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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Dallas County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Maj. William R. Harley, one of the old and very prominent citizens of Dallas County, was originally from the Old Dominion, his birth occurring in Broadford, Washington County, June 4, 1809. His parents, James and Margaret (Roberts) Harley, were natives, also, of Virginia, and both received their final summons in that State, the mother in about 1811 and the father in 1835, when he was sixty-five years of age. The latter was a merchant, but also carried on farming, and for a number of years was sheriff of Russell, Va., whither he had moved after the death of his wife. He was widely and favorably known over Russell, Washington and Smyth Counties, and his death occurred in the last-named county. During the War of 1812 he was captain of a company, and was stationed at Norfolk when peace was declared. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and in politics affiliated with the Republican party. After the death of his wife, Mr. Harley married Mrs. Eunice (Hendricks) Heburn who died in Virginia. The result of his first reunion was the birth of two children: Our subject and Basil W. The latter was born June 20, 1811, and died in Clark County, Ark., during the war. He was a public-spirited citizen, and for many years resided in Mississippi, representing Marshall County of that State in the Legislature. After coming to this State, he represented Dallas County in the State Legislature, and was State Senator, becoming president of the Senate. He was bank commissioner of the State, also mail agent, and held various other public positions of trust. While in Mississippi he was engaged in merchandising, and after coming to Arkansas he was engaged in locating Mexican land claims. William R. Harley received a liberal education in Russell and Washington Counties, Va., and attended some of the best schools that the country afforded at that time. After this he read law for some time, and became well versed in legal matters. When nineteen years of age he turned his attention to merchandising at Broadford, but later bought property in Marion, Smyth County, where he remained eight years, and during that time represented that county in the Legislature three sessions. He was also appointed an elector by a convention in Richmond, on the Harrison and White ticket, which he declined, on account of removing to Mississippi. In 1836 he went to Marshall County, Miss., and there made his home for twenty-three years. He represented that county several terms, in both branches of the General Assembly. In 1843 he was a candidate for Congress, but was defeated by a small majority. In 1858 he moved to Arkansas, located in Princeton, and has represented Dallas County in the Lower House three terms. He was county judge of Dallas County, in all, about eight years, was superintendent of instruction for four years, and as a public servant has given the best of satisfaction to his constituents. In 1857 he was appointed, by President Buchanan, Indian agent in New Mexico, which position he accepted, and served a part of four years, resigning on account of sickness in his family, and a distaste of frontier life. He formed an acquaintance with the celebrated Kit Carson, who was agent of the Utah Indians. Maj. Harley’s predecessor was killed by the Indians, and a monument was afterward erected to his memory at Fort Defiance, N. M. Maj. Harley is one of the Democrats who voted for Gen. Jackson in 1832, was a personal friend of Jefferson Davis, and heard the latter make his fourth political speech. On the breaking out of the war he was engaged in merchandising, and again, in 1882, he embarked in that business. Aside from this, he has always owned a farm and tilled the soil. In 1835 he married Miss Louisa Jane Thompson, a native of Virginia, born in 1818, and who died in Dallas County, Ark., in 1873. She was a member of the Presbyterian Church for many years. Born to this union, were twelve children, eight of whom are now living: William H. H. (an editor), Marshal T. (farmer, of Clark County), Standard C. (ex-assessor of Clark County, and merchant at Guidon, that county), John B. (selling goods in Logan County, Ark., and traveling salesman for Guedeker & Boynton, wholesale clothiers of New York City), Caroline L. (wife of Robertson Cheatham, farmer of Clark County, Ark.), Maggie R. (wife of R. F. Holmes, farmer and assessor of this county), James R. (merchant and farmer, of Princeton, in partnership with his father), and Jennie F. (widow of R. Hunter Parham; she resides in this county). Those deceased are: R.C. (who was deputy clerk of Dallas County, and died at the age of twenty-four years), Samuel B. (died in Dallas County at the age of four years), and America (who died in Mississippi when quite young). Mr. Harley has been a member of the Presbyterian Church since a young man, was baptized when an infant, and has been an elder in the church for thirty-one years. He has been a life-long Democrat, but crossed the line for what he considered better men. The Harley family are of English-Irish descent, and Mr. Harley’s grandfather, John Harley, was a native of the Emerald Isle. He came to the United States before the Revolution, and located in Augusta County, Va., near Stanton, where he tilled the soil.

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This family biography is one of 55 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Dallas County, Arkansas published in 1890.  For the complete description, click here: Dallas County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

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