Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Current Adventures: Walking Where My Ancestors Walked

Once in a while, I feel the need to digress from the past and write about current activities. This is one of those times. I've been on a research adventure.

One of the great benefits of writing this blog has been the wonderful people who have contacted me with additional information or questions regarding my blog entries. Last January, the lovely and gracious Tina Kiehn of The Quarter Way Inn, Nebo, Virginia, messaged me that she thought she lived on the property of my Harman ancestors.

Then when I wrote about Andy Hayes, my Find A Grave friend, Barry L. Seitz, contacted me that Andy's memorial,  complete with photo of the tombstone, had just been added to the web site--the day before I posted my blog! How spooky is that! Immediately, I contacted Shannon Simpson, the person who created the memorial.

Another person who has helped me with my Waggoner research is Ann Beardshall of the Bland County Historical Society. And a recent contact is Kitt Slusser Edwards, an enthusiastic Harman researcher and distant cousin who invited me to join a Facebook group, The Descendants of Heinrich Adam Harman, which has been immensely interesting.

My travel goal this week has been to meet these wonderful people.  My long-suffering husband agreed to tag along. First we met Ann at the old jail in Bland where the historical society has its office. Ann has written several books about places and events in Bland County, and I bought one, The Lynching of Ivy Jackson, February 5, 1885--nothing to do with my family, but so interesting. Ann showed us the dark and hard looking cells of the jail, tiny cells with two metal bunks and a toilet, barely room to turn around. As far as I know, none of my ancestors spent time there, but you never know. We talked for about two hours.
Bland County Historial Society and form jail in Bland, Virginia. (Photo by ZTN)

At The Quarter Way Inn, Tina and Bret met us with open arms. What a thrill to be on the grounds where my great-great-grandmother, Anna Harman, played as a girl; where her father, Henry Harman, also played and worked, where he brought his wife, Fanny Brown, where he raised his family, and lived his life; and where Anna's grandfather, Mathias Harman, also lived and died at age 32 from injuries in 1802 when his horse ran between two trees somewhere on this land. The land was in the Harman name for well over 100 years.

Land formerly owned by 4x great-grandfather, Mathias Harman (1769-1802) and his son Henry Harman (1797-1878). House built about 1900, not the original, of course. (Photo by ZTN)

This ancient tree, however, has seen many generations of the Harman family come and go. (Photo by ZTN)
Tina showed me the deeds she had copied from court house records of Mathias Harman's land grant, transfer of the land to his children, and a plat map showing the division of the property after Mathias' grandson, Hezekiah Harman died. We pored over the plat sketch. The next day I went to the court house and got copies for myself.

Plat map showing the division of the property formerly owned by Hezekiah Harmon, Anna's brother and son of Henry, 1924. The Quarter Way Inn is located in the portion slightly above and right of middle along the curved road where it says "house." Tap to see larger image.
An additional treat at the Quarter Way Inn was that we were joined by two Harman cousins, 5th cousin, Kitt Slusser, and her mother Cathy Light, 4th cousin once removed.
Myron and I with Harman cousins, Cathy and Kitt. (Photo by Tina Keihn)
Tina became our tour guide around the property, which included a trip to the much overgrown Harman Cemetery. We really couldn't see much, but we hacked our way into it enough to find a few tombstones. A clean up crew needs to be organized. 
Tina opens the gate to the cemetery.
Tina hacks a path for us through the blackberries.
We found one!
This one we cleared enough to read.
And that was only the first day of our adventure.


  1. Fascinating, Zola! You inspire me!

  2. Thank you, Rena. I'm glad you're inspired. It was a memorable experience. So much fun.