Thursday, January 17, 2019

James J Harbison, April 4 1829 - February 12 1912

James was christened in the parish of Ardtrea nad Desertlyn (Moneymore) on April 19, 1829. based on his later declared birthday, he was likely born April 4, to Sampson Harbison and Rose née Donnolly. Residence was indicated as 'Ballyneal'. He is likely one of the 6 male inhabitants claimed on Sampson's census return of 1831. We know nothing of his childhood; simply that he emigrated to America. The most plausible immigration record for James is on the Sir John Campbell, arrived New York July 7 1846, from Liverpool. He is listed as age 18, and a laborer.

In the 1860 US census (August 28), James is listed as a laborer at the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum (pictured above) in Ewing Township, NJ. On the return, there is also a Mary Warrington (age 27), who is designated neither an employee nor an inmate. She immigrated through New York in 1852; she was born to Thomas Warrington and Catherine Gillick in Cavan in 1833.

James' marriage to Mary Warrington on May 30, 1861 in Trenton, NJ, records his parents as Sampson and Rose Harbeson. This might be a transcription error, or a result of illiteracy. By the 1870 census (dwelling 280; Trenton 3rd ward), the couple had had five children -- Charles (age 8), Mary (age 6), Sarah J. (June 10 1865-April 15 1917), John (age 2; born February 8 1869) and Thomas (age 5 months; born January 1870). Mary and Sarah J. are recorded as Pennsylvania births, while the others are New Jersey. All five children married and had issue. James' draft registration in June 1863 is in Woodbury, PA, alongside Henry K Harbison, two years older (who was likely a brother) and on the same page as Henry Harbison's son William. So apparently James was temporarily in Blair Co. from 1863 to the end of the Civil War.

mary Warrington Harbisopn died in 1871. James married again, to Eliza Cronin (b. c 1841; Ireland) on April 11, 1875, again in Trenton, NJ, but she died a little more than a year later, likely in childbirth. James lived in Trenton, according to the city directories, until 1876. James was living with his son Thomas in Philadelphia, on 2213 Palethorp St., in 1900, according to the census, and with his widowed daughter Mary Harbison Fennen in 1910, at 2151 N 34d St., a boarding house; this census lists his year of immigration as 1846.

James died on February 12, 1912, of myocarditis. His address was given as 2110 N 2nd St, 19th ward, which was the address of his daughter Sarah J McClernan; occupation was watchman.

James was buried in New Cathedral Cemetery, Philadelphia, in the same plot as Charles Harbison, a nephew. The year of his death is misstated on both death certificate and headstone; as I've often remarked, 19th century people knew their birthday, but not always the year they were born. His father is also misstated as 'Henry'. Since James was a widower, it's possible his uncle was mistaken for his father.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

William Harbison and his siblings; the late 18th century.

This is my best current list of William's siblings. It's pretty speculative.

John, as we've seen, is clearly William's brother. John appears as godfather for James, Sampson's son, and Sampson is connected to Henry as we've aready discussed. Francis lived in Moneymore, in close proximity to William, and cowitnessed a marriage with Mary Donnolly in Moneymore.

The rest are more speculative. Elizabeth married John Larkin, with a child (John) christened in Moneymore in 1829, Elena as godmother. The town listing is Ballyneill, but that was likely her residence, not his. Problem is the register entry is Latin, so Elena could be Ellen or Helen. We have what may be Elizabeth's death certificate from the adjacent townland of Ballymulderg in 1871, aged 74, putting her birth in 1797. There is a listing for a John Larkin in Ballymulderg in the 1831 census, with two sons and two daughters. There's also a listing for a John Larkin in Ballyneill, but he has no sons and two daughters. Baby John might of course have died in infancy.

James seems to have settled in Ballyriff, adjacent to Ballyneill Beg. The 1831 census lists 1 male and 6 feamles; proably five daughters. We also have a christening record for his children Bridget (likely one of the five) in 1828; and John (b. 1833; and a death record for his daughter Jane. His son James apparently took over the farm and appears as an aged widower in the 1901 census.

Edward appears in the 1831 census living in close proximity to John. He married Margaret McCort, and had a child Elena (see above) in 1829, Henry in 1833, and Mary in 1838. Margaret must have died by 1850 (probably a famine death) since he remarried a Frances Harbison in the Church of Ireland in 1850. More on this later. He died in 1875.

Eleanor was godmother to a child in Ballinderry in 1827, and married Patrick Smyth in 1833. They may have emigrated; I can find no further record of either of them. Since one had to be 16 to godparent, that puts her birthdate in 1811 or before. Finally, similarly, Ellen/Helen, by the same reasoning, must have been born before 1813.

Putting too much reliance on reported years of birth is a mistake, but Elizabeth and Edward could certainly have been twins. We have no direct evidence of any sibling born after 1797, but either Eleanor or Ellen/helen could have been. But certainly, it's at least plausible all of these births could have occurred betwen 1780 and 1800-1805, which would have been consistent with the father being the John Harbison reported in Ballyneill in the 1766 religious census. If John had been born circa 1745, he might have been the brother of James Harbison of Donaghenry. His last child would then have been born at age 55 - 60, which gives us a bit of leeway. His wife (unknown) may have been considerably younger, cf course, likely born about 1760. In favor of this hypothesis are the names, which form a pretty complete slate of the common Harbison names at the time -- we have no duplicate names in the list of plausible siblings. Sampson remains a mystery, but we can speculate he might have been christened Samuel and adopted Sampson because he was unusually strong, for example.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Francis Harbison, 1795-1837

We know Francis from his gravestone in the churchyard of St. John and Trea, Moneymore, and from his terse death notice in the Belfast Newsletter.

He's buried with his daughter Jane (1835 - 1860) and his wife Lucy Gribben (1798 - 1885).

In the 1831 census, Francis' household, the first enumerated in Moneymore, was listed as containing one male and five female family members. One female was obviously Lucy. We have a record of the christening of a daughter Bridget in Ballinderry on October 25 1828. Who the other two older daughters were I've been unable to ascertain. Subsequent to the census, Francis and Lucy obviously had Jane, and also John, christened October 18, 1832 in Moneymore.

The only link with William b. 1780 is his co-witnessing with Mary Donnolly, Willliam's wife, of the marriage of Patrick Wall and Isabella Mulholland in 1835 in Moneymore. Nonetheless, I think, given this and the geographic proximity, plus name and birthdate, the balance of probability is he was William's brother.

According to Griffith's Valuation and the PRONI valuation books, Lucy lived at 19 Lawford Street, but the property was marked as ruined sometime between 1876 and 1878. There is no record of what happened to her. She also rented from the Church of Ireland slightly over 4 acres of land (plots 4 and 5) in Feenan Beg (see the map on the page for William for its location). According the valuation books, she retained this land until 1906, which would have made her 108 years old, which seems unbelievable. It was passed on to John Morris (see below).

Far more plausible is that she had a spinster daughter named Lucy, whose death on 13 December 1896 is recorded in Moneymore, at the age of 66. Presumably she was one of Francis and Lucy's children, although this is by no means certain. Reporter is John Morris, whose wife Elizabeth (née McKenna) inherited Lucy's pittance (3 pounds). Lucy was living at 15 Lawford Street in 1893; John and Elizabeth Morris at 17 Lawford Street in the 1901 Census. Elizabeth was likely related by marriage; possibly her mother was a Harbison.

Oddly, I can find no record of the older Lucy's death, other than the grave marker.

In any case, other than Lucy, who've I've by no means established was a daughter, I can find no trace of Francis's other children. Probably a lot of sad tales there, untold.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Henry Alphonsus Harbison, MB, RAMC, MC w/ two bars, Croix de Guerre.

This is written with the help of research by Andrew and Joseph Harbison, who have forgotten more military and medical history than I've ever learned.

Henry Alphonsus Harbison was born in Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, in 1888, of James Harbison and Rose Ann Mullan, ultimately of William Harbison, b. 1780, his great grandfather, and my third great grandfather.

After leaving home for medical school, Henry lived in Gardiner's Row, near the Rotunda, in Dublin, and took a medical degree at University College Dublin. He graduated in 1913 with an MB. He joined up in September 1914, and was posted immediately to France. Being an medical graduate with no experience, he was posted to lead a stretcher unit, where he worked the front-lines and decided who could be saved and who couldn't. Triage.

In 1916, he won his first Military Cross at the Battle of the Somme, on Beziers Ridge, the place where they had the highest casualty rate in the entire battle. He won the MC digging a wounded soldier out of the mud under heavy fire.

He served until the end of the war, earning his second bar to the MC (effectively the third MC) in late 1918. I have no idea how many of his fellow soldiers he saved. Hundreds, maybe thousands. He also won the Croix de Guerre, probably because Henry and his unit didn't check nationality before saving wounded soldiers.

He retired in 1923 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While I have no reason to love the British Army, they looked after their men. Despite being invalided with chronic fibroid phthisis, which was probably partly tuberculosis and partly mustard gas, they arrange for him a sinecure.

He died in 1935, of lung disease. He left his widow 6 pounds, about $25 at the time. I remember her vaguely, from the 60's, a very old lady. Here is his obituary.

John Harbison, c. 1785-1868

As is so often the case, we know when John Harbison was born from his death certificate.

The only direct link we have between John and the rest of the Ballyneill Harbisons, and William, is the death notice for his son Henry, in the 1885 Belfast Newsletter.

HARBISON—July 6. Henry, third son of the late John Harbison, Ballyneil, uncle to the Very Rev. Henry Harbison C.S.S.R., Dundalk. Funeral will leave for the family burying ground, loop, this day (Wednesday), the 8th, at 121 o'clock. Friends will accept this the only intimation R.I.P.

The link was formed by two Henries; Henry, John's son, died in 1885; Henry the Redemptorist was the son of William Harbison, b. 1780. If John was his uncle, he was William's brother.

There are two records of a John Harbison acting as godfather in Ballinderry in 1828 and 1829. And there is this entry in the 1831 census for Ballyneill More.

It's intriguing, particularly because of the existence of two John Harbinsons, living very close, with families of almost exactly the same size, but one Catholic, and one Established Church. I'm wondering if this was a mistake, or if John was having a little fun. Certainly we have no other record of a Church-of-Ireland-attending John Harbison in Ballyneill More.

In any case, if John's wife was still alive in 1831, there were in addition three boys and five girls. Henry may have been one of the boys; his death certificate suggests a birth in 1831. And if so, he was the third son. I can't find a baptism for him. A second boy was William, 1814-1884. There are several candidates for the third boy, born before 1830, and for the five girls, but no clear links. yet.

If John were born in 1785, and married at age 25 (the median age for first marriage for Irish Catholic men at the time, and if he had a child every two years (about average) by 1831 he should have had 10 kids, so 8 is not unreasonable.

Also noteworthy is Edward Harbinson, Catholic, living in the adjacent house, probably younger, since with a wife present he had two boys and one girl. He was almost certainly a brother, b. c. 1797; I'll write him up separately.

Finally, this is the relevant clipping from Griffith's valuation.

John apparently has two lots, one of which he owns and is renting to William, his son (later property valuations verify this). The other he's still renting from the Salters' Company. And Edward also has a small plot.

I'm going to cover the Ballyneill More landholdings properly later.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Rev Fr Henry Harbison C.SS.R. (1820-1889)

The eponymous cleric was one of the later sons of WIlliam Harbison (b. 1780). He went to Maynooth to study for the priesthood, something of an inevitability for an Irish middle class family; became curate in Dungannon in 1847, and was apparently heavily involved in nationalist agitation. That's understandable, given that SE Londonderry, where he was born and raised, was one of the few parts of Ulster severely impacted by the potato famine (1845-1848). The rest of his bio-, or perhaps more accurately his hagiography, is given by Papa Stronsay.

I should say I'm the kind of atheist who considers Richard Dawkins a little too moderate,and so it's amusing to learn my 3rd great uncle was the Irish Catholic version of Billy Graham. But far more importantly to a genealogist, the Reverend Henry was famous. All my 19th century relatives wanted him to conduct their funeral (which would then be written up in the newspaper) and everyone wanted him mentioned in their obituary. And that small piece of vanity is the only direct evidence I have to link the Ballyneill Harbisons to my branch of the family, as we'll see in the next post.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sampson Harbison, c 1786 - 1866

I discounted Sampson Harbison as a possible relative for some time, on the theory no late 18th century Catholic Irishman could ever have been named Sampson. Yet he existed. I still don't understand the name, except there was a family named Sampson living near Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, in the late 18th century, presbyterians. Yet Sampson was certainly Catholic. He appears first in a baptism record for Ballinderry, Co Londonderry, on April 19, 1829, father of a son James, wife Rose Donnolly, and with Mark Devlin and John Harbison as witnesses.

Because the 1831 census data for parts of Londonderry survived the Four Courts fire in Dublin in 1922, we have by good fortune a record of Sampson's family in 1831. It contained 6 males, and two females. One female may have been his wife Rose Donnelly; but since he married Sarah Devlin in Moneymore on September 23, 1832, Rose Donnelly might already have been dead. One male was clearly his son James. We have a christening for Ellen, daughter of Sampson and Sarah Devlin, on September 28, 1833; and for a daughter Mary on February 18 1839 (Eleanor Harbison and John Devlin were godparents). That is the last Irish record for Sampson.

The next record is in the 1860 US Census for (surprise!) Woodbury Township, in Blair County (previously Hutchinson County) Pennsylvania. Sampson is listed as 78, which would put his birth in 1782. His wife Sarah is 55, which would put her birth in 1805, meaning she would have been 27 at the time of her marriage. It seems inevitable this is the same Sampson, not only because of the unusual name, but because of the clear geographical association with Henry.Sampson's death is listed in the town records of Philadelphia on April 23, 1866. Sarah may have died some years previously; in 1863, Sampson was living at 1346 Hancock Street, living with Mary Harbison, 'gentlewoman', possibly his daughter.

There is also a persuasive but not certain 1850 census record for a 'Samuel Harbinson' living in Kensington 3rd ward of Philadelphia, born in Ireland, and aged 60. wife Sarah, aged 47, and two children Ellen (14) and Charles (10). As we'll see, Charles also turned up in Woodbury; all four are listed as born in Ireland. So it appears Sampson emigrated between 1840 and 1850.

I have not yet found passenger records for Sampson or his family, though I believe emigration was 1840 or soon thereafter. There is no trace of any of the family in the 1857 Griffith's valuation for Ballyneill Beg. We can however make some inferences about where they lived. While the house numbers in the 1831 census and in Griffith's valuation are not aligned, they are often correlated. These are the data for the north end of Ballyneill Beg.

It looks like the 1831 census takers moved south to north, and Griffiths runs north to south. Harbison, Crosset, and Donley are gone. That makes it likely Sampson lived in Griffith's plots 3, 4, 7, 8 or 9, with 3 as the most likely. Here's the map.