Perry J. Harding – Pt 1.

Here I am outside of the PA State Archives. I expect that the next time that I visit that they will have finished their new building (anticipated 2022-23).

On 2 Jan 2020 I visited the Pennsylvania State Archives for the second time in my life. The first time that I had visited in 2016, I obtained some material of Josiah Harding in the Pennsylvania Militia, but I didn’t know enough about how archives worked to take pictures of everything (so I did this time). Also, while I was there, I wanted to see what records they had from the Warren State Hospital to see what might have happened to Perry J. Harding. Here is some background on Perry J. Harding:

Josiah and Eliza (Proven) Harding had eight known children:

  1. Simeon (George Simeon)…………………….b. 29 Apr 1839
  2. Lucy A……………………………………………………………b. 21 Nov 1843
  3. Amy S…………………………………………………………….b. 22 Jul 1847
  4. Emmeline…………………………………………………….b. 26 Nov 1851
  5. George Washington……………………………….b. 22 Feb 1855
  6. Perry J………………………………………………….b. 31 Mar 1857
  7. Ida J…………………………………………………………………b. 29 Apr 1859 (my direct ancestor)
  8. Charles H……………………………………………………..b. 13 Feb 1862

It seems that Perry is a mystery to all of the Harding family genealogists as nobody that I have come across has any information on him besides census records. The Our Harding Family book by Mary E. Baird lists his name, date of birth, that he was not married.

I found two newspaper articles from 1879 when Perry was 22 years old:

Mr. Perry Harding, of Covington, went to Buffalo recently to enlist in the regular army.
Mr. Perry Harding, of Covington, who recently went to Buffalo to enlist in the regular army, was not able to pass the physical examination.

Those article raised so many questions for me: Why did he go all the way to Buffalo to enlist? Why not enlist in the Pennsylvania Militia that his father was the Major General of? What part of the physical examination did he not pass? Did he go to Buffalo with his father’s approval and/or encouragement?

The next article that I found was in 1886 when Perry was 29 years old:

Mr. Perry J. Harding, of Covington borough, a man about twenty-five years of age, was recently adjudged insane, and last Thursday he was taken to the County Poor-house. On Thursday night he assaulted Superintendent Shanley, knocked him down with an iron bar and then escaped over the hills toward his home. Mr. Shanley, with Officer Deck Bunnell and Commissioner Kimball, caught Harding on Friday at Covington after a long chase, and he was brought to this borough and lodged in jail. He will be taken to Warren Hospital today by Commissioners Karr and Kimball.

It is obvious that Perry didn’t want to be in the County Poorhouse. I wonder if there are court records or minutes that might explain why he was judged insane. I will have to check the next time I visit Wellsboro, PA.

The last piece of evidence that I found was this next article in 1892 when Perry was 35 years old:

Last Wednesday Tioga County Commissioners Bailey and DeWitt took to the Warren insane hospital Mrs. Jane E. Powers of Mansfield and Mrs. Addie Collony of Tioga. The Commissioners returned on Friday, bringing back twelve patients, whose condition was more or less improved. They are as follows: Green Hall, Delmar; John Hunt, Deerfield; H. H. Davis, Wellsboro; Margaret Looney, Union; William H. Peck, Farmington; Joel Carlson, Bloss; Perry J. Harding, Covington borrough; Sarah Wood, Lawrenceville; Andrew Cattewski, Hamilton; Josey Pease, Mansfield; Fidelia Brewster, Wellsboro, L. Sherman, Morris. Some of these persons had been in the asylum for fifteen years. It will be necessary to keep a number at the county house. A few are so far recovered, however, that they will be returned to the care of their friends.

That was all I was able to uncover until I was able to view the case files for the Warren State Hospital. Stay tuned for Perry J. Harding – Pt. 2!

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