Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More about Dr. Harris

Awhile back, I did a profile on Dr. Harris, a prominent member of the St. Vincent/Pembina area years ago. I am learning all the time, folks, and today I read the following in the Kittson County Enterprise about Dr. Harris, written by the wife of one of his descendents...
Dr. Charles Boarman Harris, a pioneer doctor, came to the community of Pembina on March 11, 1882 from West Virginia. He stayed with another doctor out at Fort Pembina for the first year. The fort doctor took care of townspeople, as well as the soldiers, and he was too busy, because there were about 4,000 people in Pembina/St. Vincent at the time. As testament to the activity of the communities: St. Vincent alone had 11 saloons in 1888 and the railroad roundhouse held five engines at one time.

Dr. Harris met his future wife, Catharine Abrams here. Her father was the land agent in the area, and she was working as register of deeds, in the courthouse in Pembina at the time. They were wed in 1886. He and Catharine had quite an interesting life and not an easy one at that. Their first five children died, and the next six (five girls and one boy) lived. Dr. Harris made many house calls in the surrounding area and delivered over 3,000 babies between the years 1882 to 1942. Dr. and Mrs. Harris' children included Gladys (Walker, then Wilkins), Jeannette (Holmquist), Pauline (Dahl), Kathryn (Stratte), George, and Margaret (Shave).

Doc Harris built the building that we now know as part of the "Spot Bar" in 1905. It was between "John Heneman's New One Price Store" on the south, and Miller's Jewelry Store on the north. The doctor's office was 12 feet wide on the south side, and a drug store occupied the north section. Later, Dr. Harris had a home office in the house where we live, besides the office downtown.

With such a big family, the Harris's still managed to be part of the community. Catharine was very active in her Church (Methodist). Also, the parks in South Pembina ,and the original Masonic park were started by Mrs. Harris. This was in addition to caring for one of the biggest yards in town - it stretched from their house on the south side of Cavalier Street, to the end of the street and to the river!

Dr. and Mrs. Harris were what we could call "community people." They were active in the community, with promoting and belonging to different organizations, to make it a better place.

There are 10 grandchildren that now survive from the Harris family, and Chuck is the oldest. These grandchildren of Dr. C.B. Harris, are pleased to pool together, for a silver level donation to the Pembina Community Center renovation fund recognizing their grandparents.

It is great to keep history alive, and to create more history. This Community Center Renovation project does that. The City of Pembina is going to be 210 years old next year; we are a community that survives!

Chuck and Hetty Walker