Who Did You Think You Were ?


James Barney Harris


Josh, Red, Bonnie

VI.  James Barney Harris

Born: August 17, 1898 in Mineral Wells, Texas

Died: August 24, 1971 in Imperial, Texas

Married: July 12, 1921 in Salesville, Texas

Lillie Guinn

Born: December 19, 1900 in Palo Pinto, Texas

Died: June 16, 1980 in Imperial, Texas


After their marriage, "Red" and Lillie resided in Salesville where Red was employed at the same brickyard as Roy (in Mineral Wells) until 1939, when they moved with six children to Pecos County. Red had a deep love for children and thought nothing of sticking a diaper in one pocket and a baby bottle in another, picking up one of the babies, and being gone for several hours.


Red decided to move to Imperial and start farming cotton. He leased a farm from his brother in law, "Fat" Black. He borrowed Fat's pickup, loaded his family and belongings, which included five hundred jars of canned food, into two old pickups and set out for West Texas. Red drove the borrowed pickup and Jim Bob, who had never driven, drove the old Model A pickup that belonged to Red. Upon arrival, they moved into two old tin shacks without running water or electricity. Water had to be hauled from Ft. Stockton, some thirty miles away. The roads to Ft. Stockton were not paved and were like cow trails. Cooking was done on a wood stove. Lillie always said that the houses were so hot in the summer that the lizards went outside to live.


Lillie thought this was truly the end of the world and often wondered why Red had brought her and their six children, ranging in age from three to fourteen, to this "God Forsaken Place". She surely had her doubts about trading beautiful trees, lovely scenery, and relatively wet climate for the dry, dusty West Texas where mesquite, coyotes, rattlesnakes, jackrabbits and dust storms were abundant.


After a time of living in the small hot tin shacks, they traded one of them for an old Army tent. Bob, John, Joe and Charlie slept in the dirt floor tent and Red, Lillie, Patsy and Bonnie stayed in the other tin shack. Red, with the help of the older boys, Bob, John and Joe, farmed the Black farm for two years.


By this time, a new school had been built at Abell City; Charlie, Patsy, Joe and John were enrolled. Bob was kept out this first year to help on the farm. Charlie, who was known to all of his family as "Dood", started as a first grader. The first day, the teacher asked him his name. He told her, "Dood". The teacher asked him to go home and ask his mother what his real name was. He did, and his mother told him, "Dood". Then, realizing the problem, told him his real name was Charlie, but when he got back to school, he couldn't remember his real name. Finally, Lillie wrote it on a piece of paper for him to take to school.


The next year, Bob enrolled with the others, this time being in the same grade as John. Many people thought they were twins. Bob decided there had to be better things to do than farm and go to school, and enlisted in the Navy in 1942. John enlisted about a year later at seventeen.


In 1943, Red began farming another farm and they moved to the Heirman farm closer to Imperial. After a year they moved to Abell City and then later to Ozona where Red had gone to work in the oil field as a roughneck.


After a year of living in Ozona the family moved back to Salesville, the beautiful place they had left some years before. After a few months, Red still wasn't satisfied and the family moved to Imperial in 1945. They moved back to the same farm they had moved into six or seven years earlier. But this time they had a house to move into—an old Army barracks. The barracks didn't have cabinets so Lillie built some from apple crates. Cooking was done on a two burner kerosene stove and they had an icebox. The iceman delivered ice twice a week. Shortly, Red bought Lillie a gas operated refrigerator.


Uncle Sam had taken one more Harris boy. Joe was drafted into the Army in 1950 and served in the Korean War. The following year the Harris family moved to Buena Vista, where Red was farming three different farms. There were only three children at home by this time. Charlie was working, Bonnie and Billy Dean were attending Buena Vista school in Imperial. During Bonnie's high school years she was voted class favorite for two years, FFA sweetheart, Football sweetheart, Most popular girl, and Best All-Around girl. She served on the annual staff and was a member of the glee club and pep squad.


Joe had been discharged, was back home and one more son, Charlie, had been drafted in 1953, serving his time in El Paso at Ft. Bliss and in England.


In early 1954, the family moved again to another farm, the Scripps farm thirteen miles out of Imperial on the Ft. Stockton highway. Billy was playing football, basketball, track and tennis and often had to walk home from school in Imperial, after practice. Bonnie graduated in 1954, enrolled in Draughn's Business School in Abilene and after completion of the course, went to work in Fort Stockton. The following year, Charlie was discharged from the Army and returned home.


The year of 1957 was a wonderful year for the Harris family. They had a new house built and moved into Imperial. This meant that they could at last have electricity, running water, indoor  plumbing and a telephone. Lillie could now fulfill her dream of a beautiful yard. Red had given up farming and sold all of his farming equipment, and was hired as custodian at the school in Imperial. He worked at this job until he retired ten years later, in 1967.


The  Lord had truly blessed Red and Lillie; a marriage that lasted fifty years, seven children, and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Red departed this life on August 24, 1971; Lillie died June 16, 1980 and both are buried in East Hill Cemetery in Fort Stockton.

Early History     Mineral Wells     Olliver     Sybil     Lola Vivian     John Roy     Jake     James Barney     Betty     Opal     Oaxie     Lucille     Viola

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