You are viewing the biographical brief on Daniel Jefferson Harris, Fairhaven founder.
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Dan Harris filed the plat for the Town of Fairhaven on January 2, 1883. It consisted of eighty-five blocks 200 feet square, each divided into eight lots measuring 50 feet by 100 feet. He began selling lots in February. By the end of 1883 he had sold 238 lots and grossed almost $22,000. He reportedly spent about $16,000 of the proceeds constructing a three-story hotel and a deep-water dock at 4th and Harris Streets. In 1884 Dan Harris sold another eight lots, grossing $1,400. He didnít sell more property until 1889, when he conveyed his remaining lots and acreage to railroad magnates Nelson Bennett and Charles X. Larrabee for $75,000.
On October 17, 1885 Dan Harris married Bertha L. Wasmer, who filed for divorce a year later citing verbal abuse and physical threats. The couple reconciled and began spending winters in Los Angeles. Bertha died there in November 1888 and Dan in August 1890, leaving an estate of about $100,000. Danís brothers, Edwin and George, his sister, Margaret Lewis, and niece, Ella Fordham, contested the will that named his nephew, Benjamin, as sole heir to his Fairhaven real estate. The Whatcom County Superior Court decided in favor of the nephew. On appeal, the Washington Supreme Court recognized all five parties in 1896. By that time, Whatcom County property values had plummeted and the heirs received only $33.93 apiece.
During his three years of residence in Southern California, Dan Harris acquired at least eight pieces of local real estate, including a lot in downtown Los Angeles costing $40,000, and property in Redondo Beach and San Bernardino County. He also made several mortgage loans, including one for $10,000 on a commercial property, one for $5,000 to George Stoneman, former governor of California, and one for $4,000 to his physician, Andrew S. Shorb. He also made unsecured loans to Dr. Shorb and his wife, Mattie, and endorsed to her a $25,000 certificate of deposit. On the day Dan Harris died, Dr. Shorb, removed all of Danís financial records from his home. D. W. Field, the court appointed administrator for Danís estate, sued Andrew and Mattie Shorb for concealment of assets belonging to the estate. In October 1891, the Los Angeles County Superior Court decided in favor of the plaintiff. However, on appeal, the California Supreme Court reversed that decision in October 1893 and awarded the Shorbs $27,000 from the estate. The disposition of the estateís other assets remains to be determined.
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