Harmon Hubbell Earl (1816-1903), Ancestor No. 48

Since the last post was about Roxy Earl, and because I believe in fairness and equal time, I’m letting Harmon Hubbell Earl, Roxy’s husband and my great-great-great-great-grandfather, handle the bulk of today’s post. But I’m far too much of a control freak to not chirp up occasionally.

Harmon Hubbell Earl, Olive

This is H. H. Earl with one of his granddaughters – or maybe great-granddaughters. She was identified as “Olive” on the photo – but that doesn’t narrow it down much. This family used the name Olive like others used John or Elizabeth. This appears to be the same chair used in the photos from the Roxy post – but was taken some years earlier than those, I believe.

Harmon was born in Windham, Portage County, Ohio on March 8, 1816 (98 years to the day before the birth of his great-great-granddaughter, my Grandma Lula).

Of course, his life story follows Roxy’s from the time of their meeting, when Harmon was 21. By the time 1900 rolled around, they’d been in Grant County, Wisconsin for more than 50 years – on their farm near Boscobel for most of that time, and in Fennimore proper later.

Harmon was Postmaster at Fennimore for 15 years, a Justice of the Peace for 9 years, and assessor for 2 years (1851 and 1852). And I had actually forgotten all about this, but he was also a licensed Methodist preacher for more than 30 years. (I hope someone’s keeping track of all the Methodist ministers in this blog. I’m not!)

About five months before his death, he wrote the following letter to his nephew – the son of his brother, Aner.  Right off the bat, he identifies the source of much of the family history here as his Grandmother. Listening attentively from the chimney corner. Love that!

For the most part, his telling of the story jives with what I’ve learned. In those places where he got things a little muddled, I’ve interjected some clarifications.

Fennimore Aug 13 1902

Dear Clifford

Ollie said you wanted a history of the Earl family and I had a history of the family published some years ago with a History of the Early Settlers of Grant County Wis. It is of my early recollection, as told by my Grandmother, while a small boy setting in the chimney corner, an interested listener. These three Brothers of Earls emigrated to America in an Early Day. One settled in Connecticut, one in New Hampshire, the other in Virginia. My Grand Mother was of the regular Scotch-Irish stock.

This was Susannah Ray Earl Earl Carnes (1754-1835) – she married two Earls… brothers, at that!

The Earl Family to which we belong was the one who settled in New Hampshire. Grand-father Earl died before I was born and [Grand-] Mother married a man by the name of Carnes. He also died before my recollection. She lived with us till she died. She had five boys – John, Jacob, James, Joseph and Robert, and 2 daughters Betsy and Nancy.

Betsey married John Colwell [Caldwell]. They lived in Bryan, Ohio.

Nancy married Thomas Lee. They went to Iowa about 1840.

Jacob, Joseph and Robert moved to Windham, Ohio in 1816.

Certain county and town histories place Robert and Jacob in the area as early as 1808-10. They all fought in Ohio militia regiments in the War of 1812, and Robert took over command of his company upon the death of their captain, Daniel Dull. (The Earl and the Dull families go way back to Pennsylvania times.)

Robert, my father and your grandfather, married Lydia Hubbell. Mother had nine children:

Eber the oldest brother died in Kentucky;

Susan & Jane were twins. Susan married Harvey Millard who died in Windham. She moved to Iowa and died near Spencer.

Oy. I haven’t begun to unravel all the relationships this Millard marriage spawned. But there is a post coming soon that will attempt to do so.

Aunt Jane married Fred Palmer. She died in Missouri.

I am the fourth in the family. Your Aunt Bettie and I are the only ones of the family now living.

Uncle Jacob married Rachel Van Wye.

Some confusion on HH’s part. Jacob’s wife was Rachel Wilson. Joseph’s wife was Mary Van Wye.

They had 6 boys and 3 girls: Ebenezer, James, Robert, Stephen, William and Albert. The girls: Margaret, Lucetta and Clementine.

Our Uncle James married Nancy McKelvy [or Margaret McKelvie]. They had 5 children – 2 boys, Brunson and Alvin, and 3 girls – Mary, Eliza and Alzina. Brunson died in Iowa. Alvin lived at Adrian, Michigan. When we went back to Ohio in 1846, we called on him. He is probably dead before this.

Now, he gets all sorts of things tangled up in this next section, so I’ll try to be as clear as possible.

Your Grandma Earl [H. H.’s mother Lydia] had 3 sisters:

Aunt Ann who married Hugh Sharon. They went to Iowa about 1840. [Ann only went to Iowa after Hugh’s death in 1858.] 

Aunt Betsey married John Stanley. They lived in Trumbull County Ohio. [These two were actually related thru Betsey’s mother – but since these comments are supposed to be for clarity, I’ll restrain myself.]

Aunt Eliza married Vernon Allen. They lived in Braceville, Ohio.

After the death of her [HH’s mother Lydia’s] father, her mother changed her name from Hubbell to Depew…

an odd way of saying she remarried (or maybe she didn’t)…

… by whom she had 2 boys, Marshall and Nicholas Depew – half brothers – and 2 half sisters – Aunt Eliza and Sarah Kingsley, who died in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Two matters worth noting here. First: his grandmother’s first Hubbell marriage was a difficult one. One hint of trouble appeared in the Huntingdon (Penn.) Courier and Daily Advertiser on August 8, 1797, when Robert Hubbell had an item published warning folks against trusting his “absconding wife” Jane.

Since Jane’s Depew children were born beginning in 1801, Robert apparently didn’t live too many years more… or maybe Jane just moved on with her life. I’ve found some reference to the death of a Robert Hubbell in 1825. I’ve found no record of a Robert Hubbell dying circa 1800. So – who knows?

And second: He’s mixing up his mother’s sisters and half-sisters. First off, there were only two of each (he mentioned Eliza twice). The half-sisters were Aunt Ann and Aunt Eliza; the full sisters were Aunt Betsey and Sarah Kingsley.

Pressing on…

The other of Father’s brothers I knew but little about. They lived in Trumbull County. I saw Uncle Joseph a few times. He was the youngest of the family.

This is about all I know of the History of the Earl family. You know the History of your own family – your cousins, the Millards and Palmers. Adna & Rob Palmer are I think in Arizona reported to be wealthy.

These Palmer brothers may well have been wealthy, but they were in Kalispell, Montana at the time of this letter.

Now for a little history of your Uncle and Aunt. We are both in our 87th year. We have broken up housekeeping – have a bed and part of our things at Ollie’s, and a bed and part of our things at Willie’s so we can go from one place to the other at our pleasure. Willie has built a large nice house. We are very nicely situated where we can be comfortable and have someone to look after us in our old age. We are getting quite feeble though I have worked all summer, am taking it easy for a few days. I wish you would come over and see us. We shall not be here long. We have got to the point where we can’t look for much more of life. Thank God for long life. We hope for and expect a better life when done with this.

HH Earl signoff

God Bless you, my Dear Boy and your Dear Lillie and Babies. Yours in love from your Uncle H. H. Earl

[Huge thanks to Janis, a many-times-removed cousin through H. H. Earl’s sister Jane Earl Palmer, for passing this letter along to me.]


  1. Hello
    I just ran across your post as I was doing some geneology research online.
    Harmon Hubbell Earl was my great great grandfather. I probably have some photos and information that you might not have.

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