Friday, September 24, 2010

Edward Joseph Harmon and Kate Nellie Arthur

 Edward Joseph Harmon and Kate Nellie Arthur are my great-grandparents, through their youngest son, Fred.  They had both passed on by the time I was born but my mother remembers them well and has shared many stories with me.

Edward Joseph Harmon was born 9 January 1883 in either Morrison or Round Grove, Whiteside Co, Illinois to Walter and Fannie (Arnold) Harmon, the first of five children.   When he was perhaps a year or so old, Walter and Fannie left Illinois and homesteaded in Clark Co, Dakota Territory.   He was raised on a farm in or around the community of Clark.  

Kate Arthur Harmon,
date unknown
Kate Nellie Arthur was born 5 Nov 1889 on a homestead near Trent, Moody Co, South Dakota, just three days after South Dakota achieved statehood.  Her parents were Homer Eugene Arthur and Amanda Savilla Myers;  she was the fifth of six children.  Her parents later left Moody Co. and traveled north to Clark Co. where Homer obtained more farmland.

Ed and Kate were married 30 November 1910 about six miles east of Clark, presumably at one of their homes.  They lived in Clark Co. or neighboring Codington Co. their entire married life with the exception of a short stint in Santa Cruz, California in the late 1930s.  They had three sons:  Kenneth, Harry and Fred, my grandfather.  Seven grandchildren would follow in later years.

Obituary for Edward Joseph Harmon
found in Fred Harmon's personal papers,
newspaper unknown, but likely a Clark
or Codington County, SD newspaper

Ed suffered a stroke and for several years was cared for by Kate in their home, but eventually he had to be moved to a nursing home.  He died 31 Jan 1960 in Watertown, Codington Co, South Dakota.  Kate lived to the age of 84 and died 21 Sept 1974 in Clark, Clark Co, South Dakota.  They are laid to rest in Lorinda Cemetery, Graceland Township, Codington Co, South Dakota.

I remember my grandfather talking about his parents often.  His father was strict and expected hard work from his sons.  I speculate that the sense of humor my grandfather had came from his father.  I think my mother and I both have some of it and I can see those same things coming out in my oldest daughter.  We often refer to it as the "Harmon sense of humor."  His mother, Kate, was the family historian and photographer.  My grandfather was given a family history record for Christmas 1955 that we still have today.  In it, Kate painstakingly laid out her son's pedigree, listing birth, marriage and death dates and locations, all the way through his great-grandparents.  Without her information to get me started, it would have been a much slower process to gather the data I have today. 

We have copies of many of the wonderful photos that Kate took over the years.  Apparently she liked to catch you unawares and take your picture, often times by coming around the corner of the house and taking the photo.  Some of her grandchildren later termed this "shooting from the hip" as she'd hold that camera against her hip, look down through the view finder, and capture the image.   One of the other memories my mother shared with me was Kate's love of books.  Mom remembers she had stacks of books upstairs in her house. 

My grandfather, Fred, had a terrible sweet tooth and he and his mother would make homemade ice cream.  They would eat the whole container just the two of them.  Apparently my grandfather used to crack jokes that we "gotta get ready for the 4th" [of July] in imitation of his mother.  Now I always remember him as a sort of "bah humbug" about 4th of July but as a child his parents would have a celebration that required some big preparations.  I understand one of those was hand cranked ice cream so his sweet tooth was established early in life.

I'd like to think that my love of books, family history, and photos comes from Kate.  I was born just a few short months after her death, but she knew that my mom, her youngest grandchild, was going to have her first baby.  My research would be nothing without the wonderful documentation Kate left behind.

1 comment:

  1. Tracy, this is a lovely picture of your great-grandmother and believe it not, I think you have her eyes (shape). I love this. Thanks for posting.