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Fall 2009, NO. 35 - Contents


Special Ceremony Features Harlan Project

By Virginia Harlan Hess

Dolores Harlan Burger and Virginia Harlan HessIn memory of the late Ridge Latimer Harlan, The Harlan Family in America, through an anonymous gift from a generous family member, has funded the restoration of an organ that Robert Todd Lincoln gave to his wife, Mary Eunice Harlan Lincoln, and their children.

A dedication ceremony was held Sunday, April 26, 2009, in the beautifully restored home of Senator James Harlan on the campus of Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Executive Director of Friends of the Harlan-Lincoln House, Lynn Ellsworth, gave the history of the organ, and Dr. Jay Simmons, President of the college, spoke to the group of 40 gathered for the occasion.

Christine and Gerry Harlan Lundgren, Virginia Harlan Hess, Dolores Harlan BurgerWilliam Layne of Mt. Pleasant, with the assistance of his wife, Kathryn, was responsible for the meticulous restoration. Both were present, and Mr. Layne explained the process of the restoration and entertained the audience with several musical pieces. A reception followed the entertainment.

Representing the Harlan Family were the association's secretary, Gerry Harlan Lundgren, and her daughter, Christine, of Stanton, Iowa; Virginia Harlan Hess, Windsor, Mo.; and Dolores Harlan Burger, California, Mo. Dolores paid tribute to her cousin, Ridge, with words of appreciation for his years of service to the Harlan Family in America organization.

Among those present for the dedication was Paul Juhl, the author of the recently published book, The James Harlan and Robert Todd Lincoln Families' Mount Pleasant Memories (see Issue No. 34, Spring 2009, of the Harlan Record.)

Remembering Marjorie Harlan

Marjory Harlan (CA) passed away in April 2009 after a long illness at the age of 83. Marjory and her late husband, Ridge Latimer Harlan, were ardent supporters of the Harlan Family in America and were also generous philanthropists with donations to several of our family reunions.

Marjory worked for more than 50 years as a psychiatrist in the San Francisco area and later donated professional time to American Indian organizations in Arizona. She was also “mother” to hundreds of young women through her establishment of group homes for wayward teens in San Francisco.

Marjory is survived by her children Brooke, Holly and Bob (current Harlan association president), a brother, nieces and nephews, and many grandchildren. The family requests that donations be made in her memory to The Harlan Family in America.


President - Robert R. Harlan
1716 Clark Ave., Yuba City, CA 95991

Vice President - Junior F. Harlan
6218 Betty Elyse Ln.
Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Secretary - Gerry Harlan Lundgren
2517 - 190th, Stanton, IA 51573

Treasurer - John R. Harlan
422 Aumond Rd., Augusta, GA 30909


Pat Fluetsch (CA)
Joe Hannon (CA)
Katherine M. Harlan (PA)
Robert A. Harlan (PA)
William K. Harlan (CA)
Becky Hines (FL)
Ruth Harlan Lamb (MO)
Mary Harlan Murphy (PA)
Liz Harlan Sly (VA)


Dan Harlan (NC)

The Harlan Record is published semiannually by

The Harlan Family in America
P. O. Box 1654
Independence, MO 64055
a permanent organization established to document the historical contributions made by Harlans in America. Submissions of articles are welcome. They are subject to editing and may be held until a future issue if space is limited.

E-mail to: C. J. King, Editor

or Ruth Harlan Lamb, Layout/Mailing

or mail to the organization's address shown above.

If you want an electronic version of The Harlan Record, e-mail your request to: harlamb@aol.com. The e-mail newsletter will be sent close to the time that printed newsletters are mailed. The Harlan Record is also available on the Harlan Web site: www.harlanfamily.org under the link “Newsletter.”

Contributors to The Harlan Family in America

Donations received from since February 1, 2009.

AL - Laura & Robert L. Harlan, Sr.
Carolyn Harlan Parker
AR - Virginia P. Harlan
CA - Robert & Caroline Chambers
IA - Ben Mirgon KY - Rachel I. Lewis
MO - James & Dorothy Harlan
OH - Marjorie A. Ritchey
OK - Betty G. Law
PA - Charles & Patty Harlan
Fred L. Harlan
Nancy Shaw Tritt
SC - Norma Ballard
TX - Mr. & Mrs. Tom F. Harlan
Marc B. Smith, Jr.
Ella M. Lawson

Thank you for your generous support.

Remembrance Fund

in memory of.....

Ridge & Marjory Harlan by Gerry Harlan Lundgren - IA

Marjory Harlan by Virginia Harlan Hess - MO

Order Harlan Family History Book

To order a copy of Alpheus Harlan's book, History & Genealogy of the Harlan Family, contact:

Peggy Harlan Talley 104 Fern Poteau, OK 7495.

The cost is $60, postpaid. Make check payable to The Harlan Family in America.

Reminders . . .

When sending e-mails with Harlan information or if making Harlan inquiries, please put “Harlan” somewhere in the subject line of your e-mail.

For The Harlan Record, send postal and e-mail address changes to

The Harlan Family in America, P. O. Box 1654, Independence, MO 64055 or e-mail harlamb@aol.com

If you'd like to be on the Harlan e-mail registry, send your address and any changes to Junior Harlan at: harlanjay@cox.net. Addresses are kept confidential unless permission is granted.



September 1, 2009

Checking Account Balance:








Contributions since 2/1/09

$ 465.00

Harlan Gen'logy Bk. Sales


Interest from CD



$ 1982.00





Newsletter Printing/Mail'g


Book Shipping


Stamps (Spring and Fall newsletter mailings) 1,680.00
Harlan-Lincoln House
Chester Co. Historical Society



$ 2921.40



Checking Account Balance:



$ 3,417.76

Certificate of Deposit

$ 30,000.00

Net worth 9/1/09

$ 33,417.76

Hildeneʼs Efforts to Restore the Sunbeam

Hildene, the Harlan-Lincoln home in Manchester, Vt., is in the midst of a project to restore one of the original Pullman railroad cars, the “Sunbeam.” Robert Todd Lincoln, husband of Mary Harlan Lincoln and son of the Civil War President, was president of the Pullman Company when the Sunbeam was built, in 1903.

The Friends of Hildene acquired the railroad car after an extensive search for the most authentic example of a Pullman car built during RTL's tenure with the company. The car had not been substantially altered through the years, and once the restoration is complete, the Sunbeam will be the finest example of a wooden Pullman car on public display. It will be brought to Hildene to serve as an educational tool to help teach about railroad history, the Gilded Age, the labor movement, and the Industrial Revolution in America.

Hildene has been offered a generous $400,000 match if another $400,000 can be raised by the end of 2009. A substantial portion of that match has been raised, but help is still needed. With these funds, Hildene will be able to complete the restoration project. Hopefully, the newly restored Sunbeam will be brought to Hildene in the summer of 2010.

If you would like to make a donation to this project, contact Friends of Hildene at P.O. Box 377, Manchester, VT 05254, or call 1-800-578-1788. For more information about Hildene, visit www.hildene.org.

Discovering Michael Harlan

by Lynne Carroll, descendant of Michael Harlan (#4)

I had never heard the story of my mother’s father, Richard W. Harlan, until after her death in 1986. She was the last of Richard’s children.

Stuck to the back of her old desk was an envelope containing a few old news clippings. One, in particular, caught my attention. It was an older gentleman on horseback, Dr. George C. Harlan. As I read it, it was his obituary. Dr. Harlan was a nationally recognized ophthalmologist affiliated with the Wills Eye Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He was a surgeon with the 11th Pennsylvania Calvary during the Civil War. My grandfather was George C. Harlan’s grandson.

Into this family came my grandmother as a nanny to the younger Harlan children. She told me she had come into Ellis Island at the age of 14 to be a nanny for this family. During this time, she and Richard apparently fell in love. My grandmother returned to Switzerland when her job was completed. She later came through Ellis Island a second time to marry Richard.

Apparently Richard was disinherited by his family because of this marriage. They had nine children, my mother being the youngest. From what I have discovered, my grandfather Richard was born in 1877 and died in 1915. I do not know the date of my grandparents’ wedding. My mother, Theresa Elizabeth, was born in 1904.

Until I found this envelope, I just had no thought of finding out about Harlans. However, I am a Civil War buff, and this piqued my interest.

I was at a clear disadvantage since my grandmother and mother never talked about that side of the family, because I am sure it was a scandal at the time. While living in southern Chester County, Pa., I knew of the Harlan Log House and started there. I discovered that George and Michael Harlan came to this country from Ireland and landed in New Castle, Del. I then heard about The Harlan Family of America and joined the group.

I understand that I am unique because most Harlans are related to George.

A Note to Friends of All Hallows, Sutton on the Forest

A thank-you letter was received for the Harlan Family’s contributions toward the restoration of the Harland memorials in All Hallows Church, Sutton on the Forest in England.

Two monuments were taken down in May for repairs and should be back in place now. The restoration project to repair all of the memorials may take 20-30 years.

Derek Jacobs, Chairman of Friends of All Hallows Trust, will be happy to show the Church to any Harlan Family visitors if they contact him by e-mail a few days before coming. Derek’s e-mail address is: djj3@btinternet.com

Owners of the Original Books?

Fred Harlan is curious about how many people own original copies of The History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family, by Alpheus Harlan.

If you have an original copy of the book, let him know by emailing Fred: fredharlan@verizon.net.

Richard Harlan (#1199): A Friend of John James Audubon

By Ç. J. King Harlan Record Editor

Submissions for this issue of the Harlan Record were lighter than usual, so I was searching for an interesting Harlan to write about. After spotting a hawk in my back yard, I consulted my field guide to identify it. While reading, I found a listing for the Harlan’s Hawk. Have you heard of the Harlan’s Hawk and wondered if it was named after a Harlan? It turns out that it was.

According to Guide to Field Identification: Birds of North America (Golden Press, 1966), the Harlan’s Hawk is fairly rare and one of the most difficult birds to identify. It strongly resembles the Red-Tailed Hawk and is sometimes considered a subspecies of that bird. The Red-Tailed Hawk is known for its ruddy-colored tail; the Harlan’s Hawk’s tail is mottled dark brown on white, with a dark band across the bottom, The Harlan’s Hawk is also easily confused with the Rough-Legged Hawk and the Ferruginous Hawk.

Red-Tailed Hawks are common year-round in most of the United States, except the Upper Midwest and the western states bordering Canada. The Harlan’s Hawk has a much narrower range, wintering in Texas, then migrating up through the Plains and summering in Northwestern Canada and southern Alaska.

According to a book review by Richard Bierregaard Jr., posted on the Univ. of North Carolina’s Dept. of Biology Web site, John James Audubon (1785-1851) missed an opportunity to see the Harlan’s Hawk in the field and had to be satisfied with studying the bird from specimens brought back from someone else’s western expedition. A somewhat conflicting story appears on the www.audubon.org Web site, where Audubon relates about capturing a sample of the species. In either case, Audubon named the newly discovered bird after Dr. Richard Harlan, a noted physician and zoologist from Philadelphia.

Audubon’s respect for Dr. Harlan is evident in the following quote, taken from Audubon’s commentary about the bird: "Long before I discovered this fine Hawk, I was anxious to have an opportunity of honouring some new species of the feathered tribe with the name of my excellent friend Dr. Richard Harlan of Philadelphia. This I might have done sooner, had I not waited until a species should occur, which in its size and importance should bear some proportion to my gratitude toward that learned and accomplished friend." (www.audubon.org/bird/boa/F2_G2d.html)

For a quick biography of Richard Harlan, I consulted Wikipedia. I found very little information, but I did find birth and death dates, which helped me find the right Richard Harlan in the Alpheus Harlan book. He first appears on page 139, one of the sons of Joshua Harlan (#306). He appears again on page 335, where we learn that he was a physician and a Quaker, born on Sept. 19, 1796, in Philadelphia. According to Alpheus, Dr. Harlan survived a cholera epidemic in Philadelphia in 1832, during which he "rendered noble service to his native city." In addition to being a physician, he was a "noted naturalist" and the author of three books, Fauna Americana (1825), American Herpetology (1827), and Medical and Physical Researches (1835). He died of yellow fever on Sept. 30, 1843, in New Orleans, where he is buried.

Double Harlan Ancestry

Editor’s note: The following is from the link, “Stories,” on the Harlan family’s Web site.

“My parents are also my cousins.” This sounds like the beginning of a riddle, but it is a true story.

Dorothy Harlan Wear has Harlan ancestors on both sides of her family.

Reuben M. Harlan’s (#2729) first marriage and family are documented in Alpheus Harlan’s genealogy book. But not in the book is his second marriage to Cynthia Darnell. They had five children: James, Reuben Smith, Mattie, Cynthia, and Susan. Reuben Smith is Dorothy’s great-grandfather on her father’s side, and Mattie is her great-grandmother on her mother’s side. Reuben Smith Harlan married Frances Ida Darnell, the niece of Cynthia Darnell. They had a son, Reuben Lee Harlan, who had a son, Lee Isadore Harlan— Lee was Dorothy’s father.

Mattie Harlan, Reuben Smith’s sister, married Christopher Kessler, and they had a daughter, Margaret, who had a daughter Rosa Lee. Rosa Lee was Dorothy’s mother and the wife of Lee Isadore Harlan. Dorothy says it took almost twenty years to confirm the stories of how her mom and dad are related. “This is how my parents are cousins, making me a third cousin to my parents, I do believe,” Dorothy writes.

Dorothy and her three sisters, JoAnn, Frances, and Evelyn, were born and grew up in Los Angeles County, Calif., but her parents were born in Louisville, Ky. Dorothy now lives in Washougal, Wash.

Perhaps Dorothy’s double-dose of common Quaker ancestry is one reason she was involved with a caring volunteer organization— AmeriCorps VISTA. It is a federal program that is sponsored by various groups in the United States such as the Red Cross and Kiwanis. Dorothy’s volunteer service was supported by the City of Vancouver’s (WA) Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. Volunteers receive stipend wages and agree to serve one or two years.

Books on Texas History

Editor's Note: In anticipation of the national Harlan Family reunion planned for the summer of 2012, the Harlan Record will feature short reviews of books about Texas history in coming issues. This first installment was written by Texan Tom Powers.

Tom lives in Cypress, Texas, northwest of Houston. He was born in 1932 in the Blue Ridge Community, 12 miles east of Marlin, Falls County, Texas, on land acquired by his great-greatgrandfather, Dr. Isaiah Harlan, as a Mexican land grant in 1834. His great-grandmother, Mary Harlan Millerman, and five siblings all established homesteads on that land, and there are now hundreds of descendants scattered across the United States. On the first Sunday of October, a Harlan Family Reunion is held at the Blue Ridge Baptist Church.

How Texas Aided the American Revolution

By Tom Powers

Other Books of InterestThe Texas Connection with the American Revolution, by Robert H. Thornhoff, was published in 2000 by Eakin Press of Austin.

The Provinces of Texas were settled by the Spanish, who built missions along the San Antonio and Guadalupe River valley areas. According to Wikipedia, in addition to spreading the Christian faith, the missions were also charged with spreading the Spanish culture into the New World and with giving Spain a toehold of power there. As many as 26 missions existed in the area now called Texas at some point between the 1400s and the 1800s. Each mission had large ranches where they raised herds of longhorn cattle, sheep, horses and mules. Some farming was done along the rivers where crops could be irrigated.

Bernardo de Galvez, a young military officer who served in the Spanish army in the northern provinces of New Spain, became familiar with the mission ranches during campaigns against the Indians in 1770. Eventually he was the general of the Spanish forces in New Spain.

He returned to Spain and France for further training, and in 1776, he was appointed governor of the Province of Louisiana, which was then controlled by Spain. From there, he began to aid the Americans in their battle with the English, even before Spain declared war on Britain. Gun powder, lead, rifles, clothing, etc., were supplied to the colonists through the port of New Orleans.

When a hurricane devastated the cattle herds of Louisiana, causing a shortage of beef to feed the armies and a lack of replacement animals for the farms, Galvez remembered the vast herds in Texas, and requested immediate delivery of thousands of cattle and horses to Opelousas, La. The first record of Texas longhorn cattle being driven to supply Galvez forces in Louisiana was in August 1779, when 2000 head had been gathered from ranches in the Bexar-LaBahia areas (60 miles or so north of Corpus Christi). Many more herds of various sizes followed during the years 1780- 1784. This supply of cattle, horses, and mules aided the Spanish and American armies in defeating the English. Thus The Texas Connection!

Galvez eventually led the Spanish armies to defeat the British at Pensacola, recapturing Florida for Spain. He spent the last two years as viceroy of New Spain, succeeding his father in that role. Galveston, Texas, is named for him.

The Texas Connection with the American Revolution is of interest to anyone wanting to know more about Spain’s assistance in the American colonies’ war of independence. Wikipedia also provides a good background biography of Galvez who helped connect Texas to the American Revolution.

In Memory of ...

Keith O. “Skeet” Harlan, 82, passed away March 1, 2009 at his home in Fremont, Ohio.

Keith was a US Army Veteran who served in the Philippines and Korea during WWII. He was honored in August of 2007 as Fremont’s best fast-pitch softball player. He also loved to play golf and watch sports.

He was a life member of the VFW and a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church. He was part owner of a sign company and specialized in neon signs and custom work.

Survivors include his wife, Betty; a son, two daughters and six grandchildren.

Thomas Theodore Harlan, retired Command Sergeant Major, 88, died at his home in Sierra Vista, Ariz., on January 24, 2009. (He was the brother of David Harlan, who is remembered for playing the bagpipes at the church service in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, at the 1997 Harlan Reunion.) He was born and raised in St. Marys, Pa.

Thomas was a decorated veteran of WWII. He served in North Africa and Italy, earning the Silver Star for Valor. He also served in the Republic of Vietnam as CSM for the DaNang Support Command. Other awards include the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army commendation Medal, 10 Good Conduct Medals and World War II Victory Medal.

His wife of nearly 67 years, Mary, survives as well as two daughters, four grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Helen Henderson passed away at the age of 105 in Iola, Kan. She is listed in Alpheus Harlan’s book on page 887, the daughter of Maud and John Humes.

Helen was born in Humboldt, Kan. She lived in Mexico, China and Japan before returning to Iola where her parents had moved.

She worked extensively with the Girl Scouts organization and later became curator-director for the Allen County Historical Society. In 2002, the Allen County Museum named its library the “Helen H. Henderson Research Library,” honoring her for years of service and support.

She is survived by a daughter, a son, four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

New Ninety-Plus Club Member

Betty HarlanBetty Lucille (Harlan) Harrison (#7447-5) celebrated her 90th birthday on August 8, 2009. She was joined by many family and friends in Stockton, Calif., where she currently resides.

Betty, the daughter of LeRoy Elisha Harlan (#7447) and Ada Elizabeth (Harrison) Harlan, was born in Santa Cruz, Calif. She was raised on the Harlan ranch near Riverdale, Fresno County, Calif. She met Albert “Al” Harrison at Fresno State College, and they were married on April 18, 1942, in Fresno. After living for several years in the Los Angeles area, they returned to Fresno and raised their four children, Gene, Pat (Harlan Family Association board member), Russ, and Steve.

Betty was a secretary for insurance companies and attorneys in Fresno before becoming an insurance adjuster. Her interests have included traveling, camping, fishing, and china painting. At the 2007 Harlan Reunion in Reno, Betty was honored as the oldest Harlan descendant in attendance.

Forty Years Ago...

Editor’s note: For many years, six siblings from the Midwest wrote a continuous Circle Letter among themselves, and now that their generation is gone, about a dozen of their children continue the tradition.

This year America celebrated the 40th anniversary of the landing on the moon. Below is a letter written by one of the original circle letter writers, William M. Harlan of Clarinda, Iowa, soon after the landing.

July 1969

Dear Circle,

Some of you may not believe this, but last Sunday evening I saw two guys walking and running around on the moon!! It was and still is hard for me to believe. Whatever magic and romance was associated with the moon was knocked into a cocked hat when Edwin Aldrin made that endaround- cut by the Stars and Stripes. Some show, and I doubt if it will ever be topped! It has my Oscar vote right now.

So they left on Wednesday, 7- 16, landed on Moon Sunday, 7-20, departed from Moon on Moonday, 7-21, and splashed down in Pacific on Thursday, 7-24, for an 8 day round trip that may never be topped for adventure. It may be weeks or months before all the events of these last 8 days fully sink in.

So for a poor boy who was born in 1910, in the rugged terrain of Chariton County, Missouri, who walked 1/2 mile to and from school in all kinds of weather, who saw the final era of the steam engines and the horse, the beginning of the radio, the automobile, the tractor, television; one who tried working his way through the University in the bottom of the Depression and didn’t quite have what it took, who has lived through 4 wars with participation in one, who has seen the developments of radar and the laser beam; who has seen medical skill and technology advance to restoring eye sight to one doomed to blindness, transplanting of virtually any organ except the brain, who has seen the development of aviation to where jets can take you anywhere between meals (all kinds of transportation that takes us anywhere with no thought of trouble or breakdown), who has seen the opening of the atomic age, who has seen agriculture and fertilizers developed to where 40 bu. corn yields ballooned to 100- 200 bu. yields; the zipper; instant coffee, tea, soup, potatoes, breakfasts— instant everything; and now the space age with astronauts bringing back rocks from the Moon worth $40 billion.

How can one generation be witness to more? Don’t ask me if I’m grateful because I don’t know the words to express my gratitude for a life with such a humble beginning to the “here and now.” We have seen it all unfold before our eyes!


Bill (1910-1995)

Stories of Harlans

We know there are unusual and interesting story ideas out there—perhaps about your relatives or ancestors—and we hope you will share them with other Harlans through this newsletter.

Send your ideas for articles and your stories to C. J. King, editor, at: joking@sover.net or to Ruth Harlan Lamb, co-editor at: harlamb@aol.com.

Ideas can also be mailed to the Harlan Family’s address found on page 2.

Meeting Long- Lost Cousins

By Nina Harlan Kohl

Editor’s Note: Harlan cousins really enjoy comparing their genealogical lines at our national reunions, looking for the person who most closely matches their own. Recently, the Harlan Family in America organization was instrumental in connecting several closely related Harlans who had never met, as the following story relates.

It was wonderful to be reunited with my long-lost cousins at this summer’s Harlan-Miller Reunion! My father remembered attending family reunions when he was a child living in Indiana, but he never had an interest in genealogy, so I was completely unaware that we had such an interesting family history. One day my father mentioned that he thought there were some Cherokee Harlans in the family. I went online to check it out, and, surfing around in cyberspace, it wasn’t long before I came upon my heretofore unknown cousin, Esther “Essie” Harlan Wells. She e-mailed me the genealogy of our line going back to the 1600s in England! [George (3), Aaron (8), George (37), George (180), Aaron (671), George (2246), Marcellus (5711), and offspring of George Newton (5711-2)].

I was stunned. In a moment, I went from knowing nothing about my family beyond the names of my great-grandparents, to knowing centuries of family lineage. Such is the miracle of the Internet! It brought me the gift of Essie, who opened up the world of genealogy and a whole extended family I didn’t know existed.

I accepted Essie’s invitation and came down from Wisconsin to attend the reunion Sunday afternoon, June 14, 2009, in Crawfordsville, Indiana. It was wonderful to meet folks I had been in touch with via e-mail, and even to see a family resemblance! I got to meet the descendants of brothers and sisters of my great-grandfather. I had seen a photo of Diana Wells on the Internet, but, in person, the resemblance to my father’s side of the family was even more striking, and I was thrilled to meet Ray and Melba Harlan King, and Ben Harlan and his wife, Mary, and too many other family members to mention. I can’t wait to attend again next summer, when Diana has promised me a cemetery tour of Crawfordsville, Indiana, to see all the places our ancestors are buried. It will be the 89th annual reunion of this branch of the Harlan family.

One of the most amazing things about attending the reunion was getting a chance to see photo albums showing pictures of ancestors dating back to the Civil War era. Members of the Harlan family have painstakingly recorded and carefully preserved so much family history and I am very grateful for that. Two CDs were given out—one made from a home movie filmed at the 1941 reunion, which included my great-grandfather Charles Merle, and another with many photos of family members taken in recent years.

I have gone from being someone who saw herself as part of a nuclear family, to someone who sees herself as being part of something much bigger—an extended family of cousins around the country. Now I am aware of roots that go deeper than I knew, and I am fascinated to follow the personal story of our family through America’s history. The best part of all this is being able to share it with my daughter, Cecilia Jane. I hope that we will be attending many Harlan reunions together in the future!

Blue Ridge Church & Cemetery News

The annual May Day Singing, held May 3, 2009, also marked the 150th Anniversary of the Blue Ridge Baptist Church, eleven miles from Marlin, Texas. A meeting of the Blue Ridge Cemetery Association followed the singing and sermon.

In 1887, people gathered to sing praises and share “dinner on the grounds,” and that has become an annual May Day Singing event at the church.

A reunion of Harlans is scheduled at the Blue Ridge Church the first Sunday in October, when the Association holds its midyear meeting. Visit www.blueridgetx.com for more information.

Judicial Enigma: The First Justice Harlan

By Tinsley E. Yarbrough
Reviewed by Clinton F. Cross

Editor’s Note: The Fall 2008 Harlan Record included a review of The Republic According to John Marshall Harlan, a biography by Linda Przybyszewski (Chapel Hill: Univ. of N.C. Press, 1999) outlining the ways that Harlan’s family, in her opinion, influenced his judicial outlook. Tinsley Yarbrough’s book, reviewed below, takes another perspective, arguing that the first Justice Harlan’s judicial opinions sometimes contradicted each other. You may also find it interesting to re-read the article about the first Justice Harlan in the Spring 2004 Harlan Record. Old issues of the Harlan Record are available at www.harlanfamily.org.

George Harlan’s seed produced many distinguished progeny, but perhaps none more distinguished than John Marshall Harlan and his grandson, both of whom served as justices on the United States Supreme Court. Professor Tinsley Yarbrough, having already written a biography of the second justice Harlan, recently published a biography of the first justice Harlan.

Yarbrough focuses on the contradictions in Harlan’s career —his support of slavery, his opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation, his commitment to the Republican Party (the party of business), and his support for the Spanish American War—all of which seems at odds with his famous dissents in the civil rights cases, his reluctance to support “substantive due process” concepts that restricted the government’s right to regulate commerce (see his dissent in Lochner v. New York), and his support for the extension of constitutional rights to the inhabitants of America’s newly acquired “colonies” after the Spanish American War (see his dissents in the Insular Cases).

Linda Przybyszewski contends in her book The Republic According to John Marshall Harlan that Justice Harlan consistently followed his own perception and understanding of his family’s religious, and national values.

Professor Yarbrough, on the other hand, characterizes Harlan as an “enigma.” He summarizes in detail Harlan’s personal life, as well as his political and judicial career, and he highlights the contradictions. He identifies the apparent flaws in Harlan’s character and apparent inconsistencies in his political and judicial opinions.

He attempts to explain Harlan’s “evolving” views as a result of his personal relationships with other influential individuals —his law partner, Benjamin Bristow, who opposed slavery and almost became President of the United States; his daughter Edith, who cared for the disadvantaged; his sons, who usually supported and sometimes contributed to his opinions; Frederick Douglass, the articulate former slave who opposed slavery and segregation; and by other significant events in his life. He also speculates that Harlan may have been influenced by an awareness of his halfbrother James, who was half-white and half-black.

Yarbrough acknowledges that Harlan helped inspire the modern civil rights movement, and he contends that this was Harlan’s greatest legacy. The book is well documented. In support of his contention he quotes federal district judge and former civil right’s advocate Constance Baker Motley, who remarked at ceremonies in honor of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall that:

“Marshall had a ‘Bible’ (Harlan’s dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson) to which he turned during his most depressed moments….Marshall would read aloud passages from Harlan’s amazing dissent. I do not believe we ever filed a major brief in the pre-Brown (Brown v. Board of Education) days in which a portion of that (Plessy) opinion was not quoted. Marshall’s favorite quotation was, ‘Our Constitution is color-blind.’…It became our basic creed. Marshall admired the courage of Harlan more than any Justice who has ever sat on the Supreme Court. Even Chief Justice Earl Warren’s forthright and moving decision for the Court in Brown did not affect Marshall in the same way. Earl Warren was writing for a unanimous Supreme Court. Harlan was a solitary and lonely figure writing for posterity.”

Linda Przybyszewski’s and Tinsley Yarbrough’s biographies complement each other. I believe they should be read in the order of publication—Linda’s first, and then Tinsley’s. After reading both books, you decide: was Harlan a family man, committed to his Harlan family values; was he an opportunist and an inconsistent “enigma”; or perhaps a little of both?


The Harlans and Hollingsworths continue to find connections that span several generations. Back in April 2009 I received an e-mail from a lady whose name is Susan Aggarwal who wanted to advise the Harlan family of a recent event with the Hollingsworths. She said the Hollingsworths had purchased a family quilt at an auction in Pennsylvania with signatures of two Harlans’ and four Hollingsworths’ names. It was supposedly purchased from a Hollingsworth family member in Baltimore. They were trying to do some family research to identify the family Their plan was to donate this to an appropriate museum/venue.

My response back to Susan about the possible connection of the Harlans and Hollingsworths was fun to research. It didn’t take long by using the History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family book to discover the links she mentioned. It appears that two brothers, William Amoss Harlan and Caleb Harlan, married sisters, Sarah Benson and Pamelia Benson. William and Sarah married in 1832 in the Little Falls Meeting in Harford County, Md., and Caleb and Pamelia married in 1837. Many of the names on the quilt are also listed as signers of each marriage certificate.

The Harlan book states that William and Sarah moved to Michigan in 1853 along with their children. Caleb and Pamelia moved to Noble County, Ohio, in 1841. I didn’t find any marriages to Hollingsworths so am not sure how the two families were actually linked in this instance.

The book relates that “from the Baltimore Monthly Meeting records the information is gained that John Harlan, father of William Amoss and Caleb, at the time of his marriage was residing in the city of Baltimore. The eldest two children were born there, which indicates that it was there that they began housekeeping.”

But back to the original question…the Harlans and Hollingsworths both settled in the Chester County, Pa., area where they were considered respected and upstanding citizens. Personally I would like to see the quilt given to the Chester County, Pa., Historical Society since the Harlans have made a number of donations to them due to their long association in the area.

The Spring 2009 issue of the Hollingsworth Heritage newsletter shows a picture of the quilt and a lengthy article is included.

According to the article the quilt is called a Baltimore Album quilt and is considered rare because it is usually a family quilt, possibly made to give to someone for a special occasion. All of the squares are different and done by a variety of people. In the last conversation I had with Susan, she told me that she was going to contact the Chester County Historical Society to see if they have any quilts with a Hollingsworth connection.

Listed below are the signatures and dates on the quilt:

Amy Benson
Lovina Bensen - January 1846
Elizabeth T (or F) Benson, Bower or Brown
Mary D. Bolling, Boligal
Martha (or Mary) Griffith
Hannah Ann Harlan - 1844
Elizabeth Harlan
Margaret Hollingsworth - 1844
Rebecca S. Hollingsworth
Susan W Hollingsworth - 1846 (or 48)
Rachel Hollingsworth - 1845
HJ Morrison
Emily H Parkinson - April 1846
Cynthia Parkinson - 1845
A series of numbers and 1845

Cynthia Rhoades,
Director of Genealogy


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Harlan Record No. 34, Spring 2009
Harlan Record No. 33, Fall 2008
Harlan Record No. 32, Spring 2008
Harlan Record No. 31, Fall 2008
Harlan Record No. 30, Spring 2007
Harlan Record No. 29, Fall  2006
Harlan Record No. 28, Spring 2006
Harlan Record No. 27, Fall  2005
Harlan Record No. 26, Spring  2005
Harlan Record No. 25, Fall  2004
Harlan Record No. 24, Spring  2004
Harlan Record No. 23, Fall  2003

Harlan Record No. 22, Spring  2003
Harlan Record No. 21, Fall  2002
Harlan Record No. 20, Spring  2002
Harlan Record No. 19, Fall  2001
Harlan Record No. 18, Spring 2001
Harlan Record No. 17, Fall  2000
Harlan Record No. 16, Spring 2000
Harlan Record No. 15. Fall 1999
Harlan Record No. 14, Spring 1999
Harlan Record No. 13, Winter 1998
Harlan Record No. 12, Summer 1997


Send comments or suggestions to Ruth Harlan Lamb harlamb@aol.com
P.O. Box 1654, Independence, MO  64055