Friday, August 30, 2013

Dr. Herman Lee Harris - Coeburn, Wise, Virginia

One of the best things about genealogy is finding those ancestors who were quite accomplished, of whom most of the family has no knowledge. Such is the case of Dr. Herman Lee Harris, son of my three-times great grandfather John D. Harris and his third wife Louisa B. Greer.

Resources available to me on Herman Lee’s vital records are limited at best. I am hoping that someone may have more information on this (to all outward appearances) remarkable man, who had a rather impressive run at the College of William and Mary.

Herman Lee Harris was born in Flatwoods, Wise County, Virginia in February 19, 1893 (1). In 1900, the family was living in Lipps, Wise, Virginia with two of Louisa’s sons from a previous marriage, Dayton and Hugh Baker (2). John D. Harris worked as a farmer and was recorded as “A.D. Harris” on the census.

In 1909, Herman Lee Harris, from Coeburn, VA appears at the prestigious College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. A search of Herman Lee on gave me the clues needed to locate a digital copy of the William and Mary yearbook, “The Colonial Echo.” His impressive list of accomplishments at the school is outlined in his senior page from 1915 below (3).

I adore the personal description of Herman Lee on this page. So rarely do we, as genealogists, get an insight into an ancestor’s personality of this kind. To see one’s ancestor described as an “Adonis" is classic!

At the time of this writing, my records for Herman Lee for the time period between 1918-1935 are incomplete. I found a World War I draft registration card from 1917 on that lists Herman Lee Harris from Coeburn, VA as having the occupation of navigation inspector with the Department of Commerce in Norfolk, VA. I have been unsuccessful in locating Herman Lee in the 1920 or 1930 census records.

What I do know is that by 1940, Herman Lee was the doctor of medicine at the Clinch Valley Hospital in Tazewell, Virginia, as evidenced in the 1940 US Census and Herman Lee’s World War II draft registration card(4).

I would love to find out more about this man. We know based on his World War II draft registration card that he did marry, but his wife is listed as Mrs. H.L. Harris. I would love to find out more on his experience as a navigation inspector, where he attended medical school and what was the history, if any, behind the Clinch Valley Hospital prior to his arrival.

(1). "U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942," digital image,, ( : Accessed 26 July 2013), Herman Lee Harris; citing .
(2). 1900 U.S. Census, Wise County, VA, population schedule, Lipps, enumeration district (ED) 126, page 73, household 254, A D Harris; digital image, ( : Accessed 23 April 2013).

(3). “Colonial Echo: The W&M Digital Archive.” Issue date 1915, volume 17. Accessed July 26, 2013 from
(4). 1940 US Census, Tazewell County, VA, population schedule, Richlands, enumeration district (ED) 93-17, page 21A, Herman Lee Harris; digital image, ( : Accessed 26 July 2013); NARA.

©2013 copyright, Piper Oneto

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