History of Hanna Township
Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County Illinois, 1885
Copied by Linda Lang; Transcribed by Susie Martin-Rott
The second train of immigrants to arrive in Henry County and "stick stakes" was known as the Hanna crowd.
At the second annual meeting of the "Old Settlers," in 1876, a statement as to the details of their coming was
made by those who were of the party and are, therefore, the most reliable that is possible to obtain.
The statement was prepared by J. A. Sawyer, J. H. Sale and F. P. Olmsted from facts furnished them by George
Brandenburg and P. K. Hanna and probably others of the company. The following is substantially their statement:
In June, 1835, a small party left Knoxville for the purpose of exploring the lands of the adjoining and
unsettled portions of Illinois. They visited what is now Henry County. The party consisted of Rev. George A.
Colbert, Rev. P. K. Hanna, J. P. Hanna, J. B. B. Tabor, Samuel and Neely Withrow. They found the family of Dr.
Baker living in a wagon on section 16, near the mouth of Green River--now Colona Township. From this point they
followed the Black Hawk trail about 20 miles in a northeasterly direction, camping at what is now known as
McHenry's Ditch, in Phenix Township.
They then returned to Knoxville, where they remained about two weeks. Then P.K. and J. P. Hanna and Robert Land
(Land was from Carmi, Ill.) returned to Henry County, camping the first night out at White Oak Grove, on Edwards
River. From this grove they traveled north, and reached the banks of Rock River in the month of July, 1835. Here
they unhitched their team and went into quarters on section 32, township 18, range 2. In their immediate
neighborhood were the Winnebago Indians.
Here they found Earl P. Aldrich and family, who bad (sic) come only a few days before. After remaining here in
camp a few days and looking around at the country, the party again returned to Knoxville, and after a few days
preparation P.K. Hanna, with his family, started for the new home he had selected, arriving at their destination
August 13, 1835 (just 50 years ago). This was the first family to settle in what is now Hanna Township, and the
fourth family in the county.
On the 9th of September of the same year came George Brandenburg, from Ohio. He located on section 6, in Hanna
Township. Later he removed to section 1, in what is now Colona Township, and here, in October 1836, in company with
Mark M. Atkinson, laid out the town of Dayton. Here he erected a log house and moved into it on Christmas Day, and
having a real log house he opened what soon became widely known as Brandenburg's Tavern, the first thing of the
kind in the county. He was soon appointed postmaster, and in the first tavern was kept the first postoffice, by the
first postmaster in Henry County. This house was the first polling place at the first election, June 9, 1837, when
the people voted on the question of county organization, and the first county officers were elected, namely: P.K.
Hanna, Ithamar Pillsbury and John Browning, County Commissioners; R. McCollough, Sheriff; Roderick R. Stewart,
Coroner; Joshua Harper, Recorder; A.M. Seymour, County Surveyor. Here, too, June 27, 1837 , was held the first term
of the County Court, which appointed James M. Allan County Clerk, and Charles Atkinson Treasurer, and a license was
granted to John P. Hanna and George Taylor to keep a ferry at Cleveland.
In 1838 arrived George Albert and E. Walters and families, and Henry and Samuel Sullivan, with mother and two
sisters, and settled in what is now Hanna. In the winter of 1835, Collin D. James, of Rock Island, organized a
religious society. Services were held in P.K. Hanna's cabin. James preached to the little colony until succeeded by
Rev. A. D. West. In the spring of 1836 arrived in this settlement, J.D. Tabor, J. P. Hanna, Charles Atkinson and
George Taylor and families, and by the springtime of 1836 there was a population of 41 souls. Here, Feb. 7, 1836,
occurred the first marriage; James P. Dodge and Samantha Colbert, daughter of Rev. G. A. Colbert.
In the early part of 1837, William Paddleford purchased land in this settlement, and in the fall of the same
year located, with his family; and in 1838 he removed and opened a farm where his son James H. now resides.
The first frame building in the county was erected in Cleveland, by Atkinson and Wells, in 1836. The settlers in
this neighborhood and those of the New York Colony, at Geneseo, in the winter of 1836, organized a temperance
society and held meetings, and opened up the war on Gen. Budge.
The first school was taught here in 1836, by Narcissie Stewart, who quit attending to other
people's children, married Huntington Wells and removed to Moline, Ill.
In 1836, Thomas and Anderson Miller and Dr. Gawzer settled in this neighborhood. In 1837, came Henry Hand, and
he ran the first chartered ferry, at Cleveland. Also in this year came G. P. Gave, John Williams, John Searles,
Columbia Aldrich, William and James Bernard, Rev. Woodruff and son, all of whom settled in what is now Hanna
township. The same year, Sanbro settled in the east part of the township, where he lived until his death. He was
much esteemed and respected by all.
In 1838, William Whitehead, Thomas Hill, Adrian Van Winkle, and Wesley Hanna came. From 1838 to 1845 the
settlement increased rapidly. A few, as now remembered by these early settlers, of the number were J.W. Taylor,
H.R. Taylor, Adam Hooker; the Linnells, Heningers, Quillans, Meads, and James Miller and families.