Harriet was about four when her father died after having been shot on the steps of the court house in Danville. Her father was shot because he was wearing a butternut pin, considered a sign of support for Confederate troops.
Harriet was about six when her mother died.
After being orphaned, she and her brother went to live with their older paternal half-brother Alonzo PAYNE, a man who was a military officer who had served with distinction during the Civil War.
When Harriet was about 20, she married James Monroe BARROW, a physician.
When she was about 24, Harriet gave birth to a son, Vernie. When Harriet was about 27, she was in Nebraska when she gave birth to a daughter whom she named Catherine.
Harriet died when she was about 33. Her brother, James Buchanan PAYNE, took in her children to raise.