This article was excerpted from the 2015 Pointer Descendants Family Reunion booklet:
Mary Ann Plummer Harris was the daughter of Mary Pointer Plummer and granddaughter of George Pointer. She was born free in 1820 because her mother and grandmother were free women. Mary Pointer married a man named Plummer and for a time they lived along the canal with George and his wife. It’s not known what happened to Mary Pointer Plummer and her husband but by 1830 their child, Mary Ann, was living with her grandparents, George and Elizabeth Pointer.
In 1838 Mary Ann Plummer applied for and obtained a certificate of freedom, a document required by law of all free blacks as proof of their freedom. She did this because she had married a man named Thomas Harris and was pregnant with their first child. By law, slavery was a condition that was inherited through the mother, so for a child to be born free the mother needed an official certificate of freedom. Mary Ann wanted to be sure that her family was free.
By 1840 Mary Ann and Thomas Harris were living along Broad Branch Road in the District of Columbia and raising a family. They had eight children, five boys and three girls. In the 1850 Census there is an entry for Thomas and his family living “West of 7th Street Turnpike, Washington, District of Columbia”. The 7th Street Turnpike was the name of what is now Georgia Avenue. This address indicates that Thomas, his wife Mary Ann, and their children were living on the Broad Branch Road property at that time. In 1870 the US Census lists the family as living in the Tenleytown area, the “West Part, Washington, District of Columbia”. Thomas’ real estate was valued at $600 indicating that he owned his home and it also states that he cannot read or write. His occupation according to this census is “Gardener”. In the 1880 Census Thomas is listed as a tenant at a residence listed as “back of P Street NW”. Thomas’ occupation is listed as “huckster” on this census record which means he probably stayed at this residence while he sold his vegetables and other farm goods in the open air markets of Georgetown.
Thomas and Mary Ann’s sons grew up in the shadow of the Civil War. Their sentiment against the secession of the south and the question of slavery must have been strong. Historic records of the period give evidence of John, Joseph and Lewis enlisting in and serving the Union during the War Between the States. John Harris first enlisted between June and July of 1863. The enlistment record states the following: “John Harris, black, age 20, single, a waiter, born in Maryland”. A U.S. Colored Troops enlistment document gives more detailed information about the newly enlisted John Harris as follows: “
John Harris, enlisted on July 10, 1863 at 21 years of age, 5’11” in height, complexion black with black eyes and black hair, and a scar on the right shin, from Georgetown where his occupation was laborer. He enlisted on Mason’s Island by Col. Holman for a 3-year term. He was mustered out Sept. 29, 1865.”
On July 10, 1863, son Joseph, 17 years of age, enlisted in the Union army also. His occupation is listed on his enlistment document as “saloon waiter” so it’s quite possible that the brothers were working at the same establishment. Joseph is described as a 5’3” “bright mulatto with grey eyes and brown hair with a scar on the right arm below the elbow.” He also enlisted at Mason’s Island on the same date as his brother, John. Joseph mustered out of the military on June 24, 1865.
Of their eight children, Thomas and Mary Ann had four who survived into the 20th century: Joseph, Louis (Lewis), Lorenzo and the youngest daughter, also named Mary Ann who was born in 1858. She married a shoemaker named Armsted Morton (Moten) of Virginia who practiced his trade in the Tenleytown area. Armsted and Mary had four children: John Armsted B. 1878, Minnie b. 1880, Rosetta b. 1886 and Theodore b. 1887. John married Annie Taylor and stayed at the Broad Branch property until its sale around 1929. He was a laborer and gardener. William married a woman named Rose, moved to the Ft. Reno area and had four children: Dorothy (1912), Theodore (1913) and Thomas (1915). Will was an undertaker for residents in the Ft. Reno area. Nothing much is known about Minnie. Rosetta married a man named Randolph Harris. They lived on the Broad Branch property during the first few years of their marriage and later moved to the Ft. Reno area in NW Washington, DC. They had 8 children: Randolph Jr., Rose, Julia, Lewis Edward (Uncle Pete), Martha (Kitty), John T., Dorothy, Theodore and John Thomas (Uncle Bunny). Julia died young, at the age of 10. The cause of her death is not known