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Biography: A Coosa County, Alabama Harris Family

COOSA COUNTY, ALABAMA HARRIS FAMILY

By Sam Harris

The family of Reverend Allen Bailey Harris (1809 – 1882) and Winnie Gordon (1817-1879) came to Coosa County Alabama from Pendleton/Abbeville, Pickens County, SC.  He came to the area after his brother Daniel Marshall Harris (1807 – 1887) and Mary White (1812-1866).  DM was an inferior court judge in Walker County, Georgia and all his children were born in neighboring Chattooga County.  All of AB’s children were born in Pickens County SC.  AB was known as Captain Bailey Harris when he married Winnie in Pendleton in February 1837.  Captain Bailey was an Ordinary of the Court in Pendleton/Pickens County, SC. A John Harris was also an Ordinary of the Court at the same time but I don’t know if it was his father or another John Harris. (There is a John Harris married to a Mary daughter of Gen. Andrew Pickens but that line is DNA group 8.) Winnie is from a well-documented Gordon family including a second cousin (once removed) John Brown Gordon, a Civil War General who was with Gen Robert E. Lee when he surrendered at Appomattox.  John Brown Gordon later became a governor for the State of Georgia.   The earliest reference I have found for these brothers is in 1826 a DM Harris is attending Richmond Military Academy, Augusta, Richmond County, Georgia.  Richmond Military Academy later became the Medical College of Georgia and is a historical landmark for Augusta.  It is only supposition that it is Daniel Marshall the brother of AB and possibly that AB attended also and maybe this is where he met Winnie.  There is a lot of Gordon naming in Augusta. Also found as a director for Richmond Military Academy at the same time, a Benjamin Harris – relationship unknown if any.  A prolific Harris researcher has a slogan of “Follow the waterways”.  Augusta is downstream from Elbert County, Georgia and Pendleton/Abbeville, Pickens County, S.C.


An Ordinary of the Court, administered the will of an Allen Bailey in SC but I don’t know if it was the Group 6 John or the Group 8 John.  Also an evangelist Daniel Marshall baptized a Samuel Harris who went on to be a prolific minister in Virginia.  The Rev. Samuel Harris (1724-1799) had a son John but when he died, it was said his son John had already died.  I saw an online representation of the will and John was simply “X” ed out which made me wonder if John was dead or disowned and he was possibly the John of my lineage.  This is mentioned only as a possible source for the names of AB and DM.  Reverend Samuel Harris is a DNA group 6 lineage.

A legal issue occurred in Pendleton as found in the Old Pendleton Newsletter online involving a family of Lees, with Ebenezer Pettigrew Verner, Capt. A. Harris, John C. Gordon (Winnie’s father) against Mumford.S. Stribling in 1852. Seems this cluster was intertwined through marriage and it may have been more of family squabble that lead to a true bill against Stribling for assault and battery with intent to kill. Other witnesses were John Lee, Elizabeth Lee, and Martha Lee. Stribling struck William C. Lee with a large stick.  E.P. Verner (b.1815) and married to Emma Foster in 1843 was a brother to George W. Verner (b.1810) who was married to “a” Harriett Harris (b. 1816) in 1833.  Stribling’s wife was Ann Verner a sister to E.P. and George W.  There is a lot of room for speculation in this incident.

A DM Harris researcher has found a John Harris and Francis “Fannie” as his parents also finding a John Harrist and Daniel M Harrist in the Troup County, Georgia census.  I have read that in some of the old records that Harriss sometimes looked more like Harrist when the “s” was doubled.  Mentioned only in passing because AB’s oldest son appeared in Texas census as Harriss.  No other evidence that DM and AB were from the Harriss line and this may have only been a choice made by a census taker.

In the Coosa County community Rehobeth, near Equality, Alabama, the Rehobeth United Methodist Church is across the county road from where the original church was located.  That is the spot where the independent Rehobeth Cemetery is located.  It seems that there is a connection to AB and Winnie Harris from every old grave.  AB’s is one of the oldest markers in the cemetery.  There has been no record found that he was the minister of the old church but records at the Coosa Courthouse have him as a Minister on marriage licenses.  There are other people designated as a “Man of God”.  The Harris name is the connection to AB throughout.  Another of the old markers is for Stephen & Nancy McDaniel Haynie  – same generation as AB and Winnie.  Another of the older graves is George Wesley Wilbanks and Martha Gilliland who carry another thread of relationships through this cemetery’s old graves.  The Wilbanks tie into the Girdners and Hands.  (A Thomas Hand was found in a census with the Harrises and was the same age as AB and Winnie’s oldest son, John Andrew who died in 1863 at Richmond, Virginia due to illness.  Hand relationship to Harris unknown.)   It is suspected that the Tinsleys found in the Rehobeth Cemetery also tie to these Harrises.  A Martha B. Harris (b.1800 d.1847) was married to Thomas Tinsley in Elbert County, Georgia.  Her relationship is unknown to these Harrises.  The Tinsleys, Harrises and Haynies tie back to Virginia through the same South Carolina area.  Other names of interest in the Rehobeth Cemetery are McKissick and Ficquett who have Gilliland ties.

During the Civil War, AB lost his oldest son and DM lost two or three.  DM married five years earlier than AB and his first children were sons and AB’s were mostly daughters.  There was a lot of sorrow during this time because of the sons lost to the Civil War but AB was losing daughters in childbirth.  Laura died young in Texas after having one son with Richard Monroe Isbell.  Isbell came back and married Laura’s older sister Harriett and went back to Texas.  Harriett had several children listed with Isbell in one census but the next census didn’t list them so they died very young.  Harriett died within months of giving birth to AB Isbell who died just before she did.  Isbell remarried and had another daughter.  AB’s daughter Sarah married William Terrell Micajah Smithson from Bachelors Retreat in Pickens County, SC.  She had children and died and Smithson came back and married DM’s daughter Sarah Ann Harris and had more children.  AB’s son William married Mahala Martin from the Pendleton area and moved to Texas (Upshur Co).  Mahala Martin’s sister Martha Caroline married William’s first cousin Benjamin Franklin Harris.  BF and Martha stayed in Equality. It is suspected William and Mahala travelled with the Isbells when they went to Texas.  Daniel Gordon, Winnie’s younger brother who was just older than William, married a Smithson sister to WTM Smithson.  Daniel Gordon and William Harris each named daughters about the same age Eva Loderski – reason unknown.  It was assumed Eva Loderski was a Gordon tie but about the same time of these girls birth, an unknown Peter Harris signed a marriage bond for a Sarah Loderska Jenkins in Tallapoosa County, which adjoins Coosa.  The only thing to tie to Loderski is an area in Poland and no surname.  My Harris line used Parks, Parker, Bennett, Oscar as unexplained given male names.

The remainder of AB’s family seemed to married people of the Equality community.  Andrew Parks Harris and Samuel Pickens Harris married Thornell sisters – Elizabeth Rebecca and Mary Eliza respectively. (There is a Samuel Pickens Harris born in 1816 found in the SC census near to AB and Winnie when their son was born in 1855, but the elder SP Harris is a Group 8 DNA line.) They were daughters of William and Elizabeth Rushing Thornell.  Elizabeth Rushing was a daughter of William Rushing and Margaret Mitchell.  Margaret Mitchell was the daughter of Jacob H. Mitchell and Winifred Duke who died at Fort Toulouse (Fort Jackson) where the Coosa and Tallapoosa merge near Wetumpka/Montgomery. Thornell is supposedly a variation of Thornhill.  A 1792 headright in Effingham Co, Georgia has “a” John Harris with a headright adjoining a William Thornhill, a Sarah Thornton and a Sarah Bevill.  A William Hill Thornhill is found just across the Coosa County line in Elmore County very near Equality, Alabama, but no relationship known.  Also AB and Winnie’s daughter Susan Elizabeth married John Milton Haynie, the son of aforementioned Stephen and Nancy M. Haynie.  Another daughter of AB and Winnie, has not been tracked – Mary.  All of AB and Winnie’s children died relatively young (before age 45) leaving children to be raised by others.  An interesting turn of events is the fact that Samuel Pickens Harris and Susan Elizabeth Harris Haynie died within a year of each other leaving young children behind.  Their surviving spouses, John Milton Haynie and Mary Eliza Thornell Harris married and had more children, creating his, hers and ours.  They raised my grandfather and he said, “They didn’t make no difference ‘tween us.”  My grandfather and his first cousin (step-brother) married sisters who were daughters of George Wesley Wilbanks and Martha Gilliland.  George Wesley first married Martha’s niece Mary Susan Gilliland (who was two years older than her aunt).  He had children by both. He requested that he be buried as close as possible to the altar of the old Rehobeth Church.  Martha was the daughter of Hugh Madison Gilliland and Elizabeth “Betsy Ann” Stewart.  Hugh Madison was first married to Lucinda Saunders and had a number of children by both.  The Wilbanks, Thornells, Gillilands, Haynies, Nolans and Harrises greatly intermarried in the Equality area.

I became interested in my ancestry when by chance my daughter moved back to the area of my ancestors and I started the search.  This coming year, my Harris cousins and I will have our 50th anniversary reunion. Forty to fifty years ago at one of those reunions, I overheard my father and his brothers remembering Grandma Haynie.  When I asked how they had a Grandma Haynie, they all just looked at each other and shrugged.  Now I know.  Early in my searching, I found a Nap Durden in the 1910 census with my grandparents.  It took a while but I found her to be the wife (possibly estranged) of Francis Marion Durden and I have not found them to have any children.  Aunt Nap, as she was noted in the census, was Susie P. Haynie Durden, daughter of Stephen and Nancy McDaniel Haynie.  She was my grandfather’s stepfather’s sister.  My grandfather’s stepfather died in 1909 but his sister was living with my grandparents with a three year old, a one year old and another one on the way – my father.

I owe a great deal of appreciation to my cousin Carole Kimbrough Griffin.  We discovered each other early on in my search and she provided me the sound basis for my Harris research and she “spoon fed” me a lot of her research.  We share great great grandparents in Reverend “Captain” Allen Bailey Harris and Winnie Gordon Harris.  I have not met her face to face – yet, but I am very appreciative of all the info she has shared with me and all her years of work in collecting the info.

The information I have gleaned from the internet is intended for use as a guide for the family of AB and Winnie Gordon Harris.  As always, documented proof may vary this story of a Coosa County Harris Family and the story should be taken as a guide for research to be proven.  Other than the referenced online Old Pendleton Newsletter is the Bound for the Promised Land, (an online Isbell book) and other sources including family trees, family Bibles, Genforum posts and US Censuses.

Sam Harris
Harris DNA Group 6
Line of Robert Harris
Of Ware Creek
New Kent County, Virginia

[email protected].

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