Photo’s by Tom Kent

            Major Joel Harmon was born in Suffield, Conn., on May 17, 1772, the son of Deacon Joel and Chloe Sheldon Harmon.

            Joel’s 1st wife was Clara Hascall of Pawlet, Vermont and he moved there and they married. She was 20 yrs 8 months of age.  She died at the age of 21 yrs., 6mon, and 6 days, leaving an infant daughter named Clara, who died in infancy. Then he built a house further up the PawletRiver.

             His second wife’s name was Eunice Pomeroy, who was born on the 24th of February, 1776 in West Suffield; Conn. into a highly respected family, her father was Isaac Pomeroy. .  They were married in West SuffieldConn., on Dec. 26, 1797.  Both were school teachers and all of their children later became teachers.

            Moved with 2nd wife and 8 children to Richland, Oswego Co. where he worked on his father’s farm tending the stock and doing farm Labor.

            Major Joel Harmon was a Major in the War of 1812 and fought at SacketsHarbor against Great Britain.  His son Milton then 16 yrs. old served as a Lieutenant during that war.  When it ended Joel withdrew from the family store leaving a son to run it.

            Sometime in 1825 Joel purchased 100 acres of land in Andover, New York, probably 2 miles North West of Andover, N.Y.

            Also in 1825 he and the family move 84 miles from Pulaski to Geneva so his children could attend a better school.  He began teaching music and composing music, during the winter in Pennsylvania, mostly in Carlisle, Harrisburg, York, Gettysburg and occasionally in Washington, D.C. and at PetersburgVa.  He usually left home in October and returned in the month of June to assist in working on the farm which he greatly enjoyed, and we all enjoyed working with him.

            Early in 1827 he built a 20 X 32 ft. log house on the elevated plain in Andover.

            June 7, 1827 – Moves form Geneva to Andover a distance of 74 miles.  Naples is 30 miles from Geneva and is there at 2 p.m. for a 2 hour rest stop and dinner.  Joel and a son had moved on 2 or 3 hours earlier with the stock.  After the rest we moved on and reached Blood’s Corners (Friendship) to stop for the night.  The next night they arrived at their closest neighbor in Andover, 1 and ½ miles from their log house.  After supper they continue to their new home.  Everything was strangely new and uninviting; the only boards in the house were used in the one door.  The lower and upper floors were made from puncheons, made by splitting out slabs from basswood logs and the shelves of the pantry were of the same material.  The wagons were unloaded and the drivers with their teams returned to our neighbors.

            The oldest boy had brought some fire between two chips, but so little of it was left that as soon at it was laid on the hearth it expired, making it necessary for him to go back in the darkness through the woods for more.  He was gone about an hour and a half, seeming an age to us left without fire or light, that not being an age of matches, and we seemed to be living in an emphatically dark age.  While waiting in suspense, my mother and sisters became very timid, fearing an attack from the wolves.  As yet there were no doors or windows, merely a place for them, and in that emergency there was no way of escape except up the ladder into the chamber.  As I was more tired and sleepy than fearful I was soon lost in dreamland on the big sack of wool.  Finally from the noise of talking, walking and hurrying about the room I awoke; glad to see a bright light blazing upon the hearth.  The next thing on the program was preparation for lodging.  As yet there were no Partitions either above or below.  Blankets and sheets manufactured in Vermont and Connecticut were substituted.

            Sorrow and weeping endured for a night but joy and gladness came in the morning.  As we looked out in the morning our hearts were gladdened on seeing a beautiful field of wheat with long heads just in blossom and so tall as to cover all the stamps, which produced a bountiful harvest of plump, white wheat and bright golden straw.  On the other side of the house was a flourishing field of corn and potatoes, also a large garden of thrifty vegetables, the corn being one foot high.

            After building a chicken house, a hog house and a cow yard, we engaged in other improvement, in which all wrought with hearty good will.  All east and north of the house was unbroken wilderness.  Blazed trees guided us from one neighbor to another.  About thirty feet east of the house stood a large, tall basswood tree leaning slightly towards the house, and when my mother and sister saw that my brother Hiram had cut it nearly down they all ran out fearing it would fall on the house.  But my brother had learned how to cut a tree in a way to fell it just where he desired.  It fell harmlessly, only a few small branches brushing the corner of the house, and it took a week to gather logs and poles to burn it out of the way.  Evidently some time long in the past a terrible storm had swept over that part of the hill leveling all the great trees of the forest to the ground, making a path a half a mile or more wide and leaving only here and there an oak stump and piles of dirt or cradle knolls to mark the spot where they stood.  A young forest had grown up in their places all the other part of the farm being covered with large trees.  I was much interested in watching my father and brother Hiram chopping on the same tree, my father right and my brother left-handed, directing the falling of the trees in the right places.  As the trees were not large they fell quickly and the limbs were soon all cut off, my father directing my two next older brothers how to pile the brush, gathering and placing near the bottom dry brush to facilitate a more rapid burning.  When a dozen or more large piles of brush had been made and settled for two or three days they were all fired, the flames shooting up nearly to the tops of the standing trees, with their loud, crackling noise and a sharp hissing sound.  Some two days after the brush had been burned, being barefooted I thought it would be very nice to wade through on of those long piles of soft, white ashes.  I had passed about half way though when I waded out with blistered feet much faster than I waded in, having encountered a bed of live coals, and for the next two weeks wore rags fitted to my feet by my patient mother.

            There was no more crying, but rejoicing in the prospect of a permanent and peaceful home.  Each one was assigned his or her own particular work of duties, and everything went on with the regularity of clockwork and with cheerfulness.

            The next year my father hired a man and his two sons to chop off ten acres of woods to be sown the next spring when he bought a large well-trained yoke of oxen considered to be the best in the county, with which his hired man boasted he could draw anything that had two ends.

            The 20th of July 1827 about an acre had been nicely cleared and neatly fenced, leaving in the center a small grove as a refuge for cattle in the hot weather.  There my father found a straight stick nicely forked from which he made me a pretty fork which I used ten years in spreading hay.  The ground was soon thoroughly harrowed, and on July 24th, wet or dry as the rule was, turnip seed was sown followed by warm showers and soon the young turnips appeared and grew rapidly.  The next work, cutting the five acre field of wheat even with sickles, was both pleasant and cheering, especially such wheat standing from four to five feet high with long heads, well filled with plump white wheat and the straw a bright golden color.  Then came hauling and stacking, and the important work of constructing a threshing floor; then threshing and fanning or winnowing with a large tablecloth grist for the mill the nearest being in Almond, twelve miles away, and in low water had to be taken to Hornellsville; four miles farther.

            At that time money was exceedingly scarce, as I well remember that my father sold a part of his first crop of wheat at 31 cents per bushel.  Our garden furnished us with a plentiful supply of lettuce, green peas, beans, beets and new potatoes all the forepart of the summer.  One day early in August, as my father came in from the field he brought a dozen ears of green corn and threw them into mother’s lap as a pleasant surprise, being among the first fruits of our farm.  About that time there was a plentiful supply of wild black cherries which we relished very much and proved very wholesome.  About every tenth tree on that part of the farm was a black cherry tree, loaded with fruit.  Those trees became useful for rails and fence posts, also the inner bark for medicine.  Next came an abundant supply of that most wholesome and delicious of all fruits blackberries so common in all parts of the north,  which when used with good milk were a great luxury, good enough for a king, far too good for some kings.

            By the middle of September the turnips were fit for use, and by the 1st of Oct. the greater part of them had obtained a circumference greater than that of a large tea saucer.  My father’s three wood choppers possessed those commendable qualities ascribed to the colored race, by their chieftain Fred Douglass, that of being “good consumers.”  At every meal each man would devour three of those large boiled turnips and as many large potatoes, a pound of fat boiled pork, corn pudding with butter and sweetened cream with other food and drink in proportion.  One source of pastime during long winter evenings was eating those sweet juicy turnips in the absence of apples.  Books and newspapers were scarce articles and post-offices were from three to nine miles away.

            By the end of this year the three men had finished clearing the thirty acres and fenced it in and cultivated.  A 30 by 40 foot barn was built.   

            At one time when my father was teaching and composing music in Maryland, through the mismanagement of the mails for several weeks in succession he failed to receive any tidings from home, and becoming alarmed he left his schools and started for home, and in consequence of a deep fall of snow the stage line had been discontinued; consequently, a large part of the way he was obliged to travel on foot.  Not knowing he had not received his mails as usual, we were all greatly surprised to see him come home at that time during the inclement season of the year.  He remained at home but two days to rest, saying he must go back to his work.

            On the 15th day of October, 1833, we, in deep sorrow, in view of parting with our beloved father, were all reverently bowing around the family alter, while in earnest supplication to the Father of all mercies that he would be the widow’s God, beseeching that the presence of the Most High would abide with our feeble mother; that his grace might be sufficient to sustain her in all afflictions and under all the vicissitudes of life; that all his children might be endowed with meekness, wisdom and courage to aid them in all the responsibilities of life; that He might tenderly care for them, and be a father to the fatherless.

            Then came the saddest and most trying parting that I ever experienced.  In tears and with a tremulous voice he said: “I am now parting with you for the last time.  If I live to return I shall never leave you again, but I have not that assurance that I previously have had when going from you.”  Then taking each by the hand he made some appropriate remark.  When he spoke to my brother Silas, who was at times rude and irreverent in his deportment, he spoke these words: “Prepare to meet thy God.”  He slowly crossed the threshold and passed out before us for the last time, walking through the orchard and the large field he had helped to clear, followed by our faithful dog, Rover, which was ardently attached to him, far into the woods through which his road passed. When my father gently tried to persuade him to return he did not follow him any further, but, as we afterwards learned, he looked up into my father’s face and moaned, then stood and howled most piteously till mid-day, when he returned apparently exhausted, and with tears in his eyes, laid down by the side of the door, refusing to eat, but slept, and mourned in his sleep.  Then mother remarked to us: your father will never come back.”

            Hiram, who was a charming singer, having been trained by his father to assist him in teaching music, preceded him to Pennsylvania by several weeks in order to make arrangements for their winter schools in that state.  They were frequently together during that winter, and on the 10th of March they stayed at the same hotel, discussing different subjects till a late hour, and as the time was approaching when they had hoped to return home together, there were cheered by what then seemed a bright prospect of prosperous future, and brother Hiram said he had never seen our father so cheerful as then.  But alas for earthly hopes and earthly dreams!  Just one week from that night, March 13, 1833, the voice of our beloved father was hushed in the stillness of death.  He had gone to join the heavenly choir above.  That was a sad event while so far away without means of a speedy communication.  My brother Hiram was destined to follow our dear father to his last resting place unattended by any relative, though accompanied by numerous friend and acquaintances who mourned with him.

            We have no clue as to what happened to this farm. We do know that the family left the area after Joel’s death.  We don’t know if anyone ever purchased the farm and worked it, or it just rotted away.

Joel Harmon:  is buried in York, Pa.

1st wife Clara Hascall:  buried in Pawlet, VT. Along with their young daughter

2nd wife Eunice Pomeroy Harmon is buried in Old No. 9, Cemetery, Seneca, Ontario Co. N.Y.

Joel’s and Eunice’s six girls and five boys are buried all over the United States.



Below are photos taken in 2015 of the newly rediscovered remains believed to be those of the log cabin of the Joel Harmon Family.

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Stones perhaps representing the fireplace at end of cabin....

Harmon Log Cabin foundation - 1

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       Harmon Log Cabin foundation -2

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       Harmon Log Cabin Foundation - 3


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Harmon Log Cabin Foundation - 4


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Harmon Log Cabin Foundation - 5

Cold Cellar?