Return to Currituck Co.

by Betsy Taylor

The roots of the Harrison family can be traced back to 1677 when Edward Harrison and his wife moved here from the Williamsburg, Va. area. Edward was born in 1647 in or around Williamsburg, VA. He was the nephew of Benjamin Harrison, who was the clerk of council in Williamsburg. Edward signed the petition of the followers of Nathaniel Bacon (Bacon’s Rebellion) and shortly thereafter joined his brother-in-law, John Cropsley in North Carolina.  Edward and his wife had three sons: William, Joshua and Daniel. William married Sarah Vines and they had six children: Joshua, William, Edmund, Sarah, John and Vines. Joshua married Sallie Russell, the daughter of William or Benjamin Russell. They had two known children: Josiah and Zorababel.

Zorababel Harrison, Esq. was my great-great-great-great grandfather. He was born in 1757 and died April 16, 1812. He was married to Julia, born c. 1770 and died in 1842. They settled in the area of Currituck Country known as Harbinger, Spot, and Point Harbor. County and historical records from this period indicate they owned a great deal of land in these areas. In 1796 an early deed was located in Currituck County conveying property from Daniel Lindsey. A provision of the deed was that Zorababel build a house to specifications and clear the land for tilling. The original home of Zorababel and Julia was built about 1780 and was located on Edgewater Drive. It was built in the typical dormered Williamsburg style with a detached kitchen. The family cemetery still exists not too far from the original home site, which is currently in the center of a golf course, formerly Newbern’s field and is still tended by the direct descendants of Zorababel and Julia.

Zorababel and Julia had six children and they are as follows:

§         Polly Harrison was born March 30, 1798 and died November 15, 1812. She was the wife of S.H. Gregory.  She died in childbirth with her newborn child and is buried in the Zorababel Harrison cemetery.

§         Alfred Harrison married Sally Saunderson. Their seven children were Fanny, Scott, Thomas, William, Julie, Henry and Martha.

§         William Harrison, who married Director Chaplin. Their four children were Walter, Benjamin, Virginia and Joshua. Joshua Harrison was married to Ann Caroline Jarvis, who was the daughter on Bannister Jarvis and the sister of Gov. Thomas Jarvis. Joshua was a very prosperous farmer in the Jarvisburg area and was accused of the 1906 kidnapping of a local boy, Kenneth Beasley. Historical records show that Joshua denied all charges but was none the less found guilty on March 19, 1906 and sentenced to 20 years in jail. While waiting for a Supreme Court decision of appeal, Joshua committed suicide on September 17 and protested his innocence to the end.

§         Holland Harrison

§         Lucinda Harrison

§         Joshua Harrison, Esq.  was born May 23, 1800 and died November 12, 1858.  Joshua married Sallie Tillett who was born April 25, 1806 died March 15, 1876.  Joshua was a Representative of Currituck County to the State Legislature from 1833-1834. They made their home on the family land not far from Joshua’s father. The home was built about 1830 in the classic federal style with a detached kitchen.  Children of Joshua and Sallie were:

§         Mary C., born December 21, 1826, died September 26, 1828

§         Julia was born November 8, 1828 and died October 2, 1832

§         Hollon M. was born October 18, 1832 and died March 1, 1847

§         Thomas B. was born March 23, 1835 and died April 7, 1910. Married to Annie Rogers – one child Nevada Harrison born December 16, 1869 died December 13, 1946. Nevada married Nathan Dulin on November 29, 1885 and had two children, Julia and Laura. Her second husband was B.F. Doyal and they had three children: Milton, Beulah and Winston.

§         Lucinda was born January 21, 1838, died January 5, 1899. Lucinda married Hiram Gallop. Lucinda and Hiram had three children: Little Hodges, Clara Harrison and Marion. Lucinda married a second time to Mathias Owens, son of Zachariah and Fanny Owens, on February 18, 1869. They are buried in the Lucinda Thicket Cemetery in Harbinger.

§         Colenda was born 1840 died before 1880. Married Banister Guard.  They had Flora M., John Thomas and Sarah H. Guard.

§         George William was born 1842. Married Lovey Simpson.

§         Lovey married Isaac Aydlett. They had four children: Frances, Mary, Colinda and Samuel.

§         Flora Ann "Toni Ann" was born June 10, 1846 and died September 10, 1906. Toni Ann married John Combs, born August 8, 1844 and died September 4, 1913, on August 10, 1873. John Combs was from Columbia, NC and was a veteran of the Civil War, having enlisted in March 1864. He was a Private in Company B, Regiment 8 of the North Carolina Troops. He was taken prisoner on December 24, 1864 and sent to Point Lookout Prison in Maryland where he remained until the end of the war. At that time he was sent to Petersburg VA and released and from there he walked home to North Carolina. Toni Ann and John lived and raised their children in the home of her parents, Joshua and Sallie. John built and owned a General Store, which was located at the corner of what is now Edgewater Drive and Hwy. 158, which he operated until his death in 1913. Several items from the store have been preserved and are still in the possession of his granddaughter, Flora Lawson Houska.

Flora Ann (Harrison) Combs & John Combs - photo made c. 1880's

John and Flora had nine children:

§         Sallie was born October 23, 1874 and died December 1940. Sally married Robert Sumrell. They had three children, Lloyd, Melvin and Estell.  Sally and Robert’s home was located at the end of Edgewater Drive on the sound front. The property was sold after her death

§         Julia was born December 1, 1877 and died December 21, 1877

§         Colenda was born November 26, 1878, died August 27, 1882

§         Lucinda Holland was born November 18, 1880 and died May 22, 1957. Lucinda married William Melson and they had two children, William Donald and Lessie Hollon. 

§         Flora was born September 30, 1882 and died July 9, 1883

§         William Nelson was born April 27, 1884 and died January 21, 1931

§         Flora Ann was born March 8, 1887 and died November 9, 1891

§         John Harrison was born September 7, 1889 and died November 24, 1891

§         Mary Ann was born May 26, 1876 and died October 21, 1958. Mary Ann married Robert Carlton Lawson, born March 1, 1873, died February 15, 1933, on July 2, 1905 in Harbinger. Robert was the son of James Lawson of Hampton, VA and Adelaide Yarrid of Matthews County, VA. James Lawson was a waterman, oysterman and fisherman in the Chesapeake Bay. They had three children: Mary, Carolina and Robert.

Robert and Mary Ann made their home in Harbinger in a charming house on Hall’s Harbor Road for about six years after their marriage. Robert, known all of his life as Captain Bob, was the captain of a schooner and had been raised on his father’s boat. His mother had died of pneumonia when he was two years old and he and his sisters lived with his aunt for a while but when he was still a boy he joined his father on the boat where he learned the art of sailing, which he followed for most of his life. When he was grown he had his own boats, sloop, skipjack and schooner. Unlike his father who kept to the bay, he took to the sea and was known as a blue waterman.

Captain Bob and Mary Ann had three children:

§         Robert James was born September 1908 and died October 12, 1908. He is buried in the Zorababel Harrison cemetery.

§         Elbert Carlton was born May 14, 1910 and died January 31, 1979

§         Flora Antoinette (Toni) was born February 3, 1912 and is still living.

All of the children were born in Harbinger. However, having tired of the long weeks and months at sea away from his family, Captain Bob moved his family to Norfolk, VA where he went to work as a Master ship carpenter. He later went to work for the railroad where he remained until his death in 1933.

Upon her husband’s death, Mary Ann returned home to Harbinger where she had family land and built a home. Her children returned with her and remained there about a year until she was established.

Flora Lawson Houska is my grandmother and is presently 93 years old and is living in her mother’s home in Harbinger. She has shared many stories of growing up in Currituck in the early 1900’s and has been an invaluable source of information.

Sources:  Family Bible, NC Archives, Currituck County Courthouse, Currituck County Historical Society, Flora Lawson Houska, personal knowledge.




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© 2005  Kay Midgett Sheppard