Keeping a Southern Tradition alive

Jammie Harris in May, with one of the “Gout Chairs” he is making. PHOTO BY STEPHAN DREW

Jammie Harris (far left) with his 2 older brothers and 3 older sisters. Circa late 1960s.

Harris (center front between his parents) with his family in the early 1970s.

Jammie Harris during his football years in high school, early 1980s.

Mr. C. M. Ward, who taught Wood Shop when Harris was in high school. Harris credits Ward with giving him the inspiration and dedication to work in woodcraft.

One of the hundreds of joggling boards Harris has made over the years.

Diners seated at one of the beautiful wood inlay tables made by Harris.


By Stephan Drew, Editor
In the heart of Darlington, South Carolina, a revival of a centuries-old tradition is taking place, thanks to the skilled hands of Jammie Harris, son of Ray and Vi Harris. After spending over 25 years in the restaurant business, Jammie has transitioned into crafting large and small handcrafted wood items that are capturing the attention of buyers across the nation.
Born on December 17, 1962, at the old McLeod Infirmary in Florence, Jammie is the youngest of six children. His roots run deep in Darlington, where his parents settled after his father, Ray, moved the family from Wake Forest, NC. Ray’s journey to Darlington was prompted by his wife’s inheritance of her father’s hardware store, which Ray then managed.
Jammie’s educational journey led him through St. John’s High School in Darlington, where he graduated in 1981. During high school, he took wood workshop under Mr. C. M. Ward. “He was so instrumental in teaching me drafting and woodworking,” Harris said. He furthered his studies at Francis Marion University, delving into Business Administration before venturing into the bustling world of bartending at Carrie Nation’s in Florence for five years.
However, it was his move to Raleigh, NC, that marked the beginning of his extensive career in the restaurant industry. Managing establishments like Fat Daddy’s and pursuing studies in Business Management at NC State University, Jammie honed his skills in management while maintaining a deep-rooted interest in woodworking, inherited from his father.
The spark for his woodcrafting venture ignited when his older brother, Ray Jr., and his wife built a home at Ocean Isles Beach. Wanting to gift them something special, Jammie recalled an old-fashioned joggling board, a staple of Southern tradition. Encountering exorbitant costs for purchasing one, Jammie turned to his own craftsmanship, seeking inspiration from a local artisan, Sam Tinsley.
Though Mr. Tinsley had passed, his legacy lived on through his son, Dick. With Dick’s blessing, Jammie crafted a joggling board and presented it to his brother and sister-in-law. The craftsmanship didn’t go unnoticed; word quickly spread, and requests for joggling boards poured in from across the country, igniting Jammie’s passion for woodworking.
For over 15 years, Jammie has dedicated himself to his craft, meticulously creating not only joggling boards but an array of woodwork projects. From Canada to California, Texas to Saudi Arabia, his creations have found homes far and wide, resonating with those who appreciate the time-honored tradition and craftsmanship embedded in each piece.
Despite his growing success, Jammie remains deeply connected to his community, often donating his finished items to local schools and charities for auctions and raffles. In doing so, he not only preserves a Southern tradition but also gives back to the community that has supported his journey.
The joggling board, once a Scottish tradition, migrated to South Carolina in the 17th century, evolving into a beloved Southern pastime. Through his dedication to craftsmanship, Jammie Harris is not only keeping this tradition alive but also infusing it with new life, ensuring that its legacy endures for generations to come.

Author: Stephan Drew

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