Will Hanlon was born and raised in Burgaw, North Carolina. He had six siblings: five older (two married, two dead, one in jail) and one younger. He joined the army when he was sixteen. It was his mother's idea for him to join the army after his "dad died in an accident with some farm machinery" so he could take care of her and his younger brother Phil "Philly Loubird". Because he was too young to join the army his mother "fixed the year" on his birth certificate to make him eighteen.
From 1929-1930 he was stationed at the old Derry Army Air Corps Base. After the fire at the Black Spot he was stationed at Fort Hood where he met his wife. They were married in Galveston. He left the army in 1937 with a disability pension after a defective grenade "only half-exploded" and took part of his foot.
He returned to Derry and became a farmer. He had an ongoing fued with Butch Bowers. He was also an amateur historian and collected old pictures and newspaper clippings about Derry.
He died of cancer in 1962.
The Black Spot
The Black Spot was a self-run establishment for black servicemen on the old Derry Army Air Corps Base from 1929-30. As it grew in popularity it attracted non-military Derry residents. In the late fall of 1930 it was burned down by the Legion of White Decency. Will Hanlon was one of the survivors. After the stampede of people trying to get out jammed the front door a young Pfc named Dick Halloran grabbed Will by the arm and told him the only way to get out was through the window behind the bandstand. After escaping Will seen men dressed in sheets running away. When one of the men fell a gaint bird swooped down from the sky and grabbed him.