Historic Hanna's Town First Year Cabin
The First Year Cabin, or First Year House located at Historic Hanna's Town is a recreation of a typical home that colonists would have built when they arrived to their new home on the frontier. These homes were built quickly, and lacked space. The Cabin is not original to the site. The logs used to build the cabin were donated from a spring house that stood in 1775. The First Year Cabin is a representation of colonial life and the different aspects of life that created a diverse settlement.
Backstory and Context
The First Year Cabin is a representation of the first type of home a settler would have built when they arrived at their new home on the frontier. They would typically live in this home for the first year or two. It was a 18 x 18 log cabin that had dirt floors and was one story high. Settlers needed to construct the home quickly to have protection from the weather and outside dangers. The whole family shared this cabin. The cabin located at Historic Hanna’s Town is not original to the site, but it is a good representation of what a typical family would have lived in.
Since Robert Hanna owned the land, he would rent out 3 acres for residents to farm and build structures on. As Hanna’s Town grew, more settlers came. At one time, it was estimated that there were around 30 homes in Hanna’s Town. A typical home would face the street. This left room for household activities in the front, and a private area for the family in the back. Families typically had small animals, and a small garden that was kept near the house. Several streets near Hanna’s Town were named. For example, Forbes Road was referred to as Main Street, or Front Street. It was also common for homes to have a loft to provide extra space for the family.
In a colonial town, there was a need for jobs. This includes jobs inside the home, as well as outside. For most people, working non-skilled jobs were common. But, one of the most important jobs was a Blacksmith.The Blacksmith was an essential merchant and craftsman in a colonial town. They made indispensable items that every person would have needed in their home. Colonial towns looked similar to our towns today. Along with Blacksmiths, many people ran their own businesses to provide services to others in the town. Many of the same occupations we have today were seen back then. For example, Doctors, Lawyers, Shop Keepers, and many other jobs were in a normal colonial town.
Many settlers at Hanna’s Town were Scots-Irish immigrants, as well as American-born citizens. Most people were leaving poverty in Northern Ireland to come to America for a better life. Some settlers arrived at Hanna's Town as indentured servants, which meant they would work for a specified amount of time in exchange for a passage to America or an opportunity to work once they arrived. There are records of enslaved Africans at Hanna’s Town. Since there is little known about the people of Hanna’s Town, it is hard to create a shared experience. But, it is easy to say that the people of Hanna’s Town had a dynamic life due to the different cultures and backgrounds of its residents.
The logs for the First Year Cabin located at Historic Hanna’s Town were donated in 1994. These logs came from a small spring house that stood on a farm on route 119. The original logs are from a farm structure that dates back to 1775. Since then, the First Year Cabin has stood at Historic Hanna's Town.
Colonial Culture - Occupation. 2019. http://www.smplanet.com/teaching/colonialamerica/culture/occupations.
Westmoreland County Historical Society. 2020. “Hanna’s Town Tour Manual”. Westmoreland County Historical Society.