"The slaves gave him a new name. They called him FreeJoe. Whites gave him a new name, too. They called him FreeDoc. Some even called him Indian Joe."
Joseph H. "FreeJoe" Harris was born in slavery on July 18, 1796 in Goochland County, Virginia. He became a Baptist minister in 1829. He was emancipated on September 5, 1832. He came to Eads, Tennessee about 1833. He was one of the early pioneers of Fayette/Shelby County, Tennessee. He was the father of 13 children. Some were born free and the others as slaves.
The orange spectrum of the sun began to rise above the eastern hills, hills that seemed to be submerged in a blue haze on this mid-summer morning. The quietness of the morning was interrupted by an occasional rooster's crow. Mother nature's alarm clock always brought with it a hint of light to break through the darkness and create a stir on the Harris plantation.
Old Hanna, the family cook and housekeeper, made her way up from the tin shanties, called Slave's Row. John Harris had awakened as always, early and at sunrise. John's parents were one of several Huguenot families who fled from religious persecution in France and settled in Manikintown. His parents were dead now and he had not taken a wife.
"Good mornin', Massa Harris", said Hanna in a voice that cracked every time she spoke a word. Hanna's greeting traveled through the silent house and the acknowledgement returned, slowly and faintly", morning Hanna".
Hanna had performed this task every morning, every week and very month for years. Once a beautiful dark woman with flowing dark hair and a smile that shone like a pot of gold, the span of time had taken its toll on Hanna. She moved with a limp, hobbling with the aid of a cane. Her hair was now as white as snow, with a wrinkled face which illuminated when she smiled. Only a few teeth were left to frame that smile.