Tribune-Courier General Manager
In the segregated South, even the cemeteries were separate, by specific legal mandate.
However, a Marshall County family defied the law in 1912. Now, a centurylater, the former slave they buried in a white cemetery will be honored.
For much of her life Parenthia “Pone” Harrison was enslaved to the Augustus Harrison family of the Olive community in Marshall County.
When slavery was abolished in 1865 Pone remained a part of the family, living in their home and remaining instrumental in serving as nanny to the Harrison children.
“She worked as a cook, maid and caretaker of the Harrison children after the Civil War,” said Marshall County historian Justin Lamb. “They treated her as an equal.”
When Pone died in 1912, it was illegal for blacks to be buried in “white” cemeteries.
But according to Lamb, the Harrison family took Pone’s body to the family plot in the back of a horse-drawn wagon after dark and buried her at the foot of Augustus Harrison’s grave in the Olive Methodist Church Cemetery.
Since that time her grave has been identified only by a rudimentary river rock marker.
On Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. the Harrison famly and members of the Olive community will dedicate a headstone donated in part by Mitchell Lee, owner of Keepsake Monument Company.
Lamb said a ceremony will be held at the grave site with many descendants of the Harrison family in attendance.
Lamb said Augustus Harrison was one of the first settlers in the Olive community.
“The Harrisons were prominent citizens of Olive and in fact donated the land where the church and cemetery are,” said Lamb.