From Pew to Bar and Back Again: John "Jack" Hanley (1885-1946)

Whether praying in the pews or tending the family bar, John "Jack" Hanley (1885-1946) was a man of faith and familial duty. This is his story.

John "Jack" Hanley (1885-1946)

This is my 2nd great uncle, John "Jack" Hanley (1885-1946). He was born and lived his entire life in Atlantic Mine, Michigan, a small mining town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Uncle Jack is the oldest full brother of my great-grandfather, Michael John Hanley (1890-1923).

 John "Jack" Hanley (1885-1946)

John "Jack" Hanley (1885-1946)

I've learned a lot about uncle Jack while studying my family tree. My favorite and most reliable source of information about him though comes from my great aunt Beverly Hanley Mansour (1929-2009). Aunt Bev was Jack's niece. She was also the younger sister of my grandfather, Michael John Hanley Jr. (1924-2015).

In 2005 Aunt Bev sat down with a family photo album and comprehensively annotated it with all she knew about her family. The photo above prompted her to say this about her uncle Jack [with some of my own notes in brackets]:

Jack Hanley - Head of the house, ran the bar [attached to the family home, which was also a boarding house, in Atlantic Mine was a tavern or "shebeen" that the family operated for years]. He was outgoing, fun personality. Loved to talk. Opposite of Dad [his brother, my great grandfather, Michale John Hanley]. He is in the backyard of the family home. Mayme's [Jack's sister] flower garden behind him.
The story was Jack liked this woman that later moved to California and would have married her but his mother [my 2nd great grandmother, Ellen Kelly Sullivan 1850-1938] wanted him home. I think Aunt Rose [Jack's sister-in-law, wife of his brother Eugene Timothy Hanley] said they corresponded for some years. Probably said his responsibility was to the family.
When I knew Uncle Jack, he was very religious. Mass on Sunday (Hanleys had their own pew in the small church), Holy Hours, and Benediction on Wednesday evenings. I could see him kneeling by his bed praying about half an hour after supper before going back to run the bar for the evening.
Bar was only closed on Sundays. We [presumably Aunt Bev and her siblings when they visited], washed beer glasses, and cleaned up. We children would check the outside steps to see if any customers happened to drop some coins accidentally when they left.

You'll recognize the bar described as the cover photo of The Psychogenealogist:

Hanley Bar Town Tavern Retouch.jpg

It is hard to know for sure, but I believe that the man behind the bar in this photo is my 2nd great uncle Jack. But, you be the judge. Here's a closeup of him. What do you think?

 John "Jack" Hanley (likely)

John "Jack" Hanley (likely)


I could see him kneeling by his bed praying about half an hour after supper before going back to run the bar for the evening.
— Jack's niece, Beverly

There was also this neat photo of him and some other men that you read about in: Mystery Monkey of Manistique.

Hanley+Singers.jpg

Aunt Bev identified the center man in the front row as Jack Hanley. The man in the top row, far right, is my great grandfather.

And here are a few other later photos of Jack. This first one is interesting because it is a group that wouldn't have seen each other much because they lived far away. It includes relatives from both my great grandfather and great grandmother's families. 

 Left to right standing:  "Mayme" Hanley  (Jack's sister),  Lydia Schmidt McNamara  (the sister of my 2nd great grandmother, Fanny Schmidt Ratz),  John "Jack" Hanley ,  Alma Ratz Hanley  (Jack's sister-in-law and my great grandmother), and  Michael John Hanley  (my great grandfather, Alma's husband). Kneeling is Jack's niece,  Helen Hanley Toups .  [NOTE: Aunt Bev had identified the man far right as her uncle  Peter McNamara  (Lydia's husband), but he looks more like my great grandfather to me. It is hard to tell with his hat and the shadow over his eyes. Either man would have made sense in this picture as both of their wives, Lydia and Alma, are in the photo] 

Left to right standing: "Mayme" Hanley (Jack's sister), Lydia Schmidt McNamara (the sister of my 2nd great grandmother, Fanny Schmidt Ratz), John "Jack" Hanley, Alma Ratz Hanley (Jack's sister-in-law and my great grandmother), and Michael John Hanley (my great grandfather, Alma's husband). Kneeling is Jack's niece, Helen Hanley Toups.

[NOTE: Aunt Bev had identified the man far right as her uncle Peter McNamara (Lydia's husband), but he looks more like my great grandfather to me. It is hard to tell with his hat and the shadow over his eyes. Either man would have made sense in this picture as both of their wives, Lydia and Alma, are in the photo] 

And then here are a couple photos of Jack (right) playing shuffleboard with his brother, my great grandfather Michael John Hanley (center). The young woman on the left is my great aunt, Mary Ellen Hanley Topolinski (1927-2015), my great grandfather's daughter and Jack's niece. 

Jack Hanley Crop_002.JPG
Jack Hanley Crop_03.jpg

Jack had no children and never married. In fact, my great grandfather was the only one of the 8 full Hanley siblings to have children (although some others did marry).

Jack died on October 7, 1946 at the age of 61. I don't yet have his death certificate. I have seen his name on several other death certificates though as he was often the informant. Jack did seem to be the "head of the house" after his father, my 2nd great grandfather Patrick Hanley (1857-1923), died.  

I wish I had known Jack. He seems like a fun and kind man. I admire his dedication to his family and I hope you enjoyed hearing about his story.


As I think about uncle Jack and my family tree I am reminded of the mission of The Psychologenealogist: Exploring the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge - one story at a time. Here are some of the questions I have about.

GENEALOGY QUESTIONS:

  • How did Jack die?
  • Who was he living with when he died?
  • Is that Jack behind the bar?

PSYCHOLOGY QUESTIONS:

  • How come only one out of the eight Hanley siblings that included my great grandfather had children?
  • Was Jack torn between the woman he was courting in California with the duty he felt to take care of his family of origin?
  • How did Jack's Catholic faith impact his life?

This is the 13th of 52 weekly posts planned for 2018. It was inspired by the #52Ancestors writing challenge issued by professional genealogist, Amy Crow Johnson. The challenge: once a week, for all 52 weeks of the year, write about a relative in your family tree.