Once in a while, I need to set aside the family history and focus on the family present. This is one of those times.
On Saturday, March 19, 2016, three descendants of Mathias Harman (1769-1802, Henry, Sr. > Heinrich Adam) met once again at The Quarter Way Inn near Bland, Virginia. You may (or not) recall our meeting last summer at the invitation of Tina Kiehn, proprietor of TQWI, who had contacted me earlier in the year and said, “I think I live in a house where your ancestors lived." Was I excited? I could hardly contain myself! She described, also, a cemetery across the road from her house. For a refresher, click on this link to read my account of last summer’s visit and to view photos.
Although Tina had warned us that the cemetery was overgrown with weeds, my husband Myron and I did not come prepared to hack through a tangled mass of raspberry and multi-flora rose bushes, not to mention pokeberries and saplings and such—all of it taller than our heads.
Two Harman cousins, Kitt Slusser and her mother also met us there. Kitt and I left feeling an urgency to return to clear off the cemetery where our ancestors lay. Many thanks to Kitt for actually taking charge and organizing a workday. Myron was skeptical about whether we could get it done in one day and I wondered, too, but our desire to be a part of the work motivated us to drive from Indiana.
After a few days of blue sky and sunshine and temperatures in the sixties, we woke up Saturday morning to skies the color of slate, pelting rain and a temp of about 50°. We pulled on boots and extra layers and took raincoats. Brrr!
Leaving our motel in Wytheville, we hoped the skies would lighten and the rain stop by the time we emerged from Big Walker Mountain Tunnel on I-77. It did—somewhat. The sky seemed brighter and the rain sprinkled instead of pelted. Maybe it was our high hopes, but I don’t think so.
By the time we arrived at The Quarter Way Inn about 8:45, the rain had nearly stopped. Kitt and her husband Jeff were already at work. We unloaded our equipment, handed it over the gate, the key for which could not be found, and hefted it up the hill.
At the entrance to the cemetery, a row of yellow daffodils smiled at us—a refreshing sight on a gloomy day. New life, promise of restoration, of resurrection, of joy.
Myron and Jeff, wielding chainsaws, cleared the perimeter of the cemetery first. As fast as they sheared off the briars and brush, Kitt, her sister Shannon, Tina and I could hardly keep up as we picked up the cuttings and hauled them to a burn pile. Shannon's boyfriend, Roger, showed up later and pitched in. By this time, instead of carrying every bundle of prickly sticks to the fire, we threw them over the fence, and Shannon and Roger threw them on the fire. As Myron and Jeff worked their way into the center of the cemetery, we spotted the sign hanging lopsided from one eye bolt—Harmon Family Cemetery. Finishing in one day looked promising. In fact we finished in four hours, and we were bothered only once for a few minutes with a light rain.
Thanks to Shannon, who insisted that Kitt stop her work to take pictures, our busy day was photographed. Thanks to Kitt for the photos.
|The Quarter Way Inn viewed from the cemetery. Note dark sky.|
|The cemetery clearing task looked daunting, at first.|
|Tina, working hard.|
|Myron with his chain saw.|
|On overview, Jeff on left, Myron on right.|
|Finally, we get a glimpse of the sign.|
|Clearing around the sign.|
|Zola carrying brush.|
|Roger and Shannon burning the brush. Jeff taking a breather.|
|Zola and Tina, clearing brush.|
|Harmon Family Cemetery, sign|
|Mary Harmon's tombstone.|
|Photo courtesy of Find A Grave contributor, "Mike."|
|Tombstone of Henry Harmon (1797-1878).|
Nancy F. Harman Bales was a daughter of Henry and Fanny Harmon. Her husband William Bales was killed during the Civil War and is buried here, too. His inscription is on the other side of Nancy's marker.
|Nancy Harmon Bales (1827-1889)|
Jerome Bonaparte Harmon, son of Henry and Fanny Harmon, is buried here, too.
|Jerome B. Harmon (1831-1915)|
We couldn't read the tombstone below, but the heart design at the top is beautiful.