Ralph A. Harris, owner and publisher of the "Evening Herald," Ottawa, Kan., is a native of Ottawa, where he was born March 12, 1871, to John P. and Sarah E. (Zook) Harris. John P. Harris, the son of Asa and Eliza (Fulcher) Harris, natives respectively of Dutchess county, New York, and Pennsylvania, was born July 24, 1839, in Marietta, Ohio, where Asa had removed with the family of his father, George Harris, in 1817, at the age of six years. Asa Harris removed to Centerville, Appanoose county, Iowa, in 1853, remaining six years, then came to Kansas in 1859 and located a claim near Centropolis, Franklin county, where he engaged in farming until his retirement, followed by his death in Ottawa in 1884. He was a Republican and an Abolitionist, and during the days of the underground railroad he had a station at his home at Marietta. Reared under the influence of such a strong anti-slavery man, and having removed to Kansas when conditions in that state were so turbulent politically, the sympathy of John R. Harris was wholly for the Union and to serve as one of its defenders he enlisted in November, 1861, in the First Kansas Battery, and for eighteen months was engaged in duty on the frontier, taking part in numerous engagements in the West. In 1863 he was transferred to Tennessee where much of his subsequent service was spent, and took part with General Thomas in the battle of Nashville in December, 1864. At the expiration of his term, he was mustered out as a non-commissioned officer, at Nashville in December, 1864. After the war he returned to the new city of Ottawa, and engaged in freighting which proved unprofitable, then for three years he followed farming and stock raising and in 1877 became president of the People's National Bank, a position he yet holds and his thirty-three years of continuous service in that office speaks eloquently of the trust imposed in him by his co-partners in the business and by patrons of the bank. As a servant of the people in public affairs he has ever evinced the same integrity of purpose. He is a Republican and served his constituency as state senator from 1876 to 1880, not being a candidate for reëlection; held the office of county treasurer; was several times a member of the city council of Ottawa, and once served as its mayor; and in 1898 was appointed postmaster, with his son, Ralph A., as assistant.
Ralph A. Harris was educated in the grammar and high schools of Ottawa, with a supplementary training at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. Upon his return home he served as teller in the People's National Bank for five years, and was assistant postmaster for nine years. In 1907 he became the owner of the "Evening Herald," having bought it of Henry J. Allen. It is the only Republican paper in Ottawa and under the able management of Mr. Harris it ranks as one of the best daily papers in Kansas.
In 1892 Mr. Harris married Eleanor Shiras, daughter of Peter Shiras of Ottawa, and they have two children, John P. and Sidney, both of whom are attending school in Ottawa. Mr. Harris has served on the Republican central committee of Franklin county and in other ways has served his party's interests. His fraternal affiliations are with the Masonic order, having attained the Knights Templar degree, and with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. His wife and family are members of the Episcopal church.Pages 1021-1022 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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