Family #2 – EKA Reuben Harrell 1750

Last Updated on 3 Apr 2021

The Earliest Known Ancestor of this family is Reuben Harrell, b. 1750 Frederick County, Virginia, d. Aug 1825 Washington County, Virginia. Reuben Harrell married Rebecca Smith in 1770, Frederick County, Virginia. The parents of Rebecca Smith, b. abt 1749 Frederick County, Virginia, d. 12 March 1842 probably Prestonburg, Floyd County, Kentucky, have not been identified.

Before DNA was widely used in genealogy, it was suspected that Reuben was a brother to EKA William Harrell (Family #1). They both lived in Frederick County, Virginia and in the same locale in Wythe County (before Reuben moved to Floyd County, Kentucky and later to Washington County, Virginia). The DNA profile of one descendant of Reuben Harrell confirmed a genetic relationship. They were both born in about the same timeframe (EKA William Harrell b.1740-1750), and the names of their children are very similar. Since Reuben is assumed to be a brother to EKA William Harrell of Family #1, Reuben’s parents are therefore the same (viz., Jacob Harrell and Martha Calfee as is speculated).

Reuben Harrell and Rebecca Smith had (at least) 13 children: Jacob, William, Nancy, John, Nathaniel, Enoch, James, Bayles, Hannah, Robert, Rebecca, Henry, and Margaret.

Reuben served in the Revolutionary War and his pension applications provide a wealth of information about him and his family.

As discussed in Family #1, the Harrell, Hurst, Calfee, and Padget families were very close, and although not proven, it is strongly believed that Henry Calfee’s daughter Martha Calfee married Jacob Harrell (speculated parents of Reuben and William). It has been futher speculated that EKA Reuben Harrell may have been named after Reuben Padget. Reuben Padget acquired more than 200 acres from William Hurst (Hurst’s land purchased from William Russell in 1741) and in 1751 Reuben Padget “transferred” 100 acres of his land to Jacob Harrell–this land, obtained in 1749, on an east branch of Flint Run (which empties into the South Shenandoah River). In 1754 “Jacob Harrill and Marthy Harrell” sold this same 100 acres to Thomas Robinson.

A listing of all known descendants of EKA Reuben Harrell are provided through the first 3 generations (i.e., Reuben’s children and grandchildren). In addition, discussion follows about two recently discovered events regarding two sons of Reuben: (1) Jacob Harrell, after his first wife died, briefly married Ann Davis before 1817; and (2) Robert Harrell fathered an illegitimate son shortly before he married Lucinda Thurman in 1815.


Jacob Harrell was born about 1778 Virginia (probably Shenandoah County), and died May, 1853 in Wythe County, Virginia. He first married Nancy Gray on February 25, 1809 in Wythe County, Virginia. No children are known to have resulted from this marriage, no record is known about the end of this marriage, and Nancy Gray’s death is unknown. There are court records in 1814 showing Jacob Harrell married to Anne Davis and it is believed they were still married by 1820; but there is no court record of the marriage to Ann/Anne Davis or of her death. It is believed Ann Davis Harrell was born about 1817 and married Jacob Harrell sometime before 1814.

There are land records in 1836, Wythe County, Virginia, of Abraham (Abram) D. (Davis) Harrell selling 3 properties he inherited directly or indirectly from the estate of Ann’s father John Davis [Note: John Davis had a son named Abraham Davis]. In these 1836 land transactions, Abraham D. stated his father was Jacob Harrell. Other than Abraham D. Harrell, the name “Abraham” does not appear in the family of EKA Reuben Harrell Sr. or in the family of EKA William Harrell Sr. (Family #1) so it is unclear if this Abraham D. Harrell is genetically related to any Harrell; at present there is no DNA from any descendant of Abraham D.

Further research reveals considerable information about the professional life of Abraham D. Harrell. He entered the predecessor of U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1834. He was commissioned Commander in 1862 and retired from the Navy in 1867. He served his entire professional life in the U.S. Navy. He married Helen O’Hara on September 25 1840 in Rockbridge County, Virginia; she died in 1890 and is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. From an 1870 census record in New Jersey it is thought Abraham D. Harrell was born about 1811 (other speculations and documents put his birth 1810-1816), and died December 16, 1871 in probably New Jersey. No record of children has been found; and no record of where he is buried.

Is Jacob Harrell and Ann Davis the biological father and mother of Abraham D. Harrell? That question remains unanswered but there is strong suspicion that Ann Davis is the biological mother. There is documented proof of an Abraham Harrell Sr. who served as a guardian ad litem in 1830 for Abraham D. Harrell, who at that time was an infant under 21 years of age. Nothing further is known about this Abraham Harrell Sr. and it is possible he is the biological father or perhaps an uncle. It is also known that an Abraham Harrell and John Harrell, both 20 years old and born Frederick County, Virginia, living in Botetourt or Montgomery County, Virginia, joined the military about 1780 in Albemarle County, Virginia – but no connection with Abraham Harrell Sr. has yet been documented. One highly speculated scenario is Abraham D. living with Abraham Sr. away from Wythe County and Abraham D. going to the Naval Academy at the suggestion of Abraham Sr. – who was the person joining the military in Albemarle County in 1780.

Before the discovery of Abraham D. Harrell, it was thought all of the children of Jacob Harrell were the product of his assumed second marriage to Hannah Brown, their first child Ann Harrell being born 1817. There is an 1821 deed showing Jacob Harrell with wife Hannah Brown but there is no record of Jacob’s marriage to Hannah Brown. It is assumed without proof that Jacob married Hannah Brown about 1820. Prior to Abraham D. Harrell being discovered, the children of Jacob and Hannah Brown were believed to be:

  1. Ann Harrell b. 1817 Wythe County, Virginia, married (1) James Whitley 1841 Wythe County, Virginia; and (2) Andrew Jackson Davis 1850 Wythe County, Virginia
  2. Mary Jane Harrell b. 1821 Wythe County, Virginia, d. 1895 Wythe County, Virginia, married James Seagle 1847 Wythe County, Virginia
  3. William Cassell Harrell b. abt 1824 Wythe County, Virginia, d. 1889 Wythe County, Virginia, married Mary Akers 1847 Wythe County, Virginia
  4. Nancy Harrell b. 1828 Wythe County, Virginia, d. abt 1885 probably Montgomery County, Virginia, married Augustus Reed 1848 in Wythe County, Virginia
  5. John Harrell b. 1829 Wythe County, Virginia, married Elizabeth Felty 1857 Wythe County, Virginia
  6. James Arthur Harrell b. 1831 Wythe County, Virginia, d. 1893 Pulaski County, Virginia, married Margaret Elmyra Cook 1855 in Ashe County, North Carolina

It is now believed that daughter Ann Harrell 1817 is probably the daughter of Jacob and Ann Davis Harrell, with Hannah Brown being the mother of the remaining children.


A recent DNA match was recorded by FamilyTreeDNA between kit number 418902 and the Harrells of Northern Virginia. Information provided by the DNA donor indicates Robert Harrell is the biological father of Thaddeus/Thadeus Matthew Ramey, b. January 2, 1815 Floyd County, Kentucky, d. July 13, 1890 Hood Creek, Lawrence County, Kentucky court records identified the father of Thaddeus as “Robert Harril,” which was misread by a genealogist as “Hamil” and erroneously interpreted by another genealogist to be short for “Hamilton.” The mother of Thaddeus is Mary “Polley” Ramey who married Thomas Puckett on June 29, 1818 in Floyd County, Kentucky. The children of Mary Ramey are (1) Thadeus Ramey, and (2) Owen Ramey b. bef. March 20, 1820. Records indicate Owen’s father was William Dixon who answered a charge of “Bastardry” brought against him by Polley Ramey on March 20, 1820.

Robert Harrell was born between 1786-1791 in Wythe County, and died 1874 in Johnson County, Kentucky, and married (1st) Lucinda Turman 1815 in Floyd County, Kentucky, and (2nd) Elizabeth Dixon 1853 in Johnson County, Kentucky. From census records it is believed Robert and Lucinda Turman Harrell had at least 2 children: both daughters. No children from Robert’s marriage to Elizabeth Dixon have been identified.

Welcome to the Harrell Collaborative Forums Family #2 – EKA Reuben Harrell 1750

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    • RobertHarrelldesc posted #1340

      Direct descendants of Reuben Harrell and Martin Harrell have taken the 67 marker Y-DNA test thru Family Tree DNA and have made an amazing discovery. They share SNP FGC20561 with the Ferrell clan of central Ireland, particularly in the counties of Meath and Longford. It is clear from these new results that the name “Harrell” is a variation of the name “Ferrell” and that the family is of Irish origin. The Y-DNA results are conclusive. The Ferrell (O’Ferrell) Clan has recognized this conclusion and has welcomed all Harrell descendants to become members of the clan. The clan will have an international gathering in Longford in 2017. We’re Irish!!!

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