525 John Harris Eleanor Girdler
1749 - 1826 1756 - 1805
  520 Capt. Thomas Martin (3rd) Elizabeth Adams
1763 - 1827 ? - 1804
420 Joseph Frank Harris
b. 10 May 1794
Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
d. 30 Jan 1870
Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Martha Martin
bp. 3 Feb 1799
Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
d. 27 Mar 1866
Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
30 Jan 1820 Marriage Joseph Harris to Martha Martin in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts
1867   Joseph Harris & Sons Shoe Manufacturing building in Marblehead is completely burned down
1Jul 1868 Marriage Joseph Harris to Jean Leman MacKelvie Brooks in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
  Elizabeth Ellen Harris b. 21 Oct 1821 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 22, Sep, 1906 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA of "old age"
John H. Goss 1806 - 1849 Five Children: John F., Martha M.H. Elizabeth E., Calvin B. H., and Joseph Harris Goss
  Thomas Martin Harris (1st) b. Sep 1822 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 30 Sep 1832 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Died young (9) - "Drowned in the harbour"  
  Joseph Frank Harris, Jr. b. 4 Jan 1824 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 4 Aug 1885 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA of "paralysis"
Juliet (Winslow) Homan (widow) b. 1820 in Danvers, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 1896 Listed at his death as a cordwainer. Seven children: Mary C., Martin, Eliza P., Joseph, Harriet Stoddard, Winslow L., Juliet W., and Lucy M. Harris
  John F. Harris b. Abt 1825 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 26 Jul 1896 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Ann A. Brown Shoe Manufacturer; Dealer in Shoes and Boots
Four children: John F., Robert G., Anna M., Richard B. Harris
  George S. Harris b. Abt 1827 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 18 Feb 1862 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA of consumption.
Mary H. (Bowden) Harris Brown 1832 - ? Shoe Manufacturer
One child: George Harris
  Richard Pedrick Adams Harris b. Abt 1830 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. Abt 1880 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Lucy M. Clemons 1838 - 1880 Shoe Manufacturer
Three children: Annie, William L. "Willie" and Herbert A. "Peter" Harris
Ancestor Leaf 306 Thomas Martin Harris (2nd) b. About 1832 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. bet 1910-1920 in Atlantic City, Atlantic, New Jersey, USA ?
Mary Oliver (Lemaster) Alley (widow) 1835 - bet. 1910-1920 Owner of Shoe Manufacturing Enterprise
Mary O. Lemaster Alley: Two children with Jacob Alley, Mary Elizabeth (died young) and Lizzie Alley; three children with Thomas: Martha M., Mary Oliver, and Thomas Martin Harris.
  Peter Martin Harris b. Abt 1834 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 13 Nov 1872 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Single; Died of Consumption at 38 years. Shoe Manufacturer
  Calvin Briggs Harris b. 7 May 1836 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 17 May 1845 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA   Died Young (9) of "Dropsy"
  Robert Girdler Harris b. Abt 1836 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 13 Sep 1856 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Died Young (19) of Consumption - Conflicting information. See text below.
  Martha W. Harris b. Abt 1842 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. May 1870 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Single; Died of paralysis (of the brain?) at 43 years of age
  Mary Ann Brown Harris b. Mar 1843 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 14 Nov 1904 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA of pulmonary tuberculosis compounded by exhaustion.
Dr. William P. Neilson, physician; 1840 to ?, immigrated from Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada Two Children: Mary B. and Gertrude Neilson
  Harriet G. Harris b. 1845 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 21 Aug 1846 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Died at 1 Year (Consumption)  
What We Know


Birth: Massachusetts Vital Records Before 1850
Massachusetts Vital Records Before 1850 and notice in the Boston Daily Advertiser
Massachusetts Vital Records 1841 - 1910
: Entry in the Massachusetts Vital Records before 1850 confirmed by entry of parents' names in the entry of the Massachusetts Death Records. (Martha's mother's maiden name is listed as "Salkins, her sister's married name).

Joseph Frank Harris, son of John, one of the four brothers who all served in the Revolutionary War, was born 20 years after the marriage of his father to Eleanor Girdler. His father lived long enough to see him grow to adulthood, although his mother Eleanor died when he was about 11.

Martha Martin was also born later – about 14 years after the marriage of her parents Captain Thomas Martin (known as Thomas Martin 3rd in Marblehead) and his first wife Elizabeth Adams.Elizabeth was the daughter of Revolutionary War patriot, John Adams (no known relation to the President of the United States).  Martha was named for her paternal grandmother Martha Nicholson. Martha Martin also lost her mother at an early age (when she was about 5 years old).  I suspect that Elizabeth’s sister Mary, who was several years older than Elizabeth, and who married Thomas Furness Salkins, was very present during Martha’s upbringing (the name “Salkins” erroneously appears as the maiden name of her mother in Martha’s death record).

According to Samuel Roads, the author of The History and Traditions of Marblehead written in 1880, our ancestor Joseph began business as a poor man in 1841.  His workshop was an upper chamber of his dwelling house in Harris’s Court, where for years he conducted his business. 

Roads gives an interesting description of the work which went into the manufacture of the shoes in Marblehead.  “The uppers were cut under the supervision of a foreman in these buildings (the shoe factories); but this was about the only portion of the work performed there.  The shoes were generally given out in sets of 36 and 72 pairs each, to be stitched and bound by the deft hands and nimble fingers of the young women.  The homes in the old town were ‘hives of industry’ in those days, and presented a most cheerful appearance.  Having first performed their regular daily duties as beseemed good housekeepers, the mother and her daughters were accustomed to sit down with their work-baskets and prepare the uppers which were to be made into shoes by the father and brothers.”

“Generally, when prepared, the uppers were carried to the factory, from whence they found their way in company with soles and threat and lasts in the small shops with which the town abounded.  Once there, the various parts began to assume shape.  The soles were wet and ‘skived’ and “rounded on"; -- they had no patterns then; the ‘stiffenings’ were wet and ‘skived’ and pasted in; the upper was lasted to the soles and sewed; the shoe was dried and turned and beat out; the edges were properly blacked and ‘slicked’; the bottoms were scraped and sand-papered and chalked; the sole linings were pasted in; the shoes were strung into pairs, and the set was finished.  This work was all performed by one man, but it took several days, perhaps a week, to do it.  The shoes were then neatly packed in a basket and returned to the factory, when the work, if satisfactory was paid for, and another lot was given.”

“The shoemakers of Marblehead were generally men of very limited education; yet they were men of sound judgment, and were well informed upon all the great political questions of the day. This was from their constant practice of having the newspapers read to them while at their work.  Sometimes the editorials and speeches provoked a partisan discussion when both sides of the question  at issue were ably argued. Nor were the newspapers the only sources of information of which they availed themselves.  Books of history, biography, and travel found their way into the shops occasionally, and were read to willing auditors, perchance by some school-boy, delighted at the prominence which the opportunity gave him.”

“With the introduction of the sewing machine, the division of labor and the factory system began. This has had the effect to abolish nearly all outside labor.  It was very gradual in its growth, beginning first with having a certain proportion of the uppers stitched or bound in the factor.  Then, in 1859, came the McKey sewing machine, introduced by Mr. Joseph R. Bassett [a descendant of one of our other ancestors in Marblehead] for sewing uppers to the soles.  Compo work began at about the same time; but … only the first of these innovations had made very great progress in the town … by 1860.”

Several of Joseph Harris’ sons joined him in the business, and “with untiring industry they toiled, making all the shoes manufactured by their father until, by rigid economy and self-denial, they laid the foundation of a successful business.  As the business increased a large number of workmen were employed and a factory was erected on Pleasant Street. This building was enlarged from time to time until it became one of the largest shoe manufacturers in the town.”

The shoemaking firms in Marblehead owned by Joseph Bassett (the largest manufacturer), George Knight & Co., Thomas Garney, Samuel Sparhawk and others employed about 1100 men and 300 women in the factories, and another 300 working on stitching machines at home.  These 1700 workers went on strike in February 1860. The demands of the Compo women in the Joseph Harris & Sons firm were immediately complied with.  Their wages went from $2.50 to $5.00 per week. (“The Shoemakers Strike the Causes That Led to It,” New York Herald, February 29, 1860).

On the night of February 5, 1867, the town narrowly escaped a destructive conflagration when a fire broke out in the Joseph Harris & Sons factory.  This fire destroyed the building together with the Baptist Church and the dwellinghouse of Increase Brown as well as the residence of Joseph Harris.  The loss of the Harris factory was most unfortunate as it employed some 500 or 600 hands, who were all thrown, at least temporarily, out of work.  TheBoston Journal, February 5, 1867 wrote “The fire is supposed to be the work of an incendiary, as the establishment was heated by steam, and no fire was used in the part of the building where the fire originated.” The loss to the Harris family was estimated at over $100,000, with insurance of $65,000 according to the February 6, 1867 edition of the Lowell Daily Citizen and News. A “commodious” factory was erected by Joseph and his sons on Elm Street (Roads).

This photo of the Joseph Harris & Sons factory states in its caption that the building burned down on June 25, 1877. The news articles give different dates and do not include a date in 1877.


The Boston Directory of 1873, which was published three years after the death of Joseph Harris, has a listing of  “Harris, Joseph & Sons” with the names of “John F., R.P.A. [Richard Pedrick Adams], and Thomas M.” on Elm Street.  We know that Richard and Thomas (our direct ancestor) relocated to Philadelphia before the 1880 census; however, this listing tells us that at some time after their father’s death, the three brothers were affiliated with the factory their father had founded.  Joseph F. Harris Jr. was alive until 1885, but no information exists which suggest why he would not have been listed with his brothers as one of the sons with ownership interest. He was listed as a cordwainer (shoemaker) in his death record -- perhaps he worked independently of his brothers.

In December 1888, several of the factories were apparently burned down, and adding to the difficulties, Harris & Son could not agree with its workers on a price list.  The March 18, 1889


edition of the Boston Journal states that Mr. Harris (probably John F. Harris) had decided to close up business in Marblehead and move both his residence and the business to Mechanic Falls. According to the March 23, 1889 edition of the Boston Journal, The paper again wrote that the firm would move its business from Marblehead to Mechanics Falls, Maine on or before May 1 since it was unable to arrange a price list with its employees.

According to Harry Wilkinson in Marblehead Magazine, several local VIPs had street names in Marblehead named for them:  Joseph Harris was one so honored as were Joseph R. Bassett, Moses A. Pickett, Captain John Manley, Captain Nicholas Broughton, Captain Josiah P. Cressy, and Isaac Wyman).

Joseph and Martha Martin Harris had a total of 13 known children.  Four of these died before reaching full adulthood:  1) the first Thomas Martin (b. 1822) drowned at the age of 9 at the harbor; 2) Calvin Briggs (b. 1836) died of “dropsy” at the age of 9; 3) Robert Girdler (b. 1836) died at 19 of “consumption” (See next paragraph for conflicting information about Robert);  and 4) Harriet G., their last child born in 1845, died the following year of “consumption.”

Conflicting information exists about Robert Harris.  The Marblehead Death Records record his death of consumption at the age of 19 (and he was not menyioned in his father's will)..  However, The Shoe Workers Journal of the Boot and Shoe Workers Union records the following:  "Readers of the Journal will be interested to know that Mr. Robert G. Harris of the old firm of Joseph Harris & Sons, shoe manufacturers of Marblehead,Massachusetts is now treasurer of the Miller  College of Show Card Art.  Mr. Harris was in the shoe business more than 25 years, and the firm of Joseph Harris & Sons was founded by his father more than 60 years ago.  This firm was for many years the oldest in the country devoted to the manufacture of women’s and misses’ shoes.” 

George Harris married Mary Bowden, and they had a son George.  The Federal census was taken a year later and indicates that they were living separately, probably because of the “consumption” which took his life a year later.  George’s widow married again after his death.  Joseph and Martha’s son Peter Martin died at 38 of “consumption,” and their daughter Martha W. also died young at 43 of “paralysis”. It appears that both Peter and Martha were unmarried.

Elizabeth Ellen Harris, Joseph Harris, Jr. John F. Harris, Richard Pedrick Adams Harris, our direct ancestor Thomas Martin Harris (the 2nd), and Mary Ann Brown all lived well into adulthood, all married, and all had children.

Elizabeth married John Goss and had five children: John F., Martha M.H. Elizabeth E., Calvin B. H., and Joseph Harris Goss.

Joseph Harris, Jr. married widow Juliet (Winslow) Homan and had seven children: Mary C., Martin, Eliza P., Joseph, Harriet Stoddard, Winslow L., Juliet W., and Lucy M. Harris. As stated earlier, Joseph Jr.’s profession was listed as “cordwainer” (shoemaker) on his death record. Whether he held any interest in the Joseph Harris & Sons Company after his father’s death is unknown.

John F. Harris married Ann Brown and had four children.  According to an excerpt about him in the History of the Military Company of Massachusetts, John became one of the most enterprising and successful men of business.  He served in the executive council under governors Claflin and Washburn. He was a lifelong director in the Marblehead National Bank, and its President for ten years.  For sixteen years he was a director in the National Bank of the Commonwealth in Boston.

Richard Pedrick Adams Harris married Lucy M. Clemons, and together they had three children:  Annie, William L. "Willie" and Herbert A. "Peter" Harris.  We know they were living in Philadelphiain February 1867 when the Grand Jury found a "true bill" against Richard and several others for conspiracy in a fraudulent incorporation of a woolen company. Richard and Lucy died within a few months of each other in 1880 in Philadelphia.

Our direct ancestor, the second Thomas Martin Harris, married the widow of Jacob Alley, Mary Oliver Lemaster, who had one child, Lizzie.  Together, Thomas and Mary had three additional children Martha M.  (our direct ancestor), Mary A., and Thomas Martin Harris, Jr.  The Thomas M. Harris family was living in Philadelphia at the 1880 census, and Thomas and his wife Mary were living in Atlantic City at the 1900 census. 

Martha Martin Harris died in 1866. Joseph married 1 Jul 1868 in Salem Jean Leman MacKelvie Brooks, who had been married twice before. I did not know of this marriage until I found the copies of his will (over 175 pages), which are available at NEGHS where “Jean Harris” was listed as his widow. A search of vital records in Salem revealed the record of their marriage.

Joseph apparently fell down the stairs and died “suddenly” within a day of this event in January 1870.

Joseph’s bequeathed a trust fund $12,000 to his sons John F. Harris and Richard P.A. Harris for the expressed purpose of investing in a fund which would pay half the interest income to his daughter Elizabeth Harris Goss and the other half to his son Joseph Harris, Jr. with instructions for their heirs upon the demise of their Harris parents. His sons Thomas Martin Harris (our direct ancestor) and Peter M. Harris each inherited $5,000. His daughters (both single at the time of his death) Martha W. Harris and Mary Ann Harris inherited $30,000 to be divided equally among them with the provision that if either died, the other would inherit her $15,000 share. (As it happens, Martha died very shortly after her father). The mansion and his personal belongings were bequeathed to these same two daughters and their heirs. His son Peter died within two years, and his share of the estate passed to his son Peter. The will did not bequeath anything specifically to his two sons John F. Harris and P.A. Harris (although both were named as both executors and trustees for the fund set aside for their siblings Elizabeth and Joseph Jr. A passage in the will specifically mentions them as having an estate that will continue to grow – I believe Harris and Sons Shoe Manufacturing was turned over to them prior to his death.  I could find no provision for his widow, Jean, although I did see an expenditure labeled “Solomon Lincoln for Mrs. Joseph Harris in the amount of $3,616.17” on the expense schedule.  The will was written 12 Jun 1868, which was two weeks before his marriage to Jean.

The majority of the probate documents in Joseph’s probate file are related to the administration of the trust that was set up for his daughter, Elizabeth and his son, Joseph Jr. Their brothers relinquished trusteeship, and this role was turned over to individuals unrelated by blood.



Probate Documents



An excerpt from Joseph's Probate documents proves kinship:

Tombstone of Joseph and Martha Harris



(Left) A photo of the elaborate tombstone marking the graves of Joseph Harris and his first wife Martha Martin Harris at the Waterside Cemetery in Marblehead.

(Right) A monument for Joseph and Martha.


A tribute of filial love. This monument is consecrated in the memory of our FATHER and MOTHER.









Newspaper and Other Articles about Joseph and Martin Harris and Their Children:

In the above listing from 1873, the sons of Joseph Harris & Sons include John F., R.P.A. (Richard Pedrick Adams), and Thomas M. In the Salem directory shown below (Year unknown), the sons are John F., J. Frank, Jr. (Joseph Frank, Jr.), and Robert G. This second listing tells us two things: that Joseph's middle name was "Frank" (as his son, a Junior, was Joseph Frank; and 2) that Robert Girdler Harris was still alive, which corresponds to the article about him that follows, but which contradicts the death record for him as dying at 19 years of age.

We find three articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer about Richard P.A. Harris. The second one regards his estate, and his brother (our direct ancestor) is mentioned.




Name of Item Description of Item   Name of Item Description of Item
Marriage 1820 Marriage Announcement for Joseph Harris and Martha Martin Marriages Marriage Records for the Children of Joseph and Martin Harris
Census 1850 Pages 1 and 2 of the Federal Census for 1850 Deaths Death Records for the Harris Family
Census 1860 Federal Census for 1860 Death of Elizabeth Death Record for Elizabeth Goss
Probate 1870 Probate Documents for Joseph Harris Estate Death of Mary A. B. Death Record for Mary A.B. Neilson