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GATHERING OF HARRIS DESCENDANTS, September 22-23, 2012

Compiled by Glenn Gohr and Jim Harris


*For the 2013 Gathering of Harris Descendants Page, go to: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gohrpage/Gathering-2013.html

**Update from May 8, 2013**

In conjunction with these web pages, Glenn has set up a Facebook page for discussing this and other Harris Gatherings as well as any related information. The location is here:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/282511681884554/

**Update from October 13, 2012**

The photos that Robert White took of the event are now posted on the Facebook page for the Beaverdam Genealogy Society. There are 28 photos, plus the group photograph included as a wall photo.

Glenn has also set up a Yahoo Group to share information regarding the recent Harris Gathering as well as any future gatherings or reunions (from all branches of Harrises that originate in Colonial Virginia).

To join the HARRIS GATHERING YAHOO GROUP, go to this link:

http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=harrisgathering

There should be a button that says JOIN THIS GROUP!

If you don't already have an account set up with Yahoo, then you will be asked to set up an account with a username and password. Click the JOIN button, and you will be able to join the group. Any interested Harris researcher is invited to join.

**Reflections from September 29, 2012**

Over 50 Harris researchers and descendants (51 are featured in the final group picture—that has a few people photoshopped in) gathered at Henricus Historical Park on September 22, 2012. Robert White brought a camera on a tripod. He took several good photos, including a group picture near the entrance of the park. Many attendees made it to the meet and greet at Shoney’s on Friday night and most everyone made it to the DNA talk and business meeting at Shoney’s on Saturday night. Thanks to all who planned this event (especially Jim Harris and the Beaverdam Genealogy Society). It truly was an event of a lifetime. It was very special to have Sir Thomas Dale and Col. Thomas Lygon as reenactors at the event (Michael Bell who portrayed Col. Thomas Lygon is actually a descendant of Lygon). The catered meal was scrumptious. The boat ride on the James River was also very special as we all could see the land once owned by Capt. Thomas Harris (which is private property that is no longer accessible any other way) as well as his favorite fishing hole and the layout of the Curles Neck area.

On Sunday people did their own sightseeing excursions with some interesting stories now to share. Some visited Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg. Others visited places such as Berkeley Plantation, Wolf Swamp, and some local cemeteries.

Jim and Glenn would like to see the group plan for another gathering in Virginia next year if possible, as well as any other gatherings around the country. Someone needs to step up to the plate to start planning this.

Glenn has set up a Yahoo Group to discuss the Gathering of Harris Descendants held in 2012 and for information relating to any future gatherings as well as information on the formation of a Harris family organization.

He will be sending out invitations to join the Yahoo Group, or you can go to the site yourself and request to join:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HarrisGathering/

You will need to set up a Yahoo account. Once you click JOIN, the administrator can approve you. Once approved, you can post a message to the group by using the POST feature on the site. You will also be able to view an archive of previous messages posted to the list.

**Further update from September 19 &20, 2012**

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

Friday 9/21/2012
6:00 p.m. Meet & Greet at Shoney’s (12531 Jefferson Davis Highway, Chester, VA 23831)

Saturday 9/22/2012
8:00 a.m. Visiting & breakfast at Quality Inn
10:00 a.m. Meet at entrance of Henricus (251 Henricus Park Rd., Chester, VA 23836)
10:15 Talks by local historians at Mt. Malady meeting room
10:45-12:00 Tour of Henricus (guard check, muskets firing, wood shop, blacksmith shop, tobacco patch, Rev. Whitaker’s house, Indian village, Mt. Malady, etc.)
12:00 Noon meal
1:00-4:00 Boat groups of 6 will be leaving every hour at 1, 2, 3, and 4 to tour the James River
1:00-5:00 Business meeting and genealogy (Henricus Park closes at 5:00 p.m.) *The documentary film about the Curles Neck Project will be viewable on a TV set in the back of the room.
6:00 p.m. “Genealogy and DNA” by Glenn Gohr (at Shoney’s meeting room)

Sunday 9/23/2012
8:00 a.m. Visiting & breakfast at Quality Inn
Sunday Tours (not yet decided)
Groups may decide to visit the nearby Shirley or Berkeley Plantation and/or the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hanover County. Other possible tours include the State Capitol in Richmond and Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond (burial site of Presidents James Monroe & John Tyler). Other suggestions will also be entertained.

**Update from September 14, 2012**

Jim informs me that currently there are 35 people signed up to attend. What is amazing is that we have people coming from the following states: California, Oregon, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Virginia.

If anyone has a definite plan for something they would like to see or do on Sunday, we are still open to ideas. Your feedback is welcome.

If you know of others who may still be interested in attending, contact Jim Harris or call at 804-237-4817

Here is a note from Jim Harris that was sent on Wednesday, Sept. 12:

Glenn, they have a small bookstore and gift shop at Henricus.  There are two books that I think our group may be interested in.  One is "Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers 1607-1635 A Biographical Dictionary."  It is written by Martha W. McCartney and sells for $54.95.  It is 830 some pages long and lists 24 Harrises.

The second book does not include any Harrises but is one that all of the reenactors recommend.  It is "Jamestown Narratives   Eyewitness Accounts of the Virginia Colony, The First Decade: 1607-1617."  It is edited and has commentary by Edward Wright Haile.  It sells for approximately $62.00.  I own both and will try to have them with me, if anyone would like to look at them.  Take care.  Jim Harris

**Update from September 11, 2012**

Since many people will be arriving on Friday afternoon, we have reserved a meeting room for Friday night at 6:00 p.m. at Shoney’s, 12531 Jefferson Davis Highway, Chester, VA 23831. You will be on your own to pay for food items. This will offer additional time for visiting and/or genealogy discussions.

There should also be time to visit on Saturday morning at the breakfast room at the Quality Inn in Chester (where most of the people will be staying).

The meeting room at Shoney’s has also been reserved for Saturday night after the Gathering at Henricus. And additional visiting can take place Sunday morning at the breakfast room at the Quality Inn.

If there is interest, we could make arrangements to tour the nearby Shirley Plantation — the oldest family-owned business in North America, dating to Edward Hill I establishing a farm in 1638. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Regular adult admission is $11.00. Jim Harris is also prepared to take a group to the burial site of Temperance Overton Harris at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hanover County.

**Update from August 12, 2012**

Anyone needing transportation from the airport, please contact Jim Harris at jimbobpsu@yahoo.com for assistance.

Anyone wishing to carpool from out of state in order to travel to the Gathering of Harris Descendants, please contact Jim Harris at jimbobpsu@yahoo.com or Glenn Gohr at archives_guy@hotmail.com. Also contact Jim or Glenn if you wish to share room expenses with someone (need a roommate in order to save on expenses).

If you wish to be notified of updates regarding this Gathering and/or the formation of a Harris family organization, etc., please contact Glenn Gohr at archives_guy@hotmail.com.

Remember to get motel reservations in by September 10, 2012.

Remember to get the noon meal and boat excursion reservations in to the Beaverdam Genealogy Society by September 15, 2012.

**All information below was updated August 3, 2012**

Jim Harris of the Beaverdam Genealogy Society (he is part of the Harris DNA Group 8) lives in Beaverdam, Hanover County, Virginia, and wants to see a gathering of Harris descendants in the area around Henrico and Hanover Counties. With the assistance of the local genealogy society, Jim has been making preparations for several months. The dates are September 22-23, 2012, with Saturday being the main day for the gathering. This should be an excellent time to meet because the weather should be good and he is able to find reenactors available at that time to share the history.

The meeting site will be Henricus Historical Park (see also About Us), which is located at 251 Henricus Park Rd., Chester, Virginia 23836 (in Chesterfield County, formerly part of Henrico County), on the southern edge of Richmond. Founded in 1611 by Sir Thomas Dale, the Citie of Henricus is the second successful English settlement in North America and commemorated its 400th anniversary in September 2011. The recreated 1611 Citie of Henricus, is an outdoor living history museum that is modeled after the original Jamestown settlement with 12 recreated colonial structures, and it demonstrates history through “hands-on” encounters with period dressed historical interpreters. The park is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The admission to the park is $8.00 a person, and we would all need to arrive at the entrance at 10:00 a.m. when the park opens on Saturday.

Jim Harris has secured a nice motel near the park where Harris descendants may stay. He has made arrangements for a group rate at the Quality Inn in Chester, Virginia (off I-95 just one exit north of Henricus Park).

The rates are as follows:
Double Queen Room – $79.99(+ taxes) per night
King Suite - $89.99 (+ taxes) per night


All rooms contain a refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, iron/ironing board and include a deluxe hot continental breakfast.

If you are interested in these accommodations, you will need to make reservations with the motel by September 10th and inform them that you are with the “Harris Henricus Group” in order to receive the discounted rate.
Contact Info:

Quality Inn
12711 Old Stage Rd.
Chester, VA 23836
Tel: (804)796-5200


SATURDAY EVENTS

Arrive at the entrance of Henricus Historical Park at 10:00 a.m. when the park opens. Jim Harris, Glenn Gohr, and others will be there to greet and meet you. We will have a chance to tour the park. Then Henricus has a meeting place large enough for up to 75 people. Plans are to show a historical documentary called “Discovering Archeology: The Curles Neck Project” (11 minutes long) produced by Avalar Productions, Inc. (and the producer of the film is planning to speak beforehand), tour Henricus, and listen to some talks about Jamestown and Captain Thomas Harris on Saturday morning.

Jim knows a gentleman from Henricus Historical Park, who is a reenactor who dresses up and actually portrays Captain Thomas Harris. Here is information on the reenactors and Henricus Citie Militia, including Michael Bell who is a descendant of Capt. Thomas Harris. He dresses up as Capt. Thomas Harris and talks about Captain Harris and Thomas Lygon (his son-in-law) and their connections to Jamestown. Bell is planning to put on a special presentation for our group of Harris descendants at no charge (which is amazing!). Terry, another reenactor, is also planning to speak about the history of the area. One important site to see at Henricus Historical Park Mount Malady, a replica of the first hospital at Jamestown.

A catered meal from King’s Korner Enterprises, Inc. is planned at 12:00 noon on Saturday (*This caterer has catered meals for President George W. Bush, Sr.; General Norman Schwarzkopf from Desert Storm; Sausage King, singer and songwriter Jimmy Dean; Jerry Falwell of Liberty University; several Virginia governors; and others). The noon meal will be a buffet style meal served at the Mount Malady meeting room. Here is the menu:

Virginia Style Pork BBQ - 6 oz.
Special "Hot" Sauce
Smoked Mixed Chicken Quarter
Western "Sweet" Sauce
Baked Beans
Cole Slaw "Homemade Finely Shredded"
Dinner Rolls - 2 ea.
Paper Products for Buffet with Beverage
Choice of Lemonade or Iced Tea
Choice of Apple or Cherry Cobbler

The meals need to be ordered in advance. The price is $15.00 a person. Checks should be payable to “Beaverdam Genealogy Society” and be mailed to Beaverdam Genealogy Society, 2331 Clarke St,, Henrico, Virginia 23228. Everyone would be on their own for breakfast on Saturday, supper on Saturday, and any meals on Sunday.

In the afternoon there would also be a short business meeting organize the group and nominate officers for future events as well as a time for sharing early family history and genealogical records on the Harris family with a photocopy machine and scanners available.

Jim Harris has also made arrangements for the attendees to participate in a special James River boat tour on the Discovery Barge II, a covered 24-foot boat captained by Mike Ostrander. Each boat holds 6 people. Each boat of 6 people would leave at 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 p.m. This means there would be a limit of 18 people who can take the boat tour. Jim Harris has already reserved and paid for the boat fees for the tour and the boats will be filled on a first come basis. Please reserve your boat seat in advance. The cost is $25.00 per person. Checks should be payable to “Beaverdam Genealogy Society” and be mailed to Beaverdam Genealogy Society, 2331 Clarke St,, Henrico, Virginia 23228.

It would have been great to tour the Curles Neck Plantation, but that will not be possible, as it is now under private ownership and is not open to the public (see information on the Curles Neck Plantation below). Jim says we might possibly be able to get close enough to get a small glimpse of the property, either by land or by water as he is familiar with the site. Jim has also been in contact with the man who was the overseer of the Curles Neck Plantation archeological dig, Dr. Daniel Mouer, and we are hoping that Dr. Mouer can deliver a talk about the archeological dig and also talk about Captain Thomas Harris.


SUNDAY EVENTS

On Sunday there would be time to visit other local sites on your own or in small groups. Jim says the area is teaming with history. Henricus itself is the location of the first Medal of Honor recipient (given during the Civil War at the Battle of Trent’s Reach in 1865). There are plantations, Civil War battlefields, old cemeteries, historical buildings, museums, and the like. There are a couple of other early plantations in the immediate vicinity, so possibly we could arrange to tour one of those instead of the Curles Neck Plantation. If anyone has an idea for places to see and do on Sunday, please contact Jim or Glenn with your thoughts. We could take the whole group or a small group to any of the nearby sites on Sunday.

One place of interest is an old cemetery called Cedar Hill Cemetery, at Doswell, Hanover Co., Virginia. It is located on the eastern edge of the Kings Dominion Amusement Park holdings (the amusement park is at 16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA 23047). William Harris (ca. 1669-Bef. 1733) (Harris DNA Group 6) is buried here (although his marker is no longer standing), along with some of his descendants. His wife, Temperance (Overton) Harris (1679-1716) does have a marker visible in this cemetery. Her marker may be the oldest standing grave marker in Hanover County, Virginia. You may see it on Findagrave.com (including the original stone mounted in concrete as well as a “restored” monument with incorrect information). Click on the photographs for close-up views. This is very close to Henricus Park, so some of us are planning to visit her gravesite and the cemetery on Sunday.

For those who may be traveling through Virginia Beach or Norfolk, about 2 hours away from Richmond and Henricus, there is also a church that includes a grave marker for a William Harris (ca. 1652-1687) (ancestry unknown). He died on March 8, 1687 at the age of 35 and was buried in the Old Colonial Church at Weyanoke, VA. When that church was torn down, his marker was found near the James River and now has been placed on the walls of St. Paul’s Church, 201 St. Paul’s Boulevard, Norfolk, Virginia 23510 (Norfolk is not far from Virginia Beach). A photo of this marker can be seen here. This may be the oldest surviving tombstone in early Virginia. Some who have extra time, may wish to visit this important site as well.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

We are inviting any Harris descendant of Captain Thomas Harris (ca. 1586-1658) (Harris Group 8) to join us at Henricus Historical Park near the Curles Plantation and related sites. Descendants of Capt. William Harris (Harris Group 6) who married Temperance Overton are also welcome to participate, as that family lived in very close proximity to the Harris Group 8 family (descendants of Capt. Thomas Harris). Many from Harris Group 4 also lived in the area. Harris Group 30 also has ties to the Hanover/Henrico/Charles City area. Also ANY OTHER researchers with an interest in Jamestown, the Curles Neck Plantation, or the early Harrises in Henrico, Hanover, Louisa, Charles City, Cumberland, Prince Edward, and other counties in Virginia, etc. are welcome to come. This is an open invitation.

Jim Harris, the organizer of this event (who is a Stanley descendant as well as a Harris descendant), also has the idea that any Harris descendants who come for the gathering are encouraged to bring copies of historical notes and genealogical items to share information with others. He would also like to see the start of a National Harris Family Association, along the lines of the National Stanley Family Association, which could include any Harrises with an interest in Colonial Virginia. This would be a good way to help commemorate the influence of the Harris families in early Virginia and also set up a national repository of Harris genealogical materials.

Please contact Jim Harris at jimbobpsu@yahoo.com or Glenn Gohr at archives_guy@hotmail.com to let us know if you are planning to come to the Harris family gathering at Henricus Historical Park. Jim Harris is setting up all the arrangements, and Glenn is making up a list of interested persons/possible attendees. An e-mail will be sent with final details, and Jim needs to know how many to expect for the actual gathering.

If you have e-mail addresses for family members or other Harris researchers (especially those living in Virginia) that should be notified about the big HARRIS GATHERING, let Glenn know as he is keeping a list of e-mail addresses to contact.

The Beaverdam Genealogy Society has set up a bank account for this event. The Saturday meal and the boat trip are the only two items they are collecting monies for. Those attending will need to pay their own travel expenses, motel accommodations, the admission to Henricus Park, and any other meals for the time they are in the area. There could be other incidental expenses for (rental of the facility where we will be meeting, etc.). If so, that will be discussed at the business meeting.

Jim Harris and the Beaverdam Genealogy Society will be handling the money for the noon meal on Saturday ($15.00) and the boat excursion on Saturday ($25.00). Checks should be payable to “Beaverdam Genealogy Society” and be mailed to Beaverdam Genealogy Society, 2331 Clarke St, Henrico, Virginia 23228. Please get your reservations sent in by September 15th at the latest so that we will have a head count of who is attending and know how many meals to prepare, etc.

For any specific questions, you may e-mail Jim or Glenn at the addresses above. Also, Jim Harris’s phone number is: 804-237-4817 and Glenn’s is: 417-865-0777.

You may also contact Tonja Hunter, a member of the Beaverdam Genealogy Society (who is a Harris descendant and is the treasurer for this event). Her phone number is: 804-288-1592.

Be sure to order a copy of the 2012 Virginia Travel Guide (free) (allow up to 15 days for delivery) at http://www.virginia.org/TravelGuideForm/

THIS PROMISES TO BE AN EVENT OF A LIFETIME! We look forward to seeing everyone.


HERE ARE SOME RELATED PAGES:

Several video presentations about the Jamestown colony, provided by the Henricus Historical Park are found here.

Video presentation of National Geographic’s Nightmare in Jamestown (47 minutes).

Mention on the Harris-VA List of a historical paper delivered by Dan Mouer, Ph.D. regarding Captain Thomas Harris of Virginia.

Mention on the Harris-VA List of the Curles Plantation archeological dig and a historical fiction article entitled “Thomas Harris, Gent., as Related by his Second Sonne.”

First page of the article, “A True Story of the Ancient Planter and Adventurer in Virginia, Captaine Thomas Harris, Gent., as Related by His Second Sonne” by L. Daniel Mouer, from Historical Archeology, Vol. 32, No. 1, p. 4. An abstract lists this information:

ABSTRACT: This paper offers interpretations developed from several years of excavation at the site of Curies Plantation, located on the James River just east of Richmond, Virginia. The "Findings" are presented in a fictionalized form. Life on the frontier of the 17th-century Virginia Colony is depicted through the Device of a 1678 petition from William Harris to the governor. Embedded within the petition is a narrative of the life of Harris's father. In this way a single document is made to cover a variety of subjects about life in this area from the founding of the colony through the aftermath of Bacon's rebellion of 1676. Following the story is a short essay describing the sources of both information and inspiration used to construct the interpretations.

Making Mrs. Cary's “Good Ale” Beer in Colonial Virginia, by Dan Mouer, Ph.D.

Information on the location of the Curles Plantation in relation to the “necks” of land in northernVirginia: “Area Detail for Capt. Thomas Harris.”

Curles Neck Farm registration form for the National Register of Historic Places.

Curles Neck Plantation at Wikipedia.

Curles Neck Farm visited by Virginia Trekkers

Curles Neck Farm Sold [Investors bought the 5,513-acre farm for just over 25 million dollars in 2006]

Capt. Thomas Harris (c.1586-c.1649) compiled by John Pritchett [good information, although some information is not 100% proven].


SOME NOTES ABOUT THE CURLES NECK PLANTATION

Jim Harris lives near the site of the Curles Neck Plantation now located at 4703 Curles Neck Road, Henrico, VA 23231-8627 in Henrico County, Virginia, which was originally called Longfield and was the land that was owned by Captain Thomas Harris (ca. 1586-1658) (Harris DNA Group 8), who settled in Jamestown in 1611. Harris owned the farm in 1635. After the Harrises lived there, the property was owned by Nathaniel Bacon and after Bacon’s death the land was acquired by William Randolph and given to his son Richard.

The Randolph family grew tobacco and built a large mansion on the property which fell into disrepair after the Civil War. In 1894 an enterprising farmer named Charles Sneff purchased the land. He started raising cattle, sheep, and horses, and he built the mansion on the property which is there today. After his death in 1913, a horse-lover named C. K. Billings acquired the property and opened a horse racing track. The Strawberry Hill Horse Races were held here during this time. The next owner, A. B. Ruddick, started the famous Curles Neck Dairy Farm here in 1933 which was one of the largest dairy farms in the area. Curles Neck is no longer a dairy farm and is now being mined for sand and gravel.

The source of the name Curles Neck is unknown. Many people thought that the name derived from the meandering sweeping curves of the tidal James River in the area, which can clearly be seen by map. There is also record of an early Virginia family with the name of Curles which could possibly be the source.

The Curles Neck Plantation s located between State Route 5 and the north bank of the James River in the Varina district of Henrico County, Virginia (Varina was the plantation where John Rolfe lived with his Indian Princess wife, Pocahontas). One of the great James River Plantations, it has remained in active use for about 400 years and remains a privately owned working farm; however, it is not currently open to the public. It is now owned by a private developer. The property was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2009.


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Last updated August 4, 2013.

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