Remembering Our Ancestors: John Phillips

The Phillips family had been in the New World for two generations already when John was born in 1776: The first Phillips of this line, James, immigrated during the first decade of the 18th century from Suffolk in England.

Did you spot it?  Did the dates ring a bell?  Our 5th and 6th great-grandfather John Phillips, whose great-great-granddaughter was our (great-)great-grandmother Goldie Fouts, was born during the Revolutionary War and died during the Civil War.  But let’s not jump ahead too far.

John Phillips was born in Hagerstown, Washington Co., Maryland on 26 June 1776, today 244 years ago, just eight days before the Declaration of Independence.  The town was called Elizabethtown at the time:  Jonathan Hager, a German immigrant, had bought 200 acres of land in the Great Appalachian Valley in 1739, called it Hager’s Fancy and named the town he founded there in 1762 after his wife Elizabeth.  In 1814, it was renamed Hagerstown, following popular use.

But by that time, John Phillips was not living in Hagerstown anymore.  We are not sure when he left the area, but records show that his parents already went west towards the Old Northwest, with little John and his siblings no doubt.

By the beginning of the 19th century, we find John marrying west of the Ohio River in Barnesville, today located in Belmont Co., Ohio.  Funnily enough, Barnesville was named after one James Barnes who happened to have been born in Maryland and was the first settler in the Barnesville area.  Go figure.

Regardless, John Phillips married Catherine McFarland, daughter of Irish immigrants, in Barnesville on 12 September 1809, at a time when warriors of Tecumseh’s Confederation, armed by the British, hoped to rid the territory of American settlers and increasingly raided their towns and farmsteads.  John, by then father of two and the third on the way, enlisted in the War of 1812 on 4 September 1812; the necessity to defend his homeland surely did not need to be impressed on him, but we do not know any particulars about his life as a soldier.  He survived the war, this much is sure, and the family stayed in Barnesville where six more children were born to John and Catherine.

John Phillips passed away in his 87th year on 9 June 1863, smack-dab in the middle of the American Civil War.  His life was indeed framed by armed conflicts on American soil.

Requiescat in Pace now, Great-Grandpa John.

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Remembering Our Ancestors: Henry Harris

This week 146 years ago, our 4th and 5th grandfather on the Denney side passed away.

Henry Harris’ granddaughter Arilla was the grandmother of our (great-)grandfather Lorain Franklin Denney, and the mother of our (2nd) great-grandmother Mattie Mulford.

When Henry Harris was born in 1792 or 1793, his ancestors had been living in Virginia for well nigh 200 years, that is, since the pilgrim Capt. Thomas Harris, first Harris clan member in the New World, had settled on land that now belongs to Henrico County, VA, in 1611.  Henry was born in Bedford County, Virginia, and appears to have spent his childhood there.  According to our records, he fought in the war of 1812 when he was between 20 and 25, as his later widow received a military pension based on this fact.

Speaking of which:  Henry Harris married Jane W. Summers on 13 Jun 1824 in Mason County, West Virginia.  Apparently,  Henry had made his way further west, and it was Mason county from which our (great-)grandfather Lorain Franklin Denney set out in the 1920s to southern Ohio where the family then settled.

Henry and Jane had at least five children, four boys and one girl.  Their oldest son was our direct ancestor and father of Arilla Harris, who married into the Mulford family and whose daughter then married a Denney.

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By the time Henry was in his 80s, he was living in Buffalo in Putnam County, WV, just south of Mason county.  This week 146 years ago, on 15 April of 1874, Henry Harris died in his 83rd year, and as far as we know, he was laid to rest in Buffalo.

Requiescat in Pace, Great-Grandpa Harris.



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