The Craven County Morris Family… Really Ledbetters?

by | Jun 13, 2011 | 15 comments

Albert Dorsey Morris, Sr.

Albert Dorsey Morris, Sr.

A few years ago, thanks to DNA testing, our family discovered that our earliest known Morris ancestor, Laban MORRIS, was actually a LEDBETTER by birth.

It wasn’t too much of a surprise, after all, the older generations had “heard tell of it” when they were children, that “we weren’t really Morrises, but that we were Ledbetters.”

They had heard that Laban’s father was a Ledbetter, but for one reason or another, he didn’t want to use the name and instead was known as a Morris. 

We’ve since had other direct male descendants of Laban Morris tested and found the same result — that we match with multiple Ledbetters, verifying the oral tradition within the family.

We are hoping to eventually have a direct male lineal descendant from each of Laban’s sons to get DNA tested so that we can use the broader results to narrow down just which of a handful of potential Ledbetter men fathered Laban.

Laban’s known children with his wife Caroline “Kitty” WILLIAMS were:

  • John Morris (1806-)
  • William B. Morris (1809-1880)
  • Thomas Morris (1811-)
  • Joseph Morris (1817-)
  • Alpha Morris (1818-)
  • Levi M Morris (1824-1865)
  • Roland Morris (1828-)

Also listed in Laban’s household from at least 1850 through 1860 (although, based on gender and ages, it’s possible she was living with Laban & Kitty as early as 1830) is Nancy Morris (b. abt 1820). She is not his daughter, and she’s too young to be the daughter of any of his children, so there’s also a mystery as to who she is. Maybe a niece of the family from whom he got his MORRIS name?

If you are interested in participating in solving this mystery, please contact us using the form below.


  1. Billy W. Ledbetter

    I am a direct male descendant of Rowland Ledbetter and a participant in the Ledbetter DNA program.

  2. binjamin wayne

    My father mother was a morris from craven co nc her father was william rolland morris, his father was levi m morris, his father laban morris. I would like to know more about the family Ledbetter/henly thank you

    • binjamin wayne

      What part of Massachusetts did the Ledbetter/henly/Morris family’s come from..
      And what part of England did they come from.

      • Sara Whitford

        See my response to your other comment. I know Frederick Rouse had it in his Morris book that the family came from Massachusetts, but it’s inaccurate. Let me add that Mr. Rouse did the best job of anyone prior to the days of the Internet in getting together Morris information, but there were a couple of pieces to the puzzle that he didn’t have.

        Some of the older Morrises had an oral history that Laban wasn’t really a Morris, but was a Ledbetter. When we had the DNA testing done on several male MORRIS men in our family, it proved it to be true, as we match perfectly with the LEDBETTER DNA line.

        It is undetermined who the first LEDBETTER immigrant to America was. In his book, LEDBETTERS REVISITED, Ken Haughton wrote that he thought the LEDBETTER immigrant ancestor was likely Francis LEADBETTER who arrived in York Co., Virginia in about 1658.

        I think the immigrant ancestor on the HENLEY line is Henry HENLEY, born about 1625 in Dorsetshire, England.

    • Sara Whitford

      I also descend from William Roland MORRIS on my grandmother’s side, so we’re cousins! Her mother was Ethel MORRIS (COX), daughter of William Roland MORRIS and Serenia ‘Rainey’ EDWARDS.

      Another MORRIS cousin and I are feverishly researching the LEDBETTER/HENLY connection using FamilyFinder DNA results on, combined with good old-fashioned genealogy research.

      Right now, it looks like Laban could have been born, or at least conceived, in the Caswell/Orange County area. Based on using the FamilyFinder results of myself, two male Morris cousins, my grandfather (a Morris) and my mom, we’re zooming in on the Henley family that lived in Caswell county in the time in which Laban was conceived. The family was Darby HENLEY, John Edmund HENLEY, etc.. We’re also pretty thinking that Laban’s father was one of the sons, or grandsons, of Henry LEDBETTER and Edith WILLIAMSON.

  3. Donna Parten

    On my paternal side, I’m a descendent of Mary Ann DEAL and Sterling Price GREENE (1863-1954).

    Mary Ann Deal is g’gdtr of Mary Polly Ledbetter (1 Dec 1789, Caswell County, NC), d/o Joel Ledbetter (1751-1815).

    Sterling Price Green’s mother is Virgina Viola “Jennie” Morris (Sep 1841, AL – bef 1810, Cedar Creek, Taney, MO). Her father is James Franklin Morris b. c1814, AL and d. 1876, Shannon County, MO and he m. Sarah Ann Young b. c1820, TN.

    My sister and I, as well as 2 paternal cousins, tested our autosomal DNA with FTDNA FF and would like to compare FF results, but my reason for posting here is that I would be very interested in knowing if it’s just a coincidence that I have a Ledbetter marriage to a Morris. My Morris is at a dead end in Alabama.

    I have to wonder if my dead end and inability to identify Morris matches in FF is due to the name change, or if enough Morrises just haven’t tested with FF.

    • Sara Whitford

      This is very interesting, indeed! Let me spend a little bit of time looking into this, as I’d love to see what I can dig up on these families here in North Carolina.
      I know the GREEN/GREENE surname is one of the oldest in North Carolina, but of course I don’t know if your Sterling GREEN’s line originates back in North Carolina.
      I will also check and see if you come up as a cousin on any of our FamilyFinder tests within the family. Are you a member of the EastCarolinaRoots DNA project? Also, is your FamilyFinder test listed in your name?

  4. Carol Porch

    This is exciting. I have tested at Ancestry, transferred tio family tree and gedmatch. I have several complications. First my mom is a Morriss and has Ledbetters in her family tree. I have not figured out if we are descended from Laban Morris since my information seems to indicate a Robert Morris as my 8th great grandfather. Carol Porch in Iowa

    • Sara Whitford

      If you have any male Morris relatives, I’d strongly suggest you get one of them tested with the Y-DNA test, as that will show you if there’s a genetic connection between your Morris line and the Laban Morris/Ledbetter line.

  5. Curtis G. Morris

    Sara, My name is Curtis Morris and I’m interested in doing the Y DNA test. Is there a surname I should do this under? I don’t know anything about DNA testing. Also what would be the best to do as far as markers go?

    • Sara Whitford

      I recommend doing your Y-DNA test with and joining the EastCarolinaRoots project and if you’d like the Morris Y-DNA and Ledbetter Y-DNA projects. You can get more information about joining the EastCarolinaRoots DNA project from the DNA link on the menu at the top of this page.

  6. kenneth aycock

    my great great grandmother was nancy morris…married emanuel edwards….had william henry…then fred coley my grandfather….i got pic of william and wife renia

  7. kenneth aycock

    i got a pic where nancy applied for pension off emanuel

    • kenneth aycock

      january 11 1865


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