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 Nathan Harrison

Nathan Harrison

Birth
Kentucky, USA
Death 13 Oct 1920 (aged 96–97)
San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA
Burial San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA
Memorial ID 9371626 · View Source
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Businessman, American Folk Figure. He was the first African-American California Proprietor Pioneer. Born a Kentucky slave, he traveled to Northern California with his master, Lysander Utt, around 1848. Unsuccessful at placer mining, they relocated to Southern California, settling at Tustin in Orange County. When California entered the Union as a free state in 1850, Utt was forced to give Harrison his freedom. As a free man, he headed south toward Temecula, and ran sheep near the Agua Tibia ranch. Later on, he helped herd sheep and cattle in Doane Valley up on nearby Palomar Mountain. As he grew older, he worked as a cook and baker for the ranchers, eventually homesteading on Palomar Mountain. Building a cabin, he opened a passage station for travelers alongside the winding wagon road leading up from Pauma to Doane Valley. He would greet teamsters with trade goods in exchange for cool water taken from his nearby mountain spring. At the turn of the century, he would offer water to early motorists with overheated radiators, provide road directions, prepare meals and sell fruit from his garden. In 1920, due to illness, he left his homestead to go for treatment in San Diego where he passed away of pulmonary congestion at age 97. In 1955, a bronze plaque was mounted that commemorates the site of his cabin and spring as the first United States Historical Monument ever dedicated to an African-American. To commemorate his hospitality, the County of San Diego named the east Palomar Mountain road, "Nathan Harrison Grade Road." His grave stone reads, “Born a slave, died a pioneer."

Bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith


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  • Created by: John "J-Cat" Griffith
  • Added: 27 Aug 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 9371626
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Nathan Harrison (1823–13 Oct 1920), Find A Grave Memorial no. 9371626, citing Mount Hope Cemetery, San Diego, San Diego County, California, USA ; Maintained by John "J-Cat" Griffith (contributor 46568383) .