Feature Story

Harley Alfred Rowe

Harley Alfred Rowe, born in Bethel, Windsor County, Vermont on October 16, 1866, was one of four children of Lyman Pratt Rowe and Cornelia A.E. Whitmore.

In 1870, Harley was living at home with his parents in Brandon, Rutland County, Vermont. At this time, at the age of three years, he was called “Charles A.” By 1880, 14 year old Harley was a farm laborer and a servant living on a farm in Middlebury, Addison County, Vermont with Philip Cloys, a farmer, and his family.

In 1888, Harley A. Rowe was residing in Salisbury, Addison County, Vermont where he was employed in a wood pulp manufacturing mill on the Leicester River. There, at age 21, he married on July 11, 1888 18 year old Addie Eliza Young. S.W. Bidwell, a clergyman from East Middlebury, VT performed the wedding ceremony. Addie was born in Ripton, Addison County, Vermont, the daughter of George L. Young and Eliza A. Culver.

For a short time after their marriage, Harley and Addie worked in the Sucker Brook Boarding House that supported the Newton & Thompson Sawmill and logging operation on the east side of Lake Dunmore along Sucker Brook. Around 1890, Harley became a blacksmith and relocated to the village of Forestdale in the town of Brandon.

Addie Eliza Young and Harley Alfred Rowe

In 1900, Harley and Addie were living in Forestdale where he was a blacksmith. . Ten years later, he had his own blacksmith shop there, located at the present site (2013) of Mallory’s Automotive on Route 73 in Forestdale, west of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

Harley A. Rowe (arms folded) in front of his blacksmith and wheelwright shop

Around 1919, Harley's son-in-law, Earle E. Corey, joined him and they conducted the blacksmith shop and garage under the name of Rowe & Corey. They still had the shop in 1920. Harley was still there in 1930 working as a blacksmith, while Earle was a mechanic.

Brandon Union advertisement, June 1, 1928

Harley A. Rowe died at home in Forestdale on April 3, 1931. Contributing causes were old age, influenza, and pleurisy aggravated by an old injury to the left side of his lung.

After his passing, Harley’s son in law, Earl Corey, carried on the business.

Brandon Union advertisement, June 2, 1932

Eric Mallory standing in front of present day Mallory’s Automotive
Former site of Harley Rowe’s Blacksmith Shop

Harley’s wife, Addie, died in 1939. Both are buried in the Forestdale Cemetery. Harley's grave is marked by a millstone with "H.A. Rowe" engraved on it. Harley used the millstone at his blacksmith shop to mount the metal rim or “tire” on a wagon wheel. The wagon wheel hub would fit in the center hole of the millstone, enabling the wheel to lie flat while the hot rim was hammered in place.

Millstone used to lay a wheel flat so that an iron tire could be hammered in place
(just above red line in picture)

Gravestone of Harley A. Rowe, Forestdale, Vermont

Harley A. Rowe left his legacy engraved in stone near the former parking lot for the Falls of Lana just off Route 53 in Salisbury, Vermont. As you walk from the former parking lot through a rocky gap toward the pipeline, Harley carved “H.A. ROWE.” Underneath his name he inscribed the dates “July 11, 1888” and “Aug 14, 1905”. The former date was the day he married Addie E. Young. The significance of the latter date has not been determined. Harley may have also etched his wife’s initials above his, but part of the rock has been chipped off. However, above his name the partial inscription “A.E.” can still be seen. The initials probably stood for “Addie Eliza.”

This inscription wasn't the only one that Harley left indelible in the local countryside. Harley's grandson, Harley A. Holden, recalled that: "In hunting thru the mountains one will find large stones and cliffs with H.A. Rowe carved many years ago. I remember seeing at least one carving, near the forest, back of the Basin Farm. He (H.A.R) told me he carried a chisel and small hammer with him while hunting or walking in the woods." The "Basin Farm" is the farm located at the end of Basin Road. This road leads east from McConnell Road in Forestdale and parallels Route 73 until it reaches a dead end in an area known as "The Basin." This area has long been a favorite location for hiking and hunting.

Inscription: H. A. Rowe; July 11, 1888; Aug 14, 1905

Cleo “Bill” Corey, grandson of Harley A. Rowe, visits his grandfather’s inscription
near the Falls of Lana October 12, 1998

Click here for a PDF with research notes of this article.

Bill Powers, author
William J. Powers, Jr. (Bill) was raised in Rutland and Lake Dunmore, Vermont and currently lives in Rutland. He received a B.A. from St. Michael’s College in 1967 and a M.A. from Ball State University in 1976. Bill spent 40 years associated with the Air Force, 21 years on active duty and 19 as a contractor at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. He is the author of Leicester, Vermont’s Silver Lake: Beyond the Myths, published in 2000 and Tales From Gouger Hill, published in the Rutland Historical Society Quarterly in 2014. Bill is the current (2015) president of the Pittsford, Vermont Historical Society and a member of the Rutland Historical Society’s Research Committee. He a frequent presenter of his historical projects pertaining to Addison, Rutland, and Windsor Counties.