5 — THE SON
ADAM HARNESS

 

There is only one extant document relating directly to Adam Harness; that is the bond document for the Administrator of his estate, his father. "Michael ME Harness" made his mark on the bond on 14 February 1759. The father's sureties were the ubiquitous Henry Lancisco and Adam's brother, "Michael + Harness jr."87 A bond document, by its very nature, tells nothing other than the name of the deceased whose estate was to be administered, focusing instead on the particular duties expected of the Administrator. Therefore, this single document tells us only that Adam Harness was dead, and that his death occurred sometime before 14 February 1759, which possibly could have been as long as six months or more before.

Tim Thompson, a Harness descendant apparently of this Adam, has made careful analyses of surviving accounts by noncontemporary family members in an attempt to determine more nearly what happened to his ancestor and to his wife and children. There were two persons with significant original comments: Helen Black, who was introduced in the study of Conrad Harness, and George Trumbo, whose interview in the Draper Manuscripts was discussed also in that same study. George Yocum, a son of the Harness sister, Elizabeth, also had an interview in Draper, but he made only a single statement about the death of Michael.88 Thompson suggests that Trumbo's description of the death of Michael probably was a wrongly identified account of the death of Adam. Actually, neither description adds much of consequence to our knowledge of Adam Harness except to someone very particular about a few details of death and scalping. No dates, seasons or other family members were mentioned.

The question of a wife and children of Adam Harness needs to be considered. Although Trumbo and Yocum would have been in a good position to know, they were quiet on the subject. Helen Black, in her original [1873] letter, says only that she doesn't remember the wife's name. The "1872 letter" gets the offspring of Adam hopelessly confused with the children of his brother, Michael, and mentioned neither wife; that of "1878 [1873.?]" claims to have forgotten her name, and says nothing of children.89 The wife and children of Adam's brother, Michael, are specifically identified in the included study of Michael Harness. Adam's children, at least two of them, can be identified only by logical deduction. Because we have a fairly sound idea of the names, if not the personal data, of the children of each Harness son, we are left with two of the sons for whom no children's names are documented, or hardly even suggested: Jacob I and Adam. Because there has rarely been a reference made to a marriage for Jacob Harness I, let alone to any children, it seemed appropriate to delete him from consideration as the father of any children. This leaves Adam, but seemingly no idea of the children's names. Into this "void" Michael Ernst's last will and testament thrusts two names, "my Gran Son Michael Herness and his Sister Elizabeth Robinson." 90 The result is that logic, only, has dictated the selection of Adam as the father of this Michael and Elizabeth. There was no other son to whom these two children might belong.

What little we know of the early life of these two provide a nice fit for a young family of the years around 1750 on the South Branch of the Potomac. We do not know exactly when Michael was born, but we do know that his first wife, Catherine Pancake [Pannekuchen] was born in the summer of 1756,91 suggesting that he would have been a few years older. His sister, Elizabeth, also seems to have been born in the 1750s, as her marriage to John Robinson between 1773 and 1779 would suggest.92 Elizabeth Harness Robinson's later life is not well known. All we know at the time of this writing is that, in four Hardy County deeds each dated 20 March 1795, she and her husband, John, sold four lots that had been in the South Branch Manor, totaling 292 acres. Such a sale suggests, though the deeds do not so state, that the Robinsons were about to leave the valley of the South Branch.93

We know that Michael and Catherine were married by 1773, and that they had four children by 1784. A farmlet from Denny Fairfax on 28 May 1791 documents three of them, Catherine, Molly [Mary], and John.94 Documentation for the youngest, Job, as found in the records of Oak Grove Cemetery, Crawford County, Illinois, demonstrates that he was born 11 February 1784.95 Michael and Catherine moved to Ohio with the boys sometime after 1802, after which Catherine died. Michael then married a woman named Margaret, with whom he had a second family of seven children, Michael, Solomon, George, Elizabeth, Sarah, Mutildy [Matilda]" and Harriet. All eleven of Michael's children were living when he signed his will on 5 January 1825. It was proved on 4 May 1827.96

As mentioned at the outset, there exists nothing but the bond document of Adam's father, Michael Ernst, to testify to the death of Adam Harness, or for that matter to anything else about him. Yet, by its very nature, this document does say something else about the deceased. It tells us that he had achieved his majority before his death, for being 21 was necessary for him to acquire an estate in the first place, and gaining enough property to require administration. Also, this bond raises a question about his wife and mother of his probable children. Normally, administration was offered to the widow, especially when children were present. Since Adam's administration was placed with his father, one of two circumstances probably existed, the widow declined the administration; or, the wife died at or shortly after the time of death of her husband. Had she lived any length of time thereafter, say to perhaps 1770, her name might well have been remembered by other family members or been included in other court documents. As it was, she remained an unknown, and not referred to in extant documents by her children or the close relatives of her husband.

Some Harness descendants have maintained that Adam's wife was Sarah Kuykendall, daughter of Nathaniel. They then proceed to give him a birth year; and one even names his five children.97 Unfortunately, these descendants were blithely unaware that they were inserting the name of the wife of this Adam's nephew; and worse, they assigned the older Adam some children who belonged to that nephew, and some who belonged to other nephews, and one to a grandson. Had those descendants researched the available documents, instead of whatever they used, and not ignored the implications of the administrator's bond, which a handful found, they would not have created a nonexistent family.

Now, to recap for Adam Harness, son of Johann Michael Ernst Hoerner. We have but one existing document, the administrator's bond. It suggests certain things about his wife, but proves nothing. The names of his children are only a circumstance suggested by his father's later will and deduced from what little is really known about this family. No one can document the birth date or place of this Adam, his wife or his children. We do not know either parent's date or place of death We do not know her name. We do not know exactly when or where they or their children married. We know only what the extant document tells us.

To:Table of Contents
5. —The son, Jacob Harness (I)


To Hardy County Genealogy Page