2009 Hall of Fame Inductee
Henry Harris (Posthumous)
2009 Hall of Fame Inductee
Henry Harris the son of former slaves, Monroe and Ann (Mason) Harris, began life on this earth in Georgetown, Texas conceived in slavery and born free, December 15, 1865 as the Civil War ended. Henry, the oldest of 12 children, was not illiterate; he had some schooling and could read and write. At a very young age he went to work for John Sparks near Georgetown, Texas. This is the same Sparks that became governor of Nevada in 1903. John Sparks brought young Henry to Nevada as a house boy while still in his teens around 1884. By 1886 John Sparks and John Tinnin, also a large holder of ranching interests in Texas, had put together a huge cattle empire in northeast Nevada and southern Idaho. By the late 1880s Henry had graduated from house boy to “punchen” cows and breaking horses. Later Mr. Sparks made him a foreman, first over black cowboys that soon turned into a crew of both black and white cowboys. For many years he was wagon boss on one of the buckaroo wagons for Sparks and Tinnin, Sparks and Harrell, Vineyard Land and Stock Co. and later for the Utah Construction Co. (U.C.). For many years Henry worked for Louis Harrell on his ranches in Idaho and Nevada. He then went back to the U.C. in the early 1930s.
Henry was an exceptional person and thought very highly of by those who knew him, worked with and for him. He had to be, plus a top hand, to be wagon boss and ranch foreman over white buckaroos. Henry and his brother Charles were registered to vote in the Wells, Nevada precinct, for the 1890 elections. He was written about in several books about Nevada, N.E. Nevada and Southern Idaho. Henry was very highly respected and called on many times due to his credibility. For example he was called to testify in the murder trial of Diamondfield Jack in April of 1897. Diamondfield Jack was convicted, and witnesses contradicted Henry’s testimony, however D. Jack was later released and Henry’s statement proven true. In April of 1910, he was recruited by Deputy Sheriff Grimm of Contact, Nevada, to go with him to investigate a murder. Henry was also taken to Boise, Idaho, as a witness for the U.C. over water rights.
Henry was considered one of the best men with horses and cattle that ever struck the country and also one of the squarest. He rode horses that few others could ride. This reputation and his fairness caused many white men to want to be on his wagon. Nora Bowman, author and wife of Archie Bowman, superintendent of the Union Construction Company ranches, remarks at Henry’s death included that he was known throughout the state, like and respected and was welcomed wherever he went.
Henry was a legend in his time and when a bunch of buckaroos were hanging around telling wild stories, as they always did, if Henry Harris wasn’t the world’s greatest bronc rider going into story telling time he was coming out. Henry was such a legend that if a cowboy had ever known him, whether he had ever seen Henry ride an outlaw bronc or one out of the rough string that no one else could ride, he would tell stories about Henry as if he had. Those stories were usually embellished a little for it was a notch on your spurs just to have seen Henry put on a bronc ride. Even today, the old timers are still repeating those stories. The RR Station of Henry, on the Oregon Short Line (Idaho Central) Railroad, that ran between Wells and Twin Falls, Idaho was named after Henry Harris. Henry Harris passed away on April the 4th, 1937 in Twin Falls, Idaho.
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