Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Harbison Brothers - A Correction of Sorts

Back on November 27th I wrote a post called "Harbison Brothers and Buffalo's First Gas Station". I was using a small article published in Business First in 1997, the facts of which were probably gleened from family members. The contentious part of a paragraph is this one:
"Harbison Brothers Inc. was originally founded as a maker and re-builder of wooden barrels in 1893 by Adam and Andrew. John, a younger brother, joined them at a later point in time."
Knowing that Adam and Andy were older than John I just assumed that they must have been a lot older, without consulting any family trees. They were not. In 1893 all three were still wee lads on the old sod.

This is were it gets a bit speculative, knowing some facts and not others, since it was a long time ago. However, three uncles had arrived in America first, the original Harbison Brothers. Arthur Ross Harbison and 2 brothers, William and Andrew most likely formed the original business in 1893.

The younger Harbison brothers, Adam, Andrew, and John began arriving in the 1902, as they each became old enough to pull up roots and settle anew.

The most likely scenario is that the younger family members eventually took over the family business. A letter from the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society dated 1990 adds some additional info:
"We searched the city directories and found that the Harbison Brothers were first listed at 179 Ellicott St. in 1917. The business was described as "barrels." In 1918 the description reads "gasoline and oils," still at 179 Ellicott. In 1919 the listing is "Harbison Brothers, 2nd hand barrels, 32-42 Appenheimer St. So it would seem that the photograph must be from either 1917 or 1918."
Meanwhile, I have heard from a previously unknown 3rd cousin in England, Pauline Erwin. It seems many family members and their friends have fond memories of Arthur Ross meeting them at Ellis Island and welcoming them to America. He eventually settled in East Aurora with his wife Sara Victoria, where his namesakes and other descendants still reside. His brothers, William and Andrew, remained single and are buried at Forest Lawn.

**UPDATE**  There was another uncle (verified with death certificates) , brother to Arthur, William, and Andrew, who came to the United States with his family and worked at the garage.  His name was Adam, and he is buried in Forest Lawn, along with his second wife, Annie Morton, and 5 of his/their children (4 of whom remained single, and a daughter who is next to her husband).

I have temporary possession of my mother's meticulously kept genealogy files on the Harbison side. They were put together with input from other relatives, some of whom have their own extensive files. I will be scanning these into the computer to share with Pauline and others as we explore family ties. My thanks to her for getting me interested in this side of the family again.

For those of you that I have totally bored with this article, I leave you with one thought:

Do you know who's in your family tree?