The Harlan Record
WINTER 1998 NO. 13 - Contents
  • The Senator's View of the Reunion
  • Classifieds
  • Tidbits
  • Indiana Harlans to Gather
  • Harlan Tricentennial Fund
  • Harlan Family in America Officers
  • Contributions to the Remembrance Fund
  • Harlan Homecoming

  • The Harlan Record is an annual newsletter published for the Harlan Family in America. Subscriptions are free but we are totally dependant on donations to pay the expenses. To be placed on the mailing list either write to the Harlan Record at PO Box 667, Belfair, WA 98528-0667 or e-mail to Send any donations to John R. Harlan, 422 Aumond Rd., Augusta, GA 30909. Interesting stories about noteable Harlans are always welcome at the PO Box listed above.


    As a result of discussions held during the Mt. Pleasant Reunion between Tom and Marylee Harlan, Jon Harlan and Larry Harlan, a Home Page for the Harlan Family of America was up and running on the Internet as of October 1,1997. It contains a wealth of information pertinent to the Harlan/Harland families including our Officers, The Record ( the electronic version), our history, reunion reports and notices, electronic addresses of cousins, messages, other web site links, and a Harlan store offering reunion memorabilia and the Genealogy Book.Jon Harlan who operates an Internet company, Aeneas, agreed to be our Host and established the Site for us at no charge. Thank you, Jon! Pam Ellingson, the Site Manager, has many tricks up her sleeve and one of them is a system to keep track of the number of "visits" to each of our pages and we are happy to say that over 1300 visits to the Harlan Page have been made thus far.

    If you don't own a computer, ask a friend or visit the library and surf to the Harlan Site. You'll be surprised at what you see. Now you'll have a real excuse to buy a computer if you don't already own one. Our address is
    ----Larry Harlan, Site Coordinator

    By the time you read this, the Harlan Family Board of Directors will have held its first meeting since the July 1997 Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. We joined a get-together of Arizona Harlans in Phoenix on February 28. The Board met the night before. There are such exciting things in progress, that the Board will be an "active" coordinating body. How this should work out was a major part of our discussion. Some of the items on the agenda included:
    1. A concentrated effort over the next two or more years to reach many more Harlans across the country -- to connect them to the "organized" part of the family and acquaint them with the Harlan Web-site -- which by the way is outstanding.
    2. An update and orientation on the workings of the web site, including how the Board should relate to it.
    3. Adoption of a "mission" statement such as Ridge Harlan has proposed.
    4. Taking a look at our logo.continued
    Identifying significant historic sites pertaining to the Family which we may be able to help preserve and promote.

    Before we left Mt. Pleasant we were already getting proposals concerning where and when to hold the next national Reunion. Though some of you may demur, I want to recommend that there be a moratorium on this matter (as important as it is) for at least the next two years. Needless to say, the Board's purpose is to serve you in whatever capacity is important to you. We not only welcome your suggestions and comments, but we urge them.

    All of us as Harlans are a part of what I consider a unique Family experience. As a museum docent in New Castle, DE once told me, the early Harlans of the area "were not numerous, but they were prestigious." With the understanding the "prestige" means honor and influence, I hope our Family is still a "prestigious" one!

    ----Dan Harlan, President


    Cynthia Ressler draws our attention to a new book titled "The Ohio Frontier, Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720-1830" by R. Douglas Hurt. Mr. Hurt is a Professor in Agricultural History and Rural Studies at Iowa State University. According to Cynthia, for those of you interested in an area where the Harlans once lived, this book makes for very interesting reading. The areas of social, economic and military developments in this region are quite fascinating. The book provides a wonderful collage of understanding the settlement of land cut out of the Northwest Territory. The special treat is the mention of our George #180 on p. 299. The book was published in 1996 by Indiana University Press.


    Madge Harlin Brown will turn 100 this summer. Although she doesn't get around much any more, in her life she has traveled all over the world, including countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle and Far East. She credits her longevity to this travel that made life more interesting for her. Even when not traveling she lived an interesting life. Madge likes to do for others and over the years she has made probably -hundreds of angel food cakes which she gave away. She also estimates that she has made over a thousand crochet covered hangers and other crocheted and needlepoint items.

    Madge's little brother, Hugh keeps busy too. He built a scale model of the Harlin house in which he was born in 1912. The model is displayed in the lobby of the Century Bank of the Ozarks. (See article in Harlan Record No. 9, Winter 1995, for more information on the bank). Be sure to stop in when passing through Gainesville, MO. He has also documented his life and family history in an interesting book titled the Harlins of Ozark County.


    All across America the descendants of George and Michael (and Thomas) Harlan migrated, settled and became solid citizens wherever they located. The first few generations in America were average farmers for the most part though George served as a governor in the Delaware region at one time. Succeeding generations of Harlans went on to become merchants, soldiers, lawyers, congressmen, justices, doctors, teachers, and homemakers, plus workers in many other occupations. We know about George, Michael and Thomas.....James Harlan.....John Marshall Harlan.....but there are other notable Harlan descendant stories out there!

    We need your help in sharing these chronicles with other Harlans both on the internet and through the Record. Suggested criteria for articles for "Who's Who in Harlans" should:

  • feature notable events, careers or contributions in the lives of Harlan kin,
  • or contain human interest stories concerning Harlan kin,
  • and have universal appeal for readers.
  • If possible tell how the person descends from George, Michael or Thomas.

    If you have an interesting story about a Harlan descendant or a Harlan contemporary, please send it to Ruth Harlan Lamb whose e-mail address is: Or send it to the editors of the Harlan Record at PO Box 667, Belfair, WA 98528-0667


    The family of Benjamin Harlan (#873) would probably be astounded to know that the letters they wrote to one another over the years from 1830 to 1880 would be read with interest by their descendants and other relations. Louis and Sadie Harlan and Harriet Sheddan Harlan read this collection of letters, transcribed them to facilitate reading by others, and worked to complete the documentation of Benjamin's descendants beyond what Alpheus had in 1914. Louis has written an introduction to the collection as well as a short history of the family. These materials help the reader to understand the times in which the letters were written and the family relationships of the writers. According to Louis, "The letters are restricted to news of the family, including uncles, aunts, and cousins, and about farmhands, news and gossip about neighbors and friends, and notices of changing crop prices and crop yields, but within these limits they open up a vista of a lost rural world that is alien to our twentieth-century experience." "The reader of these letters gains more than a glimpse of college undergraduate life in the first years after the Civil War, as colleges and universities all over the south that had closed because of the war and for lack of students began to open again. It was certainly because of the insistence of Benjamin's wife, Sarah Ann Harlan (2960), that first Benjamin Joseph Harlan (3096) and later his elder brother George Henry (3095) and younger brother John Caldwell, know as Cullie (3097) were sent off to college to 'improve themselves,' overriding their father's need for their labor on the farm." The letter included here was written by Benjamin Joseph Harlan to his mother Sarah while he as away as school. Current Harlans with children away at school will certainly get a chuckle from this.

  • Lexington (KY) May 4th '66
    Dear Mother,
    I received your most welcome letter this evening. I hasten to reply, for I have some things of considerable interest to me to write about, and I trust they will be so to you. In the first place I am very glad to learn that your health is so much better. I have been sick since I last wrote. I was compelled to miss two days & a half from school. I think that I am nearly as well as ever. I was very much delighted today to learn that Cousin Sarah Jane Arnold (3076) was in the city. I went down to see her, she has just come over from Danville, and she told me a good deal of news. she said that all of our relations were in good health. She said that Uncle James (845) had heard from his son, Jim (2968) a few days ago & he sent him, that is, his father, a check for a hundred dollars. She also said that here Brother Ben (3078) was dead. I would like to have your advice on the following subject. Sometimes when they have a special call for money at the church I sometimes throw in something. And last week there was a laddy here on a mission for the starving women and children of the south, and I couldn't keep from giving something. I don't know whether it was right or not. I know that it all comes from Pa, but I won't give anything more until I hear from you. I will now give you the state of my finances. I have got just seventy five cents and I owe that to the society. All the Members have to pay that sum every three months. I have used the money that you sent me to the best advantage that I knew how, if you think that I have been extravagant, I will give a satisfactory explanation when I come home.

    In the purchase of some things I know now that I did not act as judiciously as I should have done, but as I said before I did the best that I knew how to do. I spent the last money that I had for a pair (of) panloons, they are the firs(t) pair that I have bought since I left home, if you recollect how limited my stock was I know that you will think I needed them.

    I have not bought any hat, my old black one is very rusty and has one hole in it. The season has not yet arrived for my straw, and it is very much discolored.

    I will now give you as plain a statement as I can of what I will need. A hat, a vest and enough money to pay for two months washing, to come home on and to pay the balance of my board. I would like for you to send me two or three pairs of cotton socks, when you send the shirts for which I am much obliged to you. Cousin Sarah Jane sends her love to you and Pa. Hoping to hear from your soon.
    I remain Your Affectionate Son,

    --- Benj. J. HarlanP.S. Dr. Gibney has not hinted a word about his board but I tthought probably he was begin(n)ing to think that it was time I was begin(n)ing to pay up. I (s)uppose that it is unnecessary for me to say anything about my own wants. You need not bother yourself sending any for me. I will try to get along without the things that I need. I try ­not to mind as much as I used to the opinion of the world, but I like to & I think it is my duty to make a respectable appearance.
    --- Benj. J. Harlan


    Early in our family history searches, my wife Marjorie and I visited Tompkinsville to see if we could find any Harlan history. We had heard about The Old Mulkey Meeting House, but did not know if we could find any Harlans in Tomkinsville. We stopped at the Court House and asked if they knew of any Harlans living in town.

    We were directed to uncle Jim Harlan's house where we visited for some time with Uncle Jim and his wife, both of them 90 at the time. We were not able to identify a connection with our family, but we had a nice visit with them and at the Harlan Library next door.

    Uncle Jim told us that their only son died and left them the proceeds of a life insurance policy. At that time they owned the land where the library is now located. After their son's death they told the city fathers they would give them the money from the insurance and donate the land if the city would build a library and dedicate it to their son. The library was built, and now houses a fine collection of genealogy materials in addition to general library items.

    My wife and I have been back to use the family history material. I found quite a lot of material on the Hammer and Yocum families; both are in my family line. Jacob Harlan #800 emigrated from near Tompkinsville to Illinois in 1834.

    Old Mulkey House is now a state historic site, and is the site where Squire Boone (father of Daniel Boone, and Hannah Boone Stewart Pennington) are buried. Hannah Boone was an ancestor of mine through the Pennington family. About every two years the site has some special event to celebrate its founding in 1797. In 1994 they held an Old Time Camp Meeting, and in 1996 The Old Mulkey Homecoming program included "the Life of Hannah Boone." The Meetinghouse is located at 1819 Old Mulkey road, Tompkin-sville, Kentucky. ----James Rogers Harlan


    This morning, as I do every morning, I looked down from my home on high at my old town of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. It was a cool, windy, rainy day - not the usual weather for this time of year. As I watched, my gaze drew me to the old cemetery where my wife and I and some of our children lie. It was just a little past eleven and all of a sudden the rain stopped. The grave stone had been freshly cleared and the grass had been recently mowed. Sure looked nice. At the same time, I saw a number of strange vehicles coming in the main gate of the cemetery and they seemed to be heading for our grave site. They all stopped and got out of their vehicles and gathered around. There were at least 50 people there - maybe more. Then, two people came thru the crowd and placed a floral wreath and American Flags at our graves. This man said some nice things about me - some of them were even true. This person said he and his wife were born and raised in Greencastle, Indiana. They seemed to know that was where I got my education at Old Asbury College. That was way back in 1846. They call it DePauw university now.

    As I watched the crowd, I decided they were mostly Republicans - you know, you can tell by looking. If I could have been there, I sure would have made a speech and give them old Democrats a tongue lashing. They used to give me a hard time and said bad things about me. Somebody said there were 523 Harlan family members in town for the weekend. Five hundred and twenty-three is a lot of anything - but all Harlan's - I don't believe it! But I'm sure this has been an interesting day for the family.

    During my days as a teacher, preacher, politician, diplomat, I was considered rather straight laced. I was never quoted for my humor. But, let me tell you all something - as I looked down today, I smiled. ----Senator James Harlan (As related by Gene Harlan)






  • In Remembrance of Zula Rebecca Harlan Meyer, by her son, Norman R. Meyer, Conifer, CO.
  • In Memory of Aunt Effie Mae Harlan Austin, by William E. Jr. and Mary Louise Harlan, Owasso, OK.
  • In Memory of Fred B. Harlin, b. June 22, 1903 d. March 10, 1997 by his daughter, Durene Harlin Crouch, Itasca, TX.
    More than 200 Harlans have expressed interest in attending Harlan Homecoming on Memorial Day Weekend, 1998. The event is an opportunity to visit the original homestead, Spring Hill, built by George Harlan (#45) after he, his brothers and their families migrated down from Pennsylvania with their father, James #11, in the 1730s-40s into what is now Eastern West Virginia. Together the brothers claimed over 1,000 acres. The deed to the farm was finally granted from Thomas, Lord Fairfax, in 1760. It is perhaps the only Harlan land remaining in the country that has never left the family.

    Coming home to George #45's farm: All Harlan descendants in the United States are invited to return for a visit to one of the oldest Harlan estates next Memorial Day weekend, May 1998. Your visit will be welcomed not only by your local relatives, but also by most of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Already we have gotten involved the principle local cultural institution, Shepherd College in Shepherdstown. We hope they will bring some of the program in store for you. Several Harlans, including my mother and her sister, Douglass Harlan, were alumnae of Shepherd. My aunt, whom we affectionately call "Dougie," is the last surnamed Harlan in the area, and for her we also are calling this reunion. We will connect her life with your visit by inviting all her former students from her 40-year career to collect from us a membership card in "Miss Douglass Harlan's Third Grade Alumnae/i" club. During the weekend we will recognize them appropriately.

    Other entertainment will include Civil War reenactment, a limited search right on the land for Civil War artifacts, visits to nearby Antietam Battlefield, buggy rides to show you the entire farm, and an adjacent West Virginia Wine and Music Festival.

    One of the most important events has just happened. We have granted the easement rights of over 70 acres of the most historic land to conservancy. This includes Harlan Spring, Spring Hill, "Auntie's House", the water cress ponds---in effect, the whole watershed of the spring. As the spring was attractive to James #11 and his son George #45 and their family, so it is today to developers. The protection now held in conservancy by The Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle will block any development. We strongly feel that raising the consciousness of and enlisting the support of local citizens for the preservation of their history and natural habitats will be an additional protection of the Harlan property. And your visit to a Harlan homecoming will make that impression more emphatic.

    The Home, Spring Hill: As the name implies, the house is on a hill above a spring---Harlan Spring. It seems obvious that they laid claim to this spot largely due to the value of the spring. In the beginning, the Harlan family owned well over 1,000 acres. The present farm is about 250 acres. A project this summer was to clear that hillside of growth so that we have restored the old view of the spring from the house. That sight/site is magnificent to behold. We hope that while you visit you might have the pleasure of witnessing the circling and landing of a flock of Canada Geese on that pond. A whole family of them hatched in the pasture spring before last, so they are also "Harlans"!

    This summer was also spent in renovation of the oldest part of the house. The original room is a log room with a 5' X 9' fireplace. To it was added a stone room with 20" walls. On the other side, at some later date, was built what is now the main house-a two story log and lathe building with a full attic. Then, in later years, a small brick room was added. (We have never known the precise year of any of the building.) The whole house, except for the stone room, is parged, which I have learned from fascinating observation of the contractors' working, is a coating of cement about an inch thick. The cement during my lifetime was always painted white. But some with a longer memory have commented that it once was off-white. We have just painted it cream to match the yellow in some of the stones, and the repointing of the chimney. The parging, as you can imagine, completely covers the construction elements, so that you cannot guess from looking on the outside that one room is log, another brick, etc.

    The interior of the house has not, to date, been altered except for installing the modern conveniences of baseboard oil heat (which closed up the fireplaces!) and a bathroom in the main hall under the staircase (which, alas, has ruined the exposure of the suspension of the stairs all the way to the attic). These compromises were done to enable someone to live with some comfort in the house, which is the best security the house can have.

    Everyone is Welcome: The general invitation mailed in 1996 did not reach everyone, of course. We have had to count on the word spreading, and are very grateful for the chance to get the news out via the website and The Harlan Record. In the meantime it has been really inspiring to find Harlans dropping by unexpectedly, we hope in anticipation of their coming in May, but we have been frustrated by their not always leaving their names so we can get back to them. We have also found that some who have come (but not found us home) were under the impression they were not invited! Nothing could be further from the truth. If you didn't hear from us, we didn't find you. Please pass the word along. And if you do drop by, knock on the door or leave a note in the mail slot. Someone might be there! I make my living by moving around a lot between clients, but I would love to know you're near or coming. My number is in the phone book.

    There are still copies of the much-acclaimed book, The Harlans of Spring Hill, by Douglass Harlan. This illustrated history of George #45's direct ancestors who never left the property, is the single best background reading for the visit. The price is just $7 with an additional $3 for mailing. Please include with your request for copies the amount required with the check made out to Harlan Homecoming, and mailed to the address below.

    The location, just north of Martinsburg, West Virginia, is in the orbit of Washington, DC, and on the near side of Dulles Airport. For other details about traveling and booking, please respond through the brochure we sent in 1996, or write for information to Harlan Homecoming, P.O. Box 9198, Richmond, VA 23227-0198. (E-mail:

    Two months ago we mailed information about accommodations in the area for those wanting to book early. Memorial Weekend is also a graduation date, and there will be some competition for space in motels, however, in early November there was not yet a problem.

    The final registration fee is close to being determined as we price caterers and other vendors. It is not too late to sign on. The latest news we can get to you from now on will probably be on the website ( You may also inquire at our e-mail,, or my own e-mail,
    ----Nancy McMurray

    Harlan Record No. 12, Summer 1997
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