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My Word Is My Bond the biography of Harris Bernard Rahn Sr.
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Harris Bernard Rahn - photo by Photo provided

On July 25, 1909, George Quantock and Cora Exley Rahn proudly announced the birth of their fifth son, Harris Bernard Rahn. From all accounts they were very proud (even though Grandma Cora may have secretly wished for a baby girl) of their bouncing bundle of joy.

Harris grew up on the family farm working with the rest of his brothers and sister helping Grandpa George and Grandma Cora. From some of the conversations we have heard over the years, he was very helpful around the house. Also, when the children were big enough to work on the farm, Grandpa George was very firm in teaching them the work ethics which Harris carried until his death.

In talking with Harris’ cousin, Ernest Seckinger, anytime you saw him he would brag about how Harris could play ball. As Ernest would say, he was a “fleet footed center fielder.” He would always talk about how fast he was.  Harris did like to watch baseball and wrestling after they got a television in the mid 1950s.

When Harris was attending school in Berryville, he started noticing a young lady by the name of Mary Gertrude Wilson. They didn’t live close enough to see each other very often. The way of communication was by mail.  

On some weekends they were able to see each other. They were married on Dec. 5, 1934.  It was told that they were headed to Jacksonville, Fla., for their honeymoon and when they got to Port Wentworth, they stopped for ice cream. Harris took sick and they returned home. In the following 16 years they were proud parents of: Frances, Miriam (infant deceased), Mary Jane, Grady, Maxine, Eva and Harris, Jr.  Harris was very proud of his children. He was a very, very good husband and father. His work ethics were like his father’s, Grandpa George. When you were told to do a certain task, you did as you were told until it was finished. To my knowledge, I never heard Harris raise his voice to his wife or any one of his children.

Harris was a farmer by trade. He loved to till the soil and watch his crops grow. He was involved with many aspects of the business in his lifetime. In his younger years, he was partnered with his brothers Roy and Corley in the turpentine business and with Roy, Corley and Kenneth in the sawmill business. In the year 1948, Harris, Corley and cousin, Rodell Rahn opened a feed and seed store in Springfield called Rahn’s Feed and Seed.  After approximately six months, Harris and Corley bought out Rodell’s part of the business. Around 1964, Harris bought out his brother Corley’s interest of the feed and seed store. He operated Rahn’s Feed and Seed until 1968 when he closed its doors. At that time the government was looking for someone to give out commodities to the poor.  Harris took this task on (in the old feed and seed store building) for a couple of years until it was abolished.  He was a well respected man in the county. (Thus the title of the story came from what Harris always practiced) He earned many friends while being a merchant in the feed and seed business. In 1968, he ran for county commissioner (in Effingham County) and won. After approximately six months, he resigned because he told me he could not in good faith serve on the board the way it was run.

At the time of closing the commodities store, he went into full time farming again.  During the years of other business adventures, he still farmed row crops and grew cattle, hogs and chickens. Tobacco was the money crop. As his children grew up, one of their jobs was to take tobacco off the stick during the day. When Harris came home from the store, he would not even go in the house. He went straight to the barn and started grading the tobacco that the children had taken off the sticks. He would grade tobacco until about midnight and then go inside to eat supper and go to bed. He took care of his tobacco like it was one of his children. One of his pride and joys were to have his grandchildren sit on sheets of tobacco at the tobacco market. His care was also the same for his livestock.  Some of the highlights of Harris’ pleasurable times was sitting and watching his hogs and going to the river field on Sunday afternoons. He also enjoyed sitting on the tailgate of his truck and hand feeding his cows.

Harris and his family were faithful and dedicated members of the Springfield United Methodist Church.  He was a trustee as long as his children can remember. He was also very dedicated to the Effingham County Methodist Campground. Harris headed up the movement to build the new Rahn Tent at the campground in 1962. He loved camp meeting and his church family. Harris was also a very dedicated member of the Masonic Lodge in Springfield, where he served as an officer.

A favorite time of his was at Christmas when all his family gathered together. Harris always enjoyed getting presents. Every year he would buy something for himself and wrap it up and put it under the Christmas tree. The big thing was when he would open his own present and act like it was from someone else. He would really put on a show of excitement!

In the late summer, early fall of 1973, Harris and Mary were invited by their daughter, Frances and husband Bobby Yount to go to Boulder, Colo., to visit their youngest daughter Eva and husband Dick Bentson.  When arriving in Colorado, Harris took sick.  Because of this, they cut their visit short and returned home. Upon returning home, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. From September 1973 until February 1974, Harris was in the hospital numerous times. He passed away on Feb. 13, 1974.  He was buried on his wife’s birthday, Feb. 15, 1974. He was greatly missed at that time and until this day it’s like it was only yesterday.

This article was written by son Grady Rahn. This column is compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society.  If you have comments, photos or information to share please contact her at 754-6681 or email: