The son of Elizabeth Willoughby and John Sessoms, Preston Harrell Sessoms (b. 1843) of Bertie County, NC, entered the University in 1861 and became a member of the Philanthropic Society. From 1863 to 1865 served in the Sixty-Eighth North Carolina Regiment, attaining the rank of sergeant. In 1869 he married Annie Elizabeth Beasley. A teacher, farmer, and merchant, he received his BA degree in 1911 "as of 1865."