Harrison was born in Camden County, Georgia on 20 September 1807.1
He grew up on a farm in Wilkinson County, Georgia, the third son of Moses
and Abigail Harrison. In 1825 George appears on a “list of accounts”
with the Beall and Patterson Trading Post.2
# He would have been around 18 years of age.
Around 1830 George married Miss Joicy Cannon, daughter of Nathaniel and Frances Sumner Cannon of Wilkinson County, Georgia. On the 19th of May 1831 they had a daughter, Elizabeth Jane and when Elizabeth is less than a year and a half her mother Joicy dies on the 24th of September 1832. 3 Her death is noted in the October 1832 Minutes of The Big Sandy Baptist Church, Wilkinson County, Ga. 4
In 1833 George appears on a list for the Grand Jury, Wilkinson Co. Superior Court, April term.5 This is important because it shows us that he is still living in Wilkinson County at this time.
In Milledgeville on the 17 August 1834, George Harrison married Frances Simpson West of Baldwin County, Georgia. 6 She is the daughter of Joseph and Sarah Stanley West of Baldwin County. 7 Frances was born in Lenoir County, North Carolina on 7 February 1807. We find Frances listed as a new member of the Big Sandy Baptist Church on June 13th 1835, “Came forward sister Frances Harrison and joined this church by letter.” In August of 1835, Frances and George became parents to Georgia Ann Harrison on the 15th. She grew up and married Alexander Wallace Starke, lawyer, publisher, and legislator in Alabama.
Within the next year, George moves his family to Randolph County, Georgia. This area of the state “was part of the growing trend of areas that were being settled and cultivated after the Land Lotteries. The 1830’s were turbulent years as the Indians fought to maintain their independence. Stewart, Randolph, and Baker Counties all saw fierce fighting as the Creeks made a last stand to regain control of their lands.” By 1837 the Indians had been contained but an economic depression swept through the state of Georgia at this time. Poverty was widespread and malaria was of epidemic portions. “Governors during these turbulent years that saw the migration of the Creek and Cherokee Indians to the West were George R. Gilmer, Wilson Lumpkin, and William Schley. State Representatives from Randolph County were Richard J. Snelling, Brockman W. Henderson, Lewis Rivers, Littleberry Camp, George T. Wood, Allen Moye, George W. Harrison, and Seaborn A. Smith.” 8
George and Frances became parents of Georgia Ann Harrison, born 15 August 1835 in Randolph County, Georgia. She grew up to marry Alexander Wallace Starke on 23 December 1857 in Milledgeville, Baldwin Co., Ga. They moved to Alabama.
The earliest mention of George W. Harrison in Randolph County is found in land records. On November 24, 1836 he purchased 115 acres of land, described as Lot 202 in 8th District, near Georgetown, and before this purchase he had purchased in October of 1836 7/8th of a parcel of land described as parcel No. 138 in the 8th District, near Georgetown.0
In the year 1837 George is found listed as a Justice of the Court of the Ordinary in Randolph County 11 and he was listed as a Justice of the Peace in Randolph County for the years beginning in 1837 through 1841.10 In the years of 1838 and 1839 he is listed as a State Representative from Randolph County, Georgia,12 and a Justice of the Inferior Court of Randolph County, Ga.
On April 21, 1840, John Thomas Harrison is born to George and Frances Harrison. It is believed that he is named for his uncle, John T. Harrison, brother of George W. Harrison. John is their only son to be enlisted in the regular army of the Confederate States during the War Between the States.
In 1842, Zadok Daniel Harrison is born on November 26th to George and Frances Harrison. It is believed that he is named after Frances’ sister Nancy’s husband Zadock Daniel of Alabama. Their son, Zadok grows up to be the Clerk of the Superior Court of Georgia for 66 years in Atlanta, Georgia and his residence is “Fernbank”.
The following year, 1843, George W. Harrison becomes a state Senator from Randolph County.13
On 26 September 1844, James Polk Harrison is born to Frances and George Harrison. He becomes the son to bring the family into the printing and publishing business.
In 1846, George is listed from the 8th District for Road Commissioner with others.14
In the year 1847, George and Frances become parents of Elnora Virginia Harrison, known as “Nora”, on the 1st of June. Nora grew up and married E. Y. Clarke who at one time was the Editor of the Atlanta Constitution and highly respected citizen of the city of Atlanta and the State of Georgia.
In 1848, George W. Harrison was appointed by the Inferior Court to furnish “list of children between ages of 8-16 that need assistance in obtaining their education and to see they get their share of the education fund for the poor”, he was from the 8th District.15
On the 31st of March 1849, George Washington Harrison, Jr. was born to George and Frances. He was their youngest son and became quite prominent in the publishing circles of Atlanta and the Southeast. That same year George’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth Jane Harrison married James S. West, nephew of Frances.16
In 1849 in a Joint Session of the House of Representatives and Senate of the State of Georgia: “on motion, the Clerk was directed to inform the Senate that the House of Representatives are now ready to receive them in the Representative Hall to proceed to the unfinished business of the Joint session, which duty being performed, the President and members of the Senate attended and proceeded to the election of Secretary of State, for the term of 2 years after the expiration of the term of the present incumbent, and the ballots being received and examined, it appeared that George W. Harrison of the county of Randolph was duly elected.” George was elected for the term 1849 to 1851.17
In the year 1850 George moves his family from Randolph County to the then capital of Georgia, Milledgeville in Baldwin County. They purchased a house across the street from the capital building.18
In 1852 we find George W. Harrison as a delegate from Baldwin County to the Democratic Convention in the state of Georgia.19
On the 15th of May 1854 George W. Harrison died. The newspaper “The Southern Recorder”, dated Tuesday, May 16, 1854, lists under Obituary: Died, in this city yesterday morning, after a lingering illness, George W. Harrison, Esq., former Secretary of State. “The Union Recorder” for Tuesday, May 23, 1854 lists: “Died. In this city on Monday, the 15th instant, George W. Harrison, formerly Secretary of State, in his 47th year leaving behind him a fond wife, seven children and numerous friends to mourn his loss.”
After the death of her husband, Frances Simpson West Harrison, turned her home in Milledgeville, across the street from the Capital building into a boarding house.20 # She went on to raise and educate her children to become fine citizens of the State of Georgia. Frances died in 1901 in Atlanta, Georgia and is buried in Milledgeville with her husband and son, John T. Harrison.21
1. All birth dates for
this family are verified in the Bible records of the George W. Harrison
Family Bible in the possession of Carol W. Harrison, copy provided to LHC
2. “Wilkinson County Georgia, Historical Collections”, Revised & Reprinted 1978 by Maddox, p. 22, (Georgia Department of Archives & History).
3. George Washington Harrison Family Bible.
4. Big Sandy Baptist Church Minutes provided by Gerald Lee & Judy Ann Pierce of Dublin, Ga. to James C. Smith, copy provided to LHC.
5. Genealogical Abstracts from The Georgia Journal (Milledgeville) Newspaper 1809-1840, Vol. 4, 1829-1835 by Fred R. and Emilie K. Hartz. (Washington Memorial Library, Macon, Ga.)
6. Copy of Marriage License from Probate Court in Milledgeville, Georgia (1999 trip); GWH Family Bible
7. Copy of the Will of Joseph West from Probate Court in Milledgeville, Georgia (1999 trip)
8. “A Source Book of the Early History of Cuthbert and Randolph County, Georgia”, by Annette McDonald Suarez, p. 41 (Thomasville Cultural Library, Thomasville, Ga.)
9. Copy of Land Deeds – Randolph County, 1836 – provided by James C. Smith, Tenn.
10. “Minutes of the Ordinary Court of Randolph County, Georgia – November 1836-November 1845”, by George W. Shepard, Jr. and Jacquelyn Shepard (Washington Memorial Library, Macon, Ga.)
11. “A Source Book on the Early History of Cuthbert & Randolph County, Ga.” by Annette McDonald Suarez, p 780, History of Randolph County Georgia Volume II (Thomasville Cultural Library, Thomasville, Ga.)
12. Copy of “House of Representatives Journal” (Georgia Dept. of Archives & History)
13. Copy of “Georgia Senate Journal” (Georgia Dept. of Archives & History)
14. The History of Randolph County Georgia, Vol. II (Thomasville Cultural Library)
15. The History of Cuthbert & Randolph County, p. 305, by Annette McDonald Suarez (Thomasville Cultural Library)
16. Copy of Marriage License from Randolph County – provided by James C. Smith, Tenn.
17. Copy of “Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of Georgia at a Biennial Session of the General Assembly Begun and Held in Milledgeville, the seat of Government in 1840 & 1850” (Georgia Dept. of Archives & History)
18. Copy of “Deed of Sale”, provided by James C. Smith, Tenn. The house is still being used in Milledgeville today as a funeral home (1999).
19. Albany, Georgia, Newspaper Clippings, Vol. 1, 1845-1852 by Tad Evans (Thomasville Cultural Library, Thomasville, Ga.)
20. Copy of 1860 Georgia Census, Baldwin County, Milledgeville District. (Thomasville Cultural Library, Thomasville, Ga.)
21. Historic Memory Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville, Ga.
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