HARRIS-VA-L ArchivesArchiver > HARRIS-VA > 2000-01 > 0948663412
Subject: Keziah Harris d/o or gr dau of William Harris and Temperance Overton?
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2000 16:36:52 EST
When it comes to the Harris families, there seem to be as many conclusions as
to who belongs to which branch as there are Williams, Samuel's, Nathaniel's,
etc. I recently found the following:
In the book Genealogies of Virginia, Vol. II, pp 756 - 760 it states that
Keziah Harris married James Nelson of Hanover Co., Va. in 1750 and had 12
children. There seems to be a question as to whether her father was William
Harris, William Harris, Jr., of Frederick Harris.
The book "The Harris Family, 1611-1914" by Thomas Henry Harris states on p.
14 that there were 13 children by Temperance Overton Harris, which included
Keziah. In the book "A History of Louisa County" by Dr. Malcolm Harris on pp
349 & 150 indicates that there are 4 others. W. P. Anderson on pp 65,84,85
and 91 of the book "Early Descendants of William Overton and Allied Families"
lists the children as "assumed to be" and "possible" children of William
Mr. Anderson refers to the Will of Benjamin Harris, proved in Louisa Co.,
1765, in which he appoints his brothers, Robert and Frederick as his
executors. Anderson says that Benjamin was "considered" a son of William
Harris and several recorded deeds specify that he was the son of William
Harris. However, it seems that Mr. Anderson decided that the William Harris
referred to was "Jr.".
The Genealogies of Virginia Families, p. 757 states that Mr. Anderson's
conclusion is incorrect. The article titled "Genealogical Notes On Keziah
Harris Nelson, Who Lived in Hanover County, Virginia in the 18th Century." by
Virginia Armistead Nelson states the following: "I do not agree with Mr.
Anderson in his conclusion. I can see no reason for refusing to accept at
its face value the evidence that the Benjamin Harris whose Will was probated
in 1765 was the son of William Harris and Temperance Overton Harris, and that
the "brother Frederick" referred to was the Frederick Harris born in 1705 and
not the Frederick Harris born circa 1742 who married Elizabeth Terrill.
Benjamin Harris' "brother Frederick" may or may not have been living when
Benjamin's Will was probated. "Brother Frederick" would not of necessity
have been the same Frederick Harris who in 1774 was appointed guardian of
Benjamin's minor children by his wife Mary."
This article goes on to say that the Hanover County Nelson family chart,
which appears in the Vol. 2, p. 50-51 of the Abridged Compendium of American
Genealogy, lists Keziah Harris definitely as the daughter of Frederick Harris
and Fanny Overton.
According to Virginia Armistead Nelson, p. 757, "There was a close connection
between the family of the English sea captain and surgeon, Edward Nelson, b.
1690 in Essex, England, and settled in New Kent County Va. in 1718, with the
Overton and Harris families on that section of Tidewater Virginia in the 18th
century. It might be well to state here that Hanover Co was formed from New
Kent Co., Nov 26, 1720 and Louisa County was cut from Hanover Co., in 1742.
In 1719 Captain Edward Nelson married Mary Garland, one of three daughters of
Edward Garland and Mary Jane Jennings, his wife. The other daughters were
Margaret and Elizabeth. Margaret Garland married William Overton b. 1675,
and Elizabeth married James Overton, b. 1686. These two Overtons were
brothers of Temperance Overton, b. 1679 - d. 1716, who in 1695 married
>From all indications, both of the sons of Captain Nelson and Mary Garland
married Harrises. Edward Jr. b. 1727 m. 1748, Mary Harris, b. 1727 and James
Nelson b. 1723 m. Keziah Harris, b. after 1730. Keziah Harris Nelson had
already had 12 children in the time frame of 1752-1773. Their sister, Ann
(Nancy) Nelson, b. 1731 m. William Overton Harris who was born in 1730. One
of the sons of James Nelson and Keziah Harris Nelson, James Nelson Jr. b.
1735 married twice. His second marriage was to Mary Overton.
It seems that Frances Ann Fox, a descendant of the Nelson/Harris line
prepared a family chart in 1835 for her uncle, James Henry Nelson and
according to her chart several of the conclusions disagree with W.P. Anderson
and Thomas Henry Harris.
The following are facts that back the conclusions of Virginia Armistead
Nelson that Frances Ann Fox prepared an accurate family chart for her uncle,
James Henry Nelson, after he settled in Holly Springs Mississippi.
"The meticulous care with which the Captain Edward Nelson family of Hanover
Co. preserved the birth dates of their children shows up in many of the 18 th
century records of families with which they intermarried."
"Both the Rev. Peter Nelson, the father of James Henry Nelson, and his son in
law and pupil, the Rev. Thomas Henry Fox, the father of Frances Ann Fox, were
clergymen and educators. It is to be assumed that each kept the family
records carefully in family Bibles."
"The Rev. Peter Nelson's eldest daughter, Elizabeth Hamilton Nelson Fox and
her daughter, Frances Ann Fox, are recorded as being unusually intellectual
women. They had evidently taken advantage of their opportunity to study with
their brothers (REF: The Armistead Family, 1635-1910 by Mrs. Virginia
Armistead Garber, p. 175. Some Fox Trails in Old Virginia, by Mrs. Ellen M.
Cocke, p 90-92)
The following will show that the Rev. Peter Nelson was a contemporary of his
granddaughter, Frances Ann Fox, and that he probably was a contemporary of
his grandfather, Frederick Harris.
Frederick Harris was born in 1705. He may have been living when his brother,
Benjamin's, Will was probated in 1765. If he had died earlier it is to be
assumed that Benjamin would have added a codicil to his Will, as in it he had
named his "brother Frederick" as an executor.
Keziah Harris was married in 1750 and had twelve children, the twelfth being
born in 1774, so she was probably born circa 1730. She died in 1803.
Her son, the Rev. Peter Nelson, was born in 1757. On Dec 4. 1789, he married
Ann (Nancy) Lawrence, the daughter of Edward Lawrence and Fanny Taylor. He
died Feb 15, 1827.
His daughter, Elizabeth Hamilton Nelson, was born 1792. She married Thomas
Henry Fox on Dec 16, 1813 with the Rev. Andrew Broadus officiating. She died
Jun 21, 1855 and Dr. J. B. Jeter and three other Baptist ministers officiated
at her funeral and burial in Hollywood Cemetery.
His daughter, Frances Ann Fox, was born Dec. 1814, and "was buried" May 4,
1874, surviving her father by one year. Mr. Fox was not ordained a Baptist
minister until 1848.
The Rev. Peter Nelson was 46 years old when his mother, Keziah Harris Nelson
died. She must have told him the names of her parents. Being an educated
man and having lived all his life, except when in college, in Hanover County,
he could not have escaped that much knowledge of his background.
Elizabeth Hamilton Nelson was not married to Mr. Fox until she was 21 years
of age. Living at home she must have known her grandmother, Keziah Harris
Nelson. At the time of Keziah's death, Elizabeth was 11 years old. If
Elizabeth did not learn anything of her background from Keziah, she would
undoubtedly have been told of it by her father, the Rev. Peter Nelson, if
only to explain to her her connection with her various cousins in the county.
The Rev. Peter Nelson was also a contemporary of his granddaughter, Frances
Ann Fox. She was 13 years old at the time of his death. If Peter did not
himself discuss the family background with her, her mother, Elizabeth, must
have done so. Frances was 41 years old when her mother Elizabeth died. As
stated above both Elizabeth and Frances were women of marked intelligence.
The Fox family was one of prominence, so were the Lawrence family and the
Taylor family of Richmond. So were the Garland family and the Harris family
of New Kent and Hanover counties, with whom the English Nelson family had
intermarried. All of these families kept family records. It would be hard
to believe that, with this background in New Kent and Hanover Counties,
Frances Ann Fox would have listed in the family chart that Keziah Harris was
the daughter of Frederick Harris and Fanny Overton, unless it was an accepted
fact in the family.
If Keziah Harris' mother, Fanny Overton Harris, had died while Keziah was a
child, she would undoubtedly have been reared by some of her Overton, Harris
or Nelson relatives, which might have proved puzzling to some compilers of
each branch of the family chart. But Keziah herself undoubtedly would have
told her children of her parentage, and the Rev. Peter Nelson, the scholar of
the family, would not have been the one to forget such information.
The early education of the Rev. Peter Nelson was directed by Mr. Anderson
Bell, a noted teacher from Scotland, who also taught the children of the
Berkeleys and the Pages. He attended William and Mary College and graduated
with distinction. He attended the Episcopal Theological Seminary in
Philadelphia and was ordained May 18, 1788, by Bishop White of Pennsylvania.
He became rector of St. Martin's Church in Hanover in 1789 and according to
Bishop Meade, was still the rector there in 1799. Later he joined the
Baptist Church and became a Baptist minister of the Old Fork Church. For a
score of years before his death, he conducted a classical school for boys
"Humanity Hall" at Wingfield in Hanover County. (Ref. Rosewell Page's
"Hanover County, Its History and Legends" p. 54).
Obituaries in the Richmond Virginia Enquirer of March 8, 1827 and the
Richmond Virginia Whig of March 14, 1827, which on that date was published
with the Constitution of March 13, show clearly that the Rev. Peter Nelson
was regarded by his contemporaries as a man of real integrity and great
Both obituaries pay tribute to his Christian character, and one goes into
detail in praising his humanitarian spirit in assisting poor boys and orphans
who otherwise would not have obtained an education. One of these became a
In regard to him as an educator the Enquirer states: "He was long a
celebrated teacher of classical learning." The Whig refers to him as "one of
the most eminent classical scholars of his age. As a teacher of the classics
he was beyond question the superior of any man of his day.... He delighted in
mathematical studies in which he made great attainments.....He may be truly
said to have been one of the most useful men that have lived in our times."
So, writes Virginia Armistead Nelson, I rest my case on the integrity of the
Rev. Peter Nelson, who, from the facts presented above, must have known the
name of his maternal grandfather and must have passed on this knowledge to
his daughter and granddaughter who were his contemporaries.
The following reference material was used for this article:
1. W. P. Anderson " Early Descendants of William Overton and Allied
Families" pp 65, 84, 85, 91,
2. Virginia Armistead Garber, "The Armistead Family, 1635-1910". p. 174,
3. Mrs. Ellen M. Cocke, "Some Fox Trails in Old Virginia", p. 90-92
4. The Catesby-Jones chart of the Harris Family
5. William & Mary Quarterly, Oct 1939
6. Rosewell Page, "Hanover County, Its History and Legends" p. 54
I hope this information will be helpful to some of the Harris researchers.
Pat in Va.