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History of Alexander Harris, Sr. 1834-1889

Alexander Harris, Sr., born March 25, 1834, in Wilson County, Tennessee, was a son of McGee Harris and Mary Givens of Kentucky. His father was born near Lebanon, Wilson, Tennessee. Mary Givens was born in Kentucky. McGee Harris and family owned a plantation in Tennessee with Negro servants. When the family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immigrated west, the servants loved him so much they wanted to come with him. As the family moved west, they must have settled in Nauvoo, as we understand they lived in the home of the Prophet Joseph Smith for a while.

Alexander was the fourth child of his parents' eight children, and the first son. The children were born around and in Wilson County, Tennessee and Nashville. His father, with a family of six or seven children, crossed the plains in 1848, in Captain Kimball's Company. Alexander was 14 years of age when they arrived in the valley in September 1848. As a young man, Alexander Harris herded cows in and around Salt Lake City, Utah, as the fences had not yet been built. Times were hard and food was scarce so he took a sharp stick and dug the sego root for his noonday meal. Later he was one of the young men who President Brigham Young called to go meet the handcart company who were stranded in deep snow out in the mountains. Their provisions were exhausted and they were dying from cold, hunger, and Cholera. He took teams, wagons, provisions and bedding, saving many lives.


Harriet Ann Craner

Daniel H. Wells married Alexander Harris, Sr. to Harriet Ann Craner in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 21, 1855. He was a brother-in-law to Alexander. (Sealed June 6, 1856 by Heber C. Kimball). He was a colonizer and one of the early settlers of Utah. The children of Alexander Harris, Sr. and Harriet Ann Craner were: Alexander Harris, Jr., Harriet Ann Harris, Mary Elizabeth Harris, Martha Caroline Harris, George McGee Harris, Emily Deseret Harris, John Walter Harris, William Frederick Harris, Emma Arminta Harris and Gertrude Harris. The twins, George McGee and Emily Deseret died early, one being two days old, and the other, not quite one month.

Alexander and his son Alexander Jr., ran a train of freight wagons from Corrine, Utah to Butte, Montana. The train consisted of four wagons with one wagon trailing the second, pulled by 16 head of mules to each of the two wagons. They were driven with a jerk line. It was a strenuous trip over poor roads, watching for Indians behind each rock. It was while he was away on one of these trips that his beloved wife, Harriet, died on September 15, 1874, at Richmond, Utah. She left a six-week old baby girl (Gertrude) and seven other children. There was no way to carry news except by pony express. A runner was sent to bear the news, which almost overwhelmed the husband. Young Alex was not with his father on this trip. Frank Christensen related that he was the person to break the news to the son, as young Alex had gone for a load of hay. Young Alex was just 19 years old at that time and never quite recovered from the loss of his devoted mother.

Harriet drove a fine span of horses and surrey with a fringe on top, (so the story goes) and when the neighbors saw that surrey out, they knew Mrs. Harris was out for a ride.

Alexander Sr. remarried his wife's widowed sister, Martha Craner Tanner. Both wives were the daughter of George Benjamin Craner and Elizabeth West. They were born in Maxstoke, Warwick, England, and journeyed to America on the ship Windermere in 1854. At the age of 14, Harriet had saved enough money to pay her own way and the rest of the family was financed by their son and older brother, George Craner. Harriet was a loving mother and an immaculate homemaker.

After marrying Harriet's sister, Martha, they moved to Gentile Valley, now called Thatcher, Idaho, permanently in the year 1875. Alex had been there at times before. Martha had four children by her former husband George Tanner: Mary, George, Thomas, and John Tanner. Alex raised a large family, having ten children by his first wife and six by his second, plus four Tanner children. Three children died in infancy, all of the others grew to adulthood. As a husband, Alexander, Sr. was a good provider and a kind and loving father. His death came very suddenly on February 24, 1889 at the age of 54 years and 11 months. He had been out with his sons shooting at a mark an hour before his death. He died at the old home in Mound Valley, Idaho and was buried at Richmond, Utah. Funeral services were held there in the Church house February 26, 1889. Consoling remarks were made by Bishop Lewis, an old-time friend of the family, by President Marriner W. Merrill and Solomon H. Hale. He was buried along side of his wife, Harriet Ann Craner, who preceded him in death by 14 years. He was the brother of Martha Harris Wells, the mother of Governor Heber M. Wells, the first Governor of the state of Utah.


Home of Alexander Harris in Thatcher, Idaho