Tuesday, November 07, 2006

John Harvey ~ Farmer and Poet

July 16th, 1800 in Orange Co., North Carolina ~ February 10th, 1872 in Pleasant Plain, Iowa[i]

and his first wife

November 9th, 1800 ~ November 13th, 1832 in Harveysburg, Ohio

And his second wife

June 14th, 1814 in Highland Co., Ohio ~ December 30th, 1862 in Pleasant Plain, Iowa

John Harvey was one of the sons of William Harvey[ii], the last of the five Harvey brothers that settled on Todd’s Fork in Adams Co., Ohio, the “Harvey Settlement”, and Mary Vestal Harvey[iii]. He was married twice and had two large sets of children:

With Lydia Ballard:
1. JAMES HARVEY, b: July 1st, 1822 ~ Jan 15th, 1894, moved to Iowa (m. Minerva)[iv].
2. MARY ANN HARVEY, b: October 18th, 1823
3. ELIAS HARVEY, b: June 10th, 1825 ~ September 16th, 1842 (buried in Warren Co., Ohio)
4. MARTHA HARVEY, b: January 27th, 1827
5. EUNICE HARVEY, b: February 2nd, 1829
6. JOHN M. HARVEY, b: February 22nd, 1831 (moved to Iowa)

With Mahala Plummer:
1. LYDIA ANN HARVEY, b: August 21st, 1835
2. EMILY HARVEY, b: January 22nd, 1838
3. CAROLINE HARVEY, b: December 5th, 1839
4. ELI P. HARVEY, b: January 1st, 1842 ~ February 16th, 1842 (buried in Warren Co., Ohio)
5. ABI HARVEY, b: January 19th, 1843 ~ August 4, 1844 (Buried in Warren Co., Ohio)
6. ALFRED HARVEY, b: August 14th, 1845 ~ October 26th, 1845 (buried in Warren Co., Ohio)
7. JOSEPH HARVEY, b: March 20th, 1847 ~May 22nd, 1853 (buried in Warren Co., Ohio)
8. OLIVER HARVEY, b: March 11th, 1850
9. WILLIAM A. HARVEY, b: JULY 11, 1851 ~ January 6th, 1853 (buried in Warren Co., Ohio)
10. CHARLES HARVEY, b: February 15th, 1853 ~ February 15th, 1853 (buried in Warren Co., Ohio)

John Harvey was a teacher at the Quaker school on Todd’s Fork for two years[v]. His true loves were farming and his large family. He was noted locally for his poetry, which focused on the people and events of his life. Poetry was one of the few artistic outlets allowed by the Friends before the Civil War. William Harvey’s descendants had an artistic streak.

John Harvey settled in Harveysburg, Ohio in Warren Co., Ohio. He authored a book of poetry entitled Miscellaneous Poems; Moral, Religious, and Sentimental (Cincinnati: Published by James Harvey, 1848). The first poem in this book is entitled:


I came into being, as the record shows,
When the eighteenth century was just at its close;
From North Carolina, the land of my birth,
I came with my parents, to this part of the earth,
(Ohio, renown’d as a free and rich state)
In the spring of one thousand eight hundred and eight.
This country was chiefly a wilderness then,
And in many places the abode of red men,
From the graves of their fathers now driven far west,
By men of pale faces, who loved themselves best.
On the banks of Todd’s Fork, about twenty-three years,
My days pass’d in pleasure unmingled with tears;
A loving companion, ten years of the time,
Was still the chief blessing of my early prime,
My dearest relations were all yet alive,
And most of them able to work and to thrive;
When half a dozen miles to the westward I went (to Harveysburg),
And settled where the rest of my life has been spent,
Where sorrow and care have attended my lot,
While scenes of past pleasure could not be forgot.
My faithful companion was the first one that died (Lydia Ballard),
Of all to whom I was most tenderly tied;
“But all of my losses and causes of care
Have, in my poor scribbling, been stated elsewhere.
And, oh! May I never repine at the rod~
I still have been follw’d by the mercies of God!
And while, by his blessing, upon a rich soil,
I still have been reaping the fruits of my toil,
A second companion has help’d me along (Mahala Plummer),
And lighten’d the burden of many a song.

John Harvey wrote poetry about his sorrows: the death of his first wife Lydia whom he had met in 1819 while coming home from Waynesville on the hill above Corwin after attending Miami Quarterly Meeting in the White Brick Meetinghouse and the tragic death of his infant son, Elias P.

Lydia Harvey’s gravestone located in the Quaker Orthodox Cemetery in Harveysburg, Ohio

We know that John and his second wife, Mahala, and their son, Oliver, moved out west to Iowa in 1859. Perhaps the death of six of their children between 1842-1853 motivated them to migrate west? They moved their membership from Miami Monthly Meeting in Waynesville to Pleasant Plain in Iowa on February 23rd, 1859. They are listed in the 1860 Federal Census as living in Penn Township of Jefferson County, Iowa (Post office: Pleasant Point). John is listed as a farmer and two children are still living with them: Lydia and Oliver (Roll M653_328, page 74).

In 1860 Lydia moved her membership back to Miami Monthly Meeting from Iowa. Mahala Plummer Harvey is buried in the Friends Cemetery in Pleasant Point, Iowa (Ancestry.com, Iowa Cemetery Records. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 2000. Original Data: Works Project Administration. Graves Registration Project. Washington, D.C.: n.p., page 179). John was buried there also (same reference). Their son James and his wife Minerva and their son Jervis had moved before them to Pleasant Plain in 1851.

The Pleasant Plain, Iowa community was first settled by Quaker farmers in 1836. It was first named Pleasant Prairie. In 1876, the Pleasant Plain Academy Association of Friends was formed and set about constructing a school building, which was completed in 1876. The academy was under the supervision of the Friends Church but admitted young people of all denominations. Often tuition was paid in products such as wheat, corn and meat. It was the first school in Jefferson Co., Iowa. Pleasant Plain Friends Meeting had been established in 1836.

[i] A listing of the burials in the Pleasant Plain Friend Cemetery in Penn Township, Jefferson County can be found at http://www.rootsweb.com/~iajeffer/Cemeteries/Pleasant_Plain-Cemetery.html.
[ii] An obituary of William Harvey can be found in the Friends’ Review (Vol. 11, 1858): "DIED, on the 5th of 12th mo. last, at the residence of his son, WILLIAM HARVEY, an Elder of Springfield Monthly meeting, Ohio, in the 89th year of his age. In the latter part of his life he endured much affliction of body, through all of which he often broke forth in praises to the Lord “for his mercy and goodness to him, a poor unworthy creature, even to his last moments.” A short time before his death he was visited by the dear English friends, P. G. & M. N., the comfortable remembrance of which remained with him to the last, often drawing forth his prayers “for their preservation, and for all that were called upon to declare the glad tiding of the gospel;” and that “the glorious kingdom of the dear Redeemer might spread more and more in the earth, to the praise of his ever blessed name,” declaring his “love not only to his own children, but to every creature the world over.” He was one of the early settlers, and helped to rear log-meeting houses and blaze paths through the almost unbroken wilderness, to direct the way to and from them.
[iii] William and Mary Vestal Harvey are said to have established Harveysburg Friends Meeting. This is probably the Orthodox preparative meeting in Harveysburg (Quaker Historical Collections: Springfield Friends Meeting, 1809-1981 by Lucile F. Hadley, p. 127).
[iv] The two brothers, James and John M. Harvey, are listed in the 1856 State Census of Iowa, Jefferson County, Penn Township, HQ# V221-19, FHL #1021302, IHS# Roll 9, enumeration date: July 22, 1856, http://iagenweb.org/census/jefferson/1856-IA-Jeff-Penn.txt.
[v] Quaker Historical Collections: Springfield Friends Meeting compiled by Lucille Hadley, p. 42-43.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bethiah Mosher Furnas ~ Quaker Minister & Poet


Sketch by Diana Bouton

Bethiah Mosher was born on the third of March 1813 in Cardington, Ohio, a town founded by her granfather Asa Mosher. Her father, Robert Mosher and mother, Edith Nichols had come to the Ohio valley from New York as small children. By 1800 they owned significant acreage within township limits as well as valuable farmable land in the surrounding valley.

Members of the Mosher family were instrumental in organizing schools and establishing the Quaker meeting. They built the first grist and saw mill and Asa Mosher sat ont he first town council. Bethiah grew up in a family of relatiave prosperity and civic prominence. It must have beena loving happy home because she stayed in close touch with her sisters throughout her life and deeply mourned her parents at their passing. She was raised in the Quaker church. Pictures of her show a strict adherance to the Quaker fashion of "plain dress." On September 23, 1853, at the age of 22, she married Robert F. Furnas, a young farmer from Waynesville. Her poetry gives us a peek into the trials of their courtship. Bethiah and Robert had eight children:

  • Mary Furnas, b. 1855
  • Seth W. Furnas, b. 1857
  • Calista Furnas, b. 1860 ~ d. 1862
  • Eunice Furnas, b. 1862
  • Edith D. Furnas, b. 1864 ~ d. 1873
  • Phebe Furnas, b. 1868
  • Robert H. Furnas, b. 1870
  • Joseph Furnas, b. ca. 1872 ~ d. 1874

Bethiah continued her family's tradition of community service by focusing her considerable acumen and creative energy on the enhancement of the nascent communites growing around her. Her diary shows she played an active role in the creation of the school system in Waynesville. She became a minister of the Miami Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). She was a skilled and prolific writer, leaving us the legacy of her poetry. We feel her compassion in the obituaries she wrote for the local Paper. While living in Kansas, she directed plays, undoubtedly some of her own creation, for a local cildren's theater group. As an intelligent, articulate yet gracious member of the community, we can only imagine how friends and neighbors must have depended upon her kind heart, openess, and warmth.

Dr. Robert F. Furnas ~ Quaker Farmer, Physician, Minister, and Progressive

Dr. Robert F. Furnas, 1830-1901
Sketch by Diana Bouton

By 1873 Robert Furnas had realized handsome returns for some years from the large family farm he managed in partnership with his father. He also played an active roll in the administration of the Quaker Miami Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). He was a devoted husband and father to a rambunctious brood of eight children. That year he celebrated his 43rd birthday. Certainly most men begin to contemplate retirement at forty three. Instead, 1873 was the year Robert Furnas entered medical school. Mid-life career changes are common in today's world, but even today to undertake a career change involving the mental and physical challenge presented by four years of such grueling study is indeed exceptional. Yet this is exactly what Robert Furnas chose to do with his life. He went on to establish a busy and successful homeopathic medical practice where he worked until his death in 1901. This intellectual energy has made him a legend in Furnas family lore.

Robert was born in Wayne Township, Ohio on October 10th, 1830, just about the time President Andrew Jackson began moving Indians onto reservations by signing the Indian Removal Act. Robert's parents were Seth and Diana (Kindley) Furnas. They inherited both a strong Quaker heritage and the prime farm acreage originally purchased by Robert's grandparents (Robert Furnas, Sr. & Hannah Wilson Furnas).

Robert Furnas, Sr. (1762-1852),
Dr. Robert F. Furnas' Grandfather

"RobertFurnas was born June 27, 1762 at Bush River, South Carolina, son of John and Mary (Wilkinson) Furnas. He married Hannah Wilson in 1796. They had eleven children. In 1803 they came from Pine Creek Meeting, South Carolina to Waynesville, Ohio. He was Clerk of Monthly Meeting. Also, village blacksmith, surveyor, physician and surgion. He drew wills and contracts for which he accepted no pay. He ws very punctual and sat at the head of Caesar's Creek Meeting. Plain in his dress." (Taken from The Dictionary of Quaker Biography located in the Quaker Collection of Haverford College, Philadelphia).

The picture above is of Seth and Dinah (Kindley) Furnas and their
two sons, Davis Furnas (left) and Robert F. Furnas (Right).

Young Robert grew up working alongside his father on the farm enduring the hardships involved in opening the frontier and attended the local school held in a log cabin. Indians roamed the forests and the howling of wolves was a nightly occurrence. Wild game of all kinds was plentiful and in that day provided a mojor source of sustenance and sometimes served as the main provision against hunger and even starvation.

The 1875 map above shows the Seth Furnas farm and the Mosher farm next to it. The Seth and Dinah Kindley Furnas in now located in Pioneer Village

He remained helping to work his parent's farm until the age of 22 when in 1857 he married Bethiah Mosier (usually spelled Mosher). she was one of nine sisters and two brothers, the children of Robert and Edith (Nichols) Mosier (Mosher). Also Quakers, the Mosiers came from New York State and owned a large and prosperous farm nearby.

Robert and Bethiah had eight children, five of which survived to adulthood. Robert engaged in farming and the raising and edealing in stock for about twenty years. During this period he constructed several beautiful pieces of cherry wood furniture. A canopy bed, large dresser and nightstand still remain in the family. In 1873 he turned his attention to medicine and attended the Pulte Medical College in Cincinnati, graduating in 1877. He practiced as a homeopathic physician and surgeon throughout the early 1880's. His office was located two doors south of the Harris Bank which was replaced by the United Telephone Company builid in 1973.

Dr. Robert Furnas partnered with Dr. James Wilkins Haines ~ Quaker Physician, Minister, Educator and Spiritualist (1849-1893) until 1880 when the Furnas family moved Richmond, Indiana and Dr. Furnas partnered with Dr. I. C. Teague.

The concept of a utopian society or intentional community which attempted to create "a heaven on earth" was a constant intellectural subject in the literature and press of the day. Dr. Furnas' fertile imagination was obviously fired by such a concept. Perhaps uncomfortable with his own growing affluence as a physician and inspired by the success of other utiopian societies, he convince, cajoled, and coereced until he had an intrepid band of souls ready to follow him into the plains of Kansas here to create the perfect world. Comprised of a vastness conducive to the isolation necesasary for a nascent society to grow unpolluted, Kansas was the perfect choice. It was only when the fertile soil of the praire grasslands turned to dust in the great grought of the 1890's that the economic underpinnings of Dr. Furnas' great experiment gave way. We have no record of the structure of his society.

This experiment is mentioned in Quakers on the American Frontier by Errol T. Elliott (Richmond, Indiana: The Friends United Press, 1969), pp. 142-143.

"An example of Quaker colonizing with its risks and failures was one led by John Franklin Moore, brother of Joseph Moore of North Carolina and Indiana fame. About twelve Indiana families settled in Stevens county south of Hugoton, near the Oklahoma border. They named their new settlement Lafayette, for the Indiana city, favorite of John Moore.

Lumber was brough one hundred miles by wagons from Garden City. Here John Moore erected a building that served as a store, a post office, a schoolroom, and a meeting room on the lower floor, with an office for Dr. Furnas, and with living quarters upstairs. A Day School land a sunday School were taught by Lydia Ann Wilson. John Moore and Lydia Ann Wilson were married here.

The little settlement could not succeed in the hard times that came with drouth hot winds, and grasshoppers in teh summer and with freezing winds of the winter. Crops failed and in one very severe winter their cattle froze on the range. The settlement was disbanded, and for several years one lone building with the name Lafayette on it stood in a kind of grandeur on the flat, far-sweeping prairie whcih the little Quaker community was not prepared to conquer."

The only record exisiting of that time comes from the recollections of Edith Furnas Davis, a granddaughter of Robert and Bethiah Furnas. She descirbed her grandparents sojourn into Kansas in a book entitled: Chosen Land ~ Barbar County, Kansas:

"My great-grandfather Furnas was a doctor in Stevens Co. during the early history of Kansas, practicing at Lafayette, a town which was organized in late 1886 by a group of Friends, also know as Quakers, earnest hard-working people. Dr. Robert Furnas, like all early day physicians, rode horseback, or drove a buggy many long weary miles in answer to calls thae came at all hours, in all kinds of weather. Mrs. Furnas, a very active church worker and strong prohibitionist, produced plays and encouraged young people to take part. She, being well education, good personality, and always dressed in Quaker garments, was highly respected. Their home is still remembered as the one with the 'buffalo bone fense' around it. My father spent many summers with his grandfahter, Doctor Furnas, and was there during one toof the dreaded early day "praire fires'. After fighting for two days and nights, with little or no food, in his weakened condition, he fell face downward into the fire, as he tired to jump cross it. But Dr. Furnas brought him through it without a scar on his face and only a few on his hands!"

Dr. Robert F. Furnas died in Waynesville on 9th mo. 18th, 1901 aged 70 years , 11 months and 8 days. He and his wife Bethiah M. Furnas are buried in Miami Cemetery ~ Located in Corwin, Across the River from Waynesville , Section F.