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Joseph A. Hanna
Born 1844


Having as his heritage the sturdiness of the pioneers of Jones county, Joseph A. Hanna has pursued farming in Clay township with a perseverance that has been productive of large results. His life, too, has known its measure of hardships, for he was one of the valiant sons of this state to give his service in support of his country during the Civil war, having experiences not only on the field of battle but in the loathsome prisons of the south. A native of Holmes county, Ohio, he was born in the year 1844, and is a son of William Hanna, who was also born in Ohio in 1804 but came to this county in early manhood, taking up eighty acres of land near the village of Canton. He prepared the ground for cultivation and built a log house, which served him for shelter until better conditions enabled him to erect a frame home in which he spent the rest of his life. He devoted himself to farming and died very suddenly in 1857. His wife, who was Miss Elizabeth Jane Blackburn before her marriage, was born in 1806 and through her marriage became the mother of eleven children, four of whom are living: William, a resident of Cedar county, Iowa; Pheness A., of Clay county, Iowa; Joseph A., the subject of this sketch; and Mrs. Minerva E. Vasser.
Joseph A. Hanna was reared under the parental roof and he attended the district schools, from which he received a fair training for the responsibilities of life. Although he was but seventeen years of age at the outbreak of the Civil war he enlisted in Company K, Twenty-fourth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, under Colonel Byam. The first engagement in which his regiment participated was that at Grand Gulf, the next, Fort Gibson, and then followed battles or skirmishes at Willow Springs, Bolton Station, Jackson, Mississippi, Champion Hill, Mississippi and the siege of Vicksburg. After the surrender of that city the regiment went back to Louisiana, where they joined General Banks and then went up the Red river to Sabine Crossroads, where they encountered the enemy in a severely contested engagement. It was important to him also, from the fact that there he was taken captive and subjected to the hardships of the southern prisons of which be had never dreamed. In the first place the prisoners were marched from the scene of battle to Camp Ford at such a rate of speed that they accomplished the distance of one hundred and fifteen miles in two days. At the camp he was confined for a period of two hundred and forty-eight days. During that time the daily food of the captives consisted of a pint of corn meal, ground with the cob, a slice of raw bacon, about the size of two fingers, and water, a bill of fare that was calculated quickly to reduce the strength of the men. Indeed, when Mr. Hanna was paroled from prison he weighed only sixty-five pounds and was so weak that he could move about only by crawling upon his hands and knees. Having been paroled, the prisoners went to New Orleans, where they procured a furlough and returned home. On the 3d of July, 1865, Mr. Hanna received his honorable discharge from the army, having rendered valiant service in the defense of the Union for three years.
When his country no longer needed his aid Mr. Hanna returned to the old homestead in Clay township, on which he toiled for about two years, when he married and established a home of his own. Accordingly he bought one hundred and thirty acres of land in Clay township, the same farm on which he now resides. In the forty odd years during which it has been his home lie has cultivated it with a care that bespeaks the good husband man, winning a fair return for his labor. He has made all of the improvements with which his place is adorned and which, like the cultivation of the fields, show that he is a good manager as well as a clever and skillful tiller of the soil.
On the 23d of March, 1866, Mr. Hanna wedded Miss Mary Perry, a daughter of Thomas and Isabelle (Barr) Perry, both natives of Ireland, where they were reared and married. Mr. Perry was a tailor by trade and after crossing the Atlantic established himself in New York city, where he lived and died. He is buried in Greenwood cemetery, Brooklyn. After his death his widow, with her two children, Joseph and Mrs. Hanna, came to Clay township, Jones county, Iowa, where her younger brother, John Barr, had entered one hundred and sixty acres of land. Here she spent the remainder of her life, her death occurring in 1893. Seven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Hanna, six of whom are living. They are Mrs. Jennie B. Mead, Mrs. Minerva A. Shroyer, James L., Mrs. Katharine A. Walter, Mrs. Mary E. Neelans, Mrs. Nellie C. Alexander and George A. Mrs. Shroyer died April 9, 1899. All the family were educated at the district schools, while Mrs. Neelans finished at Hopkinton and Mrs. Alexander at Monticello.
Mr. Hanna has always given his support in political matters to the republican party, his allegiance to its cause being strengthened by the fact that it stood for the preservation of the Union during the Civil war. His religious adherence has been given to the Presbyterian church, in harmony with whose teachings he has attempted conscientiously to order his life. A good citizen, a noble man, and one whose life may bear examination, he enjoys a well deserved respect among those with whom he has associated during a long period.

Source: History of Jones County, Iowa, Past and Present, R. M. Corbitt, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1910, p. 413.

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