Biography of Thomas C. Harbourt

Thomas C. Harbourt. A resident for thirty-eight years is not the only distinction of Thomas C. Harbourt at Coffeyville. He is a man of wide interests and activities, has been a contractor and builder, has filled many local offices with credit and efficiency, and is one of the best known men in fraternal circles in Southeastern Kansas. He is still active in business, handles real estate, and is also a justice of the peace.

His earlier years were spent in Ohio. His people were of German stock, lived in old Virginia some years, and afterwards identified themselves with the abolition movement in Ohio. Thomas C. Harbourt was born in Jefferson County, Ohio, September 25, 1849. His grandfather Peter Harbourt was born in Germany in 1783, came to this country when a young man, lived in old Virginia for some years and about 1840 established his home in Jefferson County, Ohio. He served all through the war with Mexico, but his chief pursuit was as a farmer. Of his children the only one now living is Cromwell O., who is a retired oil producer and operator in Harrison County, Ohio. Mr. Harbourt’s grandfather in the maternal line was Samuel McClain, who was born and married in Scotland, and soon after his marriage emigrated to America, becoming a farmer, and afterwards moving to Jefferson County, Ohio, where he died before Thomas C. Harbourt was born.

John B. Harbourt, father of Thomas C., was born near Hot Springs, Virginia, in 1814. He grew up in that locality, but in 1839 moved out of Virginia across the Ohio River into the rugged country west of Wheeling in Jefferson County. He remained there and conducted his farm until his death in 1892. Like many of the people living in the hills west of the Ohio River in Jefferson County he was an ardent abolitionist, and his house was one of the stations on the underground railway whereby many a fugitive slave from the South found refuge until his progress toward freedom in Canada could be advanced. John B. Harbourt was an intimate friend of Alexander Clark, editor of the Pittsburg Christian Advocate. He voted for Harrison, the whig candidate, in 1840 and afterwards became a republican. He filled a number of local offices, was a member of the state militia, and was a very devout Methodist and class leader in the church. John B. Harbourt married Rachel McClain, who was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1817 and died in Jefferson County, Ohio, in 1898. Their children were: Catherine, who died in Jefferson County, Ohio, at the age of thirty-nine; Thomas C.; George H., a farmer in Columbiana County, Ohio; Mary E., wife of Samuel Watt, a farmer in Jefferson County, Ohio; John W., a railroad man connected with the Wellsville and Cleveland Railroad, with home at Wellsville; Thursa E., wife of John Swickard, a farmer of Jefferson County; W. W. Harbourt, who has been a farmer and now lives in Columbiana County, Ohio; Ida M., wife of John Miler, of Hammondsville. Ohio; and the ninth and youngest, a daughter died in infancy.

During his early youth spent in Jefferson County, Thomas C. Harbourt attended the district schools, and after reaching his majority went to Richmond, Ohio, and was a student in the United Presbyterian College, paying his way all through the course and graduating in 1871 with a teacher’s certificate. Though qualified for teaching, he never followed that profession, and instead, in January, 1872, removed to Defiance County, Ohio, where he entered the lumber and milling business.

In March, 1878, from Ohio Mr. Harbourt came to Coffeyville, Kansas, and was thus identified with that community in the very early days, when the town was in fact as well as in name the Gate City to Indian Territory. For a number of years he carried on an extensive business as a contractor and builder, and many of the homes and other structures in and around Coffeyville testify to his workmanship.

The honors of office fell upon him early during his residence at Coffeyville, and he served as chief of police in 1880, again in 1883, 1897, 1901 and 1902. He was marshal of the court of Coffeyville from 1903 to 1908. For ten years at different times Mr. Harbourt has served as justice of the peace and is now discharging the duties of that office. In connection he handles real estate, and has his offices in the Odd Fellows Building. His residence and home is at 116 West Second Street. As an officer of the law he had some interesting and exciting experiences particularly in the early days, and from 1888 to 1892 rode as deputy United States marshal for the Fort Smith court when Judge Parker was judge of that tribunal.

A believer in the principles of fraternalism, he has been identified with different orders and has done much effective work in maintaining them. For thirty-six years he has been affiliated with Star Lodge No. 117, Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Coffeyville, has filled all the chairs of the local lodge, has been representative in the Grand Lodge five times; is a member of Gate City Encampment No. 80, with which he has been identified for twenty-five years, and belongs to Canton No. 14, Patriarchs Militant at Coffeyville, and is now serving as secretary of the Department Council of Kansas with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He is also a charter member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen at Coffeyville, which was founded there twenty-seven years ago on May 29, 1889, and he has filled every office in Lodge No. 279, and is now recorder, and for several terms was master workman and has also represented the local order in the grand lodge. For the past thirty years Mr. Harbourt has been affiliated with Coffeyville Lodge No. 89, Knights of Pythias, of which he is past chancellor commander. He was one of the charter members of the A. H. T. A. at Coffeyville, has been one of its most active workers, and is the oldest man in consecutive membership of the local order. He was formerly a member of the Coffeyville Commercial Club, and belongs to the Montgomery County Fair Association at Coffeyville.

In 1871 in Richmond, Ohio, Mr. Harbourt married Miss Jennie S. Shelly, daughter of Benjamin Shelly, now deceased, who was a farmer. Mrs. Harbourt died January 12, 1914, leaving two sons: Charles R., who is a graduate in pharmacy from the University of Kansas, and is now owner of the Kane drug store at Coffeyville; W. W. Harbourt, who is a contractor and builder at West Coffeyville. On October 12, 1915, Mr. Harbourt married Mrs. Josephine (LeCroix) Podvant, widow of L. A. Podvant.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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