Laban Morris Family

by | Apr 24, 2017 | 19 comments

If you have followed this site at all over the years, you know our family’s greatest mystery is the identity of the mother of our LABAN MORRIS of Swift Creek (modern-day Vanceboro) in Craven County.

We know (or are at least as certain as we can be) that his father was ROWLAND LEDBETTER. We had the oral traditions about being Ledbetters way back, and DNA helped us narrow in on Laban’s father. Read more about that here.

We know his mother was most likely a HENBY or HENLY. There was an 1810 name change of LABAN HENBY to LABAN MORRIS. (It appears to have been incorrectly transcribed as HENLY, but that sort of thing frequently happened back then.)

After poring through records and looking at almost every type of record imaginable, we’ve resigned ourselves to the facts that we’re dependent on a preponderance of evidence to get answers. We want to know who his mother was, and who allowed him to take the MORRIS name?

There are some families that seem to have close connections to Laban throughout his life, or interesting collateral connections, especially in early adulthood.

Here is what we know about LABAN MORRIS so far (I have included Laban and Kitty’s children, their children’s spouses, and their grandchildren. As I have time, I’ll add in the next generation, so you can consider this page “in progress.”):

  • Born: Between 1781-1784, possibly along the border of Dobbs and Pitt Counties – more details on that below
  • Died: Between 1860-1870, Chocowinity area, Beaufort County, NC
  • Married:
    • 22 Aug 1805 (Marriage bond)
    • Bondsman: JOHN KING, son of JOEL KING
  • Children:
    • John Morris – b. 1806 (Craven County); d. 1869 (Leon County, Florida.)
      • Married: Elizabeth (Last name unknown) – (1807–1866)
      • Children:
        • Mary Morris – b. 1832 (Craven County); married Thomas Ward 29 April 1848. They moved to Florida sometime after 1850. I can find several of their children, but so far I’ve been unable to find them in the census.

          • Caroline Ward – b. Abt. 1849 (Craven County)
          • Mary Ward – b. Abt. 1850 (Craven County)  — Note: Caroline and Mary may be two names for the same person as I haven’t found the two of them on the same census.
          • William Stanley Ward – b. 14 Feb 1851 (Jefferson County, Florida), d. 15 Nov 1927 (Suwannee County, Florida); m. Julia Sealy
          • John Thomas Ward – b. 13 Jun 1853 (Jefferson County, Florida), d. 31 Jul 1927 (Suwannee County, Florida); m. Lillian Augusta Smith
          • Joseph T. Ward – b. 1854 (This may actually be the same person as John Thomas Ward, but his name may have been recorded wrong on one census.)
          • Elizabeth Ward – b. 1860 (Jefferson County, Florida), d. 11 Oct 1936 (Escambia County, Florida); m. Milledge Pinkney Leopard
        • Margaret Morris – b. 1834 (Craven County); d. 1897 (Leon County, Florida), married George Edward Jarrell, son of Alexander Wiggins and J. Louvina Jarrell of Craven County

          • Alice “Allie” Gerrell – b. 1854
          • Ellen Gerrell – b. 1856
          • William Walter Gerrell – b. 1860
          • Martha Gerrell – b. 1866
          • George Allen Gerrell – 1868 – 1942
        • Jesse John Oliver Morris – b. 1836 (Craven County); Enlisted for service with Confederacy in March 1762, was killed in the Battle of Sharpsburg (aka Antietam) 17 Sept 1862. I have been unable to find any information about a spouse or children.
        • William Morris – b. 1839; Served for Confederacy from Apr 1861 to Feb 1862, but received a medical discharge. I’ve been unable to locate him on the census, though I know enlisted in Leon County, Florida.
        • J. Turner Morris – b. 1845 (Craven County); d. 15 March 1884 (Leon County, Florida), married Sarah Ennah Stephens, daughter of Benjamin M. Stephens (of NC) and Mary Louisa Barrow (of SC). He enlisted to serve the Confederacy towards the end of the war but didn’t serve long and was discharged when the war ended.

          • Charles Morris – b. 1878 (Florida) – ?
          • Stephen Morris – b. 1879 (Florida) – ?
          • John Oliver Morris – 1882-1920 (Florida); never married
          • Mary E. Morris – 1883-Aft. 1940 (Florida); never married
    • William B. Morris – b. 16 MARCH 1809
      • Married: Susan MacIntosh – b. 1806, daughter of James McIntosh and Susan “Sukey” Anderson of Craven County
      • Children:
        • William Bryan Morris – (1833–1904), married (I) Ellender Witherington, daughter of Southy Witherington and Mary “Polly” Prescott of Craven County; married (II) Clarissa Witherington, daughter of Southy Witherington and Mary “Polly” Prescott; married (III) Serena Wiggins, daughter of Dennis Wiggins and Elizabeth “Betsy” Holmes
        • Henry James Morris – (1844-1908), married Martha Elizabeth Atkinson, daughter of Jenkins Irving Atkinson and Jessie Ann Spear
    • Thomas Morris – b. 16 AUG 1811
      • Married (I): Nancy Adams (1814-1854), daughter of James Adams and Jennett (Last name unknown) of Pitt County
      • Children:
        • Susan Morris – b. 1838 (Craven County), married Quincy Hinson of Columbus County, NC
        • Augustus Morris – b. 1842
        • Joseph Edward Morris – b. 1842 (Craven County) d. 1916 (Pavo, Thomas County, Georgia), married Lucy (Last name unknown) of Columbus County, NC
        • Celia Morris – b. 1844
        • Thomas A. Morris – b. 2 Feb. 1846 (Craven County), d. 22 Sept. 1917 (Pavo, Thomas County, Georgia)
      • Married (II): Demaris Green – b. 1827, of Columbus County, NC
    • Joseph Morris – b. 5 JAN 1817 (Craven County), d. 17 Mar. 1897 (Craven County)
      • Married: Mary Ann Buck – b. 12 Mar. 1828, d. 30 Jan. 1916, daughter of Anthony Buck and Amy Hollis of Craven/Pitt County area
      • Children:
        • Caroline E Morris – (1854–1925), married John Jones (b. 1834)
        • Francis Marion Morris – (1859–1940), married Martha E. Powell (b. 1879), daughter of John Powell and Jane Laughinghouse of Craven County
        • James M. Morris – (b. 1862)
        • Susan A. Morris – (b. 1865)
        • George H. Morris – (b. 1867)
        • Amy Isabelle Morris – (1872–1957), married Alexander Franklin Wiggins
    • Alpha Morris – b. 1818 (Craven County), d. aft 1880 (Chocowinity)
      • Married (I): John Norris
      • Children:
        • Mary Norris – (b. 1834)
        • Nancy Norris – (b. 1835), married Isaac Buck (1835-1919), son of Allen Buck and Malsey Taylor of Beaufort County, NC
        • Sarah “Sally” Norris – (b. 1836), married Noah Anderson (1837-1865), son of Reuben Anderson and Mary “Polly” Witherington of Craven County
        • Patrick Norris – (1839–1914), married Mary “Polly” Wiggins (1843-1914), daughter of Jerrell Wiggins and Mary Polly Jerrell of Craven County
        • John Norris – (b. 1842), m. Lorena Paramore (b. 1841), daughter of James Paramore and Chloe Galloway of Pitt County
      • Married (II): William Holmes (b. 1815), son of John Holmes and Selah Averitt (Avery) of Chocowinity
      • Children:
        • Caroline Holmes – (b. 1846), married Noah Avery (1847-1900), son of Stephen Avery and Nancy Gardner
        • William Henry Holmes – (b. 1848), married Nancy Harriet Wiggins (b. 1853), daughter of Alexander Wiggins and J. Louvina Jarrell
        • Turner Thomas Holmes – (b. 1851)
        • Riesia Holmes – (b. 1852)
        • Susan Holmes – (b. 1853)
        • Serena Holmes – (b. 1855)
        • Winifred Holmes – (b. 1857)
        • William Holmes – (b. 1860)
        • George Holmes – (b. 1865)
        • Samuel Holmes – (b. 1867)
    • Levi Morris – b. 1824 (Craven County), d. bef Jun 1866 (Craven County)
      • Married: Sarah “Sally” Holmes (b. 1833), daughter of John Holmes and Selah Averitt (Avery) of Chocowinity
      • Children:
        • Sarah “Sallie” Morris – (b. 1855), married James Clark, son of Etheldred Clark and Rosetta Downs 
        • William Roland Morris – (1858–1936), married Serenia “Rainey” Edwards (1868-1922), daughter of Harvey Edwards and Jane Holmes (daughter of John Holmes and Selah Averitt (Avery) of Chocowinity)
        • George Morris – (1860–1924), married Louisa Elizabeth Sammons (1851-1924)
        • Levi Mack Chester Morris – (1868–1906), married Connie Daisy Venters (1875-1954), daughter of Slade Venters and Elizabeth Venters
    • William Roland Morris – b. Sept. 1828
      • Married: Sophia Holmes (1838–1915), daughter of John Holmes and Selah Averitt (Avery) of Chocowinity
      • Children:
        • Nancy Augusta Morris – (1858–1914), married Charles S. Banks (1864-1917)
        • Roland Morris – (b. 1866), married Susan J. Stilley (1867-1950), daughter of Freeman Wait Stilley and Mary Toler
        • Sophia E. Morris – (b. 1869)
        • Sarah Morris – (b. 1873)

Are you descended from the Laban Morris family? Do you think you might be? Please comment below! We’d love to hear from you. Also, please comment if you have any corrections to the information above.


  1. Teresa A Morris

    Glad to see this in print.

  2. Linda Alexander

    You have done a wonderful job organizing all this information! Thanks for the hours of research I know you’ve spent working on this!

    • Sara Whitford

      You’re most welcome, Linda! As soon as I can find some time, I’ll start typing up the next generation. 🙂

    • Lauren Rose Wiley

      Hey Sara, I believe we know one another. I was previously married to your cousin. I came across through ancestry. I recently found that Laban is my 4th great grandfather. His son Joseph is my 3rd.

      • Sara Whitford

        Lauren! This is so great! Of course I remember you and Mikaela (sp?)! I had no idea we would turn out to be cousins but I reckon I ought not be surprised since you have Vanceboro roots, too! I’m so glad you found my site and decided to comment. You’ll find tons about our shared ancestor here, and if we’re connected on Laban it’s almost certain that we’re connected on other ancestors, as well.

        • Lauren Rose Wiley

          We’re also connected through the Whitfords I noticed! How crazy is that?

          • Sara Whitford

            Ha! That’s amazing! Did you just recently find that out? Do you have your tree online? If so, I’d love to see it to see where else we might be connected.

  3. Gloria Arrington Roach

    Yes. I am a descendant of Laban Morris. My great grandfather was Henry James Morris who was a grandson of Laban Morris.
    Thank you so much Sara Whitford for all the hard work and sharing this! I wish my Mother, Dora Leigh Morris Arrington, was still with me to tell her this! She was very knowledgeable on her family tree!

    • Sara Whitford

      On the bright side, Gloria, I’ll bet at this point your mama knows more than any of us do about Morris family history! Lord willing, we’ve got lots of Morris ancestors up there who can fill her in on the whole story. 🙂

      • Albert L Morris

        My name is Albert Lee Morris. I have a 1920 census of my family with William R Morris and his wife Serena R Edwards.Their children’s names are listed oldest to youngest as John W Morris,Willie Morris,Matha Morris,Alvis Morris,Ethel Morris,and Joseph Morris.Willie Morris was my great grandfather. I want to know if one of the names mentioned might be one of your grandfathers and who they are so we can tie our relation.Please contact me back. I have more information that may be useful.

  4. Rick Frautschi

    Hello. My name is Richard Jacob Frautschi “Rick”. Levi Chester Mack Morris and Connie “Canny” Daisy Venters are my great grandparents. So, I must be a descendant of Leban Morris. I was born on GGrandma Daisy’s birthday , February 16!

  5. Shirley Mccabe

    Hello. I believe I am a descendant of Laban Morris through his daughter Alpha’s marriage to John Norris.

  6. Binjamin Wayne

    Sara, one question I have is this. You know that my grandmother Mattie was Aunt Ethel sister. But I don’t see Mattie anywhere in the brothers or sisters only Martha. Could this have been her real name. Martha not Mattie? If you know could you let me know.tks

  7. Croix

    On, the Potential Father and Potential Mother indicators for Laban Morris claim him as the son of Thomas Morris and either Sarah Stone or Rachael Platt. Rowland Ledbetter does not show up in any search terms regarding Laban, but your research is so thorough that I am prone to believe you over the site. Any information on this would be very helpful! Again, Laban Morris is listed on the site as having lived from 1781-1860, and being married to Kitty Williams, so it’s got some accuracy there. What’s your insight? If you’re curious, Laban is my 6th great grandfather.

    • Sara Whitford

      Thank you for your comment.

      I have repeatedly tried to contact people on Ancestry to let them know the Thomas Morris/Rachel Platt connection is INACCURATE for Laban Morris of Craven County, NC, but unfortunately, many have either ignored my messages or decided that they prefer the Thomas Morris/Rachel Platt parentage instead of acknowledging that OUR Laban Morris was born illegitimate AND that he was legally a Henby/Henly at birth. The Thomas Morris – Rachel Platt misinformation began in a book by Frank Rouse, a fellow descendant of Laban, and it was from research he had done in the very early days of the internet. He saw a Laban Morris born in Burbage, Wiltshire, England around the same time that our Laban would’ve been born and he assumed it was the right person. I thoroughly researched that line, however, and that particular Laban was still in Burbage long after our Laban was showing up in records here in Craven County.

      Additionally, some of us cousins have the oral history that Laban was really a LEDBETTER, a story that was proven true with Y-DNA testing on many male Morrises in our family, including my own grandfather, who is 87 years old.

      Please know you can absolutely be confident that the information I have in the East Carolina Roots tree on Ancestry is correct. I may not have all of his descendants listed, but I do have his father correctly listed, as well as his children, most of his grandchildren, and on down from there.

      • Christine Weeks-Bates

        I have a Morris family that left NC and moved to Washington County, IN in the early part of the 19th century., Sarah J. Morris was born in Indiana,in 1858 My GG Grandmother was Sarah J. Morris, and I thought I had tied her in with this family. in Currituck, She is my doppelganger with a birthdate 100 years apart, If not tied to Laban, then we are cousins. .

  8. Angie

    Laban Morris is my 5th great grandfather with 28 DNA matches

  9. kenaycock

    my great great grandmom was nancy morris married to emmanuel edwards that was killed in civil war at drureys bluff,va….love to find out about her


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