Martin Henderson Harris (1820 - 1889) MP

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Birthplace: Windham, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Died in Harrisville, Weber, Utah, USA
Managed by: Denise Unander
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About Martin Henderson Harris

Biographical Summary #1:

Harrisville – In large measure, the early history of Harrisville is also the history of the man for whom the town was named – Martin Henderson Harris.

Pioneer, educator, religious leader, businessman and the town’s first animal control officer, Mr. harris played a vital role in the development of this community from 1861 until his death in 1889.

His chronical began Sept 29,1830 in a small Pennsylvania township near the junction of Mahoopeny Creek and the Susquehanna River.

The son of Emer and Deborah Lott Harris, young Martin grew up on a series of farms in Pennsylvania and Ohio where he attended school winters and tended to farm chores the rest of the year.

After a run of tough luck with crops, the Harris family moved on to a county in Missouri where they were immediately warned to leave or face the consequences of a gubernatorial order legalizing the extermination of the Mormons.

Young Martin’s family moved near the Mormon stronghold at Nauvoo during 1839 where, two years later, Martin joined the Nauvoo legion and participated in the construction of the LDS temple there.

A cousin [Note. Original newspaper article indicates that Martin H. Harris was the "cousin" to Book of Mormon witness Martin Harris. This is incorrect as he was actually his nephew] to the Martin Harris who gained fame as one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, young Martin H Harris also served as a bodyguard to Joseph Smith and was eventually baptized in 1842. During the next few years – a turbulent time for the LDS Church - - Martin moved around doing various kinds of work until he finally made the decision to move to Utah.

He left St Joseph, Missouri on April 28, 1850 and arrived in Weber County some five months later where he built the first log house north of Four Mile Creek and immediately sowed eight acres of grain.

His first harvest was a disaster. Attributing crop failure to “salt in the soil” Martin H. Harris moved his farm to higher ground and worked for other farmers during harvest time for enough grain to get through the winter.

By 1852, Mr. Harris had his farm well into production, harvested 212 bushels of grain and generally paved the way for other pioneers who settled in the area.

But the thriving little community of about seven families abruptly left their homes the following year in the wake of Indian troubles and moved inside Bingham’s Fort.

The Walker War of 1854-66 kept Martin Harris and his fellow settlers inside the fortification but the conflict was remote enough that they were able to keep their farms under cultivation Finally in 1857, Martin and other neighboring families moved out of the fort and back onto their farms.

But it was a short stay… Martin was immediately called on a mission to the Salmon River area in Idaho with several other missionaries.

In February of the following year, the mission was ambushed by Indians; two missionaries were killed and the ill-fated Salmon River Mission was abandoned.

Martin Harris arrived home in April only to find Weber County residents in the process of moving to Utah County to avoid possible contact with Johnston’s Army.

Upon his return from Utah County in July, Mr Harris moved his house onto his farm and other colonists soon followed his example. Within two years, the community had enough people for a school and the County Court organized the Eighth School District.

While a school house was under construction in the town square, Martin H Harris taught and evening school in his own home without pay. When the district was fully organized, Mr. Harris was appointed assessor and clerk, a post that he had held for eight years.

In 1863, the little settlement was organized into a branch of the LDS church and Martin was set apart as first counselor in the new branch presidency.

The community continued to prosper and by 1868, it requested a change in status from district to precinct; the petition was granted and the precinct was officially named Harrisville – with Martin Harris as the first pound keeper

A member of the district road commission Mr. Harris was active in laying out numerous key Weber County roads and participated in the construction of the Utah Northern Railroad.

In addition to his many activities for the church and district, Martin Harris also kept a number of district records and statistical reports for his area.

When the United Order was implemented in the Ogden area during May of 1874, the pioneer was appointed treasurer for the Harrisville’s district.

The following year, he and several other area residents formed the “Manufacturing and Industrial Cooperative Institution of Harrisville” in addition to personally drafting the constitution of the company, Mr. Harris was also elected to a directorship.

During the same month, he joined other neighbors in erecting a sawmill powered by Four Mile Creek and included a molasses mill in the construction project.

In the spring of 1876, Mr. Harris planted a grove of shade trees in commemoration of the nation’s centennial birthday and that landmark still flourishes today.

Called to a mission to the Eastern States one year later, Martin Harris was stricken with Paralysis Agitans and returned home in 1878.

For the next 11 years, the dread palsy spread throughout his body – rendering him an invalid and finally claiming his life on February 14, 1889.

SOURCE: "Harrisville’s History Parallels Life of Pioneer, Educator" by By Don Baker; Ogden Standard Examiner, 7/1/1973.

Biographical Summary #2:

Pioneer Family Calls Reunion

First of Its Kind for Harris Kinfolk since Settlement Descendants of Nathan Harris with their relatives and other branches of the Harris family will meet in reunion on Thursday August 12 in Lorin Farr Park. All person related to the Martin Harris family or the Emer Harris family are invited to attend the reunion. The exercises will commence at 10 o'clock and continue during the day. Each person will bring a basket of food. Tables will be set and the entire family will be seated at the noon day luncheon. It is expected that a large crowd will pass the day in Ogden as this will the first general reunion of the entire Harris family since the settling of Utah. One of the WitnessesTwo sons of Nathan Harris joined the LDS church and became prominent during the early days of its history. Martin Harris became an early friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith, assisted him in translating the Book of Mormon and was chosen as one of the three witnesses to that book. He later sold his farm and with the proceeds paid for the publication of the first edition of the book. He became dissatisfied at the reorganization of the church and remained at Kirtland until 1870 when he was brought to Utah by Edward Stevenson under the direction of President Young. He moved to Clarkston, Utah where he died in 1875. A monument to his memory was erected and was dedicated on July 20, 1925 on the 50th anniversary of his death. The family of Martin Harris came to Utah with the church and settled principally in the southern part of Idaho where many of his descendants now reside. Brother's Career

Emer Harris, a brother of Martin, was also a close friend of the prophet. He worked as a carpenter on the Kirtland temple. He came to Utah in 1850 settling in Provo, and later coming to Weber County. His son, Joseph M Harris was one of the early settlers of Ogden, and later moved to the Blind Springs ranch in Box Elder County. His descendants mostly reside in Box Elder County and southern Idaho. Martin H Harris was the pioneer settler of Harrisville in Weber County where most of his descendants now reside.


Alma Harris was one of the pioneers in Cache Valley, most of his descendants residing at and in the vicinity of Logan. The other sons, Dennison and Charles moved to the southern part of the state, the former living at Monroe where he served as bishop for many years and the latter residing at Junction in Piute County. They have numerous descendants residing mostly in the vicinity of Provo and scattered throughout southern Utah. Harriet Daly, a daughter, resided at Springville where the members of that branch of the family still live.

Married 2nd: Louisa Sargent Date: 3 Apr 1859 , Born: 18 Dec 1841 , Newbury, Berkshire, England Parents: John and Ann Allen Sargent Martin was the nephew of Martin Harris , one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon gold plates. He grew up on a series of farms in Pennsylvania and Ohio . He attended school in the winter and helped on the farm the rest of the year. After crop failures, they moved to Missouri , but were driven from that state. They moved to Nauvoo where Martin was active in the Nauvoo Legion and helped construct the Nauvoo Temple. He worked for various people, farming, harvesting, doing carpentry work, etc. He was handy with tools. He was committed to the principles of the gospel. After the expulsion from Nauvoo , he went to St. Joseph, Missouri , where he got his outfit to go west, including a dictionary, slate, books, paper, etc. He met his parents in Kanesville and they started for the Valley. He kept accurate and complete notes of the journey west. After their arrival in the valley, they settled in Weber County north of Four Mile Creek . He farmed, and taught school in his home without pay. Their town, Harrisville , was named after him. He was active in everything pertaining to the community and church. His family even planted mulberry trees and raised the tiny worms for the silk industry. He loved music and played the flageolet, which is a flute similar to a recorder. He made many tools for use in the home and farms. He was always helping others with their needs. He was called to a mission in the Eastern States but returned home in a year after being stricken with palsy. He was an invalid for 11 years and died in his 69th year. Children of 1st wife:

  1. Emer Martin , b. 6 Aug 1856 , Harrisville, Utah . Md. 1st, 5 Jan 1882 , Hannah Montgomery Wood Poulter . D. 28 Sep 1934 , Ogden, Utah .

Children of 2nd wife:

  1. Leander Sargent , b. 20 Apr 1860 , Harrisville, Utah . Md. 1st, 19 Sep 1887 . Md. 2nd, 10 Oct 1900 , Eliza Barlow . D. 12 Sep 1945 , Bur. Ogden City Cemetery.
  2. Lovisa Georgianna , b. 4 Mar 1862 , Harrisville, Utah . Md. 5 Jan 1882 , David Davis . D. 15 Nov 1956.
  3. Nathan John , b. 29 Mar 1864 , Harrisville, Utah . Md. 15 Jun 1887 , Emma Elvira Oakason . D. 19 Nov 1936 .
  4. Martin Dennison , b. 4 May 1866 , Harrisville, Utah . Md. 6 Feb 1890 , Lille Rosetta Hayes . D. 15 Dec 1953 , Ogden, Utah .
  5. Louisa Priscilla , b. 30 May 1868 , Harrisville, Utah . Md. 1st, 4 Mar 1897 , William H. Anderson . Md. 2nd, 22 Feb 1922 , Job Pingree . D. 27 Nov 1937 , Oakland, California .
  6. Ida Ellen , b. 27 Nov 1875 , Harrisville, Utah . Md. 15 May 1901 , Alfred Dixon , Salt Lake City, Utah . D. 3 June 1953 , Oakland, California . Lois Erickson

SOURCE: 1 Aug 1926 , Ogden Standard Examiner

Historical Summary of Harrisville, UT:

"...Martin Henderson Harris (1820-1889) was an early settler and Mormon Pioneer. In 1851 Martin Henderson Harris, for whom Harrisville was named and a nephew of Book of Mormon Witness Martin Harris, built a log home west of Four Mile Creek. Others soon followed: James Lake; Pleasant Green Taylor, who settled on the Urban Stewart claim; David Jenkins, who put up a small house on the south portion of Stewart's claim; William W. Dixon, who settled by a small creek that would bear his name; Stephen Ordway; Luman A. Shurtleff; and others...."

"...Martin Henderson Harris at first taught school in his home..."

"...In 1863 Harrisville was organized as a branch of the LDS Church, and in 1868 it was organized into a county precinct, at which time it was officially called Harrisville..."



Martin Harris's Timeline

September 29, 1820
Windham, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, USA
January 18, 1855
Age 34
Binghams Fort, Weber, Utah, USA
August 6, 1856
Age 35
Harrisville, Weber, Utah, USA
April 3, 1859
Age 38
Ogden, Weber, Utah, USA
April 20, 1860
Age 39
Harrisville, Weber, Utah, USA
March 4, 1862
Age 41
Harrisville, Weber, Utah, USA
March 29, 1864
Age 43
Harrisville, Weber, Utah, USA
May 4, 1866
Age 45
Harrisville, Weber, Utah, USA
May 30, 1868
Age 47
Harrisville, Weber, Utah, USA
November 27, 1875
Age 55
Harrisville, Weber, Utah, USA