The Harris family of old Anson, and later Montgomery, North Carolina are an enigma to me. Mainly because there is so much information on this one family, yet there still does not seem to be enough to pull together their origins. Even DNA testing seems to have presented more problems than it has solved. I think some of the confusion is generated by books written years ago making claims that may not have been fully proven. DNA testing has certainly questioned some of the early research.
Those men who descend from West Harris of Montgomery County and have Y-DNA tested are in Group 4 at the Harris Project at Family Tree DNA. See https://www.geni.com/discussions/173840 for some enlightened, albeit heated, discussions on the Harris origins.
I am not here to debate or solve Harris origins. I will leave that to those who descend from the many Harris lines in Virginia. To my knowledge, I do not directly descend from West Harris, or any other Harris line, but what would a Blog about Montgomery County be without a mention of this famed man who is still talked about today?
West Harris Senior was born, according to his gravestone, Aug 13, 1715. Most researchers believe he was born in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. West died, according to his gravestone, May 14, 1795, in Montgomery County, North Carolina.
Land records in Anson County show West Harris Senior may have moved to Anson County about 1773-1774, about 5 years prior to Montgomery being carved from Anson County and about a year before the Revolutionary War began. He would have been about 60 years old. I find it hard to believe that he fought in the Revolutionary War, mainly because I have not seen any evidence or proof to the claim; yet, I have seen many researchers who do list him with rank of Major or Colonel in the Revolution. I have seen references made to Captain West Harris who served in the Anson County Regiment of Militia from 1776. This certainly could be either West Senior or West Junior and I tend to think it was probably West Junior who would have been about 21 years of age versus his 60-year-old father.
In 1774, West Harris Senior of Anson County, purchased a tract of land from Thomas Jones of Rowan County, who had acquired the land from Thomas Fry, who had been granted the land in May 1773. The land lying in the county of Anson on the north-east side of the Yadkin River beginning at a pine in McCulloh [Henry McCullough] line about a quarter and half quarter of a mile from the mouth of Beaverdam Creek near the Deep landing...containing 200 acres.
The deed was witnessed by Roger Williams and Roland Harris and proved in open court by Roger Williams and ordered registered.
Anson deed records also show West Harris Senior purchased 100 acres of land from John Hopkins of Guilford County in February 1775 for 20 pounds proclamation money. The boundaries of the land were laid out on the north-east side of the Yadkin River beginning at a large red oak in McCullok's [Henry McCullough] line on the north-east side of Plumb Branch of Beaverdam Creek. This land had been granted to John Hopkins by His Majesties Patent bearing date 22nd January 1773.
The deed was witnessed by Walton Harris and Roger Williams and proved in court April 1775 and ordered registered.John Stewart, in 1786, petitioned for title to lands they had purchased from Henry McCulloh. His son, Turner Harris, had issues getting title to land he had bought. Moses and Nathaniel Steed, brothers who migrated from Virginia to Montgomery County, also had a run in with George McCulloh.
In a Newspaper article dated 1879, an article, The Forgotten Dead, was published that provides some insight into the West Harris family at a time before the land on Beaverdam Creek was flooded and the old Harris cemetery lost to history with the bodies moved to other cemeteries. The author of this article, even though many years removed from West Harris (though not as many as I am), still lived in an era where some of the gravestones could still be read and other, elderly citizens, and possibly the grandchildren of West Harris, may have been able to remember some of the stories told.
The Newspaper article tells us that in 1879, the West Harris land was known as the Smith Place and was about a mile from the Narrows of the Yadkin. The author of this article, knelling down, recorded the writing on West Harris’ gravestone, as well as others found in the cemetery. He wrote about the traditions he had been told by those elders in the community and told us what type of stone was on each grave.
He informed us that West Harris was the father of six sons and two daughters, Isham, Turner, Dred, Roland, West, Arthur, Martha, who married Buckner Kimball, and Patience, who married Richard Parish. Nemo, the author of the article, goes on to praise the descendants of West Harris Senior, who are scattered all over North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.
"It is supposed his posterity, if brought together, would constitute an army of immense size and among them many who are worthy of the high toned and virtuous English stock from which they sprung."