The Manning Family was instrumental in the agricultural and urban development of Tucson and southern California during the late-nineteenth century. The family owned huge tracts of rich agricultural land in Arizona, California, and Mexico, were successful real estate developers, were active in local and national politics, and played a significant role in the growth of transportation technology in Tucson. Most of the family's fame and fortune was due to Levi Howard Manning, a kind of "Howard Hughes" figure of the southwest.
Levi Howard Manning (1864-1935) arrived in Tucson in 1883 penniless after supposedly loosing a circus elephant in his home town. A few years later, Manning turned to agriculture and mining. He married Cordelia (Gussie) Lovell O'Connell, a renowned beauty and member of an established Tucson family. Manning and his business partners spent millions of dollars developing land in the Santa Cruz Valley, and built and equipped the Santa Rita Hotel. He was involved in the reorganization of Tucson Gas, Electric Light & Power Co. and discovered Signal Hill in California, a site of rich oil deposits. Under President Cleveland, Manning served as Surveyor Governor of Arizona Territory. In 1914, Manning bought the entire Canoa Land Grant and developed it into one of the finest cattle ranches in the southwest. Manning later acquired land adjacent to the southern half of the Canoa, to create a ranch of nearly 100,000 acres, and began a scientific breeding program to improve the quality of his cattle.
In 1921, Manning's son, Howell (1899-1966) assumed the daily operation of the ranch. Howell had attended Culver Military Academy and Dartmouth College before joining the army as a machine gunner during World War I. Howell leased or sold large portions of the Canoa ranch, mainly to finance a farming and ranching operation in Guaymas, Mexico. Howell was known as a sportsman and frequently went on long ocean fishing expeditions in Mexico.
The photographs in this collection primarily depict members of the family in formal and informal poses. A series of cyanotypes from the early part of the 20th century documents the family's vacations at their camp in the Rincon Mountains. A series of panoramic photographs of Gussie Manning and members of the Elks Lodge was probably taken in the 1930s, rather than twenty years earlier, as the notation on the back of the prints.