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Harman, William - Biography



by his daughter Gwendolyn


William Harman was born 22 November 1820 in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. He worked in the coal mines, beginning as a very young boy and continuing until he reached the age of manhood. He was privileged to hear the everlasting gospel preached by two young Utah elders on the streets of his native city. He immediately sensed the truth of the words spoken and in due time was baptized (1847) [1] a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a very enthusiastic member and was very anxious to impart the wonderful truth to others. Because of his faith and earnestness he was given the privilege of preaching the gospel at the meetings of the Saints and on the streets of Wales.

My aunt [2] said she used to marvel at the man spending all the week days way down in the dark coal mines and then spending all day Sunday in the service of the Lord. But he loved it; it was life to him at its best. He had the gift of healing to a very marked extent and all his life he used this gift for the benefit of his fellowmen with humble thankfulness to his Heavenly Father for the gift.

A man was brought to the top after an accident, completely crushed, bones mostly broken, and life apparently gone. Elders of the Lord administered to the man. William Harman saw the administration and testified with two others that he distinctly heard the bones crackle as they took their place in the man’s frame. This is recorded in the life of one of our early Church leaders with the name of William Harman and two others as witnesses.

William Harman’s life was filled with many faith promoting events, and he always fervently bore testimony to the truth of them. They filled his life with joy and thankfulness. Notwithstanding these wonderful experiences in his life and his sincere attempts to convert his wife and family, which was a large one, not one member of his family, or his wife, could see the truth. [3] This was enough to dampen anyone’s spirit, but not his. Not only this trial, but many others did he have.

One of his uncles, an extremely wealthy man, was childless. He was getting old and needed someone to take his place and help him. He called his nephew William to his home and said, “William, I have looked over all my relatives and I have chosen you to be my sole heir. You must begin now to take over my responsibilities, but there is one condition. You must promise that you will renounce this Mormonism and never go to Utah.” William Harman without hesitation said, “If I must renounce my faith and promise never to go to Zion, then you may keep your wealth for I choose my religion and Utah.” [4]

From the time he joined the church he had a great desire to go to Utah, but he kept thinking, “I must have my wife and family to go with me.” Time passed and he wasn’t a young man any more. His wife and family had no intention of joining the Church or leaving Wales. All his children were grown. [5] What should he do? He had done everything he could to get them to see the light, but to no avail. Finally he told them that unless they showed some intention of listening he would surely go to Zion alone. Even this did not stir them, and so he left for the Zion he longed to see. No sooner did he arrive than he received word of the death of his wife, although she was in good health when he left. [6] This affected him terribly. He sought the Lord in his grief and asked the Lord to tell him whether he had done right in leaving his wife. He received a wonderful answer to his prayer. He saw the spirit world. He saw his wife and a friend sitting sewing. They were conversing while sewing, and his wife said, “Yes, I made a great mistake. I know the Lord is displeased with me; my husband was right; now I know the gospel is true, and I am full of sorrow for the part I played in opposing the Church. I was in the wrong.” This answer to his prayer was a great consolation to him, and he thanked the Lord for it. He had his wife sealed to him in the temple.

After a few more years he married Martha Jane Thomas, a widow. He raised another family of children. One of these children, a son, Richard A. Harman, when he was about 15 years old received a terrible injury to his right hand; broken glass nearly severed his hand between the palm and the wrist. After months of intense suffering with infection, the whole arm swollen to twice its size and covered with the marks of many lancings, the doctor decided it had to be amputated. Accordingly, without getting consent from Richard’s father, four doctors arrived. With them was Dr. Benedict, the eminent surgeon. They commenced to prepare the room for the operation when my father said, “Doctor, you won’t need to prepare, for this operation will not take place.” The four doctors became very nervous and finally angry and told the family that the boy would surely die if the arm did not come off immediately. But the father was firm, telling them to leave the house in no uncertain terms. They went out angrily predicting the boy’s death. After quiet was restored, a neighbor was called in; consecrated oil was brought into the room, and a ministration took place. From that moment the arm began to heal; in a remarkably short time he was able to use his arm, and it became so strong as a right arm could be. Many times William Harman bore testimony to this remarkable healing and thanked the Lord for the great blessing.

He worked on the Temple Block, first in the construction and later, after the completion of the temple, in the care of the grounds. He lived to the ripe age of 80 years, full of faith to the last, hardly every missing a day’s work and working at his last job until ten days before his death which occurred 31 December 1900 in his home in Salt Lake City.


Notes and commentary by Eira Smith, a descendant of William Harman’s brother Lewis:


[1] William was baptized in 1846.

[2] This was Annie Poole Gardner, the second wife’s sister.

[3] At least four of William’s sons joined the Church. Hiram (b. 1848) converted but remained in Wales. Joseph (b. 1853), James (b. 1855), and William (b. 1857) all converted and emigrated. See Treorchy branch records. Others who were at one time members of the LDS church were William’s first wife Ann Jones Harman, his mother Gwenllian Harman, and his brothers Lewis, Edmund, and Richard.

[4] The wealth was left to those bearing the name Edmund Harman and the females.

[5] His youngest child, Evan, was just six years old when William emigrated in 1871.

[6] William’s first wife, Ann Jones, died in 1878. This was seven years after William emigrated and two years after he married Jane Davies.



Harman, William

Davis/Davies, Jane

Jones, Ann


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