The Harrisons from Harrisonburg, VA

I spent a few days in Harrisonburg, Virginia a couple of weeks ago where a member of my family is living during a work assignment. Harrisonburg is located in Rockingham County and is named for Thomas Harrison. I called Bill (my 2nd cousin) from my location in the Massanutten area to tell him where I was – he knew everything about it that I didn’t yet know.

Thomas Harrison, for whom Harrisonburg was named, was a half-brother of Bill’s ancestor John Harrison. Both men were sons of Isaiah Harrison who migrated from New York to Lewes, Delaware. From there, the family – en masse, apparently – migrated further south into the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. There, John Harrison brought his family, among them son Reuben Harrison who married Lydia Donnel and his own family, two sons of particular interest: Joseph or Josiah Harrison, born 1768 and Reuben Harrison, possibly Junior, born either within a year or so of Joseph or possibly a twin brother.

These two are of particular interest because they did not continue in Rockingham County, VA. Pertinent to our subject matter, and cousin Bill, is Reuben Harrison (Jr). Reuben married Mary Higginbotham on 3 July 1789 in Botetourt County. They married in Botetourt County because that is where Mary and her father, named Moses Higgenbotham resided. Now whether Moses Higgenbotham is the same Moses Higgenbotham who resided in Greenbrier County and signed the petition for the formation of Greenbrier – which resulted in the county’s formation in October  1777, is rather dubious but it was my initial assumption.

Marriage License of Reuben Harrison & Mary Higgenbotham 3 July 1789
Marriage License of Reuben Harrison & Mary Higgenbotham 3 July 1789, daughter of Moses Higgenbotham of Botetourt County, VA.

Reuben Harrison and his brother Joseph continued to live in Greenbrier and Monroe Counties (now West Virginia) a number of years. They are found in the personal property tax lists of Greenbrier (1797) and Monroe County (1799 through 1808). But in 1811 we find these men in Kanawha County, WV. The two brothers must have made land purchases that put them in the same neighborhood but two different counties – Reuben in Kanawha, Joseph in Mason County until the 1830s. Joseph reportedly died in Mason County, WV in the 1830s. However Reuben is still accounted for in the Jackson County, WV Census List in 1840 and is where he died in 1846. His estate was probated in Jackson County, Wv on 23 November 1846. That’s not to say these men “moved” from county to county after reaching the area: this shows that the new counties of Mason (1804) and Jackson (1831) were formed from Kanawha which was formed from Greenbrier which was formed from Botetourt.

There is an account written, “The slaughter of the Pfost-Greene Family of Jackson County, W.Va. A history of the tragedy” by O. J. Morrison, a part of the Reynolds Historical Genealogical Collection of the Allen County Public Library (no state given) in which appears a separate sub-account known as “A Terrible Calamity.” That specific chapter deals with two sons, Alexander and Zebulon, of Reuben Harrison and Mary Higgenbotham in the year 1817, and the death of Alexander. You can read the account by visiting

But, my cousin Bill is with us today due to Reuben and Mary’s son, John C. Harrison, named no doubt for his great-grandfather who died near Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia.

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