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Harmon Family

                                         George, James, and John R. Harmon.
A John Harmon took a claim in Creswell Township (now Arkansas City) which is bounded by F Street on the west, Madison Avenue on the south, and Chestnut Avenue on the north. It included Harmon's ford of the Walnut River.
The Creswell Twp. census of 1873 lists John R. Harmon, age _.
G. Harmon, age 29, married Louisa J. Lorton, age 18, on July 23, 1874. This is in marriage book A, page 133.
The Creswell Twp. census of 1874 lists J. R. Harmon, age 28, and a female, L. W. Harmon, age 30.
George W. Harmon, age 23, married Miss Lottie Shirley, age 22, on January 22, 1872.
Arkansas City Traveler, August 22, 1877.
“Died, of fever, on Friday, August 17th, a child of Mr. and Mrs. James Harmon, aged three months. It was buried on Saturday.”
Arkansas City Republican, March 29, 1884.
                              THE PROPOSED BRIDGE AT HARMON’S FORD.
An election has been called by the authorities of Creswell Township, for April 5th, 1884, for the purpose of voting $5,000 in bonds for the erection of a bridge at Harmon’s Ford. Many reasons can be adduced in favor of this measure. The farmers of eastern Creswell have aided the other portions of the township in building bridges. The bridge west of town, the one south of it, and the one at Searing & Mead’s flouring mill. These parties who now seek the bridge at the ford have received but little benefit, while their [WORD BLANKED OUT] have contributed to the erection of these necessary structures. Since the canal has been built, much mud and sand have accumulated at the mouth, and but a slight rain causes the Walnut to be impassable. These persons must then go to our city by the way of the mill, or return home. Someone may say, “Who travels this road?” We would say that the farmers of eastern Creswell, southern Silverdale, and in fact, all the residents of Grouse Creek and the lower Arkansas travel this road. The trade and traders from the Kaw and Osage agencies come to Arkansas City by this route. There is a prospect that the county will assume all responsibility for this bridge, but it may not, and it will not do for us to await such tardy action. If it does, so much the better, but we need run no risk. Much of the grading will be done by private parties. The assurance of such action is the word of such men as George Whitney, F. M. Vaughn, R. L. Marshall, and others, whose words are as good as their bond, and the bond or word of any of these gentlemen is always at par.
Arkansas City Republican, March 29, 1884.
Since the canal has been made from the Arkansas to the Walnut River, the mud carried through it has dammed the mouth of the Walnut and backed the water up to Harmon’s ford, so that it is too deep at times to cross with safety; and inasmuch as there is as great an amount of travel on that road, being the nearest on to Kaw and Osage agencies, Silverdale, and the lower Arkansas and Grouse Creek, a bridge should be put up for the accommodation of the public. Besides most of the stone used for building comes from the bluff directly opposite, and it would be money well invested as a matter of economy. The county will soon take all these bridges upon itself and it would be nothing lost to have one.

Arkansas City Republican, April 12, 1884. The bonds for the bridge over the Walnut River at Harmon’s Ford were carried at the election last Saturday by a vote of 284 to 129.
Arkansas City Republican, May 22, 1886. A gentleman from Topeka Monday offered John Harmon $150 per acre for his farm adjoining the town. Mr. Harmon refused. The gentleman asked Mr. Harmon what was his price, and the latter said he would take $175 per acre. When the stranger told him he would take his farm, Mr. Harmon backed out.
Arkansas City Republican, May 22, 1886. Messrs. Cary and Coleman, of Newton, and D. D. Bishop paid John Harmon $250 per acre for 28 acres of his farm adjoining the townsite on the east. $250 per acre is a good figure for land and don’t you forget it. How we boom.
Winfield Courier, July 20, 1922.
The poor house — its very name, to the ears of an independence-loving American, carries a strange note of dreadful fear, fear lest somewhere in life’s course a trick of fate might send him to its doors, destitute, penniless, friendless. For failure, sorrow, trouble, and sick­ness it is a common synonym — the last place under heaven we want to go — hunger, hardships, and sometimes life itself, but last of all the poor farm. Yet the poor houses, could they speak, would tell unbe­lievable tales of once wealthy and prominent men and women brought within their doors.
A poet, a university graduate, and a bank director and numbered among inmates of the Cowley County Poor Farm — three men, once highly respected, prosperous citizens, leaders of bygone days, forced into the care of charity during their last days by the pitiless hand of fortune.
Broken in body and spirit, all three are tramping far down the sunset trail which leads to the land where there are no poor houses — to that land of eternal mansions not built with hands for those who have kept the faith.
Reluctantly they told their life stories to a reporter — stories of blasted hopes and shattered dreams — how they had achieved success, enjoyed friends, met with adversity, and sank to the charity of the county.
The first had been gifted with musical and literary talents; the second, with a university degree, had practiced law in Winfield, once being city attorney; and the third was the first resident of Arkansas City and later became a director of a bank in that city.
                                                            John R. Harmon
John R. Harmon, though passing his 90th birthday this month, walks the two miles from the farm to Winfield at will. His broad square shoulders, firm upright step, fair eyesight, and excellent hearing stamp him as a once-powerful physical specimen, a fine representative of the hardy pioneers who conquered the western plains. His fellow-inmates tell with pride how he withstood the “bread and water” punishment, defying the poor farm authorities when they placed him on bread and water rations because he would not work.
In the summer of 1869, while the site of Arkansas City was Indian hunting grounds, Harmon, drawn from Indiana by the chal­lenge of the west, drove into the Osage country to make his home. At that time the redmen were encamped in scattered villag­es roundabout the junction of the Arkansas and Walnut rivers.

Danger was imminent at all times, for the Indians were continually sending out hunting parties, and now and then by way of diversion, a war party, which evidenced its prowess by taking home fresh scalps instead of the usual supply of venison and buffalo steaks. At that time it was a common sight to see herds of buffalo across the river.
In September 1870, forty-two antelopes were observed grazing on the town site. The following month, the settlers’ dogs had a pitched battle with wolves on a Summit Street corner, now occu­pied by a five-story business block.
Mr. Harmon tells with a gleam in his eye how he threw out of his cabin bodily seven Indians, and one look at his giant frame is convincing that he did it. The news that he had fed a hungry Indian one day spread until the lazy, hungry, braves besieged his cabin for food. Angered by their insistence, he used football tactics to clean them out. It was a dangerous move, but it turned out that boldness was the best policy for they bothered him no more.
At the memorable Manning claim meeting at Winfield in 1870, (Dec 26, 1869) Harmon was one of the settlers who attended. He cast his vote in favor of Col. Manning, who retained ownership of his claim.
Counting the revolutions of his wagon wheel for mea­sure­ments, Harmon assisted the party who staked out the first lots in Arkansas City. The town was then called Adelphi, later Walnut City, Creswell, and Arkansas City.
During his lifetime “Jake” Harmon was a well-known character in the city; sometimes, it must be admitted, being connected with shady enterprises. He prospered, accumulating as much as $50,000 in cash, at which time he was an influential director in an Arkansas City bank. The money slipped through his fingers, largely he claims, through the embezzlement of the bank’s cash­ier. At the G. O. P. convention in Chicago, where Garfield was nominated, he met the cashier but the money had disappeared.
Five years ago, finding himself friendless and unable to work, Harmon was taken in at the county farm, which is des­tined to be his last home.


Cowley County Historical Society Museum