Mathias Harman

Excerpt from the Jenny Wiley Association Newsletter, Summer 1999

   Mathias Harman figured prominently in the story of Jenny Wileys capture and imprisonment.  Harmans skill as an Indian fighter had earned for him the everlasting hate of the Indians in this area, and it is said the renegade Indian band, which raided the Wiley cabin and took Jenny captive, were in fact searching for the home of Mathias Harman and his family.  According to some records, Harman had killed the son of one of the chiefs, and he was out for revenge, although this is disputed by others.

It was Harman who organized the search party which attempted to rescue Jenny, and it was to the new fort constructed by Harman and his band on the banks of the Levisa Fork that she fled following her escape several months later.  Mathias was probably the greatest woodsman and Indian fighter who ever lived in this area of the United States, and legends concerning his bravery and deeds still abound today.

Mathias was the son of Heinrich Adams Herrmann (Adam Harman), who was born about 1700 in the Danube Valley, and migrated to the United States from Germany around 1727.  Adam and his family settled in the Shenandoah Valley where Mathias was born about 1736.  Existing records indicate Harman to have been a very small man in statue, weighing a little over 100 pounds.  He is said to have had a very large nose, and was referred to by the Indians as, "The little devil with the big nose."  Despite his rough and tumble life and his numerous battles, Mathias Harman lived to the ripe old age of 96 years, dying April 2, 1832 in Tazwell County, Virginia.

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