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A Biographical Sketch
of Judge Septimus J. Hanna, C.S.D.

From the Pasadena Star-News, Pasadena, California
Monday, July 25, 1921

 

Table of Contents:

Background

Distinguished Ancestors

Investigates Christian Science

Biographical Sketch

His Birthplace

Editorial Work

Judge Hanna's Parentage

Legal Career

Eventful Years

 

Background

Judge Septimus James Hanna, C S.D., lecturer and teacher of Christian Science, one of the most prominent figures in the Christian Science Church and president of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, passed away at his Pasadena residence, 803 Oakland avenue, Saturday night.

Judge Hanna and his wife, Mrs. Camilla Hanna, who survives him, came to Pasadena in the autumn of 1911, from Colorado Springs, [Colorado], and have resided here continuously since that time in the home which they built on the comer of Oakland avenue and Fillmore street. Services will be held at 4 o'clock this afternoon at the residence.

Since 1892 Judge Hanna has been one of the most active workers in the cause of Christian Science, as editor of its publications, pastor and first reader of the "Mother Church" in Boston, author of many writings on the subject, for ten years a lecturer and in later years a teacher of Christian Science. Both Judge and Mrs. Hanna were personal students of Mrs. Eddy.

Septimus James Hanna was a native of Pennsylvania, but he removed from that state to the West when a youth. He was born at Spring Mills, Pa., July 29, 1845. His parents were Samuel Cook Hanna and Susanna Miles Hanna. In 1869 he married Camilla Turley of Council Bluffs, Iowa. He was captain of Company H, 138th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, the last year of the Civil War. He was admitted to the Illinois bar and located later in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he held the office of judge of the County Court when only 23 years of age.

Judge Hanna was also city attorney of Council Bluffs for several years. In 1879 he removed to Leadville, Cob., and was registrar of the United States Land Office there from 1882 to 1886. He practiced law from 1886 to 1890; was editor of Christian Science Journal and Christian Science Sentinel from 1892 to 1902; pastor of "Mother Church," Boston, and first reader of that church from

1894 to 1902; appointed member of the Board of Lectureship, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, July, 1902, and served on the Board of Lectureship ten years.

When Mrs. Eddy passed away Judge Hanna became president of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. Mrs. Eddy had appointed him vice-president and at her passing he became president, a position that had never been held by anyone except Mrs. Eddy. He retained that position until his demise. Judge Hanna was a member of the National Geographic Society.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

In tribute to Judge Hanna's eminent services to his country, his state and his fellow-men, and in recognition of his long life of good works, the following biographical sketch has been prepared by one who knew him intimately and was associated with him for many years.

Until after the War of the Rebellion broke out the boy, Septimus James Hanna, lived the wholesome outdoor life of the country. He often looked back regretfully to the peaceful freedom of those rural days spent beside the spring-house and in the quiet fields. He remembered the pent-up feelings of that boy during his first experience at indoor work. His older brother was postmaster at the town of Morris, Ill., during the war, and when his assistants all left to enter the army, he called upon his younger brother to help him in work at the post office. The boy chafed under the restraint this placed upon him, but he endured it until he was old enough to enlist, when he, too, marched away to be a soldier.

When he was mustered out Septimus Hanna took up the study of law and the farm knew him no more. However there were indications of more than one kind that he was destined for higher things than following the plow and feeding the herds.

 

Judge Hanna's Parentage

Judge Hanna's father, Samuel Cook Hanna, was of Scotch descent. His grandfather, Andrew Hanna, who came from Scotland not long after the Revolutionary War, purchased and located on what has ever since been known as the "Hanna Farm." This farm is located in the beautiful Penn's Valley in Center County, Pennsylvania. Andrew Hanna was a zealous Scotch Presbyterian of the strictest sort, a man of sterling character, industrious, thrifty, and patriotic withal, having served in the War of 1812 and participated in what is historically known as the battle of Perry's Victory. He married a daughter of James Cook, the latter being described in an historical work as "a tall, dignified gentleman, a Federalist in politics, a man of large means, owning flouring and saw mills, and being an extensive landed proprietor."

Samuel Cook Hanna was born in 1808 in Center County, Pennsylvania, and spent his boyhood there. He became a farmer. He was a man of exemplary Christian character, universally beloved by all who knew him. Samuel Hanna was an active worker in the Methodist church of which he was a member, and for a number of years superintendent of a Union Sabbath School in his vicinity. There was a sweet reference to his influence in this connection in the History of the Spring Mills Sunday School which Judge Hanna always treasured: "Among the superintendents who have gone to their rest, many who are here today will recollect the sweet and quiet face of Samuel Hanna. His words were few and always spoken with gentleness, but his life had a power whose influence was deep and abiding."

Judge Hanna's father married Susanna Miles and they had ten children. He moved with his family from Center County to Crawford County in western Pennsylvania, locating at Cochranton, where he passed away.

 

Distinguished Ancestors

Judge Hanna's mother, Susanna Miles, was a descendent of the Miles family who were among the earliest settlers of Philadelphia. Her ancestors came over from Radnor, Wales, with William Penn in "Ye Good Shippe Welcome," although they were Baptists rather than Quakers. The head of this emigrating family was Richard Miles. He was of the same stock as the Rev. John Myles, the Baptist minister who was publicly flogged on Boston Common because of his religious convictions. Richard Miles' descendent, Samuel Miles, was a prominent citizen of Philadelphia and intimately associated with that city's earlier history. He was a general of Militia in the Revolutionary War, one of Philadelphia's early mayors, a captain of the famous and yet existing Philadelphia Troop, a member of the Committee of Safety during the war and a judge of the High Court of Errors and Appeals. His brother, Richard Miles, a captain in the Revolutionary War, was Judge Hanna' 5 grandfather.

Judge Hanna' 5 mother was a woman of deeply religious nature, whose life of simple virtue deeply impressed itself upon her children. Although his father came of Scotch-Presbyterian and his mother of Baptist stock, both parents were zealous and active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

After his father's death, Judge Hanna's mother moved to Kendall County, Illinois, to be with her children. From there she went to Chicago to live with a daughter, where she passed away.

 

His Birthplace

Judge Hanna was born near Bellefonte in Center County, Pennsylvania, and was nine years old when the family moved to western Pennsylvania. He attended for years the public schools, and took a course in a nearby academy, and later in the Meadville, Pennsylvania, Academy, one of the most important feeders of Alleghany College. The coming on of the War of the Rebellion, however, prevented his taking the collegiate course which he had planned. In addition to the schools he had the advantage of his father's well selected library, of which he eagerly availed himself.

At the age of eighteen Septimus Hanna enlisted in Company H, 138th Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, which company was composed largely of boys of about his own age. He was unanimously elected its captain and served as such to the time of its discharge.

On his return from the army Capt. Hanna resumed the study of law, previously begun, and in 1866, was admitted to the Illinois bar. Locating later at Council Bluffs, Iowa, he married there, in 1869, Miss Camilla Turley, a daughter of one of the old and leading citizens of that city. Here he began the practice of law. At the expiration of his first year of practice and while only twenty-three years of age, he was appointed to fill a vacancy in the office of judge of the then County Court, holding the office a year and a half. He also held the position of city attorney of that city for several years, and also deputy United States district attorney.

 

Legal Career

In 1872 Judge Hanna was offered a partnership in Chicago, whither he went, remaining there in active practice until late in 1879, when failing health caused him to remove to Colorado. Judge Hanna located in the then new town of Leadville where, on recovering his health somewhat he engaged in the active practice of his profession, the conditions being such that mining litigation became almost a specialty with him. During his residence of upwards of ten years there Judge Hanna was interested as counsel in much important mining litigation.

During President Arthur's administration Judge Hanna held the office of Register of the United States Land Office at Leadville; then one of the most important federal offices in the state, as through it were entered for United States patent the mining territory and vacant government lands embraced within an area of country extending west to the Utah line, and covering much of the most valuable mineral lands in the state. This position amounted to a quasi-judicial position, as there were many contests before the register over mining claims, some of which involved millions of dollars.

During Judge Hanna's residence in Iowa and Colorado he took an active interest in politics, being an ardent Republican, and aiding its cause in every way, privately and on the stump.

 

Investigates Christian Science

It was while in Leadville that Judge Hanna first heard of Christian Science. His attention was attracted to it by the wonderful healing of two of his wife's most intimate friends whom he also knew well. This led to his wife's investigation of Christian Science, and later to his own. Mrs. Hanna had been a semi-invalid for several years.

Partly from curiosity and partly through a reverential regard for a new religious belief that would bring such astonishing results, Judge Hanna decided to look further into Christian Science, wholly unable to forecast the outcome of it all. It was not long before he had received such marked relief from physical suffering through his wife's limited understanding of this new power that he began its serious investigation for himself. He took up the text-book much as he would a law book, and although he found many statements which impressed him as profoundly logical, he could not then grasp enough of the spiritual import of the book to make it, as a whole, intelligible.

Although Judge Hanna's health had improved as the result of his residence in Colorado, it was far from good, and he had much difficulty in meeting the severe demands of his profession. After taking up the study of Christian Science, he was aided by a woman then living in New Hampshire and finally relieved of nearly all his old ailments.

So deep an impression did this experience make on his mind that he began at once an earnest and systematic study of the text-book, Science and Health, and although for a time the unfoldment of its spiritual meaning was slow, it became more and more a part of his innermost consciousness until finally, nolens volens, he accepted it as the most logical and rationalistic interpretation of spiritual truth which had ever come to his knowledge.

After about four years of investigation and demonstration of this religious science, Judge Hanna determined, as a matter wholly of religious conviction, to devote his life thereafter to aiding in extending this great boon to his fellow men, although without the remotest idea of how or where he should begin his new life. About this time a convention of Christian Scientists assembled in New York City under the auspices of the National Christian Science Association, then in existence, now extinct. Thither he went with his wife. Before the close of the convention he received a call to take charge of a society of Christian Scientists in Scranton, Pa. After visiting the place he concluded to accept the call and there began his real work in Christian Science.

 

Editorial Work

After about two years Judge Hanna was called to Boston to take editorial charge of the Christian Science Journal. This was in the fall of 1892. He remained in this position with Mrs. Hanna as assistant until June of 1902. When in September, 1898, the Christian Science Sentinel was established he became its editor also. In addition to this he was made pastor of the "Mother Church" in Boston early in 1893. In 1894 the form of the service was changed and he then acted as First Reader of the church until June of 1902.

While yet in Scranton Judge Hanna visited Boston and for the first time met the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy at her residence, which was then for a short time in Roslindale. He had known little of her prior to that time and certainly had not worshipped her in any personal or in any other sense. He had, however, a profound feeling of respect and gratitude for what she had done and was doing for mankind. Judge Hanna was deeply impressed with Mrs. Eddy when he met her, feeling that he was in the presence of no ordinary woman. There was a dignity of demeanor about her that seemed to him unique and such as he had never witnessed in such a degree in any one he had ever met. Her conversation was confined largely to spiritual affairs and the Christian Science movement, and he saw she was wholly devoted, in all her thought and purpose, to God and humanity.

 

Eventful Years

The years from 1892 to 1902, spent in Boston, were ten busy years for Judge Hanna, filled with work incident to the initiating and unfolding of the various branches of the Christian Science movement. It was during these years that the Mother Church edifice was built; the new order of services was established with the Bible and Science and Health as the preachers for all Christian Science churches; the lesson-sermons were worked out in their present form; the Manual was compiled and arranged substantially as it is now; the Christian Science weekly, known as the Sentinel, was launched; in 1898 the Board of Education was established in connection with the Massachusetts Metaphysical College; the mid-week testimony meetings were started; in these and many other like activities of those important years Christian Science was seen to unfold and broaden into a world-movement.

About June 1, 1902, Judge Hanna resigned his position as First Reader in the Mother Church and as Editor of the periodicals, having been called to the Board of Lectureship by Mrs. Eddy. Mrs. Hanna also resigned as assistant editor of the periodicals.

After they left Boston they took up their abode in Colorado Springs, thinking it would be a central point well located from which to carry on the work of lecturing. For ten years Judge Hanna remained on the Board of Lectureship, during which time he delivered lectures in all parts of the United States, the British Isles, and a few in Canada. In 1911 Judge and Mrs. Hanna moved from Colorado Springs to Pasadena and shortly after, he resigned from the Board of Lectureship.

In 1907 at Mrs. Eddy's request Judge Hanna taught the normal class in the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. Up to that time, with the exception of a few pupils whom he had taught in Scranton before going to Boston, he had never taken up the work of teaching Christian Science. Faced with the fact that Mrs. Eddy considered him qualified to teach a normal class in Christian Science, and also having numerous requests from Christian Scientists desiring to be taught by him, after prayerful consideration Judge Hanna decided to enter upon that very difficult and important branch of Christian Science work--teaching Christian Science. He conducted his first regular primary class in August, 1908, thereafter teaching a class of thirty pupils every year.

 


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