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From: Sandra Hart <>
Subject: [HARRIS-HUNTERS] Elijah and Nancy (Lee) Harris
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2012 07:16:31 -0700


Elijah Harris and his wife Nancy Lee were Pat (Morefield) Seaver’s and my GGGG Grandparents.

Elijah’s parents and grandparents

William and Elizabeth Harris were Elijah’s parents. William was probably born ~1735 in Amelia Co, VA and died before 1815 in Patrick Co, VA. William reached adulthood in Amelia Co, living in the household of his parents, John and Susannah (Wingo) Harris, who most likely had additional children, including, John, James and Rhoda (who married Abraham Vasser). This Harris family lived in northwestern Amelia Co between Flatt Creek and the Appomattox River near the southeastern border of Prince Edward Co. The area is rural, with pretty rolling hills bordered by small forests. The last major battle of the Civil War was fought at Saylor’s Creek, not far from where they lived.

William Harris married Elizabeth sometime before 1768 in Amelia Co, VA. Elizabeth’s parents and maiden name are unknown. (Pat Seaver and I considered, and then rejected, Benjamin Hendricks and Isaac Morris as potential fathers). Elizabeth was born before 1748 and died after 1818. William did not start buying land until he moved to Halifax Co, VA in 1778. By the time he and Elizabeth settled on their own land in the Difficult Creek area of Halifax Co, they already had at least three children: Barnard/Barnet born in 1768, Tabitha born ~ 1770, and Elijah born after 1774. From later census records, we believe that there may have been two additional sons and a daughter born Halifax Co, including a son Obediah born in 1782 and died in 1813 in either Stokes Co, NC or Patrick Co, VA.

Elijah Harris’ childhood

Elijah grew up in the northeast part of Halifax Co on Difficult Creek. At least part of the Difficult Creek area is now a Natural Preserve. It was open and grassy with scattered pines and hardwoods. By 1768, Elijah and his siblings began to marry the children of neighboring families in Halifax Co:

Barnard/Barnet Harris married Anne Askew on Dec 3, 1786. Both sets of parents consented to the marriage, as the bride and groom were underage (18 and 16, respectively). Anne was the daughter of Daniel and Rachel Askew. Barnard and Anne probably had at least two daughters (Jane and Leony). They divorced by 1796 and both remarried. It seems the divorce was reasonably amicable, as they and their extended families eventually settled on Russell Creek in Patrick Co and continued to interact with and live near each other. On June 20, 1796, Barnard married Mary/Polly Smallman. She was born before 1775 and died 1828, the daughter of John Smallman who was another Halifax Co neighbor. They moved to Stokes Co, NC where Barnard’s household was enumerated next to that of his father in the 1800 census. Two boys and a girl under 10 and two girls between 10 and 16 were listed in Barnard’s household. The younger girl was probably their daughter, Elizabeth who later had a son out of wedlock whom she named William Barnet Harris, after her grandfather and father. Elizabeth’s son was most likely the male 0-10 listed in Barnard’s household in the 1820 census and was named along with Mary/Polly and Elizabeth in Barnard’s 1827 will. Were the two older girls in the 1800 census Barnard’s daughters by his first wife? Who were the young boys in Barnard’s household in 1800? Was one of them Obediah? Was the other an unknown son who was listed again in Barnard’s household in 1820? If so, he must have pre-deceased Barnard, as he was not named in his 1827 will.

Tabitha Harris married Josiah Tuck on Dec 22 1790. Josiah was born in 1760 in Halifax Co, VA, most likely the son of Edward Tuck, Sr and Susannah Nash. Josiah was a soldier in the American Revolution from 1777-1780. In 1794, he bonded the marriage of Tabitha’s brother, Elijah to Nancy Lee. By 1795, he became the first of many Tucks to settle in Georgia. His military service allowed him two draws in the Oglethorpe Co, GA land lottery, He and Tabitha lived in Oglethorpe Co until the 1820s and then moved to Wilkes Co, GA where they remained for the remainder of their long lives. They had at least 8 children before 1815 who lived to adulthood: Claiborne, Sarah, Tabitha C, Benjamin, Mary, Martha Ann, Susannah, and Nancy. Josiah named most of his children (and their spouses, in some cases) in his 1844 will. The Tuck family continued to interact with this Harris family; some of them settled near the family of Elijah’s son Joseph in Missouri and intermarried with that of his grandson James.

Elijah Harris married Nancy Lee, the daughter of William Lee (who consented to their marriage) on Jan 20, 1874. Nancy was born ~1775 in Halifax Co, VA. Their families lived near each other in Halifax Co and moved to Patrick Co, VA at about the same time, both settling on Russell Creek. Elijah and Nancy had most of their children in Halifax Co, VA. I wonder if they did not move to Stokes Co, NC with Elijah’s father and brother (before everyone moved to Patrick Co) because they had a houseful of toddlers: Prudence born ~1797, Claiborne ~1798, Joseph in 1803, Mary/Polly before 1804, and Martha in 1807. Elijah and Nancy moved to the Russell Creek area of Patrick Co, VA before 1810. Patrick Co is located in the on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains not far from the North Carolina border. The Russell Creek area is in the southeast part of the county. It is possible that Elijah and Nancy had another son, Thomas, born in Patrick Co between 1810 and 1820.

Obediah Harris did not marry as far as we know. He died in Stokes Co, NC or Patrick Co, VA in 1813; his name was in Stokes Co records in 1813 but Barnard Harris inventoried his estate (consisting of a horse and indigo) in Patrick Co, VA in 1814. (It is also possible, but less likely, that Obediah was Barnard’s son rather than his brother).

Elijah and Nancy Harris’ Children

Elijah’s and Nancy’s children began to marry in Patrick Co by 1812. Brett Stovall officiated at a number of these marriages and Elijah often served as bondsman:

Tabitha Harris married James Owens in 1815 with Elijah posting bond. He was born between 1794-1797, son of either David or Solomon Owen. He was probably not the son of Joseph and Phoebe (Staples) Owen. Tabitha and James established their own household in Patrick Co, VA and had at least four children between 1819 and 1830. Tabitha and her children probably moved to Tennessee with Elijah and Nancy before 1830. It isn’t clear what became of James Owen. Tabitha and her youngest daughter Elizabeth ended up living with the family of her son William Owen in Wilson, Co.

Claiborne Harris married Elizabeth Blanks in 1819 in Patrick Co, VA. I don’t know anything about Elizabeth’s family although I believe she was born ~1793 in Rockingham Co, NC and was most likely related to Thompson Blanks who married Claiborne’s sister Mary/Polly. Claiborne and Elizabeth remained in Patrick Co for a few years after their marriage and then moved to Rutherford Co, TN. By 1930, they two sons and a daughter: John Lee, George Washington, and an unknown girl. A fourth son, William J, may have been born in 1930 after the census was taken. Elizabeth died in the early 1830s and Claiborne married again on Aug 19 1835. He and his 2nd wife, Mary Summar had six more children between 1838 and 1850, most or all of whom were born in Wilson Co, TN: Parthena, James, Martha P, Nancy R, Mary Jane, and Samuel Houston. Mary Summar was born ~1812 in NC. She was the daughter of Alexander Summar and part of the large Summar famly that moved to TN from NC. Claiborne died after 1850 and left no will. Mary moved to Cannon Co with her younger children and DID leave a will making it a little easier to sort out this family. Robert Harris, whose yDNA places him in Group 30 descends from Claiborne through his son Samuel Houston Harris.

Prudence Harris married Peter Cassady on Mar 1, 1819 in Patrick Co, VA with Elijah posting bond. Peter was born in 1796, also in Halifax Co, although we have been unable to figure out which family was his. He may have been related to the Polly Cassady who married Nancy (Lee) Harris’ brother William Lee Jr. After their marriage Peter and Prudence lived near Barnard Harris in Patrick Co for several years. The first four of their children (Mary AE, Daniel Leftridge, Ruth E and Lucinda) were born there between 1820 and 1830 By 1834, they moved to Edgar Co, IL where they had two additional sons, John B and Peter. They remained in Edgar Co until their deaths (Prudence before and Peter after 1860).

Mary/Polly Harris 1822 marriage to Thompson Blanks was bonded by Elijah Harris and performed by the same minister who married others in the family. It is possible that Thompson was related to Elizabeth Blanks, first wife of Mary/Polly’s brother Claiborne. Thompson and Mary/Polly Blanks probably had three childrenin the early to mid 1820s: Mary Ann who married Claiborne Owen, William M who married Winnie Artelia Summar and Julianne who married John C Leech. All three children eventually moved to the Sanders Fork area of Cannon Co, TN near their grandparents Elijah and Nancy Harris. I’ve found no trace of either Mary/Polly or Thompson after the 1830 census.

Joseph/Josiah Harris married Nancy Morefield on Dec 8, 1824 in Patrick Co. Nancy’s brother Allen and Joseph’s father Elijah witnessed their marriage. Her headstone gives her birthdate as Feb 10, 1801 but that is inconsistent with the fact that her mother gave her consent to the marriage. Her parents were William and Rebecca (Stevens) Morefield of Halifax Co, VA and her brother Allen married Joseph’s sister Martha. Joseph, Nancy, and their family moved to Rhea Co, TN at some point in the late 1820s or early 1830s. Joseph died or disappeared by 1840 leaving his widow to move to Cedar Co, MO in the late 1840s with 9 children (William Henry, Rebecca, Robert M, Mary Jane, Thomas Co, Sarah Ann, Eveline, George Washington, and David) and their extended families. There is some question about whether Joseph fathered the three youngest of the children that Nancy brought with her to Missouri from Tennessee (George, Evelyn and David). Family stories heard in Cedar Co, MO and a notation on George’s death certificate suggest that these three children were, in fact, the orphans of a Thomas Harris. Could this have been Joseph’s hypothetical son Thomas? On the other hand, it seems unlikely that a widow, with 6 children of her own would take on three orphaned children. A mystery yet to be solved.

Martha Harris was the last child to be born in Halifax Co and the last to marry. She married Allen Morefield in Patrick Co, VA on Mar 16, 1825 with Elijah posting bond. Allen was born in 1802 in Halifax Co. He was brother of Nancy and son of the same William and Rebecca Morefield. Martha and Allen Morefield settled in the Snow Creek district of Stokes Co, NC. After the Civil War, they moved to Scott Co, VA and then south to Hawkins Co, TN. They had 11 children: Henderson, Lucinda, Josiah Joseph, William H, Martha J., Nancy, Elijah, Mary J, Jackson (John) and Sarah A. Sandra (Harris) Hart and Patricia (Moorefield) Seaver, researchers for the Harris, Lee and Morefield families descend from Joseph and Martha Harris respectively; two Harris DNA Group 30 donors, Randall Rogers Harris and Stanley Russell Harris, descend from Joseph.

Thomas Harris. It is likely that Elijah and Nancy had one more son in Patrick Co, Thomas. He may have followed his brother Joseph to Rhea Co, TN and/or moved to Wilson Co, TN with his father (Elijah sold land on Sanders Fork to a Thomas Harris in 1833, but did not name him in his will.

Move to Tennessee

Between 1828 and 1830, Elijah and Nancy sold their land in Patrick Co, VA and relocated to Wilson Co, TN On Sept 17, 1830, Elijah bought land on Smith Creek, a tributary of Sanders Fork (the deed was entered as Harais). He and Nancy settled near the part of Rutherford that became Cannon Co. Elijah followed his eldest son, Claiborne, who was the first to move from Virginia to Tennessee.

Elijah and Nancy remained in Wilson County until their deaths in the 1840s. Elijah died in 1841, leaving a short will (that is nearly illegible) in which he left his land on Sanders Fork (Luck Creek ?) to Claiborne who had already moved to an adjacent farm. Elijah didn’t name any of his children in his will except Claiborne and a P. Harris who is thought to be Claiborne’s oldest daughter, Parthena. He referred instead to “my other children”.

DNA Project

In 2008, several male descendants of Elijah Harris submitted their DNA to the Harris-Hunters yDNA Project on Family Finder. They were tentatively placed in the group that descends from a Samuel Harris, also of Patrick Co (Group 12). However a new group was formed (Group 30) when DNA from a third descendant of Elijah was submitted. A number of other donors have been placed in Group 30 since then, but we have been unsuccessful in finding a solid paper trail we can agree on to connect them. One approach we have taken to figure out how everyone is related is for some of the female descendants to provide their DNA to come at the problem through autosomal DNA. Although we (distantly) match each other and have many matches in common, we haven’t solved that puzzle.

The male lines of descent back to Elijah for the three DNA donors are:

1. Randall Rogers Harris < Don Ralph Harris < Ralph Hugho Harris < James Madison Harris < William Henry Harris < Joseph Harris < Elijah Harris

2. Stanley Russell Harris < Stanley M Harris < Reed Taylor Harris < James Madison Harris < William Henry Harris < Joseph Harris < Elijah Harris

3. Robert E Harris < Homer Bragg Harris < Robert H Harris < Samuel Houston Harris < Claiborne Harris < Elijah Harris


In two following posts, I will provide some of the land transactions and the trail of tax and census records that helped Pat (Morefield) Seaver and I to piece together our shared family tree.


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