North Carolina-CJ Harris-December 5

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-December 5

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special. Everyday this year I am doing a post on what I have learned new.

Today is my daughter’s birthday. She was born at CJ Harris Hospital in Sylva NC. I wanted to know something about CJ Harris and wanted her to know also.


Thanks to the Sylva Herald a local newspaper in Jackson County I was able to determine the following.


Charles Joseph Harris was born in Connecticut, graduated from Yale University and Brown’s School of Law in St. Louis, spent some time in Colorado and came to Jackson County around 1890 looking for investments.

He and a nephew, Theodore Harris, bought out the Carolina Clay Co., which they renamed Harris Clay Co. The company operated the kaolin mine near Hog Rock (Little Savannah area between Webster and the Jackson County Airport) for some 40 years until the vein played out.

Jackson County Airport below. The airport literally sits on top of a mountain. As an assistant basketball coach at Western Carolina I occasionally flew on recruiting trips out of this airport with a friend Austin Macon.


C.J. Harris Tannery, Sylva Supply Co. and the Dillsboro and Sylva Electric Co. – were also businesses Harris owned. He also had clay mines in Mitchell County and a quarry near Salisbury, NC.

The original hospital was not located in its current location but rather on the Courthouse Hill section of Sylva overlooking downtown. The modern hospital is the descendent of an enterprise begun in 1925 by two local doctors, C.Z. Candler and Harold Tidmarsh. Initially known as “Candler-Tidmarsh,” that first hospital’s name changed to “Candler-Nichols Hospital” in 1928 when Dr. Alvin Nichols purchased Tidmarsh’s interest.

By 1930 the burden of caring for large numbers of charity patients became too great for two doctors to shoulder alone, and Candler and Nichols began accepting assistance and became a community project. Duke Foundation provided significant funding, but the hospital was renamed again – this time to C.J. Harris Community Hospital – in honor of Harris’ generous support.

My daughter now knows a little about the hospital that was her birthplace. Happy Birthday – I love you!








  1. Sylva is a really nice town … I really love their courthouse! One of my high school friends married a woman from Sylva, and when I lived in Chattanooga, every now and then my trips to see my parents would overlap, and we’d meet there.

    1. The Courthouse is definitely one of the nice in the State of NC.

  2. Oh – and happy birthday to your daughter!

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