Historical Marker: Thomas Hannan (WV)

Location: Rt 2 Mason County, WV
Photo by: Michelle Seletyn Dolin
Title: Thomas Hannan
Inscription: Born 1755, died 1835. Soldier in the Revolution and the first white settler in Cabell County. Blazed trace from Saint Albans to Chillicothe which bears his name. This was the first road that came into Cabell and Mason Counties. Hannan owned 5800 acres of land in these counties. He is buried in private cemetery nearby.
Location: WV 2, just north of Cabell County line
Source: http://www.wvculture.org/history/markers/markers.html

Per wiki:

Thomas Hannan (December 25, 1757 – April 18, 1835) was an American Revolutionary War soldier and settler of the Kanawha River region of Virginia (now West Virginia). He was the first Anglo settler in what became Cabell County.

Military Service: Hannan first fought in Lord Dunmore’s War at the Battle of Point Pleasant. At the start of the American Revolutionary War, he enlisted in the navy for one year. In 1781, several years after his initial term of enlistment, he was drafted into a rifle regiment and served at the Battle of Yorktown.

West Virginia Settler: After the war, Hannan was granted nearly 1,000 acres of land and moved west, becoming the first Anglo settler of Cabell County, West Virginia (the current location of Huntington, West Virginia) and one of the earliest settlers of the Kanawha and Ohio River Basin. He forged “Hannan’s Trace,” one of the original roads to the West from Virginia, the first roadway through what would later become Mason County, West Virginia and Cabell County, as well as a principal route from western West Virginia and the interior of Ohio. This path linked the then-capital of the Northwest Territory, Chillicothe, Ohio, to points in the Eastern United States. Hannan was a friend and neighbor of several other early settlers in the Kanawha Valley region, including Anne Bailey and Daniel Boone.

Thomas Hannan plaque
Plaque placed at grave site of Thomas Hannan by DAR.
Source: Ancestry Member BarbaraHall48
Hannan, Thomas

Per Find a Grave:

Thomas enlisted as a sailor in the Virginia Fleet at the age of 19, June 14,1776. After serving 12 months he was discharged near Williamsburg. He returned to Greenbrier County where he was drafted into the militia August, 1781 at the age of 24.He marched to Williamsburg in the company of riflemen, then to Yorktown. Here he participated in its siege and capture. He was one of the 17,000 men under the command of George Washington. Cornwallis surrendered on October 19. Thomas was discharged from the army in November, after which he resided in Botetourt County, Virginia. There he met and married Elizabeth Henry on December 28,1781.

Elizabeth was born in Botetourt county, Virginia in 1761, the daughter of John Henry. She married in Botetourt county, Virginia. Elizabeth and Thomas had eight children; John born 1783 in Botetourt county, Esom born 1784 in Botetourt county, Elizabeth born 1786 in Botetourt county, Sarah born 1789 in Botetourt county, Susannah born 1796 in Mason county, Henry born 1797 in Mason county, Jesse F. born 1800 in Mason county, and Charles born 1806 in Mason county.

According to Ohio Genealogy Express:



Thomas Hannan, was born in Shenandoah county, West Virginia, about the year 1759.  With a part of young men from that section he came to the mouth of the Kanawha river and joined the forces under General Lewis, engaging in the battle with the Indians at Point Pleasant in 1774.  He remained in the fort at the latter point for a time, experiencing a number of encounters with the Indians, and entered the service of the United States, as a volunteer, in the Revolutionary War, when about seventeen years of age.  Being a skillful boatman, he entered what was known as the “row-galley” service – doing duty by water of about the same nature as was assigned to couriers or messengers by land- carrying dispatches and message, and engaged in secret service.  He was stationed most of the time during the war at Hampton Rods, and other points in Virginia, and his position was a responsible and dangerous one.

Soon after the close of the war he married, and a few years afterward returned to the Ohio River, accompanied by his family, and lived in the fort at Point Pleasant for a number of years.  While here he rendered valuable service against the Indians, and soon became celebrated as a scout and hunter.  He became a companion and warm friend of Daniel Boone, and they, in company with Robert Safford, James Burford, Andrew Friend, Vanbibber and others, hunted game and trapped on Raccoon Creek and other streams, and became the terror to the Indians of the vicinity.  The scenes of their early adventures extend over southeastern Ohio, West Virginia, and Kanawha Valley, and for miles along the Ohio river and its confluent streams.  Hannan’s oldest son (a mere lad at that time), accompanied them on many of their expeditions, and his courage and good judgment so impressed Boone  that he prevailed upon the father to allow young Hannan to accompany him to Kentucky, where he remained for two or three years, during which time he became his constant companion, and was with him in his celebrated scouting expeditions throughout Southern Ohio, and up to Lake Erie, an account of which is given in histories of the State.

His family, becoming tired of life in the fort, in the spring of 1786 he came to the head of Green Bottoms, on the West Virginia side of the Ohio, nearly opposite the mouth of Swan creek, where he erected a strong log cabin, and planted a field of corn.  While building the cabin and planting his corn his family continued to live at the fort, whither he frequently went in his canoe and remained over night.  He had two white men and two negroes in his employ – two to keep guard against the surprise from the Indians while the others labored, planting the corn with the mattock and grub hoe.  In the fall of that year, when the corn was sufficiently ripened to admit of grinding, by use of the tin grater (an old fashioned contrivance made of tin, perforated with holes, over which the corn on the cob was rubbed into meal – the only available “grist mill” at that time), Mr. Hannan went to gather it, moving his family into the house, which was then ready for them.

Their house was well protected against Indian attacks, and they met with little trouble from that source, probably for the reason that Mr. Hannan’s skill as an Indian fighter and marksman was well known to them.  At this time he was the only settler on that side of the Ohio, from Point Pleasant to the present town of Greenupsburgh, Kentucky – Daniel Boone being his nearest neighbor in that direction.  His freedom from any disastrous attacks from the Indians encouraged others to venture out from the forts and make the same attempt, as life there had become terribly tedious to them.  Thus, a number of families, in the spring and fall of 1787, settled along the river, as far as Greenupsburgh, Kentucky, but they suffered greatly at the hands of the Indians, and many families were annihilated by them.  This checked the settlement of the country somewhat, but in 1798 the emigrants from the east came and settled in such great numbers that roads and ferries soon became a necessity.

In answer to this demand Thomas Hannan who, from his thorough knowledge of the country, was a man best fitted for the duty, in the summer of 1800 proceeded to the block-house on the Kanawha river, near the mouth of Coal River, and marked out what was afterward known as the “Hannan Trace” through the wilderness to Chillicothe, Ohio.  The trace was made by blazing or marking the trees with the deep cut of an ax, and, starting at the mouth of Coal River, on the Kanawha, it went to the head of Green Bottoms, on the Ohio.  By crossing the country in this manner, instead of proceeding down the Kanawha, several miles travel was saved.  Taking up the trace at a point just below the mouth of Swan Creek, opposite the point at which he stuck the Ohio, he continued it, via Jackson, Jackson County, to Chillicothe.  After completing the labor of making the trace, Mr. Hannan established a ferry across the Ohio at the mouth of Swan Creek – the first one located between Greenupsburgh, Kentucky, and many miles above Point Pleasant.  It was started in 1802, and he continued to run it until about 1832, when he turned it over to his son Henry, who had located upon Swan Creek in 1819.  For many years this trace, and the ferry, was a part of the traveled route from Eastern Virginia to the interior of Ohio, and the ferry business became very lively.  This continued until the turnpike was built down the Kanawha to Point Pleasant, when the route was changed via the latter place and Gallipolis, to Jackson.

Much of the trace is now a well traveled road, but where it went over some of the steep hills, especially near the Ohio River, the route was changed to avoid them.  Along some of the high ridges, where the timber still remains undisturbed, can be seen the marks of the ax in the trees, cut eighty-two years since.  The ferry was discontinued many years ago.

Pension Application – found on Fold3.com

State: Virginia
Veteran: Hannan, Thomas
Service: Va. Va. Sea Service
Pension Number: R. 4,578
Conflict Period: US Revolutionary War

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