23 July 1890—Jacob was 52 years old.
31 August 1892—Jacob was 52 years old.
30 November 1894—Jacob was 5’7 ½” weight 130 pounds age 55 years.
9 October 1896—Jacob was 56 years old.
16 December 1896—Jacob was 5’7 ½” weight 130 pounds age 57 years.
22 September 1897—Jacob was 56 years old.
19 July1899—Jacob was 5’8” weight 146 pounds age 57 years.
19 March 1902—Jacob was 5’7” weight 140 pounds age 59 years born
in Georgia and a gardener by trade
19 August 1903—Jacob was 5’10” weight 150 pounds age 65 years
born in Liberty County and a laborer by trade.
Jacob Harris was a corporal in the 103rd
and filed for an invalid’s pension from Brunswick, Glynn, Georgia in
August of 1890. He enlisted in this regiment with his brother,
Edward Harris, as a private on 30 January 1865 and served for 90
days (the war ended in April 1865). On 20 April 1866 he was honorably
discharged as a Corporal at Fort Pulaski in Chatham County.
On 30 November 1894 his complaints were rheumatism
with enlargement of joints of hands and feet and that he was receiving a
pension of $8 per month at that time and was requesting an increase in
his pension due to total disability. He was 5’7 ½” and weighed 130
pounds upon the examination date.
He filed for another increase on 16 December 1896;
doctor’s stating his condition had worsened and due to his chronic pain,
senility had prematurely developed. This document rated his rheumatism
from 1 to 18 with 18 being the worse and ranked Jacob at a 10 and
his senility and debility at eight.
A surgeon’s certificate dated 19 July 1899 tells us
the cause for Jacob’s pain was due to frostbite of the hands and
feet that he contracted one year after the war. He weighed in at 148
pounds and was 5’8” tall during this examination conducted in
Jacksonville, Duval, Florida. His rheumatism was quite visible
according to these documents, stating his finger and ankle joints were
very swollen and he could not move his toes on either foot.
On 19 March 1902 when filing for another increase
we see that his middle finger on the left hand and big toe on the left
foot were the appendages that suffered from frost bite. However,
Jacob never received an increase in his pension all these years as
there was nothing to justify the increase since he was generally
disabled from the beginning and was pensioned accordingly. Apparently
cost of living increase was not an issue during these times.
Nearly everyone who served during the Civil War
(Union and Confederate) filed for a pension; many claiming invalid
status even though they were not disabled. Most pensioners filed on a
yearly basis for an increase too, but the exams were routine and had to
be done regularly whether an increase was requested or not. Jacob
finally received an increase from $8 to $12 on 19 August 1903 when it
was stated he was completely disabled and senile from the effects of
rheumatism. Jacob’s disease was visible and there was no doubt
he was suffering.
Witnesses Hugh C. Christopher age 37 and
D.L. Carr age 35 were both deposed on 25 August 1891 as to the
condition of Jake’s health; both saying he was visibly ailing.
Hugh had known Jake for 15 years and the whole time he
watched Jake’s illness progress; D.L. Carr stated the same
and that he had known him for 7 years. Edward Harris was deposed
on 23 January 1897 for the same thing and stated that Jake had
been disabled for at least 10-12 years. Edmond Lockwood was 73
years old when he was deposed on 6 August 1897 and stated that he too
knew Jake to have been disabled for 12 years.
Jake first sought treatment for his illness
from Dr. A.C. Blair on 14 February 1885 and was subsequently
treated by him until 14 August 1885 and then again in October 1886 and
January & July of 1887.
Upon his death his widow, Maria, filed for a
widow’s pension and part of this process is to verify that she was
legally his wife and still legally married to him upon his death and
that at no time were they separated nor were there any other women who
could claim to be his spouse. In order to do this a sort of “trial” was
conducted where she was granted legal counsel and allowed to be
present. She received notice of the hearing on 7 July 1909 and declined
to be present or to be represented while witnesses testified to the
validity of her marriage and life with Jacob. This was not
unusual especially in Jacob’s case where it was readily known by
the community that he was in need of financial aid; the whole community,
white and black, testified or witnessed these depositions.
The witnesses were rated by the special examiner
whose name is hard to read but appears to be M.D. Avis. He
stated that Jacob was “industrious, sober and careful and that
he had the respect of the substantial white residents of Brunswick. His
family and his brother Edward Harris…” Among the other witnesses
were Victoria White, Hamilton Berry, Cyrus Murray,
and Amy Stevens.
Maria Harris was deposed at her home 1014
Stonewall Street on 7 July 1909 by Mr. Avis. Questions about her
life were asked and answered to the best of her ability; the first being
her age which she did not know but could only say that she was a young
girl at emancipation. She said that Jacob died “last year on the
last day of February, here in my present home (which was then numbered
614 Stonewall Street).”
Before her marriage she was Maria Wade and
she was only married the one time but she could not remember the date
only saying it was possibly the second year after the war closed and
that they were married on St. Simons Island by Mr. Eaton of the
Freedman’s Bureau (the Bureau was stationed at Retreat Plantation on St.
Simons Island). Unfortunately there was no certificate of marriage or a
Jacob was brought to the island with others
for farm work and they had known each other for a year or two before
their marriage. Apparently he had left the army, stopped in Savannah,
and then came to St. Simons where they met and later married.
Their youngest child was Lilla who at the
time was 20 years old; and here again, Maria did not know
Lilla’s birth date but her daughter told her during the interview
that she would be 21 on her next birthday.
Maria lived all her life on St. Simons
Island and was a slave of Mallory King at
She had only one sister, Abigail Taylor who lived in Savannah at
that time (1909) but Maria did not know where nor did she know
the husband’s name. She describes to the interviewer how she knows the
witnesses that are to testify saying that Victoria White and
husband Jupiter, Cy Murray, and Mylie Farm all
lived near her before her marriage. She said that the first three
persons lived on St. Simons and that Mylie (who I believe may
have been Mollie Fahm) was now in the home of a Mr. Brooks
Berry in Fernandina but for a time lived with Arthur Farm.
Most of these folks were former slaves of
Anna Matilda Page King.
Victoria White, Mylie Farm,
Hamilton Berry, and John Berry were all present at her
marriage to Jacob Harris. Atwell Baxter, Frederick
Armstrong, Charley Clark, and Amy Stevens all knew her
from childhood. Maria only knew of one sibling to her husband
and that was Edward Harris who lived nearby.
None of the King family were around to
confirm anything of Maria’s past and the only white person she
knew of that had known her since she was young was Judge Fahm
(this was likely J. George Edward Fahm). Maria understood
everything that was about to happen and stated that no fees or
agreements had been reached prior to this interview; that she was not
promised anything so far. She signed her name with an X and two
witnesses to the testimony also signed their names in full: Agnes
Harris and Lilla Thomas.
Edward Harris was “60 some years old” on 7
July 1909 when he was deposed. He stated that he lived at 1700 George
Street and that he was Jacob’s brother. Before the war they
lived in slavery near Ludowici, Liberty County; however, Ludowici is in
Long County so it may be that they lived on the border of both
counties. They both served together in the same outfit and when
discharged they went directly to St. Simons Island. There was one other
sibling, a sister named Coraline whom Edward lost contact
with after he joined the war stating he knew that she lived near
Riceboro and was married.
The two men were the slaves of Mr. Billy
Dunham who lived six miles from Ludowici and he nor Jacob
ever went back to the community after they entered the army so there was
no way for him to know anyone who could verify the above information.
Edward had lived on St. Simons the whole
time until about 20 years ago (1889) when he removed to Brunswick and he
states that he knew everything there was to know about Jacob.
The first vital piece of information was that Jacob was married
twice; his first wife was Lucy whom he married during slavery and
no children were born to them. She was a slave of Mr. Way’s in
Liberty County near Chatham County but apparently she already had a
husband so Jacob left her and never saw her again. This was just
before emancipation according to Edward and that she may have
died years ago near Savannah but has no knowledge of who might be able
to confirm this information.
Maria Wade was the daughter of March Wade
of St. Simons Island and Edward verified her statement that they
all knew each other a couple of years before her marriage to Jacob
in which Edward also stated that she had never married before and
she was a “perfectly young girl.”
Edward signed his name with an X and the
witnesses signed their names in full: Asa Clark and Henry
Due to the length of the file, the National
Archives sent the file in two parts and within the second part was a
deposition of Jacob Harris who contradicted some of his brother’s
information. First off he states his brother’s name was Ned and
not Edward. Secondly, he states that his slave owner was John
Dunham and not Billy Dunham. However, he also gives us some
new information, one being he was known as Jacob Dunham before
the war and that he picked the surname of Harris because he liked
it and that he didn’t know anyone of that name to get the idea for using
it as his own.
During slavery most slaves were known by their
owner’s last name, i.e. Dunham’s Jacob becomes Jacob Dunham.
Jake confirmed that he was born in Liberty County and that his
father was known as Johnson and that he never knew his father by
any other name than the one. He further states that he enlisted at
Savannah and was taken to Beaufort, South Carolina where they drilled
for 3 or 4 months and then returned to Savannah. They then removed to
Doctortown in Wayne County and then to Thomasville where they remained
until time to muster out. However, the regiment was removed to Savannah
and were mustered out at Fort Pulaski. They never saw any battles.
He named a few men of his company: Bogan
was his Colonel; Easter 1st Captain who was removed
and replaced by Moore who was a 1st Lieutenant before
he became Captain and was the man who mustered them out; Iron Ord.
Sgt.; and Young 2nd Sgt. Jacob was a Corporal
and he named Clarence Heythal as another who was his messmate.
His brother Ned Harris was a private in Jake’s company as
were Handy Whitehead and Martin Merriweather.
Hamilton Berry was born in 1837 and in 1909
he lived at the corner of Gordon & L Streets in Brunswick and had lived
here off and on since emancipation. He had known Maria since she
was a girl and knew that she was a slave of Mallory King’s and he
confirmed her marriage and father’s name. He could not confirm the
marriage date but said it was before Mr. Eaton left in late 1866
or early 1867. Hamilton stayed in contact with William Eaton
long after he left, writing to him in Knightsville, Maine and knew that
at the time of this writing he had died.
He knew Jake Harris for about 5 months
before the marriage and he was led to believe that Jake was
married previously. He further confirmed that Maria had never
married and went further by stating she had never even lived with
another man as his wife and that she was living with her parents up
until her marriage to Jake.
Victoria White was 50 years old at the time
of her deposition and was living 3 miles from the St. Simons Island Post
Office. She had known Maria all her life as they grew up
together and had known Jacob since he first moved there just as
everyone else had. The only information she had to offer was that she
was a witness to the marriage of Maria and Jacob. She
signed her name with an X and the witnesses to her testimony signed
their names in full: H. Morrison and Birdie White.
Amy Stevens did not know her exact age and I
could not make out what she said about her age at the time of
emancipation. She moved to St. Simons Island shortly after emancipation
and was a witness to the marriage and had remained friends with Maria
ever since then. She signed her name with an X and the witnesses signed
their names in full: John Bell and A.S. Paul.
Cyrus Murray was 63 years old and had lived
on St. Simons Island all of his life; he too was a slave of the King
family and said that his mother and March Wade were second
cousins. He signed his name with an X and the witness signed his name
but it was hard to make out, the last name was clearly Cobb but
the first name looked like Croung. It is possible that this was
Orange Cobb as he was listed in the 1900 and 1910 census for St.
Two more people who were witnesses to various
documents that Maria filed were Atwell Braxton who said he
knew her for 38 years and Matilda J. Tatnall who knew her for 26
On a document dated 25 March 1898 signed by Jake
he stated his children were: Lula born 19 June 1882; Mattie
born October 1884; Agnes born 14 February 1886; and Lilla
born 30 September 1892. Later he stated Lula was born 9 June not
the 19th and that Mattie was born 30 October 1884.
Jacob died on 29 February 1908 and Maria
received the pension until her death on 12 September 1927. Further in
the pension file an actual marriage date was found that said they
married on 10 October 1866 or 1867, then later it was written as 10
October 1866. The clerk of court could not find a record of their
marriage and stated that it was common practice at that time for
African-Americans to be married by the Freedman’s Bureau and that all
records were kept with that Bureau and never filed in the local court