Sunday, July 31, 2011

Life Goes On.

Last night, I lost my mother in law. My husband lost his mother. She struggled for a very long time with the ravages of Alzheimer's disease and it truly is a blessing that she is free to be at rest. I may be away from the blogosphere for a few days. Just feeling kind of numb. I know this will pass though.

 June Kelleher (June 15, 1924--July 30, 2011)
 John "Jack" Kelleher (November 29, 1923--January 1, 1999)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thankful Thursday: My Step-Grandmother--Vadnie Harrison

 Vadnie Randolph Harrison
 (March 17, 1924--January 27, 1998)
I came across a picture earlier this year that was posted on my Auntie Wanda's facebook page. My Aunt Wanda is the daughter of my Step-Grandmother Vadnie Harrison and my Grandfather Lemuel Harrison. I always chuckle to myself when I refer to her as Auntie, because she is only a few months older than my brother. The picture was the first image of my Step-Grandmother that I had seen that was taken way before she became my grandma. What a lovely lady she was. I am so thankful to have had three grandmothers as a kid. Miss you Grandma :)

 Vadnie and Lemuel Harrison

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday---My Dove Connection

Grave-site of John T Harrison
Greenwood Cemetery, New Bern, NC

John Thomas Harrison Sr. (December 3, 1891--June 22, 1974)

Almost a year ago, I received the image of my great grandfather's grave via email from another very helpful researcher, Shirlee Brundage who is linked with the website Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK). Great site. If you haven't used it, you should check it out. Volunteers that are registered to the site  do a free genealogy research task at least once per month in their own local area as an act of kindness. I was hopeful that the gravesite and/or graves around it would provide me with more information about my Dove connection. According to my family, the original surname of the family was Dove, not Harrison. Initially, I was under the impression that Thomas Duke Harrison, John T Harrison's father, was the one who had changed the family name. Now, I am working under the theory that it was actually Thomas's father.

Here is the death certificate for Thomas Duke Harrison (click on image to enlarge)

According to his death certificate, Thomas Duke Harrison's parents were Simon D Harrison and Sophia Boyd.
I suspect that D in his name may be in reference to Dove. 

When I wrote to Shirlee via email, I asked her when she was at the cemetery did she see any graves around John T Harrison's that were of the last name Dove. She said there were lots of Doves. One of those graves she sent an image of because she thought it might be a relation. 

So far no connection, but one never knows.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thomas Duke Harrison's Other Deeds

On my last post I shared the deed that Thomas Duke Harrison, my 2nd great grandfather, had for the house he owned on 1510 Lincoln St. Along with that deed, I also received two others. I have to say I was excited to find out that my ancestor had purchased his house from William Sutton, a presiding elder of the Methodist Church in New Bern and president of the Eastern North Carolina Industrial Academy. Were the other properties linked to the same man?  Let's take a look.

This deed is dated December 23, 1919 (click on deed image to enlarge)

Part one:

Part two:

The land that is Lot 64 is directly adjacent to the deed for 1510 Lincoln St (Lot 65), so he was probably looking to have a yard large enough for his family.

Here's the next deed.

Part one

Part two:

Now when I saw this last deed saying it was in Mechanicsville, New Bern,  I got excited because I thought it may be in reference to the property for St. James Methodist Church for which he was pastor of at one point. I knew the church was once located in Mechanicsville. Though once I read though the details of the deed I found out this lot wasn't where St James Church was. Interesting note, I now know why this area of New Bern was called "Duffyfield". It appears the land in this section of the city was owned by the wealthy William C Duffy and his wife Marie Barron Duffy. They, as noted on the second deed, resided in New Haven, Connecticut.

Here's the Duffy family in New Haven, Connecticut on the 1930 Census.

With a home value of $25,000 at the time, I think it is fair to say they were well off.

Anyway back to the land. The last deed referred to land on Lot 304 in Mechanicsville. I figured out that Lot 304 is right on the corner of Raleigh and Garden St. There is a house that looks likes it was built maybe in the 1950's there now, so after my ancestor's lifetime. Why did my great great grandfather purchase this lot? And the digging continues....LOL!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Deed to 1510 Lincoln Street Reveals an Interesting Connection

My researcher friend from New Bern has been a tremendous help to me of late. She helped me locate the deeds for Thomas Duke Harrison. The first deed is for the house on Lincoln Street.

It turns out that William Sutton was a pretty impressive figure in the Methodist Church at the time. 
Here is an excerpt from a book called, "History of the American Negro and His Institutions. Vol 4" by Arthur Bunyan Caldwell.

It turns out that the Eastern North Carolina Industrial Academy was located on Williams St. The same street where the church where Thomas Duke Harrison was pastor of was located.  I will mention what I found regarding the other two deeds for "The Duke" on my next post.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rev. Thomas Duke Harrison--Part two.

I love using google maps to get a sense of what a neighborhood may have looked like back in the day.  On my last post I left off with the Rev. Thomas Duke Harrison and their arrival to New Bern. The family home is still standing at 1510 Lincoln St.

1510 Lincoln St, New Bern
July 2011

When I pulled up the overhead view of the address for the first time I found something very interesting.
(Click on image to enlarge.)

Thomas Duke Harrison's home is noted on the left of the image and then on the right I have a notation for the location of where St James AME Church once stood. Thomas was the pastor of this church according to the 1907-1908 Hill's Directory for the City of New Bern.  The address was later updated to 1016 Williams St when the numbering system changed in the 1930's. The thing I found the most interesting about this image was if you look at the intersection nearest to the church, the next crossover street is Harrison St. Hmmm. Coincidence?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rev. Thomas Duke Harrison -- Part one.

So now we have come to "The Duke". I remember when I first started tracing my tree, I was so proud to show my mother how far back I had traced on her line. I showed her I found John Thomas Harrison's father, Thomas Duke Harrison. She said, "Aha...I see you found The Duke." The way she said this gave me the impression that this wasn't someone you messed around with. She only knew of him from what her grandfather had told her. He was a serious man, religious and a true disciplinarian. Family lore says that the last name of the Harrison line was originally Dove, but later it was changed to Harrison. According to one family member, she stated that Thomas was part Cherokee and supposedly grew up on a reservation until he was a teenager. His mother was black and his father supposedly full Cherokee.  I don't know how much of this is true. From my research, I suspect that the Native American blood he may have carried was actually Tuscaroran. Often those who had any Tuscaroran ties at the time Thomas Duke was growing up, they would say they were Cherokee, because the Cherokee were typically friendly to whites of the time. Tuscarorans were driven out of North Carolina after the Tuscaroran Indian War (1711--1715) those that stayed true to Tuscaroran ties moved to NY and reunited with their ancestral brothers of the Five Civilized Tribes and those that remained behind would claim to be white, black, mulatto, or Cherokee to avoid negative consequences.  This I believe was the case with my mother's maternal line. My grandmother Mary Horton, always told me that her family line was part Cherokee. From the evidence I have gathered from the Taylor and Mitchell surnames that she descends from is that the Native American Heritage she comes from more than likely was either Tuscaroran or Coree.  I have a feeling if what one of my family members says is true about Thomas Duke and his father, that perhaps they may have grown up around Lake Mattamuskett, NC in Hyde County. It is said that many of Native American descent were sent there to live out their days there after being driven out from their homeland or perhaps he was from Indian Woods in Bertie County, NC. Or maybe indeed he was part Cherokee. Have to keep digging here.

The first census record that I believe shows "The Duke" is from 1880 in Rock Point, Pender County, NC.

He is shown here at age 20, working as a servant in the household of a Benjamin and Mary Lee. There is also an Ella Dove listed below him who is also, a servant. Now the reason why I think this is my Duke Harrison is what I found when I located him on the 1900 Census in Wilmington.

Here is the 1900 Census for Thomas Duke Harrison.   He's located living in Wilmington Ward 5, New Hanover, NC.

It turns out that Ella Dove who married a William Faison shows up living in the same part of town as Thomas Duke Harrison. Ella Dove Faison resided at 1007 Wooster St. until her death in 1929. 1007 Wooster St is marked as point A in the following map and according to the 1905 Hill's Co. City Directory for Wilmington. Thomas Duke and family resided at 1218 Queen St.. 1218 Queen St is marked approximately at point B.

By 1910, the Harrisons were located a block away from Ella Faison at 908 Wooster. By 1920 the Harrisons had moved on to New Bern.  Now it seems to be more than just a coincidence that Ella and Thomas wound up living in the same town and neighborhood. Perhaps they were related, perhaps they merely worked together in their youth. They were not siblings because on her death certificate it shows her parents names as Alex Dove and Mary E King both of Georgia.

By the 1920 census you find the family in New Bern at 1510 Lincoln St. where Thomas resided until his death in 1940.

The household of Thomas Duke Harrison looked like this.

Thomas Duke Harrison (December 25, abt.1860 died February 7, 1940)
Mary Jane Williams Harrison (May 10, abt 1880 died December 28, 1943)


Betty Harrison Reynold (October 6, 1889--December 1978)
Mary Ellen Harrison Mitchell (born abt 1890--date of death unknown)
John Thomas Harrison  (December 3, 1891--June 22, 1974) my great grandfather.
Charlie Lee Harrison (December 18, 1894--January 27, 1945)
Lillian Harrison Barrow (born about 1896--date of death unknown)
Sophia Harrison Pearson(September 5, 1898--October 3, 1934)
William Arthur Harrsion (born about 1902--date of death unknown)
Edward Harrison (January 17, 1907--March 1979)
Varina Harrison (about 1909--date of death unknown)

More tomorrow. My eyeballs are about to fall out my head. Must take a break.

Friday, July 15, 2011

And the Winner is ...An Empty Lot!

If you read my post from earlier in the week regarding John T Harrison's home on Brown's Ave in New Bern, you saw the picture of the pale blue house with white trim that I thought was possibly his. Well, I contacted Victor T. Jones of the Kellenberger Room of the New Bern Public library to see if the library possessed  an old map of New Bern that showed properties listed by their lot numbers. I had a copy of the deed and it showed that the property was on Lot 100 of the city grid. Mr. Jones quickly emailed me back and provided a link to the UNC at Chapel Hill map collection. They have a wonderful collection of old maps for North Carolina and luckily they had a map of New Bern from 1913 that had just the information I needed.

It looks like Lot 100 had two houses eventually built on it. My great grandmother Carrie Whitney Harrison (John's wife) inherited her house for the purchase price of $10.00 back in 1938 from her older brother Samuel David Whitney who lived next door at 711 Brown's Ave. John Harrison Sr and Carrie resided at 709 Brown's Ave. So the winner is .....drum roll please. An empty lot.

Oh well. At least I know where it was and it looks like her brother's house is still standing.

That's all for now. My kids are begging to be taken to the park. Too pretty a day to be sitting in front of a computer for too long. Have a great day everybody.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

John Thomas Harrison Sr. continued

Funeral Program Part One

Funeral Program Part Two

Obituary from New Bern Sun Journal
June 25, 1974

My great grand father John Thomas Harrison Sr., was a tailor until he passed away in 1974. He had worked most of his life for Hills Tailoring Co. in New Bern. I was able to pull up an article online regarding the place he worked from "The Illustrated City of New Bern, North Carolina, 1914"

HILL TAILORING COMPANY.—Makers of clothes that gentlemen wear. Among the high class tailoring house of this city, that of the Hill Tailoring Company is worthy of prominent mention. The location of the concern is in the heart of the city at 79 Middle Street, with phone 740. Mr. H. M. Hill is the proprietor. He is one of the city’s well known business men and stands among the very leaders in the tailoring trade. He carries an immense stock of high-class suitings and turns out the most fashionable and perfect fitting garments at reasonable prices. This business has been established for three years, and keeps steadily growing in volume.

Before he was a tailor, he had a connection to Pepsi. Well, a lot of people from New Bern have a connection to Pepsi, since it is the birthplace of Pepsi Cola. My great grandfather was a porter at one of the Bradham's Drug Co. locations in New Bern according to the 1916 "Official Directory of the City of New Bern" published by Chas. S. Gardiner. I think if he were alive today we might have to have a discussion about the age old battle of "Coke vs Pepsi", because I prefer Coca Cola. Nah...We probably would have a talk about a few other things first.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: John Thomas Harrison Sr.

John Thomas Harrison Sr.
Greenwood Cemetery, New Bern, NC

My great grandfather John Thomas Harrison (Dec 3, 1892--June 22, 1974) died before I turned 2, so I didn't get a chance to know him. My mother recalls that he was a tall and slender and I think my grandfather's build was attributable to him.  My mother met him as a child and recalled he lived in a house Brown's Alley in New Bern that had blue and white trim, and had one window on the second floor that faced out toward the street. I was able to obtain a copy of a deed that was made out to Carrie Harrison's parents Samuel Whitney and Sarah Jane Harris Whitney.  Carrie was John Thomas's wife who passed away in 1939. Anyway, the deed information tells by lot where the home was located in the city grid. I have to follow up with an email to the Kellenberger Room of the New Bern Public Library to see if they have an old city map that plots property out by lots to confirm the exact location but I did happen to check out Google Maps and found this house on Brown's Ave (Brown's Alley was renamed to Brown's Ave).

I showed my mother this picture and she couldn't confirm if it was her grandfather's house because she had visited the house only once when she was a small child. I will keep you posted when I find out for sure but I think we may have a winner folks. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Christmas in July

This is going to be a short post because I have to get the kids off to the babysitter this morning. I have to say, one of my favorite things in genealogy is when you get a surprise in the mail. Some new records, pictures, perhaps a book regarding family history...whatever it is I just love the thrill of waiting for some new treasure to arrive to me. I had taken a little break recently from doing deep research, with going away on vacation and helping out my best friend who just moved to my area, it wasn't on the forefront of my mind. And then there was an email that just popped into my in box the other day that notified me that I was about to have a bit of Christmas in July. My researcher friend who had taken pictures of the Mt Olive Church Cemetery graves in Riverdale, NC, said she went back out to the cemetery and rinsed the graves with water so she could get a clearer sense of the inscriptions. She took more pictures there and of my 2nd great grandfather Thomas Duke Harrison's home in New Bern. Oh my goodness, I want that package to be here right now. LOL. Oh well I will be patient. Have a great day everyone in genealogy land.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Pictures of Lemuel and Mary--My Grandparents

Lemuel Harrison on left, not sure of the next two. Center I believe is my Uncle Nat who is married to my grandmother's sister, Rosa (not pictured). Next it looks like my grand uncle Ray, (my grandmother's brother) and then last on the right my grandmother Mary.  After my grandparents lived in Brooklyn, they moved to a place in Ozone Park.

This picture of my grandfather was taken in front of my grandmother's childhood home at 1400 Fisher St in Morehead City, NC.

Grandma Mary and my mom in front of Fisher St house.

Here's one that shows Lemuel with my mom as a baby.

Mom and Grandpa again.
Grandpa and unknown family friend. He certainly knew always how to dress.
 This last picture may have shown a bit of foreshadowing on what was to become of the relationship between my grandparents. There's an element of chaos going on with my uncle crying...the kid dashing into the shot at the last minute...and there seems to be some stiffness between my grandparents.  They eventually split up, but both went on to marry other people afterwards. Sad the relationship didn't work out, but happy because when they each remarried, their new relationships provided for additions to the family.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lemuel Harrison and Family

This is another picture from my mom's collection. My grandparents Lemuel and Mary. In the front on the left is my uncle and to the right my mom.  Looks like everyone was dressed in their Sunday best to me. My mother and her family lived in a cold water flat at 807 Hancock St in Brooklyn, near where this picture was taken.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Let's look at my mother's paternal line--Lemuel Richard Harrison

Lemuel Richard Harrison and me.

If I hadn't named my blog, "How Did I Get Here?", I would have named it "In the Mix". My ancestry is a big old melting pot. I have African, Native American, Barbadian, Portuguese and other European Ancestry (possibly Irish--according to family lore but can't fully back that one up yet.) My grandfather Lemuel Harrison was a charismatic man who was born in New Bern, North Carolina on February 20, 1920. He moved to NY when he was a young and was married and had a daughter before he turned 22. How's that for growing up fast. This brings back to me a memory of my mother telling me about how she was born like 2 months early or something like that and how her mom and dad weren't ready....meaning they didn't have anything set up in the house. My mother's first bed was a bureau drawer until they came by a crib at sometime later time. When I heard this for the first time, I said "Say, what?!" I had never heard of babies sleeping in a bureau drawer before. When I told my husband this story, he informed that that was not uncommon. His heritage is predominantly Irish with a little English.  Many of his ancestors had 8-15 kids in a household and it wasn't unusual that someone's first bed was a bureau drawer.

Anyway, back to Lemuel. He was 1 of 13 children born to John Thomas Harrison and Carrie Whitney Harrison.  Here are the members of the family.


John Thomas Harrison (December 3, 1891--June 22, 1974)
Carrie Ethel Whitney (October 11, 1897--August 1, 1939)


John Thomas Harrison Jr. (March 26, 1916--November 22, 1978)
Sarah Katherine Harrison Roseman (August 20, 1917--May 26, 1987)
Samuel David Harrison (March 18 1919--June 10, 1981)
Lemuel Richard Harrison (February 20, 1921--December 28, 1987)--my grandfather
George Augustus Harrison (November 28, 1922--June 25, 2002)
Freddie Harrison (January 20, 1925--November 9, 1979)
Margaret Fleta Bell Harrison Medlock (July 13, 1926--April 3, 2011)
Earl W Harrison (May 25, 1928--February 1985)
Rudolph Henry Harrison (April 27, 1930--April 15, 1966)
William Arthur Harrison (Jan 29, 1934--June 15, 1997)
James Edward Harrsion (April 2, 1938 --May 1991)
Carrie Mae Harrison Taylor born in 1932
Robert Harrison born July 28, 1939

That's a lot of folks. LOL. How do you feed all those people?! Well, they made it work. Unfortunately, my great grandmother Carrie died due to complications from a Cesarean section after having her last child on August 1, 1939. Maybe her body was just too wore out  from having so many babies.

I have only met Robert and Carrie out of my grandfather's siblings. I don't have a visual memory of Carrie because I was a very young child when I met her, however we have reconnected in the last two years and it really has been sweet getting to know her.  I met my uncle Bobby back in 2002 and my jaw hit the floor when he walked into the room. He looked then like an older version of my own older brother. No denying the connection in genes there.  I keep in touch with him too. I love hearing him laugh, it so reminds me of my grandfather's laugh. So sweet. Anyway, I never really spoke with my grandfather about this particular topic but I think for him in his house when he was growing was like you better hurry up and grow up and move out on your own. It just couldn't have been easy, a man on his own raising 13 kids.

This is turning into a rambling post but it is what it is. Anyway, my grandfather loved his family dearly. He loved having a birthday party every year at his house in Jamaica, Queens. The whole family would pack into his house, sing "Happy Birthday", laugh, and catch up on the year's events. Lots of great memories. I have to thank him for kind of being the glue to keep everyone connected. After he passed away in 1987, my family seemed to drift apart as many families do. Kids grow up and start there own lives. Everyone seems to go their own way.

Last year, my mom shared with me some of her photos of when her parents were together. There is no denying the love this man had for his daughter in these pictures.

My mother and Lemuel Harrison

Lemuel Harrison, my mother, and my grandmother Mary

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Grandmother, A Woman Ahead Of Her Time?

Mary Cole Bryant Horton

My grandma when I was a kid, was big into her blonde wigs. As a child, originally my brother and I didn't realize that she wore wigs and just thought our grandmother had blonde hair. I think my brother found out when he returned home from school one day after an argument with another child. My brother kept trying to explain to his classmate that his grandmother had blonde hair and they just didn't believe him. That's when I think my mom explained things to him. Well anyway, the reason why I bring this up is that my mother and I can't help but smile every time we look at my daughter.

Did my grandmother know something we didn't know? Or perhaps she gave some input to the man upstairs on what color hair my daughter should have. Either way, what I would give to have a chance to go out with my grandmother to Red Lobster (her favorite restaurant) and introduce her to her great-granddaughter.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Okay folks, Had to take a break for some rest and relaxation.

Ahhh, Just returned from Cape Cod. Had a beautiful week of rest and relaxation with the family and was reminded again of my purpose of being here on this planet.
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