Ojetta C. Harrison, Saint Aug freshman.

Ojetta C. Harrison was listed in the freshman class of Saint Augustine’s College in 1936-37. She does not appear in subsequent school catalogs.


In the 1930 census of Bailey township, Nash County: farmer Ellie W. Harris, 45; wife Rosa A., 44; and children Carrie L., 21, William E., 19, Ojetta, 18, Lila M., 16, Ethel M., 14, Mattie E., 13, Robert H., 10, Jessie L., 10, Beatrice, 8, George L., 6, and Hellin J., 2. Ellie, Rosa, and their four oldest children were born in South Carolina; Ethel in Virginia; and the remaining in North Carolina.

On 25 November 1937, Ojetta C. Harrison, 25, married Fred D. Palmer, 25, in Washington, D.C. She remained in D.C. the rest of her life.

Shaw ’49.

From the 1949 edition of The Bear, the yearbook of Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina:

  • Helen Jean Harrison

In the 1930 census of Bailey township, Nash County: farmer Ellie W. Harris, 45; wife Rosa A., 44; and children Carrie L.,21, William E., 19, Ojetta, 18, Lila M., 16, Ethel M., 14, Mattie E., 13, Robert H., 10, Jessie L., 10, Beatrice, 8, George L., 6, and Hellin J., 2. Ellie, Rosa, and their four oldest children were born in South Carolina; Ethel in Virginia; and the remaining in North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 303 Lane Street, Eli Harrison, 56, mechanic helper in “carpentering”; wife Rosa, 54, tobacco factory laborer; and children Ethel, 23, Jessie, 19, Beatrix, 17, Leroy, 16, and Helen, 12. Eli, Rosa and Ethel Harrison was South Carolina-born; the others, North Carolina.

  • Claretha Jones

1110 Hines Street.

The one hundred-fifth 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: “ca. 1930; 1 1/2 stories; bungalow with gabled roof and dormer; shingled gables; fine example of the side-gable bungalow in E. Wilson.” The house was originally 1110 Wainwright Avenue. County property tax records show that the house was built in 1940.


In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pridgen Jas H (c; Meta) gro 1218 E Nash h 1110 Wainwright Av

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harrison Eli W (c; Rosa) Jones Constn Co h 1110 Wainwright Av

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2018.

Philis can choose whom she will live with.

In the name of God Amen

I Jethro Harrison of the County of Nash & State of North Carolina on this 20th Day of April in the year of our Lord 1811, do Make and ordaine Publish & Declare this to be my Last Will and Testement In manner and form following Viz.

Item  I give unto my son William Harrison five Hundred acers of land that I bought of William & Jethro Philips, a line to be Run East and West so as to leave that Number of acers North of my Manner Plantation; one Negro Man namd Dick and one Brandey Still to him and his heirs forever.

Item  I give unto my son Jethro Harrison the Land and Plantation whereon I Now live as far as the south pronge of the Spring Branch one negro woman namd Grace and one Brandey Still that is set up on the lands one horse bridle and sadle two cows three Ewes and two Lambs two sows and piggs one fetheur Beed and furniture and the Boefutt that is in the house to him and his heirs forever.

Item  I give unto my son Dempsey Harrison the Lands that I Bought of John Sanders and all the Remainder of my Land not as yet given a Line to be Run up the Afore sd. Spring Branch to my Back Line and one negro man namd Dave and my Blacksmith tools to him and his heirs forever.

Item  I give unto my Daughter Nancy Horn one Negro Boy that she has in her procession namd Ben and one Negro woman namd Hannah to hur and hur heirs forever.

Item  I give unto my Daughter Polly Grice one Negro boy that she has in her possession namd Hardey and one Negro woman namd Ginney to hur and hur heirs forever.

Item  I give unto my Daughter Temperance Holden one Negro girl that she has in her Possession namd Silvea and one negro boy namd Washington to hur and hur heirs forever.

Item  I give unto my Daughter Elizebeth Harrison one Negro Woman namd Seleth and one Negro Boy named Jacob, two cows & calves, three ewes and lambs, one bed and furniture to her and her heirs forever.

Item  I give unto my Daughter Milbreay Harrison one Negro woman namd Jane and one Negro man namd Jack three ewes and lambs two cows and calves one beed and furniture to her and her heirs forever.

Item  I give unto my Two Grandsons James & Jethro Ricks sons of my Daughter Morning Ricks Dsd. Fiftey Dollars each to be all that I now give them or hereafter them and their heirs forever.

I likewise give unto my two daughters Elizebeth and Milbreay one Negro girl named Sarah to be divided Equaly among them.

My will is that my old Negro Woman named Philis be at Liberty to choose which of my children she will live with and if it is thought she is not able to Work sufficient to maintain her self that the one she chuseth to live with shall be allowed a sum of money out of my estate for the support of sd. negro during her Life time.

My will and desire further is that after my Just Debts and Leguces be paid that the Remainder of my property be Equley divided among all my Children then Living.

My will further is that Henry Atkins William Horn and William Moore or any Two of them be Appinted to attend the sale of my property and bid of such of my property as they may think proper for my two daughters that is underage Elizabeth & Milbray Harrison & not to be liable to any loss for any stock or any other article that they may bid of for sd. daughters and I do hereby constitute ordain and appoint my son William Harrison Charles Coleman and William White my whole and sole Executors of this my Last Will and Testament Ratifying this and no other to be my last Will and Testament in Wintness Whereof Thence I have herunto set my hand and seal the Day and Date Above Writing. /s/ Jethro Harrison {seal}

Signed Sealed and delivered by the Sd. Jethro Harrison the Testator in the Presence of us who were Presence at the Time of Sealing & Delivery of Same    Hardy Horn, Willis (X) Morriss, Roxanne (X) Brantley


Jethro Harrison’s land was in what is now Wilson County.

North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], Ancestry.com.

I was seven years old when the Surrender was.

WPA writer Samuel S. Taylor interviewed Martha Ruffin, age 80, 1310 Cross Street, Little Rock, Arkansas. (He also interviewed her husband Thomas Ruffin, born in Franklin County, North Carolina. The couple were one of dozens of Wilson County families that migrated to Arkansas in the 1880s and ’90s.)

“I was born in North Carolina, and I was seven years old when the Surrender was. Every one of my children can tell you when they was born, but I can’t. My mother, Quinettie Farmer was her name. Brother Robert Farmer is my cousin. He is about the same age as my husband. He got married one week and me and my husband the next. My father’s name was Valentine Farmer. My grandmother on my mother’s side was Mandy Harrison, and my grandfather’s name on my mother’s side was Jordan Harrison. My grandpa on my father’s side was named Reuben Farmer, and his wife was Nancy Farmer. I have seed my grandpa and grandma on my father’s side. But my mother didn’t see them on my mother’s side.

“I ‘members my daddy’s white folks’ names, Moses Farmer. My father never was sold. My daddy, Valentine Farmer, was a ditcher, shoemaker, and sometimes a farmer. My mother was a house girl. She washed and ironed. I couldn’t tell exactly what my grandparents did. My grandparents, so my parents told me, were mostly farmers. I reckon Moses Farmer owned about three hundred slaves.

“I was born on Robert Bynum’s place. He was my mother’s owner. He married one of the Harrison girls and my mother fell to that girl. My mother done just about as she pleased. She didn’t know nothin’ about workin’ in the field till after the Surrender.

“The way my mother and father happened to meet — my old master hired my daddy to do some work for him and he met my mama that way.

“The way my folks learned they was free was, a white school-teacher who was teaching school where we stayed told my mother she was free, but not to say nothing about it. About three weeks later, the Yankees come through there and told them they was free and told my old boss that if he wanted them to work he would have to hire them and pay them. The school-teacher stayed with mother’s folks — mother’s white folks. The school-teacher was teaching white folks, not n*ggers. She was a Yankee, too. My mother was the house girl, and the school-teacher stayed with her folks. The War was so hot she couldn’t git no chance to go back home.

“My daddy farmed after the War. He farmed on shares the first year. The next year, he bought him a horse. He finally owned his own farm. He owned it when he died. He had about one hundred acres of land.

“I have pretty fair health for an old woman like I am. I am bothered with the rheumatism. The Lawd wouldn’t let both of us git down at the same time. (Here she refers to her husband who was sick in bed at the time she made the statement. You have his story already. It was difficult for her to tell her story, for he wanted it to be like his.  — Ed.)

“I belong to the Primitive Baptist Church. I haven’t changed my membership from my home.

“I got married in 1882, in February. How many years is that? I got so I can’t count up nothin’. Fifty-six years. Yes, that’s it; that’s how long I been married. I had a little sister that got married with me. She didn’t really git married; she just stood up with me. She was just a little baby girl. They told me I was pretty near twenty-three years old when I married. I have a daughter that’s been married twenty-five years. We had older daughters, but that one was the first one married. I have got a daughter over in North Little Rock that is about fifty years old.

“Her husband is dead. We had ten children. My daughter is the mother of ten children too. She got married younger than I did. This girl I am living with is my baby. I have four children living — three girls and one boy. A woman asked me how many children I had and I told her three. She was a fortuneteller and she wanted to tell me my fortune. But I didn’t want her to tell me nothin’. God was gittin’ ready to tell me somethin’ I didn’t want to hear. I’ve got five great-grandchildren. We don’t have no great-great-grandchildren. Don’t want none.”

Interviewer’s Comment

The old lady’s style was kind of cramped by the presence of her husband. Every once in a while, when she would be about to paint something in lurid colors, he would drop in a word and she would roll her phrases around in her mouth, so to speak, and shift and go ahead in a different direction and on another gear.

Very pleasant couple though — with none of the bitterness that old age brings sometimes. The daughter’s name is Searles.


In 1866, Reuben Dew and Nancy Farmer swore to their 52-year cohabitation before a Wilson County justice of the peace, thereby legitimating their marriage.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Vance [Valentine] Farmer, 40, wife Quinnie, 30, and children Clara, 13, Patsey [Martha], 11, Isaac, 10, Nancy, 8, Leah, 6, and Mattie, 2. Also, in Wilson township: Reuben Farmer, 68, wife Nancy, 71, and Luke Farmer, 11.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Bullie [“Vallie”] Farmer, 50, wife Qunnia, 46, and children Patsie, 21, Isaac, 20, Nannie, 18, Lera, 16, Mattie, 10, Caroline, 8, Bettie, 6, Mary J., 4, Charles, 3, and Sarah E., 2, plus Nancy Farmer, 90.

On 5 February 1882, Vaul Farmer, 52, married Mary E. Ruffin, 43, in Wilson County. On 19 March 1882, in the town of Stantonsburg, Robert Farmer, 19, married Marinda Bynum, 18. I have not found Martha Farmer Ruffin’s marriage record.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Valintine Farmer, 70, wife Mary, 58, children Mattie, 30, Elizabeth, 26, Mary J., 24, and Elizar, 22, son-in-law Charly Freeman and daughter Carolina. All did farm work except Elizabeth, who was a cook, and Elizar, who was a schoolteacher. Meanwhile, in Brodie, Pulaski County, Arkansas: North Carolina-born Thomas Ruffin, 48, his North Carolina-born wife Patsie, 42, and children Wiley, 14, Marina, 12, James, 10, Mammie, 8, and Lucy, 4. The last two children were born in Arkansas.

Valentine Farmer made out his will the following spring, and his estate went into probate in 1906:

North Carolina, Wilson County  }  I, Valentine Farmer, of the aforesaid County and State, being of sound mind, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence, do make and declare this my last will and testament.

First: My executor hereinafter named, shall give my body a decent burial, and pay all funeral expenses, together with all my Just debts out of the first money which may come into her hands belonging to my estate.

Second: I give to my daughter Clary Batts, the wife of Amos Batts, and Patsy Ruffin, the wife of Thomas Ruffin, the sum of one dollar each.

Third: I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Mary Eliza Farmer, during her lifetime or widowhood, my entire estate, both real and personal.

Fourth: At the death or marriage of my wife, I give and bequeath to my four daughters, hereinafter named — Mattie Farmer, Elizabeth Farmer, Mary Jane Farmer and Sarah Eliza Farmer, all of my personal property of whatsoever kind.

Fifth: At the death or marriage of my wife, I give and bequeath to my children hereinafter named, viz: Nannie Farmer, Louvenia Farmer, Elizabeth Farmer, Mary Jane Farmer, Charlie Farmer and Sarah Eliza Farmer all of my real estate.

Sixth: I hereby constitute and appoint my wife Mary Eliza Farmer my lawful executor to all intents and purposes to execute this my last will and testament, according to the true intent and meaning thereof; hereby revoking and declaring void all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made.

In witness whereof, I, the said Valentine Farmer, do hereunto set my hand and seal this 9th day of April, 1901.   Valentine (X) Farmer

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said Valentine Farmer to be his last will and testament in the presence of us, who at his request and in his presence do subscribe our names as witnesses thereto   /s/ E.O. McGowan, W.H. Dixon

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers Project, 1936-1938, Arkansas Narratives, Volume 2, Part 6. Federal Writers Project, United States Work Projects Administration; Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.