Historic Hanna's Town Fort
The Fort at Historic Hanna's Town was built in 1773 and was primarily used as a stop for travelers along the Forbes Trail. The Fort served as a stockade fort, used to protect the town in case of an attack. On July 13th, 1782 a group of Seneca and British Rangers led an attack on Hanna's Town. The Fort was responsible for saving many lives, and was not burned down during the attack. The Fort at Hanna's Town is reconstructed and in the same place the original Fort stood due to archaeological discoveries.
Backstory and Context
The Fort located at Historic Hanna’s Town is a replica of one that once stood on the same land. The Fort was used for protection from dangers on the frontier, like attacks from Native Americans, other colonists, and the British. Rise in attacks were common due to the attacks on Native Americans, and the growing conflicts of the Revolutionary War with the British. The Fort did not serve for military purposes. Those who built the fort had some knowledge about military construction, so the fort was designed like a military fort. The design of the fort helped guards be able to spot and prevent possible threats on the town. Inside the Fort was a storehouse, and supplies for the town in the event of an attack.
Hanna’s Town had a big impact in the Revolutionary War. The establishment of the Hanna’s Town Resolves occurred shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord.The Hanna's Town Resolves preceded the Declaration of Independence and essentially said Hanna's Town would take arms to defend themselves from the British government if necessary. The town also formed a militia to protect themselves from the British and other threats from the region. A flag was created and displayed the intents of the Hanna's Town Resolves and the militia. The flag depicted a rattlesnake ready to strike the British Crown, and also read, “Don’t Tread on Me.” Many soldiers from Hanna's Town were recruited to fight against the British and Native Americans and in many frontier battles during the Revolutionary War.
Even though the British officially surrendered in Yorktown in 1781, attacks on the frontier were common to stop the push for Westward expansion. These attacks were due to years of violence and smaller attacks on the frontier from both the colonists, British, and Native Americans. Hanna’s Town was a prime target due the growing influence the town had on westward expansion. On July 13th, 1782, a group of Seneca and British Rangers attacked Hanna’s Town. A group of men who were working in a neighboring farm, saw a threat and alerted the people back at Hanna’s Town. The town prepared for the attack. People sought safety in the Fort, and the judges even put their records inside to protect them from the attack. When the group arrived at Hanna’s Town, they caused a lot of destruction. Houses were ransacked, buildings were burnt down, and the residents had only 9 muskets to defend themselves. The Fort was spared from being burnt, thus saving many lives. The main goal of the attack was to destroy infrastructure, not human lives.
Archaeological investigations helped determine the real location of the Fort. Post molds were discovered from the original Fort, and the fort was rebuilt in the same location it once stood.
Westmoreland Historical Society Members “Hanna's Town.” Westmoreland County Historical Society, westmorelandhistory.org/hannas town.
Westmoreland County Historical Society. 2020. “Hanna’s Town Tour Manual”. Westmoreland County Historical Society.
American Heritage Members. “Historic Hann’s Town.” AMERICAN HERITAGE, www.americanheritage.com/content/historic-hannas-town.
Laurel Highland Members “Historic Hanna's Town.” Laurel Highlands, PA, www.laurelhighlands.org/listing/historic-hannas-town/564/.
“A Trip To This Historic Village Near Pittsburgh Will Whisk You Back To The 1700s.” OnlyInYourState, www.onlyinyourstate.com/pennsylvania/pittsburgh/historic-hannas-town-pittsburgh/.