Friday, February 14, 2014

The Harlan Family in America - The Great Trek

A Journey of My Harlan Family for 265 Years

From My 10th Great Grandfather William Harland (1594 - 1651)

 To My 2nd Great Grandmother Melinda Jane "Jeannie" Harlan (1832 - 1859)

An Interesting Preamble 
Extracted from The Harlan Family Website:

The Great Trek

by William K. Harlan, CA

Revised 2006

In the spring of 1960 I was an undergraduate at the University of CaliforniaBerkeley. I made money doing odd jobs, often for faculty members.  And so it was that I was hoeing weeds one sunny day in the garden of a professor in the German Department. When I took a break, he expressed interest in my name and asked me about my family history. I replied that all I knew was that my great-grandfather, Elisha, had come across the plains in a wagon when he was a child and that he had ignored his father’s injunction not to lean out of the wagon, had fallen and been run over and narrowly survived. (It was a story my father often told when my brothers and I were sticking our heads out of the back windows of the old Hudson!)  The professor proceeded to tell me a remarkable story of Elisha’s father George, my great-great grandfather, who had led a wagon train to California in 1846.

The professor happened to be translating a journal written in German by Heinrich Lienhard, who had traveled with the Harlans at times during their trek.  It turned out that the Harlans helped blaze a new trail through the mountains and deserts of Utah and Nevada, a supposed short-cut to the promised land of California.  This “short-cut” was one of the factors in the tragedy which befell the Donner Party that same year.  I took the professor’s advice and checked out the documents about the Harlans’ story in the Bancroft Library of pioneer history at the university.  Over the years I and other family members have continued our research into the story of this branch of the family, a story which has equal parts of courage and gullibility.   It is a glimpse into one family’s version of how the West was won.

William Harland, Born in 1594 In Bishoprick Township, Durham County, England and My 10th Great Grandfather.

Not much is known about William except he married Deborah Seamon and had 3 children and died in Bishoprick in 1651 at the age of 57.


                                          "A Mapp of Ye Bishoprick of Durham"    1673

 James, (William's son) my 9th Great Grandfather

was born about 1625 in Bishoprick, Durham, England. He died in England. He was buried in England. He was a Yeoman and A member of the Episcopal Church, 
"That James Harland was married according to the usages of the Established Church there is no doubt. That his children were baptized and recorded therein is fully established by the fact that the earliest record we have of his son, George, is that he was "Baptised at the Monastery Monkwearmouth* in Oald England." We have no record giving the name of the wife and mother. So far as is known, James Harland was the father of three sons: Thomas, George, and Michael

"*Monkwearmouth Monastery was founded by Benedict Biscop in the year A.D.672. It is situated in a town of the same name in the east division of Chester, County Durham, and one-half mile north of Sunderland. It receives its name from its location near the mouth of the river Wear. Burned and plundered time and again, only the tower and some detached parts of the church remain of the once celebrated monastery. In 1790 the parish registers, with the exception of some of the late records, were destroyed by fire, and it is probable that information of untold value perished in the flames." From History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family" by Alpheus Harlan-

James HARLAND had the following children:
           Thomas HARLAND               George HARLAN             Michael HARLAN 

The first Harlans to arrive in America, two brothers named George and Michael, were Quakers who came originally from Monkwearmouth, near Durham,Northern England. As George and Michael were growing up in the mid 1600s, a radical religious movement swept over England led by the Reverend George Fox, known as the Society of Friends, more often called the Quakers. This denomination had no clergy, practiced freedom of worship, and opposed all forms of violence including war and slavery.

With such ideas, it naturally became banned and persecuted by the established church and the government. George and Michael Harlan and their brother Thomas became Quakers, and were forced to flee to northern Ireland, England's first colony, only to find that English persecution followed them there.

Meanwhile, William Penn, the Quaker son of a British admiral, was granted the colony of Pennsylvania, where his Quaker co-religionists found a haven, as did other persecuted sects such as the German Mennonites.

George and Michael Harlan and George's wife, Elizabeth, and four children sailed from Belfast, Ireland, to the new colony in 1687, Just six years after its first settlement at Philadelphia. George Harlan had bought land in what is now Delaware before leaving Ireland. He became one of the leading citizens, and when William Penn decided that the "three lower counties," that is, Delaware, were so remote from Philadelphia that they needed their own government, he appointed George Harlan one of the governors. Soon, however, George moved to the Brandywine valley of Pennsylvania as a farmer near to where his brother Michael had already settled. George Harlan was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1712, but died two years later, leaving nine children

For the next one hundred years four generations of Harlans lived in the relative peace and prosperity in and around Chester County,Pennsylvania. One Harlan was denounced by the other Friends for “vanity” in erecting an elaborate tombstone on his wife’s grave; another got in trouble for marrying a non-Quaker. Despite these tensions Harlans seemed content with their lives until after the Revolutionary War.One George Harlanserved as a “wagon boy” in the Army during that conflict.

Early Immigrants Go-To-America Shopping List

A Catalog of such needefull things as every Planter doth or ought to provide to go to New-England

Victuals for a whole yeere for a man...
 8 Bushels of meale 
2 Bushels of Otemeale.
 1 Gallon of Aquavitae 
1 Firkin of Butter
 2 Bushels of pease. 
1 Gallon of Oyle.
 2 Gallons of Vinegar
. Apparell.
 1 Monmouth Cap. 
1 Wast-coat. 
1 Suit of Frize. 
2 Paire of Sheets. 
3 Falling Bands. 
1 Suit of Canvas.
 3 Paire of Stockings. 
1 Paire of Blankets. 
3 Shirts. 1 Suit of Cloth. 
4 Paire of Shooes.
 1 Course Rug. 
7 Ells of Canvase to make a bed and boulster.
 1 Armor compleat. 
1 Sword.
 1 Bandilier.
 60 Pound of Lead. 
1 Long peece.
 1 Belt.
 20 Pound of Powder. 
1 Pistoll and Goose shot. 
 1 Broad Howe.
 1 Shovell. 
1 Felling Axe.
 1 Grindstone.
 1 Narrow Howe.
 1 Spade.
 1 Gimblet. 
1 Pickaxe. 
1 Steele Handsawe.
 2 Augers.
 1 Hatchet. 
Nayles of all sorts 
1 Whipsawe. 
4 Chissels.
 2 Frowes. 
1 Hammer.
 1 Broad Axe. 
1 Hand-Bill.
Household Implements. 
1 Iron Pot. 
1 Gridiron. 
Trenchers. Dishes.
1 Kettel. 
2 Skellets. 
Wooden Platters.
1 Frying pan
1 Spit. 
 Also there are divers other things necessary to be taken over to this Plantation, as
Hookes and Lines, 

 From: New England’s Plantation, or, A short and True Description of the Commodities and Discommodities of that Country. by Reverend Francis Higginson, London, 1630.

George Harlan, (1650 - 1714)  My 8th Great Grandfather

was born in 1650. He was christened on 11 Mar 1650 in Monkwearmouth, Durham, England. He died in Jul 1714 in Kennet, Chester, Pennsylvania. He was buried in Jul 1714 in Center Meeting Burying Grounds, Chester County, Pennsylvania. From "History and Genealogy of the Harlan Family" by Alpheus Harlan- "George Harlan, Yeoman, "Ye sone of James Harland of Monkwearmouth, was Baptised at the Monastery of Monkwearmouth in Oald England, ye 11th Day of First Month 1650." He was b. "Nigh Durham in Bishoprick, England," and remained there until he reached manhood, when, in company with his brother and others, he crossed into Ireland and located in the County Down. While residing there he m. by ceremony of Friends, 9, 17, 1678, Elizabeth Duck. George Harlan* brought his family to America in 1687, and the nine years intervening were without doubt spent in the above named-parish and county, and there, too, in all probability, his first four children were born. He d. in "Fifth Month" (July), 1714, and was buried beside his "deare wife in the new burying grounds on Alphonsus Kirk's land,"which was afterwards, and is yet, Center Meeting Burying Grounds. George and Elizabeth were parents of nine children:

Alphaeus Harlan citing the Marriage Book of Lurgan Mo.Mtg., p.91: "George Harland, of Parish of Donahlong, Co. Down, Ireland, and Elizabeth Duck, of Lurgan, Parish of Shankill, Co.Armagh, were married "at the house of Marke Wright in ye Parish of Shankill," 9 Mo. 17, 1678. 

"No certificate of the membership of George Harland with Friends is upon record, but his marriage certificate shows us that at that time he was a member, and as early as "Tenth Month" (December), of 1687, was placed upon committees of responsibility in Friends' affairs in his new neighborhood. At the time of his residence in Ireland, William Penn was urging Friends of England to become settlers upon his lands, cautioning them, however, against "leaving their own country out of idle curiosity or of a rambling disposition." But names signed above we find later in the new world, and, as we have seen, George was buried upon "Alphonsus Kirk's land." So they were not without friends when they made their settlement near the Delaware.

 George HARLAN and Elizabeth DUCK had the following children: 
i.      Ezekiel HARLAN
ii.     Hannah HARLAN
iii.    Moses HARLAN
iv.     Aaron HARLAN
v.      Rebecca HARLAN
vi.     Deborah HARLAN
vii.    James HARLAN
viii.   Elizabeth HARLAN
ix.     Joshua HARLAN 

After coming to America George and Michael Harland dropped the final "d" and the name is almost universally spelled Harlan.

The Harlan Log House, 205 Fairville Road, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

 This 18th Century Quaker farmhouse sits on 200 acres deeded from George Harlan to his son, Joshua. The transfer was made to Joshua "in consideration of Fatherly love and affection." Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the serene five acre setting is just three miles from Winterthur Museum, Longwood Gardens, the Brandywine River Museum and the Chadds Ford Winery. Features include bedroom fireplaces, private baths, gardens, antiques, canopy beds, an 1814 spring house and a sitting porch with rustic rockers. Currently it is a residence as well as a Bed & Breakfast guest house.

A study of the ownership of the house contradicts an earlier opinion that this was Michael's residence. It is now believed that George acquired the land in 1710, and the oldest section of the house, made of logs, was built about 1715-1720. The middle section of the house was added in 1835, and a much newer section has been attached to this part. Harlans attending Celebration 300 in 1987 were able to tour the house and fondly remember its charm as well as refreshments served by the residents' children.


  1. Thank you Sharon for all your hard work. I am your cousin by Tennessee James she was my great grandmother. You may contact me @

  2. Nice read and info. George is also my 8th great grandfather. My line goes through James to Mary Ann Harlan.

    1. Connie Hunsinger BarnettNovember 19, 2014 at 7:08 PM

      George is also my 8th grandfather. Mary Ann Harlan is my 3rd great grandmother. She married John Zephaniah Holmes. This is my mothers 2nd Great Grandfather.

    2. Sorry just saw this...we are obviously related. try my email always easier :)

  3. Finally I got my family history after I had been struggled with researching after my great-grandfather Joshua Eastburn. hope it match my family history that William Harlan is probably my 10th great-grandfather who born in England 1594. Billy A.

  4. Sorry, It was not Joshua Eastburn. his wife was Mabel D Crosson was related to Harlan's side.

  5. Rebecca Harlan LaughlinNovember 7, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    Thank you. James is also my 9th great grandfather, then George, and Joshua. I have a photo of Joshua and his family. This is the first I've heard of William being Jame's father. I have a copy of the Harlan Genealogy, but discovered new information from your post. I really liked seeing the home in Pennsylvania..

  6. I descend from John Dicks and Sarah Harlan of Washington Twp., Tuscarawas, Ohio. Sarah was b. about 1762 in Pennsylvania. She is my brick wall and have never been able to find her parents. Their sons were named Harlan, Samuel, John, Joseph, Peter and James. I am positive she descends from one of the Harlans in this line.

  7. FYI Possible relation? A Peter Dicks is a witness on document dated May 1810 in the Harlan book by Alpheus Harlan pg 187

  8. James Harlan knew Abe faults but was friend.
    James Harlan most critical of presidents agenda.
    Senator Clingman spoke against recession of states .
    Secretary of Interior -Senator of Iowa James Harlan.
    His wife :Ann Eliza Peck parents Silas/Mary Harlan.
    James Harlan sisters : Lydia Harlan/Jane Harlan.
    Harlan's brother in law - George C Snow.
    Robert Todd Lincoln & Mary Eunice Harlan wed
    September 24,1868 at Harlan's residence :
    304 H Street Washington D.C.
    Mary Surratt Boarding House, 604 H Street Washington.
    Secretary of Interior -James Harlan in andrew Johnson
    cabinet -april 15-1865 resigned July 27, 1866.
    Elizabeth Beckle Dressmaker invited steamer cityPoint.
    among passengers Secretary of Interior wife Mrs Ann
    Eliza Peck Harlan & James Harlan and their daughter.
    Senator Sumner and several other gentlemen.
    Elizabeth Beckley said arranged board River Queen,
    visit Richmond other points with the pres Lincoln,
    his wife Mary todd Lincoln.Which time General Ulysses
    Grant his wife on the steamer several times.
    Elizabeth Beckley said first time met Mrs Lincoln,
    when summonize to Willard Hotel to make dresses.
    Eliz Edwards 2 daughers and Todd's half sister.
    National Theatre -Grover Theatre near Williard Hotel .
    The Willard Hotel -corner 14th St / F Street washington.
    Williard Hotel - 1401 Pennsylvania Ave / 4th St washington.
    {Robert T Lincoln -wife Mary -1775 N Street washington.
    and Robt Lincoln -wife mary -3014 N Street Washington)
    Ford theatre -10th st /E St and Herndon House 9thst/F/g St.
    Peterson House across Ford theatre-Kirwood House 12st/D St.
    National Hotel - Pennsylvania avenue / 6th Street Washington.
    Footnote: The beautiful Lucy Lambert Hale from Dover, New Hampahire received an anonymous Valentine’s Day card in 1862 that sparked a notorious romance John Wilkes Booth.Lucy is second eldest daughter of U.S. Senator John Parker Hale and Lucy Hill Lambert,... were living at the National Hotel in Washington D.C.(where Booth stayed)National Hotel, formerly situated at 6th and Pennsylvania Ave in D.C. .Lucy's with suitors Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., John Hay, rumored Robert Todd Lincoln.(later married . William E. Chandler) Remenber Lucy picture among 5 other women pictures were in JWB wallet /Diary the allegedly missing pages (smokegun)of Booth’s diary..After John Wilkes Booth was shot at Garrett's farm on April 26, 1865, Colonel Everton Conger removed JWB items on him..Rumor 18 pages were missing from diary but others say diary also appeared to be missing 54 pages from the front of the book and an additional 32 pages from the back,was missing in Jwb diary.Booth's entries in the diary were probably written between April 17 and April 22, 1865. ... He took it to Washington and gave it to Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the War Department's National Detective Police. The little book was taken off Booth's body by Colonel Everton Conger. He took it to Washington and gave it to Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the War Department's National Detective Police. Baker in turn gave it to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

  9. George is my grandfather 15 generations up. Thank you for this amazing research! His son Moses had a daughter, Rebecca, I am from that line!

  10. George is my 9th great granduncle... I am a descendant of his brother Michael.