Jeff Harvey

We pick up our look at the Bluestone Headwaters, courtesy of William Sanders II's book "A New River Heritage, Volume IV"(1994, McClain Publishing).

One of the earliest settlements in the New River Valley, founded in 1749 by Adam Harman is Eggleston's Springs. It was here that Harman and his sons gave shelter and nourishment to Mary Draper Ingles on her return from captivity en route to her reunion with her family at Draper's Meadows.

The early Harman cemetery near Hollybrook on Kimberling Creek showed the migration of the family towards the Bluestone/Flat Top area.

The Harmans were hunters, trappers and traders. They were more business oriented than many earlier settlers as they moved into the coal country of Tazewell, Mercer and McDowell counties, as a whole. They didn't sell their property to the eastern coal interests, but chose to lease them, preserving their rents and royalties.

Sanders knew several members of this family, including lawyers Alex Harman of Pulaski, Va., and J. Newton "Newt" Harman, father and son, of Tazewell and Welch, as well as several generations of James W. Harmans in Tazewell, along with other cousins, who turned coal and mineral rights to their advantage.

A major Harman cemetery in the headwaters is on the land owned by descendant Martha Rich. Several related Harman families intermarried with the St. Clairs and have, as has Martha, developed the area.

Speaking of the St. Clairs, they became one of Bluefield's most influential families in medicine and law, co-founding the Bluefield Sanitarium.

Martha Neel Rich and her son, Ervin, owned as of the writing of Sanders' book, a portion of land along Bluestone Creek.

The Rich home, a two-story brick home, was built by her grandparents, John Lewis Neel and Martha Ann Harman Neel, in 1876-78, with the bricks being burnt on-site.

The eight-mile valley was owned by Hezekiah Harman, her great-great-grandfather, all the way to the divides. It descended to the family, including the St.Clairs, Dills and Neels.

The first Hezekiah Harman was born in Germany circa 1700 and died circa 1767. His oldest son, Adam was the settler who helped Mary Ingles. Second son, Henry (1726-82) who was born on the Isle of Man enroute to America, and later fought in the Revolutionary War, was the grandfather of the Hezekiah Harman who owned the valley and served as Tazewell County's first superior clerk in 1800 and sheriff in 1831.

General William Harman served in the Civil War and was killed in action at Cloyd's Farm in 1864. He was the youngest son of Sheriff Harman.

The Erastus Granger Harman line, descended from Sheriff Harman's oldest son, dominated land ownership in the headwaters area largely through the daughters' families until recent times.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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