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Looking For Father (and his ancestors) of Robert Morris, born November 15, 1774 in Princeton, NJ

Journal by Carl99

I've been researching my mother's family tree, the Morris Family, off and on, for about 30 years. As we knew very little about them, it has been an interesting trip through American History. Two lines, Field family, and Hoyt family were of Puritan stock, and seem to have played some part in every colonial New England war that I'm familiar with, as well as being related to the Howlands (Pilgrim family) and the Edwards (Reverend Jonathan Edwards). They also lost 38 family members and relations either killed or captured in the "Deerfield Massacre."

The Morris family, said to be Quaker, has been harder to trace. Until just recently, it ended with the marriage of David Morris to Experience Field in Sodus, NY in 1813. Just recently, after 20 years of looking, I located David's date of birth (1795 in Shaftsbury VT) and death (1844 in Holley, NY), his father, Robert Morris, his mother, Charity Matthews of Shafstbury, VT, her father, David Matthews - who appears to have been one of the Green Mountain Boys, during the Revolution, - and Robert Morris's date of birth, November 15, 1774 in Princeton, NJ.

Robert Morris's father is said to have died shortly after Robert's birth and his mother, Leah (AKA Aleta or Aletha) Naphiens (born in 1749 in Germany) re-married to a John Stewart. Given the place of Robert's birth (Princeton, NJ) and the time (two years before the battle of Princeton) I have to wonder if Robert's father was killed in the Revolution.

Another NJ Morris widow gives an account (Margaret Morris Journel) of the battle of Princeton and mentions the death of "A. Morris" in the battle. This turns out to be Anthony Morris, a Major/Captain/Ensign in the US army. Very tittilating, but not yet a genealogical link:

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/makingrev/war/text7/margaretmorrisnj.pdf

There is also a question, in the Stewart Clan Magazine as to whether Robert Morris was born in Princeton, New Jersey, or Princetown (Schenectedy), New York (the latter of which would make more sense - geographically - and ethinically - there being a large Dutch/German population in the latter area).

Surnames: EDWARDS FIELD HOYT MATTHEWS MORRIS NAPHIENS STEWART
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by Carl99 Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2012-05-16 02:33:30

Carl99 has been a Family Tree Circles member since May 2012.

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by Carl99 on 2013-07-03 08:27:54

While I haven't made any stunning break-throughs, it has come to my attention that ROBERT MORRIS may have been born in 1774 in the "Princeton Grant," which is in the valley of the Battenkill, in Vermont - as close as six miles to Shaftsbury, VT, where he later married CHARITY MATTHEWS - rather than being born in Princeton, NJ or Princetown, NY.

While the existence of the Princeton Grant may have been common knowledge to Vermonters in 1774, it is quite possible that it was long forgotten, or never known, to the family living in mid New York State in 1890.

CHARITY MATTHEW'S grandfather, JAMES, lived at Colrain, MA - which is also where JOHN STEWART, 2nd husband of LEAH NAPHIEN arrived in 1774 - from Perth, Scotland. There is a possibility he was related to CHARLES STEWART, who lived in Colrain, MA, "40 rods from Fort Morris." Fort Morris was built by THOMAS MORRIS, born either 1703 or 1714 (accounts vary), but has no son listed who might be considered as a spouse for LEAH NAPHIEN. The records are contradictory and confusing. Some accounts name THOMAS MORRIS as Welsh, others as Scots-Irish or Ulster-Irish, going as far as naming his birthplace in Ulster. It is possible he was both, as Ulster was not limited to Scots as a dumping place for the unwanted by the English. The CROCKETT family of DAVY CROCKETT is a case in point, being French Huguenot, not Scots, in origin. So, in other words, the CROCKETTS are "Scots-Irish," while being neither Scots, nor Irish.

NAPHIEN, the surname, comes from a letter by Mrs S Goddard, who is writing in 1890 concerning an ancestor she never knew - who died in 1801. This is not a surname in use elsewhere. One possibility is "MAPHIEN," which is an archaic spelling of METHVEN. As Colrain, MA is a Scots-Irish enclave, and her second husband, JOHN STEWART(and possibly first, MORRIS, as well)is Scottish - METHVEN is a possibility. METHVEN, the place name in Scotland, is six miles from Perth, Scotland, birthplace of LEAH NAPHIEN'S second husband, JOHN STEWART. Also intriguing, the MORRIS sub-clan is connected to Clan BUCHANAN, of Perthshire - though family oral tradition states that the MORRIS line is Welsh.

LEAH NAPHIEN (MAPHIEN? METHVEN?) has a child, ROBERT MORRRIS in 1774. The husband is described as "a young gentleman named MORRIS." There appears to be no further issue from this union. 2nd husband to LEAH NAPHIEN (MAPHIEN? METHVEN?) is JOHN STEWART. They have a child, CHARLES, in 1784, at the end of the Revolution. The "Green Mountain Boys," during the Revolutionary War, are a militia unit based out of Bennington, VT, which is side by side with Shaftsbury, VT. CHARITY MATTHEWS of Shaftsbury, VT, wife of ROBERT MORRIS, is a grand-niece to STEPHEN FAY, proprietor of the Catamount Tavern in Bennington, VT, - where the Green Mountain Boys met. A JOHN STEWART is listed on the roster of the "Green Mountain Boys." Also listed on the "Green Mountain Boys" roster is a JOHN MORRIS. A JOHN MORRIS is also listed as falling in battle before the walls of Quebec in the 1775 Battle of Quebec. This would make him a candidate for the "young gentleman named MORRIS," though it is unclear if this is the same JOHN MORRIS listed on the Green Mountain Boys roster. It would be good to clarify this, and to locate more information on this JOHN MORRIS.

One problem with viewing LEAH NAPHIEN as a Scot (METHVEN) is the information that she was "born in Germany." The only likely possibility that would still identify her as Scottish, other than inaccurate information, would be if her father was one of the "Wild Geese," a Celtic mercenary warrior for hire - of which there were many during that time period. Given the clannish nature of most of the settlers of that period, I find it odd, though not impossible, that she is living in Scottish places of settlement, and associating with people who are Scots, rather than Germans - if she is of German extraction.

LEAH NAPHIEN'S family is said to have immigrated to America in the 1750s or 1760s. I find no NAPHIEN family listed anywhere on earth - ever. I did locate a CHARLES METHVEN arriving at New York, NY, in 1767. I am so far unable to locate any further information on CHARLES METHVEN.

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