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Founded in 1773, Hanna's Town is a Revolutionary War era historic site near Greensburg, PA. As the first seat of government for Westmoreland County and the first English court west of the Allegheny Mountains, Hanna's Town was an outpost for settlers, travelers, and those seeking law or court interventions. During the Revolutionary War, it served as a recruitment center for the county militia and Continental Army. In 1782, the town was burned by the British and allied Seneca forces in one of the last conflicts of the Revolutionary War. Today, Hanna's Town offers guided tours of the reconstructed historic site as well as numerous educational programs. Historic Hanna's Town is a Westmoreland County park managed by the Westmoreland Historical Society, which bases its operations at the Westmoreland History Education Center on site.
Backstory and Context
Hanna's Town was founded in 1773 by Robert Hanna, who was believed to have come from the York/Lancaster area. He arranged parcels of land in the hopes of forming a town, and it eventually came to fruition. Aside from the fort, two taverns, a courthouse, and more than thirty homes comprised the town. The town was strategically located on the Forbes Road, which was the main route to Ohio from the east.
The town was settled primarily by Irish and Scotch-Irish immigrants. The tavern of the town served as the first courthouse of Westmoreland county, and being located so far west, became the primary outpost for settlers and travelers. This was the one stop shop for the colonial frontier of western Pennsylvania.
The inhabitants of Hanna's Town were Patriots through and through. Prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the Hanna's Town Resolves were penned and signed in May of 1775. The Resolves directly challenged British authority, and was one of the first towns to do so. This act was prior to the Declaration of Independence. Westmoreland county residents made it clear that they would take whatever actions necessary to defend their rights.
Hanna's Town became instrumental in recruiting militia for the western campaign against the British and Native American allies. Hanna's Town was attacked on July 13, 1782 by The King's 8th regiment out of Fort Niagara and their Seneca allies. The settlement was burned to the ground. Most of the inhabitants did remain safe within the fort, however, every home was destroyed. This act is considered one of the final conflicts of the Revolutionary War. The land was purchased in the 1820s by the Steel family and farmed for about 140 years.
In 1969, the property was purchased by Westmoreland County in collaboration with the Westmoreland Historical Society. The farmland preserved over a million artifacts, and has become an invaluable archaeological resource for the study of early American life. Reconstruction efforts of the site began in the 1970s and the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, Historic Hanna's Town is a county park and historic site interpreted by the Westmoreland Historical Society, which has its headquarters on the property.
Historic Hanna's Town is an excellent resource for education. It boasts a recreated town, frontier reenactments, antiques and collectibles market, and day camps for children that educates them on what life was like for children on the frontier. The site tour includes the reconstructed Hanna's Tavern, a reconstructed fort, jail, and authentic Conestoga wagon. Each summer, Hanna's Town hosts Frontier Court Days, where visitors can witness reenacted court cases once held at Hanna's Town.
"Hanna's Town." Westmoreland Historical Society. Accessed January 11, 2020. https://www.westmorelandhistory.org/hannas-town/
"Hanna's Town." Digging Anthropology. Accessed November 30, 2016. https://diganthro.wordpress.com/hannas-town/
O'Neill, Brian. "Here's to Hanna's Town, a Happening Historical Site." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 3, 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016. http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/brian-oneill/2016/03/03/Brian-O-Neill-Here-s-to-Hanna-s-Town-a-h...
courtesy Pamela Curtin, Westmoreland Historical Society