|"American Farm Yard - Evening," Currier and Ives, 1857. Library of Congress.|
After the passing of his first wife Elizabeth Torrence Powe in 1849, William Shakespeare Harris married Jane Witherspoon Ervin about 1851. They had at least four children, listed in the 1870 census as E. Ervin, age 13; Charles J., age 11; Brevard E., age 8; and Jane E., age 6. William Shakespeare Harris (1815-1875), Elizabeth Powe Harris (1824-1849) and Jane Ervin Harris (1825-1890) are buried at Poplar Tent Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Concord, where Harris served as Church Elder for 26 years.
|"Favoni," the home of Dr. Charles Harris, and later son William Shakespeare Harris, |
was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It is located near
Poplar Tent, in Concord. The two-story log section was built about 1791, with a two-story
frame addition forming an "L" shaped dwelling, about 1840.
By 1870, the Harris farm decreased in size, probably due to the post Civil War economic depression. Harris owned only 455 acres valued at $4,000, 1 horse, 3 milk cows, 7 other cattle, 10 sheep and 9 swine. He no longer produced oats, and his wheat, Indian corn and cotton productions all were down by half. Despite the decline, Harris still ranked as a fairly prosperous Cabarrus farmer and his essay is worthy of consideration for its details on agriculture and many other aspects of life in Cabarrus County.
In one passage, Harris describes the land as it appeared to the earliest settlers in the area: they found "a wilderness of cane, through which they cut their pathways with hatches brought with them from Pennsylvania...such was the exuberance of the virgin soil--that the pathways would fill up every spring--the tread of a sparse population and few domestic animals not being sufficient to keep them open...The timber...was principally large trees but was abundant enough for fuel and building."
Early houses were built of "exceedingly ponderous" logs, "preserved through a century of time," and "covered with boards secured against the wind and storm." It was expensive and very difficult to get nails. In later years, some houses had thatched roofs: "When farmers began to raise rye, they adopted the quaint mode of covering their farm houses with rye straw. So thoroughly thatched and laid in parallel [sic], that such roofs have been known to last 70 years.
William Shakespeare Harris' "Essay on Agriculture" reveals much more about everyday experiences and way of life of early Cabarrus county settlers. The entire essay is available in the Concord Library Lore Local History Room.
Courtesy of the Concord Library Lore Local History Room.