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.

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