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.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Henry Harbison c. 1793 - 1880

Henry Harbison is in many respects a mystery. I suspect we're related, but I have no direct proof of it. I suspect he was a scion of the Ballyneill Harbisons, but I have only circumstantial evidence for that. And yet he's the lynchpin of everything I know about the Catholic Harbisons in America.

There are no Irish records at all. The first record of Henry is his emigration from Ireland, on the ship Jane, from the port of Derry, which arrived in Philadelphia on June 14 1816. Above is the cargo manifest. His possessions fit in one chest. Since he left from Derry, he was probably part of the Derry/Tyrone branch; an Antrim or Down Harbison would most likely have traveled through Belfast.

His stated year of birth, determined from the census records, varies between 1786 and 1795, with a median of 1793; this also appears on his obituary. Most people in the 19th century remembered their birthday, but not their year of birth.

Henry was early for an Irish Catholic emigrant. During the colonial era, America was not a welcoming place for Catholics. Despite William Penn's declaration of religious tolerance, and Roger Williams in Rhode Island, and Lord Baltimore, and the First Amendment, yadda, yadda, yadda, America in 1816 didn't like Catholics and didn't want much to do with them. Less than 1.2% of the population of the thirteen colonies was Catholic. Many Harbisons had passed through Philadelphia in the previous century, but they were Presbyterian to a man.

Within a year of his arrival Henry left for Huntington County, in the south central part of the state, a valley in the Alleghenies. His obituary indicates he arrived there in 1816, shortly after his immigration. I'm still looking for evidence of what drew him to that place. None of his shipmates seem to have settled there. However, there is evidence it was more religiously tolerant than the eastern seaboard. Newry, one of the principal towns, was founded by Patrick Cassidy, a Catholic from Co. Down, in 1793. He was a surveyor, who also laid out Williamsburg, where Henry ultimately lived. And Henry's daughter Elizabeth married his grandson David.

Huntington County wasn't quite the frontier, but it wan't far from it. Forty years previous, it had experienced Indian raids, during the War of Independence. Judging by the surnames, it was a polyglot place, with Pennsylvania Germans, WASPs, and Irish of both flavors.

Henry doesn't appear in the 1820 US Census, but all that means is he was not a head of household, and was likely boarding with someone. He does appear in the Pennsylvania 1821 Census, for Woodberry Township, Huntington Co., listed as a joiner. At some time prior to that, probably 1818-1819, he had married Sarah Baugher, of Pennsylvania German origin (I'll justify this later). In 1820, he had the first of five children I can account for. Here they are.

All of the kids are inferred from later census records. There may have been more, although 5 kids in 8 years was towards the upper end of reproduction rates at the time. The last child was born in 1827, and his wife Sarah died in 1832. That was the year the second great cholera pandemic came to the Unitewd States; it might conceivably also have carried off their younger children.

The census of 1830 shows a fairly large household. In addition to his known kids, and his wife (20 - 30 years old), it enumerates three young men of ages 15-20 and one 20-30, and one extra infant boy, otherwise unaccounted for. I speculate these were hands he'd hired to clear a farm he'd bought (according to later records) that year. His farm was probably in excess of 100 acres, perhaps a quarter section. It was, reportedly rough ground, but he made it work, and by 1850 he was worth $11,200 in real estate, which is something around $400,000 in 2018 dollars. He was also a significant figure in his community. In 1838, he was elected constable of the county; in 1860, he served as vice president of the Democratic County Convention.

In genealogy, one thing one learns is the real information is not in census records, marriage and birth certificates, but in wills and obituaries, where people expound on their families and what is important to them. In this respect, the will of Elizabeth Baugher, 1839, is a wonderful example.

Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania Will Book 4, page 125 Elizabeth Baughers Will In the name of God Amen. I Elizabeth Baugher of the township of Woodbury,county of Huntingdon, in the state of Pennsylvania,widow being weak in body, but of soune mind,memory and understanding, and considering the uncertainty of this transitory life, do make and publish this, my last will and testament in manner and form to wit. It is my will and I do order that all my just debts including the expenses that I have incurred since I have been with and at the residence of Henry Harbison and all the expenses and trouble he the said Harbison may have on my behalf until my decease, together with my funeral expenses be duly paid and satisfied out of my effects as soon as convieniently can be after my decease. Item first I give and bequeath unto my Great Grand Daughter Elizabeth Harbison, my bed and bedstead and clothing thereto also my stove now in the possesion of Greenberry Wilson in Williamsburg.Item second I give and bequeath all my my effects such as notes Book accounts claims goods and chattels that I now have or may have at the time of my decease after first paying thereout all my just debts and expenses as above instructed, the remainder(if any) of my property shall be equally divided between my three Great Grand Daughters namely, Elizabeth Harbison, Elinore Harbison and Sarah Harbison, to be paid to them by the said exector as soon as they attain the age of eighteen years and lastly I nominate,constitute and appoint Henry Harbison to be the exector of this my last will hereby revoking all other wills, legacies and bequests by me hereafter made and declaring this and no other shall be my last will and testament in witness where of I have here unto put my hand and seal the twenty seventh day of August one thousand and eight hundred and thirty eight signed sealed and declared by the said testor as her last will and testament in the presence of the ward ( of Pennsylvania) on the fourth line on the other side being intersigned before the signer of this side. Witnesses: Jacob Winter and Joshua Roller Signed by: Elizabeth Baugher (Her mark) Probate Jan 30 1839

The great granddaughters, Henry's children, are unmistakable. It's not completely proven that Sarah was Sarah Baugher, but there's a Henry Baugher in the tax records of Woodberry for 1798 and 1800, and his enlistment records for the war of 1812; he signed up for the 5th Pennsylvania Volunteers (Coloner Fentons' regiment) in 1814. The regiment marched up to Pittsburgh anf then travelled by boat and foot along Lake Erie, to Buffalo, fighting in some substantial engagements. We don't know for sure what happened to Henry, but it seems likely he never came home, which would have left Sarah at least fatherless. Elizabeth appears in the 1830 census as aged between 70 and 80, which would put her birthdate 1750-1760; it's likely she was Pennsylvania German and originally named Bauer.

The 1840 census is a mystery; because Henry isn't on it. US censuses until about 1880 are frustrating, because people were enumerated in no particular order; it was probably simply the order the census-taker got to them. But we can trace Henry's neighbors in 1830, 1840 and 1850, and he's definitely missing in 1840. My theory is he went back to Ireland to bring back some of his relatives, and his kids (the oldest was 20) were lodged with someone else. I'll go through this further anon.

By 1850, all the children but Sarah were married. Henry himself was living as a widower in 1860, Sarah with him.

He remarried in 1862, to a Juliet Rickert, widow of Henry Rickert, a Pennsylvania German from Lancaster County, PA. She was a music teacher, as was her widowed husband. Henry lived on, evidently a pillar of society and frequently mentioned in the newspapers, until his death in 1880.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Catholic Harbisons

Wild Billy Harbison married a Catholic servant girl
When all his Loyal family passed on:
We danced round him shouting 'To Hell with King Billy'
And dodged from the arc of his flailing blackthorn
Forsaken by both creeds, he showed little concern
Until the Orange drums banged past in the summer
And bowler and sash aggressively shone
-- Like dolmens round my childhood, the old people, from Poisoned Lands, and other poems, John Montague, 1961.
John Montague (1929-2016) was the Irish Poet Laureate. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he grew up in East Tyrone; the poem is about his childhood. The same story of Wild Billy was passed down through my family. Bowler and sash refers to the traditional garb of the protestant Orange Order, during summer marching season, when they march, banging loud Lambeg drums, usually through Catholic areas, to show them who is boss. (Tiocfaidh ár lá, bitches) And King Billy was of course William of Orange, who defeated James II 1688-1691, resulting in the imposition of the Penal Laws on the Catholic population.

On my first day in secondary school -- high school, to youse Yanks -- Mr McGillen, the drunken Latin teacher featured in Roddy Doyle's Smile, started calling the roll, and when he got to my name, called me up to the front of the class

Harbison?
Yes, sir
That's a Protestant name.
So they say, sir.
Are you Protestant, Harbison?
No sir.
Good. Sit down.

As we've seen, he wasn't wrong. The Harbisons who came to Antrim 1650-1670 were Protestant, specifically Presbyterian, likely some of them Covenanters. The very existence of Catholic Harbisons is an anomaly. And yet there are at least three clusters of us. One, as we've seen already, is on the western shores of Lough Neagh, from Magherafelt in the north to Dungannon in the south, but mostly within a few miles of the lake. It dates to at least 1745, the approximate birth-year of James Harbison of Donaghenry; and in the north, the birth of John Harbison of Ballyneill, born about the same time or even earlier.

The second is on the other shore of the lake, around Portmore. I'll get into this group a little later, but to tide you over there's an excellent write up by the Digger of Lisburn; the Catholic cemetary at Laa-Lou houses the grave of Arthur Horbison, his wife and children, d 1736 age 51.

And there's a third cluster in Newry, in County Down near the Louth border, about which I know very little.

If one assumes each group descended from a single family, then we have two or maybe three families of Catholic Harbisons in very early 18th century Ulster. If they're related to each other, we have to go back even earlier.

Since the major migration from Scotland to Ulster was 1650-1700, it is possible that a Catholic family of Herbertsons/Harbisons migrated from Scotalnd with the large-scale Presbyterian migration. This seems somewhat unlikely. The Catholic Church was heavily suppressed in lowland Scotland pretty much since the reformation in 1550. And most of the Harbisons/Herbertsons seem to have been Presbyterians, and sometimes Covenanters.

But conversion seems equally implausible. The penal laws against Catholics in Ireland were at their most severe in the early 18th century. Converting to Catholicism meant losing one's land, and existing Catholics had to distribute it evenly among their sons with each generation, rapidly making farms unviably small. While it is not clear these laws were universally applied, if they had been applied stringently anywhere, it would have been in Ulster.

Presbyterians were also subject to persecution, but it was not quite so severe. Moreover, while one could reasonably envisage conversion from Prebyterianism to Church of Ireland or Church of Ireland to Catholicism, a conversion of Presbyterian to Catholic involved a huge change in beliefs; from a non-hierachical religion to an intensely hierarchical one; acceptance of transsubstantiation, sacraments, etc..

Therefore, the Wild Billy story makes a certain amount of sense, and I'll deal later with a slightly modified version of it that also explains the DNA results. But the Digger gives an alternative story, equally romantic.

Family historians who have researched the surname in this area, relate a story about a member of the family who was sentenced to death by hanging in the area. It is alleged he was given a 15 minute reprieve to run for his life. He took that opportunity, went into hiding, and then made his escape across Lough Neagh to the County Tyrone shore, making a new life for himself and establishing the family surname in a new territory.
It explains where the Tyrone/Londonderry Harbisons came from, but not the Portmore Harbisons. And I don't believe it, anyway.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

William Harbison (1782-1868). Part II: the real estate.

William is listed in Slater's Directory of Ulster (1846) as a grocer,wine and spirit merchant. Selling liquor seems to be a family tradition.

These are his real-estate holdings, listed in Griffith's Valuation of 1858, Ireland's first systematic government valuation of real property.

46 acres and £42.25 valuation may not sound like much, but they mark him as a fairly wealthy man for the time and place; at least middle-class. Griffith's does not let one easily identify the house numbers. However, it seems pretty clear the Conyngham St. property was the one shown in the 1832-1846 Ordinance Survey map; nothing else fits the description. Note everything is leasehold; the Worshipful Company of Drapers and the Church of Ireland owned everything, back in the days before land reform.

We can get a broader look at the real estate using the Griffith valuation map.

Coltrim lot 6 is towards the bottom left, adjacent to Crossnarea 9. Crossnarea 10 is closer to Moneymore, and Ballygruby 7 is near the top, to the right of center.

All of these were confirmed to be the real William by examining the valuation revision books at PRONI. The Ballygruby holding was transferred to William's son Michael and thence to James, between 1858 and 1863; the rest were inherited by daughter Mary between 1864 and 1874, a time period which spans his death. They were sold after her death in 1905