Monday, August 19, 2013

Mystery Monday, Part 3: H. Jay Hanchette's Wife Emma Griffith - and Her Brother

Harry Jay Hanchette married Emma A. Griffith in Marin County, California, on March 25, 1876.  He was 20 and she gave her age as 23 in the marriage record, but census records indicate she was actually 25 or 26.  She was born in Ohio, the daughter of Milton Griffith, who may have been related to H. Jay's mother Nancy Griffith, and of Aurelia Conant Griffith, a highly respected educator in San Francisco public schools.

According to an entry on Aurelia on pages 196-197 of Daniel Webster's The Bay of San Francisco: The Metropolis of the Pacific Coast and its Suburban Cities: A History (Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1892, found in the HeritageQuest Online subscription database), Milton had gone west in 1853 (when Emma was age 4) to try his luck in the gold rush on the Klamath River.  The 1860 Census shows the family (now with Emma's brother Edgar Milton, ten years her junior) at Yreka Post Office, Humbug Township, Siskiyou County, California.  By 1863, they had settled in San Francisco.

It's not clear exactly when H. Jay moved to California, but he and Emma and their two children, Rex (born 1877) and Earl (born 1879) are living at 824 Lombard in San Francisco on the 1880 Census, with the widowed Aurelia and Edgar Milton, now a surgeon.  "Henry" is the proprietor of a stationery store.  He was at this address through at least October 16, 1886 (according to his voter registration in the California, Great Registers, 1866-1910, collection at, and by then edited the commercial columns of the San Francisco Examiner.

Two years later, his voter registration of March 17, 1888, indicates he is living in Los Angeles' Fourth Ward, and his September 22, 1890 voter registration gives an address of 425 South Broadway, an apartment building in that city.  Hanchette had been serving as the city editor for the Los Angeles Herald, but in late 1890, he became secretary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, Emma had followed her mother's footsteps and become a teacher (Zimena Conant in the article below is Emma Hanchette's grandmother):

from the Los Angeles Daily Herald, June 25, 1887,
page 10, via Chronicling America

A little over a month after arriving in Los Angeles from San Francisco, Emma had secured an assistant principalship at the Garey Street school:

from the Los Angeles Daily Herald, August 3, 1887,
page 9, via Chronicling America

And just a month later, a resignation resulted in her promotion to principal at the San Pedro Street school:
from the Los Angeles Daily Herald, September 16, 1887,
page 9, via Chronicling America

The following year, Emma was moved back to the Geary Street school, but this time as principal:

from the Los Angeles Daily Herald, September 12, 1888, page 1, via Chronicling America
The following spring, she was chosen as president of the primary section (the younger grades) for all schools in the Los Angeles district:

from the Los Angeles Daily Herald, March 20, 1889, page 3, via Chronicling America

In 1890, Emma became principal of the (then) new Ninth Street School, where she remained the rest of her life:

from the Los Angeles Herald, July 28, 1890, page 6, via Chronicling America

She continued to serve in other leadership rolls, such as on committees for the School Teachers' Alliance:

from the Los Angeles Herald, March 16, 1898, page 10, via Chronicling America

Sadly, though, just a little over six months after this committee appointment, Emma Hanchette was dead under mysterious circumstances:

from the Los Angeles Herald, September 27, 1898, page 5, via Chronicling America

A memorial to Emma Hanchette appeared in the Annual Report of the Board of Education and the Superintendent of City Schools of Los Angeles for 1897-1898:

What was Emma Hanchette's "last illness," and what kind of surgery was being performed from which her death was "an immediate result," at only age 49?  Could it have had anything to do with her surgeon brother in San Francisco?  Stay tuned for next week's report to see why I'm suspicious!

 © Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

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