From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Harrison, Nathaniel "Nate"

(born: 1819  -  died: 1920) 

Nathaniel "Nate" Harrison was an African American man from Kentucky who was referred to as the first white man on Palomar Mountain. He was actually the first man who was not Native American to live on the mountain. There is a monument to Harrison near the spring where he built his cabin.

It was thought that Harrison had been a slave, brought west around 1848, who had escaped from his owner and hidden in the mountains. He didn't talk much about his life in Kentucky.

Nate knew all of the Palomar Mountain trails and had provided spring water to those on the trails. Others in the area knew of his existence, but Nate Harrison was not named in the U.S. Federal Census.

When Nate got so feeble that he could not take care of himself, members of the African American community in San Diego took him from his mountain cabin and placed him in the San Diego County Home for the Aged. He died soon after being placed in the home and was buried in a pauper's field.

For more see V. S. Bartlett, "Uncle Nate of Palomar" [available as a .pdf online at the Peter Brueggeman, Palomar Mountain History Resources website].

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Harrison, Nathaniel "Nate",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 24, 2022,

Last modified: 2020-09-11 16:54:32