Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. I, p. 118
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
Among the citizens that Illinois has furnished to the Sunflower state is William J Harrison, who resides in Sterling township. He was born in Lagrange, Cook county, Illinois, October 3, 1851. His father, John Harrison, was a native of England, born near Carlysle, in 1818, and there he was reared to farm life. In 1845 he married Miss Jane Burrow, who was born in June, 1824, and they became the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters, all born in America with the exception of three. One born in England died ere the emigration to the new world. In June, 1851, Mr Harrison with his family sailed for the United States, and after thirteen weeks spent on the bosom of the Atlantic reached the American harbor. He arrived in Chicago with only eighty-four cents in his pocket. He went into the country and worked as a farm hand for a dollar a day and thus gained a start, after which he purchased a farm on credit. His indefatigable labor and economy, however, enabled him to soon discharge his indebtedness and not long afterward he bought a farm of one hundred and seventy acres, where he prospered, owing to his marked diligence and the increase in realty values. His farm was at length sold for two hundred and fifty dollars per acre. On it was located a valuable stone quarry. His wife died December 24, 1889, at the age of seventy-five years, and his death occurred in 1892.
William J Harrison, whose name begins this record, received but meager educational privileges. He attended the district schools during the winter months and in the summer, from the time he was seven years of age, he worked in the fields. When a youth of fourteen he did a man’s work, for he was strong and rugged. At twenty-two years of age he left home to make his own way in the world, and, as usual with young men starting out for themselves, he sought a companion and helpmate for the journey of life. On the 30th of October, 1883, he was united in marriage to Harriet Selfridge, of Randolph county, Illinois, a daughter of J S and Susan Jane (Woodside) Selfridge, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Kentucky. The father was born in August, 1825, and their marriage was celebrated in Illinois, in 1844. He was a carpenter and builder by trade, following that pursuit in order to provide for the support of his family, which as the years went by grew in numbers until he was the father of five sons and four daughters. One daughter, Mary Ellen, died at the age of fourteen years. The sons were reared to assist in the work of carpentering and farming, and eight children are now living. The parents also survive and are now residents of Sterling, where they located in 1876. The marriage of Mr and Mrs Harrison was celebrated at the home of the bride, after which they took up their abode six miles northwest of the village of Sterling, where Mr Harrison purchased a half section of improved land. He afterward made other purchases, paying sixteen hundred dollars for one hundred and twenty acres and twenty-seven hundred and thirty dollars for two hundred acres. He has a tenant upon the last mentioned farm. In the spring of 1899 he took up his abode at his present home, where he has two hundred and forty acres, and he also owns a forty-acre farm near Sterling. He has three valuable tracts of land, supplied with good buildings, and he is extensively and successfully engaged in the raising of horses, cattle and hogs. He breeds polled Durham cattle – registered stock – the most of them being one-half or three-fourths Durham. For eight years he has been engaged in the stock business and is now breeding Norman horses. He grows from three to five thousand bushels of wheat and from two to four thousand bushels of corn annually.
Unto Mr and Mrs Harrison have been born four children: Mabel, who is now sixteen years of age; John Logan, fifteen years old; Benjamin, a lad of ten summers; and Lorenzo, who is eight years of age. In his political views Mr Harrison is a Republican and has served on the school board, but has never sought or desired office, preferring to give his time and energies to his business affairs, in which he is meeting with signal success. He belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, holding membership in both the subordinate lodge and encampment. He is also identified with the Congregational church and his wife is a member of the Reformed Presbyterian church. The secret of his success is not difficult to ascertain, for in the legitimate lines of business he has met with prosperity, placing his dependence upon the substantial qualities of energy and resolution.