April 2008

Harrison Cousins

About a year ago I wrote about George Roseveare, a metallurgist who worked at and taught about copper mining. His brother, William, was also a scientist but I did not find as much in the scientific journals about him; his area was chemistry. I did find a death record on the Social Security Death Index for William showing that he died in Lynchburg, VA.

Last month when I was planning my trip to Virginia Beach to visit my Aunt Jean Schroy, I realized that my travels would take me near or through Lynchburg, and that was too good an opportunity not to explore further. I looked up info for the historical library there, checked the internet for Roseveare in Lynchburg and found a 2003 report of a ten mile run, with two Roseveare entrants, possibly brothers, who came in together at the end of the race. They just had to be related; my intuition was telling me so. They were too young to be William’s sons, probably grandsons. I sent a letter to one of the men saying that I would be in Lynchburg and if he was William’s grandson, I would really like to meet him. (I have probably sent off twenty such letters and usually I hear nothing back.) In a few days I received an email from the gentleman’s father saying his son had forwarded my letter to him knowing he would be interested. He would be happy to see me. I was overjoyed.

I met the Roseveares and had a wonderful visit with them. Best of all, they were not surprised at all to learn that they were cousins on the Harrison side of the family. A Roseveare cousin had compiled a huge book about the Roseveares and most exciting for me, they also had a typewritten copy of “Harrison History” by Arnott D. Harrison, that explained volumes. Check out the Harrison family tree and see all the new names I have been able to fill in thanks to Arnott D. Harrison, my third cousin, twice removed (3rd cousin of Ethel Douglass Lee, my grandmother) whom I had not even heard of before. And yes, the “D” in Arnott’s name is for Douglas.

Arnott’s Harrison History explained why I kept running into so many Harrison families when I was doing research in Halton county, Ontario. Catharine Douglass, the youngest of the nine siblings whom I research, married Henry Harrison in Halton county and she died and is buried there as is her husband. But when I tried to figure out which of the many Harrisons in Halton county were related, I could only guess that William Harrison was a brother. Well it turns out that almost all of them were related. Thomas Harrison and his wife, Elizabeth, emigrated from England in 1820. They had six sons, four of whom were born in England, the younger two in Ontario.

Thomas settled in Halton county, Trafalgar township, Lot 12, 1st concession. “At that time,” Arnott wrote, “there were few settlers and but small clearings, so they had their full share of the hardships incident to a new settlement.” In 1824 Thomas died, leaving his wife Elizabeth with a large family, the oldest 17 and the youngest 3 months. Even with her large family, and with only two daughters to help her at home, Elizabeth took on the school teacher’s job when the new school opened in the district and held that position for several years. In the mornings and evenings, she plied her shuttle, weaving for her neighbors, who in return, performed work on her farm. Later she was superintendent of the Sunday School in the Methodist Church. She died in 1867 at age 86, having been a loyal Methodist for nearly sixty years. All six of her sons had farms in Halton county. No wonder I felt like the county had more than its full quota of Harrisons.

Henry Harrison, whom Catharine Douglass married, was the second oldest of Thomas and Elizabeth’s sons. He was a wheelwright (described as one who repairs carriages) and a wagonmaker, which trade he passed on to his son, Thomas D. Harrison.

But to get back to William Roseveare. His son told me that William taught at the University of Wisconsin after getting his PhD. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He was at UW in Madison for ten years and then he went into industry and worked for Dupont. He worked on the development of dacron during the war, a much stronger fabric for parachutes than the nylon previously used. In ensuing years, he worked for Dupont in Richmond, VA and later in North Carolina. William saw a good part of the country a generation or so before family members moved around so much. He was born in Michigan, grew up in Arizona, got his PhD. in California, taught in Wisconsin and worked in Virginia and North Carolina.

To help you place the Roseveares in the Douglass family, think Catharine Douglass Harrison.

(Lineage: William-6, Olivia Roseveare-5, Thomas-4, Catharine Harrison-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)


Stories are the life blood of genealogy. Here’s another little snippet from Arnott Douglass.

“Thomas Harrison’s father died and left all his property in England in the care of his brother, who was to hand it over to Thomas, then a young man, providing he did nothing to displease the uncle. Of course they were all Church of England people. In the year of 1805, he (Thomas) married Elizabeth Hodge of Devonshire, England, and with her joined the Methodist Church, which was considered a disgrace by his uncle, and (he) was at once disowned.”

(Which probably figured greatly in his decision to emigrate – ELI)


Another piece of information I gleaned from Arnott’s Harrison History is that Benjamin Tassie was not the only Douglass cousin to die in World War I. Albert Gordon Harrison, Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment, died on Oct. 1, 1918 in France, within a month of Tassie and not far distant. Gordon, as he was called, was the son of Henry Wycliffe and Julia (Watson) Harrison of Dundas, Ontario. His name is inscribed on the War Memorial erected in 1948 in Dundas. I tried to get a picture of the War Memorial but could not. I will have to get one when I am in Canada next time. Gordon Harrison is buried in Drummond cemetery, Nord, France. William Roseveare and Gordon Harrison were first cousins.

(Lineage: Gordon-6, Henry W.-5, Thomas-4, Catharine Harrison-3, John-2, Alexander Douglass-1)

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