Researched & written by Donna and David Hulsey
Summer 2006

john_and_milly_harris_thumbJohn Harris was born in Virginia in 1738. He died after June 2, 1821 in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.

He fought in the American Revolution in Virginia and Maryland. He was a gunner in the artillery unit under Captain William Pierce in the command of Colonel Charles Harrison. John Harris joined the military on November 8, 1776. He was listed on the Company Muster of October 21, 1777, Muster Roll November 8 – December 1779, Park of Artillery near Morristown, New Jersey. Pay Advice per month $8.00, Subsistence per month $10.00, Total paid $5.00, January 1780 (pay). He was with George Washington at Valley Forge, Source: Company Roll dated June 3, 1778. Shows John Harris at Valley Forge.

John married Mary (Polly) Walker on July 14, 1792 in Louisa County, Virginia. They had five children, she died before 1800.

John married 2nd Milly Bowling Price (a widow) on November 3, 1800 in Orange County, Virginia. They had 10 children.

John purchased property in Oglethorpe County on May 15, 1808 from Ruben Radford for $3,168 on east side of Big Creek, including the plantation where Harris lived, and 355 acres was part of 2 tracts granted to James Cathledge for 287 acres in Washington County. The deed speaks of a cotton machine on Harris’ property. We found in the inventory of John’s Estate several items that lead us to believe he ran the Cotton Gin. It mentions cotton bagging, and they paid to have the mill wheel repaired.

The property that John & Milly lived on was in the vicinity of several of Milly’s relatives. Bowling’s, Bell’s, and Bledsoe’s were family and neighbors.

John must have been quite a unique individual, very tough and resilient, for he lived to be 83 years of age. His youngest child was three years old (born 1817) at the time of his father’s death.

No records have been found that identify who John’s parents were. This is very hard to research because the name John Harris was so prevalent in Virginia in the 1700’s.

I believe that to accurately tell the story of the Harris Family, we have to tell it through our ancestor Milly (Emily) Bowling. Milly has been a fascinating character to research. She has an interesting family who has been so much fun to get to know. I have spent many hours getting acquainted with my 3rd great grandmother Milly, her Orange County, Virginia family and the 15 children that she & John reared. The facts about Milly have been researched through court records both in Georgia & Virginia, DAR Records, the Bollings, Bowlings, Bolen Family in America, by Todd Bolen and the Bolling Family Association.

Emily (Milly) Bowling was born in Orange County Virginia circa 1772. She was the daughter of John and Ursula (Bell Wisdom) Bowling. Her grandparents were William and Ann Bowling and Roger Bell, all of Orange County. Milly’s father, John, owned property in Orange County on the banks of the Pamunky River, land he inherited from his father William. John was a patriot during the Revolutionary War. He raised cattle, hogs and grains for the Continental Army. He had four brothers, all of whom fought in the war, Thornberry, Samuel, William and Jesse. Brother William died at Valley Forge on August 20, 1778, Jesse died at his mother’s house. Both Thornberry and Samuel survived the war, Thornberry was a bachelor, and Samuel moved to South Carolina, married and had children. Some of his descendants still live there at present. John had one sister named Sarah. She, along with Thornberry, were named in their mother’s will.

There are no stories or traditions to explain why, after living on family land for forty years, they decided to move to Georgia. A Virginia deed dated January 4, 1794 shows that John & Ursula sold their property consisting of 200 acres to James Perry. Not only John & Ursula, but several of their children (Milly included) and several of their neighbors all moved to Oglethorpe County, Georgia sometime in 1795. John Bowling was listed on the tax list in 1796. DAR Lineage of Mrs. F.W. Guild of Winfield, Kansas has Rev. War Patriot John Bowling died in Georgia after the 1800 census.

On December 31, 1796 Milly married Thomas Price in Oglethorpe County. As far as we can determine, Milly and Thomas had no children. Thomas Price died before May 14, 1798. This is the date the inventory of his estate was taken. According to Oglethorpe County Administration & Guardian Book 1799-1807, Milly was in court on August 26, 1799 asking for 12 months support from Thomas Price’s estate. Sometime after that date she moved back to Orange County Virginia. She still had family there. On November 3, 1800 she married John Harris. They continued to live in Orange County for several years. Sometime before 1808 John, Milly and their children arrived back in Georgia, where they bought property on Big Creek. John & Milly probably faced many challenges raising 15 children; five from John’s marriage to Mary Walker and ten of their own. Indians were still in the territory and that made things quite uncertain.

After John’s death in 1821, Milly continued to live in Oglethorpe County. In 1836 she moved to Walton, along with her younger children into the homestead. Some of her adult children already were living there, the Kilgore’s and Kimbrel’s. At some point in time the property was turned over to William, who lived there and raised his family. Milly continued to live with William until her death on February 19 (after 1850). Milly was a charter member of Sorrells Springs Primitive Baptist Church.

John & Milly left a wonderful legacy to their children and the generations that came after them. They had many grandsons who fought and some died in the service of the Country that John helped to liberate. Their children had to struggle to survive the War Between the States and Reconstruction, loss of some of their sons, dead in the conflict, complete devastation to a way of life they all loved. However, with the pioneering spirit of John & Milly they picked themselves up and moved on. All of their descendants living today can take pride in knowing that our ancestors were truly “founding fathers” in their own right. Not only was John involved in the birth of our nation, but he was a pioneer who founded our family, and we should be very proud!

Donna is a descendant of John Lewis Harris, one of the sons of William and Harriet Harris.


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The William Harris Homestead Foundation is a charitable 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to provide heritage, agricultural and environmental education.