Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Henry Harman, Sr.: Old Skygusty

Heinrich Adam Harman’s second son, Henry, is the next one in the line of descent of the Clint and Mary Troutman family from “the elder Herrman." For a quick review, here’s that line of descent again:
Heinrich Adam Hermann
(Adam Harman)
Henry Harman, Sr.
Mathias Harman
Henry Harman
Anna F. Harman
(married Jacob Waggoner)
Eli Waggoner
Mary Waggoner
(married Clint Troutman)
Verne Troutman
Zola Troutman
(married Myron Noble)

To distinguish this particular Henry Harman from many others of the same name, he is often called Henry, Sr., in records. Those Germans had a naming tradition that fosters frustration for genealogy researchers. Every generation was named for selected people in previous generations until, I suppose, if they had enough children, they ran out of names. Then maybe a child got an original name. The first child was to be named for the father’s father. Since Heinrich Adam Harman named his firstborn son Adam, that was likely his father’s name. The second son was named Heinrich, the English version of which is Henry, so if Adam followed tradition, that was likely his wife’s father’s name. Or did he break tradition and name his first two sons after himself?
Following tradition, the third son was to be named for the father, but Adam’s third son was named George, so it appears that Adam didn’t follow tradition very closely. The next generation didn’t follow tradition, specifically, either, it seems. They appear to have named their sons after their father and brothers. Adam’s other sons were named Daniel, Mathias, Valentine, and Jacob, and for the next two or three generations, at least, the Harmans gave their sons those same names. When you search for any of those names, you will have to sort through a myriad of men with the same name to find the one you seek.
Tradition holds that our Henry was born on the Isle of Man in 1726 while the family was en route from Germany to the Colonies.[1] Henry’s life was surely filled with the adventurous spirit of his father, and though we know little about his mother Louisa Katrina, she must have supported the adventure, as well. Henry certainly learned the ways of the long hunter, men who spent months in the wilderness, hunting and trapping, to bring back a stash of furs to sell and trade. Although the elder Adam’s two sons were not named with him in stories about his rescue of Mary Draper Ingles, family tradition holds that Adam and Henry were the two sons accompanying their father when he found Mary near his hunting cabin in 1755 ( see Adam Harman: Pioneer on the New River, 1745 )[2]

During the time termed “Indian depredations” along the New River, at the start of the French and Indian War, many of the settlers fled to safer places in North Carolina. Some of the Harmans moved to the area around Old Salem where the Moravians lived. In that area in 1758, Henry married Anna Nancy Wilburn.[3] Their first child, Daniel Conrad, was born there in 1760.[4] The second son, Henry, Jr., was reportedly born on the New River in 1763,[5] yet the Moravians recorded this child’s baptism in North Carolina at age one, on 22 April 1764.[6]
Henry, Sr., made return forays into Virginia, which apparently sometimes included his young family, but his primary home seems to have been in Rowan County North Carolina until about 1776.[7] Records referring to him can be found there from 1758 until about 1775.[8] In Virginia, records show he owned land in Tazewell and surrounding counties from 1754, until he moved to Bland County in about 1755 where he had a large estate near High Rock.[9] In about 1790, he moved to Hollybrook in the same county,[10]  and that’s where he is buried.

Near this location, Henry Harman, Sr. built a home at Hollybrook, Bland County, Virginia. His grave marker lies at the base of tree in the center of the photo. Photographed in May 2002 by Z. T. Noble.

During pre-Revolutionary War days, Henry served as leader of a “company of ‘Regulators’ of North Carolina in 1770-1771, who arose against the unjust laws of England in armed resistance. He was a member of the Committee of Safety of Rowan County, North Carolina in 1774-1775. Having become a resident of Montgomery County, Virginia in 1776, he served throughout the Revolution as a frontier Indian fighter in southwest Virginia.”[11] On his tombstone are the words, “Pvt Capt A Osborne’s Regt. Revolutionary War.”[12]

Henry Harman's grave marker, Harman Cemetery, Hollybrook, Bland County, Virginia.  Photographed May 2002 by Z. T. Noble.

Henry Harman’s Indian fighting prowess became legendary on 12 November 1788, near the Tug River in what is now McDowell County, West Virginia. On that day, he and his sons Mathias and George and their friend George Draper loaded their equipment on pack horses and set out with their bear dog into disputed territory hunting bear. Being late in the year, they didn’t expect to encounter Indians. As they prepared their camp, each attending to his specific chores, the two sons loaded their guns and set out to explore the area around their camp. Before long, George returned to report a smoldering campfire not far away. Henry quizzed his son about what he had seen, and from the report, he determined that at least five to seven Indians could be within a short distance.[13]

To avoid a confrontation, they decided the best thing to do was to pack up and head for home as quickly and quietly as possible, so they alerted Mathias. As the men packed their gear, Henry noticed that Draper was trembling and tried to calm him. The two older men took the lead, followed by the pack horses, and then Henry’s two sons. On the way, Draper spotted Indians behind a log. When the bear dog ran up to the log, he quickly turned tail and retreated to his master. Henry realized that meant danger, so he joined his sons.  Suddenly, gun shots exploded from behind the log and smoke engulfed it. Draper fled. Seven Shawnee, four armed with guns and the others with bows, arrows and clubs, surrounded Henry, George, and Mathias, who formed a triangle with their backs to each other to fight them off. George and Henry fired first wounding two of their foes.[14]
George struggled with another attacker, and with Mathias’ help, stabbed him. Henry was shot twice with arrows, one in the elbow, which pierced an artery, and one in his side, which lodged against a rib, but he was able to raise his gun as if to fire. When he did, the Indians fell back a short distance. Mathias then shot and killed the one who appeared to be their leader. With two of their number dead and two wounded, the Shawnee fled, passing Draper hiding behind a log. Draper then slipped off to the settlement to report the others killed. George and Mathias stopped the bleeding of their father’s wound, and offered him his pipe for a smoke while they assessed the damages. The villagers found them alive and well. Through the following years, George re-told this story, blow by blow, to his descendants.[15]
A marker commemorating this battle stands in Gary Lions Park on highway 103, near the intersection of highway 116,  close to Welch, West Virginia. A distant Harman cousin helped me find it in 2008.
Battle of Tug River Monument, McDowell County, WV. Photo June 2008, by Z. T. Noble.
Photographed by Z. T. Noble, June 2008.

Henry’s stamina in this battle earned him the respect of his opponents, who dubbed his “Skygusta,” which translates roughly into brave warrior. Through the years, this nickname stuck among his white friends as well. People called him “Old Skygusty.” A small unincorporated town in West Virginia near the battle site is named Skygusty, and at least one of his descendants, Jim Connell (see Adam Harman: Pioneer on the New River, 1745), uses the name on his license plate.

[1] John Newton Harman,  Sr., Harman Genealogy (Southern Branch) with Biographical Sketches and Historical Notes, 1700-1924 (Radford, Va.: Commonwealth Press, Inc., 1925), p. 50, 69, 71.
[2] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 71.
[3] U. S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900, database ( : accessed 14 April 2014), citing Henry Harman and Anna Nancy Wilburn, 1758.
[4]  Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 69.
[5] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 69.
[6] Adelaide L. Fries, Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, Vol. I, 1752-1771 (Raleigh, N.C.: Edwards and Broughton Printing, Co., 1922), p. 286; Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 320-1; Mary B. Kegley and F. B. Kegley, Early Adventures on the Western Waters, Vol. 1 (Orange, Va.: Green Publishers, Inc., 1980), p. 223.
[7] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 69-70.
[8] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 70.
[9] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 70.
[10] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 73.
[11] U.S. Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970, about Henry Harman, Sr., database ( : accessed 15 April 2014); SAR membership number 73600, National Society Sons of the American Revolution, Microfilm, 508 rolls.
[12] Harman Cemetery (Hollybrook, Bland County, Virginia); Henry Harman marker;  photographed May 2002 by the researcher.
[13] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 76-77.
[14] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 78.
[x15] Harman, Harman Genealogy, p. 78-80.

(c) 2014, Z. T. Noble


  1. Hello! I was doing some research on Heinrich Adam, and came across your page. You don't know how excited I am to have found it! It's wonderful to have fresh information. I lived in McDowell County, WV, until I was in First Grade.(We moved to Russell County, VA.) I never even knew that that monument even existed! Of course, I haven't been searching out my ancestry seriously until this last year or so. Mathias, Sr., is my 5th Great Grandfather. It has really made me happy to see all this!!! :)

    1. So glad you're enjoying what you've found here. I wrote a little about Matthias, Sr. in my blog about Jenny Wiley. I haven't researched him as much as I have Henry, Sr., but he was certainly an interesting character in the Harman saga.

  2. I forgot to ask: Is the people in the photo above related to the Harmans? Thank you!

    1. In the blog's cover photo above, the woman on the right is my grandmother, Mary Ann Waggoner Troutman. She is descended from the Harman family. You can see her position in the line of descendants of Heinrich Adam above. Her children, of course, are also descendants of HAH. My father is the little boy in front with the great big bow tie. :-) Also, in the picture of the monument, the man with me is a descendant of Matthias, Sr., brother of Henry, Sr. His name is Eddie Harman.