The most famous resident of Furnace Town has become Sampson Harmon. He was born at what was then Nassawango Hills in 1790. He, like his father Levin Harmon, was a free African-American in a time when slavery was the norm. Little is actually known about the life of Sampson, especially his early years. It was always said that he was strong enough to wrestle bears and fast enough to chase down deer. He was very tall, always wore a hat, and never wore shoes. He was a jack of all trades at the Nassawango Iron Furnace. He helped in the community with whatever he could do. He had a family, but the name of his wife and most of his children is unknown. According to the census of 1840 he and his wife had four children: two boys and two girls. One of the girls' name was Caroline and once she was grown she had at least two daughters of her own, Sophie and Elizabeth. Elizabeth, or Lizzie, as she is reffered to in the 1870 census was raised by Sampson at Furnace Town. After the furnace was abandoned, Sampson continued to live here. He had a small wooden home close to the Manor House and tended a garden where he raised corn. He would barter for supplies from Todd's General Store and nearby Snow Hill. In 1896, the county forced Sampson to move to the Alms House in Snow Hill where he died a year later at the age of 107. His final wish of being buried at the old furnace was never granted and instead he was buried in Snow Hill.
By the 1890s, Sampson was one of the most talked about people in Worcester County. His name was immortalized in The Entailed Hat a novel based at Furnace Town. In the book he is referred to as Sampson Hat and is the manservant of the owner John Custis. For years, many have believed this was the truth, even though the book is historical fiction. The book was written in the 1880s and still remains a widely read work. In 1895, Sampson granted an interview to the local newspaper and talked about certain parts of his life in order to set the record straight that he was not a slave as he was portrayed in the novel.
In his later years Sampson had one constant companion at the furnace: his black cat, Tom. Tom can be seen in the picture above on Sampson's lap. Furnace Town continues the tradition of Sampson and welcomes cats living on the grounds. Our two current cats are Missy and Stormy.