Walter Ward Harris ( AKA) Jimmy Marks

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Walter Ward Harris ( AKA) Jimmy Marks




Walter Ward Harris was born March 30, 1901 to John Walter Harris and Louise Harris in San Jose California. By 1918, like many African American men, Walter was enlisted in the military as a soldier in World War I, and had married and divorced Miss Ellouise Bivene by 1922. As a fair skinned Black man, Walter was identified as “mullato” in the 1920’s census records and as “Negro” in the 1930’s records. These ambiguous racial categories provide a window into the evolving history of the Southwest. Walter worked as a truck driver, radio singer, and was a legitimate plumber. Also known as “ Jimmy Marks” (hidden identity name), Walter was arrested several times and spent two years on probation between 1925 through 1930, with charges ranging from petty theft, forgery, to second degree burglary, which he ended up in San Quentin Prison, serving one to fifteen years.

Harris states, “ he is accused of breaking into and entering the home of Mr. Rojo Jack, on or about February 26, 1930 at 3:30 p.m. and taking 2 suits and an overcoat, and pawning at an unknown pawn shop on 5th street for $8.00.” According to court transcripts, Walter and the complaining witness were friends, and often wore each other’s clothes. This particular charge came after an altercation, and Walter is said to have pawned the clothes for two pints of whiskey after the quarrel.


Justin Christopher

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