Corra Mae Harris,
Writer and Journalist 
Corra Mae Harris (1869-1935) lived for much of her life near the village of Pine Log and was considered a major Southern writer of national reputation in the early twentieth century. She wrote more than two dozen novels, hundreds of short stories and magazine articles, and over a thousand book reviews. 
 
Her most famous book was A Circuit Rider’s Wife (1910), based on her experiences as the wife of a traveling Methodist minister, Lundy Howard Harris (1858-1910). The book was later turned into the 1951 movie I’d Climb the Highest Mountain starring Susan Hayward and William Lundigan.
However, her pro-lynching stance expressed in several articles has tainted her legacy. Harris bluntly articulated the racist views that were prevalent in America during her time period.

Courtesy of New Georgia Encyclopedia, Public Domain 

“One had the feeling that God's ancient peace had not been disturbed in this place, and this was a solemn, foreboding feeling for me...."

Corra Harris, The Circuit Rider's Wife
After A Circuit Rider’s Wife, Harris wrote 18 other books as well as articles for major publications such as Good Housekeeping, Harper’s, Ladies Home Journal, Pictorial Review, and The Saturday Evening Post
 
Written in 1912, The Recording Angel focuses on the petty and pious affairs of a small town’s group of women. Harris’s critical views of this lifestyle are apparent in the book.  
Written in 1915, her novel The Co-Citizens reveals Harris’s views on women and their roles in society of the time, focusing on the women’s suffragette movement. Harris had conflicting views about women’s roles, influenced by her own family tragedies.
 
She was raised by a very strict mother and an alcoholic father. Her marriage to Lundy Harris, a Methodist minister who suffered from mental illness, was filled with many challenges and ended in tragedy when he committed suicide.
 
She also lost all three of her children. One son died at birth and another son died at the age of two. Her daughter, Faith, died in her twenties. It is believed that Faith suffered from severe depression.  Corra Harris mentioned in a letter that she saw the “darkness of Lundy in Faith.” 

"Why, I ask you, should anybody, man or woman, thank God for his or her gender? Is there any advantage before Him in being born a male?"

Corra Harris, A Circuit Rider's Widow
This is the suicide note of Corra Harris’ husband Lundy Harris.
 
Lundy had been plagued with mental illness throughout his life and had attempted suicide eleven previous times before he finally succeeded, taking an overdose of morphine while at a revival in Pine Log, Georgia.
 
Lundy died in the woods near the old Cherokee cabin that Corra 
then purchased and lived in for the rest of her life, naming it “In the Valley.” 

 

Corra's husband Lundy’s suicide note.
Courtesy of University of Georgia Special Collections. 
Written in 1916, her next novel, A Circuit Rider’s Widow, is where Harris tells the story of an elderly woman’s attempt to right the wrongs of the Methodist Church and society, but to no avail.  
This photo shows Corra Harris with Betty and Travania Raines, two sisters from the local Pine Log area who were taken in by Harris after the death of their father. Their mother lacked the resources to properly care for them. Harris trained the two teenagers to become her secretary and housekeeper.
 
According to author Ann Hite, a friend of Betty’s, Harris was very controlling of these young women, telling them to avoid men and warning that they would lose their inheritance should they ever marry.
 
However, Betty Raines later did marry and become Betty Raines Upshaw.
 
Despite this, Hite reports that whenever Betty talked about Corra Harris, she always did so with reverence. 
Corra Harris with the Raines sisters.

Corra Harris (right) with Rebecca Latimer Felton, Georgia's first female Senator (left).

Courtesy Reinhardt University Archives

Corra Harris named this log cabin in Pine Log “In the Valley.” It was originally a Cherokee cabin, and Harris claimed that it had belonged to “Chief Pine Log,” although there was no such person. She moved there after the suicide of her husband Lundy, who died nearby, and she wrote most of her books there.
 
In fact, her own book collection was among the things that did not change about the house after she passed away. The house remains as she left it and is now owned by Kennesaw State University.  
While most of Harris’s writing was not about racial issues, it was her pro-lynching article, published in The Independent in 1899, that launched Corra Harris's writing career, as editor Hamilton Holt, ironically enough, saw writing talent in her racist rant and published it.
 
Holt and Harris later became close friends, and he visited her at “In the Valley” in Pine Log. In this pictured edition of The Independent, Harris’ essay “New York, as Seen from a Georgia Valley” contrasts what Harris saw as the innocence of rural life with the materialism and corruption of New York society.  

Courtesy of Etowah Valley Historical Society. 

Corra Harris was an extremely popular magazine writer, often writing about domestic issues and the role of women.
 
Harris was conflicted about women’s roles, sometimes advocating for a traditional domestic role, but modeling a life of travel and accomplishment.
 
She surrounded herself with influential people such as Hamilton Holt, editor and publisher of The Independent; Martha Berry of Berry College in Rome, Georgia; and John Pascall, editor of The Atlanta Journal. She remained close friends with these individuals until her death in 1935. 
Good Housekeeping cover featuring a Corra Harris article.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, wealthy women left calling cards in homes where they visited, and they also enclosed them in correspondence. This was one of Corra Harris’ calling cards, giving her address as “In the Valley,” the name of her Pine Log home. This card, like others of the time period, was hand-lettered by a professional calligrapher.  
This envelope enclosed a letter that Corra Harris sent in 1918 from Pine Log to Mrs. Paul F. Akin of Cartersville. Mrs. Harris had a regular correspondence with Mrs. Akin, who was a great friend to her and the wife of her attorney. 

Courtesy of Etowah Valley Historical Society. 

Courtesy of Etowah Valley Historical Society. 

Corra Harris calling card, front
This is the reverse side of a calling card from Corra Mae Harris which was enclosed in a Christmas letter to the Paul F. Akin family in Cartersville. It appears that a “red-cross nurse doll” accompanied the letter and card, as a gift to the youngest Akin child, Katherine. 

Courtesy of Etowah Valley Historical Society. 

Corra Harris calling card, back.
Here is another calling card in the Corra Harris collection. She had this one made when she was living or staying with her daughter Faith, who lived with her husband Harry in Nashville, Tennessee. This card was enclosed with a letter. Courtesy of Etowah Valley Historical Society. 

Courtesy of Etowah Valley Historical Society. 

Corra Harris calling card and note.
Photo: Finished Pine Log Letter
In this letter of 1917, Harris has returned to her home “In the Valley” in Pine Log and reports that she has “found in some measure my old peace in this home life of the heavens and the earth upon these hills.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Courtesy of the Etowah Valley Historical Society.  

© 2023 by Marian Dean. Proudly created with Wix.com