Amanda Brown (Crenshaw) Harris, widow of James Overton Harris

Just a few hundred feet East of Maple Cottage is Harris Lane. Amanda B. Harris is one of the Harris’ this street is named for.  In 1889 Amanda bought Maple Cottage and 186 acres from Robert and Lucy Elkin. At the time she was 51 years old, a widow, with 9 living children. Her husband, James Overton Harris had died in 1883. They were married on November 11, 1858, just one month before Amanda’s 20th birthday, and J.O. was 28 years old. He had returned to Tennessee after 6 years in California where he had followed the Gold Fever to seek his fortune. Back in Tennessee, he began farming his father’s land and married Amanda. At the time of his death 25 years later, he had left her the farm at Bethpage and 200+ acres.

We do not have much historical information about Amanda Harris from the 20 years that she lived at Maple Cottage. Below are several photographs of her and her family when they did live at the old house. There is much more historical information about her husband James Overton Harris. After he returned from his California adventure, he farmed his father’s land until 1861, when he enlisted in the 7th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion. In 1862, he wrote a letter to his father “to destroy the will I left so Manda can have the money at her command. When I made it I never dreamed of being down here and the Yanks in possession of Tennessee. I want you to see to her and do not let her or the children want for money or anything they need. I have Confederate money and cannot get Tennessee money to send her.”

After the war, he took up farming again, bought land from his father, continued farming and adding to his land holdings until he died in 1883. Six years later, Amanda bought Maple Cottage. Historian Forrest Anderson, who is a descendant of Amanda Harris has always wondered where she got the money to buy Maple Cottage. His mother, who was just a child when Amanda died always said that she heard Amanda got her money from a relative in California. His research revealed that Amanda had a half brother in Stockton, California who died in 1883 and left a portion of his large estate to her. She rented out the farm that her husband left her, and paid cash for Maple Cottage and the surrounding land. It is likely that Amanda was the one who had the raised kitchen addition built on the West side of the old house. This was not original to the house, but was added sometime before this photograph taken in 1894. This is the oldest known photograph of Maple Cottage, and includes Amanda B. Harris and her 9 living descendants.

Celebration of Houses-DurhamThomasCreasy Pg 103 Harris-Anderson Home

in 1891, shortly after moving into Maple Cottage, Amanda’s eldest son, Green B. Harris, married Mary Rebecca Stratton and they purchased a home on Liberty Lane. This historic home is still in existence today and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It contains historic items belonging to Amanda, including her piano seen in the photo below. In 1909 Amanda sold Maple Cottage and the land on Long Hollow Pike and moved into the home on Liberty Lane with her son. She lived there until she died in 1924, “one of the oldest, and best known residents in Sumner County.”