Harris

312 Finch Street.

The twenty-first in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “1941; 1 ½ stories; Benjamin Harris house; brick-veneered Tudor Revival dwelling built by Harris for his home; Harris was a brick mason; fine example of this style in district.”

This home has been continuously occupied by the family since its construction. For more about Benjamin A. Harris Sr., see here.

Photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, May 2017.

Drunk and froze to death.

North Carolina, Wilson County } The examination of Elisha Barnes, Roscoe Morris and Mima Barnes taken before the undersigned Coroner of said county, this 25th day of Feb’y, 1907, upon the body of Robert Barnes (col) then and there lying dead, to wit:

Elisha Barnes sworn says: He saw Robert Barnes (Col) about 4 P.M. Saturday or a little after, as he was passing Demus Harriss’ house about a ¼ mile from where he died. He appeared to be drunk. He was a drinking man. He was staggering & I saw him fall down. He started to come into the house but was advised to go on home. He had a bag on his shoulder. He made no complaint of being sick. The next time I saw him was Sunday morning about 9 oclock lying in road dead about ¼ mile from where I saw him the evening before. It was snowing very hard & was very cold Saturday evening. I know of no one that I think would have injured him and my opinion is that he fell down on account of being drunk & froze to death.   /s/ E. Barnes

Roscoe Morriss sworn says: Robert Barnes came with my & my brother from Wilson Saturday evening riding in our wagon. Didn’t complain of being sick. He was under influence of liquor when he left our house but could walk very well. He had about 2/3 of a pint of liquor with him when he left us. /s/ R.O. Morris

Mima Barnes sworn says: I am the wife of Robert Barnes, dec’d. He left home Saturday morning to go to Wilson. We lived about one mile from where he was found dead Sunday morning. He has had some trouble with Eddie Coleman (col), but I don’t know when it was. Mima (X) Barnes

/s/John K. Ruffin, Coroner.

Be it remembered that on this the 25th day of Feb’y 1907 I, John K. Ruffin, Coroner of the county of Wilson, attended by a jury of good and lawful men, viz: S.J. Watson, Jesse Taylor, W.R. Bryant, Jas. D. Barnes, G.W. Walls and J.M. Leeth, by me summoned for the purpose, according to law, after being by me duly sworn and impaneled, in the county aforesaid, did hold an inquest over the dead body of Robert Barnes (Col); and after examination into the facts and circumstances of the death of deceased, from a view of the corpse, and all the testimony to be procured, the said jury find as follows, that is to say,

That Robert Barnes came to his death Saturday night, Feby 23rd, from exposure to cold while under the influence of liquor. /s/ J.K. Leath, W.R. Bryan, J.D. Barnes, G.W. Walls, S.J. Watson, J.M. Taylor.

  • Robert and Mima Barnes — on 3 June 1892, Robert Barnes, 26, married Mima Barnes, 25, at Dr. Woodards’ in Black Creek, Wilson County.
  • Demus Harris
  • Eddie Coleman — perhaps, in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Coleman, 28, wife Harriet, 26, children Henrietta, 4, Lear, 2, and Eddie, 9 months, plus Molly Strickland, 7. In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Eddie Coleman, 20, and wife Emma, 22.

Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Applications for military headstones, no. 1.

  • John Melton

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In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: John Melton, 42, wife Lucy, 45, sons John, 16, and Samuel A., 13.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: John Melton, 51, wife Lucy, 55, son Johnnie Jr., 24, boarder James Dudley, 20, and grandson Sam Melton, 12.

On 29 October 1917, John Melton, 26, of Wilson, married Cora Barnes, 25, of Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Linnie Wilson, M.H. Wilson, and Lorena E. Gregg.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house carpenter John Melton, 28, wife Cora, 26, with son Robert O., 1, and cousin Della Griswill, 24.

  • Albert Battle

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On 28 December 1917, Albert Battle, 31, of Wayne County, son of Albert and Annie Battle, married Hannah Pate, 30, of Stantonsburg, daughter of John and Vinie Pate, in Wilson County. Rev. S.J. Brown, a Freewill Baptist minister, at P.P. Barnes’ house in Stantonsburg in the presence of Smithie Barnes, P.P. Barnes, and Rosa Battle.

In the 1920 census of Great Swamp, Wayne County: Albert Battle, 33, wife Hannah, 31, and daughter Linday, 12, on Pikeville and Fremont Road.

In the 1930 census of Great Swamp, Wayne County: Albert Battle, 43, wife Hannah, 39, sister-in-law Smythia, 45, nieces and nephews Odie, 18, Flossie M., 17, Hettie B., 10, Beatrice, 7, Viola, 6, and James O. Battle, 3.

Albert Battle died 19 March 1936 in Fremont, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 March 1886 in Edgecombe County to Albert Battle and Dossie Ann Drake; worked as a laborer; was married; and was buried in Wilson. Hannah Battle of Fremont was informant.

  • Larry Hooks

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In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Larry Hooks, 20, listed a prisoner in the county stockade on Wiggins Mill Road.

Lary Hooks, 27, registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 10 May 1890 in Fremont, North Carolina, and worked as a “convict on road” in the Nashville road district. He was married and described as medium height and stout with brown eyes and black hair.

Larry Hooks died 3 August 1936 in Wilson’s Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was married to Sarah Hooks; was born about 1890 in Wayne County to Charlie Hooks and Melvina Reid of Wayne County; and worked as a common laborer. Charlie Hooks of Elm City, North Carolina, was informant.

  • Willie Gay

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In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Emma Gay, 35, and children Charlie, 15, steam mill worker, Mary, 11, Etheldred, 8, and Willie, 6, plus boarder Fannie Thompson, 19, cook.

On 8 January 1894, Willie Gay, 18, son of Charles and Emma Gay, married Mary Bunn, 21, daughter of Dick and Mary Bunn, at Willie Gay’s house in Wilson. Presbyterian minister L.J. Melton performed the ceremony in the presence of W.M. Phillips, L.A. Moore, and C.C. Williams.

Probably, in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer William Gay, 26, a widower, living alone.

On 29 October 1902, Willie Gay, 27, married Mary Johnson, 22, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Cain Artis, Chas. S. Thomas, and Robt. E. Artis.

On 23 March 1906, William Gay, 33, son of Charles and Emma Gay, married Augustus McNeil, 30, daughter of Peter and Emily Patterson of Fayetteville, North Carolina, at William Gay’s house in Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performs the ceremony in the presence of J.E. Fanner, Robert Stricklin, and Charlie Fain.

Possibly, in the 1940 census of Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City County, Virginia: Willie Gay, 66, born in North Carolina, patient at Veterans Administration facility.

N.B.: Gay, who served 1898-99, was a veteran of the Spanish American War.

  • Robert Crocker Harris

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In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1018 Wainwright Street, farmer Moses Dupree, 50; wife Henrietta, 48, nurse for private family; grandson Robert Harris, 8; and roomer Virginia Humphreys, 54, cosmetics peddler.

In 1942, Robert Crocker Harris registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. His draft card reports that he was born 6 June 1922 in Wilson County; resided at 1018 Wainwright Street; listed Henriette Dupree of that address as his contact person; and worked as a tobacco farm aide.

Robert Croker Harris died 21 June 1952 in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 June 1922 in Wilson County to Willie Harris and Smithie Dupree; was married; worked as an orderly at Duke Hospital; and resided at 613 Fayetteville Street. Detective W.H. Upchurch was informant. Cause of death: “Abdominal hemorrhage; two pistol shot wounds of back; shot while being arrested for disorderly conduct & resisting arrest — officer exonerated by grand jury.”

Shrewd, pugnacious, saucy, intelligent Negro gives advice.

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Wilson Advance, 11 June 1891.

  • Charles H. Darden
  • Susie Harris — Susie J. Harris, age illegible, married James J. Wilson, 23, on 5 January 1893 in Wilson. L.J. Melton, Presbyterian minister, performed the ceremony at the Baptist church in the presence of M.H. Cotton, S.H. Vick, and Edmund Pool. In the 1910 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: clergyman James J. Wilson, 43; wife Susie, 43, a schoolteacher; and children Mattie M., 13, Frank T., 11, Nannie R., 8, Charles E., 6, and Ophelia, 4. In the 1920 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: Presbyterian minister James J. Wilson, 52; wife Susie J., 52; and children Frank T., 20, Nannie R., 18, a teacher, Charles E., 16, Ophelia A., 13, and Lena, 8. Susie J. Wilson died 13 October 1925 in Wadesboro, Anson County. Per her death certificate: she was 57 years old; was born in Wilson to Jas. Harris and Nancy Hill; was married to Rev. J.J. Wilson; and worked as county superintendent for the North Carolina Board of Education. Informant was F.T. Wilson, 213 Oakwood Drive, Orange, New Jersey.
  • Charles H. Bynum

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The Messenger and Intelligencer (Wadesboro), 1 May 1919.

They intended to kill him if powder would burn.

Loney Brooks sworn says:

The frolick was at Mr Aycocks place Saturday night I think Xmas week I saw Carroll Harriss in the House & there was a brick thrown in the house. I ran outside & saw Carroll Harriss running & shooting in the direction of some one that fell & I heard Carroll Harriss & John Whitaker say it was Tobe Brooks & they intended to kill him if powder would burn.  Loney (X) Brooks

——

Fredrick Woodard sworn says: [blank]

——

Albert Woodard sworn says:

I was at the dance at Mr Aycocks on Saturday night before Christmas I think. I saw Addie Ford in the house as I walked from the fire place to the door Carroll Harriss stepped out of the door & as he stepped out of the door inside Charles Brooks & Tobe Brooks was near the door inside Charles started as if going out & I caught him by the arm & pulled him back and asked him what was the matter. He did not speak at first & I asked him again & he said that fellow cussed Buddie for a son of a bitch. I told Charles not to go out of the door if he did that fellow might shoot you for I saw the pistol in his hand (Carroll Harris hand). After that there was no more trouble for a while. After that some one hit Carroll Harriss with a brick while he was standing in the house. Carroll ran out of the house at the back door as if running at some one & shot off his pistol twice. I & others followed him & found Harris sitting down on the path with his hat off on the ground & the pistol on it. Some one asked him what was the matter & he replied that he was bleeding. Then I turned back & went to the house & left him & others there.   Albert (X) Woodard

——

Grant Brooks sworn says:

I was at the party at Aycock, on a Saturday night before Christmas & heard Carroll Harriss call Tobe Brooks a Damned son of a bitch & Jumped out of the door & I saw him draw his pistol. I heard nothing more. Am no relation.  Grant (X) Brooks

——

Izerick Brooks sworn says:

I was at the dance at Aycocks saw Carroll Harriss draw his pistol on Tobe Brooks & cussed him, dared him out of [illegible] doors, pretty soon after some one hit Carroll Harriss with a brick while he was in the house, then Carroll Harris ran out of the back door & shot at some one running & soon came back to the house & said to me that he was going to get Tobe Brooks for hitting him after that all was quiet.  /s/ Izeriah Brooks

——

Jack Woodard sworn says:

I was over there at Mr Aycocks last Wednesday a week ago the 23rd Dec 96 & the question arose among us concerning the trouble at the dance where Carroll Harriss was hit with a brick. I asked Carroll Harriss is he was hurt & he said he was, bad. I told him to go home & if he knew who it was hit him to indict him & let the law take its course & he said no I am going to get him. That is all I know about the trouble.   Jack (X) Woodard

——

Dora Woodard sworn says:

I was at Jack Woodards house (I live there with my father) I was sitting on the foot of the bed & Tobe Brooks was sitting on the other side by me & these men Carroll Harriss & John Whitaker came into the house & John Whitaker took a seat at the corner of the fire place & Carroll Harriss stood with his back to the fire. There was a [illegible] talking to this girl Tobe Brooks saw Harriss’s pistol in his hand & asked him what did he mean to do. I then jumped up started to the door in the meantime Harriss shot Tobe & by the time I got to the door he shot again. I called to Charly, Tobes brother & told him to come, that they were killing his brother then his brother ran in by me & I got out by the side of the door, looked back & saw Whitaker & Harriss have Tobe down on the the bed, heard one shot after I got out. I saw Charly run out of the house & Whitaker pursuing him with a pistol in his hand. I remarked to Whitaker if he was not ashamed to kill a man in a mans house & he replied that he was not that he had saved the Damned son of a bitch then I went back in the house & saw Tobe bleeding from a wound in the head & mouth. Both of Harriss & Whitaker had pistols one each in the house.    /s/ Dora Woodard

Dora & Julia Woodard are one and the same person

——

Maggie Brooks sworn says:

I was in Jack Woodards house when the shooting took place I was sitting on a chair by Tobe. He was sitting on the bed. Carroll Harriss was standing by the fire place with pistol in hand, pointed at Tobe Brooks. Tobe said Mr what do you mean? Harriss said nothing & then Tobe called his brother. Harriss shot or Whitaker I do not know which, Whitaker was sitting in corner of fire place. As soon as the shot was fired I ran under the bed betwixt Tobe’s legs. I then crawled out from under the bed & saw out of the doors & saw Harriss & Whitaker leave.  /s/ Maggie Brooks

——

George Bell sworn says:

On the evening of the 24th of Dec 96 I was in the Bar room of Luther Barnes at Black Creek & John Whitaker came to the door & called me out & asked me if I could tell him where Tobe Brooks lived. I said yes he lived on Frank Barnes’s place & he said for me to tell him that he was going to kill him a damned son of a bitch & turns to Harriss & ask (who came up about that time) when should they go. Harriss replied he did not care. Whitaker then said we will not go to night but will on Sunday. John Whitaker turned off & said that he would see me again but he did not.     /s/ Geo. C. Bell

——

Charles Brooks sworn says:

I was at the house of Jack Woodard the evening of the shooting of Tobe Brooks my brother. I was standing in the yard when I heard one or two shots. Dora Woodard called me & said: Come in they are killing your brother hearing also my brother Tobe calling me I ran in house, saw they have him down on the bed & shooting him. I jerked Harriss off & shot him & then I ran & some one shot me as U was running leaving the place going home.   Charles (X) Brooks

——

Leslie Brooks sworn says:

I was in Jack Woodards yard on the evening of the shooting of Tobe Brooks. I heard a pistol shot & ran in the house saw Carroll Harriss grab Tobe Brooks in the collar & slam him on the bed Whitaker holding Tobe by the shoulder at the same time, saw Harriss shoot Tobe in the face Whitaker firing also at that time Charles Brooks ran in grabbed Harriss off & shot him in the back of the neck. I then ran out doors, saw Charles running & Whitaker after him shooting him. Hearing John Whitaker saying I will kill the next son of a bitch leaving at the same time.   Leslie (X) Brooks

——

Jonas Woodard sworn says:

I was at my brother in laws John Woodard near the shooting Heard the shooting & saw them a crowd run out of Jack Woodards house & soon after Harriss & Whitaker came along. I asked John Whitaker if he had gone up there & killed Tobe & his reply was: We have killed the son of a bitch. I asked who did it & Whitakers reply was: Carroll Harriss. Jonas (X) Woodard

——

Augustus Woodard sworn says:

I was with some other boys out in the yard, saw Harriss & Whitaker come out of the house. Leslie Brooks was one of the boys with us, says Maggie Skinner(?) is talking, then Harris & Whitaker turns & goes back in the house & in about five minutes I heard a pistol shot & I ran to the door to see what was the matter. When I got there, saw Harriss & Whitaker standing over Tobe who was lying on the bed, hearing another shots & seeing pistols in the hands of both Harris & Whitaker. Then Charles Brooks ran in & shot Harriss & then ran out, then I ran to the kitchen, then John Whitaker followed Charles & shot him turning to join the house saying I will kill the other son of a bitch goes in gets his hat & leaves.  /s/ Augustus Woodard

——

Sarah [Susan written above] Woodard sworn says:

I live at Jethro Aycock’s place Carroll Harriss came to my house to have his wound washed. Pretty soon afterwards John Whitaker came said to Harriss make haste & lets go down to Jack Woodard & as soon as he had his head washed left with Whitaker in the direction of Jack Woodard’s returned that day Whitaker saying we have saved the son of a bitch.  Sarah (X) Woodard

——

Levinia Artis sworn says:

I went over to John Whitakers house on Sunday morning the day the shooting occurred. Whitaker was sitting in the corner of fire place thinking saying God damn it I believe I will get Harriss & go down there & kill him. Soon after Carroll Harriss came in & Whitaker said Harriss lets go down & get that damned son of a bitch & kill him. Harriss made no reply. They went off together  came back in the evening & John Whitaker said to me we have killed the son of a bitch & Carroll Harriss remarked they have shot me too.   Luvinia (X) Artis

——

Dr. H.R. Hoover —

I was called in to see Tobe Brooks on Dec 27th 1896 He was at Jack Woodards it was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I found him lying on the bed & there was a bullet wound on the left side of his forehead. There was blood & brain matter oosing from that wound. The face around the wound was backbend & burned from powder as I thought. I examined the wound as completely as possible & found that it was a fracture of the skull. I find that there was a bullet wound as I thought in the jaw but was not able to trace it. In regard to the wound in the skull I found the tissues very badly swollen. I washed the wound thoroughly & put cloth over it & called again Monday the 28th 96. His condition was unchanged so far as I could see. Called again 29th inst. with Dr. R.A. Smith who I called in for consultation. After finding the tissues had gone down we decided to cut in & see if we could not find the bullet. We made the incision & found the bullet had penetrated the skull & a portion of it we found just inside of the skull pressing on the brain & the other fragment lying in the brain. We removed the fragments we found washed the wound & dressed it.   /s/ H.R Hoover

——

Dr. R.A. Smith —

I saw Tobe Brooks with Dr. Hoover Tuesday Dec 29th 1896. I found him suffering with a gun shot wound he was suffering with gun shot wound in the forehead on the left side. The blood & brain were oosing from the wound. Dr. Hoover and I concluded to cut down on this wound & see if we could not find the bullet.I found a fragment of the bullet had passed through the skull & partly imbedded in the brain.Here the piece was shown. Found another piece shown imbedded in the fractured bone. Sewed the wound up & dressed it. The fracture in the skull was about three quarters of an inch.   /s/ R.A. Smith

——

Post Mortem Report

On January 4th 1897 We were requested by the Jury of inquest over the body of Tobe Brooks to make a Post Mortem examination. On opening the skull we found that a wound had been made by a bullet about 32 caliber about one inch above the left eye brow and a little over one inch to the left of the median line of the brain. The ball penetrated the brain backwards and downwards till it reached about the middle of the brain where it was found resting on the floor of the cranium. We believe that the wound produced by the bullet found in the brain was sufficient to cause the death of the deceased.  /s/ W.S. Anderson, H.R. Hoover

——

  • Loney Brooks
  • Carroll Harris — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cook Rhoda Harriss, 35, and sons Benjamin, 10, Edward, 7, and Carroll, 5, living in the household of white farmer Willie [Wiley] Daniel, 60. [Carroll’s nephew Benjamin Harris is featured here.]
  • John Whitaker
  • Tobe Brooks — in the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Brooks, 37, wife Lina, 35, and children Lewis, 17, Rachel, 15, Priscilla, 14, Samuel, 12, Abram, 9, Charles, 7, Lee, 5, and Toby, 3.
  • Albert Woodard — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Redick Woodard, 54, wife Agnes, 40, and children Izaih, 20, Harriet, 20, Shade, 13, Parker, 9, Ludwell, 5, and Albert, 1. Or, more likely, in the 1880 census of Black Creek township: Jack Woodard, 35, wife Cynthia, 32, and children John, 12, Julia, 7, Cynthia, 6, Albert, 5, and Aaron, 2.
  • Grant Brooks — in the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Grant Brooks, 31, wife Sallie, 24, and children Calvin, 5, Beater, 4, Harry, 2, and Annie, 1. (They are listed next-door to the household of Maggie Brooks, below.)
  • Izerick Brooks — see Albert Woodard, above.
  • John “Jack” Woodard — in the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jack Woodard, 35, wife Cynthia, 32, and children John, 12, Julia, 7, Cynthia, 6, Albert, 5, and Aaron, 2. In the 1900 census of Black Creek township: farmer Jackson Woodard, 56, wife Fannie, 53, children Daisy, 30, Aaron, 18, Harry, 19, Augustus, 17, Steven, 16, Mary, 11, and Harriet, 8, and grandchildren Eddie, 5, Bessie, 3, and Frank, 6 months.
  • Julia Dora Woodard — see above.
  • Maggie Brooks — in the 1900 census of Black Creek, Wilson County: farmer David Brooks, 45, wife Henrietta, 38, and children Maggie, 18, Minnie, 16, Alice, 13, Lizzie, 11, Bettie, 9, Tommie, 8, and Samuel, 2.
  • George Bell
  • Luther Barnes — in the 1900 census of Town of Black Creek, Black Creek township, Wilson County, Luther A. Barnes, 27, white, is listed as a saloon keeper.
  • Charles Brooks — on 9 January 1901, Charles Brooks, 26, son of Louis and Eveline Brooks, married Maggie Brooks, 19, daughter of Dave and Henrietta Brooks at Dave Brooks’ in Black Creek township. Witnesses were P.R. Brooks, Fred Woodard and C.F. Darden, all of Black Creek.
  • Leslie Brooks — Leslie Brooks died 12 October 1918 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1881 in Wilson County to Dave Brooks and Henrietta Peacock [see Maggie Brooks, above]; worked as a shoemaker; was single; and was buried in Brooks cemetery. Jno. Williams was informant.
  • Jonas Woodard — in the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jonas Woodard, 33, wife Edney, 30, and children Anna, 14, Grant, 11, Pauline, 5, Forest, 2, and Victoria, 1.
  • Augustus Woodard — see Jack Woodard, above.
  • Sarah Woodard
  • Levinia Artis
  • H.R. Hoover — the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County lists Henry R. Hoover, 36, physician.
  • R.A. Smith
  • W.S. Anderson — Dr. William S. Anderson

Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Benjamin A. Harris.

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As noted here, Benjamin Amos Harris was one of a small group of kinsmen, including Julius and Oliver Freeman, who traveled nearly 700 miles from Wilson to Alabama to attend Tuskegee Institute. He was awarded a certificate in May 1917, returned home, and established a bricklaying business that his sons carried on after his untimely death.

——

On 25 January 1894, Edwin Harris, 21, married Bettie Daniel, 21, at the residence of Amos Daniel.

In the 1900 census of Fremont township, Wayne County: day laborer Ed Harriss, 27, wife Bettie, 24, and children Benjamin A., 5, Roday [Rhoda], 4, and John H., 6 months.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Ed Harriss, 37, wife Bettie, 34, and children Benjamin, 15, Rhoda, 14, Johney, 10, Nanny, 9, Nicey and Vicey, 7, Edgar, 4, and Oscar and Roscar, 1.

Shortly after graduation from Tuskegee, Benjamin Amos Harris registered for the World War I draft. He reported to Eureka Precinct of the Wayne County Draft Board that he was born 16 October 1896 in near Fremont, Wayne County; that he resided in Stantonsburg [actually, at a Wayne County residence with a Stantonsburg address]; that he worked as a farm laborer for his father near Eureka, Wayne County; and was single. He was described as medium height and build with black hair and eyes. He signed his card “Benja Harris.”

Ed Harris died in Nahunta township, Wayne County, on 25 February 1918, perhaps while his oldest son Ben was away at war. Per his death certificate, he was born in Wayne County in 1872 to Sylvester Harris and Rhoda Daniel and worked as a farmer. He was buried at “A.D. Scott’s place.” Son John Harris was informant. Bettie Harris died eleven months later. Per her death certificate, filed in Wayne County, she was born 29 September 1875 in Wilson County to John Daniels and Millie Daniel. She too was buried at A.D. Scott’s place; son Ben A. Harris was informant.

On 14 March 1922, Benj. A. Harris, 25, married Pauline Artis, 20, in Nahunta township, Wayne County. She was the daughter of Noah and Patience Mozingo Artis.

The Harrises moved ten miles into Wilson shortly after their marriage. In the 1925 Wilson city directory: Harris Benj bricklyr h 407 Viola.

The National Register Historic Places registration form for East Wilson Historic District describes Ben Harris’ house this way: “1941.  1 1/2 stories.  Benjamin Harris house; brick veneered Tudor Revival dwelling built by Harris for his home; Harris was a brickmason; fine example of this style in district.” His descendants have lived in the house for 75 years.

Benjamin A. Harris died 15 May 1955.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 May 1955.

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Benjamin A. Harris’ grave at Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson.

Photograph of Harris courtesy of Ancestry.com user ladyjmcnow. Photo of grave by Lisa Y. Henderson.

The Matthew and Tempie Ann Harris family.

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Tempie Ann and Matthew Harris.

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

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Sidney Harris with Model T Ford.

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Alus, Martha and Ada Harris.

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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.

Thirty-sixth annual commencement: “Do not lose faith.”

Robert Russa Moton assumed the helm as president of Tuskegee Institute after Booker T. Washington‘s death. The first commencement over which Moton presided took place on 26 May 1917. Among the candidates for diplomas and certificates presented by Emmett Scott were Daniel Elijah Freeman (1896-1972) of Wilson, son of Julius and Eliza Daniels Freeman, and Benjamin Amos Harris (1894-1955) of Stantonsburg, son of Edward and Bettie Daniels Harris. Daniel and Benjamin were first cousins once removed (Bettie Daniels’ mother Millicent Daniels Daniels was Eliza Daniels Freeman’s sister) and were encouraged to attend Tuskegee by Daniel’s older brothers, O. Nestus Freeman, Julius F. Freeman Jr. and Ernest Freeman.

NYA 6 7 1917 Tuskegee

New York Age, 7 June 1917.

Scanselize her name.

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Wilson Advance, 5 March 1880.

“Disorderly conduct” was often a catch-all charge directed at many types of behavior deemed unruly, but not dangerous.

There was more:

7 23 1880

Wilson Advance, 23 July 1880.

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On 3 May 1875, in Wilson, Alexander Harris, 40, married Fanny Moody, 25.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street,  Virginia-born Fannie Moody,  35, “keeping house” with sons William, 11, and John, 8.

In the 1900 census of Washington, District of Columbia: at 2531-15th Street, waiter William Moody, 27; wife Sarah S., 24, a dressmaker; their children Augustus, 5, and Crist, 4; sister-in-law Minerva Vaughn, 10; mother-in-law Mittie Vaughn, 46, cook; and mother Fannie Harris, 55, cook. All were born in North Carolina. (William and Sarah’s Wilson County marriage license indicates that Fannie was already living in Washington when they married in 1892.)

In the 1920 census of Washington, District of Columbia: at 1032 Whittingham Place, paper hanger William Moody, 48; wife Sarah, 44; son Augustus, 26, hotel waiter; widowed daughter Christiana, 24; her children Lorine, 5, Robert W., 3, and Earl, 18 months; William’s mother Fanny Harris, 75; and lodger Hattie Carter, 12.

Probably the oldest person ever.

WDT 1 20 1915 C Harris obit

Wilson Daily Times, 20 January 1915.

Charity Harris‘ death certificate lists her age as 100, not 111.

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Census records point to a birthdate in about 1830, making her in fact closer to 85 when she died.

In the 1870 census, Wilson township, Wilson County: Joseph Harriss, 56; wife Charity, 40; and children Joseph, 18, Arch, 18, Charles, 15, Sarah, 19, Amanda, 15, Jane, 10, Lucy, 6, Abraham, 4, and Henry, 5 months.

In the 1900 census, town of Wilson, Wilson County: Charity Harriss, 90, with grandchildren Rufus, 18, and Bettie Crudup, 11.

In the 1910 census, Wilson township, Wilson County: James Harris, 28, Dora, 22, and Rosa, 1, with grandmother Cherady Harris, 80. Next door: Arch Harris, 56, Rosa, 51, and children Jessie, 15, Annie, 12, and James, 12. On the other side: Minus [Mintus] Woodard, 32, Sarah, 25, and children Hattie, 13, Etta, 11, Minus, 6, Charrady, 5, Lizzie, 4, Redman, 2, and Creesey, 2 months. [Mintus Woodard’s previous wife, Martha Harris, whom he married in 1899, had been the daughter of Arch and Rosa Harris. See this post about the accidental shooting death of Charity’s son Abraham Harris. Mintus was a witness in the coroner’s inquest.]