HARRIS, Thoro. b. Washington, DC, 31 March 1874; d. Eureka Springs, Arkansas, 27 March 1955. Harris was one of two children born of the union of an unnamed father from North Carolina, thought to have been an African American physician, and Elizabeth W. Harris from Michigan (ca.1840-ca.1900). The 1880 Washington DC census lists the mother as ‘white’ and ‘head of household’. Thoro and his sister Worthy (born South Carolina 1871), are identified ‘MU’ (mulatto). The Catalog of Howard University, 1889, lists Harris as a fourth year student in the Normal Department, a Post Graduate student, and a special student in the Theological Department.
After attending college in Battle Creek, Michigan, Harris produced his first hymnal in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1902. He then moved to Chicago, Illinois, at the invitation of Peter Bilhorn, and in 1932, to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. He composed and compiled a number of works, and was well known locally as he walked around with a canvas bag full of books for sale.