This photograph of an elderly lady dressed in her robe, sitting in a chair and staring boldly at the camera, is in the Margaret Key Collection at the Apalachicola Municipal Library. The only identification on the picture is the inscription on the back: “Mrs. Harrison, age 76, Entered into rest, June 30, 1914.”
An investigation reveals that the lady is Martha T. Harrison, the widow of Reuben L. Harrison. She was born on June 19, 1838, in Quincy, the daughter of John Mercer Garnett Hunter and Elizabeth Woodberry Hunter. J. M. G. Hunter was a physician by trade. Shortly after the birth of Martha, the family moved to the town of St. Joseph but quickly left to escape the yellow fever epidemic of 1841. The family removed to Apalachicola, where they remained.
Martha Taliofine Hunter was married to Reuben Lucky Harrison at Apalachicola on July 23, 1856. They had five children together. In 1860 Reuben was employed as a clerk. With the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, he enlisted in the Beauregard Rifles, one of the military companies recruited and organized in Apalachicola. This unit later was incorporated into the Fourth Florida Infantry Regiment as Company B. The captain of the company was Adam Woodbury Hunter, Martha’s brother, and Reuben L. Harrison was elected as the 1st Lieutenant. When the company was reorganized in 1862 Lt. Harrison was not re-elected as an officer. He reenlisted in the cavalry and served throughout the remainder of the war. As 1st Lieutenant of Company E, 5th Florida Cavalry Battalion he was captured in Jan. 1865 at Ricco’s Bluff on the Apalachicola River by a Union expedition that had travelled overland from St. Andrew’s Bay. Reuben L. Harrison spent the final few months of the war as a prisoner.
While her husband served in the Confederate Army, Martha Harrison remained at their home in Apalachicola with the children until the evacuation of the town in March 1862. She took her children and moved up to Georgia for the remainder of the war, returning to Apalachicola in 1865 to be reunited with her husband.
The 1870 census found Reuben Harrison making his living as a farmer in Apalachicola. He died on July 20, 1877, leaving Martha a widow. She continued to live in town as her children grew up, got married and moved out. In 1900 she was living with her son, R. L. Harrison, in Brunswick, Georgia, where he operated a dry goods store.
By 1910 Martha had moved back to Apalachicola to live with her daughter, Leila Livingston. It was in Leila’s house at the corner of Avenue C and 9th Street early Tuesday morning, June 30, 1914, that Mrs. Martha Harrison died. The funeral was conducted from the house, with burial in Chestnut Street Cemetery. There is no monument to mark her final resting place, but she is probably buried next to her husband near the northwest corner of the cemetery.