Thursday, April 10, 2014

Adam Harman, Pioneer on the New River, Part 7

This is the final part of the article on Adam Harman, my 6 x great-grandfather, originally published in The Smithfield Review, Vol. 13, 2009. The Harmans came to America from a Moravian tradition in Germany, so they must have felt a kinship with Moravians in North Carolina:

Further records involving Adam Harman can be found at the Moravian settlement in North Carolina. Many Moravian journal entries record the unrest caused by Indian attacks, such as the following involving Adam Harman, referred to here as “the elder Herrman”:

1763, Aug. 22. A man from New River came to the doctor for treatment of a wound received from an Indian. He brought a letter from our friend the elder Herrman, which said that since the last alarm, they had seen no more of the Wild men. They, the Herrmans, had built a fort where they and several other families were living together. They were expecting a guard of 100 men from Virginia.1

1764, Feb. 10. From New River comes our friend, the elder Herrman, and his son, Adam. The rest of their families will follow next week. Herrman says that by spring that there will be no families left on New River, for by the King’s Declaration the land must be returned to the Cherokees.

Feb. 29. The Herrman families, who have been staying at the mill, moved away today. They will settle near our east line.2

Other entries record happier events in the life of Adam Harman and his family:

1764, April 21. Yesterday the elder Herrman and part of his family arrived. Today the rest came, accompanied by many wedding guests, for Daniel Herrman wished to be married to Billy Bughsen’s daughter by Justice Loesch. About forty people had to be cared for in the Tavern tonight, but all went with reasonable quiet.

April 22. Easter Sunday. (The usual services were held). In a separate service the little sons of Adam and Henry Herrman were baptized. The children are the grandsons of our friend, the elder Herrman. Adam’s son, six weeks old, received the name of Valentine; the other a year old, was named Henry.3

The following entry records news of Adam Harman’s death and establishes that he had returned to the New River:

1767, Mar. 2. Captain English from New River, was here, on his way to Georgia. . . . He confirmed the report about the murder [by the Indians on the New River]. He also told us that our old friend Adam Herrman died there four weeks ago.4

These invaluable records left by the Moravians give a glimpse into the difficulties Adam Harman encountered in his efforts to locate his family in a safe place where the happy events such as marriage and baptism could continue unmolested, yet he also returned to the wilderness, which he must have loved, and spent his last days there.

After his father’s death, Adam Harman’s son Henry recorded in his father’s old German Bible, which is now housed at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, “My father, Adam Herman, died in the fall of the year 1767. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us of all our sins. My Lord Jesus, yours forever. Yours I am in life and in death eternally.”5 This date conflicts with the Moravian records by several months, yet the year is consistent.
The life of German immigrant, Heinrich Adam Hermann, better known in historical records as Adam Harman, was a lively and eventful one. Evidence reveals that he took great risks in transporting his family from Germany to the Colonies and then to the wilderness along the New River in Virginia; that he dreamed big and did not always have the ability or means to carry out his dreams; that he was not always a congenial neighbor; that he was a man who showed courage in dangerous times; and that “the brave, tender-hearted, sympathetic, noble Adam Harmon” of John P. Hale’s account could also be a man of violence, if necessary. He was firm in his resolve to help settle the new frontier of Virginia, firm in his resolve to establish a place for his family there. He lived during an age when immigrants, such as he, were hungry for land of their own, and they were willing to risk their lives to obtain it. Adam Harman’s legacy is perhaps best noted in the lives of his descendants, many of whom still live in the Appalachian region of Southwest Virginia, eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia and North Carolina where their progenitor hunted and farmed and fought to secure a place for them. They have been farmers, preachers, soldiers, teachers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, miners, artists, writers, and more—all the solid citizenry that has made the region the backbone of the United States of America.

Acknowledgements: I owe a special thank you to the National Endowment for the Humanities for a grant I received to attend the Summer Institute for College and University Teachers, "Regional Study and the Liberal Arts: Appalachia Up-Close," at Ferrum College in June 2008. My project for the institute was to research the life of Adam Harman for this manuscript. Thank you, Brenda Wagner King, Wythe County Genealogical Society, for inadvertently helping me find my Harman roots; Vaughn Cassell for meticulously researching the descendants of Adam Harman; Barbara Vines Little for sending me a copy of the Patton and Buchanan survey report so I could see it for myself; Eddie Harman for helping me find Harman landmarks in McDowell County, West Virginia; and Jim Connell, a descendant of Adam Harman living in Giles County at Clovernook, the place where Harman and his two sons rescued Mary Ingles from the elements and from starvation. Jim very graciously gave my mother and me a tour of the area. He showed me the route he thinks Ingles took over the cliffs and the location of the cornfield and the hunting cabin. Thank you, James Alexander Thom for telling me about Jim Connell. Thank you, Herman Schrader and Charlotte Harman Puckett at the Tazewell County Historical Society, and thanks to the people who assisted me at the Virginia Historical Society, the Augusta County Court House, and the Orange County Historical Society. In addition, thank you, Dan Woods, Ferrum College, and Hugh Campbell, Smithfield Review, for suggesting additional sources. And to the other Smithfield Review editors, I humbly thank you for your generous comments, for your attention to details, and for helping shape the manuscript.

1 Adelaide L. Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Vol. I, 1752-1771 (Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards and Broughton Printing, Co., 1922), p. 274; Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 320; Kegley and Kegley, Early Adventures, p. 223.
2 Fries, Records of the Moravians, p. 285; Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 320; Kegley and Kegley, Early Adventures, p. 223.
3 Fries, Records of the Moravians, p. 286; Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 320-1; Kegley and Kegley, Early Adventures, p. 223.
4 Fries, Records of the Moravians, p. 258; Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 321; Kegley and Kegley, Early Adventures, p. 223.
5 Harman Family Bible; Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 70.

© 2014, Z. T. Noble

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