Life and times  

                ...on the South Branch in Colonial Virginia


Squeezed dramatically between two Appalachian ridges, the South Branch of the Potomac River between Moorefield and Romney, West Virginia, cuts its way through a wild and narrow wooded canyon known as the Trough.

The  South Branch originates in today’s Highland County, Virginia (the South Fork of the South Branch) and in the mountainous terrain of West Virginia (the North Fork of the South Branch).
The river travels northward in its course toward Potomac Forks at Oldtown, MD where it merges with the North Branch to form the main stem of the Potomac. Along its course it travels through the steep, forested Appalachian Mountains and through forests and sheer sandstone cliffs of Nelson and Seneca Rocks.

The South Branch was a wild and wooly place...the rugged western frontier of the Virginia colony... when Michael Ernst Harness, Sr. and his family arrived there about  1738.

Benjamin F. Van Meter, in his book “Genealogies and Sketches of Some Old Families Who Have Taken A Prominent Part In the Development of Virginia and Kentucky,” said of the Harness family on the South Branch in the mid 1700’s:

“The Harness family was not only enterprising, but a fearless, daring and reckless family. Three of Michael’s sons were scalped by the Indians, and the family had many reckless adventures and narrow escapes.”

This site is associated with two others dedicated to telling the story of the life and times of Michael Ernst Harness, Sr. and his descendants in various ways. The sites are joint projects of Charles and Thomas Harness.

The Harness Family website may be found  by pressing this hyperlink:


The Harness Family Files  site not only has extensive information about individual members of the Harness family but also many families associated with it over the years.  That site may be reached by selecting this hyperlink:


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