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Mr. Charles Snow Harris spoke from the heart

"Jim" nominates this great Adair County News editor for the Adair County Hall of Fame: Should there ever be created an Adair County Hall of Fame, Mr. Charles Snow Harris' name should head the list of names entered therein, primus inter pares.
Readers are requested to send their own nominations for the Adair County Hall of Fame using any Contact Form with as much supporting information, in story form as possible, along with photographs.-CM

by "Jim"

He spoke from the heart.

Inspired by the sense of believing we are right, and respecting honesty of purpose wherever found, our policy will be conservative--treating all people and parties with fairness--but will not stifle honest convictions for popular praise. (From the inaugural issue of the Adair County News, November 3, 1897.)

Over the past few years, I've spent innumerable hours immersed in the early (1897-1922) editions of the Adair County News and can state unequivocally that Mr. C.S. Harris did indeed speak from the heart.

When the News announced in the spring of 1919 that the Harris family planned remove to West Point, Mississippi, long-time News man John Ed Murrell wrote that

In this removal Adair County will lose in Mr. Harris its most active and enterprising citizen...When he takes his departure it will be a long time before the people of Adair County will see his like...and when the time comes for him to say good-bye the words will be hard to utter...The article cited in general his many contributions to Adair County and Adair Countians and specifically - and quite rightly -- gave Mr. Harris a great deal of the credit for the improvement in many of the roads of Adair County; for helping secure the Lindsey Wilson Training School for Columbia; and for the eight iron bridges that spanned Adair County streams by 1919.The family departed Adair County in the forepart of April, 1919, and the first of his many letters to the News was penned on April 21st and appeared in the News nine days later. Never did Mr. Harris speak more eloquently or more from the heart than he did in the following excerpts from that lengthy missive -- openly, honestly, and passionately, without anger, angst, or rancor.

(The letter was addressed to "Editor, News," that nominally being Mr. Barksdale Hamlett, to whose family Mr. Harris had sold the paper.)

Under an indirect promise I am now penning my first message to the readers of your valuable paper--a publication in which I am deeply interested in its welfare and future usefulness in the country [used here in the sense of "area"] it is serving. Need to say I steered its course, backed its existence and directed its policy from its birth up to your ownership in 1917--a period of even twenty years, and in doing so, opened the valve of liberality as touching the best interest of southern Kentucky and especially Adair County.

What the News accomplished during that time is not for me to say, but what it failed to secure paved the way for my departure to the balmy Sunny South...

TheNews, born in the most arduous time of our financial and political career--a child of my own choosing, whose infancy was shrouded in doubt and uncertainty, but whose life was safeguarded and clothed with hopes, ambition and integrity, successfully blazed its way to the front rank of Kentucky local papers, and I fully believe gained the confidence and good will of as many true and excellent citizens as any publication in the state.

What it cost me in time, talent and money does not concern the public, but I paid a high price involving many years of the best part of my life. Those days are in the past; those years and hardships are marked from the calendar of time, and it is still the only pebble on the beach in the good old county of its birth...[I]t made its initial bow and took its chances as a newspaper and a factor in the upbuilding and advancement of the country it sought to serve, and while I planted the feeble sprig of true devotion to public interests and prosperity, I will rejoice in seeing the News...bloom into brilliancy in lifting the ban on public enterprise and prosperity in the old home land...

[I]f only I could have had hope of a progressive future for Adair county, the attractive fields of Mississippi, with all their promise of reward, could not have moved. I have no complaint against the old home. I love its hills, its hollows, and best of all its people, but I was out of harmony with public sentiment and I felt it best for me, and, Adair as well, that I should no more agitate, aggravate and disturb the peace and quietude of so good a community.

It is not my business to meddle in your affairs, but good will forces me to say that unless a change in public conditions in Adair County is forthcoming, that county will lose many who are needed there. For twenty years I preached this doctrine and we lost our most progressive young men--gone to build the West. That has been accomplished and now they will come to rebuild the South. A hearty support of the extra road tax will help more than the average man figures. Good roads will hold good citizens and will bring in many others to your county.

[Here in Mississippi] I feel that I am in congenial company--the crowd that means to build and develop, who believe in good roads and are willing to pay the price, and I see a very bright future for this country [referring to the prairie of lands of Mississippi and Alabama].

May the News prosper, may its supporters be blessed and may Adair County awaken to its great opportunities, and then I may feel like wandering back to the land I loved but left.

Afterword: Should there ever be created an Adair County Hall of Fame, Mr. Charles Snow Harris' name should head the list of names entered therein, primus inter pares -JIM

This story was posted on 2011-01-06 10:55:53
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