Historic Hanna's Town
The founding and signifiance of Hanna's Town
Established in 1773, Hanna's Town was the site of the first seat of government for Westmoreland County and hosted the first English courts west of the Allegheny Mountains, signaling settlers foothold on the Pennsylvania frontier and the push to move west. The town was an oasis for travelers, settlers, and those seeking justice and order in the often chaotic environment of the western Pennsylvania frontier.
The town and its inhabitants played a major role in the armed conflict between Pennsylvania and Virginia for control of the area now recognized as southwestern Pennsylvania.
Hanna's Town and the American Revolution
Hanna's Town was active in various issues associated with the American Revolution. In response to the conflicts at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, the Hanna's Town Resolves were adopted here on May 16, 1775. Before most other colonial communities took a stand against British oppression, Westmoreland County residents proclaimed their willingness to take up arms to defend their rights against Great Britain and support the besieged residents of Boston. The Hanna's Town Resolves are one of the most direct challenges to British authority preceding the Declaration of Independence.
The Hanna's Town Resolves also declared the establishment of a local militia. John Proctor's Independent Batallion Westmoreland County Pennsylvania, led by the sheriff of Hanna's Town, were among the first American troops west of the Alleghenies. They served in conflicts in the East and Western frontier borders from 1775 to 1781, and later until 1795. Hanna's Town served as a recruitment center for the county militia and Continental Army. Their flag, featuring a rattlesnake ready to strike the British Union Jack and the words "Don't Tread on Me," is now the official flag of Westmoreland County.
The fall of Hanna's Town
Despite the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, conflicts on the western frontier continued. These conflicts aimed to weaken frontier communities and push settlers east.
In one of the final conflicts of the Revolutionary War, Hanna's Town was attacked and burned on July 13, 1782, by a raiding party of Seneca and their British allies. The town never recovered and the county seat was moved to Greensburg in 1786.
Post-Hanna's Town agricultural and archaeological history
The town site's subsequent conversion to farmland in the early 1800s preserved it as an archaeological time capsule of frontier life during the waning British colonial period and the emerging American republic. It remains an almost unique archaeological resource in this area.
Hanna's Town as a county park and historic site
In 1969, Westmoreland County, collaborating with the Westmoreland Historical Society, purchased the 180-acre property for the purpose of creating a historic site that would preserve and share the story of Hanna’s Town. Since then, the Westmoreland Historical Society has initiated archaeological studies, rebuilt important structures such as Hanna's Tavern and the Fort, and developed educational programs to connect the public with an important piece of Westmoreland County history.
Historic Hanna's Town consists of the reconstructed Hanna's Tavern, three re-located log houses, a reconstructed Revolutionary War era fort, and a wagon shed that houses an authentic late 18th century Conestoga wagon.
In 2019, the Westmoreland Historical Society is moving its headquarters to Historic Hanna's Town and opening the Westmoreland History Education Center. With an exhibit gallery, classroom, museum shop, and library, the Education Center invites visitors, educators, and research to discover local history and its connections to broader historical narratives.