The final resting place of Rev. John Harris and his wife, Mary Handy Harris is not currently known. However, we have solid evidence that the site is located in Abbeville County, on a property that the couple had recently settled before his death. From land records we have traced the approximate locations of his various holdings. His will also mentions what became of the properties when he died. A dedicated group of descendants have been searching for the site for a number of years and we are somewhat confident of the general location, if not an exact spot.
The most reliable report of the location of the graves comes down to us from a Mrs. M.E. Davis of Mt. Carmel, Abbeville District, South Carolina. On September 15, 1861 she wrote a letter to Rev Isaac W.K. Handy, which he published in his book about the Handy family – Annals and Memorials of the Handys and Their Kindred.
In her letter, she noted the following about the whereabouts of the grave site:
“He had but recently settled a place on the Savannah River, when he was attached with something of a pulmonary character and gradually declined.”
“Not far from the road leading from Calhoun’s Mills to Abbeville Court House, on the place last settled by himself, near Savannah River, may be seen the debris of a stone wall enclosing the remains of the worthy missionary, and those of his wife, who survived him about five years.”
“The ashes of this excellent couple repose, side by side, under a cluster of cedars not far from the Savannah River, on the place last settled by the family. The spot may be found on the road leading from Calhoun’s Mills to Abbeville Court House, and is designated by the remains of a stone wall, which once surrounded these hallowed graves.”
From Rev Harris’ will, dated 1790, he disposes of the “plantation on which I now live” as follows:
“I give and bequeath to my second Daughter Elizabeth Erving the wife of Joseph Erving the plantation on which I now live to her and her Heirs forever …”
If Mrs. Davis is correct, the property left to Elizabeth Erving should be the place where the graves are to be found. The location of this property has yet to be identified.
Respectfully submitted by Greg Harris, February 5th 2016.
- Added: 5 Feb 2016
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #2602866
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