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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thriller Thursday - Mysterious Murder

Thriller Thursday - Domestic Violence Turns Into Murder

Thriller Thursday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites. Are there murders, bizarre accidents or other thrilling stories among your family history? This is my submission this week!


Fleming Matthew Harris and Augusta Ann Harris had a son named
... James Marion Harris who married Sarah Ann Bevill and they had a son named
...... Joseph Oscar Harris who married Sarah J. Harris "Sallie" and they had 3 children named Edward W. Harris, Vellie Harris and Annie Harris.

Stan's direct ancestor was Fleming Matthew Harris and Augusta Ann Harris' son, Gamewell Calhoun Harris. Gamewell and James Marion Harris were brothers. James Marion Harris was killed in the Civil War.

This story is about Joseph Oscar Harris and James Wallace Harris.

Joseph Oscar Harris was born 3/11/1859 in Union County, SC to James Marion Harris and Sarah Ann "Sally" Bevil. He married Sarah Ann "Sallie" Harris. She was born 10/29/1866 to James Lemuel "Tink" Harris and Nancy Gallman. She was her husband's& 2nd cousin. They had Edward W. Harris, Vellie Harris and Annie Harris. In 1889 they separated because Sallie Harris had committed adultery (possibly with her sister’s husband, William Foster Scales). On 7/9/1891, Sallie Harris had a son named James Wallace. The father is unknown but James Wallace claimed his father was her former husband's, Joseph Oscar Harris, and he may have been conceived before their estrangement. It is said that when James Wallace Harris was 14 yrs old, he showed up at Joseph Oscar Harris' farm and wanted to work for Joseph Oscar. He lived with Joseph Oscar Harris until J.O. Harris died. In the 1910 Census (see below) Oscar Harris lists James Wallace Harris as his son.

Joseph Oscar Harris met Nancy Jane Mitchell. Nannie Mitchell was born 7/4/1870. She had a daughter named Lilly Ann Vaughn on 12/12/1891. Joseph Oscar Harris' wife, Sarah Harris, didn't die until 4/30/1904 in Union County, SC. They were separated but not divorced. But Joseph Oscar Harris had begun having children with Nannie Mitchell sometime after her daughter, Lilly, was born. Their first child, Ola, was born in 1893. They lived in separate houses on his farm. He and Nannie had 9 children: Ola Permelia Harris (DOB 1/15/1893, DOD 1/25/1944), Ernest Francis Marion Harris (DOB 2/27/1895, DOD 11/23/1977), Ella Harris (DOB 3/13/1897, DOD 10/13/1979), Bernice Harris (DOB 6/28/1899, DOD 10/25/1901), William Jennings Bryan Harris (DOB 9/4/1901, DOD 7/28/1940), Pearl Harris (DOB 7/12/1905, DOD 6/26/1996), Joseph Oscar Harris, Jr. (DOB 8/28/1907, DOD 1970-1979), Lula Belle Harris (DOB 12/8/1910, DOD 1/13/1987), and Iris Virginia Harris (DOB 3/15/1914, DOD 1/6/1966). For some reason, Joseph Oscar Harris and Nannie Mitchell didn't marry until 1911 even though Sarah Harris died in 1904. This is not unusual in today's world but was a little scandalous back then and their children were the ones that were hurt by it. This family was complicated but no more than what we are used to today.

Nannie Mitchell Harris' daughter, Lilly Ann Vaughn, married Joseph Oscar and Sarah Harris' son, Edward Washingon Harris. They were not blood related.

1900 U.S. Census of Pinckney, ; Union County, South Carolina; Roll: T623_ 1544; Page: 20B; Enumeration District: 72, Lines 88-89, "Fannie Mitchell" (sic), Lines 95-100, "Joseph C. Harris" (sic)
Fannie Mitchell (sic, sister of Sarah J. Harris Harris, Wallace would be her nephew), Head, W(hite), F(emale), Born Nov, 1869, 30 yrs old, Widowed, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, no occupation listed
Wallace Harris, Nephew, W, M, Born 7/1889, 10 yrs old, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, At School
Joseph C. Harris, Head, W(hite), M(ale), Born Mar, 1859, 41 yrs old, Widowed, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farmer of general farm, rents farm
Jamie Harris (sic, it's not legible and I think it's really Annie Harris, his daughter), Son (sic, ? - this was originally "Daughter" but was struck out and "Son" written), W, M, Born June, 1882, 18 yrs old, Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, no occupation listed
Edward Harris, Son, W, M, Born 4/1884, 16 yrs old, Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farm Laborer
Cellie Harris (sic, should be Vellie Harris but Ancestry.com has her indexed as Cellie), Daughter, W, F, Born 3/1887, 13 yrs old, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, At School
William Roberson, Hired, W, M, Born 7/1863, 36 yrs old, Widowed, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farm Laborer
Foster Guilford, Hired, B, M, Born 9/1886, 13 yrs old, Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farm Laborer

1910 U.S. Census of Union Rd, Pinckney,  Union County,  South Carolina; Roll:  T624_1474; Page:  22A; Enumeration District:  118; Image:  871, Lines 8-14, "Oscar Harris" and "Edward Harris"
Oscar Harris, Head, M(ale), W(hite), 51 yrs old (DOB 1859), Widowed, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farmer of home farm, rents farm
Wallace Harris, Son, M, W, 19 yrs old (DOB 1889), Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Laborer of home farm
Ola Harris, Daughter, F, W, 17 yrs old (DOB 1893), Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
John Loyd, Servant, M, W, 22 yrs old (DOB 1888), Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Laborer on home farm
Edward Harris, Head, M, W, 27 yrs old (DOB 1883), Married, First Marriage, Married 3 yrs, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farmer of home farm, rents farm
Lillie Harris, Wife, F, W, 19 yrs old (DOB 1891), Married, First Marriage, Married 3 yrs, 1 child with 1 still living, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Roger Harris, Son, M, W, 2 yrs old (DOB 1908), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC

Nancy Jane "Nannie" Mitchell Harris died 9/8/1916 in Union County, SC. She is buried at Brown's Creek Baptist Church, Union County, SC. Joseph Oscar Harris died 4/4/1927 in Union County, SC. He is buried at Foster's Chapel United Methodist Church, Union County, SC. Sarah Harris Harris is buried at Brown's Creek Baptist Church, Union County, SC.

Now back to James Wallace Harris (Sarah Harris' son born after her separation from Joseph Oscar Harris). James Wallace Harris was born 7/9/1891 in Union County, SC. He married Nannie Unknown about 1912 in Union County, SC.

1920 U.S. Census of Pickney,  Union County,  South Carolina; Roll:  T625_1713; Page:  3A; Enumeration District:  138; Image:  733, Lines 37-42, "James W. Harris"
James W. Harris, Head, Rents farm, M(ale), W(hite), 29 yrs old (DOB 1891), Married, Can read and write, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farmer of general farm
Mannie Harris (sic, looks like Nannie Harris but Ancestry.com has her indexed as Mannie Harris), Wife, F, W, 25 yrs old (DOB 1895), Married, Can read and write, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Lillian E. Harris, Daughter, F, W, 7 yrs old (DOB 1913), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
James F. Harris, Son, M, W, 5 yrs old (DOB 1915), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
William D. Harris, Son, M, W, 4 yrs old (DOB 1916), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Ada E. Harris, Daughter, F, W, 1 yrs old (DOB 1919), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC

1930 U.S. Census of Side Rd, Pickney,  Union County,  South Carolina; Roll:  2215; Page:  7A; Enumeration District:  13; Image:  97.0, Lines 15-24, "J.W. Harris"
J.W. Harris, Head, Owns farm, Owns radio set, M(ale), W(hite), 39 yrs old (DOB 1891, Married at age 20 yrs old, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farmer of general farm
Nannie Harris, Wife, F, W, 37 yrs old (DOB 1893), Married at age 18 yrs old, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Lillian Harris, Daughter, F, W, 17 yrs old (DOB 1913), Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farm Laborer
Frank Harris, Son, M, W, 16 yrs old (DOB 1914), Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC, Farm Laborer
Douglas Harris, Son, M, W, 13 yrs old (DOB 1917), Single, Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Ada Harris, Daughter, F, W, 11 yrs old (DOB 1919), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Everett Harris, Son, M, W, 7 yrs old (DOB 1923), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Manuel Harris, Son, M, W, 5 yrs old (DOB 1925), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Rachel Harris, Daughter, F, W, 3 yrs old (DOB 1927), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC
Curtis Harris, Son, M, W, 10/12 mos old (DOB 1929), Born in SC, Both parents born in SC

SC Death Certificate #8111, Registered District #4205, Registered #7, J. Wallace Harris, DOD: 1/15/1935 in Pinckney, Union County, SC
Male, White, Married to Nannie Harris, DOB: 7/9/1891 in Union County, SC, 44 yrs old
Occupation: Farmer
Father: J.O. Harris, born in SC
Mother: Sarah Harris, born in SC
Informant: Mrs. J.W. Harris of Union, SC
DOD: 1/15/1935 at (blank)
Cause of death: Gunshot wound in chest, Homicide, No treatment, in yard of private home
Burial: 1/17/1935 at Foster's Chapel

Obituary Wallace Harris
The funeral services for Wallace Harris, 44, will be held Thursday afternoon at Foster's Chapel, 3pm, conducted by the pastor the Rev. Mr. Cleckley, assisted by Rev. L.L. Wagnon, the Rev. N.M. Phillips ad the Presiding Elder of this district. The interment will follow in the churchyard. Mr. Harris is survived by his wife ad the following children, Mrs. Lilian Wix, Charlotte, NC; Frank, Douglass, Ada, Everette, Manuel, Rachel, Curtis, Sarah and Dorothy Harris, Union R. 4; three brothers, Joe, Browning of Union R.4, and Ernest Harris of California; the following sisters, Mrs. W.T. Morris, Columbia, Mrs. D. U. Alman, of Union; Mrs. John Bentley, of Union; Mrs. Fant Faucett, Union, and Misses Iris and Lulubelle Harris. Mr. Harris was a Mason, being a member of Mt. Joy Lodge and will be buried with Masonic rites, the members of this lodge will serve as active and honorary pallbearers. Edgar Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.*


Who killed James Wallace Harris and why? The homicide occured in the yard of Smith Vaughn's home, near Brown's Creek Church. Smith Vaughn was being held pending the coroner's investigation. Informant: Mrs. Wallace Harris. I don't know the results of the investigation at this time. But how sad. He left a wife and at least 10 children. Thanks to Dick Norwood for some additional information

I did a little research into "Smith Vaughn" and here is what I found.:
Isaac Smith Vaughn (DOB 27 Oct 1852 in Union County, SC; DOD 2 May 1916 in Union County, SC) and Mary Etta Harris (DOB 1854 in Union County, SC; DOD 15 Sep 1922 in Union County, SC) lived in Pinkneyville. They had William Smith Vaughn (DOB 17 Apr 1890 in Union County, SC; DOD Jul 1973 in Union County, SC) who married Nannie Maude Palmer (DOB 22 Mar 1899 in Union County, SC; DOD Jun 1975 in Union County, SC). They had Isaac Smith Vaughn (DOB Jun 1975 in Union County, SC; DOD Apr 1975 in SC). So the "Smith Vaughn" could have been William Smith Vaughn or the second Isaac Smith Vaughn. Now for how they were related.

Samuel G. Harris
  Samuel Pleasant Harris
        James Lemuel "Tink" Harris
           Sarah "Sally" Jane Harris + Joseph Oscar Harris
               James Wallace Harris (murdered)

Samuel G. Harris
  Samuel Pleasant Harris
    James Lemuel "Tink" Harris
      Martha Mary Etta Harris + Isaac Smith Vaughn (he died too early for murder)
         William Smith Harris + Nannie Maude Palmer (He could have been the murderer which would make him the murderer of his 1st cousin.)
             Isaac Smith Harris (He could have been the murderer)


*Note - It was very much a coincidence that I found his obituary. My father and I happened to be yard sale-ing on rainy Saturday morning. In one of the homes where they were having an estate sale, Dad came across a few yellowed newspaper clippings. I don't know what induced him to pick them up and glance through them but he did and one was the obituary of Wallace Harris. He knew I did genealogy and my husband's family were Harris' from Union, SC. He handed it to me and there it was! A very serendipitous moment!


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