As the Southern Oregon Historical Society celebrated 70 years of service to Southern Oregon in 2016, it acknowledged the contributions of thousands of volunteers, including Claire Hanley, the society’s president from 1950 until her death in 1963.
Before the society existed, Claire ran the Jacksonville Museum, which provided the society’s first artifacts.
Hanley sisters Claire, Martha and Mary were orphaned in 1904. Claire, who was just 6, joined her Aunt Alice who lived on Hanley Farm. Her sisters came to live with her after Aunt Alice died.
Claire managed Hanley Farm and the historical society and became an enthusiastic gardener and president of the Oregon Federation of Garden Clubs. Claire’s sister Mary grew orchids at Hanley Farm and Claire planted magnolia trees.
Claire’s obituary said, “Were it not for her warm human qualities, her gentle strength and her kindly heart, Miss Hanley would have qualified as an institution.”
The historical society placed a plaque in Claire’s honor on one of its Jacksonville buildings.
The State Extension Service maintains the Claire Hanley Arboretum on land donated by the Hanleys, and the Oregon Federation of Garden Clubs offers a scholarship in her name.
Sources: “Funeral Services Set Wednesday for Claire Hanley.” Mail Tribune 25 June 1963 [Medford, Ore.] . Print; “Claire Hanley Aerboretum Named by Garden Clubs,” Ibid. 29 August. Print; “From the Desk of Marjorie O’Harra.” Ibid. 5 August 1964. Print.
As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.