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Man searches for past in Van Buren County

James Harris was born near Clinton in April 1950. Now 64, he wants to know more about his ancestors.
James Harris was born near Clinton in April 1950. Now 64, he wants to know more about his ancestors.

James Harris wants to know more about his past.

The Maumelle man was born in Van Buren County on April 6, 1950. He was delivered by Dr. John A. Hall at a location just outside Clinton across Highway 65 from a lumber company just south of the current location of Walmart, he said.

His name at birth was James Ramer, which may have been spelled Raymer or Reimer, or perhaps it was Mattingly, he said. He doesn’t know because of adoption situations. He does not know what his birth mother’s name was.

He writes that times were hard and he was either given away at birth or shortly thereafter to his aunt and uncle, Doyan and Jesse Raymer. He said he has obtained some information about his early years from Jo Appleby and Evelyn Stroud who were neighbors of the Raymers in the early 1950s. Jo Appleby’s son David was Harris’ first friend and they have recently reconnected.

Harris said that in 1955 he was sent to live with a couple in Little Rock, Merle J. and Betty Harris, who were unable to have children. He said the couple was aided in their adoption of “the smiling boy,” as he was known, by Clinton attorney Opie Rogers. The Harrises gave him a caring home, he writes, and he called them Mom and Dad. Merle Harris died in 1990 and Betty in 2007. “I will always be thankful they took in a little smiling boy,” he writes.

Harris says he wants nothing except to know his heritage and appreciates any help he can get to learn more about his first five years of life.

Anyone with information to help Harris in his search may contact the Van Buren County Democrat at editor@vanburencountydem.com or call 745-5175 and the Democrat will relay the information to him.

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