James C. Harris, one of the leading merchants and farmers of Lake County, is the son of Christopher O. and Jane (Flanagan) Harris. His father was born in Alabama in 1796 and his mother near Lexington, Kentucky in 1800. When a young man he went to Kentucky and married Miss Flanagan, and they spent the rest of their life there. They had five children, three boys and two girls, two of them now living. Mrs. Harris was a Catholic. He was not a church member. He was in the war of 1812 against the Indians; was in politics a Whig. He engaged in farming and raising stock, and during the winter served as pilot on the flat-boats. While on a trip to New Orleans he was taken ill with yellow fever, and died there in 1841. His wife remained at the old homestead until she died in 1885. Mr. James Harris’ ancestors were on his father’s side, English and Scotch, and on the mother’s Irish; he was born March 22, 1830, in Fulton County, Kentucky.
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While he was never in school over twelve months in his life, yet he acquired by experience and observation a good business education and knowledge of the practical affairs of life. In 1857 he married Mary A. Neville, born In Hickman County, Kentucky in 1835; they had ten children, five now living. In 1859 they moved to Lake County, and have lived there ever since. In 1858 he opened a small store on his farm, but owing to the war it was closed. In 1865 he built the first store in Tiptonville after the war, and has since had mercantile interests there; he owns two cotton gins and 15,000 acres of land. Mr. Harris commenced by cutting wood at thirty five cents per cord, and by hard work and shrewd trading, has amassed quite a fortune, paying more taxes than any one else in Lake County, where he has resided for twenty seven years. He is a zealous Mason, being a Royal Arch Mason and Master of the Blue Lodge for twenty five years. He is one of the best business men and useful citizens of Lake County.