Welcome to my Harley Family History
For early Harley History visit: Jacob's Ladder
My father, Joseph Morrison Harley was born on the 7th of July, 1920, in Port Angeles, Clallam Co., Washington. He was a very handsome man who, I am told, had a kind heart and a keen sense of humor. He was killed in Thamesbruck, Germany on the 10th of April, 1945. Prior to embarking on over-seas duty during W.W.II, mother and father discussed the possibility that he would not return. He told mother that in the event of his death, he wanted to be buried where he fell, with the men in his Company. She complied with his wishes, so he is buried 10 miles from the German border in Margraaten, Holland at an Allied Forces military cemetery.
I have heard very few stories about my father. When I was eighteen I stayed with my grandmother in Port Angeles for several months while I went to Peninsula College. While I was there I modeled for a local artist who taught a class in portrait painting. A woman in the class came up to me afterward. She said' "Your dad was Joe Harley, wasn't he?" I replied that he was, and asked how she knew that. She said that I looked exactly like my father. They had been class mates in school since childhood, and she told how they used to stomp home through all the mud puddles!
Another friend of my father's spoke of his kindness and humor.
Dad's Army training was as a pilot in the Army Air Corp. He attended flight school in Wisconsin. Ultimately, however, he was sent to Europe as a Sergeant in the infantry...this change was brought about due to two events. The first was a broken arm which failed to mend properly, and the second was a detached retina which occurred as dad and his army buddies were 'horsing around'. Dad was sent to Germany where he was involved in the mop-up of German stragglers during the final stages of the war prior to Hitler's surrender in May of 1945. I have read several letters he sent home, and they are very poignant. He tells of the disillusionment of the German people with the Nazi movement. They were kind and sympathetic to the invading American and Allied forces, eager for the war to end! He also told of his anger at seeing many German tanks and equipment that had been produced by Ford Motor plants, then used to kill American soldiers.
David William Harley, was my dad's younger brother. He was born at a Seattle, Washington hospital on 8 Jan 1929. He was a gentle soul who never married. He graduated from Whitman College and for a time attended Georgetown Univeristy, majoring in Political Science. The death of my grandfather cut short his studies, and he returned home to Port Angeles. Uncle Dave relates the following stories about dad...
"Joe was one of those unfortunate boys whose growth came very late. By the time he was in high school, almost all of the boys and many of the girls were taller than he was.
One of mother's friends was a retired teacher who had done substitute teaching, but not for several years. A long stretch of colds and flu had depleted teachers and substitutes, so the school district was scouring all lists to come up with any qualified personnel.
Mrs. Siebel was very uncertain at taking over a high school class and nerves took over as she stood up and saw a room full of sophomores, all of those big kids that she didn't know but was expected to teach. Then she saw Joe, 'that little cherub with blond curly hair', and she blurted out, without thinking, "Why, Baby Joe!"
Somehow she managed to get through her teaching schedule for the day and as soon as she could she telephoned mother to apologize.
When Joe got home he started in on 'that ugly old dame who had ruined his reputation.' Both Joe and Mrs. Siebel survived the fiasco, Joe began growing about this time, and mother quit calling him 'Baby Joe.'
Joe and his buddy, Herm Pengrants saw the movie 'Robin Hood' and decided to do some sword play. They took Grandpa Harley's Knight's Templar sword and the German W.W.I sword that Dr. Ingalls had left me (Dave) and were soon getting into some wild parry and thrust action. Inevitably, one thrust was too good and Herm stabbed Joe in the stomach. While the wound was not deep it did bleed a lot. They were more concerned with cleaning things up than with the wound, though they should have known that as soon as the folks got home I would promptly inform them that Herm had stabbed Joe!
While digging foundations for the Crown Zellerbach Mill, an old, long barreled powder-loading gun was found. The Zulu got passed from Percy to J.L. Harley. The neighborhood boys discovered that a shotgun shell would fit, so Joe got the Zulu and one of the others brought the shotgun shells and they all headed for the woods with "tag-along" (Dave) right with them. The Zulu was so long, heavy and cumbersome that they rested it in a fork of a tree. Since Joe provided the Zulu, he had the first (and, as it turned out, only) go. Two or three of the boys were right behind him, on a small hill. When it went off, the Zulu, Joe and his back-ups were literally blasted off the hill and piled up at the bottom. Joe could barely move his arm from the recoil, and he was sick from the shock and the back-blast of gun powder into his face. No one else wanted to try it. Of course, as soon as we got home I told everyone that Joe went 'boom' and got sick!
Since Joe was nine years older than I he was stuck baby-sitting. Then one Sunday dinner when I was twelve, he and I began telling stories of what really happened. The time that he and Herm wanted to go out for a while, so they took several ropes and tied me to my bed, using a lot of different Boy Scout knots. When they got back they received a shock on discovering that I had undone the knots and they had a mess in the kitchen to clean up! Another time they were playing ball in an empty field and to keep me out of the way they tied me to a tree. Something else came up and they all left, forgetting about me. Finally, a neighbor woman heard me calling for a long time and discovered me all tied up in the woods by the field.
After graduation in 1938, Joe and Happy Peterson went with another boy in his car to the world fair in San Francisco. Stopped in Oregon because of a defective part on the car, the officer saw the Benjamin Air pistol that Joe had. They ended up in court with Joe telling the judge that it was just a pellet gun. Apparently the officer had already pumped it up, so when the judge gave it a few more pumps and took aim at his metal waste basket, the pellet went right through it. Joe was expecting the roof to cave in about then, but the judge just kept the gun and told Joe to get his dad to send for it. When he sent the pistol, the judge wrote a note about the 3 nice boys who were shocked when the pellet went through the metal basket."
My father's father was Joseph Lee Harley. He was born on the 7th of December 1895 in Luddington, Mason, Michigan, to Percival Frank Harley and Juliette Hovey. The family moved to Port Angeles in 1905, where grandpa Harley grew up. In W.W.I Joseph served in the army with the APO (Postal Service) in France. Near the end of the war he sustained a non-combat related injury, and was caught in the deadly pandemic flu which swept Europe, America and parts of Asia in 1918. After months in the hospital in France, he came home on a hospital ship. Before returning to Fort Lewis for demobilization, he was given leave to visit his grandmother, Anne (Lee) Harley and the Harley farm in Luddington, Michigan. When W.W.II began grandpa enlisted in the Coast Guard. He was given a Chief Petty Officer rating, and his initial job was to help set up a Fleet Post Office (FPO) system for District 13 Coast Guard service. Once District 13 FPO was operational, he asked to have sea duty. Assigned to the Corvette, USS Muskogee, he was stationed in Oakland, CA while the ship was completing construction. During this time, grandma and dad's younger brother, David went to Merced, CA to stay with Aunt Sibyl so that grandma could be with grandpa when possible.
When the Muskogee went on combat duty the first port of call was, amazingly, Laura, Australia. They were on patrol to New Guinea, New Caledonia, and the southern islands; then they participated in the Coral Sea battle and worked their way up through the campaign of the Philippines. By the time they were fully conditioned to the tropics they were given orders to go to the Aleutians. From the home port of Adak, Alaska, they were one of the ships on the Kamchatlea run, patrolling the outer length of the Aleutian Islands. While stationed at Adak, grandpa received news of my father's death, and he was immediately transferred to the Coast Guard Station at Port Angeles, later receiving his discharge there.
My stepfather moved our family to Port Angeles during the late spring of 1950 so we could be near grandpa, who was very ill with heart disease. I remember very little of him; however, one memory I do have is of a picnic we went on. We packed a picnic lunch and rode in grandpa's Jeep to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains. Once we arrived, we buried our food in the snow and slid down the glacier on a tarp! I am told that he was a stern man, but I don't get those feelings when I think of him. I am told of one trip around the peninsula during which grandpa scratched my back. Each time he wanted to stop I would say, "More Gampa, more!" and so he would continue...
The year spent in Port Angeles passed quickly...Grandpa Harley lived only a few short weeks after we settled in. I began my formal education there attending Jefferson Elementary school that year as a mighty Kindergartner! The only memories I am able to dredge up of that experience include not being allowed to play the cymbals, spending a lot of time in the corner for interrupting the teacher, and being thrilled when the teacher's recording of Brahm's Lullaby somehow broke. (It was played each day during nap time as we lay on our rugs on the floor!)
Grandpa and Grandma married on the 26th of May, 1918, in Port Angeles, Washington. He built the home in which they were to spend their lives together. Laura Edna Morrison was born on the 9th of November, 1893, in Le Sueur, Le Sueur, Minnesota, to Benjamin Abbott Morrison and Violetta Clara Martin. She was the fourth child in a family of seven girls, and the first birth during which a doctor was present. They had very interesting lives in Minnesota; however, grandma Morrison left her husband in 1904, and moved to Spokane to be near an older brother. According to her autobiography, this move was necessitated by Benjamin's appetite for alcohol.
Grandma Harley rarely spoke of her childhood, or her mother, for reasons which are unclear to me. I know that she had a very close relationship with all six of her sisters. They went on many vacations together over the years and kept in touch with letters and pictures, as well as visits.
My memories of grandma are ones which I shall always cherish. My brother and I spent several weeks each summer with grandma, and she always had something interesting for us to do. Many times we went swimming at the Sol Duc Hot Springs, which our great grandfather, Percy, managed from 1905-1912. We loved to go there, although it took a while to adjust to the smell of rotten eggs that permeated the air, because they were a natural sulfur springs. Grandma would always put on her swimming suit and join us. She was a petite woman, and very beautiful.
The home grandma lived in was at 122 Lauredson Blvd., in Port Angeles. It sat on a hill overlooking the bay, where it commanded a view of Victoria, B.C. How Joe and I loved that house and the memories it contained! We went on the ferry, the Princess Marguerite, to Victoria for the day several times. While there, we would visit the Buschart Gardens, eat lunch at the Empress Hotel, or ride on the Tally-Ho, which was a horse-drawn buggy.
At other times we would go on picnics to Neah Bay or La Push with grandma and Aunt Goldya and Uncle Ed Fitzgerald. We would swim with grandma in the surf and hunt for sea shells on the beach. Once I found an eel, which I saved in salt water. I brought it to school for "show-and-tell", and when it was my turn to display my treasure I found that it had croaked!
Grandma's house sat on a large lot which had been landscaped with three fish ponds, filled with large goldfish year round. The pool by the back door would be emptied for our visit and cleaned out so that we could use it for our own private swimming pool. While I was young it seemed so large! The other two pools, beside the house, were connected with a waterfall, which had a cave behind the falls. We would watch the fish and hunt for water-skeeters in the ponds.
There were fruit trees and raspberries in the back yard. One summer, especially, stands out in my mind. During that summer my brother and I, along with a neighbor, Nicki, picked raspberries and made a pot of "Witch's Brew" which we cooked in a large cast iron pot which hung suspended over a barbecue fire-pit by the back fence. We carefully filled jars we found in grandma's whitewashed shed to preserve our work until our next visit. How surprised grandma was to find moldy, smelly jars in her shed that fall!
We spent many summers together, creating great adventures and playing never-ending games of monopoly.
The upstairs hallway of grandma's home was finished in knotty pine. Dad's and Uncle Dave's rooms were truly unique, made from 8 foot hand-split cedar shakes with built in dressers and beds. The linen room and Grandma's room were done in knotty cedar. We usually slept in our Grandma's room. However, occasionally we would stay in Uncle Dave's room, which had a fierce mountain lion's head suspended over the closet door. How frightened we were to sleep there! No matter how many times grandma showed us that there was no body lurking in the closet attached to the head, it always took on frightening proportions when the lights went out!
I have such rich memories of my childhood. How fortunate I have been to have had grandparents such as these!