Hanover, Hiram (1808–1884)

By: Eleanor Hanover Nance

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 1, 1995

Hiram (Squire) Hanover, teacher, legislator, surveyor, and soldier, was born on July 8, 1808, in Pittston, Maine, son of Hannah (Flitner) and William Hanover, Jr., a sea captain. Hiram had three brothers and one sister. William and Hannah Hanover saw that Hiram received a fine education in the local grammar school and at Waterville College (now Colby College), 1833–34. Deciding that he did not care to pursue the career of a sea captain, with its many dangers and long absences from home, Hiram sought his fortune in the West, attracted by the glowing tales he heard. He settled briefly in Kentucky and there furthered his education and taught school on the side. He studied law, higher mathematics, Greek, Latin, and surveying. Subsequently he descended the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans, where he took passage on a steamer for Texas, arriving at Sabine Pass in 1838. There he briefly taught school. The area was named Hanover for him and was so marked with a highway sign until World War II, when Ellington Field was expanded east of Houston and the sign was removed. From Sabine Pass, Hanover went by boat to Brazoria and eventually reached the Brazos Valley, where he taught school in the first schoolhouse in Brazos County (built in 1832 of squared cedar logs by William Crain Sparks on his league of land along the Old San Antonio Road near Wheelock). When Navasota County was established in 1841, Hanover was appointed tax assessor, and when the name of the county was changed to Brazos in 1842, he was elected its first tax assessor, serving until 1844. He was also its first resident attorney. In addition he surveyed the town of Boonville, the first county seat of Brazos County, and was appointed its first postmaster on July 1, 1842. He served as postmaster until he was elected to the House of Representatives, Seventh Congress of the Republic of Texas, 1842–43.

After his service as a legislator, Hiram Hanover went on the Jacob Snively expedition to the Red River as a member of Capt. Eli Chandler's company from the Wheelock area. When that expedition broke up, he returned to the Wheelock area and built an academy; in the early 1990s its building still stood. There he taught Greek, Latin, higher mathematics, surveying, philosophy, and other courses. In 1845 a group of men-Hanover, R. W. Cavitt, Andrew C. Love, W. M. D. Prendergast, Henry Tiebout, and Darwin P. Gray-met in Hanover's academy and drew up the constitution of the Alpha Lambda Society, the first literary society in Brazos County. Its constitution and bylaws stated that members would meet every other Saturday night in Mr. Hanover's academy on State Street in Wheelock to debate, present papers, and discuss issues of the time. On December 31, 1848, Hanover married Sarah Ann Sparks. He was elected surveyor of Robertson County in 1850 and was also surveying for the International and Great Northern Railroad in Navarro County when his first son, William Sparks Hanover, was born in Dresden on September 19, 1850. In 1852 Hanover and his family were living in Centerville; there he constructed and operated a lumbermill. In 1862, at the age of fifty-four, he volunteered as a private in the Confederate Army, Company I, Twenty-first Texas Cavalry. While in service, he rode his Indian pony Greybuck, serving as a scout at the head of the lines between Arkansas and Missouri. At the end of the Civil War he rode Greybuck home to Texas, where his company was disbanded at Moseley's Ferry on the Brazos River. Hanover was a Mason and a Congregationalist. He and his first wife had one son and two daughters. Sarah Ann died on August 18, 1857, and Hiram did not marry again until after his return from the war, when he married Amanda Warren. They had one daughter and two sons; both sons died young. Hiram Hanover died of pneumonia on April 17, 1884, and was buried in the Sparks family cemetery near the Old San Antonio Road on the Sparks league. His grave is marked with a stone of Maine granite, erected by his son, William Sparks Hanover.

Glenna Fourman Brundidge, Brazos County History: Rich Past-Bright Future (Bryan, Texas: Family History Foundation, 1986). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Founders and Patriots of the Republic of Texas (Austin, 1963-). Elmer Grady Marshall, History of Brazos County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1937). Johnnie Stribling, Twixt the Brazos and the Navasot: A Study of the Early History of Selected Communities in Northeast Brazos County, Texas (1830–1900's) (1978). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Eleanor Hanover Nance, “Hanover, Hiram,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hanover-hiram.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995