Bad news and good news today about the wall that was built long ago across the road from Harris City.
Bad news for me is that I was totally wrong about who built it, although I still don’t know who did — just who didn’t. The good news is that more readers are trying to help find answers.
By the way, there’s an elementary school in Duluth, Georgia, named B.B. Harris Elementary. Inquiries didn’t produce an answer. Our B.B. Harris lived near Lexington, Kentucky, most of his life. More about him next week.
Charity Mitchell at the museum showed me some excellent information about Harris, including a photo of him, something I’d never seen before. I’ll share the photo with next week’s column.
Linda Johnston wrote that her husband grew up in Harris City. “He may have some stories for your column. We love reading your column. I am from Shelby County. I am making a folder of your columns,” she wrote. Needless to say, I loved her email.
I called Gene Grote who said he can’t add to what most people know, but promised that if he hears something about it he will let us know.
Anthony Dean wrote that the history of the wall goes back to the Civil War and promised that if he learns anything else he’ll contact me.
Barron Deck called and shared some mighty important information. I was absolutely sure that B.B. Harris had the wall built. After all, he’s the one who had 30 homes built at Harris City for the workers at the quarry, the town was named for him, he spent $50,000 to build a railroad from the quarry to a spot in Greensburg where huge slabs of the valuable blue limestone could be unloaded from the Harris City train and put onto a train going to Indianapolis or Cincinnati and further. Barron said no, the wall was there before Harris City was developed.
Barron also said the wall at one time went all around the 120 acres that has been in the Knarr family since 1937. Today’s photo, taken by Larry Colson, shows the wall was indeed all the way around so that a gate was needed to get onto the property. Of course, if the wall hadn’t been all around the farm there would have been no need for a gate. Colson said, “The metal you see is part of the hinge to the gate.”
So I wrote, “You mean it doesn’t have anything to do with the quarry?”
“No,” he said, “It is not on the land B.B. Harris owned for the quarry property at all. It’s across the road.”
So I immediately got in touch with Larry Colson, because when we talked about the wall I had expressed the idea that B.B. Harris had to have built the wall. Now I knew that wasn’t true. But, is the wall made of the blue limestone that the Harris Quarry sold?
I told Colson that I needed to prove who owned that 120 acres before and during the Harris City quarry days. He said I’d need to go to the Decatur County Recorder’s Office at the Courthouse to get the history of that property.
“Those who work in that office are great and I am sure they would gladly assist,” he said.
I couldn’t get there before writing this on Saturday. Before next week’s column I’ll find out with the Recorder’s office help.
Colson said, “A stone quarry having a wall like this around it is understandable, but a wall around a 120 acre farm is something else.”
He also said that the wall was an enormous undertaking when it was built in the days without the equipment that we have today.
“Heck! It would be quite a job today!” he said.
He and I both find it hard to believe that there isn’t more history of the wall recorded somewhere.
He said, “It’s hard to imagine why someone would build such a wall of this stature. What was the point of it all?”
I’d sure love to know the answer to that too.
Russell shared names of those buried in the Harris City Cemetery. That and more next week.
Decatur County resident Pat Smith may be contacted via this publication at firstname.lastname@example.org