Monday, August 4, 2014

52 Ancestors: #20 --Mary Jane Williams Harrison



I am still participating in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge put forth by Amy Johnson Crow of the blog No Story Too Small. If you aren't familiar with the challenge be sure to check out her blog. I am a bit behind on this prompt but I figure, I will just keep doing the best I can about getting these posts out there.

I wish I knew as much about my 2nd great grandmother, Mary Jane Williams Harrison, as I know about her husband Thomas Duke Harrison. Someone out there in the cyber-universe may know something so that's why I wrote this post. Maybe my words might find them.

First, let me tell you I had a bit of  luck with Mary, when the 1940 Federal Census was released. My ancestor was one of the people chosen to answer the supplementary questions. Here's a copy of the form:


Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Source Citation: Year: 1940; Census Place: New Bern, Craven, North Carolina; Roll: T627_2894; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 25-20.

Items of interest from this section:

Name:  Mary Harrison
Father:  John Williams
Mother Bettsie Smith
Age at first marriage:  16

The data from this section corroborated some of the information the death certificate for Mary Williams Harrison.  Her death certificate listed her parents as a John and Elizabeth Williams both of Wilmington, NC. The informant on Mary's death certificate was her eldest daughter Elizabeth Harrison Reynolds so I had a pretty good feeling about the validity of the information. Usually oldest children know a little bit more about their parents than subsequent siblings. Still, Elizabeth didn't know her grandmother's maiden name. Also, was her own mother's place of birth correctly listed as Wilmington, NC on the death certificate or was it something else? 


Source Information:  Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Again the 1940 Federal Census was a blessing because it provided another clue.



She was born in Sampson County, NC! Thank you 1940 census.

So with that piece of information, I think am now able to trace her movement from Sampson County to Wilmington, and then finally to New Bern.

I believe she was born on or around  May 10, 1870 in Clinton, Sampson County, NC and I think this may be her listed on the 1870 census with her mother.


 Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Clinton, Sampson, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1159; Page: 192A; Image: 388; Family History Library Film: 552658.

Mary's mother, Betsey/Elizabeth was listed working as a cook for the family of Nathan and Julia Bell. It was noted that little Mary was born in May 1870. With no sign of John Williams listed in the census pages before and after Betsey, it brought to mind the question, "Was John Williams really Mary's father? Hmm.

This may be John and Betsy Williams on the 1880 Federal census in Wilmington, NC. Where's Mary? Could Mary have been living with another relative or perhaps with someone she worked for?


Source Information: Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Wilmington, New Hanover, North Carolina; Roll: 974; Family History Film: 1254974; Page: 145A; Enumeration District: 146; Image: 0527.

Mary Jane Williams married the Rev Thomas Duke Harrison on June 14, 1887. Their marriage license you can view on my post, Amanuensis Monday On Tuesday: Thomas Duke Harrison and Mary J. Williams Marriage Certificate. On the license it was noted that Mary's parents were a John and Betsy Williams and that they were deceased.  Were they really deceased at the time?  I had found some of the information on the marriage license to be incorrect. For example, it was written that T. D. Harrison's father went by the same name as his son. Thomas's father was actually a Simon Harrison. On the license it was also noted that parents of Mary J. Williams were deceased. The reason why I think that this may be incorrect is shown on the 1900 Federal census. Who's living next to the Harrisons in Wilmington in 1900?


Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Source Citation: Year: 1900; Census Place: Wilmington Ward 5, New Hanover, North Carolina; Roll: 1208; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 0078; FHL microfilm: 1241208.

It's hard to see but it shows a John Williams and a Bettie Williams enumerated just after T. D. Harrison and his wife Mary. Grandparents do have a tendency to want to be near their grandchildren. I am just saying. :)

In any event this is where the trail for John and Betsy/Elizabeth Williams runs cold. I have a feeling my 3rd great grandparents died sometime between 1900 and 1919 because their daughter made the move to New Bern by 1919.

Mary Williams Harrison would go on to have 9 children with T. D. Harrison. They were Elizabeth, Mary Ellen, John Thomas, Charlie Lee, Sophia, Lilian,William Arthur, Edward, and Varina.


The family resided in an area of the city called Duffyfield. The original address was 37 Lincoln Street but when addresses were eventually updated in New Bern, the street number was changed to 1510. 


Image courtesy of Google Earth

1510 Lincoln St, New Bern, NC

Mary Jane Williams Harrison died December 28, 1943. She was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in New Bern, NC.

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