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The Harmans and early-day Pagosa Country

Fred C. Harman Jr. was born in St. Joseph, Mo., Feb.9, 1902, and died at Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 2, 1982. Fred Harman Jr. was one of Pagosa Country’s most acclaimed residents. He was known world-wide as the creator of Red Ryder, a cowboy who appeared in comic strips, comic books, western movies and as an endorsement on a number of articles including the Red Ryder Daisy BB gun.

In his younger years, Fred Harman worked alongside a yet-to-become famous Walt Disney. Both were catalog illustrators. Harman lived a major portion of his life in Pagosa Springs including at a homestead on the upper San Juan River and his ranch/studio in the Upper Blanco Basin where he entertained Hollywood legends after his Red Ryder character became world famous. During his younger years, he worked as a cowboy, drove a coal delivery wagon and did manual labor. He was survived by his wife, Lola, and son, Fred Harman III, who operates a museum located west of Pagosa Springs in honor of his father.

Mrs. Birdie Harman, nee Birdie Olive Walker, the wife of Fred C. Harman, was born at Malta, Ohio, Dec. 27, 1874, and passed away April 27, 1921. In Malta in 1900, she married Fred C. Harman. They had three sons, Fred, Hugh and Walker. They lived many years in Pagosa Springs before returning to Kansas City in 1914.

Mary E. Harman, a resident of Pagosa Springs for 44 years, passed away Dec. 12, 1969. She was born Mary Elizabeth Giss on March 18, 1890, in Denison, Iowa. Mary taught in Pagosa Springs in the primary schools and later served as County Superintendent of Schools. She also operated a grocery store and served as postmistrees for many years. She married Frederic C. Harman Dec. 24, 1927.

William Hardick was known as the “Hermit of the San Juan.” His real name was Joseph Arbon. He lived in the Blanco Basin for many years, apparently hiding out with an assumed name because he believed he killed his brother in Utah. He achieved notoriety for refusing to pay Forest Service grazing fees. A brother found him through the notoriety and tried to persuade him to return home. He had been born in England and died in May of 1929 at the age of 79.

Mrs. Maude May Hart, a resident of Archuleta County for 72 years, died Sept. 21, 1951. She was survived by daughters Mrs, Mable Lynch and Mrs. Gladys Duxstad.

Ralph W. Hart was born March 9, 1890, at Eureka, Kan., and passed away September 29, 1933. He had been a Cripple Creek, Colo., miner before coming to Pagosa Springs in 1914. In 1914 in Pagosa Springs, he married Mrs. Maude Garvin. They ranched the old Cade homestead and later purchased the M.M. Parr place.

Frank Hartman, at the time of his death in October of 1934, was the oldest newspaperman still functioning in the San Juan Basin. At the time of his passing he was editor of the Farmington Republican. He began his newspaper work on the Del Norte Prospector in 1873 and later started a newspaper in Rico, Colo. He successively conducted papers at Durango, La Plata, Moffatt and Alamosa.

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