Last Updated on 5 Apr 2021
The Earliest Known Ancestor for Family #3 is John Harrell. Although proof is lacking, it is believed he was born in Northern Virginia (perhaps in Prince William County) around 1735. His parents and siblings are currently unknown. It is believed this John Harrell migrated along with other related Harrells in the early-to-mid 1780s from Frederick County, Virginia to Southwestern Virginia (probably Montgomery County) with John Harrell continuing on to East Tennessee (land grants for this region, later becoming Tennessee in 1796 with statehood, were issued by North Carolina). In one of the few documents related to this John Harrell, we see him obtaining a land grant issued by North Carolina in 1788 (Land Grant No. 285 issued to John Harrold) for 400 acres in Sullivan County on the north side of the Holston River in Carters Valley. Sullivan County was formed in 1779. Later on, this property became a part of Hawkins County (which was formed in 1786) and all evidence seems to suggest John Harrell and family lived in this same area until his death in about 1822.
Most of what is known about this John Harrell comes from the few records found in Hawkins County, Tennessee – which is the reason he is called “Hawkins County John Harrell”. Unfortunately, many records in Hawkins County were destroyed/lost during the Civil War and attempts to reconstruct them have been limited. For example, there is no 1820 federal or state census but there is a document reporting taxpayer’s names on the tax rolls (List of Early East Tennessee Taxpayers 1809-1823 Hawkins County). In this document, Hawkins County “John Harrel Sr.” and his sons John Harrel Jr. and Enoch Harrel are listed (along with Hazel Harrel who is not blood related) as taxpayers in the 1809 List provided by McCoys Company. There are no records, however, documenting Hawkins County John Harrell’s birth date or place; no census information can be found, no spouse has been identified, and his death is not recorded. Fortunately, he wrote a Will that identifies his living children, acknowledging that he did have a living wife but did not mention her name. Property exchanges in Hawkins County (e.g., deeds and sales of land and slaves) were found which helped identify relationships and established an approximate time of his death (e.g., daughter Sarah Harrell sold her inherited land in 1823).
From the Will written by John Herrel (written Sept 9, 1815), the following children are listed in order of their mention: daughters Polly Herrel, Sally Norman, Tish North, Lidy Comes (sic), sons Enock Herrel and John Herrel, daughters Betsy Stuart and Winney Barrott (sic). In the Will it is mentioned that his grandsons Frank and Samuel Woods would also share in the money derived from the sale of slaves (these grandsons are sons of daughter Matilda Herrel/Harrell who had died sometime before the Will was written). John Herrel and Jacob Miller were executors; witnesses were David Henshan (sp. ?), Jesse McWilliams, John Grove, and L. Wilson. John Herrel signed with his mark.
The spouses of these children are as follows: Polly Herrel/Harrell married William Phipps aft. Sept 1815 (date of father’s Will); Sally married “Matthew”? Norman bef. Sept 1815; Tish married John North bef. Sept 1815; Lidy/Lydia married (1st) George Combs 1792 Frederick County, Virginia, and (2nd) John Hatcher/Hacker; Betsy married Hamilton Stuart/Stewart bef. Sept 1815; Winnifred/Winney married (1st) Mr. Shaner bef. 1799 and (2nd) Thomas Barrett 1 Feb 1802 Hawkins County; Matilda (dec’d) married Martin Woods bef. Sept 1815. The names of the spouses of John Jr. and Enock/Enoch are unknown. Note: son Enoch was spelled “Enock” in the Will but other spellings of “Enoch” can be found and “Enoch” will be used in this narrative. Also, there was a “Martin” Shaner living in Frederick County, Virginia and later migrated to Hawkins County, Tennessee – being listed as a Hawkins County taxpayer in 1810. There is strong suspicion that Martin Shaner could have been the first spouse of Winnifred Harrell, but there is no documented proof.
An 1830 Hawkins County Federal Census was found but only “Enoch Herald” was listed as a head of household. At this time, Hawkins County John had died and his other son John Harrell Jr. had moved away from Hawkins County. In this census for Enoch Herald, there is one male under 5, one male 20-30, one male 70-80 and one female 60-70. The elderly couple in this census was assumed to be Enoch and his spouse; with Enoch b. 1750-1760, and his spouse b. 1760-1770. After considerable discussion amongst the Harrell Collaborators, it was felt this Enoch Herald is son of Hawkins County John Harrell. This belief is reinforced by knowing that Hawkins County John had at least 9 children, and Winny Harrell Shaner Barrett was believed to be the youngest child, born abt. 1780. With 9 known children and the youngest b. abt. 1780, it is likely that the oldest child would be born approximately 1755-1765. Since Enoch’s spouse was born 1760-1770, it is reasonable to assume Enoch was born abt. 1755. If son Enoch was born abt. 1755, and if he is the oldest, or close to being the oldest child, then Hawkins County John was probably born c. 1735. The whereabouts of son Enoch Harrell following his listing in the 1830 census is unknown. He may have died in Hawkins County or perhaps he moved away.
The other son of Hawkins County John, namely John Harrell Jr., was not found in the 1830 Hawkins County census because he had moved out of Hawkins Co shortly after the death of his father. This John Harrell Jr. was found in the 1830 McMinn County, Tennessee census alongside his 2 sons “John” b. abt. 1790, d. aft 1870 McMinn County, Tennessee and “Enoch” b. abt. 1804, d. aft. 1880 Cherokee County, Alabama. It is not known why John Harrell Jr. moved to McMinn County or why his son Enoch moved to Alabama.
One of the living Harrell DNA donors descends from Willis Harrell b. 1797 Hawkins County, spouse Sarah D. “Sally” Hamblen. This DNA donor didn’t know the father/siblings of Willis Harrell until another DNA donor (with matching DNA) was found who traced his Harrell ancestors to a Jacob Harrell b. 1803 Hawkins Co, spouse Elizabeth Vaughan. It has not been proven, but it is believed Jacob 1803 and Willis 1797 are brothers and their father is Enoch Harrell, s/o Hawkins County John. In the 1830 Hawkins County census, Enoch had a male child 20-30 who would match Jacob Harrell 1803. Another Hawkins County researcher Thelma Gates (dec’d) also independently concluded (without proof) that Enoch was the father of Willis and Jacob.
It is a mystery as to how this Hawkins County John Harrell links to the other 13 Harrell families, especially Family #1 and Family #2. There are a number of possibilities, all of which require an accounting of all known Harrells with a given name “John” born in the 1735 time frame and who lived in Frederick County/Augusta County, Virginia sometime before 1788 (when Hawkins County John was first seen purchasing property in a part of North Carolina which later became Tennessee). The first “John” candidate is one of the six sons of Richard Harrell b. abt. 1700 Virginia; this Richard Harrell migrated from Prince William County to the Shenandoah Valley in 1740/41 (discussed in Family #1 and Family #5). We don’t know when Richard Harrell’s son John was born but most of the six sons are believed to have been born in the 1730s because all were “of age” by 1758. This John Harrell sold his father’s inherited property in 1758 (Frederick County) but could not be positively identified thereafter. There was, however, a John Harrell on the Dunmore County, Virginia tax rolls in 1775 (Dunmore County formed from Frederick County) showing him with 4 white males over 16 years of age, 6 white females, 1 negro female and 1 negro boy. The number of white males and females in this household in 1775 is very close to Hawkins County John Harrell’s number of children as stated in his 1815 Will if one assumes 5 of his 7 daughters were born before 1775. There is no reliable information on the birth years of these 7 daughters other than they were born between approximately 1755 and 1800. It is possible, therefore, that several of the daughters were born before 1755; and because of this possibility, it is assumed that 5 of these daughters were born “before 1775” (as listed in the 3 generations of Hawkins County John Harrell and his family). Another indication that this 1775 Dunmore household is probably Hawkins County John Harrell is the ownership of slaves; it is known that John Harrell owned slaves in Hawkins County, Tennessee.
Another possibility is that Hawkins County John is a son of Jacob Harrell Sr. (believed to be father of EKAs in Family #1 and Family #2). Being born about 1735 and living in Frederick County would fit with William Harrell Sr. (EKA Family#1) and his assumed brother Reuben Harrell Sr. (EKA Family#2) who were both born in Frederick or Augusta County on or before 1750 and whose father is believed to be Jacob Harrell Sr. But there is no formal record of the children of Jacob Harrell Sr. and therefore no evidence of a child named “John” (or William, or Reuben). There is evidence that William and Reuben Harrell moved from Frederick County to Southwestern Virginia (Montgomery/Wythe counties.) in the early 1780s. From available county tax rolls between 1782 – 1790, Hawkins County John Harrell cannot be found in Frederick/Shenandoah counties suggesting he might have traveled with William and Reuben Harrell, eventually purchasing property in (what later became) Hawkins County, Tennessee in 1788. If they traveled together, it would lend support to the idea that they might be closely related, perhaps as brothers.
Another John Harrell is found living in Frederick County from probably 1740 (perhaps earlier) to 1790/91 when he died on Happy Creek near Front Royal, Virginia (Shenandoah County). He never left Northern Virginia so he is not Hawkins County John. A review of selected tax rolls in Frederick and Shenandoah counties later than 1782 shows only one “John Harrell” who is believed to be this Happy Creek John Harrell. He died 1790/91 in Frederick County and there is no record of him in the tax rolls after 1790. How this Happy Creek John Harrell links with the other Harrells is also a mystery but he could be the son of Richard Harrell b. 1700 or a late son of Jacob Harrell Sr. He is discussed in Family#4, Family #5 and Family #9.
It should be noted that John Combs, father of George Combs who married Lydia Harrell (daughter of Hawkins County John), purchased land from “John Harrold Jr.” in Frederick County in July 1758 – this land was previously purchased 3 months earlier by “John Harrold Jr.” from “Aaron Harrill” who inherited it from his father Richard Harrell 1700. It is not certain who this “John Harrold Jr.” is but it is known that Happy Creek John signed his name as “John Harrell Junior” – the only John Harrell known to use “Junior”. The Combs family was close to the Harrells who lived on the South Fork of the South Shenandoah River, including Richard Harrell and his 6 sons.
Without additional information, there is not sufficient evidence to offer a credible guess as to the parents and siblings of Hawkins County John Harrell.
A listing of all known descendants of EKA Hawkins County John Harrell is provided through the first 3 generations (i.e., John Harrell’s children and grandchildren). It is noted that all of the children of Hawkins County John Harrell are shown as being born “Frederick County, Virginia”. Frederick and Augusta Counties were organized 1743 and 1745, respectively, and Dunmore County was created from part of Frederick County in 1772. Then in 1778 Dunmore changed its name to Shenandoah County. Complicating the matter even further, there was a time when the boundary between Augusta and Frederick was adjusted. Therefore, with the birth dates of these children not being known, some could have been born in Frederick, Augusta, Dunmore or Shenandoah County. Frederick County was chosen as the birthplace for all the children simply to show the general area in Virginia where it is believed these children were born.