Saturday, July 9, 2011

Small World - Large Family

A former preacher at the church I attend here in Winston-Salem, NC had a saying that stuck with me. You know how it goes when something happens that prompts someone to quip "It's a small world"? Rod Sharp would hear that and immediately reply with "Large family!".

There's a lot of truth to that. I've especially come to realize this in recent years with genealogy research. It's no longer a shock when searching records from a different family to all of a sudden find overlapping kinship with some of my relatives from 200 years ago.

It's a small world.

Large family.

For the better part of a decade now I've been drawn in my research over and over to several individuals and families. There was never any proof or even strong indication of any relationship between my family and theirs, but I knew the possibility was there. I'm speaking of men like William Cravens and Samuel Stewart. And pretty much the entire Isaiah Harrison clan.

Who? you might ask. They were men and families that migrated from Sussex Co DE to the Shenandoah Valley of VA (around Harrisonburg) in the late 1730's and 1740's. My Pattersons and Blacks did likewise. And yes, there was intermarrying between my family of some of the others, but no obvious direct descent on my part from the Cravens, Stewart or Harrison families.

Nonetheless, I have continued to follow the Harrison clan, not only in DE and Augusta/Rockingham Co VA, but also in York Co SC and the Yadkin River region of NC (Rowan/Surry/Stokes/Forsyth/Yadkin Co's). There is a definite kinship in these families, plus I live here in Forsyth Co NC within 2 or 3 miles of where a group of the Harrisons and Stewarts moved to around 1750. Furthermore, when there is a name like William Cravens Patterson (1813-1864) in the family, you pay attention to associates like William Cravens.

Harald Reksten and I have continued working for years on these families as well. Harald is very methodical in his approach to research and it benefits all who come in contact with him. We both do a lot of research and share our work with each other all the time. In the last couple years, various details have come to light which present a very intriguing picture, especially to me in that 1) it seems now that I do descend from the Harrison clan, 2) the branch of the Harrisons I connect with seems to be present in Augusta Co, VA as well as Rowan Co NC and York Co SC, 3) this same Harrison branch seems to tie into the families of both William Cravens AND Samuel Stewart, and 4) I live within a few miles of one of the key locations, in particular, where Samuel Stewart died and is buried apparently.

In other words, it now seems that my Thomas Patterson (b ca 1740, d 1802-10) was married to a Margaret Harrison (more info on their marriage). Harald and I have worked extensively on the Harrison clan to find any possibly connections. Harald has focused on court records of all kinds from all pertinent counties in VA, PA, DE, NJ, MD, the Carolinas, you name it. His work has brought to light certain variables that are key to piecing the Isaiah Harrison clan together. There just isn't much out there in the court records on Isaiah Jr, oldest son of Isaiah Harrison. We no longer believe him to be a likely candidate for much of anything, especially the theories of being the progenitor of the Rowan Co NC Harrisons, or the York Co SC Harrisons, or the Lydia Harrison who married Samuel Stewart, or even the Isaiah Harrison who executed the 1748 estate settlement of Joseph Harrison in Augusta Co VA. In reality, it seems Isaiah Jr may have died at a fairly young age in DE or NJ perhaps.

Speaking of Joseph, he's the other key variable in Harald's research. Joseph was a key player in the records of DE, something not brought to light in J. Houston Harrison's Settlers by the Long Grey Trail. So much information has come to the forefront in recent months regarding this Joseph and his connection with the rest of the Isaiah clan, he has to have been another son of Isaiah Sr. Joseph was born ca 1700-1705, probably around 1702 or thereabouts. We also believe that Lydia Harrison, wife of Samuel Stewart, was another daughter of Isaiah Sr. The children of Isaiah Sr by his second wife Abigail Smith just weren't documented as well as the children by his first wife Elizabeth Wright.

Furthermore, the presence of Joseph Harrison at Harrisonburg, VA in the 1740's matches the timetable of the Harrisons of Rowan Co NC and later York Co SC. Both clans have Josephs and Nathaniels, Johns and Thomases, etc. Furthermore, their is DNA proof that the SC bunch (later in Buncombe Co NC) is related to the Isaiah Harrison clan. Their migration routes mirror that of my Thomas Patterson and Margaret Harrison, who married in 1761 in Augusta Co VA. Too much to go into here and now, but the evidence is quite striking.

It is our theory (no proof, just theory) that Margaret Harrison (m Thomas Patterson) was a daughter of Samuel Harrison (I used to think Joseph, but now think it was his brother Samuel). We also believe that an additional daughter of Samuel Harrison was Jane (m William Cravens), whereas Abigail (m David Stewart, son of Samuel and Lydia Harrison Stewart) was most likely a daughter of Joseph Harrison (d 1748 Augusta Va). Sons of Joseph Harrison would have been Isaiah, Joseph, and John. As for Samuel's sons, Nathaniel and Thomas for sure, possibly others.

In 1748, after Joseph Harrison died, a group of this family moved to Rowan Co NC near the Yadkin River in what is now Forsyth Co near the Yadkin Co border. This included Samuel Stewart and his entire family, plus Isaiah Harrison (son of Joseph), and eventually others like Joseph (Jr), John and Thomas. Abigail, who married David Stewart, was also here in NC.

In the early 1760's, other Harrisons - apparently Samuel Harrison and his children and their families - moved from VA to the Kings Mountain area of SC in modern day York Co. This included Nathaniel and Thomas, plus Margaret (m Thomas Patterson) and Jane (m William Cravens). It also included many members of the Black family and the entire Robert Patterson clan (father of Thomas).

If the above relationships are correct, and there is a lot more evidence than what I've shown here to indicate so, then when I look at William Cravens, I now see an uncle (his wife being a sister of my Margaret Harrison Patterson). When I look at Samuel Stewart, I now see an uncle (his wife being a sister of my Samuel Harrison).

Most of the Stewarts and Harrisons eventually moved away from the Yadkin River area, but two families stayed here, died here, and should be buried here - somewhere. That being Samuel and Lydia Harrison Stewart, and David and Abigail Harrison Stewart (Stewart Timeline).

All this time I have taken an interest in William Cravens and Samuel Stewart... and never knew they would end up being uncles. Remember, I can't prove it 100% at this time, but the hard evidence and the overwhelming circumstantial evidence as well, certainly point to this being the case. The research continues, but I can honestly say:

It's a small world.

Large family.

August 25, 2016 Update

I no longer lean toward the theory that Margaret Harrison, wife of Thomas Patterson, was the daughter of Joseph Harrison. That theory was mainly due to the extensive collaboration of the primary families (Harrison, Cravens, Patterson, Black, Ponder) who moved to Clarks Fork in York Co, SC in the 1760's, and their connections to the Joseph Harrison, Samuel Stewart, Jeremiah Harrison families, all of whom were involved in Joseph Harrison's estate vendue in 1748 in VA (Augusta Co., near Harrisonburg). The connections of these families in DE and VA were there, but they diverged at that point. The Joseph Harrison and Samuel Stewart clans moved to the Yadkin Valley of NC about 1748, while other Harrisons (most likely only Samuel Harrison - brother of Joseph), and the Cravens, Pattersons, Blacks, and Ponders moved to York Co SC later in the 1750's and early 1760's.