Harmes family camp wagon finds new home

A camp wagon that has been in the Harmes Family for many years found a new home on Friday, June 25, 2004. It was taken from the Wilfred Harmes home, west of Fairfax, to the Gary and Betty Wennihan home, near Milton, south of Fairfax, where it will be restored.
Harmon H. Harmes, Fairfax, had the plan to build a camp wagon to use as a place to stay while hunting and fishing on the Missouri River, south of Nishnabotna. His three sons, Fred, George and
Dick built it around the early 1920's or shortly before, on the frame of a thrashing machine with running gears.
They also built a supply wagon for storage while at Camp King Fisher. Harmon's brother, John, of Chester, NE, made a fishing boat with "King Fisher" printed on the sides.
The "pre-historic camper" was designed with two bunks suspended in the back and two more bunks folded down from the sides near the center.
There was a wooden cook stove, a cabinet for dishes, a small table with fold down sides, and later a small sink and stool was added with a water hose hooked up from the house. It has wooden covers that opened out by pulleys on the side to expose the screened windows for light and ventilation. There is a storage space under the camp wagon for fishing poles, tack and chairs, etc.
The camp wagon was pulled by two teams, two mules in front and two horses. Hank Graves remembers it being pulled by four abreast, two mules by the tongue and two standard bred horses on the outside. "This camp wagon was made to be pulled by mules and horses, but today I am using a Deere," commented Gary Wennihan, as he pulled the camp wagon to its new home.
Harmon's cattle were driven from English Grove to the river for pasture. Grandchildren, LaVern and Wilfred, Dorothy Jean, Byrom and Junior Graves enjoyed this adventure a few times with the cattle drive. This camp wagon found lots of use in the 20's and 30's for work and entertainment. Mary H. Graves had a Forum article about a big day at Camp King Fisher, June 27, 1925, serving 70 pounds of catfish, fried chicken and the trimmings to 25 friends attending.
The Hank Graves family and friends used the camp wagon at their lot at Big Lake, MO, from the mid 60's to the mid 80's. Many years it was parked at the Fred Harmes home in Fairfax. Donna Kay Ray remembers the LOPH Club (Ladies on the Prowl for Husbands) meeting for overnight adventures and being tormented by neighborhood boys on a regular basis, scratching on the screens to scare them. The club consisted of Barbara Watkins, Sharon Emrick, Sarah Mae Moore, Susy Sims, Jackie Jorgensen and Donna Kay Ray.

The camp wagon wa also used at the ticket booth for the Fairfax Rodeo in the 40's and early 50's. The National Farmers Organization (NFO) also used it to sign up farmers to protest against farm prices. "Needless to say, young people have enjoyed it over the years," said Donna Kay Ray. This information was gathered by grandchildren of Harmon Harmes, Georgia Gilley, Donna Kay Ray and Betty Wennihan.