NEBRASKA STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY MANUSCRIPT FINDING AID
RG5010.AM: William Henry Harm, 1865-1951
Papers: 1911-1920; 1951; 1997; n.d.
Bloomfield, Knox County, Neb.: Pioneer, mayor, banker, realtor, rancher
Size: 0.25 cu.ft.; 1 box
William Henry Harm was born in Steuvenborn, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany on November 21, 1865. His father passed away when he was an infant. His mother married Johann Storjohann some time before the family immigrated to the United States, where they settled near Denison, Iowa. William was then 17 years old. A few years later he came to northeast Nebraska, where he worked with Robert Alexander watching cattle near the present site of Bloomfield.
When the town of Bloomfield was founded in 1890, Harm became a resident and engaged in various enterprises. He owned a livery barn with Robert Alexander, but after one year went into real estate. In 1897 he formed the partnership of Harm and Tulleys with Paul A. Tulleys. This firm actively sought families, many from western Iowa, to settle in Knox County. It also encouraged the settlement of German families in the area. In 1907 the partnership gained an interest in the Farmers and Merchants State Bank, an institution with which it was officially connected until the bank failed and closed in 1929.
Harm served two terms as mayor of Bloomfield. His civic interest extended to the donation of land and landscaping for the city park and library. Together with Ed H. Mason, he also presented the city with part of the High School campus and the land used as the Fair grounds.
During World War I Harm traveled to different communities in the state, seeking support for the American war effort from the general populace and especially from the first generation German American immigrants. Harm believed German Americans owed their loyalty to the land of opportunity in which they had settled, not to the Kaiser whom he blamed for the war.
In 1894 Harm married Minnie Stein of Morton Township. She died in childbirth the next year, leaving her husband with a son, Alfred W. Harm. Harm did not marry again until 1913, when Julia Tulleys, the sister of Harm’s business partner, became his wife. To this union three children were born: Robert T. Harm in 1914, Paul Harm in 1917, and Ruth Harm Olsen in 1920.
Following the failure of the bank in 1929, the Harm family assets were gradually lost to the rigors of the Great Depression. In 1933 Harm moved his family to Harm Ranch at Devil’s Nest, in northern Knox County. He spent the rest of his life there, and by perseverance had expanded the ranch enough to leave each of his children a farm at the time of his death. He died in August of 1951 at the age of 86.
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
This collection consists of materials relating to the life and career of William H. Harm. It is arranged in four series: 1) Speeches; 2) Correspondence, 1911-1920; 3) Family History materials; and 4) Bloomfield, Nebraska History.
The two speeches in Series 1 were delivered by Harm in support of the American war effort during World War I. He believed that money contributed by German Americans for the aid of widows and orphans in Germany in 1914 was instead used by German Ambassador von Bernstorff to subsidize German propaganda in the United States. The check that accompanies the speeches, payable to von Bernstorff from the Citizens Bank of Blair, Nebraska, and signed over by him to a Dr. B. Dernsberg, was Harm’s proof for this accusation.
Series 2, Correspondence, includes letters mostly from Harm to his wife Julia. Most were written during their courtship, a few are dated following their marriage. The Family History materials of Series 3 include an illustrated account of the Harm Family by Robert T. Harm; marriage and naturalization papers of William H. Harm; an obituary for William H. Harm; and a history of the Harm name. Series 4 consists of a history of Bloomfield, Nebraska, produced for its Diamond Anniversary.
Note: See the photo component [RG5010.PH] for images of Harm family members and family homes.
Series 1 – Speeches
- Speeches, check
Series 2 – Correspondence, 1911-1920
- 1914; 1920
Series 3 – Family History Materials
- “An Abbreviated History of the William H. Harm Family,” by Robert T. Harm
- Family history materials
Series 4 – Bloomfield, Nebraska History
- Bloomfield, Nebraska Diamond Jubilee, 1890-1965
Bloomfield (Neb.) — History
Germans in Nebraska
Harm, Julia Tulleys
Harm, William Henry, 1865-1951
Tulleys, Robert Anderson
World War, 1914-1918 — Nebraska
Revised 10-29-2009 TMM