The Matthew and Tempie Ann Harris family.


Tempie Ann and Matthew Harris.


Nathan, Hattie, Novella, Emma, Oliver and Sidney Harris, circa 1920.


Sidney Harris with Model T Ford.


Alus, Martha and Ada Harris.


In the 1870 census of Cedar Rock township, Franklin County: James Fogg, 52, wife Berchet, 51, daughter Frances, 25, and granddaughters Fannie, 11, and Temperance Fogg, 5.

In the 1880 census of Nashville, Nash County: farmhand Mathew Harris, 24, and wife Tempie, 16.

On 2 June 1880, Matthew Harris, 24, of Nash County, son of Sol and Cealy Harris, married Tempy Fogg, 18, of Nash County, daughter of Jas. Fogg and Frances Fogg.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Mathew Harris, 39, wife Tempy, 30, and children Sidna, 16, Saunders, 14, and Minnie C., 1.

On 2 June 1903, Alias Harriss, 20, married Martha Powell, 20, in Taylors townships. Witnesses were James Harriss, M. Thompson and Mena Thompson.

On 17 February 1909, Sidney Harriss, 24, of Toisnot, son of Matthew and Tempy Ann Harris, married Hattie Lena Batts, 19, of Toisnot, daughter of Dennis and Rose Ann Batts at Dennis Batts’ house. Witnesses were G.A. Gaston, J.G. Mitchell, and J.F. Carter, all of Elm City.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Mathew Harris, 54, wife Tempie, 44, and daughter Minnie G. Harris, 11.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Sidney Harris, 26, drayman, wife Hattie, 21, and daughter Emma, 4 months.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Alus Harris, 24, and wife Martha, 25, who shared a home with John Davis, 30, and wife Mary, 28. Alus worked as a drayman for a sawmill, and John, as a sawmill fireman. Martha was a laundress, and Mary, a private cook.

On 12 September 1918, Sidney Harris and Alus Harris registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Sidney’s registration card listed his address as Elm City, his occupation as a laborer for B.A. Harrelson, and his next of kin as Mrs. Sidney Harris. Alus’ registration card lists his address as 909 Carolina Street, gives his date of birth as 1 November 1883, and his occupation as a carpenter with Bobbitt & Roberson, Contractors, of Camp Hill, Newport News. His temporary address was 708 20th Street, Newport News. His next of kin was wife Martha Harris.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Matthew Harrise, 59, and wife Tempy, 51.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Sidney Harris, 41, wife Hattie, 26, and children Emma, 9, Oliver, 7, Nathan, 5, and Novela, 3.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Alous Harris, 28, house carpenter, wife Martha, 30, and daughter Ada O., 8.

Tempie Ann Harris died 31 December 1922 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 January 1865 to Jerry Perry and Frances Fogg in Franklin County, North Carolina. Her husband, Mathia Harris of Elm City, was informant.

On 20 July 1923, Matthew Harris, 50, son of Solomon and Celia Harris, married Sarah Person, daughter of Larry and Henrietta Person, in Nashville, Nash County.

Alus Harriss died 19 September 1923 of a stroke. Per his death certificate, he was 38 years old; born in Wilson County to Mathew Harriss and Tempy Corppedge; was married to Martha Harriss; worked as a carpenter; and resided at 1007 Carolina Street.

Per his gravemarker, Matthew Harris died 1 June 1927. He is buried at William Chapel church cemetery near Elm City. Upon authentication by witnesses Lula Whitehurst and John D. Gold, Harris’ last will and testament entered probate in Wilson County in January 1928. In the document, dated 28 September 1923, Harris bequeathed (1) to Martha Harris the forgiveness of Alus Harris’ debt of $550; (2) his personal property to be divided between children Sidney Harris and Minnie Armstrong; and (3) his real property to Sidney and Ada; and appointed Sidney Harris his executor.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Sidney Harris, 50, wife Hattie, 40, and children Emma, 17, Oliver, 16, Nathan, 13, Novella, 11, Volious, 8, Hattie M., 6, Beatrice, 3, and Clarence, 1.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Sidney Harris, 59, wife Hattie, 50, and children Novella, 22, Volious, 17, Hattie Magarette, 15, Beatrice, 13, and Clearance, 12, and granddaughter Deloris McMillian, 6.

Sidney Harris died 1 July 1964 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 October 1881 in Nash County to Matthew Harris and Tempie Copplege; was married to Hattie Harris; was a farmer; and resided at 1008 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson. Informant was Nathaniel Harris, Elm City.

Many, many thanks to Shearer Bridges, a great-granddaughter of Matthew and Tempie Fogg Harris, for sharing these wonderful family photographs. They stand as important documentation of Wilson County’s African-American heritage.


  1. This is my family. I see my great grandmother, my mother Ada Harris-Christian, my grandmother Martha Powell Harris, my grandfather Alus Harris and other family members. Can you please tell me where you got this information?

    1. The photos come courtesy of Shearer Bridges, who is descended from Matthew and Tempie Harris. The information about the family is derived from public records, including censuses, marriage and death records. (I went to school with your nephew V.S., by the way, and also know your sister J.C.)

  2. Well, Well this is V.S.’s father Vernon, I enjoyed these photos and information, my sister Jackie put all this information and the photos and many more in a book she did in 2006. Contact Jacqueline Pritchett 714 Bethnal Road Baltimore Maryland 21229. She will probably send you more info than you’ll ever need.

    1. Wow! What a treasure your family has maintained! These are wonderful images, and among the best I’ve seen for a Wilson County African-American family. (And what a coincidence to hear from you. I got a text from V.S. just last night. He told me that he had seen a broadcast of my brief speech at the opening of the Freeman Round House Museum while he was home for Thanksgiving.)

  3. Hi Lisa, thank you so much for posting the pix and the info. I thought our family had been forgotten in Wilson. We have so much info. Our DNA was even done with the Harris family on my mother’s side and the DVD of our African ancestry was seen at our family reunion years ago. Our ancestry was done by Henry Louis Gates. Jacqueline Christian-Pritchett, our oldest sister orchestrated all of the information listed and photos. I am elated to see them at My daughter is always checking out your site. She was excited to see our family and history. We will have to find our relative Shearer Bridges soon. She is probably a Harris.
    Thank you so very,very much!!!

    1. Wow! I’m always happy when my posts “find” their families! Shearer is descended from Sidney and Hattie Harris’ daughter Emma. I’m sure she’d love to connect. (She and I are related on her father’s side.) I’d be happy to pass along your contact info.

  4. Lisa where did you get our family photos. I am the great granddaugher of tempy and matthew harris. It took me 7 yrs to collect our history and put this together. Martha and alus harris only had 1 child ada who was my mom
    I am the only one that has the family photos.

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