Home Feature Articles Case Studies Dragging Fact from Fiction: Harlan’s Station, “The Old Stone House” and The Elijah Harlan House

Dragging Fact from Fiction: Harlan’s Station, “The Old Stone House” and The Elijah Harlan House

Print Friendly
Share Button


By: Michael J. Denis and Kelli Weaver-Miner

Elijah Harlan House with stone slave quarters on right (Photo by the author, April, 2012)

Elijah Harlan House with stone slave quarters on right (Photo by the author, April, 2012)

Often in history, places play a secondary role to the people who are associated with that place.  Harlan’s Station, “The Old Stone House” and the Elijah Harlan house may well be an exception.  These three historic sites, located about 5 miles west of Danville north along the Salt River Road, are intimately associated with several remarkable families.  One is the famous Harlan family, of course, especially US Supreme Court Justice, John Marshall Harlan, who was born here in 1833.  But others, of less fame, not less importance, are associated with this site.  The landowning and horse-breeding Cecil family purchased much of this land among other properties.  Also, a slave couple and their children owned by the the Buster family of Monticello, Wayne County, and the Cecil family of Wayne and Boyle Counties prior to the Civil War have a thrilling and inspirational story to tell as well.

Thus, “Harlan Station” is the connection between all of these families — the Harlans, the Cecils and the Busters, but each family has its own story.

Harlan’s Station, “The Old Stone House,” and the Elijah Harlan House

Harlan’s Station was probably a log fort built in 1778 by James Harlan and his brother Silas.  Silas was engaged to Sarah Caldwell, but he was killed at the Battle of Blue Licks on 19 August 1782, whereupon James married Miss Caldwell.  Silas’s will is recorded in Book A, page 2, recorded 22 Jan 1783 in Stanford, Lincoln County.[1]  The Harlans had come to Kentucky with James Harrod, probably in 1773 and after.  Some of Harrod’s followers settled at present-day Harrodsburg, others at Danville, but the Harlans chose to move west of Danville, to the Salt River.  The station itself was probably enclosed by a log palisade, possibly with some small cabins, although nothing remains of the place.[2]

The Old Stone House, 1967 (Pre-1974 tornado destruction).  What remains is the original portion, the entire north section having collapsed. (Photo courtesy of Guy and Anna (Russell) Ingram, Danville, Ky)

The Old Stone House, 1967 (Pre-1974 tornado destruction). What remains is the original portion, the entire north section having collapsed.
(Photo courtesy of Guy and Anna (Russell) Ingram, Danville, Ky)

Some seven years after Harlan’s Station was built, the Harlan family constructed about 1785 a large stone house nearby to the southeast.  It sat on a hill, overlooking the Salt River to the east — as described in Brighter Sun.[3]  There were one or two additions made to the north side shortly, and with the additions, the house looked like two, two-story blocks, connected with a stone, two-story link.  The building itself, in 1910, was intact, but by 1954, it had been abandoned, and was deteriorating rapidly.  Most of what remained was destroyed in the 3 April 1974 “Great Tornado Outbreak,” leaving only partial walls still standing.[4]

The plan for the original house was unusual, called the “Quaker Plan” based on William Penn’s advice to settlers — “a house of thirty foot long and eighteen broad with a partition near the middle and another to divide one end of the house into two small rooms.”  The Old Stone House has fireplaces in the corners of those small rooms, sharing the same chimney, a feature quite unusual, if not unique, for old Kentucky stone houses.

Both Harlan’s Station and the Old Stone House are on the National Register of Historic Places,[5] even though neither exists today.  I have been told by the son of a neighbor of the present owner that when the remnants of the Old Stone House were removed, some of the large limestone blocks were purchased by a former governor of Kentucky for use in his driveway.

Elijah Harlan House, panorama, about 1955 (Photo courtesy of Guy and Anna (Russell) Ingram, Danville, Ky)

Elijah Harlan House, panorama, about 1955 (Photo courtesy of Guy and Anna (Russell) Ingram, Danville, Ky)

On the other hand, the Elijah Harlan house still stands, and is also on the National Register.[6]  Built by Elijah Harlan, 1791-1843, son of James Harlan, of Harlan’s Station, the house is badly in disrepair.  It is a 1-3/4 story, 3 bay Flemish bond brick house, with a two- story single cell stone kitchen to the rear, now connectd by a frame addition to the main brick house.  The brick portion probably had larger windows at one time.  The house was remodelled about 1860, with a front porch added in the 20th Century.  It is of brick, painted white.  The stone kitchen to rear may have been one story at one time, as it has one story of large white limestone, and a second story of common gray limestone.  The north end of the stone portion has chimney which was originally on the exterior of the building.  This stone portion has been described as the “slave quarters” and in Buster’s book he describes it as “three rooms — two downstairs, each with a fireplace, and a very large one upstairs.”[7]  This fits the description of the southern portion of the Elijah Harlan house quite perfectly.  It was possibly here that Garret and Sophia Buster lived with their children, as we believe the land had been purchased by the Cecils by that time.  Another, less likely possibility is a large stone building of two rooms but only one story, taken down by the present owner several years ago, located to the southeast of the building.

Elijah Harlan House, chimney.  Up arrow shows footprint of Atlanta B Harlan, left arrow says Feb 1823, down arrow says A B Harlan -- in effect a birth certificate in wet brick, fired  (Photo courtesy of Guy and Anna (Russell) Ingram, Danville, Ky).

Elijah Harlan House, chimney. Up arrow shows footprint of Atlanta B Harlan, left arrow says Feb 1823, down arrow says A B Harlan — in effect a birth certificate in wet brick, fired (Photo courtesy of Guy and Anna (Russell) Ingram, Danville, Ky).

One fascinating artifact is near the top of the west chimney of the Elijah Harlan House.  Before the brick was fired, impressions were made in several of them — a baby’s footprint, the name A. B. Harlan, and a date, February 1823.  This in effect is the birth certificate of Atlanta B Harlan, daughter of Jehu Harlan (1794-1868) and his wife Clarissa Black (1800-1847)[8] and grand-daughter of James Harlan (1755-1816).[9]

In any event, the Elijah Harlan house is certainly the one described by G. B. Buster in Brighter Sun, as Buster mentions, in both the manuscript and the printed book, the original slave quarters, the high ceilings (at least on the first floor) and highly-polished floors.

The Harlan Family

Silas and James Harlan were the sons of George and Ann (Hunt) Harlan, of Chester County, PA.  Silas Harlan (1753-1782) first came to Kentucky with James Harrod in 1774, and served as a scout under George Rogers Clark in the 1778-79 campaign against the British in Illinois[10].  He also was instrumental in establishing Fort Jefferson at the mouth of the Ohio River in 1780[11], and, as a scout with the rank of Major, was killed at the Battle of Blue Licks on 19 August 1782.  He had received a grant of 400 acres lying on both sides of Salt River in October 1779 and acquired another 1000 acres through pre-emption.  In a will written in 1780, he left all his land, including Harlan’s Station, to his brother James (1755-1816).[12]  George Rogers Clark said of him, “He was one of the bravest and most accomplished soldiers that ever fought by my side.”[13]

Probable Grave Site, James and Sarah (Caldwell) Harlan, on Elijah Harlan Home site, 2012 (Photo by the author, April 2012)

Probable Grave Site, James and Sarah (Caldwell) Harlan, on Elijah Harlan Home site, 2012 (Photo by the author, April 2012)

James was probably the one who built the stone house about 1785, though it may have been built earlier, possibly even by Silas.  Harlan’s Station, a wooden stockade built about 1778, appears on John Filson’s map of Kentucky, 1784, but whether Filson was referring to the log palisade or the stone house is uncertain.  Both James and his wife, Sarah (Caldwell) Harlan, are probably buried in a nearby cemetery, now totally overgrown with only two broken, eroded gravestones evident.  Interestingly, a log cabin was moved from Harlan Station to the Caldwell estate on Maple Avenue in Danville; this cabin is said to have been built about 1780, and thus may have been the interim home of the Harlans between the construction of the station and the building of the “Old Stone House.”[14]

Bust portrait of Judge James Harlan (1800-1863). Painting is part of the KHS permanent collections.

Portrait of Judge James Harlan (1800-1863). Painting is part of the KHS permanent collections.

US Congressman, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Secretary of State, Attorney General of Kentucky, all appear on the résumé of this James Harlan (1800-1863), son of James and nephew of Silas.  He was born in the stone house 22 June 1800,[15] and was admitted to the bar in 1823, using the small parlors in the southern portion of the house as his law office.  Appointed Commonwealth Attorney in 1829, he was then elected to the US House of Representatives, serving two terms.  He became Kentucky’s Secretary of State in 1840, and Attorney General in 1851.  Harlan was a Unionist when the Civil War began, and was appointed District Attorney of Kentucky by President Lincoln in 1861.  He still held that office on his death in February 1863.  By 1840, he had left the Old Stone House and moved, first about 1833 to Harrodsburg (living in the present Beaumont Inn), then to Frankfort.

Attorney General of Kentucky, US Supreme Court Justice, “The Great Dissenter”, all describe John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911).  Born 1 June 1833 in the “Old Stone House,” his family moved to Harrodsburg shortly after his birth, then to Frankfort by 1840, where his father had become an important state official.  He became a Whig, and served with the 10th Kentucky Infantry (Union) until 1863 when his father died.  Harlan returned to manage the Harlan estate in Frankfort including about 12 slaves, and after his return to Frankfort, was appointed Kentucky’s Attorney General.  He became a Republican, and was an important part of Rutherford B. Hayes’s election as President, Hays showing his appreciation by nominating Harlan to the US Supreme Court in 1877.[16]

Judge John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court (1833-1911). Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Judge John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court (1833-1911). Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Harlan had originally opposed the “Civil War Amendments”, but as time passed, he became more and more aware of the rights of all not just Whites.  In the famous case of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), Harlan was the only justice of the nine to oppose segregation, the “Separate but equal” doctrine, saying famously, “The Constitution is colorblind.”  Plessy would be overturned in 1954 by Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), and Harlan would be vindicated by history as being on the “right” side.  His views on race changed over the years, but to critics, he said, “I’d rather be right than consistent.”

Robert Harlan (c1816-1897), who was a light-skinned black, was probably born between 1816 and 1818 in Virginia, and was brought to Harlan Station about 1818.  While virtually every source I have found states that he was a half-brother to John Marshall Harlan, DNA testing has positively disproven that hypothesis, without indicating who his actual father was, possibly another of the Harlans, but uncertain nonetheless.[17]  He was tutored by family members, erroneously called “half-brothers” in most accounts, moving with the family to Harrodsburg in 1834, then Frankfort in 1841.

He had skills for business, and opening up a barbershop in Frankfort after the Harlan family moved there, then a grocery store in Lexington, he was able to earn $500 with which to buy his freedom at the Franklin County courthouse on 18 September 1848.  He is described as “six feet high yellow big straight black hair Blue Gray eyes a Scar on his right wrist about the size of a dime and Also a small [illegible] Scar on the upper lip.”[18]

Robert James Harlan (1816-1897). Image in public domain.

Robert James Harlan (1816-1897). Image in public domain.

On achieving his freedom, he went to California during the Gold Rush, and it is reported that he returned with between $50,000 and $90,000 in gold, some of all of which he may have “earned” through gambling.  Returning east, he went to Cincinnati, investing in real estate, photography and the race horse business, among others.  He married a white woman, though he chose to live openly as an African-American.  He was a member of the Northern black elite, traveling to England, and returning to become one of the notable Blacks of Ohio.

Harlan was elected to the Ohio legislature in 1885, founded Cincinnati’s first Black public school, and worked to repeal discriminatory laws designed to keep Blacks in servitude.  He was an agent of the US Treasury Department, and practically on a first-name basis with future president, William Howard Taft.  During the years John Marshall Harlan was on the Supreme Court, he and Robert maintained contact with one another.  Though there is no record of correspondence between them, their children did acknowledge each others’ families.  Robert died wealthy and had accomplished a great deal, though he had many advantages over others born in enslavement.[19]

At least three members of the Harlan family associated with “The Old Stone House” and Harlan Station were successful in their endeavors.

The Cecil Family

James Granville Cecil, scion of the Cecil family in Boyle County, was born in Christianburg, Va 20 Sep 1803, and died near Danville 12 June 1881,[20] son of Samuel and Polly (Ingram) Cecil.  He married Sarah Buster 10 August 1838 in Monticello, Wayne Co; she was born 26 May 1820 in Monticello, and died near Danville 23 Dec 1862.  She was the daughter of Gen. Joshua and Julia (Hayden) Buster.[21]  Their children, Granville Cecil (1850-1915) and Charles Perry Cecil (1852-) became, along with their father, some of the largest land owners in Boyle County and all were prominent in agriculture and livestock raising.  James Granville Cecil, was a prominent businessman in Monticello, of the firm Cecil & Kendrick.  He owned a number of slaves, including Sophia, wife of Garret Buster, and several of their children.  Garret was owned by Cecil’s father-in-law, Gen. Joshua Buster of Monticello, Wayne Co, Ky.

Red Brick House, 1967, once owned by James Granville Cecil, demolished after 1997 due to unsafe conditions.  Present owner is Bryan Horn, Salt River Rd, Danville, Ky.  This is probably NOT the house described by Green Berry Buster, as he notes a brick house painted white, and this house was never painted white (Photo courtesy of Guy and Anna (Russell) Ingram, Danville, Ky)

Red Brick House, 1967, once owned by James Granville Cecil, demolished after 1997 due to unsafe conditions. Present owner is Bryan Horn, Salt River Rd, Danville, Ky. (Photo courtesy of Guy and Anna (Russell) Ingram, Danville, Ky)

Possibly in the late 1830s, Cecil began acquiring land in Boyle County, moving there by 1848, along with his and Sarah’s slaves.  James Granville’s son, Granville Cecil, purchased “Melrose,” located on US-127 north of Danville; “Cambus-Kenneth,” also on US-127 to the south of “Melrose,” and the Salt River property, formerly owned by the Harlans, probably including the “Old Stone House” and the Elijah Harlan house.  Granville and his brother, Charles Perry, established the “Cecilian Trotting Park”, to the east of present-day South Second Street in Danville bordering Clark’s Run, and with Melrose and Cecilian Park, their livestock operation produced one of the most famous trotting horses of the era, Gambetta Wilkes.[22]

In the late 1800s Charles Percy Cecil purchased Cambus-Kenneth and in 1899 built the present home on the site of Dr. Ephraim McDowell’s summer home.  When Granville Cecil died, 15 May 1915, he left an estate valued at over $300,000, more than 1,000 acres of land, and a will entailing his property until all his children had died and his grandchildren reached the age of 21, a will which the children attempted to overturn in the Boyle court.  They were successful there, but the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the original will.  The remainder of the estate was finally sold off in 1967.  Whether the Elijah Harlan house was part of this entailment is uncertain, as it was owned by numerous owners from about 1940 to 1965, though the Old Stone House had been purchased in 1954 by Mr. J. E. Stockton, and passed down to his grandson.

In addition, James Granville Cecil was the president and one of the founders of Farmer’s National Bank, 1879-1881, and Charles Perry Cecil was a director of the bank.[23]

The Buster Family

Garret Buster was a slave owned by Gen. Joshua Buster, of Monticello, Ky, and was apparently the son of “Jim” and “Sarah, slaves owned by “Colonel Waring”, in reality, General Joshua Buster or his father, Charles Buster.  Though Garret and his family were never as wealthy or famous as the Harlans and the Cecils, theirs is a story of common people striving to better themselves despite all the odds being against them, and as such, is a story that needs to be told.

Sophia Cecil was also enslaved, and owned by James Granville Cecil, originally of Monticello, but of Boyle County by 1848.  The Buster story is not as well-known as either the Harlan or even the Cecil story, but it is a story of family, faith, hard work, and a longing for freedom at any cost.

When I responded to Kelli’s request for the name “Buster” on the Beers 1876 map of Boyle and Mercer Counties,[24] I began the search.  I found Nimrod Buster on the map, but Kelli told me that the person she was looking for was Garret Buster, a slave, who apparently lived in Boyle County, and Nimrod was white.  She sent me information describing the house where Garret and his family lived, on the Salt River Road.

Brighter Sun, written by Green S. Buster: a fictionalized account of his family's years in slavery.

Brighter Sun, written by Green Berry Buster: A fictionalized account of the decades his Grandparents’ lived as enslaved people in Kentucky – and their struggle to gain freedom.

In 1937, after visiting the Salt River Road in 1935,[25] Greene Berry Buster (G. B.) wrote a fictionalized novel, Brighter Sun,[26] (published in 1954) about his grandparents’ years as enslaved African Americans, and their long, difficult struggle to end that enslavement.  The novel contained bits of truth, though the names of nearly all the Whites were changed.  It took a great deal of solid research, speculation, testing, and writing back and forth between me and Kelli Weaver-Miner, a descendant of the family, to strip away the 95% which was fiction, and to replace it with what we believe is fact.  We started out with an hypothesis that G. B.’s slave ancestors were owned by the Harlans, but the pieces didn’t fit.  However, the connection with James Granville Cecil and General Joshua Buster of Monticello, Wayne Co, Ky, did fit the puzzle nearly perfectly.  “The Old Stone House” and the Elijah Harlan house were the keys.

My friend, Barry Sanborn, and I believed the house to be the “Old Stone House,” built by the Harlan family.  At the Mercer County Public Library, we were looking for any records of the slaves belonging to the Harlans, when Barry just picked up David Sheet’s, Slave genealogy – a research guide with case studies (Bowie, Md: Heritage Books, 1986) and began browsing.  Totally by accident, he came across our first breakthrough on page 80,[27] a transcript of a document showing that Garret Buster was emancipated by his owner, General Joshua Buster, of Monticello, Wayne County.

Now that we knew Garret’s owner until 1845[28] we had our first clue.  The novel intimated that Garret’s father, “Jim,” was the son of “Colonel Waring” whom we believe to be General Buster, but this is not possible, though the general’s father or an uncle may be Jim’s father.

We found Garret Buster’s wife’s supposed surname through the death certificate of her son, Lewis.  General Buster’s son-in-law, James Granville Cecil, we speculated, was her owner.  The “Cecil” surname is listed (though the spelling is horribly mangled) on Lewis’s death certificate in Chicago in 1918.[29]  The connection became apparent when we proved G. B.’s story about HIS father, also Greene Berry Buster, visiting the “old place” on Salt River Road in 1865.  G. B.’s descriptions in the novel, as well as his own visit in 1937, fit the Elijah Harlan house perfectly; his description of the spring house fits the description of the “Old Stone House,” and the fact that these houses were used as hospitals following the Battle of Perryville also fits.

Our hypothesis became a theory — Garret was owned by Gen. Joshua Buster, though Gen. Buster allowed Garret to buy himself, partly for cash, partly on credit,[30] and Sophia was owned by James Granville Cecil, first in Monticello, then possibly in Boyle County.  We believe that when the Cecils moved to Boyle County in 1848, they took Sophia and her children (all slaves) with them, and that Garret went as well, having “married” Sophia about 1836.  An unprobated will found in the William Crenshaw Kennedy, Jr. Memorial Museum in Monticello, Wayne County, mentions that Garret had purchased Sophia and two of their children in 1853 from Cecil,[31] though Cecil had probably moved to Boyle County by then.  Another mystery?

Though there is documentary evidence of Garret Buster in Monticello as late as 1854, we believe he may have, as a freeman, simply gone back to Monticello from Boyle County to “clean up” some loose ends.  Interestingly however, he does not show up in the 1850 census as far as we can find.

First by working as hired labor in a tannery, and ultimately purchasing the tannery from its former owner (according to Brighter Sun), Garret Buster was emancipated 27 February 1845 in Monticello, Wayne County.  Sophia’s owner, James Granville Cecil, sold her and two of her children to Garret Buster[32].  Brighter Sun describes in detail, Garret’s unceasing efforts to purchase their children who were still slaves, probably Greene Berry (father of Greene B., the author of Brighter Sun) and Lewis.  We find there are other children, though we have found no record yet that these children were born free, with the exception of Sarah, born after 1853, and James, who was born 11 Dec 1857 to father Garret Buster, “f.m.c.) or “free man of color”.[33]  On page 193, the novel quotes an emancipation document for Greene in 1855, though we have yet to find an actual document stating such:

“Wiliam Hodson to Garret Buster, State of Kentucky, Boyle County

“Know all men by these presents that I, William Hodson, fo the county and state aforesaid, in consideration of the sum of five hundred dollars paid to me cash in hand, do set free Greene, the son of Garret Buster.  The said Greene is to enjoy and possess now, henceforth and forever, the full exercise of all rights, benefits and privileges of a free man of color, free of all or any claim to servitude, slavery, or service of the said William Hodson, his heirs, executors, and assigns forver.

“Signed:  William Hodson

“Given under my hand and seal this twenty-fifth day of November, 1855

“Boyle County Recorder’s office, James C. Lyle, Recorder”[34]

The 1850 Boyle County Slave Census [35], prior to Garret’s purchase of Sophia, Nancy and Clark,  has James Granville Cecil, with twelve slaves, including one male 13 (Greene?); one male 11 (Lewis?); one female 4 (Sarah?); and one female 2 (Eizabeth?).  Garret’s children in 1850 would have been one male, 12 years old, one male 11 years old, and one female, 4 years old.  Cecil owned no slaves matching the age and gender of Sophia, however, and we can not find Garret anywhere in any 1850 record.

The 1860 Boyle County Slave Census[36] shows Garret Buster, mulatto, as the owner of one female, age forty-two (probably Sophia), three males (probably Greene Berry, Clark and James) and two females (Nancy and Sarah) — all these children are the right gender and approximately the right age as given in the Census.  Strangely enough, Garret and his family are also shown as “free blacks” in Boyle County, Perryville P.O., in the 1860 Census (1860, p147); the list includes wife Sophia, and children Green, Nancy, Sarah, Clark and James, that is, all his children except Lewis, which may indicate these family members were commonly considered to be free by 1860, yet at the same time, they are Garret’s slaves.  Why is his family is listed as “free” in one census, and as “slaves” in the same year?

In a deed in the Boyle County courthouse[37], Garret Buster “emancipated” his wife and children as of December 1862 (coindicentally, the same month that Sarah (Buster) Cecil died), though we have some sources that say he was in Ohio before that time, probably moving in 1861.  Did he come back to Danville to tie up loose ends and guarantee his family’s freedom?  There are still many facts to uncover about this family, and some may well never be found.  After leaving Boyle County, the family settled in Xenia, Greene Co, OH (1870, Xenia, p1, and 1880, Ward 4, Xenia, p13A) and Garret, a widower, resided with his son, Greene Berry Buster, in Clark Twp; Clinton Co, OH (1900 Census, Clark Twp; p6A).

The family of Garret and Sophia (Cecil) Buster, as best we can assemble, includes children Greene Berry (1838-1925), Lewis (1839-1918), Nancy Virginia (1846-1876), Clark (1851-?), Sarah Jane (1853-?), James Robert (1857-1907), Mary Alice (1860-1879) and Milton (1862-?).  Brighter Sun refers to another daughter, Elizabeth who died prior to the Buster family leaving Boyle County for Ohio, but other than that reference, nothing has been found.  Also, one Charles Buster, b 1849, who died in Xenia, Greene Co, Ohio 20 May 1869, may have been the child of Garret and Sophia.

Lewis Buster, according to Brighter Sun, escaped enslavement through Maysville, and on to Ohio, where he was once again forced to leave for safety in Canada.  Eventually, he returned to his family in Xenia, Greene Co., OH, where his father and at least one brother had purchased land, becoming credits to the community.  Lewis must have escaped from Kentucky before the end of the Civil War because he and his brother Greene both served in the 101st Ohio volunteer “colored” infantry, enlisting in September 1864.[38]

Elijah Harlan House, Slave Quarters upstairs (Photo by the author, April, 2012)

Elijah Harlan House, Slave Quarters upstairs (Photo by the author, April, 2012)

Greene Berry Buster, in his manuscript for Brighter Sun, page iv, describes seeing the “plantation” where his family lived.  For the longest while, we were confused, trying to make sense of his description of a brick house, when we were assuming we should be looking for a stone house.  But having the manuscript, not just the final book, may clear that up.  He writes, “Leaving the main highway, we turned into what proved to be a semi-private road which crossed Salt creek three times on the way up to the “mansion” seated at the crest of the hill.  As we approached the ancient ‘pile’, we saw evidence of a ‘glory that had departed’.  Built of red brick more than a century ago, it had since been painted white…”  It may well be that the “ancient pile” was the stone house, which was in great disrepair by that time, and that the “evidence of a glory that had departed” was the Elijah Harlan house, which was still standing and still occupied at the time.[39]

Garret Buster must have wondered at times if he could ever work hard enough to accomplish his goals, which often changed, as the value of his children as slaves increased.  When the family left for Ohio, the only regret he apparently had was that he could not earn enough money to free Lewis.  However, the family never lost faith in God and the idea of freedom, no matter how hard the situation was, no matter what they had to go through, no matter what obstacles stood in their way.

Their children were educated, and their grandchildren became ministers, teachers and pursued other educated professions.  Education was, and still is, vitally important to the descendants of Garret Buster.

Again, coincidentally, the historic “Great Tornado Outbreak” of 3 April 1974 which spawned a tornado that nearly destroyed “The Old Stone House” also spawned, about four hours earlier,[40] an F-5 tornado which virtually began at the Cherry Grove Cemetery in Xenia, Ohio, killing 36, and destroying the gravestones of Garret and Sophia Buster, 170 miles away.[41]

Now we need to continue researching some of the loose ends:

  1. WHEN did Garret Buster come to Danville and Boyle County?
  2. WHO were his parents?  Brighter Sun infers that “Colonel Waring” was the father of Garret’s father, Jim.  The “real” Colonel Waring, Gen. Joshua Buster, was too young to have been Jim’s father.
  3. WHEN did Garret Buster take his family to Ohio?  The novel states about 1857, yet they were in the 1860 Census for Boyle County.
  4. WHEN did Garret and Sophie’s son, Lewis, escape from enslavement?  Again, about 1857 is implied in the novel, but it may have been later.
  5. WHAT properties did James Granville Cecil purchase, if any, from the Harlan family?  One source, Danville and Boyle County in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky, says Granville purchased property from Silas Harlan in 1822 (exactly which property is uncertain), but Cecil was only 19 years old at the time and living in Monticello.  The years from 1830 to 1848 are nearly a blank slate for Cecil insofar as land purchases in Boyle and Mercer counties are concerned.
  6. How is James Granville Cecil connected with the Elijah Harlan house?  Cecil owned members of the Buster family in Monticello, and Greene B. Buster describes the Elijah Harlan house as the place where his ancestors were enslaved, but as yet we find no deeds, directly or indirectly through others, to Cecil from Harlan.

From the 1770s until a few years before the Civil War, Kentucky was a frontier zone, where people of ability and hard work could achieve a good, fulfilling life.  These three families, all connected to Harlan’s Station, certainly prove that.

 For Supplemental Documentation and Photos, including Bibliography, click here: Supplemental Documents and Photos 

About the Authors:

Denis Bio PhotocMike Denis was born and raised in Maine – Westbrook, Oakland, Waterville, and now lives in Parksville, Boyle Co. Kentucky. He graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a BS in Education, concentration in history, 1968. His graduate work includes studies at the University of Southern Maine, MS in Education, 1973, and graduate work at the University of Maine, Orono, CAS in Middle Level Education, 1990. Mike taught US History at Williams JHS and Messalonskee Middle School, Oakland, Maine, 1968 until retirement in 2007, when he moved to Kentucky in July of that year. His first stop in Kentucky was Casey Co. followed by Boyle Co. where he is actively involved with local history efforts. His current service includes: President, Boyle County Genealogical Association, Inc.; Publicity Chair, Danville Boyle County African American Historical Society; Member, Kentucky Historical Society; Member, African American Genealogy Group of Kentucky. His family connections to Maine remain strong as his Daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, reside in his Father’s former house in Westbrook, ME.

 


NOTES

[1] Lincoln County, Kentucky, Deeds, Book A, page 2, recorded 22 Jan 1783.

[2] O’Malley, Nancy.  “Stockading up”: A study of pioneer stations in the Inner Bluegrass Region of Kentucky; report submitted to Kentucky Heritage Council, Frankfort, Ky, 30 April 1987, 116+.

[3] Buster, Greene Berry.  Brighter sun: an historical account of a man to free himself and his family from human bondage.  New York: Pageant Press, 1954, x.

[4]National Register of Historic Places Inventory, Nomination Form, Harlan’s Station Site and James Harlan Stone House Ruin, 21 Oct 1976.

[5] National Register of Historic Places Inventory, Nomination Form, Harlan’s Station Site and James Harlan Stone House Ruin, 21 Oct 1976.

[6] Kentucky Historical Resources Directory, Site BO 292, UTM Reference 16-687940-4170990, 10 April 1976.

[7] Buster, Greene Berry.  Brighter sun: an historical account of a man to free himself and his family from human bondage.  New York: Pageant Press, 1954, x.

[8] Harlan, Alpheus H.  History and genealogy of the Harlan family and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan who settled in Chester County, Pa., 1687.  Baltimore, MD: Lord Baltimore Press, 1914, 273.

[9] Photograph by Guy Ingram, Danville, Ky, taken about 1968.

[10] Harlan, Alpheus H. History and genealogy of the Harlan family and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan who settled in Chester County, Pa., 1687. Baltimore, Md: Lord Baltimore Press, 1914, 105.

[11] James S Greene III, Major Silas Harlan: His Life and Times.  Baxter, KY, 1963

[12] Harlan, Alpheus H.  History and genealogy of the Harlan family and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan who settled in Chester County, Pa., 1687.  Baltimore, MD: Lord Baltimore Press, 1914, 105-106.

[13] Harlan, Alpheus H. History and genealogy of the Harlan family and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan who settled i Chester County, Pa., 1687. Baltimore, Md: Lord Baltimore Press, 1914, 105.

[14] Hamner, Mary Jo Joseph and Janet. Danville and Boyle County in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky: an architectural history. Paducah, Ky: Turner Publishing Co, 1999, 20.

[15] Harlan, Alpheus H.  History and genealogy of the Harlan family and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan who settled in Chester County, Pa., 1687.  Baltimore, MD: Lord Baltimore Press, 1914, 274.

[16] Kentucky Advocate. “The Great Dissenter – Justice John Marshall Harlan.” Kentucky Advocate, 8 March 1981.

[17] Harlan, Malvina Shanklin.  Some memories of a long life, 1854-1911.  New York: Modern Library, 2002, 230.

[18] “The Great Dissenter and his Half-Brother.”  Smithsonian Institution. Past Imperfect. December 20, 2011. http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2011/12/the-great-dissenter-and-his-half-brother/ (accessed April 2, 2012).

[19] Yarbrough, Tinsley E. Judicial enigma: the first Justice Harlan. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995, 10-21.

[20] Johnson, Augusta Phillips. A century of Wayne County Kentucky 1800-1900. Louisville, Ky: Standard Printing, 1939, 98.

[21]Johnson, Augusta Phillips. A century of Wayne County Kentucky 1800-1900. Louisville, Ky: Standard Printing, 1939., 240.

[22] Kentucky Advocate. Catalogue of 152 standard-bred trotting horses – Cecilian Park. Danville, Ky: Kentucky Advocate, 1893, 109. (This was a sales flyer published by the Advocate for the Cecils)

[23] Griffin, Richard W. Newspaper history of a town: a history of Danville, Kentucky. Danville, Ky: Danville Advocate-Messenger, 1965, 87.

[24] Map of Boyle and Mercer County, Kentucky.  D.G.Beers & Company, 1876.

[25] Buster, Greene B.  Brighter Sun, manuscript, 1937, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan., iv.

[26] Buster, Greene B.  Brighter Sun: an historical account of the struggles to free himself and his family from human bondage.  New York: Pageant Press, 1954.

[27] Sheets, David H.  Slave genealogy – a research guide with case studies.  Bowie, Md: Heritage Books, 1986, 80.

[28] Wayne County, Kentucky, Deed Book I, 55.

[29] Illinois, State of. “Certificate of Death, Louis Buster.” Chicago, Ill., December 26, 1918

[30] Wayne County, Kentucky, Deed Book, Vol 1, 55.

[31] Buster, Garret, will, 15 August 1854, unprobated, located in the William Crenshaw Kennedy, Jr. Memorial Museum, Monticello, Ky.

[32] Wayne County, Kentucky, Deed Book, Vol I, 55.

[33] Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Ky.

[34] Buster, Greene B.  Brighter Sun: an historical account of the struggles to free himself and his family from human bondage.  New York: Pageant Press, 1954, 193.

[35] Boyle County, Kentucky, 1850 Slave Census, 609 (page number illegible)

[36] Boyle County, Kentucky, 1860 Slave Census, 162.

[37] Boyle County, Kentucky, Deeds, Vol 8, 104.

[38] Robinson, George F. After thirty years : a complete roster, by townships, of Greene County, Ohio soldiers in the late Civil War. Xenia, Ohio: unknown, 1895, 85.

[39] Buster, Greene B.  Brighter Sun, manuscript, Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kan., iv.

[40] April 3, 1974 – the Tornado Super Outbreak at www.april31744.com/county_damage.htm, accessed 12 July 2012.

[41] Email from Kelli Weaver-Miner, 5 April 2012.

After realizing what match viagra free sample merely need to keep in mind that the free viagra samples would be even nicer to you. It was all so long and there is no doubt that nix will alter.

Share Button

Comments

  1. wrote on July 24th, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Duane Young

    Thank You,
    I have been looking for information to the location of Harlan’s Station for several years in reference to the Scalping by Indians of Hans Michael Goodnight (Gutknecht) on Sept. 1, 1781. Did you run across any info on the Goodnight Family in the 1780’s? He Had 2 brothers from Germany, George and Christian. One was my ancestor, another Harry Truman’s and the third Barack Obama’s. One was also the ancestor of Charlie Goodnight.
    Thank You,
    Duane Young

Add a comment