A Page Out of the Book Cliffs
Page 11 — Ink Harris — Part 1
by AJ Rogers
May 10, 2018 | 562 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ink Harris, as he was known by his friends, was born Gilmore Anderson Harris at Roanoke, Va., on April 18, 1873. The family traveled west and settled in Trinidad, Colo., when he was a young boy. They moved from Colorado to southeast Utah in 1888, crossing the Green River with 250 head of cattle.

One of the crew herding the stock was a cowboy named John Griffith. He had the peculiar marking of one blue eye and one brown eye. Ink’s father called him Blue John and he later joined the Robbers Roost Gang and rode with the Wild Bunch. The Harris’ stopped in Woodside for about a month then moved south into the San Rafael country. They built cabins on what became Harris Bottoms and established a stage station on Old Woman Wash, where stages headed for Eagle City on the Henry Mountains stopped to change horses during a short-lived gold boom.

One of Ink’s jobs was to freight hay and other supplies in from Ferron for use at the stage stop. When the boom had run it’s course the family moved to West Water and ran their cattle on Pinion Mesa in Colorado. After Ink married Clara Larsen at Moab in 1901, they together established a homestead at Floy Canyon. You can read more on this in the Sept. 25, 1958 issue of The Times-Independent. I gleaned it from an article in that issue on Ink’s passing.

So it was now 1901, and Ink was in the cattle business for himself, but was also working for Harry Ballard pretty much full time. In fact, he became and remained Harry’s right-hand man until, I guess you’d say, Harry’s death did them part more than 30 years later. Ballard was running a huge stock operation and other businesses, as well as serving in many civic capacities, so he certainly needed a good man to depend on. Ink was that man and continued to be that man for many years after Harry and Maud Ballard sold out their major interests in the Book Cliffs and moved back to England in retirement around 1913 or 1914.

The Ballards still owned a lot of small properties and other interests in this area and Ink remained their man on the ground for many years. All this cross-ocean business required them to communicate now and then, which they did with pen and paper, as was the norm in those days. Thanks once again go to Harry’s son John Bruce, and grandchildren, Guy and Carola for preserving those letters, as well as many others I’ve shared with you written by Harry and Maud back home to the folks in England.

Ink Harris always signed his letters G.A. Harris. I’m not sure if Harry called him Ink, or Gilmore, or G.A. The following is an excerpt from a letter Ink mailed to Harry in England.

Elgin, Utah — Jan. 5, 1916

Mr. H. G Ballard

Dear old Friend,

I think everything is alright my way. There is lots of snow but you know that is what we like. We have had a fine winter and it hasn’t been a bit cold up to date. I think Turner’s has had quite a bit of trouble with the Colorado sheepers but we all have our trouble in the spring when the transient sheep start to leave. There is over 200,000 sheep in this country this winter.

Well Harry I hope you spent a good Xmas and that your new year will be a happy and prosperous one … thanks ever so much for Ballard’s Xmas present. He is well and keeps everybody busy. Hoping to hear from you soon.

I am as ever, Your Old Friend,

—G.A. Harris

Now, many of you readers probably knew or have figured out by now, Ink Harris named his firstborn son Ballard Harris after his friend and employer Harry Ballard. And there are certainly a whole lot of you still kicking out there who knew Ballard, the colorful man from Cisco, who spent his last 30-plus years living on a nice place on the north side of the Colorado River at Dewey Bridge.

More on Ink Harris next time, and eventually a column on Ballard Harris. Thanks for reading.

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