"She was owned before the war by the late Colonel Edmund Harrison of this county."

Yesterday someone  sent me a small newspaper item about my great grandmother on the Cleage side, visiting her children in Indianapolis in 1914.  Then I read a blog post on Reclaiming Kin about breaking down a brick wall with a newspaper article.  This sent me searching newspapers on The Genealogy Bank.  I expected to find more of the little society items about teas and meetings I have found in the past. I found several interesting articles, One about a horse owned by Victor Tulane putting it’s hoof through a car window and a photograph of my mother selling tickets to a church dance in 1951.  I started putting in the names I don’t usually look for, like my grandmother Fannie Turner.  I found two articles about her which I will share later.  Then I put in Edmund Harrison’s name.

Oral history tells us that Col. Edmund Harrison of Montgomery owned my 2x great grandmother, Eliza, during slavery. My cousin Margaret McCall Thomas Ward searched for decades to find something that would prove this.  I joined her search in 2002 but we were unable to find anything … until I came across the article below about Margaret’s father, James McCall.  It is that written record!  I really, really wish I could call Margaret and tell her what I found but she has been gone for almost 4 years now.  This is just a short part of the article, it was very long with many poems included.

 James Edward McCall, A Montgomery Negro Boy, Is an Intellectual Prodigy
“Blind Tom” of Literature Writes Clever Poetry, None of Which Has Ever Before Been Published—Lost His Eyesight by Hard Study.

The Montgomery Advertiser
James Edward McCall

The Montgomery Advertiser,  March 28, 1904.
    “Young McCall’s thoughts are high.  He is a muscian as well as a poet, and his happiest hours are spent in solitude with his thoughts which are ever bright and cheerful nonwithstanding his affliction.
    James Edward McCall is the oldest son of Ed McCall, for twenty-three years a cook at the Montgomery police station and one of the best known and most respected negroes (sic) in Montgmery.  Ed McCall was owned by W.T. McCall of Lowndes County.  His aged master is still living on the old plantation and he has no truer friend or more devoted servant than Ed McCall.  The mother of the young poet was Mary Allen, daughter of Doc Allen, for many years a well to do negro (sic) carpenter of Montgomery.  She was owned before the war by the late colonel Edmund Harrison of this county.”

Mary Allen McCall, James Edward McCall’s mother

16 thoughts on “"She was owned before the war by the late Colonel Edmund Harrison of this county."

  1. Unbelievable, Kristin! I've got chills. I'm so very happy for you and know your Margaret is dancing away – as you must be.

  2. You know I was pretty amazed. I never expected to find that information in an old newspaper article!

  3. Although you and Margaret searched for a long time, I am sure this find makes up for the wait.

    Congratulations! May more come from this finding.

  4. What a wonderful moment for you – and your Margaret. Congratulations. Just goes to show that we never know where that piece of information is going to come that will help us break down that brick wall.

  5. Kristin – I'm so happy to read about your find! There is so much of value in oral history, and then to have what you suspected confirmed in print, wow. Priceless!

  6. Kristin, that is amazing! What a wonderful find! Thanks for posting this, with the inferred message to NEVER GIVE UP! 🙂


  7. This is stunning! And GenealogyBank (as well as other newspaper sites) can provide some amazing finds – led me and my cousins to at least one juicy court case. Congratulations on this great find.

  8. Great find! How long and how do you keep going?

    More power to you!

    Keep seaching!

  9. James, I couldn't do it without your support and help! Thank you, babeeeee!

  10. What an amazing find…it was written because one day you would be searching.

  11. This reminds me that genealogy is a lot like prospecting. You have to go through a lot of dirt before you find a gold nugget. An extremely moving post.

  12. As Susan stated above, reading this post gave me chills, too. I also had a brick wall topple about two months ago from a newspaper article. What a find!

  13. Congratulations on this find – what a great verification of your family's oral history. this is exactly why i love newspaper research.

  14. John Harrison (b 1802) my ggg grandfather was Edmund Walpole Harrison’s (b 1801) brother. Their father in South Carolina left them some money & slaves so they bought more land in Montgomery County. If I can help you in your quest for your ancestors let me know.

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