John R. Harness  

The Harness family in America dates from the coming of William Penn, who was accompanied to America by Mitchell Harness, the great-great-grandfather of John R. Harness, the subject of this sketch. Practically, every generation of the family since the time of Mitchell Harness have been large landowners in the respective communities where they have lived, Peter Harness, the son of Mitchell Harness and the great-grandfather of John R., having been a large landowner and slaveholder in Virginia. In the land sales of 1801, he acquired five thousand acres in the Scioto valley of Ohio. A man by the name of Turley, a son-in-law of Peter Harness, was the first member of the family to move from Virginia to Ohio. George W. Harness, the son of Peter, also came to Ohio, but did not remain long. He immigrated to Illinois and settled near Bloomington, but left that place on account of the Black Hawk War. Afterward he lived near Thorntown for two years and then moved to the farm where Ellsworth Harness now lives, entering one hundred and sixty acres of land in 1823. There he lived until 1849, when his son William was married. He then moved to the Indian reserve in Howard county, where he lived to be one hundred and eight years old.

William and Mary Ann (Rodkey) Harness lived on the old homestead farm until 1862, when he erected a large brick house, which is still standing and where he lived until 1884, when he moved to Cass county. He lived in Cass county for eight years and then moved back to the old homestead, where he lived until 1899, when he again moved to Cass county. He died six years later, in March, 1905. His wife had died previously, in 1899, at the time of their removal to Cass county. William Harness, at the time of his death, owned one thousand acres of land in Cass county and six hundred and fifty-two acres in Carroll county, practically all of which he made by his own efforts and good management. He was an influential citizen in the county and a man who did not permit his quest of a fortune to interfere with his public duties.

Thirteen children were born to William and Mary Ann (Rodkey) Harness, among whom were the following: George W., deceased; one who died in infancy; Hattie, the wife of David Shields, of Cass county; Jacob L., who lives at Burlington; Samuel C, who died in 1907; Lucinda J., who is the widow of James Patty, of Cass county; Elizabeth, the wife of John R., Benson, of Cass county; John R., the subject of this sketch; an infant who died at birth; Mary, deceased; William, deceased; Ellsworth, who lives on a farm in Burlington township, and Clara Belle, who is the wife of Charles Wagoner, of Cass county.

John R. Harness was born on February 13, 1870. He lived at home until eighteen years old and then entered Valparaiso University at Valparaiso, Indiana, which he attended for two years. He then spent a summer at the Central Normal College at Danville, Indiana, and returned to Valparaiso, where he spent the next year. In April, 1892, he went to Chicago and took a position as bookkeeper and cashier for the John W. Ulm real estate and rental agency, where he remained until August, 1894. At that time he moved to a rural district in Illinois, where he spent three months on a farm, after which he came back to Carroll county and purchased the George Rutter farm of one hundred and sixty acres. From this nucleus he has built up his present fortune. He is the proprietor of the Calyx farm and is a successful apple and peach grower. He owns three hundred and twenty acres of land on the Clinton-Carroll county line, three hundred and eighty acres in Burlington township, twenty-five acres in Madison township, besides town lots in Frankfort, and four hundred acres in Creek, Okmulgee and Muskogee counties in Oklahoma, which he purchased in 1911, part of this being valuable oil land.

Mr. Harness was married on November 24, 1903, to Emma E. Shaffer, the daughter of Abraham Shaffer, a resident of Madison township, Carroll county, Indiana, but a native of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Harness takes a commendable interest in politics, being identified with the Democratic party. He assists more or less in party organizations and has been responsible in a large measure for many of the Democratic victories in this township and county. He is highly respected in the community where he lives and is admired not only for his cordial manners, but for his large business abilities and his great success.

History Of Carroll County Indiana, Its People, Industries and Instititions by John C O'Dell - With Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families - Illustrated (1916 - B. F. BOWEN & COMPANY, Inc. - Indianapolis, Indiana)  

Today is