Dennis Morrison Ancestry – Recent Developements

Reference: Reports in Morrison-Q entitled “Ancestry of Dennis Morrison”, dated October 1, 2010, authored by John A. Morrison and James J. Morrison – Ancestor of Dennis Morrison, dated August 18, 2009 (posted October 1, 2010), and authored by John A. Morrison 

Recently, William Byrd Morrison of Camden, Arkansas, joined Morrison-Q.  Even more recently, William received his y-111 DNA results from FTDNA.  His DNA is only one genetic distance from the y-111 DNA of Dennis Morrison; his DNA is only one genetic distance from me.  Dennis’ y-111 DNA differs by two genetic distances from mine at y-111.  All three of us are identical at y-67.

These results suggest that we – William, Dennis, and myself – share a common ancestor, probably more recently than either of the four brothers James, Thomas, William and Andrew Morrison, the ancestors of everyone in Morrison-Q.

For almost ten years, I and my associates have been examining Dennis Morrison’s ancestry, which is certain from Dennis back to his 2x Grandfather, James J. Morrison, who was present in Calhoun County, Arkansas, in the 1860 census.  Of ancestors before James J., Dennis has no knowledge.

James J. Morrison is enrolled in that census as being born in Tennessee and 25 years of age.  His whereabouts between birth and 1860 have not been ascertained, despite exhaustive examinations by “Illinois” Jim Morrison and myself.   Also listed in the 1860 census of Calhoun County, Arkansas, was George Henry Morrison, 23 years of age,  born in Tennessee, and W. P. Morrison, aged 60, born in Tennessee.

All three men were still in Calhoun County  in 1870.  The referenced report indicates that James J. and George H. may have been brothers (in addition to being born in Tennessee and near the same age, names of children suggested kinship).  At the same time, the presence of an older Morrison of such age that he could have been the father of the two, is suggestive.  W. P. was also born in Tennessee and would have been in his mid-thirties when James J. and George Henry were born.

However, no documentary evidence has been found that definitely associates any one of these three people with any one of the others.

The inability to find a single one of these three people in the 1850 census was particularly frustrating, but at the same time their mutual absence from the census suggested that they might have been “lost” together.

The closeness of Dennis’ DNA to my own also suggested that W. P. (later census entries identified him as Wm. P., or William) might be a descendant in my own ancestral line.  Absent a paper trail, I did what genealogists are cautioned not to do.  I looked for a Morrison descendant in my line that might be their parent.

There was a candidate:  William Morrison, grandson of  my 4x grandfather William of Burke County.  The candidate William was born in 1799, married in 1823 and was the father of one daughter born in 1824 (these facts from the Revolutionary War pension documents of his father, also William Morrison.)  My candidate was present in the Dickson County, Tennessee, census in 1830.  He was a beneficiary of the estate of his father William of Dickson County (the Revolutionary War pension petitioner), who died in 1835.  Records in Dickson County indicated that the younger William lived in Benton County, Tennessee (about 40 miles west of Dickson County) in 1838, when he sold his birthright to a man named Patterson for $200.00.  Records in Benton County indicate that he bought land there around 1839 or 1840.  In 1842 he conveyed (presumably sold) his land to a man named Shirley.  He and his family numbered nine people in the 1840 Benton County census:  2 males under 5 years of age; 1 male aged 5-9; 1 male aged 10-14; a male aged 30-39; 1 female under 5; 1 female aged 5-9; 1 female aged 10-14; and a female aged 30-39.  After September of 1842, this entire family vanished from public records.

Not only is the above William a candidate to be Dennis Morrison’s ancestor; none of the other male grandchildren of William Morrison of Burke County named William qualify as a candidate.

The male children of William of Burke County were:  James, born ca. 1754; William (the Rev. War pensioner who left N.C. for Tennessee in 1796), born 1757; John, who moved to Rutherford County, NC, in 1802, born ca. 1764; Andrew, born about 1767, who died in Burke County in 1811; and Thomas, probably born after 1770, who it seems never married.

James only had one son, Thomas.

John, my 3x grandfather, had at least eight sons, one of whom, William, was born in 1795.  However, the records are clear on this man: he left Rutherford County shortly after 1830 and moved to Macon County, North Carolina.  He died there about 1865.

Andrew, who died in 1811 in Burke County, left several sons, one of whom was named William.  The record is clear about this man, too.  He married in North Carolina and journeyed with a man named Ballew to what is now Laclede County, Missouri, where he died in the early 1830‘s.

Thomas, the remaining son of William of Burke, had no children.

Both “Illinois” Jim Morrison and I have searched diligently for any member of my candidate’s family, recognizing at the outset that we had only three names to work with: William, born in 1799; his wife Naomy (Knight), whom he married in 1823; and his oldest daughter, Nancy Jean, born in 1824.  Not one of them was found.

What became of this family? The public records were scoured and yielded not a single clue.

Under these circumstances, it is easy to see where my imagination took me.

Could the W. P. Morrison of the 1860 Calhoun County, Arkansas, census, aged about 60, be the younger William Morrison from Dickson and Benton County, Tennessee? That man would have been 61 in 1860.  Check – the census says he is 60.  He would have had two sons, aged between 20 and 25 in 1860.  Check – James J. is 25 and George Henry is 23.  The eldest daughter, born in 1824, would have been 36 years old by 1860 and probably married long before.  Naomy, born between 1801 and 1810, would have been 50 to 59 in 1860.  Perhaps she had died before then.  Nothing contradictory to my suppositions is present in the available information.  Three things are consistent with my suppositions.  One: all three men were born in Tennessee;  Two: William’s age is correct within census accuracy;  Three: both James J. and George Henry’s ages are correct within expected accuracy..  Where are the others?  We don’t know, and may never know.

Having the knowledge that the three men existed in 1860 in Calhoun County led to a search for them before that date.  What was learned was interesting and somewhat useful, but inconclusive.

First, it was learned that William P. Morrison, of Bradley County, Arkansas, was   granted 40 acres of land at the General Land Office of the United States at Champagnole, Arkansas on March 1, 1855; it appears this land was in the present day county of Calhoun, in Arkansas.  Except for the middle initial of “P”, this man could be our candidate.  Even though William was never identified with a middle initial while in Tennessee, we know that his mother’s maiden name was Patton.

Second, there is a possible faint clue from the 1850 United States Census (Slave Schedule).  One William B. Morrison was reported to have been the owner of a female slave, aged 35.  She was black.  B is easily confused with P, both orally and in writing.  Perhaps this was our W. P. of 1860.

Things come into better focus upon examination of Ancestry’s Arkansas Marriages, 1820-1849, which is data taken from the original courthouse records.  It is recorded that on May 14, 1855, Wm. P. Morrison, married Cynthia Farmer in Calhoun County.  On January 31, 1859, Wm. P. Morrison married Sarah A. Morgan in Calhoun County, Arkansas.  (The source was the same as above.)  The 1860 census showed that W. P. and Sarah A. Morrison  lived in Calhoun County.  Sarah was then 24 years of age.  There were two children, aged 3 and 3 months, respectively.  But that is not all.  On April 7, 1870, Wm. P. Morrison married Mrs. Sarah A. Mauldin.  (Same source as before.)  Now the 1870 census showed the family still in Calhoun County.  After that they have not been found.

The information reported in the above paragraph was examined, first, before 2010.  Some years later, other Arkansas Marriage records were found.  One of these (Arkansas Marriages, 1837-1957) indicated that the first of these three marriages was between William P.  Morrison, born in 1833 and Cynthia Fanner (Farmer).  Who is this fellow?  Examination of the original record expands the information:  the bridegroom was not just William P. Morrison, but William P. Morrison, Jr.   This record was found by“Illinois” Jim   Furthermore, Jim learned that William P. Morrison, Jr., died on November 11, 1858, leaving a son, James H., a little more than one year old.

Cynthia Morrison, his widow, married Joseph H. Callaway in Calhoun County in 1859.  James H. is present in the family of Cynthia and Joseph Callaway in the 1860 census.  How about that!  So the old man was not the 1855 bridegroom.  One more fact must be mentioned before we leave William P. Morrison, Jr.  Having been born in 1833, he would have been between 5 and 9 in the 1840 census. Had Jim found another brother in the family of William Morrison of Benton County, Tennessee, in the 1840 census?  That appears to be the case.

But who bought the 40 acres of land, Junior or Senior?  We don’t know, but it was probably the elder man.  All will become clearer, but first we need to talk about George H. Morrison.

He comes to light in Calhoun County in 1859, when he married Julia King.  In 1860, this family is listed in the Calhoun County census, George being about 23 and born in Tennessee.  So William P. Morrison, Jr, was born in 1833; James J. Morrison was born in 1835; and George Henry Morrison was born in 1837, all in Tennessee.  Wm. P. Morrison was born in Tennessee about 1800.  James J. Morrison later named his eldest son George Henry.  George Henry the elder named his eldest daughter Naoma.  William Morrison of Dickson and Benton Counties in Tennessee married Naomy Knight;  his mother’s maiden name was Patton!  In 1840, he had three sons born between 1830 and 1840; one was between 5 and 9, the other two were aged under 5!  It all ties together, yes?

Back to George Henry the elder.  He, alone among these people, can be traced, census by census, until 1910, always in Calhoun County, Arkansas.  He was married thrice, and fathered children with each wife.  His eldest son, James W., is the direct ancestor of William Byrd Morrison.  I have searched for several years, even have visited the area twice, to find a male descendant of George Henry who would be willing to have his DNA tested.  These searches yielded nothing, then William Byrd came along and had his test done and joined Morrison-Q, all of the time ignorant that I had been looking for “him” or one of his cousins.  Serendipity beats persistence, sometimes.  Happy day!

So, to summarize all of what we know:

We have prospective brothers, James J. and George H. Morrison, whose respective descendants, Dennis Morrison and William Byrd, have y-111 DNA results that differ by only 1 genetic distance.  A third prospective brother, William P. Morrison, Jr., had a son named James H.  Did James H. leave male descendants?  If so, is there a living male descendant?  If so, can we locate them, and persuade them to have their y-DNA tested?

William Byrd’s y-111 DNA differs from my own by only one genetic distance.  It is clear that we are very close kin  (William Byrd is my closest y-111 match among the Morrison’s in Morrison-Q).  I have had my Full Y test done and have those results.  The plan now is for William Byrd to test for the specific SNP’s R-Y5649 and R-FGC5577, which are the most recent two SNP’s for the ten Morrison-Q members who have had their Full Y tests.  The terminal SNP for nine of these men is R-FGC5577.  The tests are inexpensive and can be completed in a short time.

Further, “Illinois” Jim has learned that their are four living male descendants of William P. Morrison, Jr.  We know their names and places of residence, again thanks to the diligence of “Illinois” Jim Morrison.

One of them, Richard Morrison, lives in Camden, Arkansas, and is an acquaintance of William Byrd Morrison.  William Byrd is arranging to have Richard do his y-37 DNA.

Ultimately, we would like to know if we all descend from William Morrison of Burke County.  At present we have y-DNA from six men who descended from William of Burke They are:

  • Of the line of James, who died 1790:  David Morrison (y-111 and Full Y)
  • Of the line of William of Dickson County, Tennessee: William Byrd Morrison (y-111) and prospective SNP tests for R-Y5649 and R-FGC5577.
  • Of the line of John of Burke and Rutherford County: John Morrison (y-111 and Full Y)
  • Of the line of Andrew of Burke County: Wilson G. Morrison (y-111 and Big Y                     with Full Y completed).  The SNP’s R-Y5649 and R-FGC5577 are being retested.
  • To these will be added Richard Morrison and Dennis Morrison, subject to completion of a y-37 test for Richard.  Whether they will be tested for the two SNP’s noted in the subparagraph above is subject to the tests of William Byrd and Wilson G. Morrison.  And – subject to the agreement of Dennis and Richard.

With all of this testing done, assuming that pending tests continue to show close kinship, we may well be able to prove descent of Dennis, William Byrd, and Richard from William Morrison of Dickson County and through him to William Morrison of Burke County.  Where paper has come up short, DNA may break the impasse.

Meanwhile, the search for a paper trail will be pursued, assuming William Byrd is able to do a thorough search of Calhoun County, Arkansas, court records.  William has been asked to search both land and probate records for evidence of the activities of  Wm P. Morrison and William P. Morrison, Jr..  To be properly thorough, we will ask William to examine the land records of James J. and George H. Morrison, in hope of finding evidence of association of either one of these men with either one of W. P. or William P. Morrison Jr.

P.S.  It has recently come to light that a Naomi Morrison died in Calhoun County, Arkansas, in 1855 – just one more link in the chain of circumstantial evidence that supports the proposition that W. P. Morrison of Calhoun County is, indeed, William Morrison Jr. of Dickson and Benton County, TN.

John A. Morrison
March 28, 2016
Extensively amended July 8, 2016

About John A. Morrison

Born 11-21-1934 in Stephenville, Texas Married to Sue Ellen Davis in 1956 Three children, seven grandchildren Resident Lee's Summit, Missouri 25 years work on genealogy
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