Friday, August 5, 2016

Joseph Harrison at Broadkill River, Sussex Co DE, in 1731

I very accidentally tripped across this church record today, posted online at:


John Baptist Protestant Episcopal Church. Rev. William Beckett in a letter bearing date September 25, 1729, says, that his churches are in a growing condition, and that "a fourth church, built in a forest, was opened by me about a year ago by the name of St. John Baptist, and there is likely to be a numerous congregation' there." In his last letter, September 26, 1742, he states that his four churches are filled on Sundays, and he was often obliged to preach under the trees. The church building was erected at the fording-place of Long Bridge Branch in the forest of Broadkiln where the road crossed that stream, and which was at that time the main thoroughfare leading to the lower part of the County and into Maryland. It was located on the east side of the pond, between the residence of H. S. Marshall and the school-house. Ex-Gov. James Ponder has in his possession a receipt for twenty shillings, bearing date March 16, 1731, and given to John Ponder, his great-grandfather, "for his subscription to the Church St. John Baptist by me Joseph Harrison." 

So this shows Joseph Harrison right on the Broadkill River at Milton, Delaware (Sussex County) in 1731, and that he was involved in the first church there. Furthermore, it shows the Harrisons and the Ponders in the same church. We know they lived near each other on both sides of the Broadkill River, and that they lived near the Stewarts, Blacks, Cravens, and Pattersons

I still lean toward my Margaret Harrison (who was not yet born in 1731 and later married Thomas Patterson, also not yet born in 1731)... I no longer lean toward the theory that she was the daughter of this 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 this Joseph Harrison, Samuel Stewart, Jeremiah Harrison bunch, 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, and the Cravens, Pattersons, Blacks, and Ponders moved to York Co SC later in the 1750's and early 1760's.

We knew that Joseph Harrison was already in Sussex Co., DE in the 1720's due to court records (see above link to "Joseph Harrison"), but this is the first record I have discovered of him in the 1730's, still in DE.

Patterson Context

To put this in context with my Patterson legacy, my GGGG-GF was John Patterson, born 1762/65 in York Co., SC. His parents were Thomas Patterson and Margaret Harrison. Thomas was born ca. 1738-42 in either Sussex Co., DE or Augusta Co., VA. Margaret Harrison was most likely born ca. 1740-45 in Augusta Co., VA. We do know that Thomas and Margaret married on Dec. 24, 1761 in Augusta Co., VA near Harrisonburg. 

I believe that Margaret Harrison (Patterson)'s father was (most likely) Samuel Harrison, a younger brother of this Joseph Harrison. Joseph was born ca. 1702, and presumed son of Isaiah Harrison Sr and his second wife, Abigail Smith. Joseph's wife's name is not known. Joseph died in Augusta Co., VA in 1748.

Thomas Patterson's parents were Robert and Sarah _____ Patterson. Robert was born ca. 1705/11 and he first bought land on Pemberton's Branch in 1732. This branch flows into the Broadkill River at Milton, DE, very near where the above church was located. Robert is believed to have married Sarah (last name unknown) in Sussex Co., DE during the 1730's. 

The families in question here in DE, and then later in VA, and then later in SC, were the Robert Patterson clan, the Daniel Ponder clan, many members of the Isaiah Harrison clan, the Robert Cravens clan, the Samuel Stewart clan, and the Robert, Matthew, and Joseph Black clan. All of these families were inter-married beyond anyone's ability to fully capture, and they migrated together for generations.

So it is not surprising to find a record such as this 1731 church record that pinpoints the location in DE where they were living, and that the Ponder and Harrison families were in this congregation together. Now we just need to see if we can find any other records from that church from the 1720's and 30's. 

Updated August 9, 2016:


The current church location is about 2 and a quarter to 2 and a half miles east of where Robert Patterson lived at Pemberton's Branch. According to the current church website - http://www.saintjohnsmilton.org/history.html - the original church site existed 2 and a half miles west of the current location. It began in 1728 and was at that location until about 1800. That means this original church was very close to where Robert Patterson bought land in 1732 and lived until 1738.

Wes Patterson