Biography of Dell E. Harris
Dell E. Harris. In the University district of Champaign there is no merchant better known to the student population and citizens generally than Dell E. Harris, who for over twenty-five years has been in active business as a confectioner. Mr. Harris has succeeded because he has concentrated his energies largely along one line, has studied and worked to develop a product of superfine quality, and has made that product of such a standard of perfection that it now signifies quality and is distributed over a market by no means confined to Champaign or even to the state of Illinois.
Mr. Harris was born at Normal, Illinois, June 16, 1870, a son of Zera W. and Julia A. (Dyke) Harris, both of whom are still living. His father was a Union soldier during the Civil War, serving thirty-seven months in Company C., Fifth Illinois Cavalry. There were six children: Frank D., who is engaged in the real estate business at Champaign; Ray R., a physician practicing at Dubuque, Iowa; Ralph M., associated with his brother in the confectionery business at Champaign; Dell E.; Effie Estelle, wife of Professor E. J. Lake, an instructor in the University of Illinois; and Ruth, wife of William Dailey, of Mason City, Iowa.
Dell E. Harris spent his early youth principally at Decatur, where he completed the grade school work. He was about sixteen years of age when he engaged in the confectionary business for himself in that city. It was a moderate start, but he did not handle his establishment in a routine and negligent fashion, and in a short time his success was more than his most sanguine hopes had anticipated. He not only made a good living but also acquired an extensive knowledge of the confectionery business both as a manufacturing proposition and in the sale and distribution of the products.
In 1891 Mr. Harris came to Champaign. His first location was at 61 North Neil Street, where he had his store until March, 1908. In the meantime he opened a branch establishment in the University district on Wright Street. After selling his store on Neil Street in 1908 he bought the business property at 608 East Green Street where his handsome store now stands. The two stores were continued until the lease on the Wright Street store expired in 1914, at which time the enterprise was consolidated. He now handles all his trade at one store, which was opened January 1, 1910.
The popularity of his store and of his goods is a byword in Champaign. His store is in the student district of the University of Illinois, and much of his patronage comes from the University. Mr. Harris originated the famous “La Noy” chocolates, and has the name, which is derived from the word Illinois, copyrighted and registered in the United States patent office. The La Noy chocolates are made and sold in Champaign, but they also go in package lots to every state of the Union and to China, Japan and the Philippine Islands. The mail order feature is now one of the most profitable parts of the business for Mr. Harris.
Mr. Harris is a past president of the University District Commercial Association of Champaign and has been a progressive factor in everything concerning the commercial life of his section of the city. He is also a member of the Rotary Club, the Travelers Protective Association, the Sons of Veterans, the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Mrs. Harris is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Harris was married December 8, 1908, to Miss Frances Roberts. She is a daughter of the late Joseph Roberts, a well known farmer of Champaign County. Mr. and Mrs. Harris have one daughter, Flora, now six years of age.