Carter Harrison III (1825-1893) Biography

Carter Harrison III (1825-1893)

Fayette Co., KY; Chicago, IL


Repository ID # 8334 - extensive ancestry available in our online database.

PhotoCarter Harrison III, the 24th Mayor of Chicago was born in Fayette County Kentucky February 15, 1825 and could trace his ancestry back to Pocahontas through his grandmother Anne Cabell who was GGGG grandniece of Pocahontas.

He was the son of Carter Henry Harrison II and Caroline Russell. Caroline was the daughter of Col. William Russell. His father died soon after his birth in May of 1825. Carter received a classical education, graduating from Yale in 1845 and a law degree from Transylvania in 1855.

At first he tried his hand at farming, but when he moved to Chicago in 1855, Carter became a very lucrative landowner and a very prosperous real estate operator.

He built a very large house on was known as Reuben Street. Later when Hey Rube became a popular term of ridicule and the residents of the street were called Rubes, the residents had the streets name changed to Ashland Avenue. The houses were spacious and the grounds the size of country side farms.

Carter had a very bush beard and was described as follows: "The squire of the avenue was Mayor Carter H. Harrison who kept his big black bay mare named Kate in a stable near his house and liked to ride up and down the street in the manner of a plantation owner looking over his acreage". He described himself "unable to study out a problem or scheme sitting at his desk but did his best thinking at full gallop upon his flying steed"..

Among his closest friends were several former Kentuckians HH. Honre, Potter Palmer, John E. Owsley and F, H. Winston who were also all in real estate. His friends shared his optimism and considered him "whole-souled and honorable". And even though his political emenies condemned him it was also said he had a host of friends who had little in common with him socially but who "had the utmost confidence in him and who would divide with him their last crust bread". To quote from his journals he wrote "There were my good neighbors and true friends from all over the city . One by one they walked accrossed the polished plate and bent upon me a kindly look. Friends of every nationality, Teuton and Hibernian, Frenchman and Norseman, Bohemian and Dane, Italian and Swede, Christain and Jew, rich and poor, Ah! How I wish I could bid yon pale moon bear to them my own picture, looking as I feel, brimful of good will and running over with kindly fellowship. To one and all I drink in a cup as full as yon sea, a cup brimming over with affection."

Carter's second wife who he married April 12, 1855 was his cousin Sophonisba Grayson Preston, the daughter of William Preston and Hebe Carter Grayson and 7th great granddaughter of Pocahontas. She was born October 27, 1833 and died in September 1876. She bore him ten children six which died in infancy (see below).

From Carter Harrison's IV (his son) autobiography, The Stormy Years, we are given the following glimpses into life at the Harrison home. He speaks of dinner his father and John Owsley hosted given in the parlor of Carter's home which the boys were not even allowed to festivities of although they could hear the lusty singing of Good Old Yale, Drink Her Down!, Excelsior and other classics. "It was a small but joyous gathering of the Chicago Yale Club given to song, horseplay and wassail; there was a huge punchbowl into which my father had poured pitcher after pitcher of Bourbon whisky drawn from the barrell in his cellar".

Carter Harrison III first became mayor of Chicago April 1, 1879 when he defeated Abner M. Wright (Republican) & Ernst Schmidt (Socialist Labor). His second term was begun April 5, 1881 by Defeating John M. Clark (Republican), Timothy O'Meara (Independent) & George Schilling (Socialist Labor) . On April 3,1883 he defeated Eugene Cary (Republican) and began his third term. His fourth term followed April 7, 1885 when he defeated Sidney Smith (Republican) & William Bush (Prohibition).

In 1887 after being defeated he left on a tour of the world. When he returned he once again pursued politics and April 7, 1893 he was again elected mayor, Defeated Samuel W. Allerton (Republican), Dewitt C. Cregier (Un. Citizen) & Henry Ehrenpreis (socialist Labor). But this term was cut short. On October 23, 1893 during the Chicago World's Fair he was assassinated at his home.

First Generation:

Carter Harrison Sr terms as Mayor of Chicago:

Carter Henry Harrison, Sr.
24th Mayor of Chicago
Party: Democrat


1st term: April 1, 1879 Defeated Abner M. Wright (Republican) & Ernst Schmidt (Socialist Labor)

2nd term: April 5, 1881 Defeated John M. Clark (Republican), Timothy O'Meara (Independent) & George Schilling (Socialist Labor)

3rd term: April 3,1883 Defeated Eugene Cary (Republican)

4th term: April 7, 1885 Defeated Sidney Smith (Republican) & William Bush (Prohibition)

5th term: April 17, 1893 Defeated Samuel W. Allerton (Republican), Dewitt C. Cregier (Un. Citizen) & Henry Ehrenpreis (socialist Labor)

Inauguration: Terms of office: Birth: February 15, 1825
Death: October 28, 1893. Shot & Killed.

The Stormy Years (autobiography of Carter Harrison Jr.), and the Biography of Carter Harrison I, and assorted notes of Edna B Owsley (his granddaughter).

Submitted by Milancie Adams. Visit her website Keeping the Chain Unbroken: Owsley and Hill Family History Website for additional info on this family. Note - be sure to go to her home page and follow some of the other Harrison links in her family as well.

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Last Updated: 21 February 1998
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