Who is L.K. Harris?

Lewis Kinsey (L.K.) Harris is my great-great grandfather.  His life story is told in a brief biography that probably functioned as an obituary upon his death in 1918:

Lewis Kinsey Harris was born at South Bend, Indiana, May 16th, 1838. He died Saturday night December 28th, 1918, his age being eighty years, seven months and twelve days.

He was the second child of Henry M. and Mary Kinsey Harris, who for many years lived at Hagerstown, Wayne County, Indiana. In the family there were eight children. His parents soon after his birth returned from South Bend to Hagerstown, where they had first resided, and there he spent most of his boyhood days.

Both of his parents are deceased, and of the parental family there now survive Israel H. Harris, of Richmond, Indiana, brother, and Mrs. Alpha Jay, of Toledo, Ohio, a half sister.

L. K. Harris

Lewis Kinsey Harris

At the outbreak of the Civil War he promptly offered his services to the United States Government, and enlisted first as a private in Company D of the Eighth Indiana Volunteers, the same being commanded by M.M. Lacey, now of Fountain City, Indiana. This was for the three months service, for at such time there was a feeling in the North that the war would be of short duration. He was honorably discharged from such service August 5th, 1861, as a corporal.

Still maintaining a patriotic interest in the cause of the North he again enlisted and September 16th, 1861, was commissioned a second lieutenant in Company F of the 36th Indiana Volunteers. On March 1st, 1862, he was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in the same company. This company was present and took part in the battle of Shiloh in April, 1862. At that time Lieutenant Harris was not of rugged physique and he was taken sick as a result of the Shiloh campaign, as many soldiers were, and he was sent home. Still sick, he resigned from the service June 9th, 1862.

He then applied himself to his trade as a blacksmith, and as he improved in health, the call from the front became so strong that he could not resist it. In August 1862, at the request of a number of Richmond citizens who wanted to enter the service, he assisted in raising a company, which became Company F of the 69th Indiana Volunteers, and of which he was elected captain. He received his commission as captain of such company from Governor Morton under date of August 11th, 1862. He then continued in the service as captain until the close of the war, it being said by soldiers in his command that he never missed a march or an engagement with them. He was considerate of his men, and made effort to see that they got all the possible comforts of the service.

Captain Harris was in command of Company F of the 69th Volunteers until January 4th, 1865, at which time the regiment had become so depleted from the rigorous service, that it was necessary to combine the companies making five in all. Companies E and F were combined and called Company B, and the command of such company was given to Captain Harris. He was in command of such company when mustered out of the service.

He had the distinction of taking part in the closing battle of the war, that of the attack on Blakely Fort in Alabama. At the opening of that engagement the regiment then of five companies was in command of Lieutenant Colonel Oran Parry, but early in the battle he was wounded, and taken off the battle field. Captain Harris thought his Colonel had been killed, and removed his papers from his person, and then took command of the regiment. During the remained of the engagement, and until surrender of the Fort he was in charge of the regiment. For his previous service and action in this battle he was breveted a colonel, but the war closing he was never commissioned as such.

Although Captain Harris loved to discuss the war, and refight its battles, still he modestly refrained from telling of his own gallantry and soldierly qualities.

A letter written in 1869 by Major General Gross of the 36th Indiana Volunteers shows the estimate of his commanding officer concerning his service. General Gross’ letter says, “I take pleasure in saying that Lieutenant L.K. Harris was a faithful good and true soldier under me in the 36th Indiana Volunteers in the late rebellion, that he was an estimable gentleman of good habits and in every way trustworthy.”

Following the war Captain Harris lived for a time in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was engaged in the sale of agricultural implements.

At the end of a year he returned to Richmond and then spent the remainder of his life in this city. He was a blacksmith by trade and for a time had a shop of his own, and was interested with others in the manufacture of plows, but the latter business was not successful. His last employment was in the blacksmith shop of the Gaar Scott factory, where for years he had been a familiar figure.

On February 2, 1871, he was married to Mary Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Shaw of Richmond, Indiana. To this union, which was a happy one, four children were born, one of whom, a daughter Jessie, died in early childhood. The other children, Roswell C. Harris, of Pittsburgh, Pa., Edward H. Harris, of Richmond, Indiana, and Nina Harris Reller, of Richmond, Indiana, survive. His wife, preceded him in death, having died on the 21st day of last September.

Captain Harris was a charter member of the Couer de Lion Lodge No. 8 Knights of Pythias of Richmond, and for thirty-two years served as master of the exchequer, and as such officer had charge of the finances of the lodge. In recognition of his services the lodge at the close of his term of office presented him with a Morris Chair.

He always manifested a keen interest in civic affairs and from 1881 to 1883 and again from 1889 to 1894 served as a member of the city council. At such time the work now done by the Board of Works of the City of Richmond, was done by a committee from council, and Captain Harris served on that committee.

During the last two years he has been physically incapacitated, and has suffered greatly. He was patient through it all, and with the cheerful outlook, which he always had, he hoped that soon he would be restored to health and happiness.

Captain Harris goes to his final rest, remembered as a brave and faithful soldier, a kind husband and father, an upright citizen, and a gentleman who loved his friends and was loved by them.

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8 Responses to Who is L.K. Harris?

  1. Your Wife says:

    Looks good, man. Who’s your designer?

  2. My designer, who made the wonderful header at the top of the page, is my very talented, very beautiful wife.

    And she’s not only a great designer, she’s a fantastic writer too. Everyone can read her (your) stuff at Mirrored Images.

    Thanks for sharing your talents and your life with me.

  3. What a wonderful story about your great-great grandfather! Thank you so much for sharing it! Your blog is wonderful, I have subscribed via Google Reader and can’t wait to read more of your writing. I’d love to discuss the Boys of the 69th with you. I can be reached at me277@sbcglobal.net.
    Lisa

  4. Bill West says:

    I am endlessly fascinated in these old time accounts of someone’s life. Thanks for sharing this in the Challenge, Kevin.

  5. Damon Drill says:

    I’ve got your great (x2) grandfather’s signature on the bottom of my civil war ancestor’s discharge papers of 05 JUL 1865! My great (X3) grandfather was James D. Drill of Co.F, 69th IND. I’ve downloaded CPT Harris’ picture from your blog and will keep it with the discharge. –Damon Drill, Kokomo, IN.

    • Damon Drill says:

      ..also, CPT Harris had enough foresight or sense of history to write on the back of the discharge paper: “This soldier was engaged in the following battles:” and went on to include the engagements of the 69th from 1862-5.

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