John A. Harner, who is engaged in general farming in Spring Valley township, has a well improved tract of land four miles southwest of Xenia. He was born on the Little Miami river, near Bellbrook, August 31, 1836, his parents being John and Magdalena (Haines) Harner. His paternal grandparents were George and Sarah (Koogler) Harner, and the former was born in Germany whence he sailed for America when about fourteen years of age. He probably located first near Cincinnati and afterward removed to a place called Round Bottom, coming thence to Greene county at a very early date in the history of the development of this portion of the state. John Harner was born in this county in 1805 and was familiar with the early progress and improvement. The forests stood in their primeval strength and little was done to reclaim the land for purposes of civilization, but as the years progressed the settlers wrought many changes here, laying broad and deep the foundation for the present development and prosperity of the county. John Harner acquired a fair common school education and served as captain of a militia in the days when mustering was in vogue. When quite young he was married, and in connection with his father-in-law he engaged in the operation of a mill and distillery, conducting the business in Be!lbrook. There they erected a flouring mill which they operated until about 1848, when Mr. Harner retired from the business and began farming upon rented land. At different times he rented various farms, for he was in limited circumstances and did not have the money with which to purchase land. He had ten children and the sons remained at home, all farming together.
John A. Harner. whose name introduces this record, continued with his father until thirty-two years of age. His early life was one of toil bby he formed habits of industry and economy, which have proven of value to him in his later career. He was married February 13, 1868, to Miss Eliza Lautz, who was born in the first courthouse in Greene county, near Harbine Mills, August 8, 1844. She was a daughter of John and Catherine (Rhoades) Lantz, who removed from Maryland to Greene county at an early day. In 1865 our subject and his brothers purhased two hundred and twenty-four acres of land, upon wliich John A. Harner now resides, and after his marriage he took up his abode here. A small portion of the land had been cleared and a portion of the present house had been built, but Mr. Harner has since made two additions to the home. The first settler upon the place was William Hamilton, who sold the property to Robert Hamilton, from whom the Harner brothers purchased it. Our subject has erected a good bank barn, forty-two by eighty feet, but he found this inadequate and built another one, thirty-six by sixty-eight feet. He has a hog pen, thirty-six by twenty-five feet, and all the necessary outbuildings for the shelter of grain and stock. About 1884 he and his brothers dissolved partnership, Mr. Harner purchasing the interests of the others in the farm upon which he makes his home.
Four children have been born unto our subject and his wife: Vinton L., who died in August, 1869; Maggie, who married Albert Thornhill, and resides in Xenia; John H., who married Hattie Stillings and is a farmer residing in Spring Valley township with his wife and one child; Horace Irving; and Jessie, at home.
Mr. Harner was reared a Whig and was only four years old at the time of the presidential election of 1840. He can remember William H. Harrison, who was then the candidate of the Whig party. In 1860 he voted for Lincoln and has since been a Republican, unswerving in his advocacy of the principles of the party. He had one brother, William P.. who was a soldier of the Civil war. He belonged to Company F. One Hundred and Tenth Ohio Infantry, and laid down his life on the altar of his country at the battle near Spottsylvania Court House, his remains being interred in the soldiers' national cemetery near there. Mr. Harner is a self-made man. He had few advantages in youth but he possessed a resolute spirit, unfaltering purpose and strong determination. Steadily he has worked his way upward and to-day he is one of the prosperous farmers of Spring Valley township, having a very desirable property, which is the visible evidence of his life of industry.
From History of Greene County, Ohio, by George F. Robinson (S. J. Clarke Publishing Co, 1902)