George Allan Hancock

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George Allan Hancock
G Allan Hancock.jpg
George Allan Hancock's portrait and signature from a book published in 1921
Born(1875-07-26)July 26, 1875
DiedMay 31, 1965(1965-05-31) (aged 89)
Genevieve Deane Mullen
m. 1901⁠–⁠1936)

George Allan Hancock (July 26, 1875 – May 31, 1965) was the owner of the Rancho La Brea Oil Company. He inherited Rancho La Brea, including the La Brea Tar Pits which he donated to Los Angeles County.[1] He also developed Hancock Park, Los Angeles.[2] He was vice president of the Los Angeles Hibernian Bank, treasurer of the Los Angeles Symphony Association, and president of the Automobile Association of Southern California.[3] He owned the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, established Rosemary Farm, and developed the Santa Maria Ice and Cold Storage Plant.[4]


Captain G. Allan Hancock was born in San Francisco, California, on July 26, 1875.[5] He was the son of Major Henry Hancock and Ida Haraszthy Hancock (Ida Hancock Ross). His maternal grandfather was Count Agoston Haraszthy, the "Father of California Viticulture". Hancock received his early education in the primary schools and at Brewer's Military Academy in San Mateo, California, which he attended during 1888 and 1889. In 1890, he enrolled as a student at the Belmont School in Belmont, California. Hancock was eight years old when his father died in 1884. He continued in the management and operation of La Brea ranch until he was 25. Hancock married Genevieve Deane Mullen (Feb. 12, 1879–Nov. 28, 1936[6]) in Los Angeles on November 27, 1901. They had two children: Bertram Hancock (Nov. 1, 1902–June 29, 1925[6]) and Rosemary Genevieve Hancock (Oct. 9, 1904–Dec. 27, 1977[6]).[7]

It was at this period that the early discoveries of petroleum were being made in California. Rancho La Brea was one of the localities in which petroleum was found. In 1900, Ida Hancock granted a 20-year lease to the Salt Lake Oil Company for 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of Rancho La Brea. Hancock abandoned his agricultural pursuits and turned his attention to petroleum production. In 1907, after spending three years studying the industry, he urged his mother to allow him enough capital to sink a well on a portion of the property that had not already been leased to oil operators. With the assistance of William Orcutt, Hancock drilled 71 wells near the family's ranch house. Every well-produced oil and the Rancho La Brea Oil Company was born. The family's finances improved greatly with the beginning of oil pumping. The wells produced millions of barrels annually, resulting in the family becoming very wealthy. With that wealth, Hancock was able to pursue myriad interests and thus began a life of philanthropy.[citation needed]

Hancock died on May 31, 1965, of a heart attack in Santa Maria, California. His bequests continued his long-time support of numerous causes.[8][9]

Civic life and legacy[edit]

Hancock from the 1950 USC yearbook

Hancock was also interested in music and played the cello in the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. Hancock was a member of the Bohemian Club, the California Club, the Los Angeles Athletic Club, the Gamut Club, the Uplifters, the Knights of Columbus and a number of yacht clubs.[3]

Hancock donated seven million dollars to the University of Southern California[8] and founded the Allan Hancock Foundation[10] (later the Hancock Institute for Marine Studies) at U.S.C.[11] In 1931 he had the motor vessel Velero III, 193 feet (58.8 m) in length overall, built at Craig Shipbuilding, Long Beach, California, with the intention of using the vessel for both business and research.[12] The vessel was used for private oceanographic research and exploration, making trips to the Galápagos Islands, before being donated to the University of Southern California and later purchased for war use by the Navy on December 15, 1941 and being commissioned as the USS Chalcedony.[13][14][15] On a trip to the Galápagos Captain Hancock would attempt to identify two bodies found on Marchena Island and check on a colony of German "Back to nature" enthusiasts on Floreana Island, then known as Charles Island. He also produced the silent film The Empress of Floreana.[16]

The Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, California, is named after him, as is city's airport.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Who was G. Allan Hancock?". Page Museum. Archived from the original on 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2010-06-19. ... A businessman, railroad man, rancher, marine scientist and patron of the arts, G. Allan Hancock donated the 23 acres of Hancock Park to Los Angeles County in 1916 to preserve and exhibit the fossils exhumed from Rancho La Brea. Hancock's parents, Henry and Ida, at one time, lived in a house that was located adjacent to what is today the park's Lake Pit.
  2. ^ "Rancho La Brea". Windsor Square-Hancock Park Historical Society. Archived from the original on 2010-04-23. Retrieved 2010-06-19. Purchased by Henry Hancock, most of it was later subdivided and developed by his surviving son, Captain G. Allen Hancock, into one of the most desirable and affluent residential communities in Los Angeles.
  3. ^ a b McGroarty, John Steven. Los Angeles from the Mountains to the Sea, American Historical Society, 1921, p. 83.
  4. ^ "Captain Hancock". G. A. Hancock Properties Inc. Retrieved 2010-06-19. Captain G. Allan Hancock (1875-1965), truly a Renaissance man, left an indelible mark on the Santa Maria Valley, which he loved. In his 89 years, he was an oil man, developer, banker, aviator, scientist, businessman, farmer, railroad engineer, musician, philanthropist and even a sea captain. As a young man, Captain Hancock worked the family holdings in Los Angeles. The famous La Brea tar pits were among the properties he later turned over to public use. Growth in Southern California sent him to Santa Maria in the 1920s. He bought the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, established Rosemary Farm, and developed Santa Maria Ice and Cold Storage Plant. ...
  5. ^ "George Allan Hancock in the World War I draft registration". Selective Service System. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ a b c "Genevieve Deane Mullen",; accessed 2013.04.08.
  7. ^ "Society". Los Angeles Times. December 3, 1926. Retrieved 2010-06-19. Possibly no announcement this season is of more interest in local social circles than that of this morning made by Mr. and Mrs. George Allan Hancock of the engagement of their charming young daughter. Miss Rosemary Genevieve, to John Stephens Zelser of New York City.
  8. ^ a b "Obituary". Time magazine. June 11, 1965. Retrieved 2010-03-27. George Allen [sic] Hancock, 89, California oilman and philanthropist, who inherited a 3,000-acre ranch in 1883, discovered the famed La Brea tar pits full of prehistoric remains while digging for oil (which he also found), made a fortune from his wells and the sale of property for what is now Los Angeles' Wilshire district, later gave $7,000,000 to the University of Southern California; of a heart attack; in Santa Maria, Calif.
  9. ^ "Capt. Hancock, La Brea Pit Oil Tycoon, Dies". Los Angeles Times. June 2, 1965. Retrieved 2010-06-19. George Allan Hancock, 89, who survived critical injuries in a 1925 earthquake and went on to become a tycoon and philanthropist whose career read like a legend, is dead. He had been ill for many months. ...
  10. ^ See Catalog of the Allan Hancock Foundation Publications Archived 2011-05-27 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Phyllis Grifman and Eric Mankin, Hancock Institute takes interdisciplinary tack under new leadership, USC News, Feb. 13, 1995. Accessed 2012.01.25.
  12. ^ Newby, G. Bruce (1931). "A New Type Business and Research Cruiser". Pacific Marine Review. San Francisco: J.S. Hines. 28 (December): 361–364, 396. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  13. ^ Fraser, Charles McLean (1943). General account of the scientific work of the Velero III in the eastern Pacific, 1931-41. Los Angeles: University of Southern California Press. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  14. ^ Meredith, De Witt (Dr.) (1939). Voyages of the Velero III. Los Angeles: Bookhaven Press. LCCN 96846856. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  15. ^ Naval History And Heritage Command. "Chalcedony". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History And Heritage Command. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  16. ^ "An Island Mystery/Sails For South Seas to Solve Mystery Deaths". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 23, 1934. Retrieved 25 April 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Notables of the West Vol. II. Press Reference Library International News Service, pp. 67, 1915.

External links[edit]