Pioneer Families of Grand Traverse County, Michigan



Emma Olive Ransom (1877-1964) and James Harris (1868-1956)

Emma Olive Ransom was born 1 March 1877 in Almira township, Benzie County, Michigan, daughter of Elijah Ransom and Edna Fillmore. She was married on 6 July 1897 in Grand Traverse County to James Harris. James was born 28 July 1868 in England, son of William and Elizabeth Webber Harris. He emigrated in 1884. James returned to England once, traveling on a cattle boat. According to family stories, he arrived at his home extremely filthy and was so embarassed that he left without visiting his parents. James' two brothers also came to the United States, his brother Tom marrying Myrtle Clawson.

Emma won an award for her butter and an was article published in a trade pamphlet Empire Push:

[torn, missing word] OF APPLAUSE FROM MICHIGAN


(Mrs. Harris, using an EMPIRE No. 2, won the gold medal offered by Governor Bliss for making the best dairy butter in Michigan)

When I was a child I loved to watch father milk the cows. When about eight years of age I learned how to milk, and later on mother taught me to skim the cream off with a spoon. Occasionally I helped to churn the cream with the good old-fashioned dash churcn. But when I was about fourteen years old my parents moved to the city and they never kept a cow again while I lived at home.

    I never enjoyed city life like most girls do. I longed for a farm and cows that gave rich milk so that I could make golden butter.

    Needless to say I married a farmer. He was a bachelor and had never kept a cow because he couldn't milk. A cow was one of our purchases the first year- the beginning of our dairying, as my husabnd was a potato grower. Now he is as much interested in dairying as I am. We sold potatoes and bought three more cows, and then he had to cut short on potato ground to grow feed for cows, to make more butter.

    I wasn't like a woman of my acquiantance who said she didn't need to go to dairy conventions to learn how to make better butter, no her mother taught her how to make good butter years ago. I read everything on butter-making I could lay my hands on, and we bought some of the best dairy literature, and after attending a dairy convention, I grew more and more interested in butter-making.

    We milked four cows and I set the milk in pans, and by raising and lowering the window, we kept the dairy room at the right temperature; I thought I was getting along very nicely, only it kept me busy washing so many pans.

    One day in the Winter of 1903 a Separator agent came along and persuaded us to let him leave a machine on a week's trial. He told me how I was losing lots of butter-fat in skimming by hand. I didn't believe a word of it, but he was a sticker (Smith by name), and we finally told him he could leave it.

    The saving showed up somewhat in the cream, but what took my fancy most was the saving of all those pans to wash. We soon decided that a cream separator was necessary to our outfit.

    The kind of machine was the next thing for us to consider. Another agent came and set up another make of separator and we examined several different styles, but the EMPIRE, which still stood in our dairy room (for Smith wouldn't take it away), seemed the best of them all- easy to turn and easy to wash, and pretty enough to set in a parlor. The name EMPIRE appealed to my husband, for he is an Englishman.

    We purchased a No. 1 A, and at the end of the year we were keeping ten coes, and we exchanged for a No. 2 machine of the same make, and if the Company put out a power machine, we will probably change again, as we have increased our herd to seventeen cows. The following is what we have sold from our ten cows from January 1, 1905, to November 4, when we added more cows: 2,758 pounds of butter, and cash sales of butter, cream and milk $897.32. Three of our best cows produced the following: Cow No. 1, 5,711 lbs of 6% milk; Cow No. 2, 8,057 lbs of 4% milk; A.J.C.C. Cow No. 3, 5,288 lbs of 7%milk.

    When Governor Bliss offered a gold medal for the highest scoring dairy butter, in a six month [torn, missing words] to try for it, as several [torn] dairymen were enterting the competition [which] was held from May to October, We sent butter once each month, which was scored by experts. In November I received the following letter:


Mrs. Jas. Harris, Traverse City, Mich.

    DEAR MADAM:- I take pleasure in informing you that you have had the highest average score in the dairy class. You are therefore entitled to the gold medal offered by Governor Bliss. We trust that you will be present at the Dairymen's convention in February next, when the medals will be presented. Very truly yours, John Michels, Dairy Instructorm M. A. C.

(article is courtesy of Anita Cook Prahl)

James died 26 February 1956 in Grand Traverse County. Emma died 10 June 1964 in Grand Traverse County. Both are buried in Linwood Cemetery, Long Lake, Michigan.

Children of James and Emma Ransom Harris

i. Ransom Harris was born 4 January 1900 in Garfield township, Grand Traverse County.

ii. Edna Elizabeth Harris was born 16 April 1901 in Garfield township, Grand Traverse County.

iii. Charles Kneeland Harris was born 18 February 1903 in Garfield township.

iv. John Harris was born in 1904. He died in infancy from cholera.

v. Lucy Alice Harris was born on 28 September 1908 in Garfield township.

vi. Frances Elizabeth (Fannie) Harris was born 21 June 1910 in Garfield township.

vii. William James Harris was born in Garfield township.

viii. Martha Louise Harris was born 7 March 1915 in Garfield township.

ix. Richard Harris was born 4 March 1917 in Traverse City.

Pioneer Families of Grand Traverse County