Monday, October 3, 2016

Who was the Father of my Margaret Harrison (Patterson)?

By Wes Patterson

Last Revised: 17 August 2018

Which Branch of the Isaiah Harrison Clan did Margaret come from?

That's the million dollar question. Many theories. Most have not panned out. But all evidence clearly points to the Isaiah Harrison clan -- of that there is no doubt. But which son of Isaiah can we claim as "ours"?

Isaiah Harrison was married twice. His first wife was Elizabeth Wright (daughter of Gideon Wright and Elizabeth Townsend) and they married about 1688, their oldest child Isaiah Jr arriving in 1689. After Isaiah Jr, other children were born to this marriage, viz. John (1691), Gideon (1694), Mary (1696) (m. Robert Cravens), and Elizabeth (1698).

Following the fifth child's birth, Isaiah's wife Elizabeth passed away. Soon thereafter he married again, to Abigail Smith. While the children of Isaiah's first wife are clearly documented with birth dates, in the town records of Long Island, NY, we are not so lucky with the fruit of the second marriage, other than the fact that those children started arriving about 1701, with Daniel. Following Daniel, was Joseph (1702/04), then Thomas (1704/05), then Jeremiah (ca. 1707; m. Elizabeth Patterson), then Abigail (ca. 1710; m. Alexander Herring/Herron), and also Lydia (ca. 1706; m. Samuel Stewart), and lastly Samuel (1712/13). There may have been other children, but these are the ones we know of.

As for my Margaret Harrison, she was born circa 1740/45. Therefore, she could have been a daughter of any of the sons from the second marriage of Isaiah, but not a granddaughter. Likewise, she could have been a granddaughter of any of the sons of Isaiah by his first wife, but not a daughter. Enough is known of each branch of the family to arrive at those conclusions with confidence.

Looking closer at the sons of Isaiah, we can quickly rule out Isaiah Jr, John, Daniel, Thomas, and Jeremiah, as either fathers or grandfathers of Margaret Harrison Patterson (MHP).

Isaiah Jr may have lived in Salem Co., NJ for a period of time, but nothing has ever been known of him in either DE or VA. Nor has that name shown up in any of the families of MHP (or her presumed siblings). Isaiah Jr. may have died young, but nothing is certain in his case. There was an Isaiah Harrison in Augusta Co VA during the 1740’s, who later moved to the Yadkin Valley of NC. Many have identified him as Isaiah Jr – but that doesn’t seem to pan out. Rather, he appears to have been a son of Joseph Harrison and therefore a grandson of Isaiah Sr.

On the other hand, sons John, Daniel, Thomas, and Jeremiah are "fairly" well documented. There are holes in each branch, but there seems to be enough evidence to rule them out as potential fathers, or grandfather, in the case of John.

That leaves Gideon (as a grandfather) and Joseph and Samuel (as fathers), as our remaining possibilities. I used to lean heavily toward Joseph as a possibility, but his presumed family seems to be fairly well delineated as that which migrated with the Samuel Stewart clan (S.S. married Lydia Harrison, daughter of Isaiah Sr.) to the Yadkin Valley of NC in the late 1740's and 50's. Furthermore, the Harrison bunch that moved with my Pattersons to the Kings Mountain region of SC didn't move there until the early to mid 1760's. Again, Joseph's branch just doesn't seem to fit well.

Thomas Patterson, who married Margaret Harrison on 24 Dec 1761 in Augusta Co., VA at the Peaked Mountain Church near Harrisonburg, named their oldest son, John Patterson. He is my ancestor. There do not appear to be any Johns in the Patterson bunch prior to this, so it seems the name "John" had to come from the Harrison side of the family. But again, Margaret does not appear to be the daughter or granddaughter of John Harrison, Sr. And John Sr's son John Jr, who was murdered in 1763, never married nor had any children. So again, it seems to rule out the John Harrison branch of Isaiah's clan. Thomas Patterson's parents were Robert and Sarah Patterson. Robert's sister was the Elizabeth who married Jeremiah Harrison.

And then there were two

So that narrows it down to two branches of the Isaiah Harrison clan. Gideon and Samuel. Hardly anything is laid out plainly for either of these sons of Isaiah. I'll come back to Gideon later. As for Samuel, he was the youngest known son of Isaiah. Even that fact, that he is a "son of Isaiah", is not clearly documented anywhere. It is simply assumed to be the case, and has been portrayed as such for generations. I cannot refute that, nor have any reason to. (March 25, 2017 addendum: In recent months as more research is done on the Samuel Harrison family, it seems there is credible evidence that he and his wife Mary are the same Samuel and Mary Harrison who moved back and forth between Augusta Co Va and Lynches River, SC. More research is needed to prove this, but the timing of events in both locations appears to match. However, DNA evidence from known descendants of this Samuel Harrison of Lynches River, SC are not a match for the Isaiah clan. I repeat... there is no known proof that Samuel Harrison was a son of Isaiah - it is simply assumed. I would suggest an alternative theory that would explain the conundrum presented. It is possible that Samuel Harrison was the son of Elizabeth Harrison - the daughter of Isaiah that was born in 1698 and that never married. Is it possible that she had a son - Samuel - out of wedlock? If so, this would explain the DNA mismatch. Again, this is only a theory and warrants more research.)

Samuel was born about 1712/13 - according to Harrison researchers. But no known evidence records this. It is only an assumption. He could have been born as late as 1720. Samuel later married a woman named Mary. It is known that they left VA in the 1750's and moved to Craven Co., SC. However, they still owned land in VA and did travel back and forth a few times through the 50's and 60's. It appears that Samuel was back in VA in the 1780's again, and perhaps left again a few years later. However, Craven Co., SC covered a large area. Although the Kings Mtn region of SC was Craven County in the 1750's, that county also covered the Lynches River area of SC, and there is known to have been a Samuel and Mary Harrison in that area from the 1750's on through the 1780's. I tend to believe that's where Samuel went, and not the Kings Mtn area, but I could be wrong on that.

So if the Kings Mtn Harrisons didn't come from Samuel either, from whom did they come? Let's first look at who the Kings Mtn Harrisons were.

The Kings Mountain Harrisons (aka Buncombe NC Harrisons)

The area just south of Kings Mountain is known as Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek. It was originally Craven Co., SC. Then it was claimed by NC, first under Anson County, then Mecklenburg, then Tryon. In the 1770's, the state boundary line was surveyed west of the Catawba River finally, and it was determined this Clarks Fork land was in fact in SC, and at that time became known as York Co., SC.

Two Harrison men and two Harrison women of that area are presumed to have been siblings. Nathaniel Harrison owned 140 acres, but Thomas Harrison was listed as a Chain Bearer on several surveys in the area. I believe the evidence is clear that they were brothers. Both families later moved to Buncombe Co., NC, although Nathaniel himself had already died in 1783. These Harrison families left York Co., SC in the 1780's, moved through Rutherford Co., NC and eventually to Buncombe.

Margaret Harrison, who married Thomas Patterson, lived right next to these Harrisons on Clarks Fork. And nearby was a tract granted to Robert Cravens Jr (cousin of the Harrisons and Pattersons), and William Cravens was a Chain Bearer on a couple of surveys on Clarks Fork with the Pattersons. Cravens family history tells us that Robert Cravens never moved to SC, but rather only speculated in land. William Cravens, his brother, however did move to SC for about 7 years, from the mid 1760's to the early 1770's. William Cravens was married to Jane Harrison.

In the previous image you can see the proximity of tracts along Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek in York Co., SC. "RP" at the bottom is Robert Patterson, father of Thomas Patterson. Above him was Robert Black, who was married to Majey (Maggie) Cravens, sister of William Cravens, and therefore a daughter of Mary Harrison (dau. of Isaiah). Above him was Thomas Patterson, who was married to Margaret Harrison. Above him was Nathaniel Harrison. Above him was Matthew Black, who was married to Margaret Ponder. I don't have the Robert Cravens (where his brother William presumably lived) plotted on the map, but his tract was bounded by Robert Patterson, as well. Thomas Harrison and William Cravens were chain bearers for surveys along with all of the afore-mentioned grantees, during these 1760's surveys.

The name “John” in these Harrison families of Kings Mountain

It appears to me that Jane and Margaret Harrison were sisters of Nathaniel and Thomas Harrison. William and Jane H. Cravens had a son named John Cravens. Nathaniel Harrison only had one known son, Joseph (b. 1762). Thomas Harrison had multiple children and many grandchildren, and one of his sons was a John Harrison. Thomas Patterson and Margaret H. had a son John Patterson.

It is unclear what the exact ages of William Cravens and his wife Jane Harrison were. Some researchers have listed him as born in 1723, and others as late as 1730 or later. More research needs to happen here. Jane may have been a sister of these Kings Mtn Harrisons, but it's also possible she was older, and could have been an aunt. If the latter, she was still very likely from the same family. I still believe that she was a sister. It's very likely that William Cravens, who was very involved in military matters in Augusta Co., VA, probably married a little later and was several years older than his wife, Jane. But again, I cannot state any age for them with total confidence.

All of these families later moved to Buncombe Co NC in the Jenkins Valley area, with the exception of the Cravens family. Even then, there was a James Cravens in Buncombe Co. It seems highly probable that the name John was a key name in these families, albeit a very common name.

On the other hand, there were no Gideons, or Samuels, or Isaiahs in these families. And while there were many Nathaniels and Josephs in the two Harrison families that moved to Buncombe, that was not the case with the Patterson clan, nor the William Cravens clan who returned to Augusta Co., VA. Incidentally, John Patterson later had a grandson born in 1813 named William Cravens Patterson. Hardly coincidence, in my opinion.

Was there another John Harrison of Augusta Co., VA? The vast majority of records in Augusta that deal with John Harrisons are clearly the father and son pair, the father being the one born in 1691, and son of Isaiah Harrison Sr. But was there a third John Harrison that could have been old enough to have fathered these Kings Mtn Harrisons?

A Closer Look at Gideon Harrison

What do we know about Gideon? He was born on 25 June 1694 at Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY (as were all of his siblings). He bought 75 acres of land on 5 Feb 1723 in what later became the town of Milton, Delaware (DE), in Sussex Co. His father Isaiah had purchased the 907 acre Maiden Plantation about 3 miles south of Gideon's location, in 1721, at what is now Harbeson, DE. Gideon died in 1729 in DE, and we learn that his widow was named Hannah, and that they had "heirs". No names were recorded for their children, but there was more than one for certain.

Gideon served on juries several times in Sussex County, the last date being February 1729 with his brother John Harrison. Sussex Co., DE Will Book 1, page 10 says "13 June 1729 Hannah Harrison widow & administratrix of Gideon Harrison. Inventory is £87.5.0. Accounts are £71.4.6. Distribution to: widow (1/3), heirs (unnamed)." Therefore we can deduce that Gideon died between February and June 13 of 1729.

Gideon probably got married between 1715 and 20. He probably began having children in the late 1710's and throughout the 1720's, perhaps. Gideon's younger half-brother, Daniel, bought his 75 acre tract at auction in 1730 in order to preserve the land for Gideon's family, apparently. This was later sold in 1737, when most of these Harrisons began selling their DE land in preparation to move to the Shenandoah Valley of VA. Old Isaiah Harrison Sr. died en route to the Shenandoah in either late 1737 or early 1738.

One note about the location of Gideon's land in DE. Robert Patterson's 106 acre tract was located one mile west of Gideon, with a small road running directly between the two tracts (Sand Hill Road, which runs from Gravel Hill Road to Harbeson Road). And bounding the north side of Patterson's tract was Robert Cravens Sr., who was married to Mary Harrison, sister of Gideon, and father of the afore-mentioned William Cravens.

Who knows how many children Gideon had, especially daughters? But there were at least two male Harrisons that showed up in the Augusta Co VA records in the 1750's and 60's that "could" have been sons of Gideon. They could have also been sons of Samuel, bear in mind, but the possibility certainly exists that they were sons of Gideon. This was first proposed by J. Houston Harrison, author of the seminal book Settlers by the Long Grey Trail. He mentions the Gideon that died in 1761, and the John who "left the colony" in 1765, as two potential sons of the older Gideon Harrison. See below.

With that in mind, who was this third John Harrison that is mentioned in 1765 as having left the colony of VA? Where did he go? How old was he? Those are questions that cannot be answered for certain. But some interesting clues become tantalizing when poring over the Augusta records through this prism.

A Deeper Dive into the Augusta Co., VA Records

In September 1758 the colony of VA passed a law to reimburse colonists on the frontier for costs they had incurred during the defense of the colony during the French and Indian War. Many of these Harrisons and Pattersons (sometimes spelled Peterson) were named. It's hard in many cases to tell which John Harrison is which, and so forth.

However, in one such case, there were three individuals named together on the same record (see for more details). In this one line, it named "John Harrison, Nathaniel Harrison, and Thomas Peterson" together. And two lines above it was named Gideon Harrison. Furthermore, Leonard Herring was a close relative as well. His father was Alex Herring who had married Abigail Harrison, a younger half-sister of the Gideon Harrison who died in 1729. That would make Leonard Herring and any children of Gideon (Sr) first cousins.

I suggest that the following circled John Harrison and Gideon Harrison were brothers, and sons of Gideon Harrison (d. 1729), and therefore first cousins to the Leonard Herring listed between them.

Now look further on the line John Harrison is listed. I know for a fact this is my Thomas Patterson and the Nathaniel Harrison that moved to the Kings Mtn / Clarks Fork SC area in the 1760's. I know both of them were born by 1740 or perhaps a little earlier.

However, Samuel Harrison was not in VA during these years, and is never mentioned on this 1758 list. This is important to understand.

Closing the Loop

Taking it one step further, I also suggest there's a strong likelihood that this Nathaniel was a son of this John Harrison. For reasons we may never fully understand, my Thomas Patterson appears to have had a significant relationship with them, but this was three years BEFORE Thomas Patterson married Margaret Harrison. Regardless, it seems Nathaniel may have been an older child of John Harrison, and that Thomas Harrison, as well as Margaret Harrison, were younger children of said John. As I've already mentioned, Jane Harrison may have been an older child of John also, or perhaps even a sister of John. But I tend to believe she was a sister of the other three Harrisons who moved to Clarks Fork (Kings Mtn).

Nathaniel Harrison's only known child was Joseph Harrison, born 1762. Therefore, Nathaniel could have been born around 1740, give or take a couple years. That would then suggest that this John Harrison would have to have been born by 1720 at the latest, if not earlier. In order for said John Harrison to have been a son of old Gideon Harrison (1694-1729), John probably was not born earlier than 1715, however. But the math DOES work. Not proof of anything, just a matter of working the math to see if we can rule out the possibility of their relationship. At this point, the possibility is still there.

Did John Harrison go to SC when he "left the colony" of VA in 1765? No record has been found of him in SC to my knowledge. I cannot prove that he was the father of the Kings Mtn Harrisons. But Thomas Harrison and Thomas Patterson and William Cravens did have sons named John, and that was new for the Pattersons. John Harrison did not have to obtain land in SC necessarily. One or more of his children could have done so and he could have lived with them. John Patterson certainly did this when his children and grandchildren moved from NC to GA in the 1820's.

It should be pointed out at this time that when the original land warrants for Clarks Fork were entered, Nathaniel Harrison and Thomas Patterson entered 100 acres each. By the time the tracts were surveyed and later granted, they had rearranged the allotments and Harrison surveyed 140 acres, while Patterson only surveyed 60. That tells me there were more families living on the Harrison portion, such as Nathaniel Harrison and his brother Thomas Harrison, and possibly their father John Harrison, as well. And their sister Margaret and her husband, Thomas Patterson, lived on the 60 acre tract next to them. The Land Warrants, Surveys, and Grants interchangeably spelled these Pattersons as either Patterson, or Paterson, or Petterson. There is no doubt as to their true identities, however.

The DNA Link

The Buncombe Co NC Harrisons (who were also the Kings Mtn Harrisons, without doubt) are known to be a DNA match with the Isaiah Harrison clan. There is no doubt of a connection. The doubt is in the precise details of said connection. Was their branch the Gideon branch (through his son John)? Was it the Samuel branch? Was it the Joseph branch? If the latter, then he had members of his family split up and some went to SC and others to Yadkin Valley NC. Not unheard of, but it doesn't really fit overall. Why would Nathaniel and Margaret have remained in VA during the 1750's (with Margaret being a minor) when the rest of the family moved on to NC?

It is possible that the Gideon (d. 1761 in VA) and John (left the colony in 1765) were sons of Samuel and Mary Harrison, along with Nathaniel, Thomas, Jane, and Margaret. But then who were the children of the old Gideon that died in 1729 in DE? And then why did so many of the Kings Mtn Harrisons name children John, while none seemed to have named any children Samuel?

Samuel is still a possibility, but Gideon and his presumed son John, are likewise a possibility. The latter option is one I have only become aware of in 2017. I am still running down the details on this option, but so far, I'm starting to see some strong possibilities. The 1758 record listing John and Nathaniel Harrison, with Thomas Patterson, all together, really gets my attention. Keep in mind, this Nathaniel Harrison later signed the 1775 Will of Robert Patterson, in York Co., SC, who in turn was the father of Thomas Patterson.

One other note about the Samuel Harrison option... if he had left VA during the 1750's (about 1755 due to the hostilities of the French and Indian War), would his children have remained in VA during that time... to be later reimbursed in 1758 for provisions made during the war? I doubt it. This is another reason why the Samuel option is becoming less and less of a fit for me.


I will continue to focus research efforts on the John Harrisons of Orange, Augusta, and Rockingham Counties, VA (around the Linville Creek, Cooks Creek, Smiths Creek properties) in an effort to glean more clues regarding the relationships (and identities) of the various John Harrisons. More updates to come later.


March 25, 2017 Update

Another "John Harrison" record should be referenced in this post that perhaps is not as clear as I previously assumed. There was an estate record (Wills) on March 7, 1738(9) in Sussex Co, DE that included names such as Daniel Ponder, Samuel Stewart, John Harrison, and Sarah Patterson. See below.

 7 March 1738(9) John Lullom executor of Matth. Dowling (or Downey / Downing). Inventory is £82.2.5. Payments to: Samuel Digenson, Mary Dingey, Antho. Everlo, John Reed, Rach. Harefield, Robert Smith, Benjamin Shaw, Daniel Ponder, Samuel Stuart, Jeremi Claypole, John Hall (tanner), Jacob Kollock, Chris. Phillipson, John Harrison, Sarah Patterson, William Cook, Samuel Hand. Accounts are £ Distribution to: heirs (unnamed).

In previous years I assumed this John Harrison to be the 1691 (birth year) son of Isaiah. And it may very well have been. But as you can see from the estate record, John Harrison was listed next to Sarah Patterson. Sarah was the wife of Robert Patterson, and they were the parents of my Thomas Patterson. This estate record was a full year after my Pattersons had sold their Delaware land. John Harrison Sr had also sold his DE land prior to this time. Were the Pattersons and some of the Harrisons still in DE? Or, had they already moved to VA like the rest of the Harrisons?

Perhaps Sarah Patterson had remained in DE while the men had moved on to VA looking for land to settle on. Perhaps this John Harrison was the son of Gideon, instead. If so, he would have been born ca. 1715-20, and would have been 19 to 24 years old at the time of this 1739 estate record, and presumably closer to the 24 mark. Was this John Harrison (son of Gideon and Hannah) somehow related to Sarah ____ Patterson? What about John Harrison’s eventual wife, Mary? Was she related to Sarah Patterson somehow? We may never know. But these are interesting questions to ponder.

As for Daniel Ponder and Samuel Stewart in this same estate record:

  • Daniel Ponder was married to Jemima Bennett. They would later move to Augusta Co VA also, and then to the Kings Mountain area of SC like the Pattersons, Harrisons, Cravens, and Blacks. Daniel Ponder Jr would later marry Elizabeth Patterson, daughter of Robert and Sarah Patterson. Would this John Harrison have a daughter named Margaret that would later marry another child of Robert and Sarah Patterson? Robert and Sarah's son Thomas Patterson did in fact marry a Margaret Harrison, and their oldest son was named John Patterson - also my direct ancestor. Was he named for his grandfather - John Harrison? Was this him in 1739?
  • Samuel Stewart was married to Lydia Harrison, daughter of Isaiah. They would later move to Augusta Co Va and then later to the Yadkin Valley in NC, along with the Joseph Harrison branch of the Isaiah clan.

Wes Patterson

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