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Texas | Columns | Lone Star Diary

Lavaca County Pioneer
from the Beginning of Hallettsville

Sally Harris: 'I hope to live 100 years.'

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery
Not long ago, I was browsing the Internet for some material of interest about Lavaca County in the early years of Texas.-

As fate would have it, my search was rewarded when I came across an article about a lady who spent her entire life in Lavaca County - when the story was written, her mind was still sharp, as well, as her memory. According to the March 21, 1952, edition of the Lavaca County Tribune, that I found on microfilm at the Friench Simpson Memorial Library, Sally Harris was born in 1854 and she was the daughter of "Buck" Harris who was one of the first settlers in Hallettsville. The aged article contained no information about Sally's mother.

The newspaper wrote that Hallettsville was new when Sally was born; "Hallettsville was just beginning, for only two years before, the land on which the city is located, was deeded to the county by Mrs. Margaret Hallett and her family."

Sally said that she had attended one of the first schools ever built in the town. She also noted that Mrs. Hallett had also donated the land for the school - she even recalled her teachers, "Reverend C.L. Spencer, a well-educated Methodist preacher, and Mrs. Flanagan were teaching."

She said she didn't remember Mrs. Hallett, but she knew her daughter, Mary Jane Ballard. Her memory also recalled that "The Ballards lived near the school, where the Nance residence stands today [1952]."


In 1892, Sally married C.L. Williams of Shiner. He was a successful businessman who was in the lumber trade. Williams was also one of the first pioneers in Shiner. The article included that Williams build his own office and that it was one of the first in Shiner.

He also became an agent for the town's namesake, H.B. Shiner. He was involved in selling city property and other interests. When Williams and his widowed mother arrived in Texas, they lived in Flatonia. When Shiner was founded in 1887, they relocated there and started the lumber business.

However, it seems that C.L. Williams wasn't the only one in the family that had a business venture in Shiner. I came across some interesting information from an obituary in the Jan. 31, 1963, edition of The Shiner Gazette.

The obituary was for Charles E. Sandford - his mother was Kate Harris Sandford and she was Sally's sister. Another sister, Mrs. Susie Baumgarten, joined the others to start a business in Shiner.

The paper included the following in that obituary: "In 1889, [Kate] along with two of her sisters [Sally and Susie] established the Harris Sisters Dress and Millinery Shop and were the first women to establish a business in Shiner after its founding."


Now, getting back to Sally, after her husband died, she sold the business to Temple Lumber Co. of Houston - the article included that Temple was still operating the lumber yard in 1952.

When she was interviewed, at the age of 98, she was still living in an apartment where she and her husband resided - it was located above the lumberyard.

Although Sally never had children, she liked to help young people with their education and how to get along in life. She was confined to a wheelchair when interviewed but was still spry and alert enough to credit her nurse, Mrs. Edmund Pfell Jr., for all the care she was given.

In the old article, it was apparent that Sally Harris Williams still loved life and was looking forward to the future. "I hope to live a hundred years," she said.

Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary April 4,2023 Column

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