|Joseph Brown Harris, known as J. B. Harris and in later years as “Uncle
Joe,” was born August 12, 1858, in North Georgia, the eleventh child of
twelve children born to Willis D. Harris (born 1812), and Lucinda Mikel
(born 1818), married in 1834. During the Civil War Willis moved his
family into eastern Alabama near Wedowee. Young Joe Harris married
Mary Elizabeth Robertson (born April 30, 1863 at Roanoke, Alabama), on
October 10, 1882, (Mary’s parents were Joseph William Robertson and Cynthia
Ann Pearson). In 1892 a new neighbor moved to the farm adjoining
the Harrises. It was the family of James Thomas and Abigail (Abbie)
Smith with their nine children. Henry, their eldest son, was seventeen
years old that winter and never dreamed that he would one day marry his
little 10-year old neighbor, Maude Harris! The Smith family had one
more child, the only one born in Texas, James Norman, born January 4, 1893.
J . B. suffered from asthma and had great difficulty breathing a lot
of the time. They moved from Bell County in 1902 to Santa Anna and
for the first year or two lived east of town. It wasn’t long until
he moved to a farm northwest of town, living in a house very close to the
railroad tracks. He became active in organizing a Primitive Baptist
Church at Santa Anna and interested people came from as far away as Zephyr
for the organizational meetings.
By the time they moved to Santa Anna there were five children in the
family, all of whom were born in Bell County except Ruie Maud who was born
in Wedowee, Alabama, December 3, 1884. D. J. the first to be born
in Texas, October 23, 1887; Lillie, January 18, 1890; Respress (“Rep”),
February 25, 1891, and Milford, October 25, 1895. This was a hard
working family and though Grandfather’s health was not good, he bought
the farm that lay between the Banisters and what was then the Coleman Highway.
Maud married Henry M. Smith on September 9, 1906 (see Henry M. Smith).
D. J. Harris married Ethel Rowe November 10, 1907, and their first child,
a son was born August 24, 1908, but died that same day and is buried under
the big tree in Santa Anna Cemetery. A daughter, Velma, was born
July 19, 1910, and still lives at Santa Anna. She married Homer Vinson
December 1, 1935. D. J. and Ethel were divorced and D. J. became
a deputy sheriff under sheriff John R. Banister, where he served until
World War I. He was then called into the Service.
Lillie Harris married Albert Dodgen of the Plainview community December
24, 1913, and they first settled down on a farm near Plainview School but
soon moved to the high plains of Texas. When the older Harris ‘‘boys”
left Bell County, both Uncle “Mid” and Uncle “V” moved to that area, about
the time Joe moved to Coleman County. The Dodgen’s three children
were J. B., Thelma, and Buford. When Buford was still small, they
moved back to Coleman County. Lillie died March 20, 1960, and Albert
died June 15, 1973, and both are buried in the Santa Anna Cemetery.
And then came World War I. D. J. served in France, most of his
time in the military police. He returned home with a beautiful French
girl named Georgette.
Milford was next to go to war. He trained at Fort Dix, New Jersey,
went first to England, then to France. When he came home he married
Mary Blanche McSwain of Rockwood and took over the farming of the land
J .B. had bought many years before. Five children were born to them
there: Marie, Mary Jo, Elgene, Lois Faye, and Bill Jack. Milford
never left this land, until he was unable to work, and the land still belongs
to Elgene. Milford died January 25, 1978, and is buried at Santa
Rep Harris did not go into the service during the war. He had
suffered a stroke and though he was in his mid-twenties, he was badly paralyzed
on his right side. He had to swing his right leg to walk, and wired
his arm to a hoe handle so he was able to do what was needed to grow food.
Rep also learned to write with his left hand and gradually overcame every
noticeable difficulty. He was the next to the last of the Harris
family to marry; an avowed bachelor until he met little Miss Alma Puckett,
they married, March 5, 1921. They farmed in the Plainview community
for several years, later moving to the Buffalo community. Their children
were born in those years: Louise (see Alfred Smedley), Eugene, Helen Ray
and the baby, Will Rogers - named for a man Rep admired so very much.
Born on Christmas day, 1928, he died following surgery for a ruptured appendix,
August 25, 1932. Rep later became a poultry buyer, moving to Coleman
where he died of cancer of the throat, March 6, 1943, and was buried in
When D. J. returned from France, he settled at Meadow and began construction
work, forming a company that built most of the buildings there. There
he met Clara Copeland, a teacher, and they married on March 17, 1921.
Two children: Noble, now living in Abilene, and Mary Margaret, married
to Sam Chisholm, a professor at Texas Tech. ‘‘Uncle D” died October
13, 1932, and is buried at Meadow. His widow and children moved to
I had the privilege of growing up within three to five miles of both
grandparents - having them close by until after I married in 1926.
On June 7, 1929, Grandfather Harris slipped away quietly at 2:03 in the
afternoon. His service was held in Mountain View Primitive Baptist
Church, buried in the Santa Anna Cemetery.
Grandmother died on September 11, 1947, and is buried in Santa Anna.
Grandmother was 22 when she left Alabama; she only saw her mother again
one time, in 1892, when they went back for a visit! How brave mothers
and daughters were in those days when daughters moved with their husbands
and young families so far away and hardships were so great! Often
there was but small chance of ever seeing each other again. Two of
Grandmother’s brothers came to Texas. James P. (Jim) Robertson, the
oldest, became a wealthy landowner in east Texas around Jacksonville, where
a daughter and some of her family still live. Joseph T. Robertson
moved to Dalhart where he spent the rest of his life. His son, Joe,
lived in Santa Anna for some years and married Juanita Hunter, daughter
of C. K. Hunter, a druggist there.
(Image to be added)
Joseph Brown Harris and Mary Elizabeth Robertson, October 10, 1882