Israel Hopkins Harris ~ Waynesville Banker, Businessman and Scholar
Israel Hopkins Harris was one of the five children of James and Rebecca Clark Jennings Harris.
His father, James Harris, had a farm south of Centerville and was a very successful dry goods businessman. He clerked first in the store of John Satterthwaite in Waynesville. After his marriage the Harris family moved to Centerville where he opened his own store. He later opened stores in both Waynesville and in Bellbrook. James Harris was also one of the first pork packers in the area as well as one of the first tobacco buyers. In 1844, the Harris family moved back to Waynesville.
Israel Hopkins Harris was schooled in Centerville by the noted teacher, David Burson, and in Franklin by W. C. Gould. He entered the Junior class at Yale in 1844. He graduated from Yale in 1846. When he returned to Waynesville after his graduation, he worked with his father in his dry goods business. After the death of James Harris, I. H. Harris partnered with his brother Joseph and continued in his father's business from 1849-1855. He consequently went into partnership with Jarvis Stokes of Lytle, Ohio to open a bank. I. H. Harris and Jarvis Stokes continued in the banking business until the death of Mr. Stokes in 1868. I. H. Harris continued the bank, the "I. H. Harris Exchange Bank" until his death.
I. H. Harris was married three times:
- Esther Ann Stokes, the daughter of his partner Jarvis Stokes, who d. 1849. Their daughter Mary died shortly after her mother.
- Carrie E. Bunnell, who died on January 15, 1873 in Jacksonville, Florida of T. B. They had three children: Emma who died when she was 8 years old, Jimmie who died at 16 months of cholera, and Laura who survived and married John Jacob Mosher.
- Edith Mosher (February 28, 1853 ~ November 2, 1943), the daughter of Nathan and Sarah Mosher. Nathan was the landlord of the Hammell House and it was there that Edith and I. H. were married by Elder J. H. Dodds of the Christian Church. Edith and I. H. Harris had two children: one who died in infancy and Minnie Mildred.
While attending Yale University, I. H. developed a deep interest in geology and became an avid collector of geological and archaeological specimens. His private collections of artifacts was world famous. He also collected fresh water pearls found in the mussels in the Little and Great Miami Rivers. He owned and operated the "Little Miami River Pearl Fisheries". He left his prestigious collection of geological and archaeological specimens to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C. In 1888 he sold over 2,000 fresh water pearls to Tiffany & Co.
The following is taken from the
"Memoir of Israel Hopkins Harris" by Charles F. Mosher
"The Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly", April 1898
"In person Mr. Harris was slender and rather below medium height. He had the eagle nose and eye which are the marks of great power and force of character. In later years an iron gray mustache slightly veiled his firm, yet sympathetic mouth. A high forehead indexed the keen intellect behind it. He inherited intense vitality, and all his life long was much in the open air. Even at an age when most men begin to seek easy chairs and dread exertion, his energy led him to continue his outdoor exercise, and the last letter the writer ever received from him was in reference to a contemplated fishing excursion of some days' duration ~~preparations for which were interrupted by the short illness preceding his death.
Mr. Harris was a great believer in the benefits of pedestrianism, and no one ever visited Waynesville without carrying away a memory picture of him taking his daily walk over to the railroad station (Waynesville Depot in Corwin, Ohio) to meet the evening train, sometimes accompanied by his younger daughter or one of his grandchildren, but more often alone. His erect form, alert air, quick, nervous step and cheery greeting of friends~~for all who knew him were his friends ~~made an impression never to be forgotten.
Learned as few men are today, an ardent student to the last, a successful man of business, a loved and honored husband and father, an ideal gentleman~~he was all these things and more. Culture did not make him careless of the feelings of others less gifted than himself, and some of his warmest friedns were men who stumbled at the very names of the studies he so loved. The keen intellect which trcced the workings of Supreme Intelligence through countless ages without bewilderment or faltering, was no more marked in him than the great heart which beat in sympathy with every noble aim and action. The relentless critic of all shams, he was the friend of every one whose sincere desire it was to develop to the full those qualities which raise mankind above the brutes. Many who could not define the method, appreciated the result in themselves; and when the long, as that of one great household for the departure of its counselor, busy, fruitful life drew to a close, Waynesville's mourning was leader and friend.
Also see, "The Harris Guards" ~ Ohio National Guard in Waynesville (more family photos)