Miranda Perry’s Diary

In 1871 my Gr-Gr-Grandparents, John & Miranda (Warner) Perry, and their two children Albert, 9, and Luena, 4, migrated from Nepeuskun, WI to Sibley, IA.  The 400 mile wagon trek took just over a month.  During the journey and continuing for the first few months of their new life in Iowa, Miranda recorded her daily experiences in a diary.

Thirty some years later, she apparently took the volume with her when she, by then a widow, went to live with her son-in-law and daughter, Alva & Luena Harding, in Garden City, SD.

Many more years later, after Miranda, and then Alva, had both died, Luena and her daughter, Lulu, moved from Garden City to Watertown, SD.  But before leaving, they had to clean out the old farm house.  As the story goes, it was who Lulu found the diary in the attic and asked “What should we do with this?”  Fortunately, it occurred to someone that they should KEEP IT!  And so they did; and it has subsequently passed through many hands before falling into mine.

 

I treasure this old book and in order to share it with as many as possible, I have scanned it in its entirety and transcribed the important journal entries.  I offer it to you here for viewing and download via a link at the end of this post.

The link will take you to a folder containing four items:

  1. A transcription of the daily journal entries in searchable text.  I encourage you to view and enjoy the images of the book itself, but the hand written pages are not always easy to read.  If Gr-Gr-Grandma Perry had know that I would be trying to read her diary 150 years later she might have sharpened her pencil a little more often.  Or, she might have burned it.
  2. Vol. I – The first 30 pages of the book consist of an 1871 Almanack which is interesting reading in itself.  Then next 30 pages were dated and intended for journal entries but were used mostly for scratch paper.
  3. Vol. II – This is the real heart of the diary and contains the daily journal entries made between April 9th and September 1st of 1871.
  4.  Vol III – 80 more pages of ciphering, accounting, scribbling and penmanship practice.

 

All four files are available for viewing and download here.

 

 

Memories of WWII by Glen Harding

Today is my dad’s birthday; Centennial, actually.  He was born 100 years ago today in a farmhouse outside of Garden City, SD.  In honor of that occasion, I offer you his Memories of WWII.  I have edited it slightly for spelling and typos but for the most part, what follows are his own words written around 2000.

World War II Memories
of
Glen Harding  #39592527

The 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II has come and gone. 

There have been a lot of events taken place honoring the Veterans that have sparked a lot of interest.  Among those interested are my two sons, Keith and Kevin.  I will try to relate as much as I can remember.  It must be remembered that after 50 years my memory leaves a lot to be desired.  Many dates can be found accurately given.  Others are approximate.

My Discharge says I was inducted into the Army July 7, 1944 at Fort McArthur California.  Discharged April 6, 1946 at Camp Beale, California.  I had reached the Rank of Sergeant and earned the World War II Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Ardennes, and Central Europe Medal and  Combat Infantry Badge (the one I am the proudest of) and served as an Infantryman in the Ardennes and Central Europe Rhineland.  (note: Dad never knew it but he also had a Bronze Star Medal.  I, learned about it when I read it on his grave marker.  Apparently, according to a 1947 regulation, a Combat Infantry Badge from WWII automatically qualified one for the Bronze Star Medal.)

Induction was at a building in downtown Los Angeles.  From there it was a train To Fort McArthur .  Here were shots, haircuts, clothing issue, etc.  Everyone was promised a pass for the week end.  This was the first lesson of the Army.  Come Friday night we were all put on KP for the week end. (no passes).  Before the next week was over we were on a train going to Cap Hood, Texas (now Fort Hood).     Bernice came to Camp Hood and spent a week there.  I spent most of the week in the field.  We had 2 weekends together

After 18 weeks of Basic Training I left there on a delay in route pass via Los Angeles.  When the 10 days were over it was to the train station.  That is when the fuel pump on our 1935 Ford decided to give up the ghost.  We called a cab for transportation.  Les Travers helped her out of that situation.  As I was to board the train Keith decided he was going with me.  A bit of a problem.

harding 009

Arriving in Maryland with a lot of snow cold.  I felt sorry for the 18 year olds that had never been in such a climate and had never been away from Mama.  After a few days there it was on to Camp Miles Standish near Boston.  Here we boarded the Aquitania, a British four stacker, nearly as large as the Queens.

The 9 day trip across the Atlantic was uneventful.  My bunk was a Pallet on the floor in front of the toilet (Head).  Everyone going in and out had to step over me (they all made it).  Going over with 117,000 troops and Crew takes some getting used to.  Like myself most had never been on the Ocean before.  Seasickness was a major problem.  (not myself).  Our Ship had 4 dining rooms.  They could feed everyone 2 times a day.  It was a slow process with standing in line in narrow corridors.  With only salt water showers not many were taken.  The corridors got pretty smelly.  People got a little woozy standing in line.  By the time they got through the serving line and got their meal and took it to the standing tables where we ate many set it down and headed for the rail.  I got through the first time without getting sick but observed what was happening and changed tactics.  I entered the dining room through the exit door and watched for someone to get his meal and head for the rail.  I would walk up and eat his meal and left.  Sure cut down on time and sickness.

Our Ship anchored in the Harbor at Glasgow, Scotland.  We left the ship by ferry, which took us to a train on the Pier.  Then an overnight ride to South Hampton, England.  We got our taste of London fog.  We were warned to keep close to the person in front of us to keep from getting lost (about 3 feet).  We went into a large warehouse where the Red Cross was set up with about anything we needed.  Here we Boarded a ship and crossed the Channel, I think on New Years Day.  The landing was at Le Havre, France.

From here we rode in Train Box Cars.  The famous 40 and 8s (forty men or 8 horses).  We went to Verviers, Belgium.  Here I was assigned to the 99th Infantry Division.  Then we went forward in trucks.  I remember spending one night in a Brick Building with the windows all bombed out and no heat.  It was a cold night.  A buddy of mine, Hoopes, put three of our blankets on a cot and both got on the same cot and put one blanket on and huddled together to keep somewhat warm.

I want to dwell some on the next stop.  I don’t know where it is located.  I have been over there in 1999 and found no one that could tell me where it is.  The town was at the base of a hill.  The ground was covered with ice.  Vehicles could not get up the hill so we had to walk and carry our packs.  It was a matter of 3 steps up and slide back 2.   At the top we came to a huge Cave.  There was a fireplace large enough to take small trees.  The first time I was warm since leaving the ship at Glasgow.  A Cadre member took some of us around into some of the tunnels leading off from the main.  From one we came out into a tower.  I seemed like it was a mile to the bottom of the canyon.  (It couldn’t have been).  I think this was some medieval fortress.  Another tunnel was a Bakery with large iron oven doors.  Where the smoke went I have no idea.  Another was the Latrine.  There were holes in the floor with foot prints so you could plant your feet and squat down over the holes.  You could drop a stone in the hole and never hear it hit bottom.  We were taken out into a clearing where there was a pile of M1 Rifles.  I think they had been picked up in the field by a dump truck and dumped there like a pile of rocks.  We picked out a Rifle and took it back to the cave where we cleaned it and then went out in a clearing to test firing.

Next stop Eupen, Belgium.  We were given a block of t-n-t to start our fox hole and dig our living quarters.  Weather was so bad nothing was moving.  In about 3 weeks we shoved off.  We went through the Maginot line.  This was a line of pill boxes with an excellent field of fire.  The French had originally built them and the Germans had improved them.  By this time the line was defended by the People’s Army.  They were mostly older men who didn’t want to fight.

Sometimes we ran into Troops that would make a fight of it.  One of these times was a town named Hal Fortuna, Germany.  There were trees along both sides leading into the town.  A Hedge Row on the right and on the left a Catholic Institution.   On the northwest corner a large barn.  On the southwest corner probably the Priest house.  On the east was a large 3 story building.  There was a Chapel on the ground floor.  There were several Nuns and Priest living there.  The Germans were firing down on us from the 3rd floor.  When we finally secured the mission we had 4 left of our 11 man squad.  Myself one of the lucky ones.

Now come the foggy memories.  I remember incidents and places but can’t put them in order or name the places. In April a truck load of us were taken back somewhere for showers and clean clothes.  The first time I had my clothes off since Late November.  On the trip back we spent most of the time helping build roads.  A matter of laying tree trunks down in the mud for the trucks to drive on. In a small town a long tent was set up with 100 shower heads.  We were told we get 5 minutes of water.  Many came out with their hair still soapy.  Sometimes when on the move in daylight we would toss our sleeping bags on a truck.  If the trucks happened to show up that night we would get one back.  Sometimes our kitchen did not show for a day or two.

I remember a 3 day pass to Verviers.  This was before the Hal Fortuna incident because Stern was killed there and Rezeck was badly wounded.  In 1999 I got an address for Rezeck.  I wrote to him and got a letter from his sister.  He had died in 1998 after spending his life in a wheel chair.  In Verviers we saw a sign American Steaks, so in we went.  We went down stairs to the rest rooms.  There was a woman attendant in the hall way.  She took Sterner into the men’s room and got him seated down on the stool and came back and took me to the ladies room.  About time I started looking for toilet paper the door opened and there she was pealing off paper for me.  I often wonder what she would have done head I of raised up off of the seat.

To clear a town of enemies we went down a street, house by house.  Usually 2 to a house.  2 others would take the next house.  I came to a door in a house that only opened about an inch.  It was hitting something.  The Germans were great on putting the stove close to the chimney and running the stove pipe all around the walls to get all the heat they could.  I had to get into the room so backed off a little and made a run for the door.  There was quite a racket.  The stove had tipped over and all the pipe had come tumbling down.  Quite a mess.  I didn’t stop to clean it up.  Another surprise was going into a bedroom where an old man was bedridden.  He sat up yelling something about Kaiser Wilhelm.

We came into this one town on a nice spring day.  It was rather eerie as there was not a soul in sight.  We looked things over and decided to make the most of the peace and quiet and sunshine.  Bobbie got out his clippers and started cutting hair.  We started looking for food.  Most houses had hams hanging in the chimney smoking.  There should be a rabbit hutch around, a vegetable garden and potatoes in the cellars.  First sign of life was a big Rooster came down the street.  Sawyers raised his m1 and shot the head off and we had chicken in the pot.  Often we had to move out before the chicken was done.  In this case someone carried the pot until we got another chance build a fire.  Soon a boy came peeking out of the trees.  He got brave enough to come down where we were.  We fixed him up with candy bars and soon another came.  Before long the town people were all back in the Village.  I suppose they had been told stories about what we would do to them.

Once while cleaning a Rabbit the owner came out boiling mad.  I thought he was mad because I was taking his Rabbit but it turned out it was because I had cut the head off.  They leave the head on as the skin is worthless without the head.

At one stop along the Railway we made a stop at a field kitchen set up to feed troop trains.  There was a pile of plywood along the track.  We loaded some of into our box car.  A warning came over the loud speaker that the train would not move until that ply wood was back on the pile.  We had been in Army too long to swallow that line.  When it came time for the train to go it took off and we build some bunks in our 40 & 8.

Another story is about a Carbide Lantern.  All the German Yard Masters carried Carbide Lanterns.  Having no light in the Box Car we needed one of those lanterns.  First attempt we lured the Yard Master up to our car and when the train started moving someone grabbed his lantern.  That didn’t work as he had it tied to him.  I guess others had tried that before.  Next stop we lured him with a pack of cigarettes.  We told him we had more but needed a light to find them.  He handed us his lantern which we took and closed the door.  He went off screaming for the Captain.  An officer came down the train saying this train will not move until this Kruat has his lantern back.  He had forgotten what car it was.  Again we had been in the Army long enough and covered the lantern with a blanket and the train moved out.  It was easy to get Carbide for a Pack of Cigarettes. 

One time we got to go to see a Bob Hope show.  He put on a great show.  The Radio City Rockettes came to Nuremberg while I was there.  This was another great show.

There were times that we got a little break and got to spend a day or so in a real house.  One of these times was after the Hal Fortuna incident where we down to 5 people.  We stopped in a town and replacements were brought in to bring up to make our squad of 14 men and an Officer.  The procedure was to pick a house and send the occupants on their way and move in for the time being.  Our Replacements begin to arrive and we were glad to be inside for some rest.  One Replacement apparently had not been very well schooled by his Mother.  He had a can of C Rations he wanted to heat.  He sat the can on the stove and waited.  You guessed it the can blew up and there were rations all over the kitchen.  The easy way out was taken.  We just moved next door and let the owners come back and clean it up

Later a pass for Brussels came down and I won the card cut and went to Brussels.  I found a Quartermasters store.  We had been issued winter snowpack boots when the snow was deep.  In the spring they issued Combat Boots to replace the Snowpacks.  My Combat boots did not fit and I had blisters on my feet.  The man there said he could give all new clothes but could not issue Combat Boots to front line troops.  I had two German razors in my shirt pocket.  He asked what I was going to do with those razors.  I told him I intended to trade one of them for a pair of Boots.  I went out of there with Boots that fit.

On March 7, 1945 the 90th Armored captured the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen.  We started out on what turned out to be walk and stop, walk and stop.  Eighteen hours later we crossed the bridge.  It was one way crossing, nothing coming back.  I crossed on the 11th  we were the first complete Division across.  By this time the engineers had one pontoon bridge across and were working on another.  We had to climb a real steep hill at the end of the march.  (On my trip back in 1999 I took a lift to the top)  Our unit was scattered by that time because of the steep climb.  From the top of the hill we saw quite an air show.  The German Planes would come in and try to blow the Bridge and our p38s would come and chase them out.  Anti Aircraft was so heavy it looked like you could walk on the flak.  A buddy named Sutton from Terra Haute, Indiana and I got up the hill at the same time.  We heard a shell coming in and dove into a small building for what protection it might afford.  When we looked up we were in sort of corn crib on a pile of sugar beets.  We could look out of the slat openings. The shell landed in the street and blew a hole some 20 feet deep. (some protection)  Across the road was a long low building with windows on our side.  Sutton spotted a fruit jar on the sill of a window.  We decided to try and make that building.  We ran around the shell hole and made a bee line for the building.  Sutton came in right behind me with the fruit jar full of cherries.  We pulled our spoon out of our boots and ate the cherries. (first food that day).  I have seen a documentary on TV and that jar was sitting on that windowsill./

Somewhere down the line I started getting yellow and couldn’t keep food down.  I would go on sick call when there was a Doctor available.  They would say it looked like yellow  jaundice but I had no fever so they could not evacuate me.  This went on until we up to the Danube River and ready to cross.  As we were to push off the Lt. Told me there was a Medical tent down the road and I should  go there.  I went into the tent and there was only the Doctor there.  He looked up at me and said Yellow Jaundice.  The last Ambulance is out in front get on it.  This was another stroke of luck as many were lost at that crossing.  I found myself at a field Hospital.  At the entrance was a Medic sitting looking at everyone’s tag.  He told me I could have some chicken broth.  Somehow a drum stick  got into my Broth.  In a few days they put me on a c47 which took me to England.  There was a ward full of us.  I went in at less than 100 pounds and 3 weeks later left at 145.  Next was a Convalescent  Center.  One requirement to leave there was to make a 10 mile hike.  Now I had walked from Elsenborn, Belgium to the Danube River and was not going to make that hike just to show them I could.

They finally sent me to a RePo Depot and on back to my unit.  I found them at Konigshofen, Germany.  This Sutton from back at the Bridge Crossing was running the Theater and I got hooked up with him.  Occupation duty here consisted of Fire Guard at night and Outpost duty at nearby towns.  One town was Rodhousen.  Down the road about ½ mile the Russians had a Post.  They would get on their Bicycle and come to visit us.  When we got enough of them a candy bar or cigarette and they would leave.

 

harding 124 cropped for blog

The 99th was sent home with those of high points.  I had only 50 points so had to stay.   We were trucked out to a field where the 79th Division was set up.  I was transferred to them and went back into the same town.  I sort of had it made as I was the one person the people knew.  I worked my way into running the theater.  The only film we got was through Regiment. (one a week).  I knew of some other sources of film and was able to show a new film every night.

.Next I was transferred to the 1st Division at Schienfeld, Germany.  I guess this had a purpose behind it as we were sent to Nuremburg and put on duty at the trials.  Here we were billeted in an SS Kasserne.  We had beds with springs but no mattresses.  One day and Inspecting General came through.  He said I notice Sleeping Bags on all these beds.   Don’t these men have mattresses?  He said order them.  We had them the next day.

Nuremberg was an interesting place to be.  There was an Opera House where we able to go see shows like The Rockettes and plays.  We were basically on an eight hour day at the prison.  When I first went there I was stood guard on cells, recreation yard, etc.  Then they started the escort guard Duty which I was assigned to.  We were all at least Sgt.   There was a room where we waited for a call.  This was before the Trials started and we might have to take one of the Prisoners or a witness for interrogation.  Room 55 in another wing of the Prison was where Prisoners could meet with their Lawyer.  When you took one of them you sat at the table with them until they finished and took them back to their cell.  Once when taking Hess to room 55.  He had requested to read a document that was introduced against him.  He read the first page and handed it to me saying I might be interested.  It was written in English which he was able to read.  It was the report from the time his plane was sighted over England until he was taken back to Nuremberg.  I remember taking Goring for his bath and he had several 1 inch scars on him.  Later I was told this was where they had taken poison vials off from him.  I was home when he committed suicide but by reading medical books the one they missed was in his navel.  I guess the others were for them to find.

I escorted General Warlimont around sever times.  He was a witness at that time.  He said “never lose a war it is too much trouble.”

Some of the Prisoners—

Herman Goering—I found he was no dummy.  He understood English well he might hunt for words when talking but spoke well.  He asked what state I lived in.  He thought most Californians were not natives.  So I told him South Dakota.  His answer was he always wanted to hunt Pheasants there.  He had pictures of his dogs on his desk in his cell.  I think he thought more of them than anything else.

Rudolf Hess—His English was pretty good.  I didn’t think he was a nutty as he tried to portray.  It seemed when alone with him he could carry on a conversation but there was little to talk about.

Von Ribbentrop—I don’t think he spoke any english and had no desire to speak with a lowly Sgt.

Robert Ley—He is the one that hung himself on the flush knob of the toilet just before I got there.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner—I don’t think he spoke english.  He was the first one I took out of his cell for a trip somewhere.  He had to stoop over and turn sideways to get out of his cell.  When he started to straighten up I didn’t think he would ever quit going up.  Me at 130 pounds and him 280.

Alfred Rosenburg—I don’t think I ever had anything to do with him.

Hans Frank—I remember him saying we Americans are funny people.  You are trying me for my life and will probably take it and my daughter works for American Military Government.

William Frick—I can’t come up with anything except he was there.

Julius Streicher—All I remember is it would take a Mother to like him.

Wilhelm Funk—He was very mopey, I suppose I in his place may have been the same.  He had prostrate trouble and had to be taken to the Doctor twice a day to have the water drained out of him.    

Hjalmar Schacht—I don’t remember any trouble with him and he was acquitted.

Admiral Karl Donitz—I remember him as ornery as the day is long.

Erich Raeder—No comment

Baldor von Schirach—I probably spent more time with him than any other.  He spoke fluent English.  His Mother was an American and he had an English Governess as a child.  He was often used as an interperter when I had him in room 55.

Fritz Sauckel—No comment on him.

Alfred Jodl—He was another that didn’t care for orders from a lowly Sgt.  But was soldier enough to obey any command.

Franz Von Papen—He would not put his autograph in a book with the others.  Only on a separate paper.  He was acquitted.  He was defended by his son.

Arthur Seyss-Inquart—I don/t have any comment about him.

Albert Speer—I don’t remember having a lot to do with him.  Since reading his book,  he acknowledges their wrong doing, I give him some credit.

Konstantin Von Neurath—Again I can’t remember much about him.

Hans Fritzsche—He created no waves and was acquitted.

Wilhelm Keitel—Here was an old time Prussian General.  He held his head high and obeyed orders.

Leaving Nuremberg I was sent to Selb, Germany where I joined the 102 Div.  This unit was built up with enough points to come home.  It was a waiting game but finally got to Le Havre, France where we boarded the General Anderson.  It was 5 days home to New York where a Brass Band greeted us home.  I have a news letter put out on the General Anderson.  It required 20 navy cooks. 11 bakers, and 2 commissary storekeepers full time.  Plus the GI’S doing KP.  They consumed 52 cases of eggs, 800 pounds of sugar, 34 pounds of coffee, 300 pounds of butter, 500 pounds of Jam.  Cost of feeding per week in 1946 was $20,000.

We debarked and went to Camp Kilmer where the 102nd was deactivated.

Another waiting game for our name to come up on the shipping board.  When my name came up it was by C54 to the west coast.  Coming into Dallas we had engine leaking oil and were there for a week waiting for repair.  Then to Long Beach, California for fuel.  It was a 20 minute stop and I had time to call home.  At Camp Beale in Northern California we started the discharge process.  Things moved rapid and looked like the Army was going to do something right.  Within 2 hours of discharge my name came up and I was sent to the Hospital for Diabetes tests.  This was on Thursday and I found they would do nothing until Monday.  I asked for a pass and was told passes only started Saturday and for a 50 mile radius.  I asked the nurse if she would write a pass to Los Angeles for Friday and Sunday.  She wrote it and said I don’t think the Col. will sign it.  I took it to the Col. (a woman).  She talked a bit and asked how I would go to Los Angeles.  I said I would fly.  Flying was not too popular yet in those days.  She asked how long since I had been home.  I said 2 years.  She changed the pass to immediately to Monday morning.  I made the trip home and back by Monday morning and went through the tests and found I did not have Diabetes.  So I was out of the Army.

dsc01400 cropped for blog

 

Those Other Hardings

My Grandma, Phoebe Harding nee Gary had a sister.  Well, actually she had four sisters but the one I’m interested in tonight is Coralynn.  Coralynn married Harvey Albertus and they lived in Laurel Montana.  Whenever my dad was driving back and forth between Oregon and South Dakota he would stop at Coralynn and Harvey’s.  I remember stopping there a couple of times myself.

Coralynn and Harvey had three daughters, but the one I am interested in tonight is Marilyn Flo Albertus.  Just to make things a little more confusing for genealogists, Marilyn married a man named “Harding”; but we were always told that he was not related to the rest of us.  How can that be?  Well, I recently got curious and went on a mission to sorted it all out.

Here’s what I found.  Marilyn’s husband was Herman Harding.  His parents were Godfred and Charlotte Mohland Harding.  Indeed, they were not related to us because Godfred and Charlotte immigrated to America from Russia in about 1903.  Their name in Russia was “Hardung”.  And the old folks apparently continued to use that spelling since that is what appears on their grave markers.  But as nearly as I can tell, their 9 children, all born in Montana, went by Harding. 

So that’s why there is a whole clan of Hardings in Montana that aren’t related to us; except through Marilynn. 

Uncle Israel Harding

One of my previous blogs was devoted to Stephen Harding and his actions during the Revolutionary War.  Because of his service, I was able to become a member of the Sons of The American Revolution (SAR) and my female offspring could join the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Stephen Harding was, of course, a Patriot, meaning he sided with the American colonies in fighting against the British.  Five of his sons were Patriots.  Most of his brothers were Patriots.  But there was that one brother; Israel; the youngest.  Israel Harding, my 5th Great Grand Uncle, was not a Patriot.

I recently learned of another lineage group called the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada.  On their website, http://www.uelac.org/ they explain that “The United Empire Loyalists were generally those who had been settled in the thirteen colonies at the outbreak of the American Revolution, who remained loyal to and took up the Royal Standard, and who settled in what is now Canada at the end of the war.”   That’s Israel’s group.

Israel and Stephen Harding had both served in His Majesties Service during the French and Indian War.  Stephen served as a private.  Israel enlisted as a young soldier and attained the rank of Lieutenant during that conflict. Shortly after being discharged, in 1759, Israel was married to Sarah Harris in New London, CT  The young couple soon went off with the New England Planters to settle on a land grant in Lower Horton, Kings County, in the new colony of Nova Scotia.

For some unknown reason, after a decade or so farming in Nova Scotia, they packed up their five children and moved back to New London, Connecticut.  Perhaps they were homesick.  By 1771, Israel was buying and selling land in Colchester Co., CT and in 1774 he traveled to Nova Scotia and sold off the rest of his interests there.

That turned out to be a very bad move.  As the winds of Revolution began to blow Israel and Sarah were caught in the cross currents.  Among his family, Israel was the youngest of five brothers and the only one to remain loyal to the British during the Revolution. He saw no reason to reject the British rule. He saw the Tories as those, in his own words, “whose greatest crime if it may be deemed so has been love for their King and affection for the Parent Country.”

In and about the community of Colchester, life would have been very difficult for a Loyalist.  For example, he would not even have been able to get provisions for his family such as were promised to the families of the Continental soldiers.

Israel never took up arms against the rebels (or Patriots as we call them) but he did serve as a civilian spy and supplier.  His job was to observe the French Fleet and rebels at Rhode Island and pass on dispatches as requested.  Because of that he, in his own words,

“became obnoxious to the Americans, was apprehended, imprisoned, harassed, dragged from place to place by files of armed men and Constables, leaving a wife and seven children behind with no way to support them but by what money I had, which with defending myself before courts and committees and other expenses arising therefrom, amounted to a sum of five hundred and twenty dollars; also two boats which were taken from me I made use of in carrying sheep and cattle from Connecticut to the Fleet and Army. That after your memorialist escaped to Long Island he had a house assigned him by Government from which house he was taken by Capt. Elijah Smith and a party of men, and robbed of goods, wearing apparel, and other effects to the amount of one hundred and twenty eight dollars; that your Memorialist by his attachment to His Majesty was dispossessed of a house and land in the Town of Saybrook in Connecticut which was afterward sold for eight hundred dollars….”

At the request of his brother, Thomas, he was given permission by the Governor of Connecticut to remove to Long Island where things would have been easier since it was occupied by the British.  Eventually, as the war concluded, he had to flee there also and returned to Nova Scotia. 

In December 1783 Israel Harding applied for and later received a 950 acre land grant somewhere between Horton and New Minas in Nova Scotia.  That plot remained their family’s central home during the rest of his days.

Lieutenant Israel Harding was deceased by 18 July 1794 when his wife, Sarah, and children were awarded Probate Administration of his estate in Horton, Nova Scotia. The 950 acre farm was listed in the Inventory. His resting place is unknown, but he may have been buried with extended family and others in the Lower Horton old Planter cemetery, which became overgrown. There was no headstone when it was transcribed in the 1960’s

Sarah later moved to Digby County, Nova Scotia to live with her daughter, Eliphal (Lee) Allison. After a remarkable life journey, there in a peaceful rural setting she attained the good old age of 96 years. She died 26 March 1836 at the home of her daughter.

(source; Journey of a Lifetime; The True Story of Israel and Sarah Harding UEL by Carol Harding)

Patriot Stephen Harding (1723-1789)

My application for membership to the Sons Of The American Revolution states that my 5th Gr-Grandfather, Stephen Harding, “assisted in the establishment of American Independence while acting in the capacity of Captain of the 7th Co., 24th Regiment, Colonel Zebulon Butler Connecticut Militia in1775 and he was in command of Fort Jenkins in Wyoming Valley, PA when he was captured on July 2,1778 by the Tories and the Indians.”

That is all true, of course, but there is so much more to the story…

Stephen Harding Jr. was born March 11, 1723 in Warwick, RI.  His 4th Gr-Grandfather, Richard Harding, had emigrated from England a century earlier making Stephen a fourth generation American.

His father, Capt. Stephen Harding, was a mariner, building and sailing his own ships.  Capt. Stephen must have gained considerable wealth for in 1732 he purchased a highly improved 400 acre farm that included a sawmill in what became Waterford, CT.  The family moved there when the younger Stephen was perhaps 9 years old.

Little else is known about Stephen Jr. until May 31, 1743 when he married Amy Gardner (daughter of Stephen & Frances Congdon Gardner).  Together they settled in Colchester, CT where they resided for over 25 years and raised 9 sons and 4 daughters.

During the French and Indian War Stephen Jr. served in Captain Thomas Pierce’s Twelfth Company of the Second Connecticut Regiment.  He served as a private for about six months and was involved in the Campaign of 1760.

“From the lips of those who were acquainted with them during their lifetime, we are told that (Stephen) was a man of means, and a prominent man in the town of Colchester (Connecticut), from whence he had come; and that both he and his wife had been members of the Baptist Church there. He was a man of great will power and energy, of more than ordinary physical stature, and always ready to act upon every emergency.”  (Source: Luscomb, J.S. (1998). Genealogical Outline of the Richard Harding Line. Wyoming Historical Society collections.)

Stephen’s name appears several times among those from Connecticut who, beginning in the 1760’s, attempted to establish a settlement in the Wyoming Valley in NE Pennsylvania.  This very fertile valley was formed by the Susquehanna River which flows from upstate New York through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and into the Chesapeake Bay. We are primarily interested in the 30 mile stretch just north and east of Wilkes-Barre, PA.

The problem with settling the Wyoming Valley was that it was embroiled in a border dispute between the Colonies of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.  King Charles II had unwittingly granted the area to both Colonies; and neither wanted to give it up.  The result was a series of Yankee-Pennamite Wars that raged, off and on, for 25 years.  That is a great story for another time.  But for now, suffice to know only that Stephen Harding believed that he was settling in Westmoreland, Connecticut.  All of his civic and military service was for Connecticut.  Even though the area is now part of Pennsylvania.

Stephen was living in the Wyoming Valley in 1772 when Pittston Fort was a built by the  Connecticut settlers.  The fort contained about 35 cabins within a triangular palisade.  The settlers owned and occupied their cabins until such times as they were ready to live on the farms which they had located.  One of these cabins, #33, belonged to Stephen Harding.

April 19, 1775 – The American Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

May, 1775 –  The Connecticut Legislature enacted “that the town of Westmoreland shall be one entire regiment distinguished and called by the name of the 24th Regiment” Zebulun Butler was appointed Colonel.

Fall of 1775 – Stephen sold his interest in Pittston Fort and presumably moved into his house in Exeter Township.  Located on the west side of the Susquehanna river, near Falling Spring the settlement later became the village of Harding. (it’s on Google Maps)

October, 1775 – The 24th Connecticut Militia Regiment was organized into nine companies.  The Line Officers for the Seventh Company, located around Exeter Township, were Stephen Harding, Captain; Elisha Scovell, Lieutenant; John Jenkins, Ensign (Harding & Jenkins were brothers-in-law; their wives Amy Gardner Harding and Lydia Gardner Jenkins were sisters.)

August, 1776 – Two Independent Companies of the 24th Regiment were established for Continental Service .  At least three of Stephen Harding’s sons, Stephen III, Thomas (my ancestor), and Israel, enlisted in the First Westmoreland Independent Co.

January, 1777 – The two Independent Companies left the Wyoming Valley and marched off to join General Washington at Morristown, NJ.  Their departure left primarily women, children and old men to defend the Wyoming Valley.  Stephen was then 54 and one of the men that stayed behind.  One of the children was Stephen’s son, Elisha, who later gave this testimony:

“In answer to your request, I will begin with the building of Jenkins fort. In the month of June, 1777, it was thought proper to commence building forts, for defense against the enemy.  We went to work I, but a boy, could do but little, except driving oxen to haul logs ; the logs were about eighteen or twenty feet long, and placed in a ditch of a sufficient depth to stand against any thing that could be brought by the enemy against it ; the corners so constructed as to rake any thing on the outside of the fort that should attempt to assail it.”

So, Fort Jenkins was actually built by Harding, Jenkins, Gardner and their families. It was nothing more than a log stockade built around the house of Judge John Jenkins.  Other forts in the area were larger.  I’ve already mentioned Pittston Fort; and Forty Fort occupied almost an acre.  But Fort Jenkins was small and only able to accommodate a few families in times of danger.

.Fort Wintermoots, another stockaded house, was also small and only a mile away from Fort Jenkins.  But it had been built by Tory settlers from New York who were sympathetic to the British.

Spring of 1778 – Butler’s Ranagers began wreaking havoc in the Susquehanna Valley.  Major John Butler (no relation to Zebulun Butler) was a Connecticut Tory, loyal to the British Crown, with extensive knowledge of Indian languages and customs.  He had at his command as many as 500 Mohawk Indians and 400 local Tories.  The Susquehanna was a strategic waterway and food source and they meant to take it by any means.

May, 1778 –  Sensing the danger, the Hardings, Hadsalls, John Gardner and perhaps others moved into Fort Jenkins.  But they were still farmers. They had to go out and tend to their crops or they would have nothing to eat come winter. 

June 30,1778 – A work party, including Stephen’s sons Benjamin, Stukley, & Stephen III (apparently back from his tour with Washington) went up river five or six miles to work in their corn fields.  Toward evening, as they were beginning to make their way back to the fort, they were ambushed by Indians.  Benjamin and Stukley were killed, mutilated, and scalped.  Stephen III fled and after wandering through the woods all night made it back to the fort the next morning.

July 1, 1778 – A force from Forty Fort marched the 11 miles to the site of the murders seeking retaliation.  They also recovered the bodies of Benjamin and Stukley. Amy Gardner Harding, their mother, prepared them for burial and they were laid to rest outside of the fort. These were the first burials in the Jenkins-Harding Cemetery.

July 2, 1778 – I again quote Elisha Harding’s testimony:

“In the course of the after noon, Butler sent a flag to our fort, demanding a surrender thereof; Captain Harding and Esquire Jenkins met Butler; and there being but five able-bodied men, and two old men, and three boys, left in the fort, and the Indians in possession of Wintermoots, it was thought most advisable to surrender on the following conditions: that nothing should be taken from the inhabitants of the fort, except such things as were wanted for the army, and that to be paid for; the inhabitants to have liberty to return home and occupy their farms in peace, but not to take up arms during the war.”

July 3, 1778 –  All the Companies of the 24th, except for Harding’s 7th Co.,which was captured the day before, were gathered in Forty Fort for a war council.  Colonel Zebulun Butler was there; and troops from the Independent Companies were on their way.  Smoke could been seen on the horizon as Forts Jenkins and Wintermoots were being destroyed. Some of the men at Forty Forty insisted that they must go out immediately and confront the enemy to protect their farms and families.  Col. Zebulun Butler advised that they should stay in the Fort and wait for reinforcements. But he eventually relented and the men of Wyoming left the Fort and went out in pursuit of the enemy.

They found the enemy, established a line, and fired a couple of volleys.  But then they realized that they were outflanked by Indians hiding in the woods.  Savage hand-to-hand combat with spears and tomahawks ensued and within 45 minutes the Battle and Massacre of Wyoming was over.

Numbers vary, but roughly 200 Patriots were killed, tortured, and/or mutilated that day.  The Wyoming Monument lists the names of 182 men known to have died.  When Col. John Butler left the Valley a few days later he took with him 227 scalps for which the British paid him $2270.

By being captured on the previous day, the Hardings escaped the horror of the Battle & Massacre.  But they surely suffered tremendous loss among friends and neighbors.

Despite the surrender agreement at Jenkins Fort, it was not safe to remain in the valley.  The Hardings fled to Colchester for the duration of the war.  In 1778, they returned to the Wyoming Valley and resumed living on their farm in Exeter.  Stephen Harding died Oct 11,1789 and Amy survived him until June 4,1804.  They are both buried in Jenkins-Harding Cemetery in West Pittston, PA along side of their sons, Benjamin and Stukley.

Jenkins-Harding Cemetery, West Pittston, PA

Wyoming Monnument

3 Harding Politicians

warren-g-harding-1

Warren G. Harding (1865 – 1923)

We Hardings probably all get asked if we are related to the President?  The truth is that we are, but it is so distant that you need a computer to figure it out.  Warren G. Harding is my  6th cousin once removed and our common ancestor is Stephen Harding Sr. (1681 – 1750).  The main advantage to having a president in your line is that once you get past that common ancestor, any research  done on him, taking us back in to England, is valid for us too.

Benjamin Franklin Harding

Benjamin Franklin Harding (1823 – 1899)

A slightly closer yet still distant relative is Benjamin Franklin Harding.  Acccording to the computer, he is my 2nd cousin 4 times removed.

B. F. Harding was born in Tunkhannock, PA.  He studied and became a lawyer in his hometown and in 1849 he migrated to the Pacific Coast.

In 1850 he was chosen a member of the legislative assembly of the territory of Oregon; and was again a member and also speaker of the house in 1852.

In 1853 he was appointed by President Pierce U.S. district attorney for the territory and in 1854 was made its secretary, which office he held till Feb. 14, 1859, when Oregon was admitted as a state.

He was a representative in the state legislature, 1859-62, being speaker the last two years.

He was then elected as a Union or Douglas Democrat to the U.S. senate to complete the unexpired term of Edward D. Baker, who was killed at the battle of Ball’s Bluff. He took his seat Dec. 1, 1862, during the third session of the 37th congress and served to March 3, 1865, when he returned to Oregon and engaged in the practice of law.

He died at Cottage Grove, Oregon, June 16, 1899.

William_Lloyd_Harding_in_1915

William Lloyd Harding (1875 – 1934)

Closer still is my 1st cousin twice removed, William Lloyd Harding.   I never met him, of course, but I think I have talked to people that did know him.

After graduating from Morningside College in 1905 he established a law firm in Sioux City, Iowa.

He entered the 1906 campaign, and was elected to the Iowa State Legislature by an impressive majority.

In 1912, he sought and won the Lt. Governorship, serving two terms with Governor G.W. Clarke.

In 1916 he received the Republican nomination for Governor, and in a campaign which the state historians have said overshadowed the second election of Pres. Wilson, Harding swept into office with the election of Nov. 7, 1916. He served 2 terms in office as Governor during the years of 1917-1921.

Stephen the First – Blacksmith

There is no shortage of Stephen Hardings in our family.  I currently have eleven of them registered in my family tree program.

Stephen the First (of our line at least) was born in Braintree, MA about 1624.  His father, Richard, had just emigrated from England and I believe Stephen was the firsts of our Harding ancestors to be born on this continent.

It is reported that Stephen was a blacksmith by trade.  When I hear “blacksmith” it takes me back to the TV Westerns I watched as a kid where the blacksmith shop was used mostly for making horseshoes, and hiding the bad guys before the shoot-out.

But in colonial times the blacksmith was perhaps the most important of artisans.  Few men had the skill to do his work but nearly everyone needed it.  A blacksmith could be called on to make nails, bullets, swords, hatchets, axe heads, anchors, chains, hooks, iron hoops, hinges, gates, locks, wheel barrows and, of course, shoes for horses and oxen. They would also make repairs to tools required by other tradesmen.

Blacksmithing was physically hard and dirty work done next to a very hot fire.  Stephen probably worked long hours 6 days a week and I doubt that he wore earplugs to protect his hearing from all that banging.

Around 1647, when Stephen was about 23 years old he removed from Braintree to Rehoboth, MA which is about 40 miles southwest of his homeland.

The likely reason suggested for the move is that he had  become a convert to the Baptist faith and wanted to live in the Baptist community of lower Rehoboth .  His father was a “freeman” which denotes membership in the Puritan church.  If Stephen forsook the Puritan faith in favor of the despised Baptist sect, and remained resident of Braintree, his life there would surely have been an uncomfortable one

There were many Baptists in Rehoboth and they probably held meetings in their homes.  But they must have gone across the river to Providence for communion and undoubtedtly were members of the Providence Church, the first of the Baptist faith in America. 

(sources: THE ANCESTRY OF PRESIDENT HARDING  by Clara Gardinier Miller; THE HARDINGS IN AMERICA by Wilber J. Harding)