According to history, about one thousand people embarked for their new home during the year 1630, the first of the eleven years of the “great Puritan migration.” During the time that Charles I attempted to govern England without parliament, nearly twenty thousand men, women, and children were transported to the shores of New England. They went with the idea of establishing churches in which they might worship in the way they preferred.
When Richard Harrison Sr. was told he could not worship as he pleased, he pondered, planned and paid a tidy sum to remove himself and his family from a land of prejudice. He packed their minimum and walked away from where he, his wife, Sarah Yorke, and his five children were all born, the town of West Kirby, England.
They would take one of the ships of the Puritans, on 22 June 1635 to the new world. The Harrison children were Richard Jr. born 1620, Thomas, born 1626, John, Samuel, Mary. It was not long on the ship before the playful children distracted travelers from the difficulties of crowding, unsanitary conditions and unpalatable food.
The Harrisons came to New Haven, Connecticut, and then made their way to Branford, Connecticut, where they founded the town in 1644. The original house is gone, but the one built in the eighteenth century still stands on Main Street as a museum. There is a library in the house with the history of the family written by a Captain Thomas Harrison, who fought in the Civil War. At the end of his writing, he wrote that he hoped someone would continue recording the history of the Harrisons. That is what Gertrude Harrison Claus, born 1910, has done. At the age of one hundred and one, she was remarkable–still healthy, happy, and sharp. She went home to her maker in 2011. She was Mom to me and to her children. Everyone else called her Trudi, short for Gertrude. Trudi was my role model, a liberated, Christian woman. I miss her smile, her love, and her interest in our lives.
One of the brothers, Richard Harrison Jr. and possibly, his sister Mary, left CT for New Jersey. Richard founded Neworke, now Newark, New Jersey. Richard married Sarah Hubbard, had 8 children and became one of 11 founders of Newark, NJ in 1667 and a patentee in 1675. In 1668, he was
one of 6 Newark agents who negotiated its boundary with Elizabeth, NJ. He also was an original town committee member and town surveyor. Newark was founded after 6 years of communication with Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam. There is a plaque in the center of town with Richard Harrison’s name as the founder. I saw the plaque. Richard’s children with his wife Sarah Hubbard had six children, Joseph, born1649, Samuel, born 1652, Benjamin, born 1655, George, born 1658, Daniel, born 1661, and Mary, born 1664.
There is more about the family. Tom’s grandfather, Norman B. Harrison, took his organ, his wife and his children to Skagway, Alaska, in 1898 and founded the Presbyterian Church there. Mom Trudi and our friends Jean and El visited a some years ago and verified they saw his name on a plaque. Later, he came back to the homeland to the state of Washington and founded the
University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. The church is still there. Norman’s writings were about different books of the Bible. I treasure the “The End. Re-Thinking the Revelation”, signed by him to his daughter Gertrude Harrison Claus, on December 15, 1954.
Trudi’s brother, Everett Harrison, was one of the founders of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He too wrote books about the Bible and like his father Norman, was a scholar. For anyone that knows Princeton Theological Seminary, Norman B. Harrison’s name is on the cornerstone.
Trudi Harrison Claus and her son Thomas Harrison Claus, both direct decedents of Richard Harrison Jr. and Mary Harrison, scoured cemeteries in New Jersey. Tom said they found ancestors in a cemetery in West Caldwell, NJ. We never looked in Connecticut. I would like to do that, amidst the beautiful fall foliage.
Another bit of information—Thomas Harrison Claus’s father, Wilbur Claus, a biochemist, discovered Cheerio’s for General Mills, and Tom, also a biochemist, discovered a drug for type 2 diabetes, but it never got to the market.
Tom has three brothers, diluting the Harrison name with Claus, and so it goes. We lose all the Harrisons’ in marriages and births. It becomes almost impossible to find all the linkages. But Mom Trudi said the early Harrisons’ married Smiths, Baldwins, Pearsons’ and others. And by the way, we were told that this end of the Harrison’s are connected to William and his nephew Benjamin Harrison, America’s past presidents.
Should anyone be interested in touching base with me about the Harrison Heritage, just leave a comment with your contact info, and I will get back to you.
First Presbyterian Church of Skagway is the home of God’s disciples who
are called to follow Christ in this unique Alaska setting by living out their mission statement: “As children of God we embrace our call to share the Good News of the Gospel through worship, fellowship and open doors providing a nurturing environment as we grow in Christ and minister to our greater community.”
African Children’s choir: The choir performed three times in Skagway during this past Labor Day weekend -. at the First Presbyterian Church, at the Skagway School. All concerts are free admission. There are CDs available. The African Children’s Choir™ is made up of some of the neediest and most vulnerable children in their countries. Many have lost one or both parents to poverty or disease. The African Children’s Choir™ helps these children break away from the everyday cycle of poverty and hopelessness. Before being selected to join the Choir, children, generally aged between 7 and 11 attend Music for Life camps. These camps are fun and stimulating environments that provide a break from the daily hardships the young children face at home. Children selected to tour will spend approximately five months at the Choir Training Academy in Kampala, Uganda. Here the children learn the songs and dances, attend school, play and attend Sunday School at a local church. Check out their website: http://www.africanchildrenschoir.com/ for more information.
So, Captain Thomas Harrison, who wrote in that Branford book was an ancestor and related to my husband Thomas Harrison Claus.
Any Harrison’s around that are direct descendents of the Richard Harrison Jr. of Newark, NJ?