Friday, March 22, 2019

Sampson Harbison and his children

Using the collection of Philadephia City Directories on the Internet Archive, I found out a little more about Sampson Harbison, b.c. 1786. He's recorded at Philip above Master St. between 1849 and 1851, straddling the 1850 census. The location is shown on this section from Smedley's Atlas of the City of Philadelphia, 1862. Note it's only a block east (up, on the map) of St Michael's Church at Second St. below Jefferson, which seems to have been a focus for recent Irish immigrants. He then disappears until the 1860 census; it's possible he moved out to Blair County, to join his brother Henry, in 1852 or so. He was there in 1860, but returned to Philadelphia later, possibly because his wife Sarah died.

John was age 36 according to the 1850 census, and therefore born c. 1814. His wife, Mary McQuillen, was 26, and they had three children, Sampson (6), William James (4) and Rosanna (1). Subsequently Mary Jane Jorgenson née Harbison was born on October 1 1853. Both William James and Sampson Jr. served in the army, the latter in the civil war; William James is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A previous child named Rosanna died on July 15 1845 and was buried at St. Michaels, aged 9 months. That would likely push Sampson Jr's birth back to 1843, and would mean John named his first two children after his parents. There are burial records for two other, unnamed children on March 1 1852 and September 7 1855, both at St. Michael's. Though I can find no record, John and Mary presumably married between 1840 (when the McQuillens immigrated; more anon) and 1843. John is listed as a weaver, but almost every immigrant from Ulster was; in the early 19th century, people farmed for subsistence and wove linen for cash. In his naturalization petition (August 8, 1842) John is listed as 25 years old. His naturalization in court was on October 5 1844, witnessed by Charles McQuillen states he had been resident in the United States 5 years, but it's not clear how seriously this was taken. We can therefore place his immigration between 1839 and 1842; I have been unable to find records of his passage.

John first appears in the Philadelphia Directories in 1844, on Hancock St. below Master St., in what was then Kensington. He remained at that address, with a single missing year, until 1856. In 1857 and 1858, after street numbering had been introduced in Philadelphia, he is listed at 1346 Hancock, which is immediately below Master and is therefore likely the same address. He disappears in 1859, and despite considerable effort I cannot find him or his family in the 1860 census. James McQuillen occupied 1346 Hancock in 1859.

John died on May 3 1862, and was buried at St. Michael's on May 5 1862, with the expense paid by Thomas McQuillen. In 1863, Mary and Sampson (likely Sampson Sr.; John's son was in the army) were living at 1346 Hancock, with James McQuillin, coffee roaster. After that, Mary McQuillen Harbison disappears. I can find no further trace of her.

Bridget was born in approximately 1819 ± 3 (mean, range of US census entries for 1850, 1860 and 1870). There is no record of her immigration. Her first appearance is as Bridget McQuillen in a Philadelphia Savings Fund entry for March 20, 1848. In fact, her maiden name only appears once in the records, in the death certificate for her son John. She was probably married shortly before that, to Thomas McQuillen (born 1818), the brother of Mary, John Harbison's wife; her first two children, Thomas and Joseph, twins, are listed as two months old in the 1850 census, dated August 14. Both died shortly thereafter. Thomas was already a man of means, a coffee-roaster, who owned $7,000 worth of real estate. In 1850 they lived on Second Street above Master, a house that was occupied by Thomas's father William from 1843 onward. By 1860 they had two more children, John (8) and Mary (5), and Thomas was listed as a wine and liquor dealer at 427 Poplar Street; little had changed in 1870. Bridget died on May 3, 1871, and was buried on May 6, in St Michael's cemetery.

Henry K was born in 1825 in Ireland (median of 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 census entries). He first appears in Woodbury Township, Pennsylvania in 1850, married to Matilda Emerson, b. 1824, Pennsylvania, with a son Henry, age 2. Other than the appearance at Woodberry and the association with James in the 1863 draft registration, there is little to link him to Sampson, though he clearly was born on the wrong continent to be Henry's son. But in principle he might have been the child of John b.c. 1785.

Above is a listing of Henry K's children. The most intriguing is Aleen, who was named Allen and is listed as male in the 1860 and 1870 censuses, but subsequently as female and variously named Aleen or Allene. Aleen worked as a housemaid with a family in Germantown, and, having applied for a passport, seems to have traveled abroad. Contrary to what one might expect for a transgender person in the 19th century, she seems to have maintained good relations with her family. It is possible she was intersex; assigned as male at birth, but inescapably female at puberty.

Henry's family moved from Blair Co. to Montgomery Co., near Philadelphia, between 1863 and 1870, and apparently owned a homestead in Upper Dublin. A Vincent Emerson, aged 69, likely Matida's brother, appears on the 1880 census. But after that, I can find out very little. The 1890 census is missing, and I can't locate death records for either Henry or Matilda.

James has already been discussed.

Francis is a mystery. We know his approximate age from the 1860 US Census (age 30; birth therefore 1830) but I can find no baptismal record in Moneymore or the neighboring parishes. But if the birth date holds up, he was likely Rosanna Donnolly's last child. Francis married Mary A Costello, age 28 in 1860. We know her maiden name from New Jersey birth records; she was supposedly from the Isle of Man. There are 3 children listed on the 1860 census: Mary Elizabeth (7); Annabelle (4) and James (1). Since Mary Elizabeth is listed as having been born in New Jersey, it is likely that Francis lived in Trenton from before 1853, and he is listed in the Street Directory of 1859 as a laborer, living on Centre north of Lalor. I have no immigration records for him. A Francis C Harbison, born in New Jersey in 1861 and died in Philadelphia in 1881, is likely Francis's son; many online genealogies attribute this death to Francis his father, but this would entail the age of death being recorded wrongly in several places. Finally, there is Margaret, who is listed with James in the 1870 and 1880 censuses and was apparently born in 1863, but then disappeared; and possibly a Katherine, born in 1868; Katherine appears in online trees but I can find no record linking her with Francis, and all the records I've seen are unlikely to be her. We have birth records for Margaret and James.

Then something happened. James was 'at school' in Upper Dublin, PA in the 1870 census. Upper Dublin was where Henry K Harbison lived. Mary Elizabeth was listed with Sarah Harbison McCarty on the first enumeration of the 1870 census, while Annabella was listed in the same household in the second enumeration, about 3 months later. Sarah's husband Cornelius had died in the interim. (Most people attribute a census record in Lancaster Co. PA to Annabella, but she has the wrong age and there is no connection.) Francis was living with his aunt, Ellen Smith née Harbison (see below), along with his cousin Sampson Jr., on Hancock St in Philadelphia.

James and Maggie were listed together in the 1880 census, James being listed as a dyer, not a healthy occupation in 1880. They were living with their sister Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie), who had married and was now Donnelly. Frank was a laborer in Upper Dublin PA. I can't find Annabella in 1880.

What happened between 1863 and 1870? Possibly they both died in some tragedy. Francis could have conceivably been killed in the Civil War. None of the descendants seem to know. Some trees associate Mary Ann Costello with a Mary Ann Harbison who died in 1903, but I find this implausible. I think she died and Frank abandoned his family. The family of James, his brother, also seemed to fragment on the death of his wife; James, in fact moved back with his kids at various times, going from a provider to a dependent.

Mary Elizabeth married Charles Donnelly in 1872, had seven children, and lived to the age of 87. Annabella married Michael Bowers, apparently went west to Boulder, Colorado, for a while, but returned before 1910, and died in Philadelphia in 1911. Her husband remarried shortly thereafter, or possibly even before. James J. married Mary J Walters in 1882, had a large family, and died in 1915. His widow moved to Atlantic City New Jersey and died some time after 1940. Frank Jr. died in 1881; his death is better documented than his life was. I can find no trace of Margaret after 1880, but if she married soon after, that might not mean much. And Katherine is a ghost. But at least two of the ill-fated Francis's kids had descendants that still live today.

The principal mystery about Ellen is her age. An Ellen Harbison was baptized in Moneymore in 1833, parents Sampson and Sarah Devlin. She was with her parents on Philip St., above Master, in 1850, but she's listed at 14. That's a big discrepancy for a teenager. It's possible Ellen died, and another child was named Ellen; but I'm also looking into the possibility the years in the Moneymore baptismal registry were added post hoc and are wrong. I can't find Ellen in 1860, but then I can't find her uncle John either. By 1870 she had married John Smith, b. 1842, and was living in Philadelphia Ward 17 District 50, with her date of birth moved forward further to 1839. In 1880 she and her husband were living on Hancock St., with three Harbisons listed as 'boarders', John 22, Mary 15 and Sarah 13. Mary and Sarah were clearly the children of James, b. 1829, whose family fragmented on his wife's death. I have a theory about John, or which more anon. Unlike Mary and Sarah, he was born in Pennsylvania, not New Jersey.

I havent traced Ellen between 1880, when the couple was living on Hancock St., and 1907, but that may just be the sheer terror of having to screen every couple named John and Ellen Smith in Philadelphia. She died on Dec 17 1907, birth date indefatigably moved forward to 1844, and apparently childless, though she'd served as adoptive mother to several of her nephews and nieces. Her husband was apparently still alive.

Mary was christened in Moneymore in 1839, but there is no further record of her. She probably died in infancy or early childhood.

I almost missed Sarah ; I only found out about her from a DNA relative. She was born around 1836, probably in the short period where Moneymore christening records are missing. In 1850 she was living with her sister Bridget and Bridget's husband Thomas McQuillen in Kensington Ward 3, at 2nd Above master. Like her uncle John and sister Ellen, I can't find her in 1860. By 1870 she had married Cornelius McCarty, a shoemaker, and had two children, John (b. c. 1865) and Sarah (b.c. 1866). Cornelius died on October 18, 1870, in the three month period between the first and second 1870 census enumerations, and Sarah thereafter operated a boarding house. Eventually her daughter married a William Degnan, and Sarah moved in with them. She seems to have died between 1910 and 1920. I can't trace Sarah's son John, but Sarah Degnan had a family of seven.

And finally, Charles or William Charles was (according to census records) born in 1840 in Ireland, though I can't find a baptismal record. He was living with his parents in 1850, and working as a laborer with the Hamond family in Williamsburg, PA, in 1860, near his cousin William. He married Hannah Houp of Blair County some time between 1860 and 1862, and had nine children by 1880; he died on Spe 8, 1884, and is buried in the New Cathedral Cemetery in Philadelphia.

There's lots more to examine: the relationship between the Harbisons and McQuillens, the demographics, but this, I think, will do for now.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

James Harberson, b. 1819, Alabama

The Harbison surname is associated with several Y-chromosome haplogroups. The largest is the E-L117 haplogroup; we currently have 18 sets of DNA data for this group. The group seems to be associated with two large clusters, with a common ancestor in medieval Scotland; one group consists of descendants of the (probable) brothers John and James Harbison, who were in Chester Pennsylvania in the 1730s and 1740s, and migrated to Kentucky, dying there in around 1780-1790. Their origin seems to be with the Harbisons -- Adam and Hugh -- who settled on the Ballymena estate in Northern Ireland between 1660 and 1670. The other large cluster is associated with Alexander Harbison, who was born in Ireland in 1747 and migrated to North Carolina; there are a few other E-L117 individuals with more distant genetic connections, but all the American representatives are associated with the Scots-Irish migration from Northern Ireland to the American colonies, mostly between 1717 and 1776.

The other haplogroup is mine, I-M223, associated with the Ballyneill Harbisons and a James Harbison, b. 1745 from nearby Donaghenry, Co. Tyrone. Until last year, we thought all of the members of this cluster were Catholics.

But then a Harbison currently living in Arkansas turned up, with haplogroup I-M223 (and quite close to the other members of the group), whose earliest traceable ancestor was James Harberson, b. 1819 in northern Alabama. I was so surprised by this I rechecked his genealogy myself. There were no Catholics in northern Alabama in 1819, and James' descendant from Arkansas certainly wasn't Catholic. Moreover this part of Alabama had only recently (1816) been ceded but he Chickasaw tribe. So his family came from somewhere else.

Northern Alabama, it turns out, was filling up with Harbisons. A Samuel Harbison, descended from Alexander, had come down from Virginia via Kentucky and Tennessee. So had George Erwin Harbison, another descendant of Alexander. But both would have been E-L117. I was also taken by the spelling of the name, and was inclined to believe that instead James was born of someone who had migrated from South Carolina.

And sure enough, there was a James Harberson on the Pennsylvania Farmer, one of five ships the Reverend William Martin used to bring Ulstermen to Charleston South Carolina in 1772. Martin was an interesting character, a Covenanter clergyman who was recruited as pastor by the various dissident Presbytherian sects in the Carolinas. He was ordained in 1857 in the townland of Vow, on the Antrim side of the River Bann, a little south of Ballymoney, and about 20 miles north of Ballyneill. And he brought 1200 settler families with him, all from the approximate neighborhood of Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, and driven out by high rents and low linen prices. Most of them were Prebyterians and Covenanters, like himself; but some were Established Church, some were Baptists, and a few were Catholics. One was supposed to swear one's protestantism to get off the ship, but who knows?

James Harberson crossed the Atlantic with a wife but no children, and was probably newly married. He settled in the Presbyterian colony near Chester, Chester Co., in the northern part of South Carolina. However, settlers from that county migrated south as soon as Northern Alabama opened up after 1816. I can find plausible census records for him in Chester in 1790 (1 child) and 1810 (10 children). I suspect one of the children was the person who settled in Alabama and begat James, b. 1819.

It is perhaps significant the two earliest Harbisons in Ireland (William Harbison of Lislea, and John Herbertson of Moyknock, both in Londonderry) also lived near the Bann, a few miles upstream from Vow. It seems unlikely they came over with the major Presbyterian migration from Scotland, but may have been in Ireland earlier, perhaps much earlier. Might their descendants have moved south to Ballyneil, Moneymore, and Donaghenry, while James left with Rev. Martin? My father, interestingly, told me the family lore was that our family had originally lived near Ballymoney.

So it's speculative, but this might be the common origin of James Herberson, of Walker Co., Alabama, and the rest of the I-M223 Harbisons.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Benjamin Harbeson and America's Original Sin

Any American genealogist sooner or later encounters slavery. Several of the Harbisons who emigrated to the southern states were slaveholders. But what is not generally realized is that slavery was quite common in the northern states around the time of the revolution. After independence, most abolished it, although Pennsylvania merely heavily restricted it, and did not end it until 1848.

This came somewhat brutally to my attention when doing a standard search of 18th century Philadelphia newspapers turned up the following advertisement, in the Pennsylvania Packet of Tuesday, January 29, 1782. What I find particularly disturbing is its callousness. The girl's pregnancy was actually a selling point, and Harbeson's adding he also had borax for sale adds to the ad's inhumanity.

It turns out Benjamin Harbeson was one of Philadelphia's fest-known citizens, a copper- and silver-smith. His metalware is highly prized to this day. He was, reportedly, born in Philadelphia in 1727, and his his ancestor therefore likely came to America at the very beginning of the major Ulster-Scots migration, or even possibly before it.

DNA suggests the Protestant Harbisons are unrelated to the Catholic Harbisons who came to Philadelphia later, and who often fought for the Union. Still, I wish I hadn't seen this.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Rosanna Harbeson: more

Here is a section of Simons' Map of Philadelphia, 1831, Delaware River to the bottom, and therefore north to the right, showing South Alley, at the far bottom right, where Rosanna Harbeson is reported to have lived. It's a block and a half north (right) of Independence Hall (the building on the right side of Independence Square). The alley has long since been demolished to make way for the Independence Hall Visitor Center. But judging from the contemporary directories, it was a busy commercial center, an odd place to live, except there was a boarding house at 2 South Alley. One deduces, therefore, that Rosanna was a transient, possibly newly arrived from Ireland, when she died. There is no evidence of other members of her family in the neighborhood.

The Holy Trinity church and cemetery, where she was buried, is on the top right corner of Sixth and Spruce. It was of course normal for Catholics to live a few blocks from a church.

So, still a mystery. She was almost certainly from Ireland, but did she arrive alone? And what killed her at age 30?

Edit: oh dear. The widow Brown's boarding house at South Alley was apparently a bordello. Philadelphia in 1825 was a notoriously libertine city, with an active seaport and a red light area called 'Hell Town', although Mrs Brown's establishment was not in Hell Town and was apparetly a cut above the usual knocking-shop.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Rosanna Harbeson 1796-1826...Philadelphia?

I've been slowly working through the plethora of Philadelphia street directories, trying to make coherent sense of the family of Sampson Harbison. And I was making headway. There are two John Harbisons in what was Kensington Ward 3 in 1850 and became Philadelphia Ward 17 in 1860, near St. Michael's Church, which was a nucleus for Catholic Harbisons. Both were listed as weavers. This means little; virtually every poor person who came from Northern Ireland was a weaver. Ulstermen subsistence-farmed for food, and wove flax into linen for cash.

One John lived on Cadwaller above Master; the other on Hancock below Master, a few blocks away. I found a death certificate for the Cadwaller John's wife, Rosanna, which gave her street address; and a marriage record for their son James, in a Presbyterian church. This confirmed what I already believed; Sampson's son John lived on Hancock.

Unwilling to leave well enough alone, though, I casually looked at the other Rosannas. And there I found a Rosanna Harbeson, buried at Holy Trinity Catholic Church on July 15, 1826, aged 30. The spelling is probably insignificant; the name was always spelled Harbeson in Philadelphia before 1850. But I have no idea who this woman was, and I can find no other records of her. There are two Harbesons in the Philadelphia Street Directory for 1825, Hugh and Samuel. In fact, there were several Harbisons in Philly in the 18th century, most descended from Benjamin Harbison, b. 1725. Benjamin was undoubtedly Protestant (Methodist).

I don't even know if Harbeson was a married or a maiden name. But there's a mystery here; there were Catholic Harbisons in Philly almost two decades before I suspected. Were she or her husband descended from the Ballyneill branch, or the Portmore branch? Could she have been sister or sister-in-law to William?

One more point; look at the names. Early Catholic Philadelphians were mostly not Irish.

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.