A worthy representative of a sterling pioneer family of Grand Rapids township, LaSalle county. John A. Hanna was born in Putnam county, this state, January 16. 1856. His father. Joseph M. Hanna, long one of the prominent citizens of this county, was a native of Washington county, Pennsylvania, born in 1826. a son of Alexander Hanna, of the same state. During the gold excitement in 1849 he, then an ambitious young man, started on the long and dangerous journey across the plains to California, going by way of the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers to St. Joseph, where the five-months trip overland was begun. Arriving at his destination, he engaged in gold-mining for two years, with fair success, and then returned home by way of the Isthmus of Panama.
An important step in the life of J. M. Hanna was his marriage to Miss Permelia, daughter of John Thompson, of Pennsylvania. She was a devoted helpmate, sharing his joys and sorrows, and now. the most arduous labors of her life completed, she is passing her declining years at her pleasant home in South Ottawa. Mr. and Mrs. Hanna removed to this state in 1853, and, after living in Putnam county for a few years, permanently located in this township. Here he improved a farm, developing wild land into a fertile, well cultivated homestead, and at the time of his death he was the owner of five hundred and sixty acres. He was the president of the Grand Rapids, Brookfield & Fall River Home Insurance Company, a director of the First National Bank of Marseilles, a member of the board of supervisors, and township school treasurer for eighteen years. Industry, patience and indomitable energy were among his chief characteristics, and justice in word and deed marked all of his transactions. He died November 4, 1890, in Colorado, whither he had gone in the hope of benefiting his failing health, and was buried in the cemetery at South Ottawa. His only daughter, Florence, wife of Elwood Peddicord, is deceased, and his second son, Elmer Ellsworth, died in childhood. Irwin I., the youngest, is a successful attorney at law in Ottawa.
In his early years John A. Hanna mastered the details of farming, and was of great assistance to his father in the improvement of the old homestead. After finishing his district school education, he attended the National Normal at Lebanon, Ohio, and then took up the study of law, being admitted to the bar in 1887, at Ottawa, Kansas. For the next two or three years he diligently pursued the practice of his chosen profession, but the death of his father made it necessary for him to return and attend to the settling of the estate and the subsequent management of the farm. He owns three hundred and twenty acres of land here, equipped with excellent residence and barns and all of the modern appliances used in carrying on a well ordered farm. He also owns eight hundred and. sixty acres of improved land in eastern Kansas. This land is well stocked with high-grade cattle. He is intelligent and progressive in his ideas on agriculture, as in everything else, and is making a success of his undertakings.
The marriage of J. A. Hanna and Miss Hattie A. Richards was celebrated in this county in 1885. She is a native of Berkshire, Massachusetts, and is a daughter of Alexander and Sophronia A. (Dow) Richards, who came to this county with their family in 1870. Mrs. Hanna was educated in the Ottawa public schools and is a lady of many amiable qualities. Three sons were born to Mr. and Mrs. Hanna, but only one, Roland R., a lad of ten years, survives. Warren R. died when in his second year, and E. Ellsworth in babyhood.
Since he attained the right of franchise Mr. Hanna has given his allegiance to the Republican party. He is an earnest member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and all religious, educational and charitable enterprises receive his loyal support. His career has been marked by sincerity and uprightness, and his legal training has given him a keenness of mental grasp and a power of dealing with difficulties which cause him to be looked to as an authority in his section of the county.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 316-318.