This site is not made to be used with Internet Explorer. We recommend using a different browser.
Skip to content

Harlan Family Reunions


Celebration 335

The 2022 Harlan Family in America Reunion was held on June 16 - 19. Below you will find the pre-reunion announcemnt. A recap of the event will be posted soon!

We would like to invite you to Lexington, Kentucky on June 16-19, 2022 for Celebration 335. We have had reunions all over the country since 1987, but we have never had one in the Midwestern/Southern part of the country. Come celebrate with cousins old and new!!

Our reunion is being held in the beautiful Hilton Lexington Downtown hotel. The Magnolia room (immediately behind the registration desk) will be our central gathering area and hospitality room, as well as the location for a reception to be held Thursday night. Here you will find the raffle baskets full of items representing various states, the Harlan Store and a great place to gather and meet.

Registration will begin Thursday and continue into Friday. Thursday night we will have a welcoming reception hosted by The Harlan Family in America with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. On Friday and Saturday we will have tours in the mornings to either the Horse Country or Bourbon Country. In the afternoons we will offer breakout sessions at the hotel. Topics include DNA research, genealogy research and family history, and a tour of the Mary Todd Lincoln House with a special guest appearance. We are still exploring other topics so keep your eye on the website for updates on the breakout sessions.

We are very excited to have Peter Canellos, the author of The Great Dissenter, the story of John Marshall Harlan, America’s Hero, as a guest speaker Saturday afternoon. Kentuckian and Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan was the most famous dissenter on the Supreme Court. Justice John Marshall Harlan was raised in a slave- owning family with a mixed race brother, Robert Harlan, and became one of the greatest champions of civil rights in the history of the Supreme Court. The book has received much acclaim and we are very excited to have Peter Canellos join us to discuss the life of Justice John Marshall Harlan. And it seems appropriate to have Peter Canellos here to talk about someone who helped lay the foundation for civil rights movement on this Juneteenth weekend. Books will be available for purchase at the session.

To top the weekend off we will have a banquet on Saturday night at the Hilton. The menu is on the registration form and a cash bar will be available. Peter Canellos will open the evening and after dinner we will have drawings for the various baskets offered for raffle.

Before you leave on Sunday we hope you will join us for a traditional Quaker meeting of worship, following the traditions of our forefathers.

We are very excited about the entire long weekend. These events take lots of planning and Covid made planning this reunion particularly difficult. We are excited about Lexington and hope you have followed the newsletters with the abundance of articles about activities around and in Lexington. Those newsletters are available on the website. Talk with your family and make plans to attend! We look forward to seeing you!!!!

We are looking for donations to help defray some of the costs of the reunion. Since we are a non-profit (501-(c) 3) organization, your donation may be tax deductable.


Susan E. Lindsey, author of Liberty Brought Us Here

Presentation by Susan E. Lindsey, author of Liberty Brought Us Here: The True Story of American Slaves Who Migrated to Liberia"

Harlans Celebrate “Cousinly” Love in Philadelphia

More detailed information on the Celebration 330 reunion is available in the Harlan Record No. 51, Fall 2017.

For the sixth time in recent history, the Harlans celebrated 350 years in America in Philadelphia July 13 to 16, 2017. This is the third time the descendants of brothers, George, Michael and Thomas have returned to their Quaker roots, the Colony of Pennsylvania, near Chester Country and New Castle, DE. Mary Harlan Murphy and Linda Weingard were the reunion co chairs.

The reunion was held at the Philadelphia Sheraton Downtown which was within walking distance of the many fantastic restaurants, other venues such as the Barnes Art Museum and the Franklin Institute. The Liberty Bell and the Museum of the American Revolution were a short bus ride away.

There were some 300 attendees representing 35 states with California in the lead for attendance. Several families were attending their first reunion and those asked were more than ready for the next!

The hospitality room at Harlan reunions is always a bee hive of activity. It presents the Harlan Store, our raffle items (this year was a fantastic quilt and many, many state themed baskets), and of course, cousin socializing.

As Harlan tradition does it, there was the reception on Thursday evening and who should be there to welcome the Harlans ---William Penn! There were many ‘selfies’ taken with Mr. Penn plus all enjoyed meeting and re-meeting cousins.

Friday and Saturday mornings, guided tours of Harlan sites in the Brandywine Valley were offered. Stops were made at Kennett and Centre Meeting Houses, the Harlan Log House with a visit to the Brandywine River Museum. Workshops/seminars were available Friday and Saturday afternoons. They were directed by your Harlan cousins and included the following: “My Mother-in-law, Mary Todd Lincoln”, “From Penn to Ben”, “A Place Called Harlan” and a genealogy workshop.

Friday evening was the business meeting and the announcement that the 2022 Harlan reunion will be held in Lexington, KY was made. Saturday evening was the banquet. Those Harlans who have provided extraordinary service to the organization were recognized. They included: Mary Harlan Murphy and Linda Weingard, co chairs of the reunion, and Dorothy Sperry and Robert Harlan (PA). The group was delightfully entertained by the Mummers Band, a tradition of the Mummers Parade which occurs New Year’s Day and is the oldest folk festival in the United States.

Sunday, the last day, features a church service and 2017 was no exception. The service was held at the Historic (established 1856) Central Philadelphia (or Race Street) Friends Meeting House.

As mentioned previously, the next (2022) Harlan reunion will be held in Lexington, Kentucky. Stay tuned to the Harlan website for information. We look forward to seeing you all in Lexington!


Click an image to expand it.

Celebration 325

More detailed information on the Celebration 325 reunion is available in the Harlan Record No. 41, Fall 2012.

“Let’s connect in Texas” found over 300 Harlans “connecting” with cousins, friends, old and new in San Antonio, Texas at the Marriott Plaza Hotel. The event was held July 5 to July 8, 2012. Our hotel was perfectly located as it was within walking distance of The Riverwalk, The Alamo, and the Tower of the Americas. Ann Whitis and Robert Powers were the reunion co-chairs.

Activities began on Thursday morning, July 5, with registration and mini reunions of Harlan cousins who had not seen one another since the last reunion in 2007. The highlight of the mini reunions was that of two brothers who had not seen each other for several years and arranged to reconnect in San Antonio. Later Thursday was the reception sponsored by the Harlan Family Organization and held in the historic Marriott courtyard. This was fun and in keeping with the Texas/Mexican tradition, there was a pi�ata for the children and strolling Mariachi musicians.

Friday and Saturday were both busy, event filled days. There were two tours offered in the morning each day. One tour included several of the more notable missions in the area and the other was of the Historic King William District. Our guides provided excellent background and information.

In the afternoons of Friday and Saturday, a variety of five workshops were offered; “Early Harlans in the Colonies”, Harlan Genealogy”, “Early Harlans in Texas”, “Harlan and Lincoln Women”, and “The Alamo”. One had to chose as two were offered from 1:15-2:00 and three were offered 2:15-3:00. Following the workshops on Friday was a General Family Meeting. This resembles a brief business meeting and the location of the next reunion is discussed. All attendees are free to ask questions, make comments, etc.

Saturday evening is the Banquet. It is a magnificent sight to witness all the Harlans gathered together in one large room. The Harlans are indeed, “A Family of Friends” which is also the title of our theme song and always sung at the Banquet. This is also the time when awards and special recognitions are announced. Following the program we were offered fantastic Texas style music and dancing, with lessons on the Texas two-step.

On Sunday morning a nondenominational worship service was held followed by a bunch.

For a more detailed write up of the 2012 Harlan San Antonio Reunion, click on “newsletter” in the sidebar listings and read the Fall 2012 issue. Please join the Harlans in Philadelphia July 13 to 16th, 2017 for the next great Harlan reunion. Watch this website for information.

Checkout this story that was posted by San Antonio Express-News.

Celebration 320 - The Great Trek

More detailed information on the Celebration 320 reunion is available in the Harlan Record No. 31, Fall 2007.

Over 400 Harlans gathered at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel and Convention Center in Reno, NV., the weekend of July 12-15, 2007 to continue the Harlan Family tradition of celebrating our family history and reconnecting. We learned of the family’s role in the Westward movement of our country. After registration in the hospitality room, the scheduled events for the weekend began with the Thursday evening welcoming reception hosted by the Harlan Family Association. It was a perfect time to renew/make friendships. Pat Harrison Fluetsch and William K. Harlan were the reunion co-chairs.

Friday and Saturday were busy days, with the options of two tours each morning, and/or attending the many workshops offered both days. The Donner Summit Tour took us to visit the Donner camp site north of Truckee, CA, where some of the Donner Party were trapped in the high snows in the winter of 1846. The Harlan Wagon Train made it over the summit just prior to the Donners and heavy snowfall. We then visited Donner Memorial Museum, Monument, and camp site of the other portion of the Donner Party at Donner Lake, west of Truckee. Our return trip to Reno took us over Donner Summit via old Highway 40, west to the small village of Soda Springs giving us the opportunity to view the rugged terrain experienced by the Harlans on their way to California. The Virginia City Tour took us to this colorful mining town, where a Harlan ancestor opened one of the first hotels and took part in the great Silver Rush of the 1860s. Upon arrival at Virginia City we boarded a trolley to tour the town, visited historic sites and enjoyed a train ride before returning to Reno.

Friday’s mornings workshops gave us the opportunity of Researching our Harlan heritage with particular attention on using Alpheus Harlan’s genealogy book, exploring what happened to the Donners, and learning about Harlan heritage tours which takes us to Ireland and England. In Saturday's morning workshops we learned of the Quaker influence on the Harlan’s and scrapbooking. In the afternoon we learned about the Harlan DNA project, Harlan’s in Early California, Josiah Harlan, The First American in Afghanistan, Four Marys and a Jessie of the Harlan/Lincoln connection, and the Supreme Court Harlan’s.

The big event Friday afternoon was the traditional family picnic held in the Peavine Pavilion at Rancho San Rafael Park.

Saturday closed the day with the traditional banquet and program given by William K. Harlan, great-great-grandson of George (#852) with slides and narration of the California/Oregon Trail and the Hastings Cutoff route taken by the Harlan Party. William had traveled this route in preparation for this program. Sunday morning a nondenominational worship service was held followed by a breakfast buffet, time to say goodbye and head home.


Click an image to expand it.

Celebration 315 – Back to Where Our Family Story Began

More detailed information on the Celebration 315 reunion is available in the Harlan Record No. 21, Fall 2002.

Nearly 400 people attended the National Family Reunion in Wilmington, Del. June 27-30, 2002, centered at the Doubletree Hotel. The events started with registration Thursday afternoon in the hospitality room, followed by a reception at the hotel that evening welcoming familiar faces and met new cousins. Tours of Harlan family historical sites were offered throughout the morning and afternoon on Friday and Saturday with visits to Centre, London Grove, and Old Kennett Meeting Houses; the Log House, built in 1727 by Joshua Harlan (#13); the stone house built by (#4) George Harlan and occupied by Harlan descendants until 1950; and the Stargazer Stone near the stone house, which was used to plot the Mason-Dixon line. Bob A. Harlan (PA) and Mary Harlan Murphy were the reunion co-chairs.

Many members attended the family picnic at Brandywine Picnic Park from late morning to late afternoon, enjoyed the food, petting zoo, and many rides and activities at the park. Saturday workshops were:

  • How old is that Photograph?
  • Fashionable Dress of the Early 19th Century – A Brief View of Costuming From Outside In
  • Quaker Heritage of Chester County
  • The Harlan-Lincoln Women
  • Along the Brandywine River
  • Using Alpheus Harlan’s History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family to trace family lines

A family banquet was held Saturday night. The highlight of the evening of a presentation of Dan Harlan’s play, Some Uncommon Kin: A Celebration of Harlan Family Diversity, which told about several courageous and unusual Harlans. Nearly three dozen cousins participated in the production, some acting on stage, others reading from backstage, or singing choruses between scenes. Sunday morning, some cousins attended a Quaker-style silent meditation service at Old Kennett Meeting House, where many Harlan ancestors are buried. All to quickly, it was time for the final brunch and time to say goodbye and head for home.


Click an image to expand it.

Celebration 310

More detailed information on the Celebration 310 reunion is available in the Harlan Record, No. 12, Summer 1997.

Over 500 Harlans gathered in Mt. Pleasant Iowa over the 4th of July weekend in 1997 to celebrate their heritage. Ridge Harlan and Junior Harlan were the reunion co-chairs. Harlan's came from all corners of the country to get reacquainted with those family members they had met before and to meet more members of their extended family. The citizens of Mt. Pleasant welcomed the Harlan family which has significant history in this small Iowa town. Mt. Pleasant was the home of Senator James Harlan who served in the United States Senate from 1885 to 1887. He also served as Secretary of the Interior under President Lincoln. The Senator's daughter, Mary Eunice married Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of President Abraham Lincoln. The reunion activities opened with a wreath laying ceremony at Senator Harlan's grave site.

The evening of July 3 saw the first large group get together as the family met at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church for a reception followed by dinner. This was an informal gathering and the volume of the voices rose as the evening wore on.

Harlan's continued to pour into town and stopped to register at the hospitality center at the First Presbyterian Church. Here they received a packet of materials, meal tickets and name tags. Once we got our bearings, it was time to look around the room at all the displays on Harlan History, previous reunions, trips to Harlan historical sites and more.

Friday dawned cool and not so clear. We were blessed by cooler weather than normal for a 4th of July in Iowa. This day was spent in a variety of activities in which we were joined by the citizens of Mt. Pleasant. The community opened their renowned Old Thresher Grounds so that we could ride the old steam train on the Midwest Central Railroad, enjoy displays of steam engines and agricultural exhibits as well as the unique Museum of Repertoire Americana. Finally, we celebrated the birth of our nation at the grandstand with musical entertainment and the traditional fireworks.

Workshops were held both on Friday and Saturday to broaden our knowledge of a variety of genealogy subjects from tips for the beginners to using the computer for genealogy research. Throughout the day on Saturday buses took the Harlans around town to visit the sites of particular interest. These included the Harlan home, the Harlan hotel (which was also Senator Harlan's home at one time), and Camp Harlan, a Civil War military training and mustering site.

Saturday evening was the main gathering of the clan and program event. The entertainment included a varied musical program, a recitation of Harlan Family History and a special one-man show with an Iowa Wesleyan College Professor performing a Senator James Harlan.

The reunion concluded on Sunday morning with a moving church service conducted by our own family members including the clergy, organist, pianist, choir and bag piper. As we sang what has become "our" song, "A Family of Friends", we all vowed that we would surely come again.


Click an image to expand it.


Reunion 310 documentary, part 1

Reunion 310 documentary, part 2

Celebration 300 - The Tricentennial

More detailed information on the Celebration 300 reunion is available in the Harlan Record No. 1, Winter 1988.

Celebration 300 started with an idea and a vision. Dan Harlan was living in his retirement home in New Mexico when he received an offer in the mail to purchase a mailing list of Harlans for a nominal sum. Knowing that 1987 would mark the 300th year since George and Michael Harlan landed at New Castle, Delaware, Dan thought that perhaps a national reunion might be possible.

From that vision grew a gathering of Harlans from all corners of the country - from the Pacific to the Atlantic including Hawaii and West Germany. On August 14 - 16, 1987 over 800 people converged on the historical countryside surrounding Wilmington, Delaware. Dan and Mary Ann Harlan were the reunion co-chairs.

The first formal event of the weekend was a filled-to-capacity reception held at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, PA. All three floors plus the entryway and courtyard held Harlans, exchanging names and ancestral lines. And perhaps they paused just long enough to appreciate the beautiful art work of three generations of Wyeths.

During the weekend 325 people took the bus tours to view the ancestral grounds of George and Michael. The best stop was at the old log house, an original home of George #3, built about 1690, Harlans lived here for over 200 years. Over time it has been remodeled and added to and now serves as a gracious B & B. Other interesting sites included Centre Meeting where George and his wife Elizabeth Duck Harlan are buried; the stone house built by George #14 where the "star-gazers" stone is located; London Meeting where Michael and his wife Dinah are buried; and Hill Girt Farm, land purchased by George #3 in 1698 and where he lived until his death.

A Saturday afternoon picnic provided the opportunity to get together with family from the same geographic areas, as Regional Coordinators were appointed to help keep a permanent family organization active. This event was held at Battery Park on the banks of the Delaware River where the family could envision George and Michael landing just 300 years ago.

A sit down dinner for 760 people was the main gathering for this celebration. The key note address was given by Dr. John Kern, Director of Historic and Cultural Affairs for Delaware. He was astounded that so many would travel so far to attend. Dr. Kern talked about Harlans in general and then related stories about his favorite Harlans. The program included singing, introductions, recognition and thank you's, a roll call of states, letters of congratulations from President Reagan and Senator Biden, a financial report and finally (when the little ones were asleep under the tables) a slide show of Monkwearmouth. Table favors were 750 individually hand made clay fired vases filled with grasses from Harlan ancestral lands.

The tricentennial activities concluded with memorial services on Sunday, August 16. The services were held in the Old Kennett Meeting House near Chadd's Ford, PA which was built in 1731 on land belong to Ezekiel Harlan, the eldest of George's sons. Because of limited seating, it was necessary to schedule three sessions to accommodate the family. The services were patterned after the "silent meeting" that was observed by Quakers during their early days in America. In those days, members spoke only when so moved by the Holy Spirit, and then the others reflected on what they had said.

From this gathering emerged the permanent Harlan Family in America organization which produces a bi-annual newsletter, The Harlan Record to communicate with family members and share information of interest.


Click an image to expand it.

Celebration 200 - The Bicentennial

As reported in the West Chester Local News on September 27, 1887, a reunion of the Descendants of George and Michael Harlan was held a Birmingham Park.

"The descendants of George and Michael Harlan, who landed in America two hundred years ago from England, held a family convention at Birmingham Park today for the purpose of establishing a permanent family organization. There was not a large gathering, but the deficiency in numbers was fully made up in energy.

At 11:30 those present were called together in the pavilion by A. D. Harlan. He introduced Prof. D. M. Harlan, who made a prayer. A temporary organization was then effected by the selection of Hon. A.D.Harlan of Coatesville, as temporary Chairman and E. L. Harlan, of Rising Sun, MD, temporary Secretary. The Hon. A. D. Harlan on taking the chair made the following remarks:

My Dear Friends and Relatives: I thank you for the honor you have conferred upon me this morning in making me your temporary Chairman. Permit me to say what I know will be a pleasure to you, that I have no speech to make and shall not detain you more than five minutes. My thought today, no doubt like your own, are many, and carry me back through two hundred and thirty-seven years, and I have been picturing a scene that transpired in the old town of Monkwearmouth, in the county of Durham, England, in the year of 1650; that of James Harlan and his beloved wife, in the old parish church, presenting their infant child, George, in the sacrament of Baptism and then when that same child George grew in years how he and his brother Michael went over to the north of Ireland and then how the same George together with his wife Elizabeth and their children and his brother, Michael, came to this country and settled on the banks of this beautiful river, the Brandywine, near the place we are now assembled. They came to this new world to build up for themselves and their descendants a home where they and us might worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences, guided by the Holy Spirit and God's Holy Word. For these grand, good men, whose descendants we are, were men of God, and as I believe were guided by the Holy Spirit. George and Michael Harlan lived and died in this good old county of Chester, honored and beloved by all who knew them, and their children and their children's children to the ninth generation have gone forth from place to place until today they are found in almost every State and Territory in the United States.

Is it not then a fitting thing for us, their descendants, to meet here today and celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the landing in America of our paternal ancestors, George and Michael Harlan and our maternal ancestor, Elizabeth Harlan, and thank God, our Heavenly Father, for all the way He led them and has led us, and here resolve, God helping us, that we will be true men, women and children, honoring an honored ancestry, and endeavoring to fill well the places God in His providence may place us.

And when the sun which shines upon us so brilliantly this morning has for the last time to us sunk beyond yon western horizon, the world may say of the departed, he or she has lived for something, and dying has left a name that will not soon be forgotten.

"Let's make to ourselves a name, Not such as wealth can weave, Who's warp is but a thread of gold that dazzles to deceive; But ask of Him who quails Of death the victor's strife To write it on the blood-bought page Of everlasting life." And now my friends on behalf of the committee I welcome you to this land of our ancestors and trust that we shall all have a very pleasant time today, and that this meeting may be but the beginning of many pleasant reunions in the days to come. "

A Committee on Permanent Organization was then appointed by the Chair, as follows: A. H. Harlan, Prof. D. W. Harlan, H. H. Harlan, Col. W. B. Mendenhall and W. H. Johnson. The temporary meeting then adjourned for lunch and social conversation. At one o'clock the audience was called together, when the committee reported the following as the permanent organization:

National Permanent Organization: President, Hon. A. D. Harlan, Coatesville, PA; Vice-President, Aaron Harlan, Hackneysville AL; Treasurer, Maj. Wm. S. Harlan, Zanesville, OH; Corresponding and Recording Secretary, A. H. Harlan, New Burlington, OH.