Peter Harness / Susan Vause


Peter Harness (born about 1742 in Frederick County, VA and died about 1825 in Fayette County, Ohio). His wife was Susan Vause (or Vance), born about 1739 in Frederick County, VA, and died about 1805 in New Creek, Hardy County, WVA.

Peter Harness was one of the son's of Michael (Ernst) Harness who came to America as a German emigrant in 1710.

It would appear that Peter and his wife Susan, got married and raised their family in Virginia and that he came to Ohio some years following her death about 1805 in Virginia. Most if not all of his sons apparently either came with him to Ohio or joined him later, all settling in Fayette County, Ohio.

Census records indicate that Michael, John, George, Adam, Arthur and Peter, Jr. all spent some time in Ohio between about 1815 and 1830.

In the 1820 Fayette County census, 3 young males were living in the household of Peter Harness, Sr., who if his birth date is correct, would have been in his late 70ís by that time. No females are listed as being members of the household. The boys are too young (apparently all in their teens) to have been any of his own children. Two of them may have been Frederick and Gideon Harness, the sons of John Harness who had died in 1818. Johnís daughter, Elizabeth, had probably married William Creason by that time.

According to Fayette County, Ohio court records all three of Johnís children were mentioned in Peterís will as devisees, a legal term dating back to the 15th century meaning the recipient of real property according to a will. In 1838, Johnís children went to Fayette County court to redeem 61 and a half acres of land along Sugar Creek that they said had been bequeathed to them in their grandfather Peterís will, but had been sold in the interim to satisfy county tax claims. The court ruled in the childrenís favor.

NOTE: Peter Harness will was probated Feb. 21, 1825 in Fayette County, Ohio. However, a fire in 1828 destroyed many of the county's records, including the will, according to the Fayette County Records and Archives Center.

Peter Harness, Jr. was listed in the 1820 census for Fayette County as having 4 sons and 6 daughters in his household, along with his wife.

Arthur Harness is listed in the 1820 Fayette County census as having two sons, and three daughters living in his household, along with his wife.

Susan and Peter Harness had 11 children in all: Michael, Elizabeth, George, Arthur, Margaret, Sarah, Susannah, Adam, Jacob, John and Peter, Jr.

(1) George Harness (born about 1768 in Hampshire County, Virginia), married Harriet Sowards, a native of Maryland. They stayed awhile in Ohio but moved on to Indiana where both died in Howard County, Indiana after raising 8 children.

(2) John Harness (born about 1770 in Hampshire County, Virginia) According to Fayette County, Ohio court records John Harness was killed by his brother, Michael in 1818 in Fayette County, Ohio. John had married Elinder Eleanor Troutwine in Virginia before coming to Ohio, and they had three children, Elizabeth, Frederick and Gideon, all apparently born in Fayette County, Ohio.

(3) Arthur Harness was born about 1772. He is listed in the 1820 Fayette County,Ohio census as having two sons and three daughters living in his household, along with his wife.

(4) Peter Harness, Jr. (born about 1773 in Hampshire County, VA), also spent some time in Ohio, along with his wife, Grace Conner, who was from either Pennsylvania or Kentucky. In the 1820 census, Peter, Jr. lived in Jefferson township, Fayette County, Ohio. Peter, Jr. did not show up again until the 1840 census, and by that time was living with his family in Pleasant township in LaPorte County, Indiana. He was also in the 1850 census at that location. He and his wife Grace both died in LaPorte County, Indiana. Some of the coupleís children were born in Ohio and others in Indiana.

(5) Margaret Harness was born about 1775, probably in Hampshire County, VA.

(6) Sarah Harness was born about 1776, probably in Hampshire County, VA.

(7) Susannah Harness was born about 1778, probably in Hampshire County, VA.

(8) Adam Harness was born about 1780 , most likely in Hampshire County, Virginia, died June 1, 1851 in Fayette County, Ohio) What is known of Adamís life is rather bizarre. After he came to Ohio he apparently got involved at some point with a woman named Susanna Conner (daughter of John Conner and Sarah Trader). Susanna had previously been married to a man named Hopkins Rose and they had several children. She apparently married Rose in 1812, or so she later told a court, along with the information that her husband had died at or near Fayette County, Ohio in October of 1823.

According to Fayette County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas records (Minute Book B, page 117), on Feb. 25, 1830, the state of Ohio indicted Susannah Rose (or Rowe as she stated her last name at the time) and Adam Harness (at the time they were not married to each other) for adultery. Adam pleaded not guilty to that as well as a stabbing charge on the same date and on Feb. 26 the court ordered him discharged from custody (Fayette County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas records, Minute Book B, page 120).

Two years later, Susannah did in fact legally marry Adam. (Recorded in Fayette County, Ohio records, Book B, page 35). Susannahís sister, Grace, had been married to Adamís brother, Peter Harness, Jr., for a number of years. Adam died in June, 1851, (according to Shook Cemetery records, Darke County, Ohio.) While he was still alive and apparently with his knowledge, Susannah filed for bounty land under the Act of 1850 saying that she was the widow of Hopkins Rose, that he had volunteered in Virginia, that she, as Susannah Conner had married him in 1812, and stated that he had died at or near Fayette County, OH in October of 1823. She did not mention that she was married to Adam Harness at the time she filed for the bounty land.

An affidavit from Adam Harness and James Conner (Susannahís brother) was also filed. Susannahís bounty land claim was rejected. Susannah died in August, less than two months after filing for the bounty land. Susannah may have had several illegitimate children before her legal marriage to Adam Harness.

(9) Michael Harness (born about 1783, probably in Hampshire County, Virginia) married Nancy Spahr in Virginia before coming to Ohio. Michael was indicted for manslaughter on June 25, 1818 in Fayette County, Ohio , charged with the death of his brother, John. He pleaded not guilty but reportedly fled with his wife Nancy back to Virginia before his trial on the charges..

(10) Jacob Harness was born April 3, 1785, probably in Hampshire County, Virginia, and died April 6, 1840. He married Christina Smith. (She was a witness to the incident that led to the manslaughter charge being brought against Jacobís brother Michael in 1818 in connection with the killing of John Harness.)

(11) Elizabeth Harness (her birth and death dates are unknown.) She married George Coyle (Coil).