Norman C. Harmon

Mr. and Mrs. Norman C. Harmon

Norman C. Harmon, who passed away on the 21st of December, 1909, was for over sixty-five years identified with the growth and development of Sheboygan county as a prominent factor in business and public affairs. His birth occurred in Richland, Oswego county, New York, on the 26th of September, 1820, his parents being Thaddeus and Betsy (Waugh) Harmon. The father was born in Pawlet, Vermont, on the 1st of March, 1790, while the mother's birth occurred in Litchfield, Connecticut, on the 10th of December, 1794. Their marriage was celebrated in Richland, New York, on the 22nd of March, 1815. The first representative of the family in this country was John Hannon, who was born in England in 1617 and who settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1635. Joseph, son of John, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on the 4th of January, 1646. Nathaniel, son of Joseph, was born in Suffield, Connecticut on the 30th of July, 1695. Phineas, son of Nathaniel, was born in Suffield, Connecticut, on the 4th of June, 1720. Thaddeus, son of Phineas, was born in Suffield, Connecticut, on the 11th of March, 1762. Thaddeus (II), son of Thaddeus, was born in Pawlet, Vermont, on the 1st of March, 1790. Norman C., son of Thaddeus, was born in Richland, New York, on the 26th of September, 1820.

Thaddeus Hannon, the father of Norman C. Hannon, served in the War of 1812. Betsy Waugh, who later became his wife, was but sixteen years of age when her parents both died within two weeks and left her the oldest of eight children, the youngest of whom was but two weeks old. About this time a border warfare was being carried on at Lewiston, New York, where they were living, and they found themselves near the center of hostile operations, under the very shadow of Queenstown Heights and within hearing of the guns of Fort Niagara and Lundy's Lane. The British employed the savages to plunder, rob and murder the settlers. The older children had promised their parents to try and save their home and keep the children together; yet, young as they were, they soon realized the gravity of the situation and felt keenly their helplessness. They were forced to hide in the forest during the day, stealing back to the home under cover of darkness for supplies to keep them from starving and freezing. Thus they existed for several days, living in constant fear lest the cries of the little ones reveal their hiding place and they be made to share the fate of many of their friends and neighbors who had fallen victims to the tomahawk and scalping knife.

About this time they got word to an uncle in Camden, New York, Norman Waugh, who hastened to their rescue and, bundling them into his sleigh, carried them forever away from the scenes of terror and sorrow to his home. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus Harmon moved to a farm near Pulaski and reared their family of eight children.

Norman C. Harmon obtained his early education in the common schools and continued his studies at an academy in Pulaski, New York, from which he was graduated in 1842. The following year he made a prospecting trip west, traveling through Illinois and the southern part of Wisconsin.

In 1844 he returned to Pulaski, New York, and in the fall of that year, with his father and family, he came to Sheboygan county. They made the journey by propeller around the lakes from Buffalo to Milwaukee, late in the fall, the trip requiring twenty-two days owing to storms. They had intended to locate in Milwaukee, but changed their plans and, loading their household goods and provisions on to wagons drawn by ox teams, started to make their way to Sheboygan, most of the way finding only an Indian trail to follow. The journey was hard and tedious, but interesting. When they reached the Milwaukee river they found the stream greatly swollen and there was no way of crossing. They finally persuaded some Indians who were camping near to let them paddle the women and children over in their canoes. They then swam the oxen over and drew the wagons across with ropes.

It rained heavily a good part of the time, so the ground was soft and the wagons cut in so that the women were frequently compelled to get out and walk. The Onion river presented another obstacle and there were no canoes at hand, but the dauntless Yankees were equal to the emergency and "backed" the women and children over. Just beyond this river they found a fine spring of water and here they built their little log cabin and founded their home with the wolves and Indians prowling around. The following year Norman C. Harmon again returned to Pulaski, this time to bring his bride to his new home in the west, and here they both lived until death claimed them.

Mr. Harmon followed the profession of teaching for a year or more prior to his removal to this state but here he turned his attention to general agricultural pursuits. Subsequently he purchased an interest. in a general store, pier and schooner at Amsterdam, a small place on Lake Michigan, east of Cedar Grove, and from that place he shipped wood and other forest products to Chicago, paying for it in merchandise from his store. In 1881, the first year in which the St. Paul railroad ran through this county, from Milwaukee to Green Bay, Mr. Harmon and his son-in-law, Eugene Mcintyre, assisted the company in laying out and plotting the village of Waldo on their farm. They also built an elevator and engaged in the grain business. Subsequently they purchased the lumberyard, Mr. Harmon conducting the same until within a few years of his death or until the time of his retirement from active business.

As a companion and helpmate on the journey of life Mr. Harmon chose Miss Clara Harmon Doane, a daughter of John and Lucy (Harmon) Doane, who were married at Pawlet, Vermont, on the 10th of April, 1803. In 1834 they removed to Pulaski, New York, and in 1849 came to Sheboygan county, Wisconsin. John Doane passed away on the 20th of December, 1863, while his wife was called to her final rest on the 15th of August, 1850. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Harmon were born the following children: Clara Rosabelle, whose birth occurred in Lyndon township on the 2nd of April, 1848, and who gave her hand in marriage to Eugene Mcintyre on the 13th of December, 1871; Alice Iola, who was born March 8, 1850, and who became the wife of George Ingersoll on the 16th of June, 1874; Charles Norman, who was born April 3, 1859, and wedded Miss Helen Kilgore on the 10th of February, 1892; Frank Lionel, who was born April 27, 1861, and married Miss Georgiana Cleveland on the 24th of December, 1885. The mother of these children died on the 29th of March, 1901.

Mr. Harmon gave his early political allegiance to the whig party but when the republican party was formed immediately joined its ranks and always remained a loyal adherent thereof. In public affairs he took an active and prominent part, serving as chairman of the township of Lyndon for many years. In 1860, when Lincoln was first nominated, he was sent as a delegate to the national convention in "the wigwam" at Chicago. His badge read: "Vote for Seward," but after Lincoln came into the limelight he threw the weight of his influence on the side of the great emancipator. He was indeed a public-spirited citizen of sterling qualities and strong convictions, ever ready for any work which he considered right and necessary. He was a great reader and close student of human nature, thus gaining a knowledge of men and a breadth of view which, altogether with his sound judgment and fairness of mind, particularly fitted him for the duties of guide and counselor, in which capacity he was much sought even after retiring from active business life. Fraternally he was identified with the Masons, having joined St. Johns Lodge at Sheboygan Falls on the 3rd of January, 1863. In early life he became a member of the Congregational church but later found that his ideas of Christian living had grown too broad to be restricted by any one sect or creed. He reached the venerable age of eighty-nine years and his life was such that his memory will long be cherished in the hearts of all who knew him.


Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL