Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,116

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 1,116


This is the grave of Robert Hanna.

Born in 1786 in Fountainus, South Carolina, Hanna grew in Laurens until he was 14, when his family decided to start over in the fresh territory of Indiana, just being wrested away from the tribes due to the American genocidal project. They lived along the Great Miami River, near the Ohio border. Indiana was a place that a young ambitious man could rise fast. After all, who else was going to fill those roles? William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana Territory, named Hanna as sheriff of the territory’s eastern district in 1809. Sure he was only 23, but again, who else was there? He maintained a position as sheriff, eventually of Franklin County, until 1820.

In 1816, Hanna was selected as a delegate to Indiana’s founding Constitutional Convention that brought the state into the union. He then became a “general” in the newly found state militia. I know I shouldn’t use scare quotes, but it’s hard to take these state militias seriously. He invested heavily in transportation projects as well. He was the head of the U.S. Land Office in Brockville, which was an important position in the role of passing the public lands to private ownership. He took up a contract to build a section of the National Road. He also invested in a steamboat that was usefully named after himself.

In 1831, James Noble died and that left an opening in the Senate. Noble’s brother Noah, the state’s governor, named Hanna to replace him. As I often say, if you serve in the Senate, I’m going to take a picture of your grave because you probably have something worthy to offer as a post, but every now and then, this strategy backfires and this is an example. Hanna only served a few months, finishing out Noble’s term. That was all of four months. He evidently wasn’t considered a serious candidate for a term of his own. Hanna went back to the Indiana statehouse where he served off and on in both houses for the rest of his life.

Hanna’s life, however, was cut short when a train ran him down in 1858. He was walking along the tracks and, well, that’s what happens when you walk along train tracks. He was 72 years old.

Robert Hanna is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana.

If you would like this series to visit other senators of the 1830s, and the thing is that you know they will be more exciting than this tremendously lame entry, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Gideon Tomlinson is in Stratford, Connecticut and Isaac Hill is in Concord, New Hampshire. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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