The Hance family was of Swiss origin, settling around present day-Pulaski County around 1768. Adam Hance (b. 1747) belonged to the first generation of the Hance family to be born and raised in the Pulaski County area. After acquiring nearly 1,000 acres of land for his plantation along the Wilderness Road, Adam founded the town of Newbern in 1810 to establish a place for travelers of the migration route.
Adam’s son, Henry, followed in his father’s footsteps to become a prominent businessman by running a general store, tavern, and serving as Newbern’s first postmaster. These businesses were located in the Hance houses, which were later converted to the Wilderness Road Regional Museum. Although the Hance family was successful and played major roles in local history, court records show how they also spent much time in court for land disputes, trespassing, slander, and assault. As William Buchanan notes, “[Adam Hance’s] sons grew up … retaining some of the rough characteristics of the frontier.” Also, given the merriment surrounding Court Days of the period, appearances in court might not have carried the same stigma as they would today.
Regardless of the Hance family’s constant squabbles with neighbors and the law, they also served as “constables and deputy sheriff, and aided in the construction of court facilities when Newbern became the county seat of the newly formed Pulaski County. This county would not have been as prosperous as it once was without the efforts and accomplishments of this exciting and mysterious family.
In 1837 Henry Hance’s daughter, Virginia, married Jabin Alexander, a gentleman farmer of Scottish origins from Monroe County, West Virginia. As a result of their union, the new Alexander couple inherited the Hance houses, which stayed in their family until 1980. Descendents of the Hance-Alexanders still inhabit Pulaski County, and many artifacts of the family are on display at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum.