Nathaniel Harris

NATHANIEL HARRIS, a veteran business man of Ellsworth now retired, has been identified with that city for over thirty years and among other honors that have come to him was a service in a recent session of the State Legislature.

Mr. Harris is of an old American family, the Harrises having been pioneers in Tennessee and Illinois. His father, Benjamin Harris, was born in Tennessee in 1817, and in 1826 removed to Illinois, where he married and took up a career as a farmer and stockman. At the outbreak of the war with Mexico he went with an Illinois regiment as a lieutenant and at the battle of Buena Vista was wounded in the forehead by a musket ball. He did not long survive that military experience and died in Morgan County, Illinois, in 1851. He was a whig in politics. Benjamin Harris married Mary Davis. She was born in Morgan County, Illinois, in 1821 and died there in 1844. Her father, Briscoe Davis, was born in Kentucky in 1760, a date which of itself indicates that this branch of the Davis family went into the dark and bloody ground of Kentucky about the time of Daniel Boone. The Davises were Scotch-Irish people. Briscoe Davis was reared and married in Kentucky and in 1826 settled as a pioneer in Morgan County, Illinois, where he bought a quarter section of land for $1.25 an acre. He improved a farm and lived on it until his death in 1837. Briscoe Davis married Mary Parker, who was born in South Carolina in 1784 and died in Scott County, Illinois, in 1867. All their children are now deceased. There were twelve of them. Their names in order of birth were: John, Hugh, Jackson, Briscoe, Lemuel, Elias, James, Nathaniel, Susanna, Julia, Mary and Susan. The daughter Susanna married Robert Sands. Julia became the wife of Robert Walker. Susan married Drury Smith. The daughters all married farmers and the sons were of that occupation, practically all of them living in Southern Illinois.

Benjamin Harris and his wife Mary had only two children, David and Nathaniel. David, the older, was born in 1839 and died in Scott County, Illinois, in 1855.

Mr. Nathaniel Harris was born in Morgan County, Illinois, October 10, 1842. Morgan County during his youth was divided and Scott County created from a portion of its territory. It was in Scott County that Mr. Harris spent most of his youth. He was reared by his grandmother, Mary Davis, and lived on her farm until he was twenty-two years of age. His education was confined to the advantages of the rural schools of Scott County. The school he attended was held in a log building and he walked night and morning three miles from his grandmother's home to that temple of learning. He left school at the age of eighteen, and for several years was a successful teacher in Scott, Pike and Tazewell counties.

After his school experience Mr. Harris took up work in a factory at Pekin, Illinois, and afterwards acted as general sales agent for the firm for six years. In 1884 he gave up his work in Illinois and came to Ellsworth, Kansas, where he entered the real estate, loan and insurance business and conducted that actively until 1913. Since then he has been mainly retired and now only manages and looks after the collection of rentals from the ten dwelling houses he owns in Ellsworth.

Mr. Harris has served as a member of the city council of Ellsworth and in 1914 was elected on the republican ticket to the State Legislature. During the session of 1915 he played an active part and was a member of the committees on judicial apportionment, congressional apportionment, mines and mining, local judiciary and insurance.

Mr. Harris is a member of the Presbyterian Church. He is affiliated with Ellsworth Lodge No. 146, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Ellsworth Chapter No. 54, Royal Arch Masons, Ellsworth Commandery No. 33, Knights Templar, Salina Consistory No. 3 of the Scottish Rite, and Isis Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Salina. He also belongs to Ellsworth Lodge No. 109 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Mr. Harris first married in Scott County, Illinois, in 1864 Miss Elizabeth J. Slagle. His four children are all by this marriage. Mary, the oldest, is the wife of John Lindley, a veterinary surgeon at Whiteville, Tennessee, and also owner of extensive farming lands in both Illinois and Tennessee. David, the second child, has for the past twenty-five years been connected with the Chicago and Northern Railway, with headquarters at Roodhouse, Illinois. Rose is the wife of John Loughlin, a railroad man living at Decatur, Illinois. Paul, the youngest child, is a farmer in the famed San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado. In 1880, at Pekin, Illinois, Mr. Harris married Miss Louisa Warbrook. She died at Ellsworth in 1909. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Warbrook, are both deceased, her father having been a shoe merchant in Illinois.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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