Monday, March 2, 2020

David Harbison, 1742-1836: this is not the Harbison you're looking for

Although most people try to fuse them into one, it appears there were actually two David Harbisons in southwestern Virginia, abotu the time of the Revolutionary War. I'll focus first on the eponymous David, because for him we have the enormously useful Harbison-Carr family bible, in the possession of the State of Virginia but available online.

The same David is mentioned in Kentucky: A History of the State, Battle, Perrin, & Kniffin, 6th ed., 1887, Shelby Co.

WILLIAM SCOTT HARBISON was born in Shelby County, Ky., February 17, 1816, and is the second son of William and Elizabeth (Mahon) Harbison. His grandfather, William Mahon, was a Presbyterian minister. He came from Virginia to Boyle County, Ky., in 1796, and died at the age of sixty-three in Marion County, Ky. David Harbison, paternal grandfather of W. S. Harbison, came from Ireland about 1778, with wife and infant son, James, remained a while in the State of New York, and then moved to Wythe County, Va., and settled on a farm. Before leaving Virginia, in 1805, four more sons were born: David, Samuel, John and William, who at that time were all grown up, and large men, none under six feet, and Samuel was six feet six inches. The eldest son, James, married and remained in Virginia. The other four came with their father to Kentucky; all are now dead. They stopped one year in Fayette County, Ky., and in 1806 moved to Shelby County and bought a farm near Shelbyville. The grandfather died aged ninety-one years. His wife, Esther, died aged seventy-five. He and all his sons were sober, industrious, strictly Sabbath keeping and successful business men. William Harbison, father of W. S. Harbison, was born August 15, 1785, and died August 20, 1826. He served on campaign as an officer in the war of 1812, or 1813, and his brother, Samuel, served two campaigns in the same war as captain.

Here are the children, as listed in the family bible.

It is hard to credit the earlier dates in this account. New York was under the control of the British from 1776 until 1783. The British would not have been inclined to allow a young family to land and then cross the Hudson, New Jersey, and the Delaware, and across southern Pennsylvania and Maryland to the Shenandoah Valley. Far more likely David immigrated earlier, perhaps even before James was born, although it is possible David and his family were detained in New York until after the peace, at which point they made their way south to Virginia. Wythe County, by the way, did not exist until 1790. Before then is was the now extinct Fincastle County. In support of the earlier arrival hypothesis, Baxter D. and Davis Harbison, sons of David, both list their father's birthplace as Virginia in the 1880 and 1900 censuses.

Other than this, the Kentucky History seems to be accurate. David, Esther and their four youngest sons migrated to Shelby County, KY, in the mid-1800s. James remained in Virginia, in Wythe County when it was formed in 1790, and had three daughters, all of whom married, Eliza, who married Thomas Jefferson Adams and died in Loudon Co. Tennessee in 1854; Esther, to John Carr on Mar 27 1823, and Polly, to William Wyson, in 1825.David seemed to live with his son Samuel in 1820 and 1830; Esther died in October 1824.

Virginian Harbisons and the Revolution

As part of my duties as the administrator of the Harbison surname DNA list, I've decided it's time to see if I can make a little more sense of the early Harbisons in America. And the real problem is there were at least three groups of them, approximately in SE Pennsylvania, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and Lincoln County, South Carolina. They likely immigrated over a long period from around 1700 to about 1772, with the early immigrants tending more northerly. Of course, Pennsylvania and the Shenandoah valley were connected by the Great Wagon Road, which continued further into North and South Carolina. But the overall trend was westward, the Virginians moving into Kentucky, the Carolinians into Tennessee and the deeper South.

The jumping off point for the Virginians is the list of Harbisons who served in the Revolutionary War.I've thrown in two Herbertsons who probably aren't relevant, and a Herbison, who may be.

...and we'll start with David, who may in fact be two Davids.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

William the Pound Master

I conjectured William Harbison Jr. existed as the third son of William Harbison b. 1780. Until recently, the sole tangible evidence was a third-hand report of a letter he wrote from Vincennes, Knox Co., Indiana in 1841. I've now located him.

There were dozens of Harbisons in SW Indiana in 1840. But they were almost all migrants from Kentucky and South Carolina. And I can find no record of William there, other than the letter. What seems to have happened was he went north to Illinois, and on September 1, 1845, bought 40 acres in McHenry County, very near the Illinois-Wisconsin state line.It's the far top left quarter of the deeper orange box on the map. It's close to the modern intersection of Thayer Road and Illinois Hightway 27. It looks like typical midwestern farmland; but 40 acres (a quarter of a quarter section) is not much. Most of his neighbors, according to the 1850 census, were Irish.

William married Bridget Foley from Dublin, Ireland, who was considerably younger than him, and by the 1850 census had three children. Then he disappeared from the census in 1860, and appears on the census with his two sons as Wm Harrison in 1870. He is listed in the 1880 census as a pound master, a common 19th century occupation that involved caring for all the county’s stray livestock until its owners picked it up. He does not appear in any of the historical accounts of Woodstock or McHenry County, and so may have been considered a person of little consequence. He and his wife were definitely Catholic; they were buried in Calvary Cemetery, in McHenry County, in 1890 and 1892 respectively. His gravestone would suggest he was born on March 14, 1812; years of birth inferred from the two censuses are 1811 and 1815. Bridget, from hers, was apparently born in February 1825.

Henry was according to the 1850 census, born in 1844 in Illinois, but his death record says Jan 10,1847. He worked as a coachman in Milwaukee, and was married in a Methodist Episcopal Church on Biddle St in Milwaukee on December 2, 1885 to Louise Hoffman, daughter of Peter Hoffmann and Katherine Schmidt, from Bavaria. On his death certificate he was listed as a toolmaker or machinist in a watch factory, and died on Mar 31, 1927 in Elgin, Kane Co., Illinois, where he had lived 32 years. His father is listed as being from Belfast, Northern Ireland; his mother from Dublin. He and Louise had no children.

William J Harbison's death certificate lists him as being born on April 12, 1844, but given the 1850 census record and the date, it's likely to have been 1849, and Mary Elizabeth was his twin sister. He mustered into Company K of the 153rd Illinois Infantry on Feb 11 1865, apparently guarding the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and out on Sep 21 1865. He is listed as divorced and living with his parents in 1880. Divorce would be unusual for a second-generation Catholic immigrant. There is no record of any children. I can't find him in 1900 or 1910; in 1920 he was living in the Illinois Soldiers and Sailors home in Riverside, Adams Co. Illinois.

Finally, Mary Elizabeth Harbison, b. April 12, 1849, married William Lindsey, from New York, on July 4 1867, and had five children I can trace: Mary (b. 1868); Ebenezer (b. 1869); Dora (b. 1873); Ira W (b. 1874) and Raymond (b. 1877). By 1900 she and her husband had moved to Elgin, Kane Co. Illinois, which is now a suburb of Chicago. Raymond, a printer, and Ira died in 1905 and 1917 respectively, causes unknown. I can find out very little about them, and less about Ebenezer and Mary, who disappear after the 1880 census. Dora married a man named Hubert H Loomer, from Wisonsin, and had a child Alfred. She still has a living descendent. Mary Elizabeth died 27 April 1933; her husband died in 1917.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Birth order 1: the children of John Harbison, b. c. 1740

I've previously listed William and his siblings. In the light of the rules for given names I discussed in the last post, I'm going to revise that slightly.

William seems to be the unquestioned oldest son, and would therefore have been named after his grandfather. The second and third sons on my original chart had fishy birthdates. John's birth year of 1785 is based solely on his death cerificate, and he died a very old man. Sampson's is based on entries on the 1850 and 1860 census, which give wildly discordant birthdates (1790 from the 1850 census; 1782 from the 1860 census). Previously I just averaged them. Looking again at the 1850 census, which got his name incorrect in any case, it's plausible his age was entered as 66, rather than 60. That would give birth years of 1782 and 1784, averaging to 1783, making him older than John.

If Sampson were the second son, he would have been named after his maternal grandfather. This makes a certain amount of sense, since his name is unique among the Harbisons to himself and his descendants. That would then made John the third son, named after his father. It is notable that the first sons of most if not all of William's siblings were also named John. So this tends to bolster the hitherto rather weakly-proven conjecture that William's father was the Catholic John Harbison resident in Ballyneill during the 1766 religious census.

The fourth son would then appear to be Henry. He would have been named after his grandfather William's eldest brother. And, sure enough, the two Harbisons mentioned in the Protestant Householders census of 1740 for the parish of Ardtrea in the barony of Loughinsholin are William and Henry! There is an entry in the will index at PRONI for Henry Harbison, d. 1765, so he never made it to the religious census. It is also possible that William and Henry were Catholics, since Bill Macafee noticed that apparently the census for Loughinsholin seemed to include some Catholics. Or William Harbison in the 1740 Householders List may have been the legendary Wild Billy Harbison.

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.

In all honesty, I'd have to admit I have no clue about the birth order of the final three sons, though I suspect Edward was the youngest. Likewise about the three daughters, although, I suspect, Eleanor was the third.

Given name birth order

I was brought up in Ireland. I thought I was pretty much familiar with Irish popular culture, particularly the aspects of it absorbed into my own family. But I didn't know this.

Angus Baxter in "In Search of Your British and Irish Roots" describes a pattern that was popular in England in the 1700-1875 period:
  • The first son was named after the father's father
  • The second son was named after the mother's father
  • The third son was named after the father
  • The fourth son was named after the father's eldest brother
  • The first daughter after the mother's mother
  • The second daughter after the father's mother
  • The third daughter after the mother
  • The fourth daughter after the mother's eldest sister
In fact, several other sources have suggested that it was also obeyed in Ireland. It certainly seems to have been obeyed in my family. Consider the order of first born sons from 1740 through 1885.

  • John Harbison, (b. c. 1740)
  • William Harbison (b. 1780)
  • John Harbison (b. 1809)
  • William John Harbison (b. 1854)
  • John Henry Harbison (b. 1885)

The rule predicts alternation in given names along this line. You see this, for example, also in the kings of Denmark, all the way from 1534 up to the present day.

John b. 1809 had 7 daughters before he had a son, and so William John might have been an effort to cram 2 names into 1, because he was running out of time. In fact, most of my ancestors did not have middle names until the mid-19th century.

Anyway, as is obvious, we can predict the grandfather of William (b. 1780) was also William, and I have a candidate. More of this anon.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A new son of William (b. 1780), from an old list post

Chris Harbison back in 1999 referred to two letters, one of which I'd heard of previously, originally discovered by Edith Harbison Hinkle.
Mrs Edith Hinkle copied two letters when she visited Ireland back in the 1920/30s: May(??) 26, 1860, from Henry Harbison near Williamsburg, Huntingdon Co.,PA to John Harbison, Moneymore, Co. Derry, Ireland, and Jan 23, 1841: From son Wm Harbison at Vincennes, Knox Co., Indiana; to Wm & Mary Harbison (parents). He had lived in Washington for a time, speaks of brothers John, Francis & Michael.

By my reckoning, the first was Henry writing to his brother John in Ballyneil, near Moneymore. It could have been his nephew John, of course, but the nephew had been in Cookstown since the 1830s.

The second is clearer and more informative. William and Mary Harbison were obviously William b. 1780 and his wife.

John, Francis and Michael were all sons of William. Previously I wondered why there was no William Jr.. Now we know -- he went to America, as his uncles Henry and Sampson did! The most probable American records are an arrival in Philadelphia from Liverpool in 1840; and a death in Philadelphia in 1845. But I'll do more research on this. He was likely in Washington or Knox County Indiana only briefly. William is given as 30 in 1840, which would make him the next sibling (younger, or perhaps older) to my second great grandfather John.

I would dearly like to get hold of these letters. They really should be preserved.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Names, Protestant and Catholic

Inspired by the late Chris Harbison, and as an attempt to flesh out sparse data from the 18th century, I used Bill Macafee's data from the 1766 Religiou Census of the baronies of Loughinsholin and Keenaght (basically East Co. Londonderry, minus the barony of Coleraine) to ascertain if some given names were predominantly Protestant or predominantly Catholic. Caveats: these data are transcriptions of transcriptions, the originals having been lost in the 1922 Four Courts fire in Dublin. I've made obvious substitutions, mostly expanding abbreviations. (John from Jno., William from Wm., etc.) I've combined variant spellings (e.g. Brian, Bryan), and expanded obvious familiar versions (Daniel from Dan). I've tried to be careful with all of these; since, for example, I don't know if Ar is Arthur or Archibald, I haven't used it. There were a total of 3424 entries on the census, of which 68.5% were Protestant (I haven't broken down Protestant into Established Church and Dissenter, though that would be possible). I used any name that occurred 6 or more times, which accounted for 2965 of the 3424 names. Only three names were female, because the census counted heads of household, and because many of the women were simply listed as 'widow'. Here are the results.

The red line gives the percentage one would expect if there were no religious bias in naming. There is a clear break around that point, indicating that indeed some names were predominantly Protestant or Catholic. Those that are very heavily Catholic include clear transliterations of Irish (Gaelic) names: -- Phelomy, Brian, Owen, Shane and Cormac. Names that are not obviously associated with saints, either Old Testament (Benjamin, Samuel, Adam) or secular (Alexander) are heavily Protestant. But many differences are inexplicable (why is Matthew Protestant and Paul Catholic?).

Also a little surprising is the absence of influence of politics. Approximately 75 years after the Williamite war, William and James are almost equally favored by Protestants. My parents used to claim Catholics did not take the names of English kings, but that's obviously false (Edward, Charles, Henry, Richard). My suspicion is that this is because names were simply passed down through families, somewhat like hereditary diseases. My own family heavily used William, Henry, John, James and Thomas. Perhaps this really reflects some early conversion from Protetantism.

And finally, Patrick is intriguing. It is of course of Irish origin, but more recently than this census the Church of Ireland embraced St. Patrick. However, at the time of the census it was clearly not much used by Protestants.