Book profiles life and stories of Quaker Eastern Ohio farm leader

Bruce Yarnall
Selections in the book highlight life on the farm to Hartley’s religious life as a member of the Society of Friends.

QUAKER CITY – Elmer C. Hartley, born in 1897 on the family farm on Shannon Run between Barnesville and Quaker City, lived through most of the 20h century, spending his final years at the Walton Retirement Home in Barnesville. He died in 1993 just days short of his 96th birthday.

During his lifetime, Hartley was an award-winning dairy farmer who rose in ranks of leadership in the Ohio Farm Bureau. He was also a pillar of Richland Meeting and the Conservative Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends that meets at Barnesville. These two relationships led Hartley to volunteer in the United Nations post-war effort to help war-torn Europe in 1945. Elmer and other agricultural volunteers traveled by ship caring for 63 bred mares while also delivering used clothing and cotton for Yugoslavia.

In addition to these leadership roles, this fifth-generation Quaker was also a gifted storyteller. His oral stories were first published in a booklet in 1987. Now three decades later, thanks to his son, Ernest in collaboration with brother Wilford Hartley, more of his recollections along with family and Quaker history, are collected in a 146-page illustrated book titled Stories Elmer Likes to Tell, Second Edition.

“Elmer told entertaining vignettes of family life on the farm” and “vivid accounts of family members and ancestors living a deep, practical religious faith”, notes his son. “He told stories of his adventuresome grandfather, who followed the gold rush to California” and many other stories of interest.

Selections in the book highlight life on the farm to Hartley’s religious life as a member of the Society of Friends. Stories about the Drover’s Road that ran from Bellaire to Guernsey County and a piece titled “How the village of Eldon (Spencer’s Station) got its name” are also featured along with a chronology of the family farm and genealogy.

In 2017, Ernest Hartley spearheaded efforts to erect an Ohio Historical Marker at the site of the former Richland Meeting house where Elmer and his wife are interred in the cemetery. At the time, Hartley published a 46-page booklet Remembrances of the Richland Friends Meetinghouse and Cemetery: A tribute to a Beloved Place of Worship in Millwood Township, Guernsey County, Ohio. Copies of this book are also available from the author for $13 each.

One reader of Stories Elmer Likes to Tell was inspired to write “Elmer’s stories cover his Ohio country upbringing in the Quaker community and continue throughout his lifetime. His stories are lively, relevant today, and insightful. He writes matter of factly about neighbor helping neighbor without sounding grandiose or keeping score. A wonderful quick and timeless read.”

Copies of the book may be purchased by sending $20 that also covers shipping and handling to: Ernest Hartley Publications, P.O. Box 1167, El Dorado, CA 95623-1167.