After midsummer in l966, my Nancy and Walt, a neighbor girl - Barbara Smith - and I toured Northern Ireland and Britain by bicycle. In Northern Ireland, I hoped to find some trace of the McHarg family who came from Maghera for our elderly friend, William McHarg. We had a wonderful day visiting the town, its cemeteries and its older residents - searching for information - but bus time came too soon. I dug out my tablet and wrote six pages to Mr. William about the kind people who had tried to help us that day. Mrs. McHarg read the long letter to him in the hospital and told us, "He enjoyed it on the last full day of his long life."
Harg was the logical name given to the crossroads general store and blacksmith shop, both owned by Cynthia and William McHarg. The tollhouse was built by two men who bought it and graveled it. They charged people for using the road and provided a home for the couple who collected the nickels, dimes and pennies people paid to have them lower the chain. A wagonload of hay cost 10 cents! A horse and buggy was 3 cents. Walkers paid nothing, and people who were going no farther than to Olivet Church didn’t pay. Several thousand cars fly through Harg every day now, but the toll was charged before there were cars and for a several years afterward.
In 1951, several of us organized an appreciation night for William McHarg. On "Mr. William Night," we presented a gift, one of the first televisions in the community. Here is part of the story we gave to all guests:
"Long ago John McHarg inherited the large family estate in Northern Ireland. He was fond of lavish entertaining, hunting with hounds, training race horses and lending money to friends. The money soon was gone. One of John’s sons, Thomas, vowed he would earn back as much as his father had lost and he brought his family to America to try to do that.
"Thomas and his family landed in New York, earned enough to invest in a flour mill and to set up other mills. He settled in Boone County so he could educate his son to be a lawyer. Appreciating the freedoms of the new country, Thomas sent for his brother and family. In 1880 Archibald McHarg and his large family, including toddler William McHarg, came from Ireland and settled on his brother’s farm on the hill east of a new white frame country church named Olivet, just six years after it was erected. Mr. William’s father later bought the farm from his brother, Tom. Archibald McHarg’s children were John, Robert, Miss Sarah, Tom, Annie (Liddell), Miss Tillie, William, and the twins, Miss Hannah and Arch.
"John McHarg, son of Archibald, was a Columbia grocer; his brother, Robert was father of Cordelia, Floy, Estes, C.A. (Cotton), and Lynn; they also resided in Columbia. Tom McHarg and his son, Tom, Jr. were associated with Parker’s Undertaking establishment. Arch McHarg did construction work and built the charming little cottage, ‘in a flower bed’ on the west side of Columbia’s West Boulevard.
"Miss Tillie McHarg taught at Robnett School near her family home and later was Principal at Benton in Columbia. She and Denny Grace had courted for many years; they married after she retired. Miss Hannah McHarg taught at the original Turner School, which stood at the intersection of roads now called Olivet Church Road and New Haven Road."
More about Harg on another Monday.