“The thing that interests me most about family history is the gap between the things we think we know about our families and the realities” Jeremy Hardy
Finally! After a flurry of searches over the past couple of days, I have found a document that proves the parentage of John H. Morris who died 12 Feb 1861 in Campbell County, Virginia. John married Lucretia Howell in Feb 1800, the stepdaughter of John Goodman. Two males who descend from sons of John and Lucretia Morris, Micajah and Achilles, are a Y DNA match to my Morris line in Group M29 at Family Tree DNA. Those kits are 146588 and 400658.
Based on research done by the family for kit number 146588 it was thought that this Morris line descended from Samuel Morris, the religious dissenter from Hanover County, Virginia who built the Morris Reading Houses and died in 1801 in Campbell County, Virginia.
However, as I was researching Campbell
County, Virginia, I found a deed for another John Morris who lived on the exact
same land that Samuel had purchased in 1768 from John Hardeman when the county
was still Bedford. That John Morris married Mary Jameson, the daughter of
William Jameson and Ann Read and the widow of Colonel William Elliott. That deed record unraveled the research done by others, disproving that John H. Morris (married Lucretia) was the son of Samuel Morris (Morris Reading Houses).
Read more about that here: c'est la vie
Yesterday I found an 1861 death registry for Campbell County, Virginia. That document lists John Morris, the husband of Lucretia, as born in Buckingham County, Virginia and parents names are listed as William and Sarah Morris. John’s son, John Jr, was the informant.
Buckingham County, Virginia was formed from Albemarle County in 1761. John was born in Buckingham, Virginia about 1774. The county was only 13 years old at that time. His father was probably more than 21 years old at the time of his birth, making him born before 1753, probably in Albemarle County (but perhaps not, but it the best I have now to begin my research). Albemarle County, Virginia was formed in 1744 from Goochland County which was the first county formed from Henrico shire in 1728.
Buckingham County, Virginia courthouse burned to the ground on 26 Feb 1869 and 108 years of history was lost as reported by the Richmond Dispatch on 2 Mar 1869. It looks like the county survived the Civil War only to be destroyed by fire.
I am very familiar with researching a burned county. My own home county of Montgomery, North Carolina is one such county. It’s courthouse in Lawrenceville burned to the ground in 1843, due to arson. Many of the counties’ citizens rerecorded deeds and wills and bills of sale up to 25 years after the burning of the courthouse at Lawrenceville. Civil cases that had been pending relied on depositions of witnesses to reestablish the suits. So, there probably are some rerecorded records in Buckingham, Virginia that may be found to assist researchers. However, it will take time to go through 25 years of documents and determine which ones are the ones I need.
I may also be able to find records between Albemarle County, Virginia and Buckingham County, Virginia and surrounding counties that might link John and his father William together. If I am lucky, there may be mentions of the Morris family I am looking for in Revolutionary War pension files, letters that survived history, Newspapers, records in surrounding counties, and Bible records.
Thankfully, all is not lost, at least I hope not.
1. Join online genealogical groups for Buckingham, Virginia and seek out other researchers for this county who may have already found the best way to research the burned county and may also have records on the early Morris families in this county.
2. Go back through all the records for Campbell County, Virginia and separate the records for the two John Morris’s.
3. Rebuild a timeline for John H. Morris and his wife, Lucretia.
4. Gather old maps for Buckingham and Albemarle, Virginia.
5. Determine exactly where John H. Morris lived as well as his children and in-laws. Build timelines for the family and gather records on them.
6. Research neighbors of John H. Morris five pages forward and back on Census records in Campbell, Virginia.
7. Locate blogs or written histories of Campbell, Virginia and reread them for information pertaining to John H. Morris and the area where he lived.
8. Research Buckingham and Albemarle, Virginia Revolutionary War pension files, land, and court records.
9. Research DNA matches for Buckingham and Albemarle, Virginia.
10. Research Newspapers for listings of Buckingham, Virginia.