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James Harris (1843–1938)

The death took place on Saturday just about one o’clock, of Mr James Harris, thus removing from our midst one of the oldest and most interesting personages of Wellington and district. Thus another link with the early history of our district has been severed, and this fine old man has joined that ever-growing band of pioneers in that land beyond the grave.

The late Mr Harris was the oldest and last surviving member of the Harris family, who were noted for their longevity. He was the son of the late Mr and Mrs Peter Harris, and came here with his parents when only three years of age, and at the time of his death had reached the great age of 95 years and nine months. Two other brothers lived to the nineties, and three others reached the age of 80 years and over. Thus the late Mr Harris had lived practically 93 years in this district. When his parents first came to this district, they settled at Montefiores, and his father carried on business as a blacksmith and wheelwright. At that time there was practically no town at Wellington, Montefiores being the chief settlement in those days. It was there that the late Mr Harris spent his early boyhood days, and when he grew into manhood, he followed the carrying business, the bullock teams being the popular mode of conveyance in those days before the railway, and he drove his heavily-laden team from Parramatta to Bourke over roads which entailed some heavy work and careful driving. It was only natural that in those days, that the horse was one of man’s most faithful companions, and the late Mr Harris, like all his brothers, became a famous horseman. He was only a small man, and he rode many of his father’s horses in races held in those days, the race track being where Mr a’Beckett’s property now is, while his services were also in demand by other owners of that time when gallopers were bred for stamina as well as speed. He became one of the foremost riders of his time. His father was killed from one of his racehorses when it bolted, and ran into a tree at a spot where the Western Stores now stands, the place being then all scrub. Later on he took up land at Suntop, being one of the first settlers to take-up land in that district. The work of these early settlers was not easy, for they had to set to and clear the land, which was practically all scrub, but with that indomitable will so characteristic of the old pioneers, he overcame all difficulties, and made a success of farming. He retired from the land about 40 years ago, and had lived a retired life ever since. The hard work which he had put in both on the land and his work of carrying did not impair his health, but rather the outdoor life seemed to strengthen his vitality, for during the past 40 years he never had occasion to consult a doctor, and he had never been inside a hospital during his life. Up to three weeks ago, he was in perfect health and his smartness and neat appearance drew the attention of many people, who could hardly realize that he was such a great age. He could read a newspaper without any trouble, and always looked for each issue of this paper, being a subscriber ever since its inauguration. Three weeks ago, he contracted the ‘flu, which has been so prevalent of late, and he was compelled to take to his bed. He fought against the malady bravely, but became gradually weaker, and passed peacefully away as stated, fortified by the rites of the Catholic Church, of which he was a staunch and devoted adherent. Thus passed away a man who had seen this town and district change from mere bush, with blacks camping close by on parts of the Macquarie River, to one of the most progressive towns in the state. Although he was a man of quiet and reserved nature, he could recall many of the exciting incidents of the early days, as he had a most retentive memory. He was a man who was held in the highest esteem by all with whom he came in contact, and although he had lived to such a great age his familiar figure will be greatly missed by his legion of friends. The remains were encased in a polished marble casket, and on Sunday afternoon were taken to St Patrick’s Catholic Church, and after a service conducted by Rev Father Howard, were laid to rest beside those of his father and mother, in the old Curra Creek cemetery, where so many of our old pioneers are sleeping their last sleep. The funeral arrangements were carried-out by Messrs Murray Bros.

Original publication

Citation details

'Harris, James (1843–1938)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Kanturk, Cork, Ireland


29 October, 1938 (aged ~ 95)
Wellington, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

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Religious Influence

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