Is Harriet Morris a relative of Laban Morris?

by | Jun 6, 2019 | 3 comments

(This article was originally published July 25, 2018It was most recently updated June 6, 2019.)

It’s now worth investigating the possibility that Harriet Morris is a daughter of Thomas Morris of Beaufort County and granddaughter of Elisha Morris. While Laban descendants undoubtedly share some kind of DNA with Harriet Morris descendants, I’m doubtful it’s enough to suggest she’s a daughter. On the other hand, it could certainly suggest the possibility of her being a cousin or niece.

Aside from finding historical documents that spell it all out, the next best thing might be the use of DNA Painter, Gedmatch, and the FTDNA chromosome browser to solve this mystery once and for all.

More interesting things turning up in some of our family’s DNA matches over at Ancestry… a few matches to descendants of Harriet MORRIS (specifically through her daughter, Alvana MORRIS). There aren’t enough for me to say that Harriet is a daughter of Laban, although based on her age, she certainly could be. She might be a niece… or she could be a daughter. I won’t rule it out yet…

Here’s the information I have so far:

Harriet MORRIS was born about 1815. It appears she had one child, Alvana (possibly with Joseph GUILFORD), around September 1835. (Joseph GUILFORD’s previous wife, Elizabeth WALLACE, died in 1834.)

Joseph GUILFORD was already in his 70s when he began his relationship with Harriet, who was around 20 at the time.

By 1839, Joseph GUILFORD had married Harriet and had a son by her, Joseph McD. GUILFORD. The next year, he Joseph died. The widow Harriet then married Thomas LEWIS (b. abt 1815) of Beaufort County.

[I would’ve never known about Joseph GUILFORD And Harriet MORRIS had it not been for this entry in the Pitt County Genealogical Quarterly, Nov. 2013 edition.]

Click to download the above pages at full size: Page 1 | Page 2

Here are images of the original will. (Download full sizes: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4)

Harriet MORRIS and Thomas LEWIS had the following children:

  • William M Lewis (1841–1924) m. Talitha “Litha” HUDSON
  • Clarissa Lewis (b. 1844) m. Ozias Bennet BRIDGMAN
  • William Jesse Lewis (1850–1924) m. Frances “Fannie” A. ADAMS
  • Isaac Lewis (b. 1851)
  • Thomas Lewis (1855–1926) m. Mary SIMPKINS

The son, Joseph McD. GUILFORD married Winifred BEST. They had one daughter, Harriet Elizabeth GUILFORD.

Alvana MORRIS married William Henry BUCK. They had the following children (and possibly more, but this is what I have found so far):

  • Emerline Buck (b. 1852) m. Bryan C. WAYNE
  • William F. Buck (1855–1917) m. Susan MOBLEY, m. 2nd Susan MAYO
  • Josephus “Joseph” T. Buck (1857) m. Amanda CARTWRIGHT (?)
  • Lydia Ann Buck (b. 1861) m. Lewis F. CARROLL
  • Noah Allen Buck (1868–1954) m. Rachael A. CLARK
  • Laura Elizabeth Buck (b. 1870)
  • Margret Buck (b. 1873)
  • McGilbert Buck (b. 1874)

I’ve long been intrigued by Harriet and Alvana because of how close Alvana sounds to Alpha, which was the name of Laban and Caroline’s only daughter that I know about. There is an unknown girl in the household with Laban’s family the first time they are named in the census. That girl would be the right age to be Harriet, but again, I’m not convinced she’s his daughter, though she could very well be some kind of relative. There’s also a Nancy MORRIS living in Laban and his son William’s households in the 1850 census. She was born in 1822, but since she’s listed after the other children, she apparently isn’t a daughter of Laban or William. The point is, there are young women somehow associated with this MORRIS family and we can’t figure out who they are.

Do you descend from any of the individual’s above? If so, are you turning up DNA matches to any of Laban Morris’s descendants? Comment below or email eastcarolinaroots [at] if you think you’d like to mention your name and where you’ve tested and I can check against some of our known Laban Morris descendant kits.


  1. Kim Whichard

    Alvana Morris was the daughter of Dan or Dave ( slave of Joseph Guilford ), and Harriet Morris. Joseph Guilford states this in his will, and he leaves a small inheritance for Harriet’s daughter.

    • Sara Whitford

      Hi Kim! I think we must either share some lines, or our ancestors have collateral lines that they share because I’ve seen you come up many times while I’ve been researching my own tree at Ancestry. 🙂

      Going by the transcription (which I know can sometimes be inaccurate), I didn’t read it as though Dan were Alvana’s father. Rather, it looks like it says that Dan is a bequest to Alvana in his will, in that by him being hired out, it will pay for her education:

      “I give to Alvana MORRIS the daughter of Harriet MORRIS my negro boy Dan, I wish my executors to hire out this boy and apply the proceeds or so much of it as may be necessary to ____ [illegible word] clothes & educate said child — And if the said child Alvana MORRIS should die before she arrives to the age of twenty one years then the said Negro boy Dan to go back & be sold by my executors and the proceeds to be divided as follows equally among George W GUILFORD, Gulaney GUILFORD, Noah W GUILFORD and Elizabeth Langley. I also give the child Alvana MORRIS one hundred dollars in money, which I leave in the power of my executors to use as much of it as is necessary for her support until the negro hire comes in hand.”

      • Kim Whichard

        You are correct. I have been stuck on Tom Lewis and Harriet Morris for so many years. They are my 3rd great grandparents.


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