Thursday, May 25, 2017

Gideon Harrison 1694-1729

Who was Gideon Harrison?

Last Revised: 31 August 2018

Gideon Harrison was a son of the well-known Isaiah Harrison clan. 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 born to this marriage were John (1691), Gideon (1694), Mary (1696) (m. Robert Cravens), and Elizabeth (1698). Following the fifth child, 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), 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.

Not much has survived about Gideon, however. We know that 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 were at least two for certain.

However, there are more records regarding Gideon than most people are aware of. The following records are a roster of documented facts known about Gideon Harrison.

Birth (Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY)

25 June 1694 Gideon Harrison, son of Isaiah Harrison and Elizabeth Wright.

Court (Sussex Co, DE)

188. August 1728 Grand Jury: ..., John Harrison, Gideon Harrison, ...
192. August 1728 John Price vs Gideon Harrison.  Continued to this Term ...
197. August 1728 Wm. Till Esq. vs Gideon Harrison ...
199. August 1728 Grand Jury: ..., John Harrison, Gideon Harrison, ...
201. November 1728 John Price et uon vs Gideon Harrison.  Continued ...
209. February 1728(9) Grand Jury: ..., John Harrison, Gideon Harrison, ...
211. February 1728(9) John Price et uon. vs Gideon Harrison ...
242. 5 August 1729 William Till Esqr vs Adm of Gideon Harrison ...
258. 4 November 1729 William Till Esqr. Vs Gideon Harrison Adms ...
269. 3 February 1729(0) William Till Esqr. vs Gideon Harrison ...

Deed (Sussex Co, DE)

A-264. February 1722 [1723] John Fisher and Elizabeth his wife to Gideon Harrison, 75 acres on branch of Broad Creek part of 1000 acres called Millford purch by the said John Fisher from Thomas Bedwell and Honour, his wife executrix of the will of William Clark, late of Lewes Town, Sussex County, gentleman, deceased.

F6-049. 5 February 1722/3 John Fisher, yeoman, of Sussex to Gideon Harrison, yeoman, of same for 30 pounds, 75 acres on a branch of Broad Creek bounded by Kings Road at the Round Pole Branch ... Witnesses: William Seltheridge, Phil. Russel.  Acknowledged: February 1722/3.

F6-368. 8 May 1730 Ryves Holt, sheriff of Sussex to Daniel Harrison for 20 pounds, 75 acres on lower side of Kings Road at the Round Pole Branch.  Land belonging to Gideon Harrison who was indebted to Wm. Till of the Loan Office who brought suit on 4 November 1729. Land sold at public auction to Daniel Harrison.  Witnesses: Henry Fisher, Joseph Pemberton.

G7-215. 12 April 1737 Daniel Harrison, yeoman of Sussex to Henry Scidmore, yeoman of same, for 30 pounds, 75 acres on a branch of Broad Creek bounded by the lower side of Kings Road at the Round Pole Branch and by a fork of Round Pole Branch, part of larger tract of 1000 acres known as Millford ... land bought at auction for 20 pounds on 8 May 1730 as a result of the non payment of debt by Gideon HarrisonSigned: Daniel Harrison. Witnesses: Jacob Phillips, Jacob Kollock.  Acknowledged: May 1737.

Will (Sussex Co, DE)

1-010. 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).

A Closer Look at Gideon Harrison

As previously shown, 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.

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.

When I say "third John Harrison", I mean that the other two well known John Harrisons were Sr and Jr, father and son. The father being born 1691 and older brother of Gideon born 1694. And the son, John Jr, died in the 1760's when he was murdered by a slave, having no heirs of his own. So who was this third John Harrison named in 1765 after John Jr was already dead?

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.

I am inclined to believe that this John Harrison in particular, and the Gideon just above him, were brothers, and sons of the older Gideon who died in 1729 in DE -- just as J. Houston Harrison suggested in his book. I know 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.

Taking it one step further, I also think 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 (also moved to SC with Nathaniel), as well as Margaret Harrison, were younger children of said John. William Cravens' wife, 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) in York Co SC.

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 (m. Margaret Harrison) and William Cravens (m. Jane Harrison) 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.

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 following map shows the tracts of land as they join each other on Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek in York Co SC near modern day Smyrna, SC. From top to bottom is shown

  • (MB) Matthew Black who married Margaret Ponder
  • (NH) Nathaniel Harrison who married Rachel ____
  • (TP) Thomas Patterson (son of Robert and Sarah Patterson) who married Margaret Harrison
  • (RB) Robert Black who married Majey Cravens (sister of William Cravens and daughter of Robert Cravens Sr and Mary Harrison)
  • (RP) Robert Patterson Sr who married Sarah _____ (father of Thomas Patterson).
  • Not shown here, but also nearby was Robert Cravens Jr who married Esther Harrison (dau. of Jeremiah Harrison and Elizabeth Patterson). This latter couple didn't live on this land, but it is believed his brother, William Cravens, lived here for 7 years. William Cravens married Jane Harrison.

The Cravens siblings were Robert Jr, William, and Majey. They were children of Robert Cravens Sr and Mary Harrison (dau. of Isaiah Harrison Sr).

The Harrison siblings were Nathaniel, Thomas (chain carrier for some of the surveys), Jane, and Margaret. My belief is they were children of John and Mary Harrison, with this latter John being a son of Gideon Harrison (1694-1729).

The Harrison siblings from the older generations mentioned were Gideon (b. 1694), Mary (m. Robert Cravens), Jeremiah (m. Elizabeth Patterson), and a brief mention was made to John Harrison Sr - meaning the one who was born 1691 and was a brother to Gideon, Mary and Jeremiah.

Pattersons mentioned here were Robert and Sarah Patterson, and their children Robert Jr, Thomas, and a daughter who married Daniel Ponder Jr. Daniel Ponder Jr's sister Margaret is the one who married Matthew Black, an apparent brother of the afore-mentioned Robert Black. These families were extremely inter-married in many different ways. And they lived contiguously here in SC (and later in Buncombe Co NC), as well as previously in Augusta Co VA along Linville Creek near Harrisonburg, and also previously in Sussex Co DE near the modern towns of Milton and Harbeson, DE.

The DNA Link

The Buncombe Co NC Harrisons (who have been proven to be the Kings Mtn Harrisons) 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)? 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 was the father of Thomas Patterson.

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 above, 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, with him having been born ca. 1715-20, he 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), or was John's wife Mary, somehow related to Sarah ____ Patterson? 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.

Did 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 a grandfather – as in 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.


One caveat to this entire line of thinking... the name Gideon does not appear to show up in any of these families in later generations. So the trail really goes cold on Gideon and his family. However, the clues surrounding this "third John Harrison" of Augusta Co VA may just be enough to tie these NC/SC/VA Harrisons to the Gideon Harrison family of Sussex Co DE.


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