FOCUS ON REAL ESTATE: Is that title clear?

Hannaford Abstract & Title Co. in Marion will be celebrating its 130th year of business later this year.

Roger “Bud” Hannaford and Roger Hannaford III are the current family owners of the business, which opened its doors in 1871.

E.R. Trenner founded the business and was soon joined by E.S. Hannaford, Bud’s great uncle. The elder Hannaford and Trenner worked as a team until E.S. Hannaford retired when he was 82 years old.

Bud Hannaford said the abstract business typically was handed down from father to son, so it wasn’t surprising that E.S. would turn his share of the business over to his nephew, Roger W., whom he had raised.

Roger W. Hannaford graduated from Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia and taught for a year in White City before going into the business in 1927.

When Trenner died in 1912 and John W. Gardner joined the firm, the name of the company was changed to Hannaford & Gardner.

Roger W. Hannaford remained with the firm until his death in 1949.

Norma Hannaford, who was married to Roger, had been home raising their three children and spent very little time at the office. But she quickly learned to manage both business and family and became an active partner in 1951 when she bought out Gardner’s share of the business.

The name was then changed to Hannaford Abstract Co.

In 1952, Marion attorney Dean Batt became a partner and was with the business until he sold his share to Bud Hannaford.

Bud Hannaford graduated from Bethany College at Lindsborg and earned a master’s degree from Kansas State Teachers College. He taught and coached in El Dorado for five years before becoming a business partner with his mother in 1962.

The company moved from an office above the local newspaper office to a new location in downtown Marion in 1970.

After graduating from Kansas State University in 1976 with a degree in journalism, Roger Hannaford III worked for a radio station in Colorado, then as Marion County weed director before purchasing his grandmother’s share of the business in 1986.

“But she still comes in and works with us from time to time,” Roger Hannaford III said. “I was under her training for about three years to learn what she knew about the business, and even after all these years, she still knows more than I do.”

During the years, Bud Hannaford has seen some changes within the business, the biggest being the change from abstracts to land titles.

In Hannaford’s back room, lined with rows of green file cabinets, are countless thick bundles of yellow-paged abstracts.

“Each abstract is a story in itself,” Bud Hannaford said.

Early recordings in the abstracts were written in ink with a clear hand and figures were carefully noted in tiny squares within the long columns.

“In the early ’50s, we saw maybe one or two land titles,” Bud Hannaford said. “But now 98 percent of our business is title work and 2 percent is abstract.”

The Hannafords are also proud that their business has a complete set of Marion County records.

“It is the only complete set in Marion County outside of the courthouse,” said Tudie Brunner, office manager.

According to Bud Hannaford, as part of the research process, employees go through the files and then compare them to the courthouse records.

“It isn’t very often we find a difference,” Roger Hannaford III said. “But if we do, we know we need to check on it. It helps ensure accuracy.”

The Hannafords are proud of the office staff and the teamwork has made the business a success.

Besides Brunner, who has been with Hannafords for more than five years, Lucille Olsen is a typist and works in document preparation. She has been with the company for more than 20 years. Fernetta Hoover, file clerk and title-plant poster, has been with the company for 46 years.

The staff at Hannaford Abstract & Title Co. in Marion realize abstracts and title insurance can be a mystery to property owners, and welcome any questions that would help clarify the issues.

“We want to do our best to serve the public,” said Roger Hannaford III. “This (business) can be very confusing to people.”

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