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Hanna's Town transports visitors back to 18th century situations

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
The Hanna's Tavern was reconstructed in 1974
Westmoreland Historical Society
The Hanna's Tavern was reconstructed in 1974
At Hanna's Towns Colonial Court Days re-enactors act out court cases.
Westnoreland Historical Societ
At Hanna's Towns Colonial Court Days re-enactors act out court cases.

Ever wonder what it would be like to live in Western Pennsylvania in the 18th century? A visit to historic Hanna's Town is your chance to travel back in time and step into a world of petticoats, Conestoga wagons, civilian militias, even capital-court cases.

“One of Westmoreland County's best-kept secrets,” according to Westmoreland County Historical Society education coordination Joanna Moyar, Hanna's Town sits nestled in the hills outside Greensburg.

But rather than remain a secret, Moyar hopes this year's Colonial Court Days and the Hanna's Tavern 40th anniversary celebration will draw more visitors than ever before.

Founded in 1773, Hanna's Town served as the first English court west of the Allegheny Mountains. Hanna's Tavern was reincarnated in 1974 and opened to the public for tours, after the farmland was sold to the county in 1969 by the William Steel family, Moyar says. Unfortunately, no map of the town remains, so Moyar says reconstructors and the volunteer firefighters who aided in rebuilding had to rely heavily on archaeology and historical documents to recreate the site.

Guests will see the fruits of the rebuilders' labor at the 40th anniversary celebration June 28, which will include a guided tour of the tavern, views of the Proctor's Militia encampment, period music and dance and a barbecue picnic after the site closes at 4:30 p.m.

But the frontier fun doesn't end there. On June 28 and 29, visitors also will have to the opportunity to watch re-enactments of colonial-era, Revolutionary War-era life and recreations of early republic court cases that would have been tried there.

Among the cases are an indentured servant girl accused of stealing clothing and allegations against a town horse thief. Participants will see what consequences criminals of the 1700s would have faced.

This year's event will also feature a new capital case involving a Native American man accused of murder.

“Re-enactors strive to be as accurate as possible,” Moyar says. But in order to be accurate, the Historical Society has to spend a proper penny, or two.

“It's a very expensive hobby,” Moyar says, laughing. “But, if you're trying to portray an era and a certain class of person during that period, you want to be authentic.”

Don't miss Hanna's Town Antiques and Collectibles Markets every second Sunday of the month and the upcoming Family Friday program titled “Drums of Native Sisters” on July 19.

Emma Deihle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8513 or

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