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GOTO page 1 of Harrison Family Names and birth dates of Harrison Family.
March 28, 1934 G. C. Harrison
On January 25, 1675, John Harrison set sail for the United States of America. His possession was some cash (gold) and some personal belongings in a cowhide covered trunk. The cowhide at that time still had the hair on but the hair is now all worn off and was the first time I ever saw it and I am now 73 years old. John Harrison arrived in the USA March 20th, 1675 having been on the water in a sailboat almost two months and settled in North Carolina. After some time, he bought some Negroes (and used them as slaves) as was the custom of that time. Ships came from Africa bringing black slaves in hundreds. Arab slave traders caught them, sold them to the white men who thus solved the labor problems. So the Harrison people owned slaves for a great many years. Of course I have had a great many grandfathers, how many I do not know.
In April 1795, my grandfather, John Harrison, married Sarah Benbow and moved to Indiana in a prairie schooner, bringing with him the cowhide covered trunk. The morning he started for Indiana, his father gave him a very fine, large Negro (or rather wanted to give the Negro) but my grandfather having been with Negroes all his life would not accept the Negro. But after they had been on the road a few hours, his father sent a man with and gave him a very fine horse instead of the Negro. On the plantation, they had a very severe boss (something like Simon Legree of Uncle Tomís Cabin). In those days the land all had to be cleared of very heavy timber and the slaves had to work long days and sometimes far into the night. On this night, they had worked late and very hard. The slaves did not like Bill. He would whip them at the least provocation, so they decided to fix Bill once and for all and they did. They had been rolling and piling logs all day, getting them ready to burn at night, so they built an extra large one with a great many logs and set it on fire early. So, about 10pm it had got to going good so there was no chance of it going out. Four of the slaves got Bill, two at his head and two his feet, gave him a few swings and Bill came down in the center of the pile, so that was the last of Bill. When they went in that night, one of the Negroes went to Grandfatherís room and woke him up saying, ďMassa John, I will tell you sumpin but you must neber tell.Ē So, he told him all that happened and what became of Bill. Grandfather never told it until long years after. So much for Bill.
Grandfather crossed the Ohio River at Gallipolis, of course on a boat. (They still, at this late date, cross there by boat.) They bought land, 160 acres 25 miles west of Indianapolis and 2 ½ miles west of what later was called (and is yet) Plainfield and became the county seat of Hendrix County. All of that part of the state was heavy timber, four or five different kinds of oak, hickory (both smooth and shell bark), hard and soft maple, poplar, birch, chestnut, basswood, not many elms. This timber would average more than 2 ½ ft. in diameter and a great many of them 3 & 4 feet and grew very thick. Just think of clearing out a farm there, which they did, built log houses and barns. They had two daughters, Mary and Hannah, one son, Thomas (my father).
Motherís father, Jesse Whippo, who lived in Penn. and as a young man worked in the steelwork in Pittsburgh for several years was married there. I do not know my grandmother Whippoís maiden name. They had three daughters born in Pittsburgh, Elizabeth, Hannah and Lydia. Tabitha, Mary (my mother) and Sarah were born in Indiana and one son, George (for whom I was named). Uncle George was next younger than Hannah. Elizabeth was lame but taught school for several years but was never married. Hannah married Emial Hunt. Lydia married Wilson Hodson. Tabitha never married. Mary married Thomas Harrison and Sarah married George Lacy. Wilson Hodson died leaving Aunt Lydia and the three boys, Jessee, Wilson and George. The Hodson boys were much older than I and my brothers, by possibly 25 years. Their mother and the three boys visited us in Hardin County, Iowa in the fall of 1868, driving through with a very fine pair of dapple-grays to a carriage. (This is what they called them in those days, were much like the surrey that you know about.) From our place, they drove to Columbus, Kansas (not so very far from where you now live) to see some of the Hunt boys that had moved there, then drove back to Indiana. In a few years, the mother (Lydia) died of the smallpox and later the boys moved to Columbus, Kansas. A few years later, George Lacy and family also moved to Columbus, Kansas. It has been a great many years since I have heard anything about them. No doubt there are some of them around Columbus now. Of course, it would be their children, Hunt, Hodson and Lacy.
George Lacy, a son, was in the Galveston storm in the fall of 1898 and took his driving horse up on the 2nd floor of the house and saved it from drowning.
Uncle George married Ann Varner and some years after, moved to Mt. Pleasant, Ia. They had three sons. The two oldest, Jacob and Jonathan, answered to Lincolnís first call for 90 day volunteers, had served their time and received their discharge having not been in any engagements. But then was a battle coming on and they were persuaded to go into battle. (The battle of Wilson Creek in northeastern Missouri.) One of them was killed. This battle was the farthest north of any battles of the Civil War. Thaddius Whippo, much younger, ran away to go to war but his father brought him back. The other oldest brother reenlisted and was later killed in action. Thaddius visited us in 1872 in Warren County, Ia.
The Whippo farm contained 160 acres and of course was all very heavy timber. Of course the buildings were logs and rail fences. But a little was cleared each year and they had an abundance of everything including a good orchard with apples, peaches and pears. They had a fine spring near the house where they kept milk and butter. And, oh yes, the gourd for a drinking cup. (I would like a drink from it. I can almost taste it from hearing Mother tell about it.) That part of the country was mostly settled by Friends, Quakers as some called them and our people were of that faith. It is a Quaker community yet. They do not believe, nor do their preachers believe, in pay for their services. They would not take it if offered to them. They make their living outside of the ministry. It may be farming, a trade or a merchant or doctor.
The National Road (or as it was called then and the first road built that was west) was built on part of the Whippo farm. It was 100 ft. wide through that heavy timber, all handwork, such tools as axes, grub hoes, spades and shovels. The timber was piled up and burned. The stumps were grubbed out by hand. They had not learned to blow them out in a day. They moved a lot of dirt with wheelbarrows. This road was, of course, built by the Government and as far west as the Wabash River. There was enough good timber destroyed making that road if it could have been sold at the present price today, would have paved it six times. Think of the labor in making that road. Mostly Irishmen done the work.
John Harrison moved to Iowa in 1855 and bought a prairie farm. (You see, after so much grubbing, a prairie farm looked mighty good to them.) Jessee Elgin, who married Mary Harrison, also moved to Iowa at the same time. Thomas Harrison was born March 17, 1827. Mary Whippo was born January 28, 1823.
Father and Mother were married January 1849.
Jessee Whippo Harrison was born Sept. 20, 1856
John Wilson Harrison was born Jan. 28, 1858
George Carson Harrison was born Sept. 15, 1860
Sarah Rachel was born March 17, 1865
My father and mother moved to Iowa the fall of 1856 by prairie schooner by way of the National Road to Terre Haute, Indiana where they crossed the Wabash River by boat, traveled through Ill. And crossed the Mississippi River at Burlington, Ia., then 25 miles west to Mt. Pleasant, Ia., where George Whippo, my motherís brother, had located some years previously. They stayed there a few days leaving their cattle there and drove on to Hardin County arriving there in October 1856. And they lived with Fatherís folks until Feb. 1857.
My father, with a man started to Warren Co., Ia., to get a load of corn. (You know Hardin County was a new part of the country and very little corn was raised that year and that was sad corn.) Started on the 2nd day of Nov. 1856 with a yoke of cattle a distance of 75 miles. Along toward evening, they came to a new farm with small improvements, of course they were all small in those days, and asked about staying all night. Of course they could stay and told them they must not try to go on, as it looked stormy and 16 miles of prairie ahead and not a house. And that night there was the worst blizzard that Iowa ever had. The snow was 4 ft. deep in the timber where it did not drift. Of course they burnt wood. When they would fall a tree, the body would be all covered up with snow and must be shoveled and some work and a 4 mile haul and very cold. The snow was frozen so hard it would hold up the teams and also the load of wood. They would drive over rail fences on the snow. The snow stayed on the roofs of houses and did not melt on the south side until March.
Father bought a farm and moved to it in February 1859. I was born on this farm September 15, 1860. They lived on this farm 4 years, sold and bought another farm about 4 miles west with 80 acres of timber (mostly oak of all kinds with some hickory). The rest of the farm was nice laying upland prairie, almost level as the Missouri Valley. They got the farm at a bargain, as the owners (Joe Dawan) wanted the money to hire a substitute for his son who was drafted to go to the Civil War. He gave $1000 for a substitute for his son but the substitute only got as far as Davenport, Ia., when Lee had surrendered to Grant. The substitute came back but he had the thousand dollars.
New Providence, an inland town (and is yet) was our Post Office. It was the first town I ever saw and also where I got my first red striped stick candy and also my first pair of Red Taped Copper Tanned Boots, some boots or at least I thought. The Chicago & Northwestern Ry passed New Providence up and located one and ½ mile north. Lawn Hill is their nearest railway station (see Iowa map). The C&NW Ry built as far west as Marshalltown before the Civil War but did not go any farther until after the war was over. All supplies were hauled by team from there west to all points in western Iowa and also eastern Nebraska. It was from Marshalltown that the telegraph poles were hauled for the first telegraph line from New York to San Francisco. They hauled as far west as Colorado using six & eight mule teams. A good mule team sold high, the best $900 a span.
Father bought stock, both hogs and cattle and drove them to Marshalltown, a 20 mile drive. It was those there that I saw my first railway train. (The ry was not built until several years after that in near New Providence.) But that was not a very long drive for stock. On one trip Father made to Chicago there was a man, a Mr. Dunham for whom the town of Dunlap was named for, that drove both hogs and cattle from where Dunlap now is to Marshalltown, a distance at that time of 200 miles. Of course it was not so great a drive for cattle but some drive for hogs. He started out with a load of corn to feed the stock, would buy more corn when that was gone. You remember the Dunham farm at the foot of the hill west of Dunlap where the brick barn is; the brick in that barn was hauled from Council Bluffs. The Dunham that drove the stock to Marshalltown was the grandfather of the Dunhams now on the farm west of Dunlap. (I have met them.)
We lived in Hardin County until the spring of 1872. We then moved to Warren County, Iowa, crossed the Des Moines River at Des Moines on a covered bridge, also Coon River the same. There were a great many such bridges in those days. I saw one such bridge 2 miles southwest of Hannibal, Missouri in 1928. Our post office in Warren County was Carlisle, a small town on the Winterset branch of the CRI&P Ry and 12 miles southeast of Des Moines. My father traded quite a lot in Des Moines. Mother sold large hens dressed for 20 to 25 cents per hen.
The Winterset branch of the Rock Island was built in 1871 and 1872. We could see the train from our place and saw the grade made and track laid. All of the rough stone for the state capital building was hauled over the road from Winterset, a great many train loads. The state capital was started in 1872 but was not completed until about 1910 but of course was in use long before that time.
My folks lived in Warren County four years (2 ½ miles southeast of Carlisle). In May 1874, they moved to Kansas by prairie schooner, going through Indianola (the county seat of Warren County). Through Winterset, Carl, Quincy, both inland towns and extinct in Iowa, then south into Missouri through Marysville to St. Joe where we crossed Missouri River on a bridge that had been built in 1879 (?) and was the only bridge at that time north of Kansas City. It was and is yet or was in 1928, both a ry and wagon bridge and built at a cost of $60,000. They thought that was a lot of money at that time and it was, from St. Joseph west 6 miles to Wathena, a small town where an aunt of Fatherís lived where we stayed over Sunday. From Wathena to Atchison, Kansas, about midway from Wathena to Atchison, we stopped at a farmhouse for water. Of course, that was nothing unusual about stopping for water as we often done that. As it happened, it was a Negro family lived there, their family consisted of the father and mother and 28 children (the same father and mother). This is about the size family that Teddy Roosevelt advocated. From Atchison to Valley Falls, Rock Creek to Topeka where we camped over night north of Topeka on the Kaw Valley. There were a great many campers there too. One family with 200 cows going west to get rich and possibly did. From Topeka to Burlingame, this was on Saturday, going about two miles west of Burlingame we camped over Sunday mostly open prairie and lots of feed for the stock. Just look on your map and see how far we went in one week. It rained all Sunday and all the creeks of which there were a great many, were very high and no bridges. Then on to Emporia, Kansas, where we stayed for two days with a cousin of my fatherís (Thomas Thompson), on later to Cottonwood Falls. From Topeka a greater part of the way was on the old Santa Fe Trail. You could always tell it, as there was a strip of sunflowers about 100 ft or more wide. Then to Florence, Peabody, Newton, thence west (all open prairie) across Turkey Creek and Little Arkansas River about where Buhler now is. No bridges and very high banks. The Little Arkansas River runs to the southeast where we crossed the wagon road a little to the southwest between the river and the road but just on the south side of the river was what they called the old stone corral. It was a government fort. They must have hauled the stone a great distance, possibly from Chase County as they have stone a plenty there. This corral was used by the government troops and also by any emigrant in case the Indians went on the warpath. A great many white men and also Indians, bit the dust in the neighborhood of that old corral. I do not suppose it is there now, possibly hauled away by the settlers for building purposes. There were millions of acres of open prairie on both sides of the Santa Fe Trail and thousand of small weed patches six or eight ft across. Those was where a buffalo had been killed for the hide, the bones were still there. Going out of the Little Arkansas River to the high prairie, there was where I got my first drink of alkali water. Wow I never will forget it. (And that was 60 years ago.) On to Sterling, that was our destination. (The town was called Peace at that time.) Arrived June 20, one month on the road. There was an Indian uprising reported when we got there and a great many settlers had come into town for protection but no Indians came. What wheat they had made a fair crop. There had been plenty of rain up to that time but the hot winds came (from 105 to 115 in the shade for six weeks) and also the grasshoppers and finished the corn in 12 hours. There was nothing left but the stalks. So many hoppers they stopped the train. They put brooms (?) on the cowcatchers to brush off the hoppers off the rails. The Santa Fe was the only Ry in that part f the country at that time. We stopped and camped about 2 ½ miles southeast of Peace (now Sterling) and only about ½ mile from the Arkansas River. We got the use of a new barn that had never been used also a good well with pump. (You did not always find a pump in those days, an open well draw up water with a bucket and chain and plenty deep.) Had lots of grass for the cows and horses and watered stock at the river. No bridge but they forded the river there. There was a small bunch of cattle near there. They were getting ready for market, 400 head as I recall. The herder in charge had killed up to the time we came away 112 rattlesnakes in about two months. As the hot winds and the grasshoppers had cleaned everything up, my father decided to come back to Iowa after a stay of about two months. (But I can see now there were some great opportunities there, thousands and thousands of acres to be homesteaded.) A very few houses, sod houses dugouts and trapper shacks and they were many miles apart. About August 20 we started back to Iowa but no more walking and driving cattle so we trade a cow for a mustang. Came back by about where the town of Little River is now. Marquette to Salina, crossed the Solomon River a few miles of where Minneapolis now is, then on to Clay Center. There were more (?) of the Ry after we left, Sterling on the Santa Fe. On to Blue Rapids and Marysville and talk about prairie schooners, hundreds of them all getting out of Kansas. Seventy five prairie schooners passed through Marysville in one solid line 14 days before we went through and all kinds and descriptions of horse drawn, oxen, mules, a cow and a horse, anything that could pull any kind of a rig. On to Blue Springs, Nebraska, on to Beatrice. The drought and grasshoppers had cleaned up everything, grass all dead also corn, very little small grain. We could not always get grain for the horses. The grasshoppers did not eat sweet potatoes as grain, that was all the green or growing thing we seen from Sterling until we crossed the Missouri River. But that did not compare to the drought that we have now. It did not cover so many states, Kansas and Nebraska was about all of the states that the dry weather hurt in the year 1874 and now, 60 years later (1934) there has been a great change but man cannot buck up against Old Mother Nature very much with all our progress. On to Sidney, Iowa, to Red Oak up the Nishnabotna River, a mighty fine country and splendid crops. Out to Carbon, an inland town, and as the name indicates, a coal mining district. On to Stuart, our destination. Crops were good. The people donated and thousands of bushes to Kansas and Nebraska to what settlers remained. The government did not lend a hand in those days.
We farmed in Adair County for several years with the usual occurrence of farm life. March 4th, 1884, I married Anna Merrill Stillwell. On July 21st 1885, Ralph Emerson Harrison was born. On December 28th, 1889, Roy Merrill Harrison was born. We farmed in Adair County until spring of 1891 then moving to Monona County, Iowa, March 1st, 1891. I landed in Blencoe with an emigrant car with two horses, two two year olds, two yearling colts, 6 shoats, weight about 60 lbs. and four dozen hens, wagon, harrow, walking cultivator, one 16Ē walking stirring plow (and good health, something I do not have now.) Also had $82.00 in my pocket with freight paid in advance. But before I got unloaded, the agent came down to the car and I had to pay $6.00 more. So much for having the C&NW Ry charging two local freight rates, one from Council Bluff to Missouri Valley over the C&W R and one from Missouri Valley to Blencoe over the Sioux City and Pacific and both roads owned by the C&N Ry.