in Westmoreland County PA
Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation
Phone: 724.830.3950 or 1.800.442.6926
R.D. #12, Box 203
Greensburg, PA 15601
From Greensburg, proceed 3 miles north on Route 119. Turn left at the sign for Hannas Town. The mid-eighteenth century buildings of Hannas Town appear shortly on your left.
Westmoreland Countys history goes back before the American Revolution. Governor Richard Penn approved the Act of Assembly that formed Westmoreland County on February 26th, 1773. At that time, prominent landowners found themselves competing for the honor of establishing the county seat. Robert Hanna, originally from York County, had served as a Justice in Bedford County and then Westmoreland. As a landowner, Hanna laid out lots on a parcel of land where he had hopes of developing a town. It was Hannas Town that eventually won the privilege of becoming the County Seat.
Hannas Town’s rise to prominence ended dramatically in 1782 when a raiding party of Seneca Indians, aided by British Rangers, burned the town, a disaster which ultimately led to the relocation of the County Seat to Greensburg.
Archaeological investigations at Hanna’s Town began in earnest in 1969. More than one million artifacts have been recovered and excavations have revealed 12 acres of homes, a stockade, and the fort which saved the lives of the residents during the Seneca raid. In its heyday, Hannas Town could boast some 30 log houses, a courthouse, a fort replete with stockade and blockhouse, a jail, and two taverns. Historic Hannas Town remains an ongoing archeological dig, a site registered with the National Register of Historic Places.
When visiting Hannas Town, you will be greeted by a hostess or guide dressed in colonial era costume and knowledgeable concerning the history and archeology of the site. The reconstructed village consists of Robert Hannas Tavern/Courthouse and Jail, three 18th century log houses, a Revolutionary era fort, and a wagon shed housing an authentic Conestoga wagon. A gift shop is available.
Planned tours last about 45 minutes and include a look inside the tavern, with instruction on the common room and its uses, the type of court and cases heard, as well common punishments. Other rooms visited include the pantry, bar, Robert and Elizabeth Hannas bedroom, and the jack bed room. Please do not touch any of the items or furniture on display. Outside you will visit an herb garden and see an original Conestoga wagon once used by a Westmoreland County family. Other buildings include the Klingensmith House and the Fort.
The Conestoga wagon is itself a fascinating historical artifact. These massive, four wheeled wagons, drawn by four to six horses could be thought of as the freight trucks of their day. A six horse team might pull up to six tons of goods, cargo, or perhaps ore headed for an iron furnace. It is believed the Conestoga wagon had its origins in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for use along the pike connecting the town of Lancaster with Philadelphia. In the 1800s, the wagon trains of western expansion would be patterned, with some changes, after this famous Pennsylvania product. One fascinating fact is that the driver of a Conestoga wagon did not ride inside the wagon but either walked beside his team or sat on a board projecting from the side of the wagon in front of the left rear wheel, a good position from which to operate the brake. A good team of stout Conestoga horses, weighing in at some 1800 lbs each, might pull a heavy wagon load some 12 to 14 miles in a day.
In all, Hannas Town is not only important to local history, but also has national significance as the first County Seat west of the Appalachian Mountains.
More information on Historic Hannnas Town, including interactive programs designed to give students insight into daily life at a frontier settlement, please visit the web site of the Westmoreland County Historical Society. The Westmoreland County Historical Society and Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation work in partnership to administer Historic Hannas Town.
Hanna’s Town – Westmoreland County Parks & Rec