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William Emer Harris


William Emer Harris was born 3 December 1854 in Ogden, Weber, Utah and married Katherine Sarah Perkes 4 November 1877 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. He died 27 October 1904 in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho. He had 11 children.

Life Story

William Emer Harris was born on the 3rd of December, 1854 to Alma and Sarah Earl Harris. He was the first child, born at a time when his pioneer parents were helping to establish Ogden City Utah through building homes, stockades, and a fort to protect the settlers from the Indians. William learned to play the violin and sing from his father, who was a prominent musician in the county. Around 1875-76, William moved with his family to Benson, Utah. [William would have been 21 or 22 years of age.] Here, his father was called to be Bishop of Benson Ward. Soon after the move, William met Katherine Sarah Perkes, a young girl of sixteen, yet in high school. They were married on November 4, 1877. A visiting general authority from Salt Lake City, Daniel H. Wells, married them in Logan. President John Taylor also attended and after the ceremony, he blessed them and promised that their seed would be as numerous as the sands upon the seashore. After their marriage, they lived in Benson, and then they homesteaded a quarter of his father’s land and prospered for a while. William Emer was a musician and often played for dances. He was hired to play for dances in Roses Fork, Idaho where soldiers were stationed. He made good money but was also given the key to the wine cellar. Drinking became a problem, although he insisted to Katherine that there was no danger of him ever drinking too much. In 1887, in a drunken condition, to pay a gambling debt he sold their farm for almost nothing. The family consequently moved to Hyde Park, giving up what could have been a fine home and farm.

This small town, built on a sloping hill, is where his wife Katherine Sarah had been raised. When her father James Perkes died she and her family moved into the Perkes home where she cared for her mother. She then inherited the home in 1898 upon her mother's death.

When William was not drinking, he was “not unkind” and would charm the family for hours with his music. Things got worse as he continued to drink, going weeks sometimes with a drink and then starting again. Thus they lived for years. In 1897, before their last baby (Lafayette) was born, he decided to go north to work. He was told by his wife that if he left her in that condition, he need never come back. William came back in October and asked forgiveness and to live with the family again. But Katherine had lost all confidence in him and said no, until he had stopped drinking. He went north again and wandered from place to place. He would come back from time to time to see the children, but never gained back the confidence of his wife. He told her once that he was the most miserable man on earth and that he had lost everything and was only happy when he was drinking. On October 25, 1904, at age 50, he was found dead of a heart attack on the rail tracks leading to his mine near Pocatello, Idaho. The prevailing date of his death is given as October 27, 1904.









Family Home in Hyde Park, Utah.

Katherine Sarah Perkes Harris










©2005 Randy Harris