Aaron W. Harlan family

Active 1844
Active 1928

Biographical notes:

Aaron W. Harlan (b. ca1811 - d. 1911) was a native of Indiana who came to Lee County, Iowa in 1834 after working several years as a trader on the lower Mississippi River. Under the employment of Lt. George Crosman of the 1st U.S. Dragoons he helped build the barracks for Fort Des Moines. Some sources credit him with initiating steamboat travel on the Des Moines River when he successfully delivered a ship of merchandise to Keosauqua in 1837. He apparently held dual residences in Clark County, Missouri and Lee County, Iowa--bordering counties on opposite sides of the Des Moines River--and served as a Justice of the Peace for Sweet Home Township in the former location during the 1840s. Harlan was recorded as a resident of Croton (Van Buren Township), Lee County, Iowa at the time he enlisted with Company F of the 21st Missouri Infantry at the beginning of the Civil War. He was a farmer and--as letters in this collection indicate--served as intermediary in some land transactions involving Judge Charles Mason of Burlington, Iowa in the 1880s. Harlan married Eunice Briggs on August 16, 1838 and was the father of Emeline, Justin, Frank, and Albert. His family lineage qualified him for membership in the Association of the Descendants of George & Michael Harlan of the U.S. and he took an interest in trading genealogical information with relatives. Harlan composed poetry--including one about the Civil War Battle of Athens, Missouri--and contributed pioneer recollections to several published histories of Lee County. He died on April 30, 1911.

From the description of Aaron W. Harlan family papers and photographs, 1844-1928. (State Historical Society of Iowa, Library). WorldCat record id: 749893840

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  • Athens, Battle of, Athens, Mo., 1861
  • Frontier and pioneer life
  • Mormons
  • Real property
  • Steamboats


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  • Lee County (Iowa) (as recorded)
  • Iowa--Van Buren County (as recorded)
  • Mississippi River (as recorded)
  • Iowa--Lee County (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Croton (Iowa) (as recorded)
  • Clark County (Missouri) (as recorded)