Who Was Hattie Harris?

September 21, 2022:

Degradation of a Bailey Marker at Macedonia Cemetery

photos: Joan Compton

Left: photo taken November 20, 2020. Right: photo taken July 23, 2022.
These photos show the degradation of Hattie Harris' marker. In the time between the photos, the first name became unreadable with the loss of the letters 'HAT' and the the top of the 'TIE'. Other cracks forewarn of more loss if preservation steps are not taken.

The historical society has taken photos of the grave markers and condition of the site over the past 7 years. Even though the society had 14 markers repaired, the Bailey markers, like that of Hattie Harris, are a special type - not granite or marble, but concrete, hand-made for African-American burials, and considered historic pieces of folk-art. Their repair is awaiting a consultant's report commissioned by the City.

Who was HATTIE HARRIS (c1873-May 6,1965)
Hattie Harris was born Hattie Ousley about 1873. Her parents, Robert and Laura Ousley, both thought to be enslaved as children on local farms, are also buried at Macedonia Cemetery.

Hattie grew up here in a large family of tenant farmers that worked on farms along today's Medlock Bridge, Old Alabama, and State Bridge roads for white landowners, but also for an ex-enslaved Black landowner on land just west of State Bridge Elementary school. When Hattie was 7, a record shows that the family rented a farm, tilled 25 acres, had a milch cow, a calf, and harvested 200 bushels of Indian corn, 15 bushels of peas, and 6 bushels of beans. This tenant family was able to accumulate some wealth. Although meager by today's standards, they did better than many other tenant families in this area during their time. It would have been a hard life of manual labor, with everyone in the family, even young children, working long hours to just keep the family fed, clothed, and housed.

Hattie has many relatives buried at Macedonia including:

  • Robert and Laura Ousley - Hattie's parents
  • William (Bud) Harris - Hattie's husband
  • Louise Stewart - Hattie's daughter
  • Clara Hamilton - Hattie's sister
  • Robert and Estella Ousley - Hattie's brother and sister in law
  • Hellen Ousley - Hattie's niece
  • Willie Mae Robinson - Hattie's niece
  • Herman Ousley - Hattie's nephew
  • Howard Ousley - Hattie's nephew
  • and others that are also descendants of enslaved Robert Ousley, who was brought from Kentucky to a large farm on Old Alabama Road

Information is from research by Carla Carter and Joan Compton to identify those buried at Macedonia, their genealogy, and the lives they led.