William Emer Harris

William Emer Harris, son of Alma Harris and Sarah Earl, born on 3 December 1854 in Ogden, Weber, Utah.

He married Katherine Sarah Perkes, born 4 November 1877 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

He died on 27 October 1904 in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho;  buried 30 October 1904 Hyde Park, Cache, Utah. He was 49 years old. 

William Emer and Katherine had 11 children.



A recently discovered photo of Will Harris 1903

William Emer Harris Portrait

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, by 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 violin musician and often played for dances. He was hired to play for dances over the border in southeastern, 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 without a drink and then starting again. Thus, they lived for years with little income.

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 for forgiveness and to live with the family again. But Katherine had lost all confidence in him and said no until he had stopped drinking.

Recent Research Revealed:

He stole a Horse from Henry Jason Howell on 22 Feb 1903 at from an enclosure on his ranch 1 1/2 miles south of Clifton, Oneida County, ID. The railroad line runs from Cache Valley, UT north to Pocatello, ID and beyond. The trains would cross through Henry J. Howell’s 160 acre ranch. For an unknown reason he left the train and took the horse from the ranch in Onieda County to Bannock County (Pocatello), just over 60 miles.

Will Harris was arrested and pleaded guilty to the judge for grand Larceny. He stated to the judge he was not a horse thief, but that, in a drunken condition, had taken the horse and used it. He asked the court to be lenient. as he was a hardworking man. The county attorney also asked the court to be lenient as possible as Harris' neighbors had testified to his previous good character. He was sentenced to one year in the Idaho State penitentiary in Boise on a plea of guilty to the charge of horse stealing.

He entered the penitentiary on 20 Mar 1903 and was discharged 19 Feb 1904. From the Prison records we learn Will E. Harris was 5'10" tall and 165 lbs. with brown hair and blue eyes.


The Salt Lake Herald Salt Lake City, Utah Thu, Mar 19, 1903 · Page 5

Records from State Penitentiary, Boise, Idaho.

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, that he had lost everything and was only happy when he was drinking.

On Tuesday morning October 25, 1904, about 5:30 am, the body of William Emer Harris was found by an Engineer Harris of the Hays & Franklin brewery located on Center St next to the railroad tracks in Pocatello. His body was lying across the platform of a well in the yard of Mike McLaughlin, who lived at 739 S. Main, Pocatello just over ½ mile south from the brewery.

His body was not yet cold when found, indicating he had not been dead long. There were no bruises or injuries visible on his body and death was supposed to have resulted from natural causes. At first it was thought he had met with foul plan, but an investigation proved that his death was likely from a heart attack hastened by overindulgence in intoxicants.

He had been playing regularly at the Royal Exchange Saloon. Although he had been complaining of being sick and was not on duty to play on Monday he did show up at the place at the normal hour. After drinking heavily, he was last seen alive about 3 o’clock in the morning. It is probable that he wandered out of the Saloon and eventually fell along his way.

Will Harris had come to Pocatello from Monida, MT, near where he said he had a very good coal claim. He was a fine musician, especially on the violin, and had been playing around the saloons since coming to Pocatello where he was well known having often spent time there. He had a reputation of belonging to a good family but considered himself the black sheep of the flock. He was known to have a wife and children in Cache Valley and had several siblings in the Logan, UT area.

Funeral services were held at his home in Hyde Park Friday, October 28th, at 2 pm.


  • Pocatello Tribune 25 Oct 1904 pg. 3
  • The Journal Logan, Utah Thu, Oct 27, 1904 · Page 8
  • The Idaho Republican Blackfoot, Idaho Fri, Nov 18, 1904 · Page 6
  • The Logan Republican Logan, Utah Thu, Oct 27, 1904 · Page 5
  • The Idaho Statesman Boise, Idaho Fri, Oct 28, 1904 · Page 3
  • The Journal Logan, Utah Thu, Oct 27, 1904 · Page 8
  • The Salt Lake Herald Salt Lake City, Utah Thu, Mar 19, 1903 · Page 5
A black and white photo of an old house.

Family Home in Hyde Park, Utah.

A woman sitting in an old photo.

Katherine Sarah Perkes Harris

A man with a mustache and beard wearing a suit.

Will Harris in his early 20s near the time he was married.