27 Sep Noblesville Illustrators: Hanson Booth
By: David Heighway, Hamilton County Historian
I’ve talked about the Noblesville School of Illustration in other places, and I thought that now I might look at one of the lesser
known members – Hanson Booth (1886-1924). Hanson’s older brother, Franklin, is far more famous, but this doesn’t mean that Hanson should be ignored. One locally significant difference between the two men is that while Franklin went to school in Carmel, Hanson graduated from Noblesville High School.
The school annual, titled the “Autocrat”, is where his artwork first appears. He did caricatures of his classmates and teachers very much in the style of the era. His art for the cover was used for several years. In 1905, the editors said, “We are indebted to Hanson Booth, our Senior artist, for the drawings and sketches in this issue. They show great natural talent and we predict great success for him in this profession.” Their prediction turned out to be quite correct. There is a complete set of the annuals in the Indiana Room at HEPL.
Even though Hanson is most known for his commercial artwork, his extra work shows his involvement is other things. He enlisted in the New York National Guard 7th Regiment in May 1916 and was sent to be trained at the camp at Plattsburgh, New York. While he was there, he did illustrations for the camp newspaper, “The Plattsburger”.
He was on the muster rolls for the Putative Expedition to Mexico, but was never sent. He served overseas after America entered World War I in April 1917 and was honorably discharged in July 1919 as a Second Lieutenant. One article (Indianapolis Star, Sept. 7, 1941) said that he saw combat service at Aisne-Meuse, Guise-Aisne, and Meuse Argonne. However there is no mention of this on his army discharge certificate. It would be interesting to see how his military service might have influenced his later artwork. He was the only one of the Noblesville School artists to have served in the war.
Like his brother Franklin, Hanson would go on to become a successful professional artist in New York. He would do illustrations for books and for a variety of magazines, including Boy’s Life, Harper’s, and Popular Science.
Hanson Booth later built a self-designed home in Woodstock, New York, where he lived until his death.