James was a son of James and Mary Ann Smithson Harmon. His parents were en route from Mississippi to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1846 when they stopped at Pueblo, Colorado for the winter. In 1847 the family continued on to Utah in company with members of the Mormon Battalion Sick Detachment under the leadership of James Brown (see the Book of the Pioneers entries for sons James Bartlett Harmon, John Taylor Harmon and daughter Josephine Evans--vol. 1, p 226, 304 and 305.) In the 1860 Utah census he is listed as "Jas. Harmell." The Find A Grave website gives his name as " James Bartley Harman."