THE HISTORY OF WILLIAM HARRIS
William Harris was the son of John and Milley Price Harris, of Oglethorpe County, Georgia. John Harris was a veteran of the American Revolution. From records available, John Harris migrated to Georgia from Virginia after the Revolution. He received two grants of land by the State in 1784 and 1785 in Wilkes County. This land was incorporated in Oglethorpe County upon its establishment in 1793. John had 15 children, five by his first wife, Mary Walker Harris, and 10 by his second wife, Milley Price Harris. He is listed in the 1790 Census of Oglethorpe County. He was also listed in the early tax records of Wilkes and Oglethorpe Counties. He established a plantation in the Goose Pond area of Oglethorpe County and owned slaves. John was born in 1738 and died in Oglethorpe County in 1821. William was among the younger children of Milley, if not the youngest. He was born October 5, 1815.
Apparently, William came to Walton County with his mother at the time she came into possession of the property known as the William Harris Homestead in 1836. He married Harriet Amanda Davenport in1841. They had 12 children. From all evidence gathered from Courthouse records and from information passed down through the generations, it is clear that he was a peaceful man of character, integrity, and industry.
He was listed first in the 1840 Census as Head of Household. The 1850 Census listed him as Head of Household and named his wife and four of his children who had been born by that time, and his mother, Milley. He is listed both in the 1860 Census and the 1870 Census. In 1850 He owned eighteen slaves, but in 1860 he owned 10.
William Harris farmed his land, cared for his wife and children and was a leader in the community. In 1841 he was nominated with other Walton County citizens to represent the County at a Convention to be held in Milledgeville “to adopt such measures as may seem to them proper for dissemination of democratic principles”.
Of his children, William T, Isham W., Charles M., and John Lewis were farmers–all on land originally acquired by their father. Robert SSylvester became prominent as a banker and merchant in Bethlehem, and Virgil Vascar Harris became a merchant in Good Hope and Monroe.
Several of his grandsons also earned business and professional reputations. Ernest R. Harris became a physician; Earl Harris was a lawyer; Vivian Harris was an educator; Rufus served as President of Tulane University and as President and Chancellor of Mercer University; Hubert Harris was retired President of the Citizens and Southern Bank of Chamblee.
The Harris family was listed among the pioneer residents of Walton County by Anita B. Sams in her excellent history of Walton County, Wayfarers in Walton.
The many descendants of William and Harriett Harris are peaceful, law-abiding and interested in preserving for future generations the William Harris Homestead, which represents an important link in the life and culture of the early and middle nineteenth century.
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The William Harris Homestead Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to provide heritage, agricultural and environmental education.