Today’s Tidbit | Nelson Alonzo Harris – July 16, 1822

My 2nd great grandfather and I share the same birthday, albeit some 139 years apart!

Nelson Harris was born in Saratoga Co., NY on July 16, 1822. He and his family moved to Pierpont, OH when he was 11, and then to Indiana in 1837. Few details about those early years are known. They made their way to Manitowoc Co., WI, probably in 1850. Nelson worked as a carpenter in the shipyards there.

Envisioning the lumber and saw-mill business as a profitable venture, he moved his family to Cato, WI (which was once known as Harrisville – named after Nelson), in 1853. He built a saw mill there in 1856, which he continued operating until all the oak was used up. It was the town’s first industry. Once established in the lumber and saw-mill business, Nelson began laying away choice pieces of lumber and timbers for building a home in Cato. He meant it to be the finest in all of Manitowoc County. Much more about the Harris home in Cato can be found by clicking the link below.

In 1873, he built a boarding-house and mill in Forest Junction. This was the first business in that town.

Because of the weather, Nelson and his wife, Louisa, moved to Waldo, FL in 1881. He owned a mill in Waldo and spent the rest of his life there.

Related links:

The Harris Family

Harris Home in Cato, WI

Nelson Alonzo Harris gravestone in Waldo, FL

Tuesday Treasure | April 20, 2010

My great grandmother, Katherine Seybold, married Orville Duloss Harris in January, 1876 in Wisconsin.

In the spring of that year, they left their home in Forest Junction and headed west, settling on a homestead eight miles southeast of North Platte, Nebraska, on the old California trail. Their home was near the Sioux look-out, a hill where the Indians watched the immigrants traveling down the valley.

I have a poem, handwritten by Katherine, that relays some of her experiences while living in Nebraska.

Do you remember Tom the day we left our Forest Junction home

To go west where the Buzzard nest and the Buffalo did roam


And when we landed at North Platte the home of Buffalo Bill

It was there they drank their whiskey straight, it was they shot to kill

We wandered up and down the Platte with Casey close behind

And Anton with his old shot gun a following in the line


We roamed around until we found a place to build a home

We made a corral and dug a well and build a house of stone


We gathered up the prairie grass prepared by Buffalo

To cook our grub and keep us warm when it was ten below

And then them bloody Indians come and Katie all alone

But she was brave and stayed them off until the Major come


We went to raising cattle in that we could not fail

If we could not raise them otherwise we would raise them by the tail


And that bronco that y rode I eust to call him Ned

At first he stand up on his heals and then upon his head

But now dear Tom the time has come when we can ride no more

And we will soon meet the old cowboy upon the other shore

I’m not sure is she wrote this poem while living in Nebraska or sometime after. It’s a real treasure to have something in her handwriting. Katherine and Orville went to Florida in 1881 and back to Wisconsin in 1896.

More about my Harris family can be read here:

Harris Family History

Harris Family Home – Cato, WI

Orville and Katherine’s gravestones