Dr. Roscoe Conkling Harrison, one of its most prominent and successful physicians of Southern West Virginia, is a native of Raleigh, where he was born on February 19, 1880. His parents were Willis Ralph Harrison, a teacher and newspaper reporter, and Emma (Mayo) Harrison. She was the daughter of Gaston Mayo, who after emancipation purchased a farm. He lived at Edenton, N. C. Dr. Harrison's paternal grandfather, Willis Harrison, was a painter by trade. Growing up in Raleigh, young Harrison attended the public schools there. After leaving Raleigh he went to Alabama and attended public school at Russellville three years, later moving to Dayton, Tenn. The devotion and counsel of his mother was perhaps the determining factor during these formative years of his life. He lost her when he was nineteen. He was under the necessity of assisting in the support of his younger brothers and sisters, which also meant that he had to make his own way in school. When he was about seventeen years of age he went to the coal fields of West Virginia, where the wages were more attractive. He did not abandon the idea of an education, however, but as soon as he was in position to do so entered Bluefield Institute for his preparatory work. When ready for his medical course he matriculated at Meharry Medical College where he won his M.D. degree in 1904.
He had early seen that the West Virginia coal fields offered an unusual opportunity for the enterprising young physician who was equipped for his work. Accordingly, after his graduation he located at Kimball, where he has built up a lucrative practice which would be a credit to a much older man. Beginning in 1904, he was successful from the start. Ten years ago he established a hospital at Kimball which has greatly enhanced his work, especially in surgery. The hospital has a capacity of more than twenty beds and is usually filled. It is recognized by the state, being on the list of approved hospitals. Dr. Harrison also runs a drug store at Kimball. No physician in his county has a more extensive practice than Dr. Harrison. His standing in the profession may be judged by the fact that he was appointed by the Governor as Examining Physician on both Draft Boards, 1917 and 1918. He was President of the Flat Top Medical Society for one year and President of the State Medical Society one year. He is also identified with the National Medical Association. He was health physician of Kimball for seven years.
In politics he is a Republican, in religion a Presbyterian and an elder in his church. Among the secret and benevolent orders he is identified with the Pythians, Masons, and Elks. He has been Medical Director of the Pythians of West Virginia for 10 years.
Dr. Harrison has been a busy man all his life and has not had time for travel abroad. Next after his professional books his favorite reading is history.
On September 29, 1909, Dr. Harrison married Miss Edna D. Grimes, daughter of John and Phoebe T. Grimes, of Christiansbury, Va. She was educated at Christiansbury and at Hartshorn Memorial College and, like her mother, was an accomplished teacher. They have one child, Phoebe Elaine Harrison. Dr. Harrison is of the opinion that the progress of the race is to be promoted by bringing about a better understanding between the best elements of the races.
He was a member of the Commission to establish a Tuberculosis Sanitarium which was located at Denmar.
History of the American Negro Index
West Virginia History Center