Friday, October 23, 2015

The Hanna Family

The Hanna Family, c.1910
On a number of occasions here I've talked about the possibilities and excitement of finding heretofore unseen-by-the-public historical photographs from the area. I know there have to be a good number of them out there, and it's a thrill to be able to find them and share them with people who'll enjoy seeing them. There's only one little problem -- they often come with less than complete documentation.

If we're really lucky, the photo will come with good information as to who or what is shown. A lot of times, though, the accompanying information can be frustratingly sparse. It might give the general location of a house, but not the exact location. Or we might know what family the subject of a photograph is from, but not exactly (for sure) who they are.

These are the issues I ran into with a couple of pictures sent to me a while back by Donna Peters. There's a photograph of an old house, and one of four people (and a dog) on what's obviously the porch of that house. We knew that they belonged to the Hanna family, but, initially, not much more than that. After going around and around for a while (and thoroughly confusing myself in the process, not that that's a high bar), and with the last-minute help of a few additional pictures, I'm confident that I know who the people are. The house, though, is a different matter. We'll get to that in a moment, but first, the people.

The Hannas in 1849

One of the main causes of frustration in this research was that the family in question -- the Hannas -- is not particularly well-documented, at least further back. They were based in the central Mill Creek Hundred area, in the region around Limestone Road and Paper Mill Road. The first snapshot we have of their locations, the 1849 map shown above, shows three Hanna properties -- S. Hannah, Hannah, and T. Hannah. [The name may or may not have originally included the last h, but soon settled on the Hanna spelling, which is what I've decided to use.] These were the farms of Samuel, Robert, and Thomas Hanna. I've so far found no direct evidence that shows what the relationship was between these men, but judging from their birth dates (1814, 1810, 1796) my assumption is that they were brothers. The 1850 Census shows a John Hanna (born 1777) in Samuel's household, so he was likely his father, and possibly the father of all three men.

Hannas in 1868

By 1868, as seen in the map above, there had been several changes. For one thing, Samuel had moved to Wilmington and sold his property near Corner Ketch. Also, to the east, Thomas Hanna had died in 1853, leaving his wife Leah (McDaniel, sister of John McDaniel and Stanton hotelier Springer McDaniel) in charge. This particular house sat back from Limestone Road, near what's now Ferris Drive, just north of the Mermaid. On the central property along Granville Road (which once connected Upper Pike Creek and Limestone Roads), Robert Hanna remained for a little longer. As the 1881 map below shows, after Robert's death the farm went to his son William. William's (presumably) cousin Joseph had taken ownership of the other property after Leah Hanna's death.

The remaining Hannas in 1881

With all these different Hannas, the one important figure not yet mentioned is Lewis Hanna (1826-1908), son of Thomas and Leah. Although he is not the man in the photograph (as we had first thought), he turns out to be the pivotal person in trying to solve the on-going mystery of the house. The way the shadows fall in the porch photograph, it's a bit hard to see the man's features real well. The clothing suggests to me a date sometime in the early 1900's, so if the man were Lewis, then the best possibility for the older woman would be his wife, Susanna. This, at least did turn out to be correct.

Lewis Hanna
Susanna Ferguson Hanna

When I look at the picture at the top and study the woman's face, to me it's clear that this is an older Susanna Hanna sitting on the porch. And since the man looks nothing like Lewis (the shape of the forehead is all wrong, for one), we need to look elsewhere. However, we don't need to look far. According to the 1910 Census (taken 2 years after Lewis' death), Susanna was living with her son Joseph M. Hanna (1858-1928). Joseph actually appears in every census (1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910) with his parent(s). He was married briefly in the 1880's to Henrietta McCormick, but she died at the age of 30 in 1889, only two months before their 10 month old son also passed away.

Joseph M. and Henrietta McCormick

If Joseph had moved out of his parents' house he likely quickly moved back in. When Henrietta died, she left him with two daughters -- 2 year old twins Mabel and Ellen. The girls were still unmarried and living with their father and grandmother in 1910, and they are almost certainly the other two women on the porch. (Sadly, the dog remains unidentified.) But, you ask (we'll assume you asked, just to move things along), where exactly is that porch, and the house it's attached to?

The Hanna House, located somewhere, definitely

The original assumption (although now I'm not sure why) was that it was the house along Granville Road. There are, however, two problems with that theory. First, as we've seen, was that that house was not in Lewis' immediate family. It belonged to the man I assume to be his Uncle Robert, then went to Robert's son William. I don't have any specific reason to think that Lewis and his family ever lived there. Secondly, it just doesn't look right. Unfortunately, the house was torn down in 2008, but through the magic of old, un-updated Bing Maps aerial photos, we can kind of see it.

The Hanna House on Granville Rd, shortly before demolition in 2008

The biggest problems I have in comparing the two are that, 1) the pitch of the roof in the aerial photo looks steeper than the old house, and 2) there appears to be one, large Gothic gable on the front instead of two dormers. Now, I could be mistaken about one, and two could be explained by a later remodeling. But, you ask (you're sure full of questions), where did Lewis, and later, Joseph, Hanna live? That should be where the house was.

Turns out, that's not an easy question to answer. As born out by his lack of appearance on any of the historic maps, Lewis usually rented his home. In fact, on the censuses that ask whether the home was owned or rented, only on the 1870 Census is Lewis (or Joseph) listed as an owner. And on that one, by all appearances, Lewis and family were living far to the east, near Ashland! All the other censuses show him somewhere in the Limestone Road area. In 1880 he seems to be very near the old homestead of Samuel Hanna, near Paper Mill and Corner Ketch Roads. On the other ones, it's very difficult to narrow down exactly where they were living.

The census that should be of the most interest to us, 1910, it's really not clear where they were. There's a Mitchell and several Eastburns on the same page, which puts the family in this general area, but I can't figure out precisely where they lived. Joseph is listed as renting his home, so if they were in a Hanna family house, it wasn't his. The appropriate page from the 1910 Census can be seen below. If you can figure out what house is featured in these two wonderful old photographs, please don't be shy. Let me know. Beyond that, these pictures offer a good gateway into a family we hadn't looked at before, but who spent many years in the heart of Mill Creek Hundred.


  1. Great read, I remember seeing this house before it was demolished. Pretty sure there was foundation from where another house stood at one point on the same old road.

    1. Don't suppose you remember if it looked like the one in the picture? What? You don't photographically recall every house you've ever seen? Fine.

      The maps show that there was a house (Eastburn-owned, it appears) on the other (north) side of Granville, but I don't know when that came down. It would be on the grounds of the Independence School. Incidentally, it looks like it was the school how bought the land on the south side of the road and tore down the Hanna House. Makes sense, they would have had no use for it, and it would have been a liability. I just wonder if anyone from the school took any pictures before it was razed???

    2. Sent you 2 emails regarding this. Not realized the structure I was thinking of was the same as the aerial photograph. But I attached a picture of where another structure is closer to Limestone Road and the Entrance of the neighborhood.

    3. I didn't forget about this...I'm very interested. Yes, the one you sent is the same one I was talking about. A Hanna House, maybe or maybe not the one in the photo. The other one you mentioned, further up towards Limestone, has me interested. No maps show a house there, but there was one on the other side of the road. The Dennison house, you can see it on the clips I put on the post. The old aerial photos are inconclusive. There was always (going back to at least 1937) a (disturbingly phallic-looking) small wooded area, which terminated on its east end just about where you highlighted. It's possible that there could have been a tenant house there that wouldn't have been included on the maps. One day I'll have to nose around and take a look. Thanks for letting me know about it!!!

    4. Scott The house that was knocked down in '08 was completely framed construction with a large gable in the front on the attic elevation and is accurately depicted in the google earth map. The older photo appears to have a parged surface over the stone. As you travel further up Granville Rd into Limestone Hills West there is the remains of an old stone root cellar or tenant house just as the road curves towards the playground and intersection at the entrance. I always thought it was probably from the old Chambers farm that is still present (Duffield Ass.) There is, however, a perfectly restored privy made completely of stone about 20 yards from the remains of the old Hannah house.
      Dave Olsen

  2. Scott - Good Article. I can confirm you have the people on the porch correct. My grandmother is Ellen and my grandfather took both pictures you have. In his album there are several more of Ellen, Mable, Susannah and Joseph. Unfortunately, there are no additional of the house. By the time I came across the album, there was no one who could identify the location. I have pictures of severaly other houses in the area from 1800's I will send you once I figure out where to send them. S.Armstrong

    1. Thanks for the verification. It ended up being the only thing that made sense. Looking forward to the other pictures. Thanks!!!

  3. I am fascinated by this blog and the articles on the Hanna's of which I am a descendant of Joseph Hanna and related to many around Limestone Road. My Great Grandfather was Atwood Hanna, his father was Joseph Hanna, and Thomas Hanna his father. My mother(84) can tell you about every home the Hanna's lived in or people they knew in the area. She has drawn floor plans of the homes room by room. Joseph Hanna lived where the Three Little Bakers resided. Mom has many old photos of places the Hanna's once lived. We are related to the Walkers and Springer's. Her mother was Frances Armstrong Whittington and her father was Elwood Marshall Hanna. S. Armstrong Jr. is most likely related to us. Our family in Delaware goes back to the Queen of Sweden on her side. Would love to find out more and connect her memories with more history. James Liston David married Frances Armstrong and they lived on farms at Taylor's Bridge, Blackbird Creek, DE. Love your blog site.

    1. I'm your Springer 6th cousin 2 times removed. Steve Armstrong Jr. is your Springer cousin and might be your Armstrong cousin too. Our family does not go back to the Queen of Sweden as descendants. Our ancestor Beata (Salina) Springer wife of Charles Carl Christopher Springer Sr. was the royal housekeeper. The inscription on her tombstone reads "Her majesty's, the queen dowager's, royal housekeeper, Brita Salina, lies beneath this stone". Rich Morrison

    2. Hi, I was wondering if you had any information older than Joseph's father Thomas Hanna? Just starting to really look into building a family tree myself and the farthest I have back is Thomas's grand father John Hanna sr. i am a decendant through Joseph's brother Thomas J Hanna, his son William, through Clifford then Donald, Then Roger. Not finding much information for John sr, the only thing really is him being born around 1755. Any thing you have that would help would be great!

  4. Nice to make your acquaintance Rich. Thanks for clearing this up. We always wondered about this. No let down since we are great at housekeeping too and lived as well as the royals in our own way. Would love to chat off blog and catch up. Your distant cousin, Frances A. Clancy-Green