Friday, April 14, 2023

What's in a name?

If name association was any indication of which family a person belonged to, I would have to guess that Guilford Harris fits somewhere in the Harris family of Eldorado, Montgomery County, North Carolina. Guilford’s marriage license is a dead giveaway that he must be related to this Harris family. David Hearne and Isham Coggin, brothers-in-law (Isham married Sarah Hearne, David’s sister), were bondsman and Elisha Harris, probably the brother of Margaret Harris Hearne (both the children of Littleton Harris), who was the wife of David Hearne, was a witness to Guilford’s marriage to Catherine Fesperman.

So, how in the world did Guilford meet Catherine? I’ve got a theory for that too!

Catherine ‘Kate’ Fesperman is my third great aunt and the sister of Leah Caroline Fesperman Marks who married William ‘Buck’ Marks. These ladies are the daughters of Michael and Leah Dry Fesperman of Stanly County, North Carolina. It was Buck Marks who swept Leah Fesperman off her feet around the year 1848 or 49, but her father, Michael Fesperman, was not sold on the idea of their marriage, so much so, that he left Leah only $5 in his will! Buck and Leah left Stanly County because of this family conflict and moved across the river to the community of Eldorado in Montgomery County.

Buck Marks was a shoemaker. In fact, he came from a long line of shoemakers, all the way back to the area of Jamestown, in old Rappahannock, Virginia where his ancestors settled in the mid-1600s. 

Interestingly, the 1860 Census lists Guilford Harris as a shoemaker and I have wondered about that for years. The Harris family were not shoemakers. So, my theory is that Guilford may have been working with Buck Marks while living in Eldorado, and this is how he learned the trade of a shoemaker. If so, Guilford may have met Catherine Fesperman through Leah, her sister.

What makes this theory super exciting and totally believable, is that on the 1860 Census, we find that Catherine was not too keen on the idea of moving across the river like her sister, Leah, so she and Guilford settled in Stanly County, right next door to Marcus and Nancy Marks Carter.

What makes this so exciting is that Nancy is the first cousin of William Buck Marks. Nancy’s parents, James and Catherine Gunter Marks are the siblings of Buck’s parents, John, and Mary Gunter Marks.

While this theory still does not tell me who Guilford’s parents were, it does provide me with names to focus my research on. I do not think it is a coincidence that Guilford and Catherine are living next door to Buck Marks’ first cousin, nor is it a coincidence that Guilford Harris is a shoemaker. No, there is a story to be found and told here.

Read about Marcus Princeton Carter at Jobs Children


Guilford and Catherine had 13 children between 1850 and 1874 and if naming patterns are a clue, Guilford’s father’s name may be John (Jackson) Harris. The second child born, Leah, is certainly named after Catherine’s mother, Leah Dry Fesperman.

John Harris (1850-1921) married Mary Bullen

Leah Francis Harris (1852-aft. 1920) married Quincy Howell

Andrew Nelson Harris (1855-1919)

Martha Harris (1856- )

Eliza Jane Harris (1858-1935) married Columbus Morris

Rufus Harris (1860-1942) married Elizabeth Snotherly

Hannah Harris (1863- ) married Tillman Thompson

William Lee Harris (1865- ) married Julia Dry

Mary Adeline Harris (1868-1937) Henry Byrd

Abagail Harris (1870-1935) married James Richardson and John Waisner

Ellen Harris (1872- )

Ella Harris (1873-1944) married Lane Russell

Anfina Harris (1874- ) Alsey Hopkins

Catherine Fesperman Harris died 10 Sep 1900 in Stanly County. She is buried in Prospect Baptist Church Cemetery in Albemarle.

Guilford died 18 Apr 1923 and is buried alongside Catherine, his wife. He lived long enough to have a death certificate; his grandson, George Washington Thompson was the informant, and his parents are listed as Jackson (a nickname for John was Jack) Harris and Sarah Warner, both of Montgomery County, North Carolina, however, no information can be found on either Jackson or Sarah.

The search continues…

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