Thursday, February 27, 2014

Adam Harman: German Pioneer on the New River, 1745

Several years ago, I became interested in the Adam Harman story when I learned that I was descended from him and that he was actually a character in a book I had read several years earlier, Follow the River, by James Alexander Thom. My curiosity resulted in researching the story of Adam Harman to write an article for the Smithfield Review.  Part of the fun of it has been that I have met or been contacted by a number of Harman descendants; we are legion. Over the next several weeks, I'll be reprinting the story I wrote for the Smithfield Review. For clarification, this is a quick run-down on how my first cousins, siblings and I are descended from Adam Harman: 

Heinrich Adam Hermann
Henry Harman
Mathias Harman
Henry Harman
Anna F. Harman
(married Jacob Waggoner)
Eli Waggoner
Mary Waggoner
(married Clint Troutman)
Verne Troutman
Zola Troutman
(married Myron Noble)

Article from the Smithfield Review (not all photos included here were in original article):

Along the New River near Eggleston, Virginia, limestone palisades, jagged and forbidding, jut skyward from the river’s edge as high as 250 feet. Below the cliffs, the river plunges to an approximate depth of 100 feet leaving the surface smooth and sparkling in the sunshine on a bluebird day. In the early 1700s, the area was thickly forested with oak, chestnut, poplar, pine, and many other trees. The majesty of the landscape must have been breathtaking to the early settlers. Or its ruggedness may have been daunting. 

Palisades in March 2006. Photo was taken when I visited a descendant of Adam Harman. I couldn't get a good view without the wires. Mary Ingles followed the New River home after her escape from captivity, her path taking her up behind these cliffs and down into a cornfield owned by Adam Harman where he found her, emaciated and exhausted from her travails.
Despite dangers from bears, cougars, wolves, and other wild animals, not to mention threats from the indigenous people who resented encroachment on their lands, many immigrants ventured into the area as soon as the territory opened up to them with the signing of the Treaty of Lancaster in 1744. The treaty called for the Iroquois to relinquish claim to land lying between the Alleghenies and the Ohio and for colonists to extend the Great Road southwestward from Staunton to the New River. Many of the earliest settlers to migrate into this region were German immigrants: farmers, furniture makers, metalworkers, basket makers, potters, stonemasons, gunsmiths, and fraktur artists.1 Along with the area’s acclaimed Scots-Irish settlers, the Germans left their mark on the culture. One of the earliest of these German settlers was Heinrich Adam Herrmann, cited in early records as Adam Harman (also spelled Harmon, Herman, or Hermann).2

A March 2006 view of the New River from the cliffs that Mary Ingles crossed in 1755.

 Adam Harman sometimes played a leading role but more often a supporting role in much of the drama of that time and place, including the Mary Draper Ingles saga. His role in that particular event was fictionalized by James Alexander Thom in his best selling historical novel, Follow the River.3 Several earlier accounts of the story have been recorded, from which Thom drew information, including one by Mary’s son John Ingles, Sr., called Escape from Indian Captivity written in 1836 and preserved unpublished by his family until 1934. Ingles describes his mother’s meeting with Harman near the end of her ordeal:

It so happened that a man of the name of Adam Harmon and two of his Sones was at a place on New River where they had settled and raised some corn that summer securing their corn and Hunting. When my mother got to the improvement not seeing aney Howse began to Hollow Harmon on hearing the voice of a woman was a good deal alarmed on listening being an old neighbour of my mother and well acquainted with her voice said to his sones it certainly was Mary Ingles voice & knowing that she was taken prisoner by the Indians was cautious there might  be Indians with her him and his sons Caught up their guns and run on to where my mother was & you may expect it was a Joyfull meating especialey to my mother.4

This is the approximate location of Adam Harman's cabin. When I visited in 2006, the house in the backgound, upper left was owned by a Harman descendant, Jim Connell, who was so captivated by the Mary Ingles story and his ancestor's role in it that he bought the property and hosted an outdoor re-enactment for several years. James Alexander Thom consulted with Jim Connell and stayed in his home while he was writing Follow the River. Jim took my mother and me on a tour of the cliffs and the cabin site.

Remainder of benches for Jim Connell's outdoor drama about Adam Harman's rescue of Mary Ingles.
 Later, John P. Hale, a descendant of Mary Ingles, elaborated on John Ingles’ account in Trans-Allegheny Pioneers, first published in 1886.5 As Mary Ingles descended from the cliffs, she came upon grounds that showed signs of human habitation:

     She saw no one, but there were evident signs of persons about. She hallooed;
at first there was no response, but relief was near at hand. . . .
She had been heard by Adam Harmon and his two sons, whose patch it was, and who were in it gathering their corn.
Mrs. Ingles hallooed again. They came out of the corn and towards her, cautiously, rifles in hand. When near enough to distinguish the voice—Mrs. Ingles still hallooing, Adam Harmon remarked to his sons: “Surely, that must be Mrs. Ingles’ voice.” Just then she, too recognized Harmon, when she was overwhelmed with emotions of joy and relief—poor, overtaxed nature gave way, and she swooned and fell, insensible, to the ground.
They picked her up tenderly and conveyed her to their little cabin, near at hand, where there was protection from the storm, a rousing fire and substantial comfort.6

Both John Ingles and Hale describe the following days as Mary Ingles regained her strength under the care of the Harman men who then took her to Dunkard Bottom where many of the settlers had gathered together in a fort. Later in his narrative, Hale adds, “I regret that I do not know the after-history of Adam Harmon and sons, the pioneer settlers of this beautiful place; but from every descendant of Mrs. Ingles, now and forever, I bespeak proper appreciation and grateful remembrance of the brave, tender-hearted, sympathetic, noble Adam Harmon.”7

Adam Harman descendant, Jim Connell and his mountain home near Eggleston, Virginia. Jim and his friend Pat fed my mother and me a delicious spaghetti lunch, and then he took us on a tour in his truck of the site where Mary Ingles hiked behind the cliffs and where Adam Harman found her in his cornfield.

Although Hale knew nothing about Adam Harman and his “after-history,” the story of Harman and his two sons, presumed by the Harman family to be the two oldest, Adam Jr. and Henry,8 has been preserved in historical records and by their many descendants. Adam Harman’s contribution to the settling of Southwest Virginia precedes and goes beyond the tale of Mary Draper Ingles.

1 “Southwest Virginia’s German Heritage on Exhibit at Ferrum College.” Ferrum News. 06 June 2001. Accessed 02 July 2007 <http://www.ferrum.ed/news/ArchivePreMay02/germanarts.html>. According to this web site, Fraktur is defined as “hand drawn and watercolored documents created on the occasion of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths.”
2 The original German spelling of the name Harman was Hermann, but spelling of the name was anglicized
in America. Hale spells it Harmon, with an “o” in the second syllable, but many descendants of Adam Harman
spell the name with an “a” in the last syllable. See John Newton Harman, Sr., Harman Genealogy (Southern Branch) with Biographical Sketches and Historical Notes, 1700-1924, (Radford, Va.: Commonwealth Press, Inc., 1925, reprinted 1983), 11. I will use the Harman spelling unless quoting from a source that uses a different spelling. See also David E. Johnston. A History of Middle New River Settlements and Contiguous Territory, (Huntington, WV: Standard Printing and Publishing Co., 1906), 33.
3 James Alexander Thom, Follow the River, (New York: Ballantine Books, 1981), 358.
4 John Ingles, Sr. Escape from Indian Captivity: The Story of Mary Draper Ingles and son Thomas Ingles.
2nd edition. Edited by Roberta Ingles Steele and Andrews Lewis Ingles. (Radford, Va.: no publisher, 1982), 16.
5 Although the accuracy of Hale’s work is in question, his comment about the “after-history of Adam
Harmon and sones” quoted herein segues into the rest of Adam Harman’s story.
6 John P. Hale, Trans-Allegheny Pioneers. 3rd ed. Ed. Harold J. Dudley, (Radford, Va.: Roberta Ingles Steele,
1971, first published 1886), 82.
7 Ibid., 67.
8 Harman Family Bible, stored at Virginia Historical Society, The Center for Virginia History, P.O. Box
7311, Richmond, VA 23221-0311. Copies of these records are in the author’s possession. Also John Newton Harman, Sr., 50.

(c) 2014, Z. T.Noble

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Winter Was Worse Than Yours!

“After Ma had seen them all tucked in bed and had gone downstairs, they heard and felt the blizzard strike the house. Huddled close together and shivering under the covers they listened to it. Laura thought of the lost and lonely houses, each one alone and blind and cowering in the fury of the storm. There were houses in town, but not even a light from one of them could reach another. And the town was all alone on the frozen, endless prairie, where snow drifted and winds howled and the whirling blizzard put out the stars and the sun,”1 writes Laura Ingalls Wilder about the long winter of 1880-81 in South Dakota. The blizzards started in October and lasted through April.
Nearly everyone has a "worst winter" memory. Now that Indiana has had a record snowfall of 51.6 inches as of Saturday, February 15, we can hope this long winter is drawing to a close. Snows, one after another arriving almost weekly, have layered our yards since early December. We've heard our share of howling winds, but mostly the snow has sifted to the ground in big soft flakes or sometimes heavy wet ones. We are tired of snow. Recently, a friend heard her grand-niece pray: "Dear Lord can you please stop the snow we are just sick of it, just sick of it. It is very beautiful but could you put spring on. I love you Lord amen." We agree, God. Please “put spring on.”
"But the blizzard of 1978 was the worst," I've heard people say. Until this year, it seems to have been the "bad one" in the memory of many Hoosiers. My husband and I were living in Virginia that year, but we traveled back to Indiana to spend Christmas with his family, and I remember the long return drive to Virginia through the white and blowing snow. We were young and undauntable then and weather conditions didn’t hinder our plans
In my parents’ memories, the worst winter was 1948-49 in Nebraska. The snows came in waves, one blizzard after another, starting in mid-November and lasting through March. They pounded Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa.  In February, a bulldozer driver for the National Guard noted, “Cattle sheds were packed full of snow. Snowdrifts were as high as the windmill towers, even up to the fans in places. At the ranchhouse where [the drivers] spent the night, snow was up to the top of windows around the house, so high the men couldn’t see out.”2 Mostly however, instead of depth of snow, records focused on loss of livestock (hundreds of thousands) and people (seventy-six),3 astonishing numbers!
At age 2 ½ at that time, I don’t remember much about it, but my parents took pictures of the house and farm buildings where we lived near Winside, Wayne County, in northeastern Nebraska. The drifts surrounded the house and nearly covered the outbuildings.
Left to right: my sister Verna, age 6; me, age 2 ½; my mother holding my little sister Regina age about 15 months; and my brother Vance, age 9. There's the chimney behind my brother.
"From the henhouse,” they could see only the chimney of the house, my dad noted on the back of the picture.

The henhouse on left, Verna standing on snowdrift.

My mother, my sisters and brother, and I sheltered under a big drift next to house; note the sled.
The outhouse nearly covered by snowdrift. Yes, we had an outhouse!

View of house from the road, Winter 1949.

Another view of the house.
Last but not least, my dashing dad stands against the backdrop of a snowdrift: Verne Clinton Troutman, 1949.
They couldn't get to town for days on end, my mother said, but somehow they managed to trudge across the snow to share warmth and laughter and food with a young couple on the next farm, Don and Dottie Wacker. And the spring came at last--and the floods.

1 Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Revised Harper Trophy edition, 2007, first published in 1940), 278.
2 Roy V. Alleman, Blizzard 1949 (Grand Island, Nebraska:, 1991), 181.
3 Alleman, Blizzard 1949, 192.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Research Leads to Exciting and Sometimes Disturbing Discoveries

My dad used to carry a little yellowed newspaper clipping, an obituary about a Confederate ancestor of his who had had four horses shot out from under him during the Civil War. Dad thought stories like that were pretty cool, and he liked to show the clipping to friends. To Dad’s chagrin, that little clipping was lost, and after Dad was gone, I couldn’t remember the name of the ancestor. The names Havens and Harman stuck in my mind. It was one of them, but which one?
At least, I knew our connection with the name Waggoner, so I went to the Bland County Court House in Virginia, the county where the Waggoners had lived.  I pored over those big heavy, musty smelling deed books and saw lots of Waggoner names, but I didn’t know which ones pertained to me. Discouraged, I picked up my notebook and started to leave. On my way out, a man asked if he could help.
“I’m looking for information on the Waggoner family,” I said. He smiled and wrote down a name and phone number on a slip of paper: Brenda King. When I called Brenda and told her my mission, she said, “Brenda Wagner King! You’ve come to the right person.” She sent me copies of pages from a book on the Waggoner family along with an address if I wanted to order it for myself. When I found Eli Waggoner’s name in the book, I found the names of his parents, Jacob and Anna. Not only that, but also I found a brief history of Anna’s family whose name was Harman.1 I was ecstatic!
Anna F. Harman and Jacob Waggoner, c. 1852

From the Waggoner book, I learned about the Harman book, which told me the name of the lucky Civil War soldier with the unlucky horses: Hezekiah Harman.2 He was Anna’s brother.
Hezekiah Harman, brother of Anna, uncle of Eli Waggoner
The Harman family, I learned, were early settlers in southwestern Virginia arriving when the territory was first opened to white settlers. In fact, Anna’s great-great-grandfather, Heinrich Adam Hermann, the immigrant from Germany, is credited with establishing the first English speaking settlement on the New River in 1745.3 (Yes, he had been in the country long enough to have learned English.) In all the early records, he is called Adam Harman/Herman/Harmon, which I learned while researching him for an article published in The Smithfield Review in 2009 (Volume 13). The historical marker photo was taken when I visited a descendant of Adam Harman who lives on land where Adam once lived.
Photo by Zola Noble.

When I was a kid, I devoured stories about Daniel Boone and Davey Crocket. I fantasized about Indian maidens like Pocahontas and Sacagawea. I wondered whether I had American Indian ancestry. I wondered whether any of my ancestors risked their lives in frontier settlements. Did they hunker down in log cabins as flaming arrows landed on the roof? As an adult, I read the entire series, Narratives of America, by Allan W. Eckert, which further piqued my curiosity about my ancestors’ involvement in all that conflict. I read Indiana author James Alexander Thom’s historical novels based on conflict with Native Americans during the 18th and early 19th centuries: Follow the River, Long Knife, Panther in the Sky, and From Sea to Shining Sea. There didn’t seem to be any history of dangers and adventures with the Troutmans; they stayed in safe communities and moved west after conflict with indigenous people had subsided.

Then I found Adam Harman. He did, indeed, settle uncharted territory. He and his family knew the terrors of Indian wars. One of his brothers and one of this grandsons were killed by Indians. He and his sons killed Indians. Suddenly, I felt very uncomfortable about that. Maybe I didn’t really want to know it, after all.
(For information on how to obtain a copy of the Smithfield Review article, see this link:

1 Thomas C. Hatcher and Nancy Nash, The Adam Waggoner Family of Tazewell and Montgomery Counties Virginia, 1750-1996 (Tazewell, Virginia: unknown publisher, 1996), p. 33-34.
2 John Newton Harman, Sr., Harman Genealogy (Southern Branch) with Biographical Sketches and Historical Notes, 1700-1924, new ed. (Radford, Virginia: Commonwealth Press, Inc., 1925; reprinted Tazewell, Virginia: Bettie H. St. Clair, 1983), p. 161.
3 Ibid., p. 55.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Eli and Rachel Waggoner: Later Years

The trail of Grandma Mary’s parents, Eli and Rachel Waggoner, is a little difficult to follow after they left Missouri. They lived in Nebraska and Minnesota, but the time frame is fuzzy.

This photo shows their house in Missouri with my grandmother Mary and great-grandmother Rachel Waggoner standing in front. It was apparently sent to relatives in Virginia who may have given it back to someone in our family. Written on the back of the photo is this inscription:            
                        Aunt Rachel Wagner—sister to Grandpa Havens
                        Mary Wagner Troutman
Mary and Rachel Waggoner, at home in Missouri, (c) 1909.
The Waggoner family moved to Nebraska in 1912.1 They may have moved to Lyon County, Minnesota about 1915 when their son Emery moved there. Their daughter Ida married in Lyon County in 1916. Mary’s daughter Virginia remembers going to see them on the train: “When I was probably 2 and Verne [the blogger's dad] was 4 [that would have been 1918], Mother took us with her on the train from Nebr. to Minn. to visit Grandma and Grandpa. All I remember is looking out of the train window as we crossed the Mississippi River and being terribly frightened. But Mother told us that when we went to bed that night . . . Verne looked up to her with his big blue eyes and said, “Mama, the kids don’t know we have a good bed, do they?”2 

By 1920, Eli and Rachel had returned to Nebraska and lived with Jake at Brenna Precinct, Wayne County.3  Virginia remembers more about those days: “Grandma and Grandpa [Waggoner] lived close to us for a few years before I went to school. I remember mother sending me . . . to return Grandma’s little aluminum pan. She had sent us sausage. It was only down the hill from us but up a long lane. As I got close to the house Grandma’s flock of geese came after me. I was so frightened and screamed to the top of my voice. And I was so happy to see Grandpa coming out of the double corn crib . . . to my rescue. Grandpa loved to hunt rabbits and squirrels for meat for the table. He also caught turtles and removed the meat from the shell. One time at Grandma's house she showed me this pretty white turtle meat soaking in salt water. She touched it and the whole piece of meat quivered. It was scary to me.”4 
About 1922, Eli and Rachel returned to Mexico, Missouri, where they lived with their daughter Alice Ellington until Eli died 16 February 1925. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery.5
E. P. and Rachel Waggoner tombstone, Elmwood Cemetery, Mexico, Audrain County, Missouri.
After Eli's death, Rachel went back to Nebraska where, in 1930, she was keeping house for Jake again.6 Virginia remembers Rachel’s account of her trip back to Nebraska: “Her youngest son Leo brought her. He was a rascal. . . . I remember her quietly telling me and showing Mother that she had hidden most of her money in a little bag in her bra, because she didn’t want Uncle Leo to have it.”7
Rachel lived long enough to see the birth of great-grandchildren, one of whom was Gary Eugene Troutman, first grandchild of Grandma Mary. Gary was born 7 May 1933 in Wayne, Nebraska to Mary’s son, Carl and his wife Dorothy (Fleer) Troutman. This four-generation photo shows Grandma Mary with Carl, Rachel, and Gary:
4 generations: Mary Waggoner Troutman, Carl Troutman, Rachel Havens Waggoner, Gary Troutman, 1933.
The Waggoner cousin who sent me the next photo said it’s Rachel and Eli,8 but even though the man has Eli’s prominent cheek bones and deep-set eyes, I question that he is Eli. For one, Eli was eight years older than Rachel, and the family photo taken about 1909 shows him bald with white mustache. Did Eli dye his hair and add a hairpiece for this later photo? I don’t think so. His ears are the wrong shape, too. Even so, I suspect the man is a Waggoner because he looks so much like pictures I’ve seen of the Waggoner men. Maybe he is one of Eli’s younger brothers.
Rachel Waggoner and unknown, late 1920s, perhaps.
 Compare to Eli and Rachel Waggoner below, clipped from the family photo, c. 1909. If that’s Eli in the photo above, he grew younger as Rachel grew older.
Eli Pierce Waggoner pictured in the family portrait, c. 1909.
Rachel Havens Waggoner pictured in the family portrait, c. 1909.
 Two more photos of Rachel must be included:  with her pet sheep in Nebraska.
Rachel and pet sheep in Nebraska in front of Clint Troutman home.
On back of the photo, Virginia wrote this note:
Virginia Troutman Nelsen's note on the back of the photo of Rachel and her pet sheep.

 Another photo of Rachel and the pet sheep:
Rachel Waggoner and her pet sheep in Nebraska.
Virginia also remembers a common saying from her grandmother Rachel: “Dreading to do a job is worse than doing it.” And once when she asked her grandmother if she ever wanted to go back to Virginia, Rachel replied, “There was nothing for me in Virginia but rocks.”9
One more story from Aunt Virginia: “I do want to tell you my greatest story of a time when I spent a week with Grandma Waggoner and Uncle Jake. On Saturday evening the three of us went to Pilger to sell eggs and cream and buy groceries. Before Grandma went to Pilger’s grocery store, she took me to a tent revival. I wondered how she knew it was there. I remember it as a very touching service.  I felt the presence of God and when the evangelist gave the altar call, I went forward and gave my life to God. The next morning I awakened on the leather sofa, a beautiful day with a breeze blowing in the window. As soon as I wakened, I felt an unexplainable joy in my heart—a bursting joy. And then I remembered that our Lord had reached down and claimed me as his child. Praise God!”10
Rachel died 13 March 1939 in Wayne County, Nebraska, and was buried beside Eli in Mexico, Missouri.11

1 “Waggoner Rites Held,” unknown Nebraska newspaper, date unknown; posted by dangleyze, 11 June 2010 to Poteat Family Tree on ( : accessed 6 February 2014).
2 Nelsen, Virginia, Ballwin, Missouri, to Zola Noble, letter, 4 August 2002, information on Eli and Rachel Waggoner; Letters from Aunt Virginia box; privately held, Zola Troutman Noble [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
31920 U. S. census, Brenna Precinct, Wayne County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 218, p. 5-A (penned), family 87, Jake Waggoner; digital image ( : accessed 5 October 2013); NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2268.
4 Nelsen, Virginia.
5 “Eli P. Waggoner,” obituary, Mexico [Missouri] Weekly Ledger, 19 February 1925, p. 3, col. 6.
6 1930 U. S. census, Brenna Precinct, Wayne County, Nebraska, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 90-1, p. 4-A, dwelling 69, family 69, Jacob Waggoner; digital image ( : accessed 5 October 2013); NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1295.
7 Nelsen, Virginia.
8 Mitchell, Jacquie, Seattle, Washington, to Zola Noble, letter, 7 September 2002, information on  Waggoner family; Waggoner, Eli & Rachel binder, Waggoner family; privately held, Zola Troutman Noble [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
9 Nelsen, Virginia.
10 Ibid.
11 “Waggoner Rites Held.”