Harris family came to Andalusia circa 1919

Published 12:04 am Saturday, May 30, 2015

There has been more than one family of Harris lineage to reside in Covington County during the years. The John Wesley Harris family is the one being reviewed today in this column. He moved his family to the Andalusia area a short time before 1920.

The ancestors of John Wesley Harris who have been identified are begun with Dr. John Harris, a native of the State of Maryland. He served during the Revolutionary War as a private in Colonel Williamson’s South Carolina Regiment. There is also a headstone at this grave indicating that he served during the War of 1812. He was born in 1762 and lived until 1845. He was married to Mary Pickens who was born in 1766 in Abbeville, S.C., and died in 1836. They had moved their family to Anderson, S.C., where they were living when both died. They reared at least two sons, Joseph Pickens Harris and Andrew Pickens Harris (I).

Andrew Pickens Harris was born in 1785 in Abbeville, S.C., and died in 1859 in Anderson, S.C. He was married in Anderson in 1800 to Jane Russell (1786-1847). They reared the following children: Thomas Russell, b. 1810; Andrew Pickens (II), b. 1812, d. 1844; John Ewing Calhoun, b. 1814, d. 1836; Mary Handy, b. 1817, d. 1859, m. 1841 John Hall (1793-1884). Nathaniel Augustus, b. 1819; William Alexander, b. 1823; Jane Anne Francis, b. 1825, d. 1907; David Ezekiel, b. 1818, d. 1880; Rebecca, b. 1829, d. 1883; and Martha Tabitha, b. 1830.

The above son, Andrew Pickens Harris II, was born in 1812 in Pendleton, S.C., and died at the young age of 32 in 1844 when he was living in Eutaw, Ala. He was married to Rosanna Rayford, b. 1818. They reared at least the following two sons, Andrew Pickens Harris (III) and Robert S. Harris.

Robert S. was born in 1847 in Alabama and died here in 1931. He was married in 1868 to Margaret A. Gray (1854-1923), and they made their home in Colbert and Franklin Counties, Ala. They reared the following children: James Andrew, b. 1870, d. 1939, m. Drucilla Malissa Blackburn; Anna, b. 1871; Modena I., b. 1873, d. 1944, m. Marion Taylor; Jack, b. 1875; Almander, b. 1877; John Wesley, b. 1879, d. 1962, m. Ether Mae Taylor (1884-1973); William Narcellas, b. 1882, d. 1943; Cora M., b. 1886; and Elvira F., b. 1888.

One could say that the main character of this narrative is the above son, John Wesley Harris. A granddaughter, Barbara Ann Dean, wrote a nice biography and tribute to him in a family story written for and published in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama. Her article was the inspiration for today’s column.

John Wesley grew up on the small family farm in Northwest Alabama where his parents taught him all they knew about farming. He naturally began working as a farmer and in 1899 was married to Ether Mae Taylor (1884-1973), daughter of John W. Taylor and West China (Stout). After the wedding, the couple moved to Cherokee, Ala., and John Wesley became a merchant. They next settled in Rock Creek and then Srygley of Colbert County, Ala. By 1910 they had moved a bit farther to Allsboro in the same county. In 1918 they were in New Market of Madison County and then migrated south to Andalusia, Ala., by 1920.

After the Flood of 1926, the family moved to Century, Fla., where John Wesley built a house for their residence and a later a barn with stalls for his sturdy mules. Of course, he had help from his sons with the major construction. During these years John Wesley truck farmed to grow preferred vegetables for the family as well as for selling to the community. He even shipped watermelons by rail to Northwest Alabama where his brother at Frankfort would sell them.

When John Wesley died in 1962, one source reported he was in Chattahoochee; Jackson County, Fla.; however, it seems he would have still been in Century. Ether Mae lived until 1973 and was residing on the home place at the time in Century, Escambia County, Fla. Their children buried them in the Bryneville Methodist Church Cemetery.

John Wesley and Ether Mae Harris reared the following children: Vida Ella, b. 1901, d. 1989, m. (1) Eris Warren Urphree (2) Barry Dillard; Wilford Aldrey, b. 1903, d. 1961, m. Mary Helen Borcherding; Nellie Agnes, b. 1905, d. 1985, m. Hugh Cameron; Lee Lester, b. 1907, d. 1928, single; Raymond Rather, b. 1910, d. 1983, single; Ruth, b. 1916, d. 1998, m. John Erston Dean; Arnold Haygood, b. 1923, single; and Hilda Jane, b. 1923, m. (1) Hugh Florey (2) Bernard Thomas. The last two children were born in Andalusia.

To have had eight children, John Wesley and Ether had very few grandchildren: Vida had one baby who was stillborn; Wilford, Lee, Raymond and Arnold did not have any children; Nellie had two sons; Ruth had three children; and Hilda had one son. It appears that would end the Harris name for this particular family.

Barbara Ann Harris wrote in her family story that her mother, Ruth (Harris) Dean, would often get her to drive them to Andalusia for her to recall the many pleasant memories from her early years there. She held many sites dear, and the Andalusia Library with the many books she loved so much was a special place.

The John Wesley Harris house and barn still stand, and Barbara Ann makes her home there. Appreciation is expressed to her for making this story possible. Her family story in the heritage book and Ancestry.com were the sources.

Anyone who might find an error in the above or who might have a family story to share is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: cthomasson@centurytel.net.



The Covington Rifles Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, in the Dixon Memorial Room of the Andalusia Public Library. Anyone interested in preserving Confederate heritage is encouraged to attend.