HARRIS family
The HARRIS Family© of
Harlan County, Kentucky

A number of the early settlers in southeast Kentucky brought only part of their families with them. Often left behind were older grown children with only the younger children accompanying their parents to their new home. One such family was that of John and Lucy Harris. John Harris was born sometime between 1740 and 1750 in eastern Virginia. In the 1790's he moved westward to Russell County, Va., and early in the 1800's he moved on to southeast Kentucky.

John died about May of 1831 as his son Benjamin was appointed administrator of his estate on June 6, 1831. He is thought to be buried on Shumate Branch of Clover Fork. John and Lucy are believed to have had at least 11 children but only four of them came to Kentucky and stayed.

The oldest of these four was Benjamin. He was born about 1788. His first wife was Elizabeth Weaver. Elizabeth died in 1853 and the following year Benjamin married Sarah, daughter of Isaac and Minerva Burkhart. Benjamin saw service in the War of 1812.

Benjamin and Elizabeth had:
  1. Mary who married James Bishop
  2. Sarah who married Thomas Forrester
  3. Rebecca who married Robert Clark
  4. Martha who married George Spurlock
  5. Lavina who married Mark Shumate
  6. Betsy who married a Crabtree
  7. Thomas M. who married Joanna Cawood
  8. Malinda who never married
  9. John
  10. Alexander who married Jerusha Moore

The Mark Shumate who married Benjamin's daughter Lavina was a nephew of the Judith Shumate who married Benjamin's brother, Nathan Harris.

Mourning Harris was born about 1780. She is believed to have first married Alexander Dunlap and had four children, James, Rosey, Susanna and Jane. About the time of Harlan County's formation in 1819, she married David Noe as his second wife. They had three children: Benjamin; Mourning who married Robert Napier; and Nathan who married Sirena Farmer. David Noe died in the 1830's but Mourning lived well into her nineties.

Susan Harris was born August 31, 1793 in Lee County, Va., and on July 8, 1814, she married John Noe, a nephew of the David Noe that married her sister Mourning a few years later. Susan, or Susannah as she was sometimes called, lived to be at least eighty years old.

The youngest of the four was Nathan, born about 1794. On July 5, 1815, he married Judith, daughter of Mark and Deborah Shumate. Nathan and Judith apparently had considerable marital difficulties and for the last years of their lives lived separate and apart. Nathan died about 1886. It is not known when Judith died but she was still living in 1861 when she deeded her granddaughter and namesake, Judith Crider, all her personal property and livestock in return for care for the remainder of her lifetime.

Nathan and Judith had seven children:
  1. Deborah who married first to Skidmore Muncy and secondly to Solomon Ely
  2. Lucy who married William Early
  3. Preston who married Mary Farmer
  4. Sarah who married Robert Turner
  5. Susan who married George Crider
  6. Elizabeth who married Israel Jenkins
  7. Letcher about whom nothing is known

From court records regarding John Harris' estate, it is known that John and Lucy also had:

  • John who lived in Tennessee
  • Thomas who stayed in Virginia
  • Lewis who died in Indiana shortly after his father
  • Sarah who stayed in Virginia with her husband Fielding Isaacs
  • Patsy who lived with her husband Joseph Carter in Illinois
  • Nancy who had married Abraham Oskshear

John and Lucy may also have had a son Alexander and a daughter Mary but neither are mentioned in the court case.


Additions and corrections welcome, email htimm@comcast.net

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