James Hanna is a bit of a hero of mine. Here's what we know of his life:
He and his family set sail from Ireland the the American Colonies during the 1700s. James and his twin brother were the oldest of the children. Within a couple of years of settling here, both of their parents passed away. I believe James was about 14 when his parents died. It's unclear whether he was adopted or indentured, but he seems to have been looked after by a family from the area where they settled. Some information I uncovered hints that many members of their church body from Ireland came over at about the same time, so the family may have been people they knew from the old country.
James' young adulthood seems to have been interrupted by the Revolutionary War. I don't know the details at this time, but an ancestor of mine listed James' involvement in the war on her successful application for membership into the Daughters of the American Revolution.
After the War, James was apparently living in Buck's Country, Pennsylvania. He married Hannah Bayless (this poor, unfortunate woman whose married name apparently became Hannah Hanna) and the two of them almost immediately moved to the Kentucky frontier, traveling together on the back of a single horse, if the stories I've uncovered are true.
Upon settling in Kentucky, they became members of (or helped to start) a local church, and became parents of several children. The most famous of these children seems to have been Samuel Hanna, one of the founders of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Hanna family lived in Kentucky for many years.
They moved to Dayton, Ohio, when that area was just beginning to be opened to settlers. It seems that a group from their church moved to Dayton to start a church there. Soon after they moved, Hannah passed away. The information I found states that she was the first person buried in the Dayton cemetery. James apparently remarried and had as many as 4 more children with his second wife.
Samuel Hanna, mentioned above, was one of the older children. By the early 1820's, Samuel was living in the Fort Wayne area, which was right on the edge of the frontier at the time, very primitive. I read a story about a family who were traveling through Fort Wayne in a covered wagon with all of their possessions, headed west. They found themselves in need of funds and sold the cast iron stove they'd brought with them to a Fort Wayne resident. Such a thing was not easily obtainable on the frontier and apparently people came from far and wide just to look at it.
In 1827, James made the trip from Dayton to Fort Wayne and started a Sunday school in the town where his son Samuel was living. That Sunday school grew and eventually became the First Presbyterian church of Fort Wayne.
When James Hanna died, his obituary stated that all of his children had followed him in his faith and that most of his male children were deacons or elders in their respective churches. It makes me wonder if he went to the towns the other children lived in and started Sunday schools there, too. I have not researched the other lines, being a descendant of Samuel, but if you know anything, feel free to comment here.
There are so many details left unknown, considering the long life and many accomplishments of this man. What details we do know tell us of a hard-working man who valued his family and his faith.