Sunday, October 20, 2013

Using the Skeletons from My Family History to Plot a Novel [Part Two]

William Harman

William Harman, one of my ancestors,  led an interesting life becoming one of the first pioneer Mormons in Merthyr Tydfil, my home town.

Dan Jones

He emigrated to Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States in 1871 where he took a second wife, Jane Davies, who was also a native of Merthyr Tydfil.  He had emigrated to the crucible of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

[Mormon Church].  Preachers like Dan Jones who made many converts in Merthyr often encouraged people to move to Utah.  The Church was keen to utilise the mining skills of the Welsh Brethren in Salt Lake City.
Jane Davies and children

As this was William's second marriage, I wondered what had become of his first wife?  Who was she and where was she?

By searching at the Mormon Church web site, which is excellent, by the way.  I was able to locate an ancestral file of the Harman family.

It was recorded that William had indeed married twice:

1.  Ann Jones from Cardigan Wales.  The marriage took place in
Merthyr Tydfil on September, 9th 1843.

2.  Jane Davies.  The marriage took place in Salt Lake City Utah on
21st of October, 1876.

So William had married 2 women, 33  years apart. He was 23 years old when he married Ann Jones and 56 when he married Jane.

Was his second marriage as I had suspected a bigamist marriage?  It looks as if he remarried without divorcing his first wife. This was confirmed by Eira Smith a relative from the same Lewis Harman line as myself.

I found this web site which says he came to Utah without his first wife when she refused to join the LDS church.  There's a photograph of him here too:

William's wife, Jane [Note, she is named here as 'Martha Jane']:

On 31st July, 1879, eight years after emigrating, William and Jane had a daughter called Gwendolyn.  See here:

The couple went on to have two other children besides Gwendolyn, Richard and Mary Annie.

Richard Harman

William Harman died of pneumonia on December the 31st 1900 aged 80
in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He had come a long way from his native
South Wales, and took, what I think was a brave decision to leave the town of his birth and his family behind.  He put his faith before finance as he could have been very wealthy indeed if he had taken his rich uncle’s request to be his sole heir if he’d given up the Mormon faith but his faith was far more important to him.

Before I started to research my family tree, I had no  idea there
were any Mormon connections, despite there being a church in our
town.  Eira Smith, who is sadly now deceased, told me that a lot of our family are still living
in Salt Lake City and Staten Island, New York.

One thing I have discovered about the Harman family is that they were a hardy bunch.  Many of them lived well into their 80's.  My great grandmother, Mary Harman was 87 years old when she died in 1978.

Useful Links:

1.  How Green Was My Valley? -- The Welsh: Surnames and

Peoples of Utah
By Frederick S. Buchanan

3.  The Contribution of Wales to the United States of America

** Note, the surname Harman is written as Harmon on certain links.  I believe the correct family spelling of the name was Harman.


Lady-Anna Saul said...

Fascinating, thank you for bringing to my attention

Lynette said...

Thanks, Anna :)