions were burned. The greatest loss to Tom Hance was his violin. It was believed that the fire started in the big heating stove on a cold winter morning and the damper was not closed down. The Hance family moved to the old store across the road and began rebuilding the family home, but it was never as grand as the first home. 

- Rene Hance attended school under the teacher Jan McPhail.

1904 - Percy Hance took over as the Chilcotin's mailman.

1908 - The new Hance home held a house warming celebrating their new home on October 6th. The new home was a 2 story building with 16 rooms and a huge veranda.  Fifty people attended and had supper and dancing.  It is said that the family employed a Chinese cook.

1909 - Tom Hance resigned from the the Police Force.

1910 - Tom Hance died on August 6th after suffering a stroke and was buried on the ranch above the Canyon trail. ( Reg. Number: 1910-09-235489). When Tom died land taxes were in arrears on Lot 377 but Nellie Hance refused to settle the bill until the government acknowledged their responsibility to pay for the building of the Hance Timber Road they had built between Hanceville and Soda Creek.   Tom's sons continued working the ranch and concentrated on making it a cattle ranch.

1911 - On March 1st, Mrs. O.T. (Nellie) Hance was appointed the new postmistress of Hanceville.

1916 - Nellie Hance married again to James Dudley Ragan, an American from Oakland, California. in Vancouver on March 30th.  (Reg. Number: 1916-09-084389

1917 - Grover Hance married Mary Bertha Wright on August 15th in Ashcroft. (Reg. Number: 1917-09-184225).

1919- The Wrigleys, BC Directory lists Hanceville with a population of 25.  Nel Hance is listed as the postmistress.  Perry Martin and Robert Pyper are listed as running the general store, The Chilcoten Trading Co.

1920s- Rene Hance went to Victoria, still fighting the ranches taxes and after meeting with Premier John Oliver put in motion the government process that would eventually have one debt cancel another and set in motion the Crown grant on Tom Hance's land. 

1922 - The Hance Timber Trail that was built by Thomas Hance in the winter of 1890-91, was straightened, widened and ditched.

1930's - The Hance home burned to the ground.

- Rene Hance would marry Vera Elizabeth Graham and build a house on the TH Ranch.   The marriage would break up in the 1930's after only a few years.

1931 - Bertha Mary Hance nee Wright, died on December 7th of Tuberculosis at the age of 31 in Tranquille near Kamloops. (Reg. Number: 1931-09-461483)

1935 - Nellie Hance Ragan, died at Williams Lake Hospital on May 28th and is buried beside Tom in Hanceville. On June 15th, Edwin Rene Hance, Nellie's son,  was appointed the new postmaster of Hanceville

-Grover O. Hance would remarry to Francis.  He would sell his share in the TH Ranch to his brothers and run a hunting and guiding camp in the Big Creek area. Grover would register the OZ brand.

1941 - On May 6th, Rene Hance was granted a leave of absence from his postmaster duties to serve in the military.  His brother Percy Royal Hance was appointed acting postmaster of Hanceville.

1946 - On August 31st, Rene Hance was re-appointed postmaster of Hanceville after returning from military duty.

1954 - Eugene Hance, the son of Thomas and Annie,  died on December 12 in Hanceville (BC Death Registration Number: 1954-09-095324). His age is listed as unknown.

1958 - Francis Hance (Grover's 2nd wife) died.

1960 - Grover sold his business and property at Big Creek to Tom Smith.  Grover Orlando Hance died on September 23rd in Williams lake at the age of 71. (Reg. Number: 1960-09-011196) 

1962 - Rene Hance hosted one of his military buddies, Charles and his family.  They spent a week at the ranch and the son Glenn remembers Percy feeding his little Chihuahua from his fork.

1965 - On July 31st, Rene resigned as postmaster of Hanceville, a post which he held for 20 years.

1966 - The TH Ranch was sold by Rene Hance.  The Hanceville Post Office after 77 years would not be run by a member of the Hance family.

1967 -  On April 18th, Rene Hance returned as acting postmaster 3 months.   Percy Royal Hance died on May 25th in Williams Lake at the age of 74. (Reg. Number: 1967-09-007600)

1972 - After 83 years, the Hanceville Post Office moved from the TH Ranch to Lee's Corner.

1983 - Charles Eugene (Charlie) Hance, the son of Eugune Hance, died in Williams Lake on July 30th at the age of 82.

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Comments and corrections always welcome !!

Last updated 13 September, 2004