John Harrison was born free in 1849 in Southampton County, Virginia. His mother,
Mason, was emancipated by the will of Henry Harrison in 1844. Henry Harrison's
will divided personal belongings and property between Mason and two other slave
women. The will was contested by one of Henry Harrison's nephews. Mason and
her family stayed in Virginia until 1854 trying to settle the will. They settled in
Chester County, PA.
In 1859, Mason was able to purchase her husband, Simon, out of slavery in Maryland
for $300. This was accomplished with the assistance of a Quaker who acted as an
agent in this sale.
On June 1, 1877, John Harrison married Nancy Jane Mayhew. Nancy was born in
Quarryville, PA in 1855. She was the daughter of Henry and Sarah Rynear. John and
Nancy had 11 children, 10 of which lived to adulthood. John died on May 11, 1919 while Nancy preceded him in death on December 6, 1916.
The 1870 Federal Census shows that Nancy and her twin sister, Alice, being 14 and living with their parents in Lancaster County. Mary Butler also lived in the household and is old enough to have been Alice and Nancy's grandmother. Stay tuned on developments. In that same census, Henry is listed as black, Sarah is listed as white while Nancy and Alice are listed as mulatto.