James Allen Noyes moved to Barton County during the infancy of Liberal, Missouri.
THE UNITARIAN REGISTER
April 14, 1921
IN THE TOWN OF LIBERAL, MO
Orrin E. Harmon is the only Unitarian in Barton County, Missouri. He lives in the town of Liberal, a community of interesting citizens. It seems that a man named G. H. Walser, a Spiritualist, owned a plot of land on which he conceived the notion of founding a town of liberal ideas. Spiritualists and free-thinkers were to have homes where they could practice their beliefs without being molested by churches. A clause in the town charter provided that no church or saloon should have a place in the community. The children were to be educated at a school known as the Free Thought University. In course of time the citizens disagreed, both saloons and churches entered and flourished. The saloons were finally voted out under the local options law, but the churches made progress and now Methodists and Christians are firmly established. It was a notable fact that as the liberal element which founded the town grew less influential, saloons and denomination elements became strong. Mr. Harmon has heard but three Unitarian sermons, but he has read the words of Channing, Dewey, Parker, and Martimeau, has access to Unitarian literature, and enjoys particularly the weekly visit of THE CHRISTIAN REGISTER.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
NOTE: O. E. Harmon was the author of The Story of Liberal, Missouri and a son-in-law of James Allen Noyes, whose family moved to Liberal in 1882.
At Find-a-Grave, an individual has placed up memorials for Liberal City Cemetery, including members of the Noyes family. There are (sadly) no photos, just names and inscriptions on the headstones. The person must not have been a member of the family as family members are unlinked. I’ve sent a request for them to be linked, but I’ve not heard back yet.
The family members who are there:
Cora Rachel Greene, daughter of James Allen Noyes and Caroline Atwell. She is currently listed as Cora B. Greene. I’ve asked for a correction on that. Cora married Frank Greene. He’s not listed at Find-a-Grave and I don’t know what happened to him after Cora died.
Emma Viola Noyes Harmon daughter of James Allen Noyes and Caroline Atwell. She married Orrin Ellie Harmon.
Orrin Elliot Harmon, husband of Emma Viola Noyes.
Elizabeth “Bettie” Jane Noyes wife of Ray Noyes, son of James Allen Noyes and Caroline Atwell.
James William Noyes, son of Ray James Noyes and Eula Millard, grandson of Ray Noyes and Elizabeth Jane “Bettie” Brewer
Luella E. Bunton Noyes wife of James Noyes, son of Ray James Noyes and Eula Millard, grandson of Ray Noyes and Elizabeth Jane “Bettie” Brewer
Ray Noyes, son of James Allen Noyes and Caroline Atwell, husband of Elizabeth Jane “Bettie” Brewer
Victor Hugo Noyes, son of James Allen Noyes and Caroline Atwell
This photo, circa 1921-1922, would be from Liberal, Missouri. Nancy Benton supplied the following identification.
From left to right: O.E. Harmon; Viola Harmon; Edna Noyes; Jamie Noyes; Paul Noyes; Charles Bryant–Bettie Noyes in front of him and Mary Lou Noyes in front of Bettie; Ray Noyes with Lena Minor in front of him; Pansy Noyes Bryant with Ray Bryant in front of her; Dorothy Noyes.
Viola b. 1860 was a sister of Ray Noyes, and was married to Orrin Ellie Harmon. Edna was Edna Stark b. 1872, married to Paul Noyes b. 1869. Jamie Noyes was a son of Ray Noyes and Elizabeth “Bettie” Brewer and was b. 1903. Charles Bryant, b. 1890, was the husband of Pansy Noyes b. 1895. (Pansy, Viola and Ray were all siblings, children of James Allen Noyes and Caroline Atwell.) Mary Lou was Mary Louise b. 1913, the youngest daughter of Ray Noyes and Elizabeth “Bettie” Brewer. Ray Bryant was the eldest son of Charles Bryant and Pansy Noyes, their only child at the date of this photo. Lena Minor, b. 1916, was the daughter of John J. Minor and Cora Noyes. Her parents don’t appear in the photo.
Emma, daughter of James Allen Noyes and Caroline Atwell, was born Dec 15 1860 in Wakeshma, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
On June 9 1878 in Anna, Union, Illinois, Emma married Orrin Ellie Harmon who would one day write a slim book on the history of the freethought town of Liberal, Missouri, where her family settled and where she and Orrin would reside after a few years in Washington state.
Orrin and Emma had no children of their own. When Cora, Emma’s sister, died in childbirth, they took in her son, Robert, and raised him as their own. Robert was born Oct. 16, 1887 at Liberal in Barton County, Missouri and died Nov 27 1961 in Monroe, Quachita, Louisiana.
The 1880 Anna, Union, Illinois census.
Year: 1880; Census Place: Anna, Union, Illinois; Roll: T9_254; Family History Film: 1254254; Page: 25B; Enumeration District: 113; Image: 0207
Enumerated 36 and 28 of June by Joseph Levey
33 337/369 HARMON Asa wm 52 md Farmer b. VT parents b. VT
34 Lucy wf Wife 51 md Keeping House can’t write b. OH parents b. NY
35 Edgar wm Son 15 MI father b. VT mother b. OH
36 Almina sister 54 unable to read or write VT parents b. VT
37 Ida LEE wf19 Boarding sg b. IL parents b. IL
38 Charles LEE 16 wm Boarding sg Laborer IL parents b. IL
39 338/370 NOYES J. A. wm 53 md. Farmer b. MI father b. MA mother b. NY
40 Caroline wf 44 Keeing house b. VT parents b. MA
41 Cora wf 17 Daughter sg b. MI father b. MI mother b. VT
42 Victor wm 14 sg Son b. IL father b. MI mother b. VT
43 Allen wm 12 sg Son b. IL father b. MI mother b. VT
44 Paul wm 10 sg Son b. IL father b. MI mother b. VT
45 Ray wm 6 sg sg Son b. IL father b. MI mother b. VT
46 338/371 HARMON Orin wm 25 Son-in-law md Farmer b. MI father b. VT mother b. (VT written over Ohio or vice versa)
47 E. Viola wf 19 Daughter md. Farmer b. MI father b. MI mother b. VT
48 Chloe DAVIS wf 70 wd keeping house unable to read or write b. NC father b. NC mother b. VA
COMMENT: Chloe DAVIS looks like she was inadvertantly placed in the Orin HARMON household, as 338/372 continues with daughters of Chloe’s. Viola and her husband Orin HARMON reside in the J. A. NOYES’ household. There don’t appear to be other Michigan families nearby.
From spring of 1882 through spring of 1897 the Harmons resided in Chehalis, Lewis, Washington. In 1887 they adopted the son of Emma’s sister, Cora Noyes Greene, who had died in childbirth.
An envelope from a letter written by Caroline Atwell Noyes during a 1891 visit, postmarked Chehalis, survives.
In 1897, the Harmons moved to Liberal due to Orrin experiencing health problems and having been advised the climate in Chehalis was bad for him.
The 1900 Central, Barton, Missouri census.
Sheet No. 3
Supervisor District 13
Enumeration District 18
5 June enumeration by David E. Harpole
(Ancestry.com page 5)
Preceding households appear to be John RHINE, Thomas WILLIAMS, James HANSHAW, John SMITH and Charles DURHAM.
20 48/49 HARMON O. E. Head wm Dec 1854 age 45 married 21 yrs. b. Michigan F-Vermont M-New York Farmer 0 can read and write, 0 months unemployed, F F 50
21 E. Viola Wife wf Dec 1860 39 md 21 yrs, 1 child 0 living, b-Michigan F-Michigan M-Vermont can read and write
22 Robert adopted son wm Oct 1887 12 sg. b-Missouri F-Penn M-Michigan Farmer, 0 months unemployed, can read and write
23-29 49/50 Frank and Nancy STONE household Farmer
30 59/51 William H. GRIVET household Farmer
31-33 51/52 Newton WINNER household Farmer
34 52/53 NOYES Ray Head wm Jan 1875 25 married 6 years b. Illinois f-Michigan m-Vermont Farmer can read and write O F F 54
35 Bettie Wife wf July 1877 22, 2 children 2 living, b- Missouri parents-Illinois, can read and write
36 Pansy Daughter wf Dec. 1895 4 sg b. Missouri f-Illinois m-Missouri
37 Cora Daughter wf Sept 1896 3 sg b. Missouri f-Illinois m-Missouri
38 James A Father wm Dec 1824 75 Wd b. Michigan Parents-NY can read and write
39 53/54 JACKMAN Henry Feb 1849 51 married 21 years b. Penn parents-Penn
40 Mabel March 1863 37 5 children, 3 living b. Michigan F-Michigan M-Rhode Island
41 Hiram July 1881 18 b. Missouri
42 Amy May 1880 20 b. Missouri
43 Benton Oct 1891 9 b. Missouri
44 54/55 BECKMAN George April 1866 34 married 7 years b. New York F-Prussia M-Germany
45 Emma 1871 28 2 children 2 living b. Indiana parents-Indiana
46 Harold 1894 5 b. Missouri
47 Basil 1897 3 b. Missouri
48 55/56 NOYES Paul Head wm Nov 1869 30 married 9 years b. Illinois F-Michigan M-Vermont Farmer o months unemployed, can read and write, O F F 57
49 Edna Wife wf Dec 1872 27, md 9 years, 3 children, 3 living b. Missouri parents-Illinois Can read and write
50 Grace Daughter wf Mar 1892 8 b. Missouri f-Missouri m-Illinois
51 Ormil Daughter wf May 1893 7 sg wf b. Oklahoma Ter. f-IL m-IL did not attend school
52 Garrett Son wm Dec. 1896 3 b. Oklahoma Ter f-IL m-IL
Following households are STEVENSON, FOOTE Virginia, WILSON, JACKSON Louis, JACKMAN Allen, STRICKLAND Julia and son Lemuel, MOHLER James, JACKMAN A. M. , JONES William, Viola, Iva and Eva and Marcus, CHESTER Hiram and Permelia, BARNES E. J. and STACY William.
I’ve yet to locate the family in the 1910 census.
From 1916 to 1919 Emma resided in Louisiana.
The 1920 Central, Barton, Missouri census.
Enumerated 27 and 28 of January by Clara Conner(?)
1 Fm 154/162 NOYES Ray head own Free mw 46 md. can read and write b. IL father b. MI mother b. VT Farmer homefarm 118
2 Betty wife fw 42 md. can read and write b. MO father b. IN mother b. IL
3 James Son mw 16 sg. can read and write b. MO father b. IL mother b. MO
4 Dorothy Daughter fw 12 sg. can read and write b. MO father b. IL mother b. MO
5 Mary L. Daughter fw 7 b. MO father b. IL mother b. MO
6 Fm 155/163 HARMON Orren E. Head Own free mw 65 md. can read and write b. MI father b. VT mother b. NY Farmer homefarm 119
Viola Wife fw 59 can read and write b. MI father b. MI mother b. VT
The 1930 Central, Barton, Missouri census.
Year: 1930; Census Place: Central, Barton, Missouri; Roll: T626_1175; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 2; Image: 0803.
Enumerated April 3
91 23/23 HARMON O. E. Head own Un Radio Not a farm mw 75, md at 23, can read and write, b. MI father b. VT mother b. NY no occupation
92 Emma Wife fw 69 md at 17, can read and write, b. MI father b. MI mother b. VT
93 24/24 NOYES Ray Head own Radio Farm mw 56, md at 21, can read and write, b. IL father b. MI mother b. VT, Farmer, Own farm
94 Betty Wife fw 52 , md at 17, can read and write, b. MO father b. IN mother b. IL
95 24/25 NOYES James Head rent mw 26, md at 22, b. IL mother b. MO Farmer own farm
96 Mildred wife fw 21, md at 18, can read and write, b. MO father b. Il mother b. MO bookkeeper bank
After the death of Emma’s husband, Orrin, she lived with her son, Robert, at his plantation in Monroe, Quchita, Louisiana. She died there 1946 October 26 and was buried at Liberal Cemetery in Liberal, Missouri.
One has to like a man who desired to give up the practice of law for writing poetry and studying the stars, which can be in itself a poetic pursuit of grand visions and soul refining reflections on the nature of one’s place in the grand scheme of things.
Orrin Ellie Harmon, who authored The Story of Liberal, Missouri, the earliest known book on Liberal’s history, was the son-in-law of ancestor James Allan Noyes and Caroline Atwell Noyes who were early settlers in the free-thought community of Liberal, the Noyes moving there in August of 1882 (I’ve a diary of Caroline’s chronicling part of their journey). Orrin had married the Noyes’ eldest daughter Emma Viola Noyes on July 9, 1878 in Anna, Union, Illinois, but to the best of my knowledge Orrin and Emma didn’t make the move to Liberal with the Noyes, instead relocating from Anna to Chehalis, Lewis, Washington about 1882.
View Larger Map
From Anna, Illinois to Chehalis, Washington, Google style
They remained in Chehalis a number of years, where Orrin practiced law, taught school, wrote poetry and gazed at the night skies. When Orrin was told his health merited a change, in the Spring of 1897 Orrin and Emma migrated to Liberal.
Orrin was born Dec 3, 1854 in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Asa and Lucy Snow Harmon. The family had moved to Van Buren, Michigan and had then relocated to Anna, Illinois about 1866. We find them in the 1870 census living three households from the Noyes.
The Noyes were long time residents in Kalamazoo, and by 1866 James Allen Noyes and Caroline were in Anna, Illinois where a photo of them was made. One would guess the Harmon and Noyes families had known each other in Kalamazoo, perhaps even migrated together, but Orrin’s obituary anticipates our suspicions and notes that despite both coming from Kalamazoo, the families weren’t acquainted until living in Anna.
Orrin and Emma were in Washington when on Oct 18 1887 Emma’s sister, Cora Rachel Noyes Greene, died in Liberal with the birth of her first child at the age of 24, a boy named Robert.
Perhaps Robert’s father, Frank Greene, felt he would be unable to care for his son as a widower (I’ll address this letter in a post on Robert, who became a well known baseball player) but Orrin and Emma adopted him. Orrin and Emma never did have biological children.
When 32, Orrin published a volume of poems titled, “Voices from the Cascades”. I have the text of that and will be putting it up on the blog at some point.
He loved poetry–writing it, discussing it, teaching it.
And he loved the stars. Orrin loved astronomy. From 1893 to 1898 he furnished planetary predictions to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. People would look in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for information on the heavens and there would sometimes be O. E. Harmon’s name telling them what they could expect.
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Volumes 1 – 26 shows the following articles of Orrin’s that were published:
The Solar Eclipse of June 6, 1891
Solar Eclipse, October 20, 1892
Solar Eclipse, October 9, 1893
The Harvest Moon (date not given)
Predictions for the Transit of Mercury, November 10, 1894
He also published, “Position of the Earth’s Axis”.
The biographical sketch of Orrin in the same book was perhaps written by Orrin himself and is fairly detailed, revealing a person whose dream was to study the stars but was required to give it up for reasons of health that made it necessary for he and Emma to leave Washington and move to Liberal.
O. E. Harmon was born in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, December 3, 1854. His father, Asa Harmon, was a native of Vermont, and descended from John Harmon, a native of England, who settled in Springfield, Mass., about 1640. John Harmon was the first Harmon to settle in America, and his descendants are widely scattered over the United States. Among them may be mentioned ex-Governor Harmon of Ohio, and Mrs. Cleveland, the wife of President Grover Cleveland.
A short time before the breaking out of the Civil War, Asa Harmon removed to Van Buren County, Michigan. Here he lived when the fire on Fort Sumter sounded the beginning of the war. He enlisted in the Union Army, first in the 2nd Michigan Cavalry, the regiment of which Phil Sheridan was the colonel; and later was transferred to the 3rd Michigan Cavalry, of which regiment he became chaplain.
He was mustered out of the service in the spring of 1866, and in that year moved to Union County, Illinois. Here O. E. Harmon lived with his parents until the spring of 1881, excepting a period (1874-1876) which he spent in Colorado. O. E. received his education in the district school and in the high school at Anna, in Union County.
In 1878 he began the study of the law, and in June of that year married E. Viola Noyes, the daughter of James A. Noyes, and sister of Ray Noyes, who lives near Libearl.
He was licensed to practise law by the Supreme Court of Illinois in October, 1880. After a few months spent in the practice of the law at Anna, he moved to Washington, and after teaching school in Lewis County one year, settled at Chehalis, the county seat of Lewis County. This was in the spring of 1882. Here he practised law, and at different times served as deputy in the offices of County Auditor and County Clerk. He lived in Lewis County until the spring of 1897. He became interested in Astronomy in 1888, and his calculations on the solar eclipse of June, 1891, drew complimentary letters from the astronomical staff of the Lick Observatory located at Mount Hamilton, California. He contributed articles to the publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and to “Popular Astronomy” published at Northfield, Minn. He furnished the planetary predictions to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for five years (1893-1898). Besides the above astronomical work while a resident of Washington, he brought out in 1886, a little volume of poems entitled, “Voices from the Cascades.”
The cordial reception his astronomical writings received encouraged him to look forward to the career of the professional astronomer, and he planned to take a course of special training for that purpose. But in the winter of 1896-7, his health failed and he was obliged to give up his plans. The doctors advised a change of climate, and this brought him to Barton County, Missouri, in the spring of 1897. Here he has lived ever since with the exception of three years (1916-9) spent in Louisiana. During his residence in Barton County, he has lived on a little farm southeast of Liberal, which he has named “Lyrian Farm.”
His later writings have been published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Springfield, (Mass.) Republican and Shreveport Times. He has also contributed to the local papers of Barton County, both on astronomical and literary subjects.
Among his literary writings may be mentioned “The Astronomy of Shakespeare” in which knowledge of the great poet relating to astronomy is very fully developed. This work was published in “Popular Astronomy.”
Mr. Harmon has always been a close student and has ever taken a deep interest in educational matters. His addresses to the schools and teachers’ meetings in Barton County bear ample testimony to this feature of his character.
J. P. Moore’s “This Strange Town – – Liberal Missouri” had this to say about Orrin:
“A History of Liberal” written by O. E. Harmon and titled, “The Story of Liberal, Missouri,” was published in 1925. The work was excellent, but much shorter than this treatise. Unfortunately, not a great many copies of the book had been sold when the bulk of the edition was destroyed by a fire that burned a business building in which the books were stored.
In the limited size of the work, Mr. Harmon gave only a few accounts of specific happenings. But there was one which I take the liberty to quote in part. It indicates that it was not always “all sweetness and light” in the Freethinker’s camp…
Note: And I’ll skip those few paragraphs as they’re in the book transcription online and have to do with Walser rather than Harmon.
Mr. Harmon was a finely educated man, but withal, he was something of an eccentric. He had been a lawyer and a college professor. However, on account of ill health, he had abandoned professional life, came to Liberal from the state of Washington in 1897 and settled on a small farm in the vicinity. But he did little farming; instead, he devoted himself to his main interests, astronomy and poetry, feature writing and what seemed to be a hobby, speaking at the school.
He had a propensity to frequent the school to lecture the pupils on astronomy, and poetry. All this came to be regarded as something of a bother by the faculty, but not so by the pupils. One who was a pupil in the time, Mrs. Alta Moore, remarked to this writer: “He talked over our heads, but we liked it; for when he talked we didn’t have to study, and sometimes we got to skip a recitation.” He had written articles on astronomy for scientific magazines, and he was a frequent contributor to local newspapers.
Born in Michigan on December 3, 1854; he passed away here many years ago. His wife was a daughter of James A. Noyes, a pioneer farmer of the vicinity. It was because of this relationship that Mr. Harmon came to this locality.
Orrin was probably blind to the real reason some of the students enjoyed his lectures, probably blind to the teachers finding his intrusions annoying, which I like, because without resentment he was able to continue going in and giving his lectures, building this story of his life as a tolerant person who held no rancour, as is stated in his obituary. Then again, if he did sense why the students enjoyed his lectures, and the irritation of the teachers, the keen sense of humor he’s given as having may have been one part of however many reasons that led him to continue returning to the school to lecture.
Orrin died in 1940. Unfortunately, his obituary doesn’t say when he died.
O. E. HARMON OBITUARY
THE END FOR LIBERAL’s NOTED POET SAGE AND PHILOSOPHER
O. E. Harmon passed at His Home at 10 o’clock, Saturday night – had Been a Student All of His Life – When A Very Young Man He Was Admitted to the Bar But he did Not Like the Law – Came to Liberal and Settled on a Small Farm, Forty Three Years Ago – Devoted Much of His Time to Study – Loved the Poets, Wrote Excellent Verse and Was a Life Long Student of Mathematics – Had a Fine Mind and a Frail Body – Was a Bold and Free Thinker, But was Ever Kindly and Tolerant – Bob Harmon, for Some Years a Pitching Ace for the St. Louis Cardinals Was His Adopted Son – Faithful Wife Who Had Stood by his Side for Sixty two Years, Cared for Him Tenderly During the years While He Was an Invalid
O. E. Harmon, student, poet and philosopher, died at his home in Liberal at 10 o’clock, Saturday evening. Mr. Harmon was eighty five years old. He had been in feeble health for the past eight years. But until three days before the end he was able to sit up in a chair. He was conscious up until the last though he was so weak it was difficult for him to speak. When Mrs. Harmon would come about the bed where he lay he was inclined to repeat the short, all embracing phrase, I am done!
Mrs. Harmon had cared for him during the long years of his illness, much as she would a child. His food required special preparation and finally had to be strained. No labor nor care was too great for her (…) everything was (…) him that could be done.
Orin Elliot Harmon was born in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, December 3rd, 1854. When he was a lad of ten, his father Asa Harmon moved to Illinois and settled on a farm near Anna. The elder Mr. Harmon had come from Vermont to Michigan. James Allen Noyes had moved from Vermont to Kalamazoo County in Michigan, and went from there to near Anna in Illinois. But the Noyes and the Harmon families had never known each other. But when they settled in Illinois, they found themselves on adjoining farms. Then they became acquainted.
Viola Noyes a lassie of sixteen and Orrin became sweethearts, and January 9th 1878, when Viola was seventen and Orrin was twenty three they were married. The young man had gone through the schools at Anna. He went to college for a time but not for so very long. But he was a great student and all his life put much of this time upon his books.
He had been admitted to the law bar, when he married Viola, and he opened an office in Anna. But he didn’t like the law. They moved in the course of a year, to Chehalis, Washington. There he taught school, and for some time, during their sixteen year stay at this city, he practiced law.
Forty three years ago, he and Viola moved to Barton County and settled down on a small farm where they lived until his death.
He early became an amatuer astronomer. He learned to calculate the planetary conjunctions and eclipses. His greatest study was Mathematics.
His next love was verse. He delighted to read the great English and American poets, and he wrote excellent verse. He did this chiefly as a passtime. He got out a series of poems relating to Barton County, which he had published in a handsome little volume.
His verses were bold and free, but he was ever kindness and toleration themselves. He held no rancor.
Further, Mr. Harmon had a very keen sense of humor and a pen that could portray it piquantly as well as vividly.
He was a small frail man, but he had a fine mind and a great soul. He leaves his beloved wife who cared for him so tenderly and his foster son Bob Harmon, long an ace pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals, now owner of a big plantation in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The body was taken to Burkey Mortuary at Mulberry to be prepared for burial.
Services were held in Liberal Methodist church Liberal at 4 o’clock, Monday afternoon, followed by interment in the Liberal cemetery.
Mr. Harmon’s widow is a sister of the well known citizen Ray Noyes of Liberal. The father, the late James Allen Noyes, moved to Liberal forty eight years ago.
Note: The obit erroneously gives the month of marriage as January.
Oh, how I wish I had Orrin’s book of poems he wrote on Liberal. I’ve checked with the Barton County libraries and unfortunately none are shown as having it, which is too bad as he was a citizen. It seems the Liberal library should have a copy just as a matter of an interest in the history of Liberal.