Monday, August 23, 2021

John Coon

My Morris ancestors were obsessed with naming children after U. S. Presidents and other notable people. John Jacky Morris, my 3rd great grandfather, named a son George Washington Morris and I discovered that a Y-DNA match had an ancestor named Andrew Jackson Morris. I have no idea how George Washington Morris and Andrew Jackson Morris were related, but related they were. 

The 1880 Census for Uwharrie, Montgomery County, North Carolina, names my great grandfather as U. S. Grant Morris, and no doubt was named for the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant, who was an army commander during the later years of the American Civil War and was sitting President when U. S. Grant Morris was born in May 1869.

His name not to his liking, my great grandfather, U. S. Grant Morris, prior to 1891, changed his name and became known to his descendants as John Coon Morris.

John married first, Ella Wade, on 2 Feb 1891. She is the daughter of William Horatio 'Rassie' Wade and Mary Ann Liles. To this union were born two children, Lonnie, 1892; he died unmarried (as far as I know) at the age of 31 and is buried in Montgomery County. The second child born, in 1894, to John and Ella Wade Morris was Gertrude; she married William Thomas in Mar 1918. Gertrude died in 1936 and is buried in Richmond County.

Because I have seen several comments on Ancestry regarding the parentage and the race of Gertrude and who she lived with and why, I will address that here as there really is a simple explanation. Most people tend to only read transcribed documents, let’s face it, they are easier to read, rather than reading the original record which sometimes can be hard on the eyes and even harder on the brain to figure out. The problem though, is that the transcriber normally does not have any relationship to the person in the record nor do they have any of the intricate details of that specific family. They are simply spelling out a word as best they can interpret it and not making comparisons to other documents.

Now-a-days, computer programs transcribe records, and, while this technology is getting better, there is still a long way to go, and it will never replace reading and translating the actual document for yourself. I cannot stress enough to always read and translate the original record yourself whenever possible. Sometimes the original record can contain errors, as is the case with Gertrude, but it is far easier to find an error, and correct it, on the original record, than having to find and correct multiple errors that were made on multiple transcribed copies.

The Census taker in 1900 listed Gertrude Morris, age 5, as the niece of Mary Wade, age 66. This is in error as Mary Wade is her grandmother, the mother of Ella Wade Morris, Gertrude’s mother. It’s all in those little intricate details that are only known to the family or to a researcher who is willing to dig deep into the lives of a family and ask the right questions and make comparisons between multiple documents. Like a puzzle, the pieces are there, but you must put them together in the best way that makes the most sense. Also, realize that the Census taker probably did not know the family either, so, sometimes, mistakes were made on the Census record.


Looking back at the 1880 Census, we find 3 generations of women. Mary Liles, age 75, mother of Mary Wade, age 40. Ella Wade, age 18, and her sister Catherine, age 20, both the daughters of Mary Wade. So, here we have grandmother (Mary Liles), daughter (Mary Wade), and grandchildren (Ella and Catherine). Mary Wade is listed as age 40 in 1880, making her born about 1840.

Fast forward to 1910 and we find Gertrude living with her uncle James and aunt Catherine (Wade) Maynor. Next door is her grandmother, Mary Wade, age 72, living with her sister, Jane Liles, age 60. 

The transcribed 1910 Census lists Gertrude as Mulatto. This is a transcription error by Ancestry. If you open and look at the actual record, her race is listed as 'W" for white. All other records that I found for her also list her as white. I have added a correction to the Ancestry record, so it now shows the race listed as White for Gertrude.


I have seen some comments wondering why Gertrude did not live with her father John Coon Morris after the death of her mother, Ella Wade Morris. Some of those comments questioned if Gertrude was Mulatto and John Coon did not want his daughter because she was not his. The 1900 Census may provide an answer to this question. In 1900 we find living with John Coon Morris his mother, Polly Morris, age 70 and widowed. Lonnie Morris, the son of John, age 8, is also living with John. There are two boarders, John T. Morris, born 1883, the nephew of John Coon Morris and William Lion[s], age 27, who will marry Mary Morris, the great niece of John Coon Morris, in 1903.

What is interesting here is that John Coon Morris has not remarried, which is a bit unusual. Remarriage was a very common thing to do if a man found himself with two small children to raise after his wife’s death. It was not at all unusual for a man to marry a close relative of his deceased wife who would take on raising the children. But, in this case, we find that John Coon Morris remained a widower. It would be another year, in 1901, when John would marry again to Flora Dennis.

My takeaway from the 1900 Census tells me that each grandmother took over the rearing of John Coon and Ella Wade Morris’ children after Ella died and either John rejected the idea of remarriage or there was no woman that would have him. Polly Morris took Lonnie and Mary Wade took Gertrude. By the time John remarried, Gertrude would have already been living with her grandmother for more than a year and being settled, safe, and thriving, why would she be removed from that home? I imagine that Mary Wade was attached to Gertrude as well and did not want to give her up. So, Gertrude remained with her grandmother and was raised with her mother’s side of the family and her brother, Lonnie, was raised with John Coon’s side of the family. So, an estrangement between the two families had probably begun. 

Also remember that the Census shows just one day in every 10 years where a person was at that given time. We have no idea where Gertrude lived on any of the other 3,649 days that cover the span of 10 years. We do know that it must have been common knowledge to her and the family that her parents were John Coon Morris and Ella Wade as they are listed on her marriage license. What is interesting is that her father, John, is listed as dead, which is not the case as John Coon Morris did not die until 1945. No parents are listed on her death certificate, so perhaps over the years, there was an estrangement between father and daughter. If there are questions as to Gertrude's parentage or her race, DNA testing of descendants of Gertrude may help sort this out.


On 11 Aug 1901, John Coon Morris married a second time to Flora Dennis, the youngest child and daughter of Willis Martin Dennis, son of James and Mary Morgan Dennis, and Susannah Hearne, daughter of Stephen and Priscilla Morgan Hearne. John was 31 years old, and Flora was 16. Flora had lost her mother in 1895, when she was but 9 years old. So, Flora and Gertrude had something in common as Gertrude had lost her mother at the tender age of 5.


John Coon and Flora Dennis Morris were the parents of 11 children.

Pearl 1902-1974 m. Aster Owens

Arthur Thomas 1903-1972 m. Ella Marks

Willis Ural 1908-1960 m. Clara Todd m. Mary Hicks m. Craig Russell

Bertha 1912-2002 m. Joseph Vuncannon

Lilly (Bell) Pauline 1913-2005 m. Julius Thompson

Infant 1917-1917

Mary Frances 1919-1990 m. Henry Crisco

John Louis 1920-2004 m. Mary Jenkins

Mabel Henrietta 1921-1986 m. Walter Greene

Flora Elizabeth 1924-2006 m. James Talbert

Lois Mae (called Jackie) 1926-2000 m. Lester Morton

On the 1910 Census is found Lonnie Morris, listed as a boarder, but he is the son from John Coon’s first marriage to Ella Wade. Pearl, Arthur, and Willis are the children of Flora Dennis Morris. An infant male child died in 1917. The 1920 Census shows John and Flora with children Pearl, Arthur, Willis, Bertha, Pauline (Lilly), Mary, and Lonnie, who died in Jan 1923. In 1930, found in the home are John Louis, Mary Francis, Mabel, Lilli bell, and Lois. 1940, the last Census available, shows John and Flora and Lois, all the other children having married and moved on.


Whenever I get a chance to write about my Morgan ancestors, I take it! This is a perfect opportunity to write about them because Flora Dennis Morris has a double Morgan line. Her maternal grandmother was Priscilla Morgan Hearne, the daughter of Joseph and Susannah Smart Morgan, and her paternal grandmother was Mary Morgan Dennis, who may be the daughter of Zachariah Morgan and an unknown wife. Both Morgan ladies descend from a Charles Morgan (I) who died in Chatham County, North Carolina in 1787.

The progenitor of the Morgan’s who settled in and around the Uwharrie area of Montgomery County was Charles Morgan (II), born about 1755 and died about 1833 in Montgomery County and his brother, Zachariah Morgan born about 1770 Chatham County and died after 15 Jan 1833 in Montgomery County. These brothers came from Chatham County to Montgomery County about 1805, following their sister, Rachel, and her husband, John Stewart, who, according to his Revolutionary War pension file, had migrated there shortly after the Revolutionary War.

Charles (II) and Zachariah’s father, Charles (I), died in Chatham County in 1787. There was a third Charles (III), the son of Charles (II), who was catapulted into the spotlight in Montgomery County in the mid-1830s when his son, Willis Morgan, married the widow of Henry Delamothe, Bethany Bailey Delamothe Morgan and his other son, Henry Morgan, married the widow of Col. John Crump, Letitia Lindsay Crump and ended up embroiled in a court battle with her brother, R. D. Lindsay, to annul that marriage.

I have dubbed the Charles’ as I, II, and III to tell them apart. Zachariah, Charles II and John and Rachel Morgan Stewart are found in the will and estate papers of Charles I in Chatham County. Zachariah also provided an affidavit for the Revolutionary War pension of John Stewart. In that affidavit, Zachariah places himself and John Stewart in Chatham County at the same time.


According to an old Newspaper article dated 1813, Zachariah Morgan lived on the road leading from Fisher’s Ferry to Fayetteville and joining the land of Andrew Dennis, who is the father of James Dennis who married Mary Morgan. This area today is on Cedar Creek, current day River Road area in Uwharrie Township, Montgomery County. In 1813, 100 acres of Zachariah Morgan’s land sold for taxes due for years 1809, 1810, 1811 and 1812.


In 1825, James Dennis, the husband of Mary Morgan Dennis, and Spencer Morgan, served as chain carriers on a 300-acre land survey for Zachariah Morgan. James and Mary certainly knew each because they lived next door to one another. They married around 1820. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to think that James Dennis married Mary Morgan, the girl who lived next door.

Spencer Morgan is thought to be the son of Charles Morgan II, but it would not surprise me to learn he is the son of Zachariah Morgan.

It is on John Coon Morris’ death certificate that is found his parent’s names and places of birth. John’s father is Thomas (Tom) Morris, born in Clarksville, Virginia and his mother, Mary (Polly) Williams born in Montgomery County, North Carolina.


Clarksville is a town located in Mecklenburg County, Virginia along the Roanoke River. It was the first incorporated town in the county of Mecklenburg. In 1818, the town was named after its founder, Clark Royster.

By 1832, Clarksville was recognized as one of the fastest growing towns in Virginia. The Clarksville Tobacco Market was so large and important that the Roanoke Navigation Company was formed to transport the crop by way of the Roanoke River to Petersburg, a major export town, and other areas. A plank road was built from Clarksville to Petersburg, 80 miles (130 km) for overland transport. In years to follow, the Roanoke Valley Railroad was built from Clarksville to Manson, Warren County, North Carolina. (,_Virginia)

The Roanoke Navigation Company was chartered in 1812 and began construction in 1817 to build the Roanoke (sometimes referred to as the Weldon) canal around a nine-mile, 85-foot drop at Great Falls on the Roanoke River. The work was completed in 1823.  This canal opened boat traffic from the valleys of the Dan and Staunton to the North Carolina coast. (

Tom Morris was born about 1824. I have scoured the 1820 Census for Mecklenburg County, Virginia and found only three Morris families listed.

Jane Morris: the wife of Jesse Morris Senior (d. About 1807)

Daniel Morris: a son of Jesse and Jane

Jesse Morris [Junior]: a son of Jesse and Jane, married Sally Drumwright, daughter of William Drumwright and Stacy Andrews.


I still have a lot more work to do on tree building for Morris and Drumwright families, but I think I may have found my Morris family – now, I only need to figure out how (or if) Tom Morris and his father, John Jacky Morris, connects to them.  

I have several DNA research trees going and after nearly a year of research, I may be able to connect Mecklenburg, VA family to the Granville County, NC family. But the most interesting connection I have found is that of Samuel Coleman Morris (1720-1826) who married Susannah Wade (1750-1828). Is it possible that Susannah Wade somehow connects to Ella Wade, the first wife of John Coon Morris? Did my Morris family know the Wade family from Virginia? Or was John Coon and Ella’s meeting purely coincidental? So many discoveries to be made!

Saturday, August 14, 2021


Etheldred Harris, called Dred, was born about 1749 in Granville (later Bute) County, North Carolina. His father, West Harris, was in Granville County by 1746, three years prior to Dred’s birth. Not much is known about Dred prior to 1770. Based on records of his father, West, it is assumed that he was raised in an upper middle-class family in the British colony of North Carolina, where he was taught to read and write, and, being a British subject, to respect the King of England. A year after he attained his majority, age 21, he witnessed a deed dated 10 Feb 1771 between his parents, West and Mary Harris, and brother, Turner. Her mention in this deed informs us that Mary Harris, Dred’s mother, owned land in Bute County, either by dower or inheritance, and she was alive in 1771.

West Harris, and Mary his wife, of Bute County...province of No. Turner Harris...for 35 pounds current money of Virginia...200 acres of land on the south side of Sandy Creek and on the Waters branch…witness, Moses Harris, Etheldred Harris.In 1773, Dred’s father, West, deeds to him 342 acres of land in Bute County, formally Granville, and now Warren County, in the province of North Carolina, on Henry Weaver’s Creek, near Lick Branch, for the sum of 70 pounds Virginia money. The deed was witnessed by Nathaniel Harris and Moses Harris. It was a tract of land granted to West Harris by Earl Granville in 1751.Based on family trees on Ancestry and countless genealogy web pages, Find-A-Grave, and books, it seems to be overwhelming misunderstood that Etheldred, in 1774, married Elizabeth Warren, the daughter of Benjamin Warren, in Brunswick County, Virginia. I obtained a copy of the actual license and parental consent, dated June 27, 1774, from a fellow researcher who obtained the copy of the original in Brunswick County, Virginia many years ago.

In the MARRIAGE RECORDS OF BRUNSWICK COUNTY VIRGINIA 1730-1852 BY AUGUSTA B. FOTHERGILL is found the transcribed record dated the same as the parental consent. In 1774, Elizabeth must have been underage, thus requiring the consent of her father, Benjamin Warren, to marry.

However, I do not think this marriage ever took place. In the same marriage record book, dated 17 May 1778, four years later, Elizabeth Warren, daughter of Benjamin, married a man with the surname Lashley. Since she is listed by her maiden name, Warren, it leads one to believe that the marriage between her and Etheldred Harris never took place, otherwise, she would be listed as Elizabeth Harris, meaning she is a widow and is remarrying, meaning that Etheldred died, and we know Etheldred Harris, son of West Harris, did not die based on future records of him.

I suppose there is the possibility that the Harris / Warren marriage could have been annulled, though that is highly unlikely in Colonial America, and no records have been uncovered that would indicate this is the case, but, if that was the case, she might have legally been able to use her maiden name. It is more likely that Etheldred Harris and Elizabeth Warren never married. Also note the 1778 record calls out that Elizabeth is the daughter of Benjamin. The 1774 record does not call this out, but the parental consent and marriage license would certainly indicate that this is the same Elizabeth Warren.

Why the marriage between Etheldred Harris and Elizabeth Warren never took place will remain a mystery. The historical documentation that remains for researchers though, tells us that Etheldred Harris did not marry Elizabeth Warren.

According to the will of Benjamin Warren, his daughter, Elizabeth, married a man with the surname Lashley. Benjamin Warren’s will is dated 17 May 1778, the exact same date of the marriage license between Elizabeth Warren, daughter of Benjamin, and the man with the surname Lashley. Later records indicate that Elizabeth Warren married a man named Howell Lashley.


Family tradition of those who claim descent from Etheldred, says that he married a woman named Sarah Chambliss, though there is no proof of this marriage either, and that their children were Littleton, Jarret, Wiley, Hixey and Elizabeth. I would suggest that there is a missing child here because the 1800 Census supports that Etheldred had 4 sons and 2 daughters.

In the War of 1812 widows pension file for Nancy Hancock Harris, the wife of Wiley Harris, is found some confusion over Wiley Harris and Willis Harris, whether they are the same person. Gray W. Harris from Davidson County, North Carolina, clears up the confusion in a letter dated 22 Jan 1879.

“Yours of the 10th Ist to hand and in reply (the one Willis Harris referred to in your letter was a brother of Wiley Harris, he lived in Wilson County and state of Tenn.”

This tells me that if Wiley Harris was the son of Etheldred, Willis Harris was a well.

So, it appears that Dred lived out his life as a bachelor in Bute (later Warren) County until about Apr 1777. It is then two years into the Revolutionary War and Dred has made the move to Anson County where his father, West, and other family members, now reside.

On 7 Apr, “in the first year of the Independence,” 1777, the Declaration of Independence being unanimously adopted by the Second Continental Congress on 4 Jul 1776 announcing the thirteen colonies' separation from Great Britain, just nine months prior, Dred bought 150 acres of land, on the Northeast side of the Great Pee Dee River, lying on Island Creek, from Henry Mounger, who had bought the land from Thomas Wilson, who had acquired the land via a land grant. West Harris was a witness to the deed and proved the deed in open court. I have not yet found a deed in Bute or Warren County where Dred sold the 342 acres of land he bought from his father.

On 8 Jul 1777, just a few short months later, Dred, who is listed as a planter (farmer), purchases from Sias (Silas) Billingsly of the county of Anson for 40 pounds Proclamation money, 100 acres of land on the northeast or lower side of Uharrey River lying on both sides of the Dutchman’s Mill Creek and adjoining Walter Ashmans (Ashmore). This land was originally granted to Sias Billingsly in 1773. West Harris signed as witness and proved the deed in open court.


Etheldred’s name appears on a petition to the Senate from the “inhabitants of the Upper End of the County of Anson” asking that the county be divided since the county has “grown populous.” Montgomery County then being formed from part of Anson County in January 1779.

With the Revolution now in full swing, about 1780, Dred joins his brother West Jr, who had entered the service in 1776. I discovered from the pension application of Joshua Hurley of Montgomery County, that Dred marched to Wilmington with him around the Fall of 1781 and about the time of Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown.

Joshua Hurley’s pension application states: “to the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for the County aforesaid in the town of Lawrenceville, April 16, 1834." Part of that application reads: "and the said Joshua Hurley doth also further continue his declaration for one other tour of three months service in the Revolution, a drafted militiaman under Captain Etheldred Harris, Major West Harris and Col. William Loftin, all of whom marched together with the said Joshua Hurley to Wilmington, North Carolina...that he served this three months tour punctually and believes that he entered the service and served this tour about the time Cornwallis surrendered at Little York, and the reason that he, the said Joshua Hurley, thinks so is that he was marched from Montgomery, North Carolina by way of Drowning Creek, Rockfish, Waddle’s Ferry on the Cape Fear River, Black River and to the Long Bridges across the Northeast River near the said Wilmington, where he remained until the British had left said town and when done, we marched then into the town of said Wilmington and received his discharge and returned home."

Thomas Landrum’s pension file provides additional information saying, “Again while living in said county and state [Montgomery County, North Carolina] in the latter end of July or the first of August 1781 he was drafted for a three-month tour against the British under Capt. West Harris in Maj Dred Harris' and Col Wm Loftin's Regiment of Militia. We rendezvoused at Charles Robinson's on Little River in said county, lay there a few days then marched to Cross Creek, thence to Elizabethtown, then to Clayton's bridge on Cape Fear River. We made that our headquarters till the British left Wilmington we then got word that Cornwallis was taken. We were then honorably discharged in the last of October 1781...his discharge was signed by the said Capt. Harris but it is lost long since.”


In yet another Revolutionary pension file, that of Henry Lentz, is found the following: “On this 10th day of September 1832 personally appeared in open Court before the Judge of the Circuit Court of said County now sitting Henry Lentz a resident of Limestone County and State of Alabama aged seventy-five years...That he entered the service of the United States a fourth time as orderly Sergeant under the following named Officers to wit General Griffith Rutherford, Colonel William Loftin, Major West Harris, Captain Dred Harris, Lieutenant Arthur Harris…August 1781 & discharged the 26th day of October 1781…During the first three campaigns I resided in Mecklenburg County State of North Carolina. During the last Campaign I lived in Montgomery County from thereafter when I went to Rowan County, North Carolina from thence to Lincoln County, North Carolina from thence to Buncombe County, North Carolina from thence to Blount County, State of Tennessee from thence to Madison County, Alabama from thence to Limestone County, Alabama where I now reside…I did receive the 4th [discharge] by Captain Dred Harris…”

On 6 Sep 1782, Salisbury District, North Carolina, Dred was paid for a claim filed and allowed 30 pounds 2 shillings. I have not been able to find that claim, it may be lost to history. 


Again, in 1782, Dred, along with his brother, West Jr, witnessed the will of James Allen in Montgomery County, North Carolina.

At the close of the Revolutionary War, Dred settled down in the new country of America that, through his military service, had helped to create. He is found on the 1790 Census, the first Census of the newly formed America, and for Montgomery County, North Carolina, with 3 white males, all under the age of 16, and one white female. It looks like Dred finally did marry. His 3 sons were all born after 1774.

In 1788, Dred enters a grant for 100 acres of land in Montgomery County, on McLaine’s (McLean’s) Creek, including, John Morris improvements, on his own line…runs to the road [probably current day Hwy 109]. I have not been able to find any reference as to what might have happened to the land he purchased on Island Creek, belonging to Henry Mounger, and Dutchman Mill Creek, belonging to Sias Billingsly, in 1777. It seems obvious from later records, mentioned below, that Dred moved his residence from the area near Island Creek, and the town of Henderson, to McLean’s Creek near what is today Center United Methodist Church.


In 1792, Dred enters a grant for 50 acres of land in Montgomery County, on the east side of McLaine’s (McLean’s) Creek, joining Purnal Hearne’s line.


In 1795, Dred resigns his commission as 2nd Major Montgomery County. Obviously, he continued his military career that began about 1780 during the Revolutionary War, spending some 15 years in service. Dred was 46 years old.

To the Honorable the General Assembly now sitting: Gentlemen, please do except of this my resignation as second Major of Montgomery County. January 8, 1795

The House of Commons 13 January 1795 read & accepted 

The Senate 13 January 1795 accepted

1800 Montgomery County census finds Dred with one white male under age 10, two white males between 10-15, one white male between 16-25, one white male 45 and over (himself), two white females under age 10, one white female between 26-44 (his wife).

In 1804, Etheldred sat down to breakfast with Francis Asbury who “was one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. During his 45 years in the colonies and the newly independent United States, he devoted his life to ministry, traveling on horseback and by carriage thousands of miles to those living on the frontier.” (Wikipedia)

In 1806, Arthur Harris, the brother of Etheldred, deeded 2 acres of land to erect a place of worship for the Methodist faith. It is believed that the deed is for Center United Methodist Church located between Hwy 109 and Coggins Mine Road in the Eldorado area of Montgomery County. The below copy was provided to me by a fellow researcher who obtained it from the Coggins family.


The deed in part states:

This Indenture made this 19th day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six between Arthur Harris of the county of Montgomery County and state of No. Carolina of the one part and Henry Ledbetter, Etheldred Harris, Ebenezer Hearne, John Hancock, William Taylor, Joseph Hall, Thos. Hearne, and James Smith trustees in trust for the use and purpose herein after mentioned all of the same county of Montgomery and for the state of No. Carolina of the other part. Witnesseth that the said Arthur Harris & Mary Harris for and in consideration of the sum of one cent in hand paid at and upon the sealing and delivery of these presents the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath given granted bargained sold released confirmed and conveyed and by these presents give grant bargain sell release confirm and convey unto them the said Henry Ledbetter, Etheldred Harris, Ebenezer Hearne, John Hancock, William Taylor, Joseph Hall, Thos. Hearne & James Smith and their successors…a certain lot parcel of ground situate lying and being in the county and state foresaid…containing two acres of ground…that they shall build or cause to be erected a house or place of Worship for the use of the members of Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America…


Etheldred Harris died, most likely in Montgomery County, North Carolina, between 7 Mar 1820 when Littleton Harris entered a land grant for 75 acres of land and 4 Mar 1821 when the survey for the land was completed.

State of North Carolina

Montgomery County

No 8310

To the surveyor of said county Greeting, you are hereby required to lay off and survey according to law a tract or parcel of land containing seventy-five acres for Littleton Harris. Entered the seventh day of March 1820 adjoining William Harris lines & Etheldred Harris Decs’d…