While digging through photos at the CSU Archive for the article on Margaret House, I came across this shot of the Jesse Harris spring. (I’ve modified it slightly by zooming in on the spring and the people and cropping out some trees, grass, and a sidewalk.) What I love the most is the somewhat Victorian looking couple in the background. The Archive lists the photo as being from around 1914-1918.
I didn’t know anything about Mr. Harris, so I did a quick search and came across the following on FindAGrave.com:
Jesse Harris was born in Ohio. He was an early resident of Fort Collins, Colorado who made his living as a dealer in livestock. He donated the landmark “Jesse Harris Spring” to Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University) in 1901. He wanted to give the students and faculty a source of cool pure drinking water. It was located just north of Old Main. Old Main is now gone but the Jesse Harris Spring still remains.
Jesse served on the State Board of Agriculture and as mayor of Fort Collins 1911-1912. He died in November 1919.
Jesse Harris imported, bred and sold horses. He had a large ranch called Inverness to the north of town, about where Jax Mercantile is today. In 1890, he bought a couple hundred acres of land to the south of town.
You can get a better sense of where Jesse Harris’s spring was situated in this photo of some uniformed men (ROTC?) doing canon practice on campus. (Of course! Where else would you do your canon practice but right in the middle of the college?)
You’ll note the spring under the gazebo directly behind the men, with Old Main just behind that.
You can still see the spring on campus today. It’s right along Old Main Drive, which is a one way street coming from College Avenue and heading towards the Oval.
Hi Meg – great blog! I have only been to Ft Collins once (in 2008), but I tried to make the most of what little time I had there (5 hours!) by visiting the library on Peterson St, the Grandview cemetary, and a few other pre-researched family sites. Anyway, during one of my random genealogical google searches (whenever slow at work of course), I found this post of yours on Jesse Harris. One of the big mysteries for me is whether he bought/took over the Inverness Farm from my grandmother (Mary Alphonsine Lariviere), when her husband, Phillip Lariviere, was tragically killed by a kick from his horse in 1886. Inverness Farm has somehow crept into our oral family history, but I have never found anything confirming that my family owned it (Btw, he came as one of the first settlers to the Poudre valley in 1859). So, I guess if you are up for some more history sleuthing on this topic, I would suggest a new blog post on the origins of the old Inverness Farm! It would be fantastic (I know, I’m the only one who cares).
I’ve forwarded your question on to a historian that knows more on Inverness than I do. We’ll see what he says. It might well make for an interesting post. 🙂 Thanks!
I just heard back from Wayne Sundberg and he said, “Lavinier was prominent in LaPorte as I recall!??” but he didn’t know anything about a connection with him to Inverness. So it looks like something that might be fun to do a little digging around. I’ll see if I can find anything at the Archive.
Thanks Meg….One of the only documents I can find that says he owned that farm is the article which I am attaching. Seeing as it is written by his great-granddaughter, Ronda Coming, in 1981, I am not sure of the accuracy (family oral history or based on actual deed records)
Just noticed that Ronda was Wayne Sundberg’s 7th grade student in 1981!!
Wow!!!! This is an incredible article. I’ll definitely be doing a little sleuthing and see if I can come up with some corroborating evidence.
Hi Joe. The following reply was posted on this site, but it included an email address and I don’t want spammers to get it. So please contact me through the About page here and I’ll get the email address to you. Here’s the rest of the reply:
I am hoping to reach Joe LaRiviere. My wife’s great grandparents were Philippe LaRiviere and Marie Alphonsine Harris. I would like to check relatives with you. — Barney Considine
I am hoping to reach Joe LaRiviere. My wife’s great grandparents were Philippe LaRiviere and Marie Alphonsine Harris. I would like to check relatives with you. *** email address removed ***
Thank you for posting. Just learned that Jesse Harris’s son (Lucien) was father to my grandmother (Jane Harris…later Jane Light). I’m thrilled to see a photo of this fountain. Thank you for your thoughtful post as I still get to see it even from afar in Houston, TX.
Wonderful! I’m so glad you were able to find and connect with the post. 🙂
Meg, Jesse Harris was my great grandfather so this is all very interesting. Thank you for your diligence in this topic. I look forward to sharing it with my kids! T.H.
Great! So glad you found the article. 🙂
Hi! Do you have any info on your great grandfather’s farm Inverness farm in Fort Collins? My Great great grandfather (James Ross) came from Scotland to bring Jesse Harris Percheron horses and he worked for Harris for 3 years. I was trying to figure out what sort of job he may have done for Jesse …I am assuming James was some sort of a groomsman.
I’ve considered doing research on it some day, but haven’t gotten around to it.
The best place to find information like that is either through census records or newspapers. The newspapers are free to access. https://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/ For census records you’d probably have to use a library or a genealogical site.