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Stories of Harlans

Many members of the Harlan Family have been (or could be) featured in human interest stories. Please send accounts of Harlans involved in good deeds, adventures, service, etc. to Dorothy Sperry.

Also visit the page, "The Who's Who of Harlans".


Harlan Descendant Travels the World

Stevan Miller Armstrong, Naval Reservist with Seabees

(Information from The Gazette, Chambersburg (PA), May 24-30, 2001

Though leaving home in 1971, Steve Armstrong maintains close ties to his hometown in Chambersburg, Pa. A 1971 graduate of Penn State, he is an architectural engineer and has worked in 42 states and many foreign countries. He is Captain in the Naval Reserves, serving with the Seabees on task forces that are often involved in humanitarian ventures.

In 2000, Steve directed a project that put a bridge over the Poltsama River in central Estonia which reunited two World War II lovers. As teenagers from two villages on either side of the river, their link to each other was destroyed by the war. The Soviets built a portable bridge for their use but abandoned the disassembled bridge when they hurriedly left the country in 1993. A local farmer stored it in his barn for years as no one in Estonia knew how to erect this type of Soviet bridge. The American task force, under Steve Armstrong's leadership, erected the 40-meter bridge on one side of the river and then pushed it over the gap. The operation was quite an event to watch and when completed, the two former sweethearts were the first to walk across the span.

While in Estonia, the task force also built a pavilion and new play facilities for an orphanage, renovated a soup kitchen for the homeless in the country's capitol, and repaired storm damage to public facilities in another town.

Steve led another group of Seabees to Albania in 2001 to repair and replace a vital section of road in that country. He and his family lived in Europe from 1989-94 and traveled extensively during those years, visiting every European country except the Scandinavian ones. The wall came down in Eastern Europe while they were there.

Steve and wife, Donna, have two daughters and two sons and have been foster parents for over 17 years. Over 100 children have lived with them at one time or another. While not on duty, Steve Armstrong has his own engineering firm with projects all over the country.

Steve's Armstrong's lineage: George #3, James #11, George #45, Jehu #212, Daniel #822, Jehu #2865, Esther Harlan DeArmoun #7219, Jehu Harvey DeArmoun, Eula DeArmoun Miller, and his mother, Phyllis Miller Armstrong of Chambersburg, Pa.

Lives of Service—Ronald and Bernice Harlan

Submitted by daughter, Lorna L. Harlan Johnson

My Dad, Ronald Aubrey Harlan, was born April 4, 1924; he married Bernice Marguerite Borton on June 12, 1946. They bore three children: Hazel Loree on March 17, 1947; Rick Alan on September 11, 1950, and Lorna Lynn on May 18, 1952. Besides their own children, they raised many other children including two of Bernice's nephews. My Dad worked for the Fire Department and also for Rasmussen Spray Service. My mom worked for the Department of Revenue for several years.

While still at the Fire Department, Dad did various volunteer projects for the Fire Department and for the VFW. Dad had served in WWII and had a purple heart. He was a very active member of the VFW, as was Mom. They were both officers of the VFW 661 in Salem, Oregon.

They decided the VFW needed help in raising funds, so they started Bingo in the little hall. They worked 50-60 hours a week doing services for others. They would meet people at gas stations and give them gas money to get somewhere. They would take furniture, beds, wheelchairs, walkers, etc., to disabled veterans and the needy. They would have sales, and the proceeds would go for cancer foundations, etc. They were constantly giving others rides when they needed transportation.

Dad and Mom put more hours into their week than I ever did with a full-time job. Dad passed away in October, 1999. Mom is surviving, having taken over most of his previous duties. They have both given more in a day than most people would give in a year.

Six Generations of Kentucky Harlans

by John L. Harlan

Over the years, it has been my distinct pleasure to help a good number of people named Harlan (including recognized and accepted variations of that spelling) find their roots, find their ancestors, find their way home. I have discovered in the process of helping, that many of these individuals trace their roots back to Tompkinsville (Monroe County), Kentucky. This isn't too surprising to me since my father (M. H. Harlan), grandfather (John Wesley Harlan), great-grandfather (William H. Harlan), great-great-grandfather (George Washington Harlan), great-great-great-grandfather (John Harlan) and great-great-great-great-grandfather (Aaron Harlan) have Kentucky roots, and the Monroe County area was where they called home. It should come as no surprise to other Harlan researchers that their ancestral path may wind its way back to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. For those unfamiliar with this land, it may conjure up images of Daniel Boone, mountains, tobacco farms, moonshiners and beautiful race horses. Kentucky is all this and much more. I'd like to tell you about Monroe County.

Geographically, Monroe County is located in the heart of southcentral Kentucky, in the upper Cumberland hills, rolling beautiful farming country, dotted with tobacco farms and some small industry. Monroe County has only three incorporated towns, including the county seat of Tompkinsville, the other two are Fountain Run and Gamaliel. Several small unincorporated communities (19) including Akersville, Boles, Boyd, Mt. Gilead, Cave Springs, Center Point, Emberton, Flippin, Gum Tree, Hestand, Jeffrey, Meshack, Martinsburg, Mt. Hermon, Mud Lick, Rock Bridge, Rush Point, Sulphur Lick and Vernon. Gamaliel is located near the Tennessee-Kentucky border in southwest Monroe County, while Fountain Run is on the border of Barren and Allen Counties to the west. Tompkinsville is about eight miles from the Tennessee border. The Cumberland River winds through the southeastern part of Monroe County and the Barren River cuts through the southwest section. There is a state operated ferry on the Cumberland River connecting two segments of Kentucky 214, as it winds through the beautiful and scenic Turkey Neck Bend section of southeastern Monroe County.

Old Mulkey Meetinghouse is located in Monroe County, holding considerable historical and religious significance. It is one of the oldest churches west of the Alleghenies. In the Old Mulkey State Park and Shrine burying grounds, in addition to Harlans and family, they also have Hannah Boone, sister to Daniel Boone. The architecture and construction of the Old Mulkey church is unique and symbolic. It is built in the shape of a cross with twelve corners said to represent the twelve apostles or twelve tribes of Israel, with three doors representing the Holy Trinity. If you are planning a visit to Tompkinsville, Old Mulkey should be on your list of "must see" items. I almost forgot the family ties, Christian Minister John Mulkey's daughter married #806 Joel Wright Harlan, and apparently John Mulkey's wife, Betsey Hayes, had her own Harlan connection, her mother. In 1820, five Harlan names appeared on the church rolls: Nancy Harlan, Samuel Harlan, James Harlan and wife, and Melissa E. Harlan.

When my cousin, William B. Harlan, a college professor at Mississippi Southern (now Southern Mississippi), died prematurely, his parents Jim and Susan Harlan, gave land and money for the William B. Harlan Memorial Library, and it should be on the agenda of every Harlan researcher headed for Tompkinsville. The library was dedicated October 16, 1966. In addition to being an outstanding well staffed facility, they also have Dayton Birdwell, a Monroe County historian and genealogist. I am the proud owner of volume number 772 of 1000 of a limited edition book compiled by Dayton Birdwell and published by the Monroe County Press, Inc., "The History of Monroe County Kentucky 1820-1988," copyrighted 1992 by William B. Harlan Memorial Library, 500 West Fourth Street, Tompkinsville, KY. If memory serves me correctly, this limited edition book was sold to raise funds for a library project, and I was fortunate enough to be in town to purchase one.

I have five first cousins still living in Tompkinsville, children of my father's sisters, but none with the Harlan name. There are currently twelve Harlan listings in the Tompkinsville phone book, and probably all are related to my branch of the tree, but when I would ask my grandfather about the other Harlan families around the town and county he would indicate that if they were related he was unaware of it.

When my father graduated from Tompkinsville and left in 1939 to attend school in Nashville, the population was slightly under 2,000 and that's about what it is today. The current population of Monroe County hovers around 12,000 (11,401). Federal standards set 12,000 as a population for a small town, most counties are larger. Monroe County has 330 square miles, amounting to a population of 34.5 individuals per square mile. It would be an understatement to say life moves at a slower pace here. Actually, it moves at its own pace, not much influenced over the years by what the rest of the world was doing. One thing that stands out in my mind from my boyhood travels to Tompkinsville was the honesty and trust people had for each other. That is not to say that everybody was good, they did have their outlaws, it's just that everybody knew who they were and what to expect of them. I have seen money transactions and big money sales made on a hand shake without one signature being put to paper.

Things are changing in Tompkinsville. I am still trying to adjust to the fact that they have a new WalMart Supercenter just north on 163, not too far from my grandfather's farm. I don't think anything has caused such a stir since the "pipeliners" came through Tompkinsville. I still like to think of it as the quaint, slow-paced little town where old men sat around the court house square with sharp wit and sharp knives making cedar shavings and pieces of folk art.

One of the things I have made a part of my trips home to Kentucky, is to visit the cemeteries and locate the graves of my forebearers. I have a list of twenty-two of these burying grounds, too lengthy to include here, but I will provide that information to anyone who needs it. Even though I was never a resident of Kentucky, I still feel a strong attraction to the Bluegrass country and find it hard to keep a dry eye when I hear "My Old Kentucky Home" played for the Kentucky Derby. With all these generations before me, I can't help but trace my roots to Kentucky.

Answering The Call: Harlan Family's Connection to Phone Company Spans Four Generations

by Judy Hruska

Read the article in the May 18, 2000 edition of the "New Castle News" (PA) at Select "News Archive" from the menu, select articles from 2000 and enter Harlan in the title field.

The Charles Wesley Harlan Story

Nebraska Homesteader and Bricklayer (son of James Nelson Harlan #9295), based on the recollections of his son, Clarence Haller Harlan (9-14-1885—1966)

Submitted by Howard Harlan, grandson of Clarence Haller Harlan

My father, Charles Wesley Harlan (b.11-2-1854— d.10-30-1926), having lived and worked in cities and towns during his 26 years, became infected with the land hunger prevalent in the eastern portion of the United States about 1880. He and Mary Elizabeth Haller had been married in a Lutheran Church on Union Street, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, across from the park in 1882.

In 1885, C. W. made a trip to east-central Nebraska where the government was offering free land to homesteaders who would agree to live on the land for five years. The railroad brought him to Sargent, Nebraska, where he hired a horse and rig and drove into the area of the Middle Loup River near Westcott. He paid the $5 registration fee and was granted 160 acres of land, four miles from Westcott. He then returned to Allegheny to await a propitious time to make the move to Nebraska.

In March of 1886, Howard Malcolm (brother) was almost three years of age, and I was six months old. We left at that time by railroad for the West. Mother had packed hampers of food for the three day trip. She was almost 24 years of age at the time and was leaving her large family and her friends for a life on the prairie where her nearest neighbor would be one-half mile away.

My father built a “soddie”, cutting slabs of sod two feet long, one foot wide and four inches thick from the prairie. The walls of the house were two feet thick. Branches of cottonwood trees were used for roof rafters, and sod was laid on them with the grassy side up. The house had two rooms. Window glass, frames for doors and windows, sash and one door were purchased. The house was warm in winter and cool in summer. Some settlers used paper dipped in lard for windowpanes.

For some time after our arrival there was no pig pen or barn. Dad dug a cave in a small rise to house the pigs and placed a fence around the opening. Shortly after this a prairie fire ravaged the area. Dad set a back fire around the house, as the prairie grass was several feet high. The pigs lost most of their hair in the fire, as they were curious to see what was going on and did not remain in the cave. We had a cow at the time and brought her into the house to save her life.

Dad was a brickmason and, after spring plowing and planting, went to Broken Bow or Omaha to work at his trade. He was away from the farm from three to six months at a time.

There was an Indian trail crossing the northwest corner of our land. It was not uncommon for the Sioux, singly or in small groups, to use this trail and at times, to come to the house asking for food. Mother, trembling inwardly, would order them to sit outside the house and bring food to them.

Dad dug a well near the house and found excellent water at a depth of 30 feet. The soil was dark, sandy loam. He found one small pebble during the digging. He carried this pebble as a pocketpiece since he found no other stones or pebbles on the place during his five years residence there.

When Howard was about four years old, he found a jar in the barn containing a white powder and ate some of it. Mother noticed some of the powder on his clothing and asked where he got it. When he showed her, she found that the jar contained arsenic, used by Dad on occasion for the animals. Mother dissolved some of her home-made soap in lukewarm water and made him swallow it. She then hitched up the team and drove four miles to the doctor in Westcott. After the doctor examined Howard, he said she had saved his life by giving him the emetic promptly.

Mother had a garden in an abandoned corral which was reached by steps cut into the earth, as the bottom of the corral was some 20 feet below the level on which the house stood. The garden was several hundred feet distant from the house.

In 1988 my sister, Marion, was born in the sod house. One day, when Marion was still quite small, I was looking after her not far from the house when a bull snake (not poisonous) crawled to within a few feet of her. I ran to the top of the garden steps and called Mother who came and killed the snake, which measured about five feet in length.

Dad’s brother, Percy, then about 18, came to visit us and stayed with us for several weeks. He loved to hunt. One November day when he was hunting for jackrabbits several miles from our house, it began to snow so heavily that he had to find shelter in a strawstack. The storm turned into a blizzard which raged all night. Luckily for him, the temperature did not drop much below freezing so, when the blizzard had blown itself out next morning, he found his way back to our house. Many a man in a similar predicament had frozen to death because of a severe drop in temperature.

We had two dogs in Nebraska—a mastiff named Major and a small pug dog named Beppo. Major was a one-man dog and would not permit a stranger to come near the house.

One of our neighbors, an Englishman named Emanuel Smith, was coarse and brutal. He had advertised in England for a wife. When her ship arrived in New York, Mr. Smith met her and brought her to his homestead. Mother said the woman was a half-wit, but harmless. Her husband was accustomed to hitching her with a horse to his plow and beat her when she displeased him.

Another of our neighbors, Mr. Hemming, had several boys. It was his custom to hitch his team to a rough wagon, take the boys along, and scout the area for fence posts or other loose pieces of wood on his neighbors’ land, which he might use for firewood. Timber was one of the scarcest articles on the prairies.

Major, very early, began to detest Smith and Hemming, and they dared not come near the house until Dad had tied him.

Mr. Walter Henderson, who lived one-half mile from us, was a fine neighbor and proved himself a real friend. There were many things to be learned about the prairie if one wished to stay alive and healthy.

After living in Nebraska five years, as we were about to leave, Dad gave the dogs to Mr. Henderson. Beppo became attached to his new home, but Major ran away repeatedly and would lie at our door where he finally died of grief and starvation.

When Dad would be working away from home, the entire responsibility of the family and homestead devolved upon Mother. In addition, the mournful winds—which in some months blew constantly—added to the feeling of lonesomeness. After five years in Custer County, Mother decided that she had had enough of frontier life. The family returned to western Pennsylvania, living one year in Saxonbury, Butler County; then removing to Millvale in Allegheny County where they spent the remainder of their years.

Note: Oldest son Howard Malcolm Harlan died at the age of 11 of typhoid-pneumonia. Son Clarence Haller Harlan, who wrote this account, went on to become a civil engineer, graduating in 1906 from Western University of Pennsylvania. He married Janette Marshall in 1910, and the couple had three children: Agnes Elizabeth, Howard Marshall and Lois Janette. Clarence spent 40 years in the fabricated steel business with McClintoc-Marshall Construction Company, which later was sold to Bethlehem Steel Corporation. While at McClintoc-Marshall, Clarence worked on the Panama Canal plans. Under Bethlehem Steel, he was the sales person who successfully bid the Golden Gate Bridge.

Other children of Charles Wesley Harlan and Mary Elizabeth Haller Harlan: Marion Blair, Ralph Kenneth (died at age 18 months of scarlet fever), Harold Lester, Ruth Mildred and Kenneth Nelson.

Double Harlan Ancestry

"My dad's grandfather married my mother's grandmother, and both were Harlans!" 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 Harlan's (#2729) first marriage and family are documented in Alpheus Harlan's genealogy book. But not in the book is Reuben's second marriage to Cynthia Darnell. They had two children: Reuben Smith Harlan and Mattie Harlan. Reuben is Dorothy's great-grandfather on her father's side, and Mattie is her great-grandmother on her mother's side. Dorothy says it took almost twenty years to confirm the stories of how her mom and dad are distantly related.

Dorothy and her three sisters were born and grew up in Los Angeles County, California, but her parents were born in Louisville, Kentucky. Dorothy now lives in Washougal, Washington.

Perhaps Dorothy's double-dose of common Quaker ancestry is one reason she is currently involved with a caring volunteer organization—America 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 is 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.

Dorothy's involvement includes enlisting senior volunteers to tutor students who read below grade level in kindergarten through third grade. She now has over 70 tutors from the senior community who work in 18 different schools. Dorothy spends 40 to 60 hours a week in a well-equiped office keeping track of hours, placements, test scores, recognitions, purchases and press releases. Other avenues for Vista volunteer service include day care centers, homeless shelters, medical centers for the homeless and low-income people, and parks.

If there are other Vista volunteers who would like to contact Dorothy, you can e-mail her at

Harlan First to Fly Historic Atom Plane

The Story of Lee O. Harlan, pilot, from excerpts from The Canyon (Texas) News, February 21, 1963

(George #3, James #11, John #44, Isaac #207, Isaac #797, Washington #2717, Josiah, William J.)

It was a bright June afternoon when test pilot Lee Harlan walked out across the Offutt Field runway at Omaha toward the big aerial monster he was about to put through its paces. Harlan noticed two things about this particular B-29 that were different from the other B-29s he had test flown.

The four propellers, powered by giant Wright engines, had reverse pitch. This would permit a pilot to land the plane safely with an unexploded bomb, even if the brakes were burned out. He noticed, too, that there was something remarkably different about the bomb bay.

Harlan jotted down the aircraft’s number —86292—a number that would live forever in history. He climbed into the big plane, made his way to the cockpit, turned several switches and studied a maze of dials intently. A man with a fire extinguisher stood by as he revved up the engines and taxied to the apron. “You may take off now! You are cleared to take off,” from the tower.

The big Wrights roared to crescendo. The colossal plane trembled from nose to tail fin. She eased forward at first, then faster and faster. Harlan pulled the wheel gently toward him. Offutt runways fell away and Lee Harlan became the first man to fly the Enola Gay.

That was June 11, 1945. Two month later Harlan learned that the plane he had tested, dropped a bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and opened the nuclear age. This bomb and the one dropped three days later on Nagasaki by Enola Gay’s sister B-29, had ended World War II many months earlier than Allied leaders had anticipated and without the loss of many thousands of American lives which an invasion of Japan would have cost.

In Harlan’s black-bound pilot’s log book, itself a legal document, the test flight of 86292, the Enola Gay, is duly recorded. In the page margin is a penned notation—atom bomb, Hiroshima, Japan, 8-6-45.

Harlan began flying in 1927—the year Lindberg crossed the Atlantic Ocean solo in the Spirit of St. Louis. He did much of his flying around Amarillo, Texas, and in Missouri and Oklahoma. “We didn’t have airfields in those days,” he remembers. “We landed in cow pastures.”

Harlan got his pilot’s license in 1940. For a time he was a civilian flight instructor for the Army giving pre-glider instruction. Flight experience which won him his license all was prior to his army service. He went to work for the Glenn L. Martin Company in April of 1943 as a test pilot. The first plane he tested was the old B-26, sometimes known as the “Widow Maker” or the “Flying Coffin.” The B-26 was a hot ship with a high landing take-off speed, as compared to aircraft of its day. Harlan took the bombers off the assembly line for their initial flights to iron the “bugs” out before they were turned over to the armed forces.

How did he feel about the atom bombing of Hiroshima? “I just wish it could have fallen on the heads of war mongers who started the war instead of on innocent people at Hiroshima,” he commented.

Note: Lee Harlan closed out his test pilot log book October 1, 1945, but never quit flying. He went on to become an Allis Chalmers tractor dealer, car dealer, crop duster and ambulance plane pilot, retiring in Clarinda, Iowa. He was born in 1905 north of Salisbury, MO; died 1990 in Iowa.

Mark Harlan Bicycles Across America For His "Buddy"

Submitted by: John L. Harlan

(George#3, James#11, John#44, Isaac#207, Isaac#797, John#2720, Samuel Lingo, J. Fount, Delly Lee)

My son, Mark Harlan, is currently involved in a personal adventure that has a human interest story connected. Mark is part of The GTE Big Ride Across America, a group bicycle ride from Seattle, Washington, to Washington, D.C. With a starting group of approximately 1,000 riders, it is billed as the largest cross-country cycling event in history. The purpose is to benefit the American Lung Association, and participants had to raise a minimum of $6,000 in cash and pledges to be eligible to join the group.

Much to my surprise, Mark, never a serious rider and hardly a rider at all for the last several years, raised $9,100 in pledges quickly, bought a new specialized bicycle and showed up in Seattle registered and ready to go. This, mind you, was all done on little more than a whim--an expanded impulse. The starting date was June 15. They are slated to arrive in Washington, D. C. August 1, 1998. That will be Mark's 38th birthday. This is going to test his mettle, his legs, his wind and his resolve.

And he rides with a man who may be dying. The American Lung Association connection with this ride makes it possible for a cyclist to select an imaginary "buddy" for the undertaking--a sort of "honorary rider". The designated person must be someone whose life has been profoundly altered by a lung disease. Mark has chosen Joe Loft of Clarence, Missouri, for his "buddy".

Clarence is a town of about 1,000 in rural northeastern Missouri. My father, Dr. D. L. Harlan (Delly Lee in the Cousins List) was the local doctor there for many years, and that is where I was born and raised. Joe Loft and I were the closest of friends in high school. My father was Joe's doctor for years, and I remember when he removed Joe's appendix. Country doctors did that sort of thing, you know.

My father is long since dead and although Joe and I never totally lost touch, I moved away years ago, and our lives diverged. But this past May I was informed that Joe had a malignant growth in his chest; his condition was deemed terminal, and he had been given three weeks to live. Appalled, I rushed back for one last visit.

My son, Mark, upon learning all of this and already in the process of enrolling for the ride, opted to choose Joe as his "ride buddy". I will always admire Mark for that choice because, although he met Joe once long ago, he doesn't really know him. He does know my feelings in the matter, however, and acted accordingly, totally unknown to me.

Well, it turns out that Joe is still alive, having already outlived the early predictions. He still seems relatively strong. We have supplied Joe and his family with a US map that has Mark's proposed route marked on it. They have mounted it on a wall and are charting his progress. Mark sends periodic updates on the trip, his "Roadkill Gazette", and we pass those on to Joe.

The local paper ran a piece on this "partnership ride". Mark's ride now has its own website. It is The whole affair has stimulated Joe. He waits for reports as to where the riders are and takes strong interest in watching their trail extend across the map.

As I write this Mark is approaching Billings, Montana. He has crossed Washington, Idaho and a good bit of Montana. He has taken a few lumps, and he hurts something fierce at times, but he's still there. Every day he stays increases the odds of his making it all the way to the East Coast. Riding for Joe is a definite factor in keeping him going. What started as an lark has turned into a mission.

To some extent Joe and Mark seem to be getting strength from each other. When this business started, we were hoping Joe could stick around for the start of the ride on June 15 and hoped Mark could make two or three full days. Then we aimed for a state border or two. Now we're pulling for them both to be around for the finish on August 1.

After that? Who knows? Nobody's giving up. Keep pumping, both of you.

Post script from Mark's father: The afternoon of August 1, 1998, found Mark Harlan and 700+ other cyclists assembled in front of the Washington Monument. They had just completed a 3,425 mile bicycle ride that started in Seattle, Washington, on June 15. At about the same time in Clarence, Missouri, Joe Loft was moving a pin marker on the wall map in his hospital room. He had tracked Mark all the way.

Mark had made it. Seven pounds lighter, and somewhat weatherbeaten, he had ridden a bicycle all the way across the United States.

And Joe had made it. Joe, the "condemned man", who wasn't supposed to last until the ride started, was around for the finish. He seems to be stronger than he was in June, and plans are being made to bring him from the hospital. For the entire trip Mark wore a dogtag with both his and Joe's name on it. It has been sent to Joe. We all think of it as a momento to each of them toughing it out in his own way.

None of us is trying to claim any curative powers for a bicycle ride with an imaginary companion. But we're not knocking it, either. ----John L. Harlan

also read more about Mark on the Who's Who page.

Joe Harlan - Close Call on a Crab Boat

Captain and crew survive sinking of their ship in Alaskan waters (1989)

The first story in Spike Walker’s book, Nights of Ice, contains a riveting account of a near disaster involving Joe Harlan, captain of the fifty-three-foot crab boat Tidings, and his crew of three in icy waters near Kodiak Island, Alaska. Because of dangerous chill-factor temperatures and heavy ice formations, the skipper and crew decided to end their crabbing season and head for port.

But at Narrow Cape, some bad tide rips caused heavy icing of the entire ship. The crew was rousted from their bunks and as they began to break up the ice, the Tidings began to list to the port side. Water entered the engine room. Joe was able to yell “Mayday!” into the CB mike just before the Tidings sank, trapping him inside the wheelhouse. The suddenness of the ship’s icing and sinking caught the crew without their survival suits, and they were plunged into the cruel arctic waters.

You’ll need to read Spike Walker’s story to learn how Joe amazingly escaped from an icy grave to join his suffering crew as they were frantically treading water. Just minutes from death, the weak and hypothermic men were miraculously rescued. It has the impact of the Titanic story, only on a smaller scale and with a happier ending!

Nights of Ice was published in 1997 by St. Martin’s Press, New York.

Joe Harlan, a commercial fisherman, was born in Flint, Michigan, and was 32 years old at the time of this story. His family originated in Harlan County, KY, and Joe has lived in Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, California and Montana, as well as 18 years in Alaska. He is married to Mary Ellen Nugent whom he met in Alaska when he hired her as one of his fishing crew. Ironically, Joe and Mary Ellen grew up two miles apart in Michigan but never met. They have one daughter, Chelsea, who goes out with Joe in the summer during salmon season.

Harlan Wagon Train (to California)

Submitted by Patty Brown; source unknown

Additional notes following by Steve Harrison

Also read "The Great Trek and the Golden Opportunity", a narrative version of this diary. Click here for a .pdf version.

The numbers in parentheses are from Alpheus Harlan's "History & Genealogy of the Harlan Family".

Departed: October 1845. From: Berrian County, Michigan, with 11 wagons
George Harlan ( #852; the wagon master )
Elizabeth Duncan Harlan ( George's wife )
Rebecca Harlan Van Gordon ( #2990, married daughter )
Ira Van Gorden ( husband of Rebecca )
Mary Harlan Van Gorden ( #2991, married daughter )
John Van Gorden ( husband of Mary )
Joel Harlan ( #2992, son )
Nancy Harlan ( #2994, daughter )
Elisha Harlan ( #2995, son )
Jacob Harlan ( #2996, son )
Mrs. Duncan ( mother-in-law )
Sarah Harlan ( #2983, niece to George and daughter of Samuel, #851)
Jacob Wright Harlan ( #2984, nephew to George and son of Samuel )
Malinda Harlan ( #2985, niece to George and daughter of Samuel )
George W. Harlan ( #2977, nephew to George and son of William )
Sarah Johnston Harlan ( sister-in-law to George and Widow of William, #850 )
William Harlan Jr. ( #2979, nephew of George and son of William )

St. Claire, Illinois: Fowler Party joined
Catherine Speed Fowler ( mother )
William Fowler ( son )
Ann Eliza Fowler ( daughter )
Minerva Jane Fowler ( daughter )
Catherine Fowler Hargrave ( married daughter )
John Hargrave ( husband of Catherine )

December 1, 1845: Arrived at Lexington, Missouri and spent the winter. Here Sarah Harlan ( niece to George and daughter of Samuel ) married her cousin George W. Harlan ( nephew to George and son of William )

Spring 1846: Peter Wimmer ( brother-in-law to George Harlan Wagon Master ) joined the wagon train with his new wife ( he had been widowed ) Elizabeth Jane Cloud.

Independence, Missouri: The wagon train went there to join 500 other wagons in the spring of 1846.

April 6, 1846: The wagons started out. The Ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri was the leader. The Donner Party was also a part of this train.

Fort Laramie, Wyoming: It was here that Langsford Hastings ( a guide ) persuaded 3 groups of the big train to go to Fort Bridger, Wyoming, and take a short cut that would save them 300 miles.

The three parties went with Hastings:

  1. A pack train led by Bryant and guided by Hudspeth ( a partner of Hastings)
  2. Harlan-Young Party with 66 wagons.
  3. The Donner Party.

July 23, 1846: Fort Bridger, Wyoming. Harlan-Young party left for cutoff, ahead of Donner Party

July 31, 1846: Donner Party left for cutoff. The Bryant Party had left before both of the others.

Weber Canyon, Utah: Upon reaching the cutoff Bryant sent back a note urging all who followed to avoid this route. Neither the Harlan-Young nor the Donner Parties received this note.

When the Harlan-Young train reached the head of Weber Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah they "ran into a stone wall". The going was extremely difficult and at some points the shoulders thrusting into the gorge were so steep the wagons had to be lifted over by windlass and rope.

Hastings left a note at the entrance of the canyon to urge the Donner Party not to follow but to ride ahead and find a better route.

Reed upon reading the note, rode to find a new route and waiting for him cost the Donner Party more time.

Salt Lake Valley: When the Harlan-Young Party finally made it through the Wasatch Mountains they then had to cross the desert. They went 90 miles with no water. John Hargrave died on this part of the journey. William Fowler lost 7 yoke of oxen, and most of the livestock on the train perished from lack of water. Two years later the Mormons from Illinois followed this route to Salt Lake. The Harlan-Young wagon train was the first to cross that desert. They left all the wagons but three and hitched all the oxen to these. They found water in another 20 miles then went back for the other wagons.

Humbolt River: Upon reaching this point George Harlan sent Jacob Wright Harlan and Tom Smith ahead to Sutter's Fort for food and fresh animals.

Jacob and two Indians returned with provisions and met the train on the Truckee River. Tom Smith had joined Fremont's Army.

October 25, 1846: The Harlan-Young Party reached Johnson's Rancho near Sacramento. They arrived several weeks behind the Boggs Party, but they were the last train to cross the Sierras that winter.

The Donner Party: They had been delayed at the Wasatch Mountains in Utah and when they attempted to cross the Sierra Mountains, they were caught in the snow and were forced to spend the winter in the mountains.

Destination Mission Santa Clara: The Harlan Party sent their women and children by boat down the Sacramento River to Alviso and the men took the wagons by land. The boat trip was very rough as a storm blew up. They reached Yerba Buena, as San Francisco was called then, and went ashore. Later they went back to the boat and continued to Alviso. It took nine days to make the boat trip. The woman spent one night in Alviso then went on to the Mission Santa Clara the next day. In a few days the men arrived with the wagons.

December 1846: Two weeks after arriving at Mission Santa Clara John Van Gordon ( husband of Mary Harlan ) and Elizabeth Duncan Harlan ( wife of George Harlan the Wagon Master ) died of Typhoid Fever.

Jacob Wright Harlan enlists in the army under Fremont. He remained in until April 1847.

Spring 1847: George Harlan moved to Mission San Jose with his widowed daughter, Mary Van Gordon, and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Duncan. There he started a dairy with the cows that survived the trek to California.

August 1, 1847: George Harlan ( wagon master ) married Catherine Fowler Hargrave and moved to Napa Valley.

1847: Captain Henry C. Smith married Mary Ann Harlan Van Gordon and moved to the Oakland Hills where Henry was whip-sawing lumber in the Redwoods. Mrs. Duncan also went with them. Henry C. Smith had been recruited into the Army in Ohio in 1845 and had crossed the plains on horseback with a pack train.

Jacob Wright Harlan, George W. Harlan and George Harlan ( wagon master ) were also in the Oakland Hills cutting redwood shingles and fence posts for the village of Yerba Buena ( soon to be called San Francisco )

George W. Harlan and his wife Sarah opened a hotel, The Fremont, in the wilds of Santa Clara.

Jacob and Joel Harlan then went to San Francisco where they operated a livery stable until 1848.

March 1848: Jacob Wright Harlan and Joel Harlan opened a General Store in Coloma. Gold was struck there that spring so the brothers made a lot of money selling supplies to the miners.

April 1848: Julia Smith was born to Mary and Henry Smith in Oakland.

Summer 1848: Smiths move to Coloma to mine for gold.

August 1848: George and Catherine Harlan also moved to Coloma for the gold.

Winter 1848: Smiths moved to San Francisco with $8,000 that they had mined during the summer.

April 2, 1849: Joel Harlan married Minerva Jane Fowler in Sonoma.

1849: Mrs. Duncan, mother-in-law of George Harlan the wagon master, died at 93 years old. She had come across by wagon train two years before.

1849: Henry C. Smith was named First Justice of the Peace at Mission San Jose.

1849: Nancy Harlan, daughter of George Harlan, married Lucien Huff.

1849: Jacob and Joel sold the General Store in Coloma to Langsford Hastings (the guide ) and the brothers went gold mining but returned to San Francisco to dairy with George Harlan, wagon master. They were getting $4.00 a gallon for milk.

1849: Jacob Wright Harlan sold a " Worthless " lot on Bush Street in San Francisco, so called because it was simply sand hills and greasewood bushes, to Dr. Coit and two partners for $2500.00. Known as Coit Towers today.

February 9, 1850: Emma Smith was born to Mary and Henry Smith at Mission San Jose.

May 1850: Nancy Huff had a daughter, Dena Huff, at Mission San Jose.

Summer of 1850: George Harlan, wagon master, died of typhoid fever at the Mission San Jose. He was 48 years old.

1850: Elisha Harlan, son of George Harlan, wagon master, went to live with his brother Joel Harlan in San Francisco.

1850-1852: Jacob and Joel Harlan and their families farmed potatoes at the mouth of San Lorenzo Creek.

1851: Henry Smith went by way of the Isthmus of Panama to New York and on to St. Joseph, Missouri, to see his family.

1852: Jacob Wright Harlan and William J. Harlan also went to New York via the Isthmus of Panama. Jacob went on to Indiana to his family. William Fowler went to Iowa.

1852: Joel and Minerva Harlan moved to a 1,000 acre ranch Joel bought in the Amador Valley. Elisha Harlan, brother of Joel, also went with them.

1852: Henry C. Smith was elected to the California State Legislature from Santa Clara county. The state capital was at that time in Benicia. He introduced the bill creating Alameda County.

1853: Smiths moved to Alvarado, California.

1853: Jacob W. Harlan is in Indiana where he and his brother George and cousin

William buy 306 head of cattle and horses and set off for California. They again take the Weber Canyon cutoff and arrive in California with 189 head of livestock.

1853: Jacob then ran the Slocum's Ferry near Stockton and raised livestock in many places in California. He eventually ended up in an Old Soldiers Home, destitute except for his Army Pension.

1855: Henry Smith was elected one of the first Supervisors of Alameda County.

1856: Joel Harlan and his family moved to the Norris Tract in Danville where Joel added 800 more acres to his ranch. He also built a two-story house called " El Nido " that still remains with his descendants today, being Mrs. Al Geldermann. The house is a museum in Danville.

1856: Nancy Harlan Huff died.

May 7, 1858: William J Harlan and Nancy Randall marry in Iowa.

1860: Elisha Harlan left his brother Joel's ranch in San Ramon and went to Fresno County where he spent nine years buying and selling livestock near Kingston.

1861: Smiths moved to Nevada where they operated hotels.

March 31, 1863: William J. Harlan, who, as a small child came across the plains with the Harlan-Young Wagon Train, later returned to Iowa, married and had a family, now leaves Iowa with his wife and family in a wagon train for California again. His train consists of: Nancy Randall Harlan ( William's wife )
Charles A. Harlan ( son )
George W. Harlan ( son )
Andrew J. Harlan ( son )
Elias Draper ( half brother to William )
Mrs. Hobaugh Draper ( wife of Elias )
Lucy Hobaugh ( daughter of Mrs. Hobaugh Draper )

They arrived in San Lorenzo in late 1863.

1865: Smiths return to California from Nevada and live in Oakland.

1868: Smiths purchase a farm of 160 acres in Livermore.

1869: Elisha Harlan homesteads 160 acres 25 miles south of Fresno. He added by purchase until he owned 700 acres.

September 14, 1871: Elisha Harlan married Lucy Hobaugh. Lucy Hobaugh was Riverdale's first Postmistress. The ranch still remains in the family, and a grandson, John Jerome Harlan, Jr., lives there.

Additions and corrections are welcome. Please send to Ruth Harlan Lamb (

Note: Katherine Grey has written two books that chronicle this period of history: "Rolling Wheels", about wagon trains going west and the hardships endured; and "Hills of Gold", the story of the discovery of gold in California. The books may be out of print, so if anyone knows of a source, please put the information on the Harlan message board.

Some additional notes from Steve Harrison, son of a Harlan, who has been researching the Harlan family for over 30 years .

  1. "Summer of 1850: George Harlan..died of typhoid fever..." George Harlan died on July 8, 1850.

  2. "1856: Nancy Harlan Huff died" Nancy died December 12, 1856.

  3. "September 14, 1871: Elisha Harlan... The ranch still remains in the family, and a grandson, John Jerome Harlan, Jr. lives there." Jerome died on February 9, 2002. I suggest rewriting the sentence to read: "The ranch remains in the family. Elisha's grandson, John Jerome Harlan, Jr. lived there until his death on February 9, 2002."

  4. There is a note at the end about the books by Katherine Grey. For clarification, it should be stated that her books are works of fiction, probably geared toward young adult readers. They are both out of print.

Memories and Milestones of Pearl (Harlan) and John F. Hullinger

for their 50th Wedding Anniversary, June 28, 1969

This booklet is dedicated to all our children, both Grand and Great. Submitted by Craig Harlan Hullinger, grandson.

We have been collecting bits of information, history and dates all our lives, and all at once we are the only ones to tell it. So here it is, for whoever wants to know. With Love, Grandpa Johnnie and Grandma Pearl Harlan Hullinger

Pearl Harlan and Family

Now, who for goodness sake is Pearl Harlan? Well, as you may guess, it is I, Grandma Pearl, and if you are still reading and interested, I will try to tell you.

The Harlan family in America was founded by George and Michael Harlan, Quakers who came to Pennsylvania in 1687 from England. The family history was compiled in the "History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family," by Alpheus H. Harlan in 1914. On page 224, it says, "Moses Harlan (#676), son of George (#180), farmer (Friend or Quaker), born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in 1786; died in Peoria, Ill., 1842, and is buried there in the cemetery at Radnor, Peoria County, Ill. Was married near Ridgeville, Warren County, Ohio, in 1813 to Ann Jennings, daughter of John and Sarah (Hopkins) Jennings, who was born in 1791 and died in 1824. She is buried in Friends burying ground, Miami Meeting House, near Harrison Harlon (grandson of Moses Harlon), original homesteader in Illinois Waynesville, Ohio. The only children of Moses I have record of are John, born 1816, and Lewis (#2291), my grandfather, born 1823. He came to Peoria County with his father in 1836 at the age of 13. There is no record of a second marriage and it may be that they are the only two in the family. Lewis was married in 1846 to Evaline Chapin.

The Chapin family story should fit in here. It is strange that I have the most information about my Grandmother Evaline Chapin Harlan's mother Mirabah Maria Blakesley Chapin. It may be because she followed the Harlans to Iowa. She is in a picture that I am in also, as a baby of three months taken in 1895, and she died that fall. She is sitting in a chair that I saw in Seattle, Washington, in the home of a cousin a few years ago. This cousin gave me Maribah's picture, taken when a young woman. She was the daughter of Stephen and Clissora (Blakesley) Chapin and was born in Onondaga County, N. Y., in 1808. She was married to Joseph Chapin, but no date for that.

They moved to Peoria County, Illinois, when my grandmother was a small child, and it would seem that they came before the Harlans. We have a dictionary that belonged to Joseph Chapin that was printed in Edinburg, Scotland, in 1776. Does this mean they were Scotch? And when did they come to America? If any of you are curious, there are probably records in Onondago County, N. Y. The picture I have is said to have been taken in 1831 and looks to be an expensive one.

The family story has it that Great Grandfather Joseph (Chapin) was prosperous but lost all his money in a money panic, or rather that his paper money was worthless, and history tells of money troubles in 1832 to 1835. At any rate they moved to Illinois when Evaline was a little girl and I have heard first-hand stories about hard times. Her father, Joseph, when the snow was so deep, had to haul flour on a hand sled to feed his family. Evaline couldn't eat corn meal and got thin and pale.

Evaline Forsakes Education

It seemed they had more prosperous relatives in Chicago, which was only a small village at the time, who offered to take her to give her schooling and promised her a fancy doll if she would come. She did go and then I have heard that her father came to see her and she clung to him and cried, "My pretty Pa, my pretty Pa," and went home with him and that ended the education or whatever it was.

She lived in our home for three years until I was eight, but too young to ask for the priceless stories she could have told. I remember about a pet fawn that would hide in the fireplace when strangers came, and that the wolves were bad in the timber in Illinois. She talked of panthers screaming, too. She had a little walnut table (that Irene now has) for a desk, and she was always writing letters to relatives in the east somewhere, so she did learn to write. She read everything available, too.

After Grandfather Lewis (Harlan) came to Iowa the Chapins came also and lived in a little house on the farm, east of Milo, Iowa. Joseph probably died in the late '80's. Their children, as I remember, not in the correct order, are Lorinda (Wilson), George, James, enlisted in 1861 and died of wounds in Rome, Georgia, 1864, Evaline (HarIan), Jane (Hines).

Lorinda (Aunt Nin) lived near us in the little town of Prole and was a widow with one child, Eddie. The story was that Aunt Nin had carried him every day, so that when he was a man she could still lift him. I remember she was very kind and sad and that she wrote in an autograph album of my father's: "May the Lord keep you from temptation and son, and accept the kind wishes of your Aunt Nin." I still have the album. Uncle George also lived there and seemed to be kind of a family joke. Also he DRANK. I can't think it was very much but in a family like that, a little went a long way. He was the youngest child and very spoiled, they said. But one son was killed in the war and George had broken a foot when a little boy and after many years and much suffering, it was amputated. I remember him with a wooden peg for a leg, so it was understandable if he was spoiled. He was married late to an "old maid" and they adopted a baby about my age. The baby, Park, grew up and was killed in the First World War. They had moved to PeEll, Washington, and Uncle George had died there so Aunt Jennie was left alone. She wouldn't spend any of the money from the government for his insurance, but hid it everywhere in her little house and worried everyone. I don't know why I am telling this except it seemed such a pathetic story and there is no one left to hurt. Uncle George and Aunt Jennie are buried in the PeEll Cemetery.

Lewis Harlan and Evaline (Chapin) Come to Iowa

When Lewis and Evaline came to Belmont Township, Warren County, Iowa, in 1854, they brought two children, Ruth and Joseph. I will copy from the Warren County History in 1879 . . . "Lewis Harlan owns a farm of 120 acres. The first house on it was built of hay, straw and mud. He helped to organize the township and voted at the first election and was elected assessor." He had been assessor in Illinois, too, one note says. "He enlisted in Co. D, 34th Iowa Infantry in August, 1862, and was promoted to Sergeant, January 5, 1863. He served till May 20, 1863, when he was discharged for injuries received in the line of duty. He was in the battles of Haines Bluff and Arkansas Post."

I think of Evaline left with little children to take care of during the war. My father, Marion, was born in 1861 and Martha was older so there were four. But she had relatives living near, I think. I remember one story. Someone was at their home (they had built a better house and part of it is still there) talking for the South or making a remark of some kind. She took a chair and threatened him and said she would have no Rebel talk in her house.

Six children of the ten born lived to grow up --- Ruth (Wilson), Joseph, Martha (Crow), Marion, Willie and Ray. Some of Ruth's descendants are the Butlers of Lacona, Iowa. Joe's daughter is the Rose who visited here and now lives in Seattle --- the only child left.

There are some Crows in Washington and Oregon but I don't know where. Willie has one daughter left, Nellie Irwin in Copalis Beach, Washington. Ray has two children --- Ted and Annie (Fox), both in Yakima. Evaline was born in 1826 in New York and died in PeEll, Wash., in 1911, 85 years and a continent covered in her lifetime. She had followed her daughter, Ruth, and said, "If I die out here in this heathen country, don't rattle my old bones back over that railroad." And so they didn't. I have seen her grave and also her husband's grave in Lynn Grove Cemetery at Prole, Iowa. Years ago some cousins and I had her name and dates chiseled on the stone there and a marker put at the place in PeEll. She was a vivid personality and the stories I have heard show it. I just wanted to bring her to life a little.

Marion (Harlan) grew up and the family moved to Jefferson Township when he was 21 and there he met Minnie Lockridge who was 14 when he first saw her and wearing a red velvet jacket, so he said. Can't you just see her with that coal black hair and sparkling eyes? They were married when she was 19 and I have hints of quite a courtship. He had a team of Hambletonian horses, matched sorrels, with white manes and tails that he used to tell about. They used sleighs with bells and after a drive at night, when the snow was deep, he would rub their legs dry before he went to bed. In the summer when the roads were dusty, it was not good to let anyone get ahead of you so that you would "eat their dust" so there were races. He got ahead of Minnie's brother, Lee, so Lee ran behind him, nine miles I think they said, trying to run the horses down, but the sorrels were not even bothered. I wonder if the Lockridge kids were not a bit wild. I heard of a horse race where Lee ran over a cow and spilled them all out.

They both went to country schools that were being started, Marion in Belmont Township at "Locust Grove" school. He told some stories about troubles with big boys and the teachers like we read about. One was about a "professor" from Indianola who came to teach wearing a long black robe. Can you imagine the challenge that would be to country kids? Anyway they locked him out of the schoolhouse in the cold weather until he caught cold and had pneumonia. My father liked school and always had an idea of getting more education, but that wasn't easy in days. I think his father was getting old and he was the one to do the work on the farm, and did until he married.

Minnie had some school tales to tell. She had had good teachers and got a good common school education. She was probably quick to learn, too. They learned the multiplication tables to the tune of Yankee Doodle and she could still sing it. I never heard of that from anyone else. Also, they had a teacher who wasn't so good so her cousin wrote on the board, "Oh, Lord of Love, look down from above on these poor innocent scholars. They hired a fool to teach our school, and gave her 40 dollars." The teacher cried so I heard. Grandpa Lockridge always saw that they had music lessons. A teacher would drive from place to place giving lessons and make it back about once a week. They had a very good new organ on which to practice, the one Chuck Erikson has now. So I think times were pretty good then.

Minnie and Marion were married in September, 1889, and got right into the hard times.

Milk, Honey and Fruit Trees

Grandpa David (Pearl's maternal grandfather) kept bees and harvested a lot of honey. He had many kinds of fruit trees and was always planting more and did some grafting of apples. I remember picking big pails of blackberries and there were strawberries and plums. He liked Jonathan apples and had quite an orchard of them and as I remember it, I have never tasted any as good as those. There were cows to milk and the milk was strained into crocks and put in a cave. The cream was skimmed every morning and then it had to be churned and the butter made ready to sell. That was the grocery money for things that had to be bought. They traded eggs, too, to the stores. All the farms of that day were like that and it was a very comfortable pleasant life in spite of the work.

Grandma was never very well, but she was a good supervisor and things always went smoothly. David was like a clock for dependability and I never remember hearing a cross word from him. I was a special grandchild, or so they made me feel, and when I went back to visit them on their 60th wedding day with Clifford and Maribee, Grandma came around and told me, "Now, let them have everything they want and do just as they please and you won't have a bit of trouble." And as I look back, I think that was the system they always used. My memories of them are so many, it is hard to stop. Ask me what you would like to know before it is too late.

We must go back to Minnie and Marion, starting out in 1889, just as the hard times started. I have heard talk of working on the railroad at a dollar a day for 10 hours of the hardest kind of work. They lived on farms, too, in those years before I was born and one baby, Wallace, died when he was a year and a half old, probably in 1893. My sister, Nina, was born in 1890. From her pictures and what I have heard she was a very beautiful child. I was born in 1895, and when I was about a year old they left for Washington state where most of my father's brothers and sisters were going. They went to PeEll, which is about 20 miles from the coast and worked in the timber. This was very hard and dangerous work. It probably paid better than Iowa labor, but he hated the work besides the danger. They told me they walked 12 miles and carried me to look at a farm place somewhere in the timber and that it was a nice place but no way in or out besides walking. So they came back to Iowa in the summer of 1896. That fall when Nina was six she started to school. A diphtheria epidemic broke out and she died that fall. I think they never recovered from that loss and it shadowed the rest of their lives. I was 15 months old at the time. Grandfather Lewis died the winter I was four and Theron was born the next September and I can remember both events.

Preferred South Dakota to Canada

The years went by with no settled place to live and they were always thinking of a new country. Marion went to Canada and homesteaded, but when it came time to move there he couldn't bring himself to give up his citizenship in the U. S., though he thought it was good land. And so in 1903 he came to look over South Dakota and did homestead the southwest quarter of section 1, Township 3, South, 31 E, in what was then Lyman County, but is now Jones. The catch was that by now he was 42 years old and as I look back I know it was too late in his life ever to conquer this country. In the spring of 1905 we came out to live for awhile until we could prove up and sell the land.

Marion had made several trips here to hold down the claim and I remember him telling how it was in September of 1904. No rain and with the hundreds of range cattle that ranged from the Medicine Creek to the White River, there was no grass for miles. But in spite of that he came out in April and built a shack. He stayed behind to work when in June, Minnie, I, then ten, and Theron, six, came on the train to Chamberlain. I was old enough to be excited about it all and was very happy to come. We were met in Chamberlain by Roy Andrews, who was 14 and the son of a man whose family lived near our shack and ran a road house. We had brought some bedding from Iowa, but that was about all, so Minnie bought a little two-hole stove, stove pipe and screen wire. I remember a keyhole saw and hammer and she used them. There were floor boards for the shack, lath and tarpaper. But you can get the picture, nothing unnecessary. As soon as we got there, she began helping Mr. Andrews lay a floor in the shack and after that she made a screen door and put screen over the holes which we had for windows, no glass, but board fit when it rained. In a week or two, our Aunt Cora and Josie came, and they lived in shacks nearby. I don't know what we ate or where we got it. I remember bacon and syrup. Josie said she had often heard of the Land of Milk and Honey, but this was the first she had heard of the Land of Dam Water and Syrup. So it was all a big joke and like a camping trip.

Marion and Uncle Lee came in September, driving through from Iowa with a team and spring wagon, so now we had transportation. They went to work at Zoske's, putting up hay and hauling loads of wood home as they came. So winter was being thought of. They banked up the shack to the eaves so it was very warm and, of course, put in windows.

We had no school all that winter but we read a lot, and I had several books I almost memorized --- Uncle Tom's Cabin, Alice in Wonderland, and Five Little Peppers. An odd assortment but all there was. There was a stack of magazines, Red Book, Argosy, and Cosmopolitan, and I read those, too. They were racy for their day and I wish I could see them to see what I really did read. I had failed to learn the multiplication table in Iowa. One day Minnie taught me to do long division, so I evidently went on from there. I never bothered to learn those tables any more. The Andrews girls and I sewed for our dolls. I had a big doll that took too much material so I carved out a little wooden doll with a very graceful shape like the ladies had then and if you didn't like the shape you could carve off a little more. She had a lot of yellow hair made out of tow they used to clean guns with. The arms were made out of cloth rolled up and would bend just as well as the expensive dolls they have now. She had no legs, but with the long skirts they had, she could stand up fine. On the whole, she was the best doll I ever had.

And so we had a very profitable and fun year. The next summer I was eleven and in September they started school. I still couldn't multiply but the teacher started us on fractions and as far as I can remember it was easy. We only went to school until October when the claim could be "proved up." Irene was born that July,1906. Somehow we had gotten another team of horses and a wagon with a cover and we were going back to Iowa. We were 17 days on the way and maybe I had better tell what I can remember. It just seems to me that no one made such trips after that. It wasn't much fun for me as by that time I was getting older and self-conscious about not being in school and probably looked pretty shabby.

Sick Horse Nearly Stops Trip

It was not uncomfortable in the wagon. We had bed springs on the wagon box to sleep on, a little stove to cook with, and a good tight cover over the wagon bows. We got as far as between Pukwana and Kimball when one of the horses got sick. That was a thing we forget about, but was a threat often then. There was not a house in sight and you could see for miles. The folks got out all the remedies, soda, liniment, and what else I don't know and mixed it together and got it down the horse. We were unhitched, of course, and the horse was lying by a haystack so there must have been people somewhere. They called the sickness colic and diagnosed that the cause was the water she drank at Pukwana. I can remember the sick feeling of fear and discouragement that I suppose I caught from the folks.

The railroad track was nearby and I remember them saying that my father could follow that until he caught a ride with the section men to a town where he could get another horse. But because of, or in spite of the medicine, she got better and in the morning we started on.

Irene was only three months old and they feared the trip would be too hard on her, so when we got to Mitchell my mother took her and went on the train. We could travel about 30 miles a day and I remember how careful my father was to avoid going the least way north or west, but only south or east. Every foot in the wrong direction would have to be made back. I used to remember every town we stayed in, but can't any more. There was Bridgewater, Rock Valley, Archer, Cherokee, and many others. Marion was whimsical and fun and we laughed and made jokes and rhymes and he was never cross. One night Theron got sick with a very high fever and was delirious, and I could sense his desperation and worry, but Theron was better in the morning and we went on. That must have been in Iowa somewhere.

But we finally got to Prole where we had a farm rented and ready for us. We lived there two years trying to decide whether to sell our claim and buy in Iowa or not. We could sell the 160 acres for about enough to buy 40 acres there. As we see it today, that was a bargain, but no way of judging then. I wanted to come back and may have been the deciding factor, but I don't know.

When we came back to South Dakota in the fall of 1908 with an immigrant car loaded with fence posts and furniture, Marion was 47. The claim was completely bare of improvements except the original shack. After a well was dug by hand in the creek, there was plenty of hard bitter water. It was clean and cold and we used it and learned to like it. People were leaving fast by then, so he bought another better shack and attached it to the first one. He also dug a cellar in that hard shale. The pick marks stayed in the walls for years showing how hard the digging had been. Then there were the post holes to be dug by hand and he had no help. He never hired help as there was no money for that. And then most important was the sod to break. He had gotten hold of one good big team, "Knute" and "Dick," a trotting bred mare, "Old Jess," and a little bronc saddle horse we called "Whizzer." It was hard grueling work for the horses and he took the best care of them he could. He was a horse lover and couldn't bear to work a horse with sore shoulders or that was too thin. I remember hearing him say about breaking up the land, "Horses will never do it." He could have no vision of tractors, but I wish he had. He planted 40 acres of wheat on some land just south of us and it was very nice and they had great hopes until it was hailed out. He also took a job of breaking sod north of Boyle's and I went along to drop seed corn in the furrow every third round. It would be covered the next time around. I enjoyed that as the weather was nice and Marion joked and we had fun. I can't remember any crop but maybe there was.

House Is Gradually Improved

The years went by and they added another shack or two to the house. Minnie was always papering, patching and papering again, so that it was comfortable and didn't look too bad inside. It had much tarpaper and banking up with dirt on the outside. There were some crops and some very good gardens, also chickens and eggs. We milked a few cows and sold cream.

It must have been in the winter of 1916-17 that he had a stroke. He seemed to recover from that, but it seems to me his judgment was never so good after that and the singing and joking stopped. In 1917, they sold the first land and moved about 6 miles north to another quarter where they built quite a good house and small barn. He planted trees and fruit and for a few years they thrived. It was a very nice looking farm. But by that time the ill health was increasing and it was a struggle for him to go on. The debts were piling up, too. He tried to keep his trees and garden alive and was pulling weeds the day he had his final stroke. He lived for a month, completely helpless, and died September 8, 1927. He had given 19 years and all his strength to the new country.

In a few years the buildings were sold. Drouth and grasshoppers took their toll so that now there is nothing left to show for all the labor except a tiny clump of Caraganas that you can see if you know where to look.

Minnie lived on for 40 more years. She died May 12, 1968, at the age of 98, but was privileged to keep her faculties and to see many of the dreams come true.

Back to School in Iowa

So now back to Pearl and the spring of 1909. I had gone to school in Iowa, but was behind for my age. The Iowa schools were not graded, and as I remember, the one we had was poor. When we got back here, I was almost 14. The teachers were interested. Mrs. Haywood's sister, Antha Taylor, 18, was the first. She decided I was in the seventh grade and set to work to get me through. The term started in March and ended in June. We worked and made it and now I was ready for the eighth grade. We had two different teachers that next year and one was poor so we only got part of the eighth grade covered. Also, we had two months vacation that winter of 1909-10.

I made my first wages by staying at the Boyles place with Mrs. Boyle for a month while Clayton Boyle was gone. There were four children -- Everett, the oldest, six, and Beulah (Price), the baby. We have figured out since that that was the winter that Grandpa Johnnie was staying alone doing chores at what is now Art Webers. It was very cold and much snow and I got homesick, though we lived only a half mile east of Herman Hendricks. It was just too rough to get home. I mostly carried coal, and snow for Mrs. Boyle to melt. I remember running one of those washing machines where you pull a lever back and forth and it turns a little wooden block with four pegs that hopefully gets the clothes clean if you run it long and fast enough. I always got tired before the clothes got clean. Getting enough snow melted so you could wash was almost an impossible task, too. The snow you tracked in, mixed with the coal dust, got the clothes dirty much faster than you could wash them. There was no other water to be had when the snow was deep. I still get tired and discouraged just thinking about it. I don't remember what I got paid, but maybe a quarter of beef.

We went back to school in the spring and I remember that the County Superintendent, Ina Sutley, started an essay contest, with the first prize a ten dollar gold piece, and second prize, five dollars. There were a list of subjects to choose from and I chose, of all things, "The Passing of the Indian." I remember the first line, "The Indian race is passing away. In a few years the Red Man will be but a myth," and went on from there. It had to be 700 words and I got to maybe the last two hundred and bogged down completely. I had probably said all I had to say in the first line, so it was not bad, but not good enough. My mother was pushing me and I sat and tried, but couldn't. One day we found something in the old Pacific monthly which had enough words to finish the 700 and I copied it verbatim and sent it in and what do you know, I got second prize and one of the judges even gave me first place. I don't know what moral you kids can get from this except maybe it doesn't pay to be honest.

What I did with the money is worth telling, too. With that five dollar gold piece, which incidentally is the only one I ever saw, I sent to Sears Roebuck and got enough navy blue wool broadcloth to make a suit with velvet for a collar and material for a white blouse, shoes, and a 15-cent pair of brown stockings, also buttons and thread. My mother helped me, of course, to plan and make the suit, but I was right there learning how to get the most for your money.

We had a pretty good teacher and we had part of the eighth grade work. Schools were closed for two months in the winter so there were only seven months at the most. The next June we were to take the examinations. Those for the eighth grade were given in the towns and that first one is worth writing about. We had to go to Presho so Mrs. Weaver took her son, Bob, daughter, Vera, and I to Vivian to catch the train at three o'clock in the morning. I went to their house and about midnight we got up and started in a lumberwagon. It was a 14-mile drive in the wagon and 12 miles on the train. We got a little lost I remember, but found the trail again. How we ever did prowl around at night with no fences and only trails to follow, and not always be lost, I don't know, but we did. Anyway we got to Presho, the first time I had ever been there, stayed in a hotel two nights and had the time of our lives. I made life-time friends of two girls, Margaret and Florence Cahill, now Mrs. Adolph Ernest and Mrs. Art Miler. We never see each other without a giggle for those far off foolish days. Besides all that, I managed to pass the examination, but just barely. So I went back to country school for another year, which was wise, I suppose, but it made me 16 when I started high school in Vivian.

July 4 Celebration, 1910

We had a Fourth of July celebration in Draper, the summer of 1910, which was a milestone I suppose. My father drove the wagon and took Mrs. Andrews and her daughter, Nellie, as well as our family. I had a new white dress made over from someone's white embroidery one, Jennie's, I think, and I felt very beautiful which is just as good as if you really are. There were speeches, races, and greased pig catching, and so on, and we girls wandered up and down hoping someone saw us and admired us. I don't know if they did or not. Grandpa Johnnie was there, too, and he doesn't remember so we didn't make much of a splash.

We had gotten better horses to ride and did a lot of that, learned to skate and sew in the long winter vacations. In the fall of 1911, we started to school in Vivian. There were two rooms in the school. The first five grades in the lower room and the 6th to the 10th were in the upper room. We rented a house which was the bedroom and dining room of the house that Ruth Heath owns, and Vera and Robert Weaver, Rebecca Day and I started keeping house. I could tell some tales about that and if any of you want to know you can ask me.

The school wasn't too bad, but I was having a lot of fun and didn't study very much. There were not many in the room and we made the most of it. One thing should go on record. We had a basket social and made enough to buy a basketball, Vivian's first, with baskets set up out in the school yard, which incidentally was just north of the Catholic Church. There were no other buildings there then. That was the year that Grandpa Johnnie tells about breaking all those wild horses out at the Herb Smith place and I remember seeing them tearing around on the flat south of the railroad, but still there was no premonition of the future.

Began To Teach at Age 16

So we had fun and it was a good thing, for that was the last carefree time. In the spring our teacher, and I can't think why, suggested we take teachers' examinations. I was still only 16 and you were supposed to be 18 to teach. But several of us went, and I innocently went, too. Most of the girls were older and I had no idea that I would have to say I was a year older than I was and sign my name to it. I think my folks didn't either. I didn't have nerve to get up and walk out, so I sat there and subtracted and added to try to get the right date down and suffered. Then I was unlucky enough to pass for the very lowest grade certificate. So the folks were proud of me and I went out to get a school, just barely 17, and get a school I did -- seven months at $40 per month. It was that little old school house down on White River at the mouth of Williams Creek. There were seven pupils, the oldest a year younger than I and much wiser in arithmetic. I had a beginner, too, without the foggiest notion of how to teach him, except what I had observed from the teachers I had had.

I was homesick and scared and then someone "told" on me and the Superintendent came. It was the Ina Sutley mentioned before and as I look back I know she knew all about me, but I didn't know it then. I "confessed," of course, and she went to see Schervems, where I boarded, and they stuck up for me and thought I was doing very well. So she said I should keep on until she sent a teacher to take my place. So each week I thought would be my last, but no one came. A new Superintendent came into office. I wrote to him and asked him if I should quit and he said you shouldn't start something and not finish, so I did. But it was years before I could bear to think of it.

In the spring after my board was paid, I had something over a hundred dollars and felt very rich. All this time we had only a very small mirror at home, so again I sent to Sears Roebuck and got a dresser with a big mirror and another large one to hang on the wall. So now when you sewed you could see what you had made and how it looked. I also went visiting to Iowa and got to be 18 at last and have a real certificate. I taught another year, nine months at $50 and rode horseback from home so was able to save most of it. We weren't "drop outs" those years. We were forced out of school so always wanted to go back. I managed a year and a half at Springfield and Aberdeen before the money ran out. So I taught three more years, always with the idea of getting more school but Grandpa Johnnie had waked up and seen me and I had gotten interested, too. The war was on by now and to look back it doesn't seem as if it has ever ended. I think the story is his from now on.

Lizzie and Eli (John Hullinger's parents) Die in 1950's

Eli and Lizzie were trying to cope with the new country as most of the older folks did. They had learned the eastern ways too well and could not adjust. Lizzie died July 6, 1951, and Eli died March 10, 1956, so it fell to the boys to learn and grow with the land.

Pearl and I (John Hullinger) had gone together for two years before I went into the army. I rented a farm where Harold Smith now lives, bought horses, cattle, hogs, and machinery and started farming. On June 28, 1919, we were married.

The first year was business failure. The 16 brood sows I bought had been fed some alkali corn, so all the pigs died except a few which were unhealthy and did not do well. They were bought at 23 cents a pound, which was market price, and sold in the fall for 13 cents so I lost quite a little money on this deal. I did manage to get up quite a lot of hay and contracted it for $27 per ton delivered in Vivian. I hired a man to bale the hay, who was to start soon, but with no written contract. After many promises but no action we finally gave up on him, but by the time we found someone else, hay took a big drop in price and the delivery date was not met so the contract was canceled.

I finally sold the hay in the spring for $7.00 per ton and had to take cattle on the farm and take care of them to get that. However, I did get $125 a month to take care of 200 head until grass came. In 1920, we had a cold, wet spring and these cows were thin and weak, so I got in a jam looking after them. Lost 15 or 20 head besides some young calves, so with the pig losses and the hay business failing, I ended up in debt. It took four or five years to get the debts cleared up and get going again.

Five Years of Better Crops

During the next five years crops were fairly good. Clifford (father of Craig) was born July 3rd, 1920, and in February of 1921 we rented the Harlan place. Maribee was born December 16 of that year. Margaret was born November 3rd, 1925. In the spring of 1926 we moved back to the Smith place. I was getting more cattle and needed more room. The year 1926 was really dry. We cut corn for hay and were short of water so I took a job of carrying mail from Vivian to McClure, which was a post office northeast of Weverstads. Salary was $830 a year which helped meet expenses. We got through the winter without any loss in spite of little feed and were out of debt except for payment on the first car bought to carry mail with.

The year 1927 came, and in April rain, rain, and more rain. I had to carry the mail on horseback part of the time. I kept a horse part of the time at Rischels, near Stony Butte, to change off as it was a rough trip for a horse, to say nothing of a man.

Ellis was born May 29, 1927. We bought the Clausen place, which was about two miles straight south of John Peterson's, and moved there in the spring of 1928. We did fairly well for three years, when the grasshoppers invaded us and with prices dropping in 1929, finances began to pinch in 1931. We thought we bought the land cheap at $12.00 per acre, but land got cheaper and cheaper. In 1932, hogs dropped to $2.00 a hundred, fat steers to $5.00 to $6.00, top cows, $2.80, and wheat, top 37 cents, and Durham, 29 cents. This was good wheat, 61 to 63 lbs. Shriveled wheat was 13 cents and barley, 11 cents, so I bought 500 bushels of barley and ground a mixture of wheat and barley and fed out some hogs and cattle. I think they did as well as selling grain at that price, but I still could not meet expenses, interest, and taxes, so I deeded the land back to the original owner and rented our present ranch one-half section plus some hayland and pasture in 1933.

In 1932, there was a good crop in spite of hoppers, with lots of rain, and we raised 6,000 bushels of wheat, but no price. I had bought the first tractor in 1931. John and Lyle Hulce and I bought a combine, together, in 1932, and we had quite a time paying for them. It took every cent we could stir up but got them paid for in 1935. Cream was selling for 10 to 11 cents a pound for butterfat and eggs, 8 to 10 cents. We hoped to buy groceries with this. All this time I was carrying mail to McClure, every other day. Jack was born May 9, 1931, and is probably tired of hearing that that was the year we were first bothered with grasshoppers. They had come to other places the year before and I learned that they would not eat cane if they could get anything else, so I tried to plant cane all those years and have kept on since.

1933-34, The Grasshopper Years

There was no crop in 1933. Hay was scarce, but we got enough together to winter the cattle. Carolyn was born December 13, 1933.

The year 1934 started off dry and stayed dry, and the grasshoppers ate everything in sight and ate the rhubarb roots and winter onions down in the ground. They chewed the fence posts and paint off houses. All dams went dry and we had to drive the cattle to a well a mile and a half north of our place and pump water by hand for the cattle, which had increased to about 115 head by this time. By July, one could see no way to carry on. All over the northwest it was bad, so cattle were being shipped into Sioux Falls too thin to butcher. The market got so bad that cattle would not pay for shipping.

Governor Tom Berry saw the situation and went to Washington, D. C., and got legislation passed for the government to buy cattle in the drouth areas and ship them to where there was feed.

Pigs got so cheap that the feeders did not want them, so the government bought them at $3.00 a head and slaughtered them. They would weigh approximately up to 100 pounds.

Roosevelt was president and you still hear remarks about killing little pigs. But there was no feed and what happens to a fat pig anyway. Of course it was a relief project for farmers, as well as W. P. A. and C. C. C. I worked some in 1933 and 1934 on W. P. A., building dams and fixing roads.

I sold 78 head of cattle to the government for $15 to $20 for cows, $10 to $15 for yearlings, and $4 to $8 for calves. Some that were too thin were slaughtered and burned. Better ones were killed and given away to needy people.

Many cattle were shipped to Arkansas and Missouri from here. The 78 head I sold consisted of mixed cows, yearlings and calves. I got $835 for the bunch. They were good cattle, Roan Durham, and it was many years before we built up as good a herd. Only one calf was so bad it had to be killed.

I kept 35 head of good cows, thinking I could find feed enough to get them through the winter. I planted some Sudan grass but it was so dry it never came up until about the first of September. We had a light rain, and it came up a good stand in the lister rows where it had lain all summer with not enough moisture to sprout or rot the seed. Grasshoppers ate everything that tried to grow, so fall came with still no feed for 35 cows. I went to the eastern part of the state and drove for over a week before I found someone to winter them. I finally divided them among three farmers near Viborg, S. Dak. I gave one-third of the cows and any calves born there for wintering them from November 15th to May Ist. They were to be divided in the spring so the farmers would share in any losses. I got by with no loss but some who paid cash by the month had big losses. I shipped to Parker, S. Dak., and drove them on foot in the rain to the Viborg neighborhood, a twenty-two mile hike, but one man met me and helped part of the way.

When spring came it was still dry until April Ist, when we got a lot of rain and a fairly good crop. After dividing the cattle, I came home with the same number that I took down (after the calves were divided). The grasshoppers had plenty of foliage to eat and with the cane there was enough left for the winter and to carry over for 1936, which was another 1934 but with the carryover wintered very well. Doris was born August 6,1935, and Virginia, November 4, 1936. That was a cold hard winter with most every one working on relief. Horses were selling better those years, so I sold a few and lost two from eating thistles and roots, so I was about out of horses. I got down to one team, so again I broke horses and mules for the use of them.

1937 seemed to see the last real damage from grasshoppers and we had good crops for several years. World War II broke out and in 1941 Clifford was called into the army from Brookings where he was going to college and was a member of the National Guard.

Second Land Venture in 1938

We made the second land venture in 1938 by buying the west half of Section 25 105-79 for $1650, where we lived before moving to town, and we were renting more and found more and more work to do.

We had thought of leaving here at different times and intended to move close to a college, so in the fall of 1936 we started out to look for a new location. We went down by Brookings, Sioux Falls, Vermillion, and Yankton. We were not satisfied with the looks of the country, but did consider Brookings very strong. In 1937, we went to Indiana, still looking for a new home. We came back by Ames, Iowa, and liked it, but it was hard to find a place to lease and we couldn't buy, though the land was very cheap for Iowa and it would probably have been the best thing to do if we could. So on our way home we decided to stay with South Dakota and buy our present home and get some sheep. We did this and the sheep have been good to us. We kept buying a little more land from time to time and in 1950 we were able to build a better place in which to live. Ellis joined the Navy in 1945 and spent five years there.

During the fall and winter of 1951 and 1952 is when my heart started to bother. Ellis had come home and was working for us. In the spring of 1952, Ellis and Audrey were married and lived in a house built for them on the place. When in 1960 they rented the place, we changed houses and then in 1961 we moved the little house to town and have lived here since (now 1969).

As I look back over the years, I think of the good help we have had --- so many fine boys who have made successful lives for themselves. There were Bob Harvey, Elmer Hullinger, Max Howder, Thurman Hullinger, Harlan McCall, Chester Dunlap, Lawrence Lintvedt, Mearl Hullinger, Roger Whitaker, Hugh Pond, Wayne Moore, and many others, including our boys. Bob Hulce was around when he was needed badly. Our boys gave us some good years before they left for themselves.

During the war years, help was hard to find, and the soldiers had no days off, so we worked some Sundays. Margaret and Ellis mowed hay, as did Ellis and Jack. And then there were always the cows to milk, from 10 to 20, and calves to feed, and all the kids did that as long as we kept it up; Clifford and Maribee first, and then Margaret and Ellis, when they were big enough. Jack got some of it, too, but we stopped milking cows about then, when the war was on. So "the three little girls," Carolyn , Doris and Virginia escaped most of that but did whatever there was to do. And then, all at once, they were gone and scattered everywhere. But they still "come home" in letters and in person and they don't forget us.

Our children are now grown up and we are grown old, so the story stops, but does not end. As I wrote, it became so clear that there is no beginning either. I wonder if you get the feeling, as I do, of being a part of something bigger than yourself and beyond your comprehension. One's own life seems insignificant and unimportant, except as it ties in with the ones who have come before and who will follow after.

So this is our story for what it is worth and God bless you all.

Note: Craig Hullinger, grandson of Pearl and John and who submitted "Memories and Milestones", relates that his Grandmother Pearl remembers that her father got the letter from Mr. Harlan (Alpheus H. Harlan) asking for his input to the Harlan book, but he refused, thinking it was some kind of a scam.

Picture on My Wall

A Lifetime in Kansas by Florence L. Snow

Pages 66-80 University of Kansas Press Lawrence 1945 Submitted by Barbara Brookhart, niece

One rare day came a deluxe letter from our Uncle James Harlan. This story-book brother of Mother’s, and Father’s heart-friend, who had written me since I was six or seven of his rich life wrought out of the Indiana pioneer conditions, had been my constant inspiration. We had not heard from him since his commencement gift and felicitation, but we always realized his countless interests. Consequently, the surprising announcement that he was coming to make one of his infrequent visits was all the more delightful. Moreover, he was also bringing with him his granddaughter, the first of the three children of his daughter Mary and Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's only surviving son. Uncle James had been the close friend and Secretary of the Interior to the Civil War president. This connecting link had been a source of pride in our individual house of Snow and we continued to be very proud and happy in his Congressional record and his present position as senior judge in the Court of Alabama Claims. He referred to young Mary Lincoln most attractively as “a good armful of lively girlhood,” and he “hoped we would like her. ”Really to know this special Mary, named for her mother and her grandmother Harlan, was going to be very much more than just “liking her.”

We were so glad of the short notice, because we should have less time to wait. There was plenty of time for our method of preparing for guests, and should we not become a part of their lives as they entered into ours? James Harlan, of Iowa and Washington, could never fail to be as genial as he was deep and calm and steadfast. Considerably older-looking than when we saw him last, the sturdy well-nourished frame was still the picture of competence and integrity. Not as handsome as Father, who was half a head taller and just as notable-appearing in his own way, Uncle Harlan in his dress and manner, his more musical voice and distinctive English, was the type of leader that all sorts and conditions of Americans love to elevate and honor. The two of them were very dear together, with Mother so well-beloved of them both, I wanted to do nothing but think about it, hoping that in some far-off day I might be able to write about it.

Mary was a good deal like him, Mother thought, doubtless a bit jealous for the Harlan strain. She was one of the people who never waste time in getting acquainted, having intuition as well as breeding. She was a well-grown, substantial girl of fifteen, medium brunette in complexion, with abundant hair in two braids wound about her shapely head. Her eyes were either brown or violet according to the light. She had a generous mouth, a lovely chin and throat, and a sensitive nose. Her hands apparently were ready for whatever might come, and withal she possessed the appeal of a simply nurtured fortunate child on the brink of a womanhood already surprisingly expressive.

Speaking of Abraham Lincoln one day and what it meant to be the progeny of such unique lineage, she said, “Yes, but it means so much to live with Grandfather Harlan.” And once she told her Great-aunt Lydia how glad she would always be to think of her along with her mother’s mother whom she had known as Aunt Eliza Harlan, very much Mother’s type, as shown by her pictures. She did not speak of her Grandmother Lincoln, and I wonder now what the child’s idea was of that inexplicable Mary Todd whom so many writers of the advancing years have sought to reconstruct and explain as the wife and widow of the Great Emancipator.

One evening midway in the great visit, Father and Uncle Harlan announced, with special smiles Motherwards, that it had been decided I should go home with Uncle Harlan and stay with him at least until New Year’s, “if I cared to.” Would I care to enter through the pearly gates and walk on streets of gold! It took my breath completely, and when it came back I said, “But what about my graduate work next year?” clinging to the cherished plan, and of course thinking of its larger expense; “and what about helping you with your business?”

“I am so good and strong now,” he replied, “I can get along very well. You know some of the worst bothers are wound up. Your Eastern college can afford to wait for a chance like this, and James seems to need you in his lonely house. Pretty hard lines ever since your Aunt Eliza went.” Mother happily nodded her consent. Mary clapped her hands, and Emily had evidently known about the miracle, thus following better—in her lip-reading skill, even though Father and Uncle usually were a bit difficult to follow, like all mustached and bearded men. When Uncle had his say, outlining what I could do for him while having the time of my young life, I could only fall upon everybody’s breast, metaphorically speaking, fairly drowned in delight.

The winged hours put on extra speed. Mary, whose clothes were naturally very “right” in every way, declared that my wardrobe was all-sufficient, since now one could buy such very good things. “Surely knowing how when the time comes, never fear,” she said. A consultation with the Learned girls and their mother, remaining members of one of our “first families” who had spent the previous winter in Washington as guests of the family of the well-known artist, Elihu Vedder, gave me additional confidence. Also I should carry a letter to those relatives, and what a great, thing it would be to find a friendly teacher, “O, just perhaps!” in such a painter. My trunk and suitcase were fully fit, having been bought for my entry to Baker [Baker University, Baldwin City, KS] only three years before on special order through our J. Bishop's “Emporium.” Almost before we knew it we were on our way. Looking back, it seems almost incredible that moderately well-to-do people like us travelled so very little, now that no one is too poor for wheels and wings. I had not been farther away from home than Kansas City, where I had visited in the last Easter vacation the new home of my former village teacher, whose young and lovely wife also taught me many things not found in any books. But now had come this real journey, an astonishing dream of the impossible coming true.

Uncle and I were to stop for a week in his Mount Pleasant home, first “slipping over to Chicago for a bit of his Court concerns,” to use his own phrase, “and to show Mary the city in my companionship.” Her father was attorney for the Pullman Company, and her home was in the suburbs, but this would be “something special for her as well as for me.” How we did respond to his understanding! What magic there was in the enormous buildings and the limitless life and color of the crowded streets. How beautiful the Lake with its many kinds of shipping, only a little less wonderful than the ocean must be. There were the enchanting parks, miles of residence streets, and, best of all, the Art Institute bringing the wealth of nature and its human nature into the spacious rooms. There was one surpassing Shakespearean play in a tremendous theater, then, at the last, the cyclorama of the Battle of Gettysburg in its triumph of realism. One gained an impression in walking around the reproduction, as he would have done in the actual locality, that no cinema ever gives one.

The town of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, disposed upon its chosen tract of rolling land, was much like Lawrence, Kansas, in my impression, though its “Mount” had not the elevation of our “Oread,” and the one square stone college building was larger than Science Hall at Baker and not so ambitious as Fraser Hall of Kansas University. The Harlan home had a distinctive place on the broad streets with their splendid arching trees. It was considerably larger than I had thought, with wide porches on the three sides of its ell-front. There were two parlors, front and back, a wide hall and a big, alluring library. A generous dining room, with a butler’s pantry, breakfast room and kitchen, finished the first floor, except for my uncle’s bedroom adjoining the library. The upper storey I thought especially charming with its roomy chambers and many windows for gazing far away. Mrs. Robert Lincoln loved to spend the summer here. “So very restful” she said, “and so good for the children growing up.”

This phrasing seemed to cover many essentials. She had been very gracious in her welcome, and the two other children complemented my feeling for Mary most delightfully. Jessie of the golden hair and hazel eyes was an engaging little sprite of twelve, who became your Mrs. Randolph. “Jack,” affectionate nickname for Abraham, the one son, was nine or ten. He has been treasured in my memory as one perhaps too choice and beautiful to bear the burden of an earthly career. “With just a touch of malaria,” everybody said who had any place in and about the house. Yet all had a persistent concern which “Jack” himself quite unconsciously dismissed as he read or talked, played his indoor games, or drove with Mary out into the painted fall in the pony-cart. It was during Robert Lincoln’s United States Ministry to Great Britain, just a few years afterwards that this Abraham Lincoln, the second, passed on, no earthly skill being able longer to preserve the signal name that might have exerted a double power in our present crises.

The accustomed life went on in the old Harlan home as any good home proceeds through such hopes and fears. Uncle Harlan was closely occupied with a case that would come before him soon after his return to Washington, though there were splendid moments for me and the “other children.” One day he took plenty of time to show me over the Wesleyan College that was so much a part of him, and to listen to all my comparisons with Baker. The two girls did all sorts of nice things for me and made me lonesome for the younger sisters that I might have had. There was always the great library. Books and books, and still more books, ready to satisfy one’s hunger through the longest life, with the many symbolic “baskets left over.” The special tiers of mighty law books on one side had been the collection of Uncle's only son, who had not lived really to enter upon his profession. It was in this place one day that I discovered Robert Todd Lincoln searching for one of those same law volumes. I knew him at once, for we had all looked forward to his coming over the weekend; and I liked him immediately. It meant much to me that he said, “And this is our little Kansas cousin,” with an extra smile as I made myself still taller than I was. In our slight opportunity for acquaintance during his short stay, his appearance and manner and evident character impressed me more and more, measured with my notion of what such a man should be. One could well believe that he had wrought out his gift of individual life with no undue regard to parental attainment, and was happy in his success.

Cousin Mary had spoken of her special need of him in voicing her regret when I first came that she should be so unusually busy that she could do so little to entertain me. Entertain! when there was such a world of vital thought in everything about, and I had my eyes to see. Just to look at her was perhaps the best delight of all. Her father’s own child, she had a certain gift of Southern grace which I knew so well in so many novels, and which those same masterpieces would have credited to her Kentucky mother, the Eliza Peck who, like my own mother, had attended the Greencastle, Indiana, Ladies’ Seminary when our James Harlan was a student in the celebrated College. She wore very well the French princess house-dresses in which I usually saw her. It was evident that she was heavily burdened in the immense work of going through the sixty-odd trunks that her mother-in-law, Mary Todd Lincoln, had left when she passed on. When I ventured a bit of my admiration, she said very simply that this was her task. She would accomplish it like the Harlan she was and the Lincoln she had become.

Another time when a quick spark flashed between us, she took me into the big room upstairs that had been dismantled to accommodate these multiple possessions that this conscientious daughter-in-law said “only indicated a kind of collector’s mania that might have been immensely more attractive.” This Grandmother Lincoln had bought lot after lot of children’s clothing, dresses and coats, hats and shoes, and all sorts of trinkets that might be nice for Mary or Jessie or Jack, or maybe for the children of friends or servants. Then they were packed away to be ready when the time came and were forgotten. “And here am I,” said my Cousin Mary, “deciding what to do with this unconscionable accumulation.” Many of the woolen things were sprinkled with red pepper to keep the moths out. “It’s mighty lucky I could have this room with so many windows.” I felt mighty lucky that I knew enough to appreciate the splendid way she carried on, and said so, and it seemed to relieve the tension a little bit.

There were long trestle tables filling all the space left by a number of trunks still against the walls, and the worst of the work was apparently over. Piles of the various articles were checked with cards indicating families in different places and institutions in the town and state that would receive them, for this present Mrs. Lincoln would not have them wasted. What a strong generous lady she has always been in my memory of her, a modern Saint Elizabeth “loaf-giver” spelled in terms of clothing. At another propitious moment she showed me in her own room some of the lovely gowns worn upon state occasions by the Civil War “First Lady,” speaking of this or that which Mary and Jessie would treasure. What would I not give now in these Lawrence years if I might have had just one of them to put in our Spooner-Thayer Art Museum beside the white lace shawl worn by one of our Lawrence ladies at the second Lincoln inauguration ball!

Knowing the Robert Lincolns, even in so slight a way, has etched its own lines upon my life and thought. On leaving Mount Pleasant, I could feel a certain reality in the great beckoning before me that was impossible before. Crossing the Father of Waters was a kind of Rubicon that kept me from ever being the same again, while it assured me of boundless future privilege. The autumn loveliness that unrolled towards my first mountains was filled with the “light that never was on sea or land.” When we came to our journey’s end I wondered why everybody in the crowded station did not stop and look at me. I felt somehow transfigured inside, so elevated in my outward circumstance.

The house where I lived through this period was out on O Street near Logan Circle, with its equestrian statue so much like the statues in all the other circles that I was glad they all had their names on the bases. But this one was friendly and hospitable. I came to know the other personalities, too. City homes all look alike until one gets acquainted. Uncle’s residence was a vitrified brick duplex with identical iron steps and railings, his part the northern exposure, which at first I regretted; but a bit later I was very grateful that the light in my room was so fine for painting. It had been Aunt Eliza’s room, and everything in it was a delight to my soul. The connection with Uncle’s bedroom and study kept me from thinking about the empty third floor, occupied, Annie the housekeeper said, only when the Lincolns came, or sometimes other guests.

The stairways, halls and first-floor rooms were like pictures of Southern homes. On the first floor there was a drawing-room instead of the Western “parlor,” and the back parlor with books and open fire like a library. The dining-room would have been very much too big for just us two had it not been so nice and “comfy” when the lovely mahogany table was pushed small and round. Annie and her husband, Richard Westfall, real “quality” mulattoes, pampered me beyond all reason, and liberally educated me out of their thirty or forty years’ service in Washington aristocracy. They kept the house with exquisite care, cooked and served perfect meals, and Richard was always ready for any valet duties, or any errands, including the marketing. This last became my nominal duty in the household. “Carry on your business ability,” Uncle said, and it made me feel very grand with Richard walking at a proper distance behind me, the capacious basket on his arm.

Sometimes the table was extended for an informal dinner. The servant-verdict as to me had been an immediate reaction, “Jes’ ah nachewal-bohn,” and it pleased both Uncle and me as my growth in grace ensued. Everybody was so nice to me constantly. There were two special women, either one or the other usually among the guests, who really “belonged” in what I was and hoped to be. Helen Ormsby was a middle-aged widow who lived near by, using her comfortable means in many cultural interests. She it was who took me to hear the masterly Canon Farrar on Robert Browning, so enhancing the interest I already had in this “poet's poet” that I bought next day the leading book of selections from his immortal works—and I cherish it to this day for a communion which my complete Browning volumes do not quite supply. Mrs. Ormsby might have been a poet herself, she lived her life in such a beautiful, practical way. But the second lady’s influence was more distinctly artistic, for Charlotte Vickroy was a portrait painter who seemed to be a veritable darling of the gods. It seems almost incredible that anyone could be so richly endowed and so fortunate in birth and breeding, distinguished attainment, and a wealthy husband. She did not think so highly of her landscapes, but when she proposed that painting alone under her frequent criticism would be quite the best thing for me, everything in me seized upon the marvelous chance. There would surely be enough leisure in spite of all the going about to see what I should see. Surely no one in all the world could be more generous.

Another element, equally wonderful, soon came into the shining pattern these months designed for me. Lucian F. Turner, brother of my sister Anne’s husband, Dr. Eugene Turner, physician and surgeon of the post at Fort Benton, Montana, returned to the Smithsonian Institution to complete the work he had been doing in Labrador, collecting typical birds of the Far North. Declaring on his first call that he was very lonely without his family, he then and there gave me the freedom of his own quarters and the whole fascinating place. He had his own time and could usually meet mine when I sent a little note a bit ahead. How strange it seems to have lived in a period when there were no telephones! A most agreeable and brotherly man, his professional skill was highlighted in so many ways that it would have been a great misfortune to have missed knowing him.

During the lingering autumn weather, something akin to mid-western Indian summer, came the memorable trips to Mount Vernon, and later to Alexandria, Mrs. Vickroy’s old home town, a fact which made her presence in the party invaluable. There was a leisurely blue-misted day at Arlington, in a most interesting company, and then when the glory of the leaves had almost left the lovely trees along the picturesque Rock Creek, we had a delightful picnic that made me a bit homesick for my river woods in Kansas. But how every new delight suggested more beyond!

Even the daily routine fascinated me. Uncle, of course, was gone all day after our rather early breakfast. Then came the regular “looking well to the ways of our household,” with my two superior assistants. “De Jedge” and his plans and comforts were our chief concern, together with going to market nearly every day, and sometimes preparing some old-time family dish. My painting could not be neglected, and part of the time there was the kindred joy one finds in sewing. It was great fun to rent a machine and make a rather elaborate silk dress for myself and surprise my two dear women mentors. I saved the price of a new winter coat by creating for my rather passe garment a new trim of the elegant fur cloth, then a great leader in current styles. A big, gorgeous muff was the climax. In the evenings at home we read aloud if Uncle wished; or, if there was some compelling book for me, I read it under the gaslight at the head of my bed. When we were together, in the mellow study or over our meals, or on the walks we took to church Sunday morning, or elsewhere in the afternoon, or at any odd moments, Uncle told me for my book of remembrance, innumerable details of his life and work. Also, what surpassing patience he had with my endless questions about the splendid Washington I was coming little by little to think a mortal mind might know. And he really liked my points of view.

Surely never a girl of my capacity and background had ever had the freedom and the confidence that were so large a part of Uncle’s incomparable gift to me. “If you doubt, don’t,” was his one admonition. Should I not learn for myself how vast is the concern of living? We both kept well, and things seemed well at home. I wished now and then that Father would write saying I might stay on as long as Uncle was satisfied, but as December counted the days it seemed that his “at least till New Year’s” meant just that limit. I had been such a very good child, wasting no time nor energy, and why could I not learn more and more of this marvelous city? Why could I not go on to Philadelphia and New York and Boston? One needed the values of comparison, and there were the Atlantic Ocean, London, Paris, Rome, Africa, Asia, and the islands of the sea. I might never be so far on my way again. In actual fact I never have been. Short trips to the Columbian Exposition and the Louisiana Purchase Fair, some acquaintance with California, the “Pacific Sea,” and the enchanted Inland Passage as far up as Sitka with its Capri-blue bay and old Russian church, have given me the big variations from my “rocking-chair journeys.”

As I look back, the Washington experience just at this period of my adventures in living has always been an immense compensation. Also, looking back, I realize that I was much more interested in the fascinating people who poured out their treasure for me than I was in the astonishing buildings and the whole illimitable Capitol plan. One responded to the tremendous creative genius in it, although quite unable to explain it. The city was pattern like certain Kansas blueprints. We laid out our towns in very similar fashion. Here was like pictures and statues with all sorts of transcendent design, and with the great spaces in the historic Potomac, and this was the capital of the whole United States, a city of cities indeed, taking to itself more and more strength and beauty. So now, trying for the whole effect upon my subconsciousness, I can only throw such a picture upon my present silver screen.

I was always fond of high places, having almost broken my neck on one or two ambitious occasions. Very early in my stay I had climbed to the dome of the Capitol, with the city, the White House, and far beyond, spread out before me as a living map rightly centered with the sweep of the avenue leading to the White House and out and away. “We should have been invited there to some special dinner,” said Uncle Harlan, rather wistfully, “were it not for this Democratic incumbent.” I replied a bit arrogantly out of my Republican blood, “I’d rather be a doorkeeper in our party than any Democratic president or his wife,” a thing I still repeat, though I weaken considerably in recalling the personality of Mrs. Grover Cleveland as she graciously took my hand at a public reception.

As for the Capitol itself, that was my first real contact with classic architecture and the immense delight of finding “the glory that was Greece” in this America. I wrote a piece of blank verse later on, that quite naturally “died a-bornin’,” about the marble steps and the Corinthian portico and its figures of Hope and Justice, so surprisingly designed by John Quincy Adams. The Rotunda, “So wide and so high”—to quote one of our finest Kansas poems about the prairie and the sky—enthralled me over and over again with its priceless murals, its ornate decorations, and the great door. It was the Congressional Library, now so far surpassed, that carried me much more fully out and away on the magic carpet of building in many kinds of stone adorned with sculpture and painting, all for the safe housing of the countless books for the use of the Capitol solons, yet so wonderfully ready for every book-loving person. It made me feel a glory akin to that of the “building not made with hands” in St. John’s four-square New Jerusalem.

With such a perfect guide and friend as Lucian Turner, notable expert in bird-lore and kindred matters, to me the Smithsonian Institute and the neighboring National Museum became much the most personal of the great buildings devoted to education. They gave me the deeper, broader feeling that I thought must come with graduate work, and an inestimable basis for appreciation in the beloved art galleries where my glorified fancy more frequently led me. There one breathed a more and more exalted air. One reveled in form and color so distinctively expressed, and slowly, surely learned to see masterly nude sculpture as clothed in its own beauty. Also, some pictures and marbles at Gallaudet College, the only school for the deaf of its quality in this country, were especially memorable. I knew so well what the whole foundation would mean to Emily, who had hoped and dreamed of a season there some sweet day. But Emily did her bit, as a member of the National Speech Association, by compiling a very adequate list of homophonous words—words that look alike on the lips—which is still used after four decades by outstanding teachers of speech-reading.

Of the government buildings, all having the same stately character, it is more or less significant, I think, that Printing and Engraving appealed to me most strongly. Here I saw the heavyweight Congressional Record in the making, precisely like the bottom shelf of those meticulous volumes, in their mottled bindings, in the biggest bookshelf at home. Also I saw the exquisite etchings prepared for the finished currency that gives us the engraved likenesses of pre-eminent government leaders. The Treasury Department was considerably more impregnable-looking, no doubt, than our stronghold in Kentucky would appear to me now. Those spacious vaults seemed very ample then for any foreseeable future as I saw countless newly minted silver dollars, and piles of much fine gold, and held in my hand a bundle of thousand-dollar bills that helped me to visualize the fabulous Croesus. The State Department and the Supreme Court, especially the black-robed incumbents of the Bench, epitomized all human dignity illustrated with my memory of Victor Hugo’s sense of righteousness in The Man Who Laughs. The Department of the Interior suggested “Lo, the poor Indian” and his place in our family fortunes. And here had been the place of Uncle Harlan’s Cabinet portfolio which covered also many duties concerning the length and breadth of the land, very much like the Court of Alabama Claims, wherein I found his wide variety of interests always fascinating. Hardly ever an incident in his telling failed to suggest a story or a poem. And the Pension Bureau at a later date had many threads of Kansas color, for here Eugene Ware, our beloved “Ironquill,” had a notable term of service.

The buildings of Washington stirred me to an attempt to formulate my own theories of architecture. Defining architecture as “frozen music” has no appeal to me. Music, in its very essence, is liquid, alive. Freeze it, and its distinctive power is gone. Architecture remains rhythmical in expression as it is vital in purpose. Though it has a fixed form, it cannot be static. The very idea of a building, pioneer cabin or royal castle, housing for the government of a people, or a cathedral dedicated to the Most High, gives it the spirit of poetry or painting or sculpture. The Capitol and the monument erected to the Father of our country are the dominant motifs in the composition of Washington, and the monument has been entrusted, I think, with the highest, clearest note. It reaches far back through the artistic development of the human race to ancient Egypt and beyond, and yet means so much in its expression of American ideals. The topmost outlook was not yet completed during my unwearied contacts with all the city’s realities, so far beyond my comprehension, yet to be forever so near and dear. Yet through an official card and my eager young interest I reached this crowning height ever and again. There was a limitless vista of human endeavor reaching out into the far horizons on every side in countless revelations of natural beauty. The Japanese Cherry trees had not yet been planted about the tidal basin. The Lincoln Memorial bridge, that connects it with Arlington, was yet in the future. But the famous long bridge, for so many decades the only span across the river into Virginia, held the vision of our Northern troops as they went forth to meet the Southern foe, and in due time came back again in the victory that insured our life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How like a miracle it was that, condemned as unsafe before the Civil War, the structure not only survived the strain of those crucial years, but still remained for folk like me to see.

Little Brown Cottage, Lawrence, Kansas, July, 1939

Billy Harlin and the Gray Cavalry

Submitted by Byrl Harlan

This is about my grandpa, William Harlin, who was a boy in his teens when this happened in the early 1860s, during the War Between the States.

About ninety years later, my dad told it to me for the first and only time. In less than a month my dad would be dead, and I had no opportunity ask about other things that happened in those days.

My grandpa grew up in Monroe County, Kentucky, near the Tennessee border. Kentucky was called a border state because the sentiment of the citizens was equally made up of Northern and Southern sympathizers. My grandpa’s father, Jesse Harling, must have been in the minority at the time, being a Northern sympathizer where they lived. Because of that he prepared and sometimes stayed in a hiding place under the house in which they lived.

One day a troop of the Southern Cavalry came to the area to get feedstock for the Southern Army horses, then fighting in Tennessee where rations were in short supply. Under the command of a captain, there were several troopers in the party, plus wagons to carry supplies taken by them. The captain was described as a very large man whose stomach was so big that he used a board laid across the saddle horn so that he could be comfortable while riding.

The people of the community were told by the captain that he had information that some of the farmers had hidden hay and corn high up in the hills to keep it from him, but he intended to have it for his horses. He told Billy Harlin that the next morning he was to lead the troop to where the feed was hidden, and that there were to be no excuses.

That evening some of the men of the area got together with Billy and laid out a plan to save the supplies. Billy was to lead the troop in the right direction toward the feed and when they reached a certain place, Billy was to jump from the wagon and take cover while the men fired from ambush on the troopers.

That is what happened, and a firefight ensued as soon as Billy jumped and ran away from the wagon. Some of the troopers were killed outright, and the captain was shot from the saddle. His wounds would not allow him to remount so he was laid in the wagon bed and was taken back to the camp site where the troop had been staying. The weather at the time was cold and raining, and by the time they arrived at the camp, the captain was frozen to the wagon bed where he later died of his wounds. I am told the camp was in an orchard, and that is where the dead were buried, after which the remaining troopers left the area, never to return.

That is as much of the story as I was told, but my Grandpa survived the war and lived to be over ninety-nine years old, being born in 1846 and dying in 1945. Billy outlived two wives and fathered six children. He is buried in a cemetery at the Church of Christ in Gamaliel, Kentucky.

I remember my Grandpa as a small man with a long gray beard that my dad would trim down to an inch or so once a year. Food would disappear into that beard, and I don’t remember understanding a word that came out of it.

I have often wondered about the Gray Cavalry buried in that old orchard. How were the graves marked and could they be found today? I believe the area is somewhere between Gamaliel, Kentucky, and Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, but that is a long stretch. There was a small creek running through that area called Chicken Branch. I also wonder if this story is recorded in a history book somewhere, and if the names of the dead in that orchard are known. What about the men whose crops Billy saved, did they all survive? Did they ever say thanks to Billy or honor him for his bravery?

I don't have information on why the “g” was dropped from my great-grandfather’s name or if it really belonged there. I do know why the “i” in Harlin was changed to “a.” My father did not like his first name and changed it to Bert after he left his parents’ home. In the early 1900s, he had a college professor at Bowling Green Business University whose last name was Gregg (the inventor of shorthand). Professor Gregg would grade down my father’s papers if he did not dot the “i” in his name, which often happened. So my father changed the “i” to an “a,” and we have been Harlans since then.

Harlan Cousin Witnessed Kristallnacht

The late Robert Harlan, who retired to Freeport, Ill., after a 30-year diplomatic career, was a college exchange student in Germany in 1938 and saw firsthand the destruction caused by the infamous event known as Kristallnacht. As a result, he helped a Jewish couple who were among the victims, and he found them a way to escape.

Former Freeport dignitary was there the ‘Night of the Broken Glass'

By Harriett Gustason The Journal-Standard

Part One

Posed photograph of Robert Harlan
Freeport native Robert Harlan, a career diplomat for the U.S. Foreign Service, returned to the community with his wife, Lois, in 1979, and was known in the area for his activism in the community.

Bob Harlan's 30-year career in the diplomatic branch of the U.S. Foreign Service may have had its incentive in a youthful experience. A very dramatic story a young Harlan wrote about his connections with a Jewish family in Germany just prior to World War II presents a first-person perspective of the way things were.

Bob's widow, Lois Harlan of Freeport, despite her late husband's contention that his story was nothing of great value, has kept the story, believing in its humanitarian and historic merit.

Lois wondered if it might be anything we might want for this column. But she asked that I read it all before I decided. I did, and there was no question in my mind. It is an unusual story of the plight of a Jewish couple who offered hospitality to this American college student, and how he reciprocated when they faced danger and crisis. It is a lengthy story, so it will be offered in several consecutive parts. Lois Harlan introduced her husband's story as follows:

“Bob was an exchange student in Germany just before World War II, in 1938-'39. He went over by freighter. It sailed from a little village along the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. In Hamburg he bought a bike and youth-hostelled down to Munich, where he and other exchange students had six weeks of orientation and German language training before they went off to their various universities.

“Bob was in Marburg, Germany, at Philipps-Universitat, in November of 1938 when Kristallnacht took place on Nov. 10.”

Kristallnacht, translated “night of the broken glass,” took place over the night of Nov. 9 and 10, 1938, and marks the outbreak of violence and destruction by the Nazis against the Jews. Synagogues, homes and businesses were destroyed.

Bob Harlan decided not to write home about that event and his experience in connection with it, Lois says, because letters were often opened. But the next summer, after he had returned to the USA, he wrote an account of it.

Lois said her husband hadn't thought his story worth keeping, but she disagreed. And so here it is; see what you think.

By Robert Harlan


“This story is not written with any pretense of literary artistry. It is intended as the setting forth of the true story of a couple I chanced to meet when, by the grace of God ... I spent some months in Germany as an exchange student.

“My first meeting with them was intended as a passing call - an afternoon's visit - but it ended as a ten-day stay. With the help of a German lad, a Youth Hostel acquaintance, I had sent them a card some days before, telling them when I expected to be passing through Wurzburg, and explaining that I was writing at the behest of their son, whom I had known in America and who wanted me to look them up.

“It was on Tuesday I expected to see them, and on Monday I found myself in Frankfurt, sixty-five miles away. I had been warned that the Frankfurt, Wurzburg route, was an arduous one, but I - by then quite smug about my six days' cycling experience - felt myself equal to anything the contour of central Germany might have to offer, and thought little of it. I didn't know that I'd be struggling to the point of exhaustion with hills, and mud, and rain, and hills, and mud, and rain, and road repairs and repairers all over the place, and an agonizing amount of that horrible Gegenwind which blasts into your face until you feel like giving up in utter despair, or radically changing your plans so that you can get where you want to go with the wind instead of eternally against it. I didn't know - but I soon learned!

“As a result I wobbled into Wurzburg some three or four hours behind schedule, mud-bespattered and wearing a fetching pair of ragged, striped seersucker pants thoroughly drenched. (I wore them for bad weather and later discovered they attracted so much attention because of their striking similarity to the model worn in German prisons.) And very tired! Tired far beyond the point of lucidity, so that when I couldn't find the Youth Hostel where I'd meant to clean up, I decided, ‘What the Hell ? I'll go and see these people now and get it over with, and then find a good hotel.'

“So you can imagine what a figure I must have cut when I finally staggered soggily up with my well soaked bike and pack to the garden gate of their little summer home high on a hill (it would be) above the river Main. I jangled the bell. In a moment Frau Stern appeared, bustling down the garden path. When she saw me she sort of p-a-u-s-e-d, smiled bewilderedly, and asked if I really were who she thought I might be.

“I admitted my identity. Then, without so much as blinking, she summed up the situation, led me into the yard, showed me where to dump my stuff, took me into the house and straight into the bathroom where my eyes fell upon the most beautiful tub imaginable. It was actually the first real bathtub I'd seen since leaving Montreal. Frau Stern even started the hot water. Its delightfully steamy splash was the music of angels to my tired grimy ears. Then she ushered me upstairs and showed me a little room containing a soft bed with nice clean sheets and with a view looking out across the river valley. It was to be my room, she said.

“Maybe, had I not been so utterly weary, I'd have objected - although I doubt it. As it was I just stood there, dumbly - completely flabbergasted, not having the slightest idea what to say. So I guess I just didn't say anything, and Frau Stern trotted off, leaving me to myself, which was about all I could handle for the time being.

“The next half hour or so I soaked in that wonderful hot water, and scrubbed, and finally emerged feeling halfway respectable. I even shaved. Then slipping into my semi-clean clothes which I kept neatly wadded in my Rucksack for just such emergencies, I rather sheepishly wandered into the livingroom, where I found my hostess and a friend (her English teacher, Miss Schwartz) having late afternoon coffee and cake.

“Not having consumed anything substantial since breakfast in the dim dark past, I must have been slightly on the ravenous side. But I thought I handled myself with admirable restraint when they invited me to join them. (Some time later, however, Frau Stern confessed to me that she had never seen so rapid a disappearance of so many cakes all at the hands of one person. Hence it may be that my delicacy was not all I had thought it to be.) Between my bites we chatted haltingly about my trip from America to Wurzburg. My German was extremely tottery, but I could blurt out things like Montreal, Canada - freighter - fourteen days - Hamburg, and all the names of the towns between Hamburg and Wurzburg. Besides their English was fluent.

“In no time at all it was dinner time, and there I made my first acquaintance with Herr Doktor Stern. He was a tall, powerful man in his sixties, apparently in the pink of condition. Partner in an excellent law firm, at one time a prominent member of the city council, he must have been even then a highly respected member of his community. Almost as soon as we met he said to me, almost defiantly, proudly, and with a simplicity of language that even I could understand, ‘Herr Harlan, we are Jews. The present government is not friendly to the Jewish people. Perhaps it would be better if you went on. We would like very much for you to stay, but we will understand perfectly if you wish to leave.' I didn't hesitate, I won't pretend I was heroic about it, but I stayed. Who was I to pass up such a chance for free room and board par excellence, to say nothing of an unequalled opportunity to see and hear and learn how this internal situation in Germany appeared when viewed from the other side?

“The dinner that evening was delicious - one of a series of similarly delicious dinners. Fraulein, their cook and general housekeeper, could really turn out the meals. She, of the purest of ‘Aryan' strains, was devoted beyond reason to this family of hers with whom she'd been some thirty-odd years. (Her name was Anna Weingartner, and she had been the children's nanny.) As a result of this deep devotion, nearly all of the eight months I knew her she spent in the depths of sorrow and despair. But I'm getting ahead of my story.

“Shortly after dinner, I headed upstairs to bed, at the kind suggestion of the head of the house, to which I gratefully acquiesced; and probably the last thing I did that night after crawling between those cool clean sheets was to sigh a tremendous sigh of contentment, scrawl in that day's journal, ‘It's wonderful', switch out the light, and sink into the arms of Morpheus, so to remain for some twelve hours or so.'”

As the story continues next week, we'll see how this young man from Freeport dealt with the danger facing this Jewish family in 1938 Germany.

1938: Freeport man caught in Nazi intrigue

By Harriett Gustason The Journal-Standard

Part II

Wurzburg, Germany cityscape
Wurzburg, Germany, was a bustling city in 1938 when Robert “Bob” Harlan went there to visit the parents of a friend he'd made in the United States. His 10-day stay with the couple was at their summer home which was in the section of the city in the photo's foreground. The couple spent winters in an apartment in the inner city seen at the top of the photo.

This is a story the late Robert Harlan wrote about the winter of 1938-'39 which he spent as a university student in Marburg, Germany, when the Nazi party was charging into its reign of terror. Harlan wrote the story the next summer after returning home to Freeport. His wife, Lois Harlan, said Bob spent the summer “shoveling peas” at Freeport's Keene Canning Co. Robert Harlan's life took him on to a 30-year career in diplomacy for the United States government.

Part I was Harlan's account of meeting the Jewish parents of a friend he had in the United States, and of his learning of the couple's precarious situation. As the episode continues, the 20-year-old Harlan is exposed to the horrors of Kristallnacht, the Nazi storm troopers' raging “night of the broken glass.” On Nov. 9 and 10, 1938, Nazi troops went about Germany destroying Jewish temples, businesses and homes. All night long, the shattering of glass was heard in cities throughout the land.

Herr Doktor and Frau Stern opened their home in Wurzburg, Germany, to the young Harlan, who had pedaled miles to their home intending only to spend an afternoon with them delivering greetings from their son in the United States. Harlan stayed with the Sterns for 10 days. His story continues:

“Then followed ten days of unmitigated loafing, made more pleasurable by dashes of desultory sight-seeing and leisurely hiking and biking out into the countryside. My companion during these days was more often than not Bruno, a cousin of Frau Stern. He was a man of about forty, owner of a once thriving factory which, however, at that time was confined wholly to the manufacture of so-called ‘family boxes.' These were tremendous piano-case-like things, used to transport all the worldly possessions of those Jewish families then fortunate enough to be able to emigrate. Bruno had served in the German army and had spent some time in an English prison camp, so every now and then he'd blurt out some cockney phrase. Once he told me that after his release by the English he had returned to Germany to serve some more, ‘like a bloody fool' - because now all that was forgotten.

“During the daytime when I wasn't sleeping or eating or meandering around in some out-of-the-way place, I was studying German with the help of Frau Stern. Under her tutelage I even translated a simple little English book into German. And in the evenings there were long and interesting conversations with Herr Doktor Stern, who, in addition to knowing his law, seemed to be well informed in most other fields. He always had an apt quotation of Goethe to fit the occasion, whatever it might be. His knowledge of French was excellent, and whenever he'd try to speak English, it would always come out in French. so I had an opportunity to not understand French as well as German. One night we celebrated Bruno's birthday with a bottle of wine that had been collecting cobwebs in the cellar ever since a wedding anniversary years before. That, too, was most pleasant.

“But on the last day of my stay all this pleasantness was marred by a communication received by Herr Doktor Stern at his office. Let me refer to my diary for Wednesday, September 7, 1938. It runs: ‘These are the contents, roughly translated and approximately remembered, of a note I read this morning.'

You must sell your house. As you know, the name of the purchaser and the purchase price must be reported to me. Since I already have a possible buyer in mind, you will report at my office in the near future. If you do not do as I ask, I may be forced to take further steps.

“The sender, some petty official. The recipient, a prominent lawyer, once regarded as a leading citizen, formerly holder of several important and honored municipal positions, winner of numerous military honors during the war, and extremely able, educated and cultured gentleman. It was with the contents of that foreboding note ringing in my ears that I pedalled away next morning, heading south for Munich and Gemutlichkeit.

“Both of which I found - and found to be far beyond even my expectations. What a time! But that's another story. During my stay in Munich I saw the Sterns only once, one weekend when they came to Munich to see a specialist concerning the advisability of an operation. They had been in the mountains ‘roughing it' when Doktor Stern fell victim to some sort of an attack and suffered for ten hours or more before medical aid could be obtained. However, the Munich diagnostician found an operation inexpedient, prescribing only rest and a special diet. But that did not prevent us from having a luscious dinner in the Schwarzwald, then one of Munich's finer wine restaurants, and a pleasant evening together afterwords.

“A month later I saw them again - this time on my way from Munich to Marburg to settle down for the winter semester. They treated me to a gay luncheon in their apartment, which was downtown and connected to Herr Doktor's suite of offices. Then I accompanied Frau Stern on a shopping tour. There I made a ‘pleasant' discovery as to the tax placed on all purchases by Jews. Its computation was simple: Just double the regular price! The shopping finished, we returned for coffee and cake before I continued on my way. (They wanted me to stay for dinner and overnight too!) As the last tasty morsels of our afternoon snack disappeared, Frau Stern told me, rather grimly, that they had not sold their house as requested, but that on Monday (this was Friday) they had been informed that the price and buyer had been determined, and on Tuesday their lovely home had left their hands! And Doktor Stern had been notified -- as were all other Jewish members of the legal profession, I later discovered - to attend to any unfinished business he might have in contemplation of the closing of his office on December 1st. (It was then early October.) And yet they could still smile!

“Well, feeling anything but happy about the plight of my friends, but not knowing what, if anything, I could do about it I took my leave and journeyed on to Marburg, not knowing when I would see them again.

“Just a month later, on Friday, November 11th, a telegram from Wurzburg shocked me from my complacency. It was written in the - to me - illegible German script of the Marburg telegraph operator, and I needed the assistance of my landlady even to understand its content in German. Translated into English it read: ‘Please come at once to William's mother.' (William being the family son I'd known in America.) Neither of us, my landlady or myself, knew what it meant, completely uninformed as we were. I only knew something terrible must have happened. The day before, the Marburg synagogue had burned down, but the general feeling in Marburg seemed to be that it was an accident. It was not even in the paper. And the day before that, von Rath, a member of the German Embassy in Paris who had been shot by a Jewish refugee, had died. For some reason I failed at that time to connect these three events - the death, the fire, and the telegram - or if I did it was only hazily.

“But, knowing something must be very wrong, I boarded the first train for Wurzburg and spent the next three or four hours brooding and wondering desperately what action I could possibly take, confronted as I should be with the various uncomfortable but very real problems which might have arisen. I reached my destination with no possible plan of action in mind.

“It was about ten in the evening. As I stood there, blinking uncertainly into the platform lights, a stranger stepped out of the shadows and asked me, in English if I were Mr. Harlan. My identity determined, she began to speak to me rapidly, in a very low voice in something like English, little of which I understood. I was supposed to go with her and ‘everything was gone, everything was ruined.' More than this the poor overwrought girl could not tell me, try as she would. With this enlightening bit of information to mull over, I hurried along with her. Suddenly we ducked into a dark courtyard, and then into a darkened building. We entered a second-floor apartment. There I found Frau Doktor Stern, weeping, almost at wit's end, but still struggling desperately to plan ahead. Her relief at seeing me, her ‘Schultz,' her protection, by reason of my invaluable American citizenship, was pathetically obvious. Her husband had been taken away the night before, she sobbed, and their home ransacked. After the first plundering she had slipped out and over to this apartment of a relative, but Fraulein (their cook and housekeeper) had remained, and ‘they' had come again.

“But (Frau Stern's) husband was gone! Her home was gone! What was she to do? What could I do? Feeling helpless but knowing that something must be done, if only to calm this frantic woman, I began to formulate telegrams and cables with her. She had three sons in America, one of them about to become a citizen. There was her ray of hope. If definite evidence as to Doktor and Frau Stern's certain departure from Germany could be secured the treatment accorded them would doubtless be less harsh. Cables followed and even a transatlantic telephone call. Poor Bill in Chicago must have suffered - knowing only that his parents were in dire trouble, but he knew not what! Of course nothing substantial resulted that night, nothing except a very important lessening of nervous tension. Enough so that exhausted Frau Dr. finally fell asleep.”

What happens next to Doktor and Frau Stern? Next week we'll once again take up Robert Harlan's suspenseful story.

Family escapes with Harlan's help

By Harriett Gustason

The Journal-Standard

Part III

University in Marburg with inset showing a house
The university which the late Robert “Bob” Harlan attended in Germany in 1938-'39 was located in Marburg pictured above. The inset shows the home of Dr. H. Wiedemann, where Harlan rented a room.

Here is the conclusion of a story, written in 1939 by the late Robert Harlan of his befriending a German Jewish couple at the onset of the Holocaust. Harlan, a Freeport native, went to Marburg, Germany, in 1938 as an exchange student at the university there. He wrote the story in 1939 after returning home to Freeport. Harlan went on to spend 30 years in the diplomatic corps of the U.S. Foreign Service.

We left Dr. Bruno and Frau Stern fearfully seeking escape to the United States. The young Harlan was helping them contact their son in America by “cables and transatlantic telephone calls.”

‘Next morning, in the comforting protection of the light of day, we went to the Sterns' apartment. Fraulein met us at the door, still dumb with terror. Her ensuing exhausted relief at seeing me was anguishing in that I was again fully aware of how utterly helpless and powerless I was to do anything beyond trying to buck them up. Maybe that was enough. Anyway, as might have been expected, the two women on seeing each other broke down again and fell weeping into each other's arms. As they had their cry I wandered from room to room, surveying the desolate scene, noting the damage that had been done.

“Never had I seen such methodic diabolic destruction. Every door was smashed, the furniture splintered to nothing, each picture ripped from the wall and torn from its frame; books emptied out of bookcases, torn and despoiled; dishes tossed and crashed in all directions; mirrors shattered systematically; the wonderful grandfather's clock, generations old, crushed upon its face; only the kitchen and Fraulein's room left intact. Subsequently we found three of the 'mord' instruments - instruments of death - thick iron rods with heavy knobs on one end, admirably designed for their purpose of destruction.

“Later, when the eyes were drier, we began to try to restore the place to some semblance of order. Frau Dr.'s indomitable spirit began to rise. Once, when I was off in another room, I heard a sudden cry, ‘Bob, come here quick!' and hurried to find her wrestling with a table she'd bumped against and remarking with dry humor (but damp eyes - I didn't see a dry one all week-end), ‘I am not yet accustomed to tables with only three legs!' Soon other people began to appear, some of them idle curiosity hunters, empty-headed thrill seekers, but most of them friends. Some volunteer ‘Aryan' helpers who - for double pay, to be sure - helped clean up, prepared things for shipping away, and repaired those things still repairable; delivery boys from stores which, forbidden to sell to Jews who came in, would send supplies around; a little

12-year-old girl still in Hitler-Jugend uniform, sobbing she'd never belong again; and all day long other Jewish women in similar straits - all the men were gone - coming to Frau Stern for advice and getting it. And their gloom and tearful reports, disheartening as they were, did succeed in somewhat keeping her mind away from her own plight. In the evening a common acquaintance of ours came in with the comparatively glad tidings (this man had just been released) that the men were all right and their only sorrow was for their wives at home.

“When Frau Stern left, I decided for some reason or other to remain overnight in the ransacked rooms. Maybe I wanted to save my hotel bill - or to see ‘what manner of men were these' - or to - well, anyway, nothing happened outside my getting nine hours of good sleep, jittery or not. I was awakened by Frau Stern with a paper containing the news of the ‘punishment' that had been placed on the Jews of Germany for the murder of von Rath. The fine of a billion marks - and all the rest of the ‘laws'. The paper also contained reports of the ‘spontaneous uprisings' of the people in their ‘righteous wrath' all over the country, against the Jews. God! How revolting it was to read that! Those drunken marauders who had twice entered the Sterns' apartment to plunder and destroy had not even known the name of the owner at that address - knew only that it was one of ‘the addresses'. The S.A. (Brown Shirts) men who had been in the street outside and whose duty it supposedly was to forbid such things at the most had merely held in order the people down in the street who had been watching, laughing.

“The only visitors we had that next day while I was there were two old Jewish spinsters who had been hunted from their village and had spent the night huddled together in a cellar. They were terrified. Frau Stern quieted their fears and made some provision for their immediate welfare. (She had been head of the German Red Cross in Wurzburg.)

“Meanwhile I hurried over to see Dr. Stern's law partner, a much older man than he, who had been left unmolested. But the poor old fellow was utterly demoralized, not knowing which way to turn. ‘At least,' he sighed ‘the Sterns have hopes of getting to America - but what have I?' Such was the spirit of utter hopelessness so common to the Jews of Germany in those dreadful days. And subsequently, when their spirits rose and they proceeded to make the best of what they had left, they would rise only to be beaten down again by some shattering and merciless blow.

“But there were a fortunate few! Hoping against hope that the Sterns, by reason of their son's approaching American citizenship, might join these, I left Frau Stern with the advice to keep in touch with the nearest American Consulate and the promise that I would write the consulate myself. Empty words, I thought, but some small consolation and cheer, perhaps. I left because I felt that what little I could do had been done and because I wished to avoid the personal registration with the police, necessary for a stay of more than three days in any German city, town or village.

“Less than two weeks had passed, however, before I was on the go again - this time to Stuttgart for a visit to the American Consulate there. A visit which I expected to be futile but educational. It was. This Consulate at that time handled - or, better, tried to handle - all of the applications for emigration to America from the greater part of Germany. The sight that met my eyes that morning as I entered the building, from the second story of which Old Glory was so proudly waving, was far from encouraging. The stairway, from top to bottom, was filled with faces, patient, waiting faces, eager yet despairing, hopeful yet distrustful, waiting, hoping, waiting. And I knew even then that for most of them, with very few exceptions, America was at least four years distant. There were simply too many thousands of applications ahead of them. By virtue of my American passport, which I flashed to the first official I could catch hurrying by, I was allowed to struggle in his wake, with the aproach of those many eyes uncomfortably on my back, until finally I burst into the office proper. There again - a large room, filled with people, waiting, waiting! Eventually through the good graces of one of the office workers I happened to know, I was able to see one of the harassed over-worked vice-consuls. He told me what I already knew: there was naught the Sterns could do for the time being but wait their turn. However, as soon as their son received his final papers they could get a visa. And that was that!

“Just to be thorough about the whole thing I decided to wander past the English Consulate and see what was doing there. I found an empty office - they were not accepting many if any applications at that time. And I found the consul's secretary. The consul himself was apparently enjoying an English weekend. The secretary brought to light an as yet unconsidered means of escape. It would be perfectly possible for the Sterns to get a transit visa to England if they could show convincing proof that they would be proceeding elsewhere in a few months and that they would not be public charges while there. Since the Sterns had friends in England this looked like a mighty good bet to me, and I rushed to telephone Frau Dr. the good news. She was not at home, however, but I imparted to Herr Justizrat Haas, her husband's partner, as much as I could and told him I'd be there on the morrow.

“Next day I reached Wurzburg without difficulty and there found an exceedingly happy Frau Stern. For good reason. That very day her husband had been released. I found him painfully aware of his cropped head and prison pallor, still bewildered and struggling, trying to realize what he had believed impossible - that a man who had fought for his Fatherland, who had spent much of his life in its service, could be so cruelly treated by that same Fatherland. The cruelty in his case had consisted mainly of that most excruciating type of torture which is purely mental. He and the men in his group, over half of them professional men, had not been tortured or otherwise violently mistreated. But there were 2,000 men in a barracks - no beds, no soap, seldom any water, no linens, and meager food rations (on Sundays only coffee, not even a piece of bread!). The latrine conditions were indescribable. They had received no news from the outside world and had had no idea what had happened to their families. That very day he had suddenly been informed that he was to go home. He did not know how long he would be allowed to remain free. It was only during this period, I believe, that he finally resolved to make serious plans to leave his beloved native land, home of all he cared for most, and to try to establish a new home and life thousands of miles away in a strange country, speaking a strange language, among a strange people.

“My good news about England was of course dwarfed into temporary insignificance by the dramatic return of Dr. Stern, but it was not forgotten. It was only a matter of days before the Sterns received word from the British Consulate that a visa was available for them. This promptness was due in part to the very kind and generous efforts of the parents of a young English girl the Sterns had entertained one summer. Then followed weeks of packing and shipping off as many of their worldly possessions as possible. (Permission to send these things could be obtained at a price and could be sent at a still greater price, subject to additional steep taxes. But as they could take only a nominal sum with them in any case, it was probably just as well that they got something for their money.) One day late in December I received a card mailed as they were departing for England, safe and sound. On the card was a sought-after stamp bearing the godlike features of that man of the people, Adolf Hitler.”

Harlan's story ends with a sigh of relief, but there is something more you should know. Next week we'll include a short, but touching postscript, added by the wife of this Freeport man to her husband's first-person brush with history.

A story ends well, and some military memories

By Harriett Gustason

The Journal-Standard

A woman standing between two men outside
Bob Harlan, left, poses with Frau Frida and Dr. Bruno Stern when in April 1946, Harlan and his wife, Lois, visited the Sterns at their home in State College, Pa. Bob had assisted the Sterns in their escape from Germany as the Nazi seige of the Jews was gaining momentum. Harlan was in the process of being discharged from the Army. The two couples were sight-seeing in the mountains near the Sterns' home.

Last week we concluded the story the late Robert Harlan wrote in 1939 after his return to Freeport from Germany where he'd been a university exchange student. Harlan's story told of his interactions with a Jewish couple who were victim's of Adolph Hitler's Gestapo raids. He had helped them leave German for England. Many responses from interested readers have been received by both me and Harlan's widow, Lois Harlan of Freeport. Mrs. Harlan added the following heartwarming postscript to her husband's story.

“Dr. Bruno and Frau Frida Stern, after a stay in England did finally reach the United States and were reunited with their sons. The couple settled down in State College, Pa., where their youngest son was completing his Ph.D. Dr. Stern found it very difficult to adjust to his new circumstances, for he still could not accept the fact that his beloved native country had rejected him.”

Stern had been a highly respected attorney and public official in the city of Wurzburg, Germany.

“Frau Stern rallied, though,” Lois continues, “and decided they must make a new life for themselves. In a letter written to Bob by Dr. Stern in 1941, less than two years after their arrival in America, Frau Stern added a note. One of her sentences reads,

‘Ich versuche die Heimat zu vergessen und geniesse das Leben hier' (translated, ‘I am trying to forget my native homeland and finding great pleasure in the life here').

“Frau Stern started what proved to be a successful small business, baking fine pastries, using many of the recipes their devoted Fraulein had used for them in their Wurzburg home.”

Lois Harlan said each Christmas Bob's mother anxiously awaited arrival of some of Frau Stern's delicious German Christmas cookies.

“In 1946,” Lois says, “Bob and I drove to State College, Pa., to see them.” Lois has a snapshot taken of Bob and the Sterns on the day they took a drive through the mountains near the Sterns' home.

“After World War II was over,” she said, “they both immersed themselves in helping friends back in Germany who were hungry and in difficult circumstances.”

These were non-Jewish friends, Lois emphasizes, as their Jewish friends were all gone. They sent help for many, including their former cook and her family, a clerk in Dr. Stern's law office and his boys, and Frau Stern's teacher of English, the Miss Schwartz mentioned in Bob's story.

“Both Dr. Stern and his wife died in 1957, after 18 years in their new country.”

Lois Harlan said she and Bob were married in 1942, just before he was drafted into the Army and the Sterns sent them something “very special” as a wedding gift. It was “a charming small bronze figure of a little boy playing a flute, while lizards crawl at his feet.” It was engraved with the words, “‘Charmeur de Lizards, par Lavergne.' A lizard and part of the flute is missing,” Lois noted.

The precious bronze plaque, she says, “was one of the art pieces Bob had rescued from the living room floor after their apartment had suffered the terrible destruction of Kristallnacht. They knew he would remember it. As you can guess, I cherish it.”