Sunday Stories: John Thomas Harshfield

We'll leave the Coker family for a while and share some stories of another founding Sutherland family, the Harshfields.

Born March 11, 1845 in Greene County, Indiana and was the son of David Darnell and Eleanor (Shoptaw) Harshfield.

From the biography of John Q.A. Harshfield:

The Harshfields were of German Descent. The first Harshfield coming to America was John Harshfield, when he was 14 years. The name of Deerfield in Germany was changed to “Harshfield” in America. “Hart” is German for “deer”. Two of this John Harshfield’s children were David Darnell and Fred. There were other children, but all we know about are these two. Fred had two sons, John and Columbus.

David Darnell is the local Harshfield’s ancestor, and he was born in Knoxville, Kentucky in 1805, and died at St. Paul, Kansas on November 15, 1879 at the age of 74 years. He was a farmer, and also a freighter on the Mississippi River, freighting from Lexington, Kentucky to New Orleans, Louisiana. He migrated to green County, Indiana, and then to Kansas in 1865. He married Eleanor Shoptaw while in Kentucky on May 20, 1830. She was born June 26, 1809, and died May 9, 1886.
To this marriage there were nine children. Eleanor Shoptaw’s father was John Shoptaw. It was noted in the Nebraska Who’s Who that David Darnell Harshfield came to Kentucky with Daniel Boon. David Darnell Harshfield would be the grandfather to John Q.A. Harshfield.
It has been said, but there is no written proof at the time of this writing that John Q.A.’s mother, Caroline Shoptaw Harshfield was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. However, some of the older members of the family say that she definitely was Indian.

John Thomas was the seventh child of nine children, listed below beginning with the oldest: Dorothy (Neill), Melvina Nelli (Ashcraft); James, who married Margaret Page Grigsby; Willim B. Riley, who married Margaret Ann Lamb; Elizabeth (Crowe); Clementine (VanMeter); John Thomas himself; David Washington, who married Parthenia Jane Carrico (also went by the name of Jenny), who died at the birth of twin daughters; they also had another little girl before the twins were born, but all the little girls died after the passing of their mother in an epidemic. Parthenia Jane Carrico was the sister to Pius Matthias Carrico.

In September, 1879, David remarried to Mary Irene Sylvester and became the parents of Charles, Leo, Albert, Ella (Chessmore), Daisy (Weaver), and David, Jr. David W. Harshfield was born January 2, 1849 and died August 28, 1907 and is buried in the Riverside Cemetery at O’Fallons, Nebraska. The youngest son, Columbus A. was born February 1, 1852 and he married Adelie Garrett and died June 15, 1914 and is buried at Fredonia, Kansas.

John Thomas was married in Owensboro, Indiana to Caroline Shoptaw, the daughter of William Shoptaw. Moved to Osage Mission, later named St. Paul, Kansas and then to Coffeeville, Kansas. Four sons were born to this union. Alonzo, born April 4, 1873 and died as an infant; Sidney Clyde, born December 26, 1873; John Q.A. born May 4, 1875. All the above boys were born in Osage Mission (St. Paul) Kansas, then after moving to Coffeeville, Kansas, a son, Lorenzo Thomas, was born on July 9, 1882; at the time of his birth, he weighed 1 ½ pounds. Caroline Shoptaw Harshfield died January 27, 1883 and is buried in the Valley Cemetery at St. Paul, Kansas.
While in Kansas, John Thomas remarried to Susan C. Elkens, who was born October 20, 1854 and died October 31, 1907 at the age of 53 years and 11 days.

In 1897, John Thomas with his second wife Susan and sons Sidney Clyde, John Q.A., and Lorenzo Thomas, moved to Sutherland. This trip to Nebraska was made by covered wagon accompanied by his brother, David Washington Harshfield. 

At this time, John Thomas Harshfield homesteaded north of Sutherland. He was a farmer, merchant and hotel keeper, and was a proprietor of a hotel in Sutherland at the time of his death. The hotel was located on Front Street. According to a newspaper article, John Thomas Harshfield passed away from “paralysis of the heart”, October 7, 1906 at the age of 61 years, seven months and six days.
The hotel in the photo above would be the third building to the right of the Sutherland House.


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