George Washington Hanna

Pioneer and Town Father, 1817- 1890

George Washington Hanna was born in White County, Illinois, on November 20, 1817. He was the third son of George Hanna and Mary Melrose.

His most notable achievement was founding the city of Waterloo, Iowa.

George Hanna and his wife, Mary departed Illinois for Iowa in May of 1845.  Their transportation was two yoke of oxen and a wagon.  They also had a few head of cattle. On July 1, 1845, the party reached the east side of the Cedar river at a point which would later become the town of Waterloo.  When his young wife, Mary, saw the site selected she looked across the river to the bluffs sprinkled with oak and maple and made her prophetic statement to her two young sons, “This seems to be the river of life and over yonder is Canaan.  Let’s cross over.  Boys, if you live long enough, you will see a fine town grow up in these hills.”

Hanna plotted out land for his farm on one of hills where the city library stands today.  There were no settlers in the area for the next five years.  There were no roads, only uncleared trails.  At that time, they thought what would be Black Hawk county would only support one hundred people.  No one dreamed of Waterloo as it is today with a population of 67,934. 

In February 27, 1851, George Hanna was elected justice of the peace and performed the first marriage.  He donated his land to the city for the dam, mill and school house.  Much later his house and land were donated to build a library.

Mary Hanna, wife of George Hanna

George Hanna was one of the original settlers and founders of Waterloo.  He led other settlers Charles Mullan and John H Brooks to their new home in the west. In later years he lived in comparative retirement upon his farm above the city on the Cedar Falls road.  This was the perfect spot for the old pioneer to watch the city grow.

Hon. James R. Hanna, Educator Politician and Entrepreneur

Born in Genesco, Illinois on June 12, 1866, James Hanna was the son of James Steele Hanna and the brother of Frank Willard Hanna.  At nine years old his mother died and the family moved west to the cattle country of Western Nebraska.  At thirteen James R Hanna began earning his own living.  He was employed as a farm labor in Jackson township and worked in construction of the trans continental railroad in western Iowa.  At eighteen he secured a teaching certificate and taught for 4 years in clay and Jackson townships.

In 1890 James entered Highland Park College where he earned a B.A degree in 1892. He did special work in Harvard College in 1893 and received  a master of arts degree in 1899. He also taught Greek and Latin for a number of years. In 1905 he was made head of his of English department at Highland Park College and Dean of the liberal arts college.

In 1910 he entered the mayor’s race as a reform candidate and was elected for three consecutive terms for his honesty and integrity.  He built a new city hall, wrote a building code for the city and revised the structure of government to the commission form of government.  When he ran the first time he felt the city government was corrupt and took his cause to the people preaching honesty and fairness. The current mayor speaks of him often and considers him a role model. He also chaired the first city plan campaign.

After his run as major he became President of the Iowa Bank and was responsible for a lot of small business starting in Iowa.  His farm is where the current Adventureland is today in Altoona. He built an air strip where he used to fly dignitaries into Des Moines. Mr. Hanna distinguished himself for his stand against dishonesty and political affairs. The Honorable James R. Hanna died in 1931.

Darryl Hannah

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Darryl Hannah was born December 3rd 1960 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, daughter of Donald Christian Hannah (1933) and Susan Metzger.

As an actor Darryl has starred in several movies, including Blade Runner (1982), Mermaid (1984), Kill Bill (2004) and the Netflix Series Sense8 (2016).

Darryl’s great, great grandfather, John Hannah, was born in Scotland 1837. His son James Hannah (1865) was also born in Scotland.

Both John and James emigrated to the USA between 1865 and 1890, ultimately settling in Chicago, Illinois, USA, where he had a son James A Hannah (1893-1985).

Darryl’s grandfather James A Hannah founded the tug and barge firm Hannah Marine in Lemont Illinois, USA.

Is John Hannah (1837) related to the Sorbie Hannays ?


Frank Willard Hanna, Educator, Engineer, Inventor

My grandfather died one year before I was born.  He was bigger than life.  My grandmother, Frances Hanna, told me all the stories.
Francis Willard Hanna was born on September 16, 1867 near Geneseo, Illinois.  He as the son of James Steele Hanna and Harriet Rouse Hanna.  He grew up on the trail to Nebraska.  When he was three years old the family went through Altoona, Iowa and stayed for a while.  There his mother died of pneumonia when Frank was three years old.  His father planted corn with an axe handle.

The Hannas traveled to Nebraska where the five Hanna children lived in a sod house.  At fourteen, Frank was purchasing cattle in the west and teaching in a county school house to make ends meet.

At twenty-six, he entered Highland Park College in Des Moines, Iowa.  He earned his degree while working his way through college.  After graduation, he stared as a professor at Highland Park College and became Dean of Engineering.  There was a saying at the college, “that anything done by a Hanna is done right.”  His two brothers also attended Highland Park.   In earned his BS in 1894, Masters in 1898 and CE in 1902.  He was a member of the faculty from 1894 to 1903.

During the summer of 1900, Frank W. Hanna traveled to Europe making studies of schools and engineering structure the Governor of Iowa,

In 1901, he married Frances Gore and started a job with the US government as a hydrographer in the US Geological Survey with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.  He was responsible for stream gauging and power investigations in the upper Mississippi Valley and the Great Lakes region.

In 1905, he joined the Reclamation Service and worked respectively as designer, project supervisor and consultant engineer until 1721.  Projects included the Roosevelt Dam in Arizona, the Arrow Root Dam in Boise, Idaho and a dam in Hanna Wyoming.

During his stay with the Reclamation Service h also travelled back to Iowa, bought farm land in Ankeny, Iowa and designed the water tower for the small community.

Among the important works connected with his position with the Reclamation Service was designing of the Pardee Dam on the Mokelumnce River in California.  He was described by his colleague as being unassuming and soft spoken.  He had little to say about himself but a lot to say about engineering.
Hanna’s next project was the Soldier Settlement Investigation Northern Division.

Next came one of his biggest projects in 1921.  He was named General Manager of the Canada Land and Irrigation Company, co.L.T.D. In Medicine Hat, Alberta.   He was the administrative head of a sixteen million dollar irrigation company with 530,000 acres of Land and many head of cattle, horses, sheep and hogs.

In 1924, Hanna was hired by Mr. Davis as engineer of hydraulics and design for the Mokelumne Project.  He designed a big job in Alberta, Canada and designed the Pardee dam in California which is the tallest dam in the United States at the time.  Mr. Davis was very happy with his work or as one officer put it. “Hanna designed every project in the Mokelunme Project.”  Hanna is a technical genius as well as an administrative leader.  His technical knowledge was gained perhaps by intensive research while attending Des Moines University and later dean of the college.”

Mr. Davis appointed him general manager, East Bay Municipal Utility District in 1929.  He had 850 employees under him.  He headed a 13 million dollar concern doing a gross business of 4,700,000 per yearn selling water to nine counties of the East Bay Utility District.

In 1934, Frank Hanna retired in Ankeny, Iowa where he had begun his career in civil engineering.  He turned over the management of the farm to his son to begin writing a book called Designing of Dams by Hanna and Kennedy.  He was appointed to the corn alcohol board by Henry Wallace.

One evening, he received a call from Mr. Davis.  He had read the book on the design of dams.  The crew was having trouble setting the pilings for the Golden Gate Bridge and would Mr. Hanna come back to San Francisco.

Frank W. Hanna died suddenly at his home in Webster City in 1944.  At the end of his career he had a larger biography in Who’s Who in America than Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It was said that he was the one of seven men in the United States that understood and could keep up with Albert Einstein in Mathematics.

1900- Logical Methods in Arithmetic
1913- Tables for Reinforced Concrete
1913- Measurement for Irrigation Water
1913- Irrigation in Agriculture
1919- The Agricultural Value of Peat Soils
1931- The Design of Dams, co-author


Angle Multimeter
Irrigation Water Meter
Stop and Release Valves
Source:  Who’ s Who in America 1932-1933

John Hanna (1752-1832) – Pioneer and Patriot

John Hanna

Pioneer and Patriot

1752 to 1832


John Hanna was born in Derry County, Ireland in 1752 A.D. He was the son of Thomas Hanna born in 1720 in Lesararh Loch Ulster, Ireland.  John Hanna came to Boston in 1776 with two indentured servants when he was 18 years old.  His background was military, He had been a soldier in North Ireland fighting the English, and so he joined the militia with Captain John Hinkson’s Company and ended up in Northern Pennsylvania.  John was described as a man about 5 feet 8 inches in height, neatly compact with small feet, black hair, fair skin and blue eyes.

There was a fateful meeting between Henry Trout and John Hanna.  Henry was a French Huguenot with a wife and children.  He happened to meet John Hanna arriving at the foot of Chestnut Ridge on the northwest side of Jacobs Creek.  Henry came upon a small company of men, singled out a man by the name of John Hanna as one he could trust.  Trout told John the story of his predicament.   “I am a stranger in this land with one shilling in my pocket.”  Hanna’s reply was prompt, “I’d advise you to invest that shilling in whiskey and treat those men.”   The advice was carried out at once.  John Hanna said that he should meet the company at the next day in the morning, “You will learn something of my sympathy for you.”

The next morning, the company of men built a small cabin for Henry Trout and his wife and family.  Henry and John became fast friends and John married a Trout daughter, Elizabeth Miller, in 1789 at West Newton, Pennsylvania.  Hanna bought a 400 acre farm with Henry trout and had a very long-life and many children.  He sold horses to the continental Army, navigated a flat boat full of corn to New Orleans and made numerous trips across the trackless mountains for supplies.

John Hanna carried with him over the mountains a lot of Continental money found in an old trunk a century later.  The money included much of his earnings during the Revolutionary War. Some documents found in the trunk showed evidence that he had furnished supplies to the Revolutionary army.  These being withdraw drafts in his possession signed by the quarter master.  The Continental paper was the size of a business card.  The engraving was poorly executed, the denominations printed in the corner and the conditions of redemption in the middle.

John Hanna lived to be 80 years old.  One son, Robert Hanna was his seventh child, born in 1806.  He married Priscilla Hamilton who was a direct descendant of John Alden and Alexander Hamilton.  The Hannas were well thought of in the community and one of the important families in Pennsylvania.

Patrick Hanna, MP, Australian Engineer & Politician, 1819 – 1890

 Patrick Hanna Esq., MP

Patrick Hanna Esq., MP

Patrick Hanna was born on the 24th June 1819 in Kilmegan townland, near Castlewellan, County Down, in the north of Ireland, the fifth son of Patrick Hanna, a well-to-do farmer.  A devout Roman Catholic, but staunch British Empire Loyalist, his relatives include several bishops and an Archbishop, Edward Hanna of California. He was educated at local schools before being apprenticed at age 16 with the famous railway engineer, George Stephenson, in Newcastle on Tyne from 1835 – 1838 and then as a shipbuilder (from 1838) with various firms building steamships in England and Scotland. A Street is named after him in modern day south Melbourne.

Patrick evidently developed into a very competent engineer, choosing on a chance decision to follow an opportunity in the far flung colony of the State of Victoria, Australia, on the ship Abdallah from Glasgow on the 4th April 1853 with his nephew, John Hanna. His total cost of passage was 75 pounds and his wife, Sarah Hamilton, waited a year later to join him in Australia. When she arrived in Australia on the Cairngorm in 1854 she was aged 23. In 1886 Patrick described his wife as the only surviving daughter of John Hamilton, merchant, Liverpool.  On her death certificate her birth place is given as Liverpool and her father’s occupation as ‘Sea Captain’.  Her mother was Sarah Donnelly. She and Patrick married in Glasgow in January 1848.  Their only son was named Patrick Hamilton Hanna, who predeceased him, and six daughters. She died in 1902 aged 73.

George Stephenson’s Rocket Steam Engine

He put his knowledge of steam powered ships to good use by immediately establishing the first steam-powered City ferry across the Yarra River in Melbourne and he held the ferry licence until 1884. He also built a bridge at Seymour over the river in 1862. An enterprising and opportunistic Victorian business man, who seemed symbolic of the optimism evident in post-gold rush Melbourne, he became a landowner in various districts of the emerging city, being one of the earliest residents of Emerald Hill. His land there and the lease of the toll gates he subsequently obtained on the Sandridge, and later, Sydney roads (1859-60) laid the foundation for his later wealth.  This, and a multitude of other mercantile investments, enabled Patrick Hanna to purchase LaTrobe House in William Street in 1863, and also to meet the property qualification to stand for the Legislative Council where he worked for various electorates from the local to state legislature from 1864 – 1888.

In 1864 he entered Victorian Parliamentary life (1) when he stood for the Eastern province but was defeated by one vote. However, in 1866 he was eventually elected to the Assembly for the Murray Boroughs and held the seat until 1877 when there was a boundary change. He stood and lost another seat before re-entering parliament under a new constitution in 1882 which he held until ill-health before his death. In 1880 he was the MP who supervised the Melbourne International Exhibition. He died on 12th September 1890 (2) at his house on 277 William Street, West Melbourne, a year after the death of his only son, and is buried in Melbourne Cemetery Roman Catholic section E.


The Most Reverend Thomas Hannay (1887-1970)

Thomas Hannay was the head of the Episcopal church of Scotland from 1952 to 1962.

Born in Liverpool in 1887, he was educated at the University of Liverpool and Queens’ College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, he developed a strong interest in missionary work in Africa.  After ordination in 1910, he spent time as a curate in Yorkshire before joining the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, where he worked in Nyasaland and Kenya.  He returned to the United Kingdom in 1926. He chose to become a monk, and from 1927 to 1942,  he was associated with the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield and was the Principal of its Theological College from 1933-40.  In 1942, he became Bishop of Argyll and The Isles, and in 1952, he was elected Primus (Primate) of the Scottish Episcopal Church. This made him the first member of a religious order to become a bishop in Scotland since the time of the Reformation.

Bishop Hannay retired in 1962 and died in 1970.


Lambeth Palace Library

The Living Church, March, 1952

Scottish Episcopal Church History

Marcus Alonzo (Mark) Hanna

Marcus Alonzo Hanna was an American capitalist and politician, b. New Lisbon (now Lisbon), Ohio. He attended Western Reserve College for a short time, then entered his father’s wholesale grocery and commission business at Cleveland in 1858. He became a partner in 1862 and rapidly developed as a characteristic American capitalist of the Gilded Age.

Marcus Alonzo Hanna

Hanna became a dealer in coal and iron mines, furnaces, lake shipping and shipbuilding; his financial enterprises included ownership of a bank, a newspaper, an opera house, and a street-railway system. He was active in politics and by 1890 was the ruling power in the Ohio Republican party. He was instrumental in having William McKinley elected governor of Ohio in 1891 and again in 1893. Hanna saved McKinley’s reputation when financial ruin threatened, groomed him for the presidency in 1895, and was responsible for his nomination by the Republicans in 1896. As chairman of the Republican National Committee, Hanna boldly made that campaign a defence of business and property against the doctrines of the Democrats enunciated by William Jennings Bryan; on that basis he received heavy financial contributions from big business. He was appointed Senator from Ohio in 1897 after John Sherman resigned and was subsequently elected to the seat. Hanna continued to dominate Republican party councils until he died. He supported ship subsidies and advocated construction of the Panama Canal, opposing the Nicaraguan route. At the time of his death Hanna was being considered as a possible presidential candidate by old guard Republicans disenchanted with Theodore Roosevelt’s progressive policies. Although sympathetic at times to organized labor, Hanna looked upon the great industrialists as the natural leaders of the country. His leadership of the party exemplified the union between business and politics for the purposes of economic policy rather than for personal graft.


Clan Hannay Society 2005 Newsletter

Robert Hannay, 1st Baronet of Mochrum

Sir Robert Hannay, 1st Baronet of Mochrum, was the son of Alexander Hannay of Sorbie. He served in Ireland receiving a land grand on the Longford Plantation, and acting as Quartermaster-General to Sir Charles Coote.   James VI/I created him 1st Baronet Hannay, of Mochrum, co. Kirkcudbright, in 1629. His wife Jane Stewart died in 1662.  Hannay himself died on January 8 1657/58, and was buried in Dublin on January 25th.


Stewart Francis, The Hannays of Sorbie

Richard Hannay, KCB, OBE, DSO, Legion of Honour

Richard Hannay, although a fictitious character, may be the most famous person to hold the family surname. Scottish novelist John Buchan wrote a series of novels featuring this dashing protagonist, starting with The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915).

Hannay may have been modeled on Edmund Ironside, who was a spy in the Second Boer War.  Both Scots, Ironside was born in 1880, Hannay in 1877.  Both served in the Boer War before returning to the United Kingdom.

It is here that the lives of the model and the character divide.  Ironside went on to fight in uniform in World War I, and then rose through the ranks to become Chief of the Imperial General Staff during World War II, while Hannay became an intrepid adventurer who occasionally took on military espionage assignments.

Hannay’s Biography as per Buchan’s books

Hannay’s father took six-year-old Richard to Bulwayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in about 1883.  Although it is not explicitly stated where Hannay was born, when he returns to Scotland for the first time in some 30+ years, he makes a beeline for Galloway.  The text of The Thirty-Nine Steps states that he chose the region because “It was the nearest wild part of Scotland” when he was attempting to escape nefarious forces in London.  It is reasonable to infer that since he wished to blend in as “an ordinary Scotsman”, he could do worse than head to Galloway, land of Sorbie Tower and a crowd of Hannays into which he could easily blend.  And so, our hero gets a train ticket from London to Newton Stewart and off he goes on his adventure.

After completion of his Scottish adventure as chronicled in The Thirty Nine Steps, he signs up with the Army just in time for the First World War. After being injured in Belgium, he is invalided back to the UK and soon finds himself working as a spy for the Allies in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) in Buchan’s next novel, Greenmantle.

Hannay continues his adventures in and out of uniform in the First World War with Mr. Standfast, attempt to retire to a family life of being a gentleman farmer in Oxfordshire, but finds his idyllic life interrupted by intrigue in The Three Hostages and The Island of Sheep.

Real Family Connections

As noted above, Galloway, from which all Hannays ultimately originate, features prominently in Buchan’s first book. Also, our own chief’s great uncle Ramsay Hannay (not to be confused with Ramsay William Hannay, the current chief’s late father) fought with the 45th Sikhs in Mesopotamia, where he was killed in 1917.

There has been speculation over the years as to what — if any — family connection there was between John Buchan and the Hannay family, but it seems unlikely the choice of the name would have been purely coincidental.  Perhaps Buchan had a friend of that surname or had spent time in Galloway and remembered the Hannay name.  The search for a Hannay connection with Buchan will no doubt serve as the topic for another article in the Clan Hannay archives.