Harris, George Henry Abbott
George Henry Abbott Harris was born at Ilfracombe, England on 7 December 1830. He was the youngest of six children born to James and Eliza (Rawlings) Harris. George joined the merchant marine service when he was sixteen years old. He learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while employed as a sailor, and was baptized in 1849 at the age of eighteen.
George immigrated to the United States in 1852 and crossed the plains to Salt Lake City in the Henry Miller Company. Three years later he married Ann Burraston, also a native of England, and they settled in Pleasant Grove, Utah. After giving birth to six children, Ann died in 1861. The following year George married Sarah Loader. He married Sarah’s sister, Mariah, as a plural wife soon after. He had eight more children by Sarah and Mariah. Those marriages ended, however, in divorce in 1873.
George sold fish and “notions” or assorted goods before building a general store in Pleasant Grove. While he filed for bankruptcy in 1868, he later enjoyed success as a businessman. After moving to Salem, Idaho in 1888, he established the Harris & Co. General Store, which “attained great scope and importance, being one of the most representative mercantile houses of Fremont County” (Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Fremont and Oneida Counties, 197). George was appointed commissioner of education at Salem and he also served as Salem’s first postmaster.
One of George’s sons was the first bishop of Salem, Idaho, while another served time in the Idaho State Penitentiary. In 1888 George wrote to his brother that he had left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It appears that he later returned to the Church, but to what extent is unclear. George died at Salem on 3 April 1919 and was buried at Pleasant Grove, Utah.
Belnap, Joseph F., ed. Salem L.D.S. Ward History, 1883–1972. Rexburg, ID: Rexburg North Stake, 1972.
Diary of George Henry Abbott Harris, Volumes 1–9. Typescript, BrighamYoungUniversity, 1966.
Esshom, Frank. Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah. Salt Lake City: Western Epics, 1966.
Progressive Men of Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Fremont and Oneida Counties, Idaho. Chicago: A.W. Bowen & Co., 1904.