Genealogy of the Morris family

From 1690 in VA to 1755 in NC to 1830 in TN to 1997 in Texas

Surnames mentioned on this site:

Slaves (only the first name is given) mentioned on this page, in order of oldest to youngest: Rose, Jack, Jane, Lewis
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"Lo, there do I see my father.
Lo, there do I see my mother, my sisters and my brothers.
Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning.
Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place on Asgard in the halls of Valhalla,
Where the brave may live forever."
- Old Norse prayer


WP Morris This research began with the discovery of a letter written by my great grandfather, Williamson Plant MORRIS back in October 1931. The letter contained a detailed description of life at the John MORRIS farm during the Civil War in Hickman County, Tennessee. The discovery of this letter prompted my interest in my ancestry, and an associated many hundreds of hours of detective work!

What I have written here is a work in progress that will continue to grow as I explore the many branches. Feel free to follow the many links I have sprinkled throughout the pages, understanding that links often are broken as web sites change. Sorry.

The complete letter written by Williamson Plant MORRIS in 1931

This fascinating letter describes:

The Lineage

The Origins of the Scots/Irish

In the 1600's, the border between Scotland and England was in tremendous upheaval. Peaceful, normal life was an unattainable fantasy. In order to survive, the Scots who lived in that region became "Border Reevers" (Robbers). They were the best frontier fighters in Britain, if not in Europe.

In 1603, James I, King of England ascended to the throne and the border was finally pacified by sending many of these families to Northern Ireland. It was hoped they would settle down, but their previous lifestyle had become too ingrained.

These Scots/Irish are usually referred to as "Ulster Scots" in the United Kingdom. They were predominantly Presbyterian/Protestant, and had no need of either a priest or a King to think for them.

There were wars between the Scots/Irish and the Native Irish between 1640 and 1660 when the Irish rose up against the English. Finally the Scots/Irish army was defeated, and the they became persecuted. Presbyterian services were prohibited and the ministers outlawed.


The Scots/Irish Emigrate to America

At the close of the 17th century, both persecution by the British and terrible climatic conditions all across Europe (there having been no harvest in 5 years) had become so severe that the Scots/Irish were forced to emigrate. They often indentured themselves as servants to pay for passage, and the journeys by ship, lasting anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months, were typically disastrous.

The Scots/Irish landed mostly in Pennsylvania and began settling in the hills nearby. They also moved into Maryland or other close by places that resembled their home countryside. The first Ulster settlement was in Donegal, PA.

Eventually, a ferry opened up the Cumberland Valley, and it became their heartland. By the middle 1700's, the flow of immigrants down the Shenandoah Valley and westward from Charleston and Carolina ports filled the back countries of the Carolinas at a remarkable rate.
But the Ulstermen were known for their drinking, arguing, singing, and dancing. They did not have a peaceful relationship with the Native Americans who lived all around them. The old border reevers of the Scots/English border had become the frontiersmen and the mountain men of the new world.

William MORRIS (1730-1806)

(Some of this information was taken from Family Treemaker World Family Tree, Volume #4, Ed. 1, Tree# 1402)

William MORRIS was born 1722 or 1730 in King George, Virginia and died in Anson County, NC. Some possible records related to him that I am researching are:

He was married to Pherabee GURLEY (1723-1809?), and they had these children:

Sometime after 1795, he married Martha Rebecca Ann NANCE of Anson County, NC (1773 Mecklenberg Co VA - ?) She was the widow of William MASK (ca 1769 Goochland Co. VA - ca 1795 Anson County, NC) with whom she had several children, including Miles W. MASK, (1794-?), who married Louise BOGGAN.

The children of William Morris and Martha Nance were:

His Estate Records are dated 1858.

Nathan MORRIS (1755-1830)

Nathan MORRIS lived in Anson County North Carolina until 1807, according to Ruth A. Hays of Montgomery County, TN (Mail: Route 1, Guthrie, KY 42234). I believe he may have lived in White Store Township, and I also believe his family may have been acquainted with Williamson PLANT, a revolutionary war soldier mentioned in a deed for the Long Pine Methodist Church and who is also listed in Dickson County Tennessee Handbook by Jill K. Garrett.

Many small farmers opposed the British militia under Governor Tryon at the Battle of Alamance, May 16, 1771, but they lost and were compelled to take the oath of allegiance to the King. About 4,000 people who refused to take the oath left North Carolina over the next few years and moved into Tennessee. Among those who moved to Montgomery County, Tennessee, were Williamson PLANT and Thomas PETTY who is also listed in deed for the Long Pine Methodist Church.

Nathan Morris is listed as a Private in the roster of soldiers in the American Revolution as being in Evan's Company, from 1782 for 18 months. (North Carolina State Records, Clark, Vol XVI, 1782-1783, page 149)

The 1800 Census of Anson County lists the Nathan Morris family as having 3 males under the age of 10, 1 female between 10 and 16, 3 females 16 to 26, and the father being 45 or older. This would put Nathan's birthdate at 1755 or earlier.

In 1803, Montgomery County was split up, creating Dickson County, and Thomas PETTY staked a claim on Piney River. The Nathan Morris family moved to Montgomery County in 1807.

Nathan MORRIS was still living in Montgomery County, TN at the time he wrote his will on February 28, 1830. They lived on a plantation and Nathan had 5 personal servants himself. It is not known how many other servants were in their household or worked on the plantation. The following children were from his first wife, Louisa (last name and dates unknown):

The will also lists the following people who are assumed to also be grown children already married:

Nathan MORRIS was married twice, the second time to Michal (last name unknown, 1778-186?) and the Will lists the following children separately, with inhertitances more closely tied to Michal:

John MORRIS (1819-?)

The second son of Nathan and Michal MORRIS was John. According to the 1850 and 1860 US Census for Hickman County, John MORRIS was born in 1819 in Montgomery county, Tennessee. He married Sarah G. WILLIAMSON on 06/20/1846. (Sarah had a sister named Ann F. WILLIAMSON, who married John W. PLANT 07/26/1845.) John and Sarah had the following children: