Charles H. Harris, of near Carbondale, who owns and manages one of the largest and richest ranches in Garfield county, is a native of Clintonville, Clinton county, New York, and the son of William and Catherine (Jayne) Harris, whose history is given more at length on another page of this work. He was born on April 1, 1852, and was four years old when the family moved to Wisconsin. He was reared on the paternal homestead to the age of nineteen, assisting in the work on the farm and attending the public schools in the neighborhood when he could. In 1871 he moved to Howard county, Iowa. He labored four years as a farm hand for wages, then in 1875 migrated to the Black Hills in South Dakota, where he put in five years prospecting and mining but without success. In 1880 he came over the Independence pass to Colorado, and in partnership with Thomas Cannon built a cabin at Aspen which was used as a supply house. In June of that year he squatted on his present ranch, or a portion of it, on which he afterward proved up as a pre-emption claim. It comprises one hundred and fifty-eight and three-fourths acres and was at that time a part of the Ute reservation. He has since acquired six hundred and forty acres additional, and now has one of the most productive and valuable ranches in this whole section of the state. It yields every variety of farm products, but is particularly prolific in hay and potatoes of the finest quality. In 1881 he received one hundred and sixty dollars a ton for his hay crop alone. He also raises superior cattle and horses extensively. Owning his own water rights and having an interest in a large outside ditch, he has abundant means of irrigating his land as far as necessary, and can conduct his farming operations with full success and vigor. He was one of the earliest settlers in this region and has been one of the most potential factors in its development and progress. He brought the first wagon and the first cooking stove into the valley, packing the latter on horseback in sections for transportation. In 1884, in company with sixteen other men, he built in six weeks the wagon road around the mountain near Emma, which the builders afterward donated to the county. The men who aided actively in this enterprise were William H. Harris, Riece Brown, Newton Lantz, Timothy Carey, Frank Dalton, John Cox, Patrick Meeney, Edward Staffacker, John Rudie, Cyrus Reed, William Hopkins and Walter Vance. This highway has been of inestimable service to the section and is today a gratifying and impressive monument to the enterprise and public spirit of its builders. At the first election held in the region known as the Summit Mr. Harris and James Landers acted as the judges, and the check for two dollars and fifty cents issued to Mr. Harris as compensation for his services is still in his possession.
The election was held at Glenwood Springs. In political thought and action Mr. Harris is independent. He was married on January 19, 1886, to Miss Rosetta Noble, a native of Iowa and the daughter of George and Marietta (Woolsey) Noble, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Iowa. The father was a blacksmith and a preacher. For a number of years he wrought at his forge during the week and preached on Sundays, but later turned his attention to farming, first at Rifle and later at Plateau, Mesa county. Five of their six children survive the mother, who died in February, 1862. Mr. and Mrs. Harris have four children living, Nettie, Dora, Ambrose V. and Clara B. Another daughter named Ruth died some years ago.
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.