52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #22 – Thomas Benjamin Harmon

As is often the case with ancestors, I have more questions than I have answers with regard to my great-great-grandfather Thomas Benjamin Harmon. Here’s what I know and how I know it:

1. He was my great-grandmother Rhoda Harmon Lineberry’s father. The 1850 census lists Rhoda in that family. Additionally, a Virginia marriage index for Rhoda lists her parents as T. and D. Harmon [Thomas and Delilah].

2. He was born in Virginia, probably in Grayson County. Censuses for 1850, 1870 and 1880 all confirm his Virginia birth. His father’s records beginning in 1822 reference Grayson County.

2. He married Delilah Davis August 23, 1838 in Grayson County, Virginia. Although marriage indexes list these details, Martha Fontaine Patterson uploaded a digital photocopy of the marriage license dated August 15, 1838 in which Thomas and his father posted a marriage bond.

3. His father was Patrick Harmon. Patrick was the name of the co-signer on the above-mentioned marriage license. Although that document does not provide evidence that Patrick was his father, Thomas’ second marriage application reinforces that interpretation by naming Patrick Harmon as his father.

4. Based on the 1850 and 1870 census, it would appear Thomas and Delilah had at least eleven children: Sarah, Mary “Polly”, Elizabeth, Nancy, Rhoda [my great-grandmother], Alexander, Joseph, Daniel, Henry Coulson, Thomas J., and Joseph Clark.

5. Thomas probably served as a private in the 51st Virginia Infantry, Company K, of the Confederate Army. Although I have not found his name listed in the CSA soldier record cards or roster lists, his widow [Margaret Mabe Harmon] applied to the War Department for and received a CSA headstone to place on his grave. HARMON Thomas Benjamin CSA Headstone App Melton Cemetery6. In November 1888 when Thomas was about 70, he was widowed when his wife Delilah died. The Virginia Death and Burials Index as well as Delilah’s tombstone provide support for this information.

7. He married Margaret Mabe on November 24, 1890 when he was about 72 years old; this marriage is reported in the Virginia Marriage Index.

8. Thomas and Margaret had three children: William Early, George Benjamin and Laura Louvenia.

9. Thomas died October 17, 1898, as listed in the headstone application above.

10. He lived most of his life in the same general area of Grayson, Carroll and Wythe Counties in Virginia based on census records from 1840, 1850, 1870, 1880 as well as burial records. The missing 1860 census, of course, could be an indication he was away from the area during some of those years. His father-in-law and at least one brother-in-law moved to Ohio for a few years but I have not found records of Thomas having joined in that adventure.

The records above cover a basic framework for Thomas’ life but two important details remain evasive – his birth date and the name of his mother. The evidence available for interpretation would be the 1850 census, which listed him as 32 [1818]; the 1870 census, which listed him as 51 [1819]; the 1880 census, which listed him as 60 [1820]; and the 1890 marriage license, which listed his birth year as 1822. Based on the census records, his birth year was most likely sometime around 1819. The date reported on the marriage license might be explained by a slightly prideful deception – his new wife was approximately 30 years his junior. During these years of our country’s history, births were not required or recorded unless in church minutes or family Bibles, or perhaps in wills or pension applications, so an actual date will not likely be uncovered.

Even though the license for Thomas’ marriage to Margaret listed his mother as Polly Harmon, the range of date possibilities for his birth leaves in question the full name of his mother. Thomas’ father, Patrick Harmon, married Mary “Polly” Melton on December 26, 1822. If Thomas were born in 1818, 1819 or 1820, Polly Melton Harmon was not likely his mother. On the other hand, if he were born in 1822 as listed on his second marriage record, he might perhaps have been the son of Patrick and Polly [albeit an early birth based on the marriage date].

The consistency of birth dates over the period from 1850 through 1880 lends credence to the earlier date for his birth, which would indicate Patrick had been married before his marriage to Polly Melton. At the time of the 1822 marriage, Patrick was about 32 and Polly 30, which would lend support for there being time for an earlier marriage. Unfortunately, thus far I have not found any records to support a name or date for such a marriage.

So, for now, I have his mother listed as an unknown woman who married Patrick Harmon prior to 1818 and died prior to 1822.

Thomas was buried in the Melton Cemetery as was Delilah [the photo below was uploaded to FindAGrave by Donna Sutphin Armentrout]. HARMON Thomas B. FAG HS


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.





2 Responses

  1. […] – “Thomas Benjamin Harmon” by Donna Brown on DonnaB’s […]

  2. […] signed by her father [I provided a link to the page with the permission and marriage bond in my blog for Thomas].I have spelled her name in this blog as Delila but there is often no consistency in early records in […]

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