2018-05-17 / Front Page

Harris gets Lifetime Achievement Award at Owen Fluker grave marking ceremony

(As part of the ceremony at the W-WSAR and KCDAR grave marking for Owen Fluker, the SAR Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Joe Harris for his various community involvement. Written by David Chesnut, the following was read for those in attendance by Thad Broome.)

As Owen Fluker fought for his home and country at the Battle of Kettle Creek, so his descendants continue to work to preserve the heritage that he began. Many members of the SAR and DAR are present today who call Owen Fluker their Patriot.

One in particular has led the efforts to preserve the hallowed ground on which he fought. Not only has he received every medal and award the local SAR has to offer, but also the Distinguished Service Award from the state and national SAR. Leaving Emory University during World War II, he served his country in the Pacific

Theater and the occupation of Japan. After returning stateside he completed his education and became a tenured professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin. Upon retirement he returned to his native Wilkes County to continue his lifelong advocacy of education and preservation. One example was by organizing an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) chapter in connection with a similar group in Athens.

However, his real passion was and is the preservation of the Kettle Creek battlefield site. When he returned to Washington, the battlefield consisted of 12-and-one-half acres purchased by the DAR in 1900 eventually transferred by deed to Wilkes County in 1998. The United States War Department erected a monument on the site in 1930. According to military historian Steve Rousch, the battlefield site is in a similar condition now to its 1779 state. This Fluker descendant mobilized the community and many interested parties to preserve the site for posterity by organizing the Kettle Creek Battlefield Association (KCBA). He became and remains the chairman of its board of directors.

The KCBA has facilitated the preservation of the site. Working closely with the CSRA Regional Commission to obtain a grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, a master plan was developed. To further these plans, the Carl Vinson Institute was engaged to design a conceptual plan. A botanical survey was made by the University of Georgia which found many unusual and rare plant species.

Following these efforts, a grant from the GA SAR, together with local funds acquired an additional 60 acres. The Civil War Trust supported by the American Battlefield Protec- tion legislation and funds from the Sarah Giles Moore Foundation and the Watson-Brown Foundation added 180 acres of adjoining property in 2017.

In the last few years, hundreds of school children, preservationists, lovers of history and botanical enthusiasts have toured the Battlefield Site, thus validating this person’s steadfast passion and belief that the Kettle Creek battlefield is not only worthy, but essential, to our nation’s history, and must be preserved.

Our subject married the gracious Dorothy Ann Leinbach in 1952 and is the father of two children, George and Jennifer. He was named the 2013 Wilkes County Citizen of the Year. Having recently celebrated his 91st birthday, let us show our appreciation to this 21st Century Fluker Patriot, Dr. Joseph Belknap Harris.

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