HISTORIC HANNASTOWN SETTLEMENT
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2011
Carl and I wanted to get out Sunday afternoon with the three grandkids we were taking care of that particular day (Stephen, Melanie, Joey)
and the weather was totally different from what we'd had just the day before (See picture below. Yes, that was Saturday the 29th). Carl
came up with the idea of driving out to Hannastown, which is really quite close, as we hadn't been there before. The town was
named for Robert Hanna, who settled there in 1769 along the Forbes Road, which, with the Braddock Road, was one of the two
main routes west. Above is Hanna's tavern. Hanna's Town, as it was first called, was the county seat of Westmoreland County,
which back then was huge and covered nearly all of southwestern Pennsylvania. It was the first English court west of the
Allegheny Mountains and as there was no courthouse, the court met in the tavern.
This is the left-hand end of the tavern looking back at one of the homes. The town itself was founded in 1773 and eventually had
30 homes, 3 taverns, a jail, and a stockade.
The dot marks where Hannastown is in Pennsylvania. Carl and I live in Westmoreland County just a little west northwest from
Above and below are just behind the tavern and I liked the look of the split rail fence and the autumn scene.
This is looking from the front of the tavern toward what is now a small store and information center. There was no store of any
kind in Hannastown during the few years it existed. The settlers here were primarily Irish and Scotch-Irish, even though the
surrounding areas were mostly Pennsylvania Dutch. King Charles II had given Penn a grant of land that comprised what is
today Pennsylvania, though Virginia claimed part of it for a while. It was called a Province, not a Colony, and though Penn
owned it by royal grant, he repurchased it from the Six Nations in 1768. There were treaties and things went this way and that,
but in 1769 the area was opened up for settlers and Robert Hanna came here. In the picture above you can see the only trace
of the big snow from the day before.
Joey and Melanie under a maple near the store.
Looking past the store back to the tavern.
The tavern with its vegetable garden fenced in behind it.
The modern road runs where the old Forbes Road once was. That's Carl beyond the fence.
Across the road from the store was a rude blockhouse in the field. Not much is left of the settlement because in was totally
burned on July 13, 1782 during the Revolutionary War by the King's 8th Regiment out of Fort Niagara and their Seneca
allies led by Guyasuta. Everything that is here now has been rebuilt on the site.
Inside the stockade, looking back at the store. The stockade was built in 1774. John Proctor, who was the sheriff, raised a militia battalion
at Hannastown to fight against the British during the Revolutionary War.
Looking through the stockade gate toward the blockhouse. The families tried to run for the stockade when the British and Indians attacked
in 1782. In one corner of the stockade is a plaque telling the story of a 12 year old girl who saw a smaller child fall outside and ran out to help,
was shot, and died 12 days later from her wound. Many of the townsfolk were at Captain Samuel Miller's blockhouse 2 1/2 miles south for a
wedding when Hannastown was attacked. The attack came from the north and after burning Hannastown, the British and Indians continued
on to Miller's blockhouse, killing a number of guests, capturing the children and selling or killing them.
Melanie, Joey, Carl, and Stephen walking back to our green car. We were the only people there.
I'm quite fond of split rail fences so looked back to take a couple of last pictures as I made my way to where we had parked.
For 8 years everyone in southwestern Pennsylvania came to Hannastown to vote. After it was destroyed, the county seat was
moved to Newtown, later named Greensburg. Hannastown only existed for a very few years, 13 if you count from when Robert
Hanna first came, but buried beneath the plow zone it is said lies a treasure of archaeological artifacts and efforts are now being
made to recover some of them. When you're here, you realize just how isolated these settlements were and you can't help but
think of what it was like for the families who lived here.
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