Weslie Harbison.Great indeed have been the changes which time and man have wrought in Kansas since Weslie Harbison came to cast his lot with the Sunflower State, and no man has been more actively identified with the great work of improvement of Jewell county than he. While others have been pushing the frontier to the west, he has led the way to the substantial development, progress and upbuilding of the northern part of the State. Mr. Harbison was born in Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, November 27, 1840, a son of John and Sarah Harbison, both natives of the Keystone State. The family removed to Iowa in 1849, locating at Marion, Lynn county, where the father entered the milling business. Weslie Harbison was engaged in the business with his father until 1861, when he responded to President Lincoln's call for volunteers to protect and preserve our country, and enlisted in Company F, Twentieth Iowa infantry. While in the army he took part in the heavy fighting at Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove, and then took part in the long siege of Vicksburg. After the city fell he participated in the Yazoo campaign, was at New Orleans, and from there went to Texas, where his regiment took part in some skirmishes. From Texas they were ordered back to New Orleans, to start for Pensacola, Fla., and then entered the campaign around Mobile. On August 8, 1865, Mr. Harbison was honorably discharged from the service at Mobile, Ala., having been promoted to sergeant during his service. Returning to his home in Iowa he again entered the milling business with his father, and remained there until 1870, when he came to Kansas, arriving at the homestead he had taken on May 8th of that year. At the time he located on the southeast quarter of section 32, township 5, range 8, Jewell county, buffaloes were roving over the prairies, but Mr. Harbison was one of the courageous pioneers who have made Kansas the great State it now is, and was not discouraged by hardships or Indians. He built a log house, as logs were the only available material, besides sods, and at once began the improvement of his land.
At one time Mr. Harbison killed a buffalo on his own farm. On June 4, 1870, accompanied by five other men, he went on a hunting expedition to the forks of the Solomon river, where they saw vast herds of buffaloes, extending as far as the eye could see. Buffalo meat was about the only kind to be obtained by the early settlers, though some antelopes and deer were killed. The buffaloes killed in the summer were cut up and the meat salted and dried for use in the winter. Sometimes as much as a ton was cured at one time. Both Mr. and Mrs. Harbison went on hunting expeditions, one of which resulted in a large kill. Soon after settling in Jewell county, Mr. Harbison engaged in the milling business, but after nine years gave it up, devoting all his time to farming. He is now the only one of the settlers of 1870 left, and has lived on his old homestead continuously until three years ago, and built a beautiful country home there years before. It is one of the model farm residences and Mr. Harbison is justly proud of it. He still can tell thrilling adventures of the time when the people had to drive to Junction City for supplies and to market their produce, as that was the nearest railroad town. During those days he says the justice of the peace was the law maker of the community, and also the officer to see that his laws were enforced, making laws that suited the occasion rather than using those on the statute books.
On May 30, 1868, Mr. Harbison married Julia, the daughter of Jacob Pressler. The young married couple came to Kansas with other members of their families to seek what fortune had in store for them in the prairie country. There were two children: Cora B., born in March, 1874, and Pearl May, born in March, 1880. The older daughter is the wife of E. H. Brunnemer, who farms the old Harbison homestead, and Pearl is married to Bert Cluster, who resides at Jewell City. Mrs. Harbison passed away at the old home, June 2, 1909. Mr. Harbison is a member of the Masonic order, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which he joined in 1866, and the Grand Army of the Republic, S. R. Deach Post, No. 541. In politics he is a supporter of the Republican party.Pages 341-342 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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