If you have been following my blog recently then you know I have gone back to looking at my Harrison family line. Simon Harrison was my 3rd great grandfather on my mother's side. For a recap on his life you may want to check out this post: What I'm Reading Right Now: Crafting Lives --By Catherine W. Bishir. One of the things I highlighted on that post was Simon's occupation on the 1870 Federal Census which was listed as "watchman." What was he watching? Hmmm. Google to the rescue.
Images courtesy of Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Stockholders
of the Atlantic & North Carolina R.R. Co, June 30, 1870
Simon was employed by the Atlantic & North Carolina Rail Road Company. He earned $40.00 per month for his work as a watchman. It turns out that Moses Bryan, a member of the United Brotherhood Society like Simon, also worked for the railroad. So now I have a bit more to work with on Simon. Time to see if I can find out more about the railroad company he worked for.
Image courtesy of A New Bern Album: Old photographs of New Bern, North Carolina and the surrounding countryside by John B. Green III. Photo from the John A Clark Jr. Papers, East Carolina Manuscript Collection. Picture circa 1890.
Two Sundays ago, while reading Crafting Lives by Catherine Bishir I had one of those moments when your heart drops and you can't help but feel incredible sadness for those who suffered the indignities of slavery. You would think it was because I read a narrative about something terrible that happened to someone or seeing people listed as property in a will. It was nothing like that. It was something very simple. From page 154
Image courtesy of Crafting Lives, by Catherine Bishir
Sketch map of New Bern, 1864. Drawn by C. A. Nelson
This sketch drawing gives a depiction of key buildings that stood in New Bern in 1864. So what moved me so. I will show you.
This simple notation of where the slave market was located in 1860 just moved me to tears. This was that place...that dreadful place where some of my ancestors were bought and sold as property.
What does this spot look like now?
Image courtesy of Google Maps.
New Bern, NC 2013
Street view 2013:
Image courtesy of Google Maps
Straight ahead where the car is waiting at the intersection is approximately where the slave market would have been. On a side note, when my maternal great grandfather John T. Harrison was a young man, he used to work at one of Caleb Bradham's Pharmacies in New Bern. There were two locations, one of which is now the Chelsea Restaurant which is shown on the corner on the left. If this is the location where my great grandfather worked, I wonder what were his thought about this space he walked by each day on his way to work. What stories had he been told?
Or use any other historical (well known or otherwise) event
I am a child of the early 1970's. I thought a good starting point for this exercise would be to refer to the baby book my mother created for me when I was born. (Thanks Mom!) After 27 hours of labor, I was born via Cesarean section a month early at La Guardia Hospital in Queens, NY. These are some of the things she jotted down in the book about the year I was born. Public officials: Mayor Lindsey, President Nixon Clothing styles: layered look for women, Men --wide leg pants, high heeled shoes. Signs of the times: Apollo 17 to the moon, Viet Nam War concluding. Long hair worn by men and women. Here are a couple of the movies that came out that year that I was born. I've only seen them in bits and pieces of over the years but after looking at the trailers today, I am going to make a point to sit down and watch them from start to finish. They are both classics and it would do me some good to see them with grown up eyes now.
Lady Sings The Blues
Music: Songs playing on the radio were Bill Wither's "Lean on Me", Don McLean's "American Pie", Roberta Flack's "The First Time I Saw Your Face" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together.
Books: One of my favorite children's books that I remember reading when I was child was published the year I was born.
I've been reading in my spare time Catherine W. Bishir's, Crafting Lives: African American Artisans in New Bern, North Carolina, 1770--1900. This recently released book provides wonderful insight into what the lives of freed people of color and slave artisans were like from one of my ancestral places.
I only found out about this book due to a recent Google search I did. I was attempting to learn more about a fraternal order my 3rd great grandfather was associated with in New Bern, NC called the United Brotherhood Society. I used "United Brotherhood Society" and "New Bern" as my search terms and Bishir's book came up showing a mention of the group in the index of her book.
Here's a little background on my 3rd great grandfather Simon
A couple of years back, I learned that Simon Harrison was listed as president of a Charitable Society, according to an entry I found in the Freedman's Bank Records.
Source Information: Ancestry.com. Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1871 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865-1874. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Micropublication M816, 27 rolls.
No: 3840 Record for Charitable Society
Date, October 15, 1873
Remarks: Simon Harrison President, David Williams, Secty, Lifford Brown, Treas, Wm F. James, Attorney, Moses T. Bryan are on the committee with the other three to draw this money
Signature, William F James
That "Charitable Society" turned out to be the United Brotherhood of New Bern, NC. Earlier this year I signed up for a subscription to Newspapers.com and ever since then I've been putting that subscription to good use. I was able to find a couple newspaper postings mentioning Simon and this particular society.
Page 4 of The New Berne Times, June 26, 1874
The purpose of the society, I have yet to determine but I do know that many of those who were listed on the act incorporate it in 1874 were affiliated with the Methodist church and were also woodworkers by trade. When I purchased the book, Crafting Lives, I was really and truly hoping maybe there might be a mention of my Simon somewhere within it or perhaps maybe some more details about this specific organization. Well, that was not to be the case. No Simon and only one brief mention of the organization. The book has helped me get a better sense of what he was like through another way. There are a few individuals mentioned in Crafting Lives, who were in the same social circles as him. By learning about their lives, I have gleamed a little bit more about what the life of my Simon Harrison must have been like.
To get a better understanding of what I am talking about, take a look first at the act to incorporate the "United Brotherhood."
From The Laws and Resolutions of the State of North Carolina,
Passed by the General Assembly at Its Session 1873--1874
Virgil A Crawford and Edward R Dudley are mentioned quite a bit in the book. There are also brief mentions of some of the other individuals listed above.
Reading Crafting Lives, motivated me to look over what I already knew about Simon and to finally inquire about what became of him.
This is what I knew:
On his son Thomas Duke Harrison's death certificate, it listed Simon Harrison and Sophia Boyd as parents. The informant on this document was Thomas' wife Mary, so I feel fairly confident that this information is correct.
A marriage record in the "North Carolina, Marriages, 1759-1979," index for Simon Harrison and Rosanna Smith, Aug. 11, 1866. (Probably a second marriage after Sophia Boyd died, I am speculating.)
1870 and 1880 Federal Census Entries.
Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line].
I believe that Simon and his wife Rosanna are listed living at dwelling #49 and that the census taker took down his name incorrectly, listing him as Samuel. His occupation was a watchman. Note, that I have highlighted the names of two other members of the United Brotherhood Society, Edward R. Dudley and Bristow Latham who were living nearby at the time.
Source Information: Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.
For the year 1880, Simon's last name was written down as Harris, again what I believe to be another error on the part of the census taker. He is still with his wife Rosanna but his occupation changed to a sailor. The street he resided on was Jerkins Alley which goes along with what I found in the 1880 Chas. Emerson & Co.'s Newbern City directory.
Image courtesy of Chas. Emerson & Co.'s Newbern City directory (1880)
What became of him? Why wasn't he in Crafting Lives when his contemporaries were? Did something happened to him to cut his life short?
Well the answer is yes.
Thanks to Victor T Jones Jr., Special Collections Librarian at New Bern-Craven County Public Library, I now know what happened to Simon.
The library in New Bern has the microfilmed interment books for Greenwood Cemetery (2 vols., covering 1882-1909) on State Archives microfilm #M441.40002 titled “Town of New Bern, Greenwood Cemetery, Record of Interment, 1882-1909, 2 Vols.”
Simon Harrison aged 58, died of a rupture in New Bern on November 3, 1883 and was buried on November 4, 1883 at Greenwood Cemetery in New Bern. He is at rest at the same cemetery as his son and grandson, Thomas Duke Harrison and John Thomas Harrison Sr.
So thanks again to Victor for your help and thank you Catherine W. Bishir for inspiring me to dig a little deeper.
For details about The Book Of Me, Written By You project created by Julie Goucher, of the Anglers Rest blog, please refer to to this link: http://www.anglers-rest.net/book-of-me-written-by-you.html This week’s prompt is Unexplained Memories Do you have an unexplained memory or memories? Items Places People Things and times you can remember, but you are not sure where they fit into your past. Hmm. You know honestly, I can't think of anything right now that fits this prompt. I've been putting off writing this one for a couple of weeks now, in the hopes of something actually popping up in my mind but so far I draw a blank. If I do think of something, I will come back and revisit this.