John Harrold (c1750-1825), Forger?, 52 Ancestors #82

My earliest identified Harrell ancestor is John Harrold (also spelled Harrald, Harald, Harold, Harrell, Herrell, Herald, Herrald, Herrold and any other way they could think of to confuse me) who died in Wilkes County, NC in about 1825. His wife, Mary died in 1826. His known children were born beginning in 1782 or 1783, so he had to be born before 1760 or even earlier.  The 1800 census shows John to be over the age of 45, so that tells us he was born before 1755.  Given the information I found in his Revolutionary War service records, I’m betting be was born around 1750.

It’s a good thing we have John’s death year and the census information, because much of the other information about his life is quite murky.  It has been quite a journey with more than one very unexpected crook in the road.  Come on along for the ride!

Visiting Wilkes County, NC

I visited Wilkes County in 2004 and asked my cousin, George McNiel, a local historian and avid genealogy researcher, to take me on a tour of all of my family lands.  There is a mountain named Harrold Mountain today.  I would never have put Herrall or Herrell, the surname in Hancock County, Tennessee and Harrold Mountain in Wilkes County together were it not for George and his knowledge of the area and families.

Harrold mountain

Cousin George took me to the grave of old John Harrold only to discover the single grave is gone and a chicken house stands in its place.  I don’t mean a cute little chicken house like grandma had, but a huge factory chicken house that stinks to high heaven.  How sad.  For both my ancestor and the poor chickens.  My cousin said this isn’t unusual because the only flat place large enough for a chicken house (40×100 feet) is often old graveyards, so off go the stones and in goes the chicken house. I wonder what old John Harrold thinks about that.

John Harrold burial

According to cousin George, this is the location where old John Herrell’s (Harrold, Herrald) grave used to be.  The chicken house is on the left, just out of sight.  This is on the top of Harrold Mountain.  John lived here during his lifetime and was probably buried in his own backyard.

This is either the same place or very near where his son John is also buried, known as the Brown Family Cemetery, shown on the map below.

Brown Harrold Cemetery map

FindAGrave has photos of the cemetery, before and after a cleanup effort.

Brown Harold cemetery before

Above, the Brown/Harrold cemetery before, which makes me wonder if the cemetery really did still exist but we missed it.  Although having said that, if anyone would know, it would be George.  He and his late wife spent more than 20 years surveying, inventorying and documenting every grave and graveyard in Wilkes County.

Brown Harold cemetery after

There is a family legend that says that John Harrold died in 1783 and was buried up on Harrold Mountain with all of his money and someone dug him up and robbed the grave. Of course, the speculation was that the culprits were his kids.  I guess that’s one way to take it with you – but I’ve always had these comical visions of several adult children sneaking up the mountain and running into each other at the grave in the dark. After the fight that would surely have ensued – who knows how many are actually buried in that grave:)

The story is interesting, but the 1783 death date is incorrect (because John wasn’t yet in Wilkes County in 1783 and he didn’t die until 1825) and would lead us to believe that maybe it was John’s son, John Harrald (Jr.) who was born in 1783.  We know he was buried on Harrold Mountain.  Regardless of the specifics, which we will never unravel now, the story is charming and there is surely some nugget of truth in there someplace, or the story wouldn’t exist at all.

So, John’s grave may have been twice insulted – once by grave robbers and once by a chicken farmer.  I don’t think John is resting in peace.

The fact of the matter is that the original John Harral (the name in Wilkes County is typically spelled Harrold and Harrald) didn’t die in 1783 and appears on the 1800 census with a male and female over 45, one male under ten which is probably son William, one male 10-16 and one daughter 10-16.  In addition, his presumed son, John Harrold Jr. is also enumerated with one male age 16-26, a female the same age and one female under the age of 10.  John (the elder) also appears in the 1810 census with his wife and only one child, the son who was 10-16 in 1800 in 1810 is listed as age 16-26.

The Church

Zion Baptist Church is a very old “primitive Baptist” church on Harrold Mountain and guess what the names are on probably 80% of the graves – yep – you guessed it – Harrold/Harrald.

Zion Baptist Church

A local cousin is a member of the Primitive Baptist Association, of which Zion Baptist is a member as well.

According to the cousin, this church was established in 1861. The white church above is the second building and the remnants of the original log cabin are found in the woods.  I suspect there was a church here long before 1861 given the remoteness of the area – simply that the church wasn’t a separate building and probably met at someone’s home before the log cabin.  It’s the only church on Harrold Mountain, so it’s a good bet that old John Harrold was a Baptist.  At least one of his children was married by a Baptist preacher.  John’s descendants were and are members of this church, that’s for sure.

The articles of faith upon which this church operates are posted on the wall.

1)       We believe in one only true God, Father Son and Holdy Ghost, and these three are One.  1st Timothy 2:5, Eph 4:6, 1st John 5:7

2)       We believe that the scriptures of the old and new testament are the word of God, and the only rule of Faith and practice. St. John 1:14, 2nd Timothy 3:16, 1st Peter 1:21

3)       We believe in the doctrine of election by Grace.  St. John 1:14, 2nd Timothy 3:16, 1st Peter 1:21

4)       We believe in the doctrine of original sin and in mans importency (sic) to recover himself from the fallen state he is in by nature, by his own free will and ability.  St. John 6:44, Romans 5:12-18

5)       We believe that sinners are called, converted, regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and that all who are thus regenerated and are born again by the Spirit of God shall never fall away.  St. John 6:63, 10:28, 2nd Peter 1:10, 2nd Timothy 1:9, 1st John 3:9, Revelation 22:17

6)       We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:1, 10:4, Ph. 3:9

7)       We believe that Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and feet washing are the ordinances of Jesus Christ and that true believers are the only subject of these ordinances, and we believe that the only true mode of Baptism is by immersion. Mark 1:9, 16:16, John 13:8-17, I Cor. 11:23-26

8)       We believe in the Resurrection of the dead and in general judgment, and that the joys of the righteous and the punishing of the wicked will be eternal.   Mat. 25:31:32, John 5:28-29, 1st Timothy 4:16.

9)       We believe that no minister has a right to administer the ordinances of the gospel except such as the regularly called and come under the imposition of hands by the presbytery.  Mark 3:14, 2nd Cor. 3:6, 4:1, 5:18, 1st Timothy 1:12, 4:14.

You can see the location of the church in proximity to the Harrold lands.  In order to help judge distance, it’s about 500 feet from the church to Yellow Banks Road, so less than a mile to John Harrold’s land above Harold Mountain Road.

Zion Baptist map

My cousin George, quite a history buff, said this was the last one of the old local churches to flatten the top of the graves for mowing. Apparently this particular denomination believed in rounding the tops of the graves – and keeping them mounded up. I don’t know why. They also had an outside eating area because they don’t believe in having food inside the church. These are still common practices of this particular sect of Baptists apparently, but most of the churches have modernized a bit.

You can see in the photos below, there were still mounds on a few graves.

Harrald at Zion Baptist

Zion Baptist cemetery

The photo below is standing at the church looking across the road and at the beautiful view of Harrold Mountain.  This is the exact view John Harrald would have seen, well, minus the silo.

Harrold Mountain across from Zion

John Harrold’s wife was named Mary. She is credited with saying that when she died, she wanted to but put up on the bluff on top of Harrold Mountain and to let her fly back to sweet old Ireland. I guess we know where she was from, if the story is true, but we have no idea who she was. Given that my cousin only said something about one stone where old John was buried, I couldn’t help but wonder if they had in fact put her on the bluff. I don’t know how they could find the bluff though, as it is very overgrown.

Harrold Mountain bluff

Above is the bluff of Harrold mountain, pieced from two photos, visible behind the tree and fence rows.

Tracking John Harrold

I will be spelling John’s name in the way it was spelled in the various documents that I’ve found.  Clearly, with a name like Harrold, it was quite likely to be spelled however the clerk decided it was to be spelled at that moment.  There was little consistency.

We first find John Herold in Deed Book C-1 in Wilkes County, on page 334, on July 6, 1794 a transaction between Robert Powers of Rowan County, NC and  John Herold…negro winch and mulatto child called Pink and Rose…property lately purchased in Camden…but if Robert Powers returned 75 pounds of indigo (sample whereof is in Herolds house) to Herald the above obligation to be null and void.  Signed by Robert Powers, witnessed by David Baxter.  Proven in open court February 1802 by comparison of hands writing by oath of Betsy Herald and William Young. Proven in open court July term 1804 hand writing of David Baxter by William Young, Esq.  The fact that this took place in 1794 but wasn’t registered until 1802/1804 suggests that indeed, the indigo was not returned and that Robert Powers either wasn’t cooperating or had died.

This of course begs the question of who was Betsy Herald.  John Herald (born in1782/1783) married a Betsy McKinney and that is likely the Betsy who gave her oath.

I have to wonder what caused John to be in possession of 75 pounds of indigo dye in the first place.

John Harrold appears in the Wilkes County court records on November 3, 1796 with an order from the court for the sheriff to sell 100 acres of property of Thomas Adams taken by execution to satisfy a judgment recovered against him by John Harrold, which judgment obtained by plaintiff in Iredell County execution issued by George Brown, Esq.

This is the first hint we have as to where John was “from” before we find him in Wilkes County.  Am I very grateful for this tie.

Iredell was formed from in 1788, so I checked the Rowan County records which begin in 1753 and found no John, with the exception of tax lists.  There is an early Hugh Herrill there as well, but his Y DNA line is not the same as John’s.  John Harrell is found on a 1785 tax list in James Crawford’s Company with one white poll and no land.

Extracting Iredell County records, specifically the minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions from 1789-1800 transcribed by Shirley Coulter we find a little more information about John.

On page 46, on August 24, 1792, a list of men is given who took the oath of allegiance and Jno Herril is included.  Of course, this might not be our John.  I wonder why he had to take the oath if he was a veteran and why this late.  The Revolutionary War had been over for years.

On February 17, 1796, a jury was ordered to lay open a road on part of Brush Mountain Road to go around a field of Robert Bogles, agreeable to his petition.  John Harrold was one of the men to lay out this road.  The Brushy Mountains are found in the northwest part of Iredell County.

The Deed Book from 1797-1802 shows a sale on October 5, 1798 from John Meadows to George Roberts on the waters of S. Yadkin on which John Harreld and David Roberts are listed at witnesses.  This deed was recorded on January 21, 1802.

An 1802 record from Rowan County Will Abstracts on page 113 shows the probate of the will of Stephen Roberts on January 9, 1802.  His wife is listed as Phebe and he lists children Warren, Joshua, Thomas, William, daughter Polly Harold, daughter Molly Noreton, daughter Judith Egmond, daughter Phebe Richmond, daughter Nancy Roberts and Betsy Roberts daughter of son William.  Polly is a nickname for Mary, but none of the sibling names look familiar, nor did John and Mary Harrold name a child Stephen, so this is likely not our John Herrald’s wife.

The 1800 census of Wilkes County shows Michael McDowell, Jacob McGrady (the minister who married William Herrell and Mary McDowell), and both John Herrell Jr. and Sr. (spelled Harrall) on adjoining pages.  Based on this evidence, pending further investigation, it is presumed that Michael McDowell is the father of both Mary and John McDowell and John Herrell Sr. is likely the father of William Herrell.

John Herral appears on the Wilkes County tax list in Captain Carltons District in 1800 with 1 white poll and no land.

In 1805, J? (smeared) Herrell had 550 acres and no polls, and James Herrell had 180 acres and 1 poll.  It’s interesting that John had no polls in 1805.  This could be because he was elderly, because he was an official, like a sheriff, although there is no evidence of that, a minister, but again, no evidence, or because he was disabled.  We know that by 1790, John had 6 children, so had been married a minimum of 13 years.  If he was 25 when he married, that means he was born about 1752.  He could have been born earlier.  If he was born in 1752, he would have been 53 or older in 1805, so possibly “elderly.”  The age where one didn’t have to pay polls varied by state and time and I’ve seen it range from age 45 to age 70.

In 1802, on page 345 of Deed Book F-1, John is mentioned in a land grant to Reuben A. Carter for 100 acres on Chathis Quemin Branch, the waters of Haymeadow and on John Herold’s line.  This is probably Chinquepin Branch.

This is followed on page 353 of the same book by a transaction on July 31, 180(blank) from Richard Allen, late sheriff and John Fletcher, Sr., land lost by Reuben A. Carter, court action brought by James Fletcher, 100 acres part of 200 acre tract on the waters of Cathinquemin Branch of Haymeadow on John Herold’s line.  Witnessed by John Saintclair and Hugh Brown.

John’s daughter, Elizabeth, married Reuben Carter in February of 1803.  This had to be a very upsetting time for the family, possibly in multiple ways.  Why did Reuben lose his land?  Was he irresponsible or unlucky?  Did he lose his land before or after he married Elizabeth?  Did they move in with her parents whose land abutted Reuben’s?

In 1803, in Deed Book F-1, on page 87, Charlotte Harrold witnesses a deed between Reuben Carter and William Sabastian for $10, 100 acres on Rock Creek, on Henry Carter’s corner and the road.  Also witnessed by William and Nancy Carter.  Charlotte was John Harrold’s daughter and married Coonrod (Koonrod) Dick in 1806.

John’s Land

Land grant entry number 1246, file number 2421 for 200 acres was filed for John Herrold on November 16, 1801 and states that the land is on the Chinquepin Branch of the Hay Meadow Creek on the waters of Mulberry beginning near the head of the said branch and that it is against Michael McDowell’s line.  The survey was entered November 16, 1801 and was actually recorded in February 1802.   Chainers were John Roads and Michael McDowall.  There is a drawing of the survey but it just looks like a square and there are no watercourses noted.  The fact that the land was at the head of the branch tells us it was high up on the mountain.

Note that John Harrold’s son, William, would marry Mary, the daughter of Michael McDowell, in 1809.

John Herrold grant

The grant of land was not actually made until December 5, 1811 and it is grant 2817.  It’s odd that John would not own land until this late in his life.  He was approximate age 50 in 1800.

The name is spelled variously Herrild, Herrald, Herrold.  John paid “4 pounds” for this survey in 1804.  I find it interesting that they are still using the old English money measures and not dollars.

In 1811, in Wilkes County Deed Book G-H we fine a David Harrill of Surry County, NC selling land to Jesse Allen for 200 pounds, 550 acres on Joshua Mizes line, the waters of Hunting Creek, witnessed by Richard Alley and Hugh Riley.  Hunting Creek is not near John Harrold’s land, more than 5 miles distant as the crow flies, southeast of Wilkesboro.

There is no known connection between David and John Harrell, but just because a connection isn’t known doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  Furthermore, we don’t know how David obtained this land, because he isn’t listed in the deeds or grants.



John’s land is located on Haymeadow Creek.  You can see Mulberry to the lower left on the map above.

Haymeadow and Harrold

Haymeadow Creek runs right up beside the Zion Church and on up paralleling Harrold Mountain Road until you reach the beginning.  As we know  from the land grant, the beginning or headwaters of Haymeadow is where John’s land was located.

John’s land is very likely where his son, John’s land was located, where the cemetery is, or rather, was located, which is between the Harrrold Mountain Extension and Waddell Drive, above and below.

John's land

John’s land was about as far up as you could go on Harrold Mountain, which of course, wasn’t yet named Harrold Mountain at that time.  200 acres would have been just about all of the land above the Harold road U on the map above, including the central extension.  The original homestead was likely on the left near the cemetery.  Michael McDowell’s land abutted John’s at the southwest corner where they shared a stake and eventually, Reuben Carter’s would abut John’s land too.

John Harrold satellite

If you look at this picture, all of that treed land above John’s land is too mountainous to do anything with.  Very steep and wild.  That one little road you see is a two-track that leads to nothing.

A Willliam Herrell was witness to a will of Benjamin Sebastian in 1818 in Wilkes County.  John Harrold was a witness also.  This is likely not William, John Senior’s son, because John’s son, William, went to Claiborne County, Tennessee about 1810.

By the time John Harrold Sr. died in 1825, his son William had been gone for 15 years.  I wonder if John ever saw William again.  Did he know when William was pulling away in the wagon that it was their final goodbye?

William wasn’t the only one of John’s children to leave.  In fact, the only child we know of that stayed in Wilkes County was son John, who likely lived on John Sr.’s old place.

Harrold goats

These two photos were taken on Harrold Mountain on a beautiful spring day with the goats frolicking to celebrate the fresh spring grass.  It probably looks about the same today as it did when John Harrold lived there.

Harrold goats2

John died sometime in 1825, because in October of that year, in Will Book 3-4, on page 78 is recorded the account of sale of the estate of John Harrold.

In January 1826, an allowance was made to Mary Harrold, widow and in October of 1826, the estate sale of Mary Harrold was held.

John Herrell was born in roughly 1750 or before and died in 1825 in Wilkes County NC.  He is buried someplace on Harrold Mountain, probably on his own land.  Today this mountain remains very rugged and remote.  His grave is either marked with a chicken house or he is buried in the same cemetery as his son John.

John’s Children

What we know about John’s family is somewhat limited, but at least some of his children have been identified.

Of John’s known sons, one, John, stayed in Wilkes County and is the progenitor of the family there today.  William went to Claiborne County, Tennessee and the family surname is generally spelled Herrell or Harrell,  Alexander went to Breathit Co., KY where the name is Harrold and Herald.

  • William Harrell, born 1790 in NC married Mary McDowell, daughter of John’s neighbor Michael McDowell, in 1809 in Wilkes Co.  They were married by the Baptist Preacher, Jacob McGrady. They moved to Claiborne Co. shortly thereafter. They lived for a short time in Lee Co. Va. before purchasing land in Claiborne Co. in 1812. This is my ancestor.
  • John, born 1783, died in 1879 in Wilkes Co.  He married Elizabeth, “Betsy” McKinney about 1797.  Most of the Wilkes Co. Harrold’s seem to be descended from this man. John also lived on Harrold Mountain, probably on his father’s land, and is buried in the Harrold/Brown Cemetery.

Brown Harrold cem

You can see it closup here, the trees in the middle of the field to the right side of the photo.

John Harrold Cemetery closeup

John’s gravestone says he was born in 1782 and died in 1879.

John Herrald b 1783 stone

  • Elizabeth, born in 1785 married Reuben A. Carter in 1803 in Wilkes Co. No more is documented about this couple, but they may have gone to Maury County, TN. by 1815 and then on to Crawford County, Missouri.
  • Alexander Herrell born about 1785 in North Carolina, died about 1860 in Breathit Co, KY, married Elizabeth Turner before 1812 and moved to Breathit County shortly thereafter. The 1850 census where the name is spelled Herrald shows that he was born in North Carolina.
  • Charlotte, born about 1790 married Koonrod Dick in 1806 in Wilkes County. She and Koonrod or Conrad moved to Simpson Co. KY before 1825.
  • James, possibly a son of John, listed here because of his residence in Wilkes in 1805. This is speculative and may be inaccurate. There is no further information about this man and he does not fit on the census.
  • Sarah “Sallie” Herrell born about 1784 and died in 1845, probably Breathit County, KY.  Married Jessie Turner before 1805 and had 9 children.

We are left with a couple of burning questions about John Harrold or however the surname was spelled.

Where was John from?

We know John (the eldest or first’s) son John (Jr., the second) was born in or about 1782 or 1783, that he stayed in Wilkes County.  Because John Jr. (the second) lived past the 1850 census, we can tell something about where John Sr. was living in 1782 when John Jr. was born.

The 1850 Wilkes County census tells us that John Herald was a 67 year old farmer born in Virginia.  His wife was apparently deceased and he had 5 children living at home. This would be John Jr. (the second).

The 1860 census shows us that John Harold Sr. (the second,) who lived beside John Jr. (the third) was a 78 year old farmer born in Virginia. He still had 4 daughters living at home with him, ranging in age from 22 to 31.  The Jr. and Sr. have transitioned.  The John Jr. (the second) became John Sr. when his son John (the third) reached adulthood.  John Sr. (the first) had already died by this time.  John (the second’s) son, John, became John Jr. at that time.  Jr. and Sr. can be very deceptive because of this type of transition, and also because they may not indicate a direct relationship.  Sr. and Jr. can mean “older” and “younger” in two men with the same name who are not related or not father and son, but live in the same location.

John (Jr., the second) is not shown in the 1870 census, although according to his grave marker, he was still living.

In 1880, John Jr. (the third) is still living, age 75 and he shows that both he and his parents were born in North Carolina.  His wife shows that her parents are born in Virginia, so it’s not a matter of unthinking ditto marks.  This would indicate that his father, John (Jr. the second) born in 1782, was born in North Carolina, although we have three census records where John (born in 1782) presumably gave the information himself and said he was born in Virginia – in all 3 records.

According to the census, in 1800 we find John (the eldest) with his children in Wilkes County.  In 1790, we find only a couple of candidates in North Carolina or for that matter, anyplace in the eastern half of the US.  The Virginia 1890 census does not exist and has been replaced by tax lists which I have thoroughly scoured from 1782-1787.

One candidate is John Harrald in Iredell Co NC.  He is not listed in Iredell in 1800, so this could be our John, especially with the 1794 court record referencing Iredell County where John obtained the judgment.  In 1790, this John had enough children to be our John, which is one of the qualifiers to be a candidate.  He had 1 male age 16+ (himself), 3 males under the age of 16 and 4 females.

The second burning question is related to the first, and the question of where John came from is at least somewhat unraveled as we peel the onion of the mystery of the multiple John Harrold’s who served in the Revolutionary War.

Which John Served in the Revolutionary War?

A fellow Harrell researcher sent me the following two scanned pages a couple of years ago.  They found these years ago in a Virginia library.  We don’t know what books they are from, aside from the information at the top of the page, but it does tell us that there are two Johns who served.

One John Harrell applied for a pension from Nansemond County, VA where he was born in 1761.

We know that this is NOT our John because that John applied for a pension in 1833 in Nansemond County, VA and our John lived in Wilkes County and was dead by this time.

John Harrold Rev War

The second page, below, shows a John Harrill from NC, a private, who received or applied for a land grant on July 29, 1820, for 228 acres that went to his heirs.  Unfortunately, this entry raises far more questions than it answers.  Does this mean he served out of North Carolina or only that he lived in NC in 1820 when he applied for land?

John Harrold rev war2

I found this book at the Allen County public library, and it was Revolutionary War Records of Virginia Vol 1.  by Marcus Brumbaugh.  The book explains that these records are of bounty land warrants for the military district of Ohio from the federal and state archives.  This record for John is for a private and for 228 acres.

From the article “Military Bounty Land” by Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, we find the following.

North Carolina was the most generous, giving 640 acres (a square mile) to a private in the Continental line. The tract was in Tennessee; no bounty land warrants were located within the present-day boundaries of North Carolina.

An extraordinary flood of Revolutionary War bounty-land warrants poured from Richmond, partly because Virginia had the largest state population and partly because it granted warrants not only to its Continental line but to its state line as well. The distinction rests on who paid the soldiers—Congress or Virginia.

The first military reserve was created south of Green River in Kentucky and subsequently expanded west of the Tennessee. There were no bounty lands within present-day Virginia or West Virginia. In 1784, Virginia ceded its claim to the area north of the Ohio River, reserving the 4 million acres between the Scioto and Little Miami Rivers for redemption of its bounty-land warrants. This Virginia Military District in Ohio was federal land for which first-title land grants were reserved solely for the Virginia warrants of veterans of the Continental line. A series of ever more liberal acts broadened where warrants could be used and by whom until, in 1852, Congress agreed that all Virginia Revolutionary War warrants could be exchanged for scrip accepted at any GLO land office. Large numbers of these assignable warrants were sold; an estimated one-quarter of the Virginia Military District was acquired by twenty-five men.

The paperwork flow was: (1) warrant application to Richmond; (2) warrant issued to warrantee; (3) selection of desired land in Kentucky or Ohio reserves and survey by official surveyor; (4) paperwork for Kentucky lands to the Virginia Land Office or, from 1792, the Kentucky Land Office, or the federal capital for Ohio lands; and (5) patent for Kentucky land sent to patentee or federal patent sent to Richmond for relay to Ohio patentee. Records

Next, I checked, finding several service records.

Service Records – Company pay rolls

John Harrold’s (Herrald, Harreld) Revolutionary War pay records.

Served in the late Capt. Williams Company of the 8th Virginia Regiment commanded by Col. James Wood:

  • Pay roll of Capt. John Nevils Company of the ? Virginia commanded by James Wood for the month of June 1777 – John’s pay is noted, along with a note “Deserted July 7th”.  Others who deserted the same day were Travis Chambers, William Hutcherson and John Waters.
  • Deserted July 1778, joined April 17, 1779
  • April 1779 Camp Middlebrook
  • Virginia 8th Regiment – Late Captain Wallace’s Company of the 8th Va Regiment, commanded by Col. James Wood – private June 1779 Camp Smith’s Clove to July 1
  • Same as above but dates June 1, 1779 commence pay at 6 2/3 dollars per month – for one month amount of pay 2 pounds
  • July 1779 Camp Rampo – private – enlisted May 1, 1777 for 3 years – Each one of the pay records shows this he enlisted at this date which is how you can be sure it’s the same man.
  • Aug 1779 – Camp Smith
  • Oct 1779 Camp Ramapough
  • April 1779 – 3 days pay – not drawn for since June 78
  • March 1779 – Capt Smith’s Clove’
  • June 1779 – private, Capt Smith’s Clove, Capt. Wallace’s Company commanded by Col. James Woods
  • John Herrold, Capt Wallaces Company, appears on a list of the absentees of the 12th Virginia Regiment with the sum due each: not dated, 11 48/72 dollars, absen
  • Roll of Captain Wallaces Company of the 8th Virginia for the month of August 1779 – paid for one month as a private.

Smith’s Clove is in Suffern, NY, State Route 17.  Camp Rampo was in Ramapo, New York as well, and both of these locations were headquarters of George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

This is an entirely separate record at Fold3 as follows:

John Harald – private, Capt. Abraham Kirkpatrick’s Co in a detachment of the 2nd Virginia Brigade commanded by Col. Febiger – Dec, Jan, Feb and March 1780, pay is 6 2/3 per month, subsistence is 10 per month, amount of pay and subsistence 50 dollars.

John Harold – Soldier Infantry – appears in a book under the following heading:

“A list of soldiers of the Virginia Line on Continental Establishment who have received certificates for the balance of their full pay agreeable to an act of assembly passed November session 1781.”

Signed by Mr. Hancock, June 4, 1782 for 36 pounds


John Harrold – 1 NC Regiment – Capt. John Summer’s Company of the 1st NC Batallion commanded by Colonel Thomas Clark – roll dated Sept. 8, 1778, enlisted April 4, 1776 for 2 and one half years.

There is also a service record for John Harrold who served in the 1 NC Regiment.

John Harrolds of Frederick Co., VA and Botetourt Co. VA

VA State Library, Archives Division, Military and Land Warrants Records for John Harrold show he served 3 yrs as a sergeant in VA Continental Line, 8th VA Regiment from Botetourt Co. He was discharged June 1777 near Valley Forge then served a 2nd time for 18 months in the 8th VA Regiment and was discharged near Salisbury, Feb 1782. In 1819 he lived in Wilkes Co., NC and in 1828 was still there when he received bounty land warrant #6718 for 200 acres.

The above record drove me nuts, because while someone was kind enough to send me the info, and I was very grateful, there is no source or context, so I couldn’t reproduce it nor did I know where to go from here.

Another contributed record tells us the following.

One John Harrold was born circa 1761 in Frederick County, Virginia.  The first record of him is from a Register of Description of Noncommissioned Officers and Privates enrolled at Albermarle Court House dated 23 December 1781 in which he is described as:  “John HARRELL, age 20, born in Frederick Co., VA, 5 ft. 10 in. tall, brown hair, grey eyes, fair complexion, occupation planter, residing in Montgomery Co. VA, engaged as a substitute from Montgomery Co.”

The John Harold of Frederick County born in 1761, so only 20 when he enlisted in 1781, cannot be the John Harrold who was a sergeant when discharged in June of 1777.  That just doesn’t work.  A 16 year old is not going to be a sergeant.  He also cannot be the man whose pay records were found from 1777-1779 at

Now we know we have at least three John Harrold’s serving out of Virginia, and possibly more:

  • John of Frederick County, age 20 when enlisted in December of 1781, so born 1761
  • John of Nansemond County who served from there and requested a pension from there in 1833
  • John of Botetourt County, reported to be a sergeant who eventually lived in Wilkes County, NC.  Served twice, once discharged near Valley Forge in either 1777 or 1779 and discharged the second time in 1782 from Salisbury NC.  Received a bounty land grant.
  • John who enlisted on May 1, 1777 for 3 years who is probably the same man who deserted in 1778 and rejoined in 1779.  This could be John of Nansemond but the dates seem to eliminate John of Botetourt and does eliminate John of Frederick.  After reading John of Nansemond’s pension application, he is also eliminated.
  • Possibly another John who served under Capt. Abraham Kirkpatrick in the Virginia 2nd from Dec 1779-March 1780 according to pay records – although this could be  John of Nansemond.

I requested the records for John Harrold from Botetourt County from NARA, and they replied that they had no records for him.  How could that possibly be when Fold3 digitized NARA’s records?

I think the genealogy gremlins are out to get me.

Library of Virginia to the Rescue

It pays to recheck earlier sources.  The Library of Virginia continues to digitize their records and to them, a huge, HUGE, THANK YOU!!!  I had written to the National Archives and received nothing, so this information documents three years of John’s life for me.  These records prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Botetourt County John is the John Harrold of Wilkes County.

John Harrold rev war3

Downloading the images, I found the entire packet including John’s discharges and affidavits regarding his service.  A literal goldmine.  The motherlode.

john harrold rev war 4 jpg

This is to certify that the bearer herof John Harreld (or Harrold) formerly a sargent in the 8 Virginia Regiment has duly and faithfully served the term of three years for which he was enlisted for and in and at his own request is her by discharged from any further service in the Army of the Younited Stats and is permitted to pas to his home in Botod County fre and un milisted give under my hand at Camp near the Valley Forge this 12 Day of June in the year 1779.  Signed Charles Scott B G (Brigadier General)

The bearer John Hareld Sergeant is here by entitled to ? akers of land for his three years service in the Army by the Younited Stats to ?? on the ?? waters by a nek ? assembly their troups.  Given under my hand at camp near the Valley Forge these 12 June in the year 1777.  Signed Charles Scot B.G. (Brigadier General)

I originally believed the year would be 1777, not 1779.  This discharge was probably written in the commander’s tent on the battlefield, so it’s amazing that the penmanship is as good as it is

However, based on the last paragraph, for John to have been enlisted for 3 years, the discharge date would have had to have been in 1779, because that dates John’s enlistment to June of 1776.  The war had not yet begun two years earlier, in June of 1774.

Valley Forge in Pennsylvania was the site of the military camp of the American Continental Army over the winter of 1777–1778 during the American Revolutionary War. It is approximately 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Starvation, disease, malnutrition, and exposure killed nearly 2,500 American soldiers by the end of February 1778.

John Harrold apparently served through this time and survived


Interestingly enough, Will Graves, a revolutionary war historian, transcribed this document as well, and questions whether it is a forgery based on General Scott’s signature.  Although Scott is described elsewhere as somewhat illiterate.  That’s certainly an interesting conjecture and raises unpleasant questions that need to be answered.  I must admit that the service record dates we have don’t mesh entirely with the discharge papers, nor is there ever a pay record for a John who is a sergeant.  We might shed some light on this if we knew where General Scott was, exactly, on these two different dates in 1777 and 1779, but I have been unable to do so.

Will’s transcription suggests that he believes 1779 date is accurate.

Some Fold3 pay records for John Harrold state that he enlisted on May 1, 1777.  If these are all the pay records for the same John Harrold, the enlistment date of May 1777 and the discharge date of June 1779, given that he was AWOL for part of the time might make sense, although it certainly doesn’t total 3 years.  I hate it in these types of situations when I start using the words might and could, because I know I’ve crossed that speculative line.

If John enlisted for 3 years, in June of 1776, then the May 1, 1777 enlistment date doesn’t work either.

Now, I’m left with even more questions.  If one discharge was a forgery, was the second one too?  If one or both were forged, was it simply because the original was lost, or was there something more sinister and unethical afoot?  Many men stated that their discharges were lost, but then they had to produce witnesses to vouch for their service record.  Was John ever a sergeant?  Did he even serve?

Or maybe those documents aren’t forgeries at all and I’m doubting a 3 year patriot’s service record.

The 8th Virginia

The 8th Virginia Regiment, in which John Harrold reportedly served for 18 months, was raised beginning on January 11, 1776 for service with the Virginia State Troops.

If John was discharged in June of 1779 after serving three years, then it couldn’t have been our John who joined in May of 1777.  Unfortunately, these records don’t fit together perfectly.  Furthermore, the John who joined in May 1777 was a private, not a sergeant.

The Virginia 8th’s first commanding officer was patriot leader and German Lutheran pastor Peter Muhlenberg, who became a militia colonel in 1775 at the request of General Washington. In his last sermon from the pulpit, Muhlenberg read from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray; but there is also a time to fight, and that time has now come.” He removed his clerical robes to show that he was wearing his uniform as a militia colonel. He quickly enlisted 300 men from his congregation in the unit that became the 8th Virginia.

Muhlenberg was appointed colonel on March 1, 1776. The 8th Virginia organized at Suffolk County Court House between 9 February and 4 April 1776. The unit’s 10 companies came from Augusta, Berkeley, Culpeper, Dunmore, Fincastle, Frederick, and Hampshire Counties, plus the District of West Augusta. On May 25, 1776 the regiment officially became part of the Continental Army.

In 1776, Virginia regiments were typically organized into 10 companies, of which seven carried muskets and three carried rifles. The regiment’s 792-man roster had three field officers, and a staff that included an adjutant, quartermaster, surgeon, surgeon’s mate, chaplain, sergeant major, quartermaster sergeant, and drum major. Each company consisted of one captain, two lieutenants, one ensign, four sergeants, four corporals, one drummer, one fifer, and 64 privates.  John Harrold was one of the sergeants if his discharge is accurate, but he is not listed as a sergeant in this unit or in any unit.

The 8th Virginia marched south to Charleston, South Carolina and was there in time for the Battle of Sullivan’s Island on 28 June 1776, but it was not in action. On 21 January 1777, the regiment received orders to join George Washington’s main army at Valley Forge.

On 11 May 1777, the unit was assigned to the 4th Virginia Brigade, together with the 4th and 12th Virginia Regiments, Grayson’s Additional Continental Regiment, and Patton’s Additional Continental Regiment. Charles Scott, who signed John Harrold’s discharge, above, was appointed to lead the brigade.

It was a long way home for John from Valley Forge regardless of when he was discharged – about 350 miles.

John Harrold valley forge

John may have returned home in June of 1779, but he wasn’t finished with the Revolutionary War.  He enlisted again by August of 1780.

John Harrold Rev War5 jpg

I do here by sertify that the bearer here of John Harrald formerly a seargeon (or sergeant?) in 8 Virginia reagiment has faithfully served the term of 18 months for which he was in listed and is permitted to pass to his home in Bottatot County in Virginia he behaving as a good citizen I fother certify that he has received no pay for his eighteen months service in the Southern states given under my hand at Camp ner Salisbuary this 16th day of February 1782.  Signed Samuel Sned (Snead) MC

If John was discharged on February 16, 1782, by subtraction, this tells us he re-enlisted no later than August of 1780.  The pay records for John Harrold in 1779 are obviously not for this John Harrold.

The 8th Virginia was absorbed into the third Virginia brigade in May of 1779, then became part of the 4th and 12th.  The discharge says he was formerly a sergeant in the Virginia 8th, but it says nothing about the unit he was serving with that was discharging him.

Assuming this service record is legitimate, this may be how John Harrold came to be acquainted with the Wilkes County area.

The Salisbury District of North Carolina, was originally one of several colonial judicial districts established in 1766. Immediately preceding the onset of the American War of Independence, these six regions, in 1775, were broadened into “de facto” militia districts.

The Salisbury District was based in the village of Salisbury, North Carolina, in Rowan County, about 60 miles from present day Wilkesboro.

The Salisbury District originally included Anson, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Surry, and Tryon counties. A later addition was the Washington District (also known as the original Washington County, North Carolina) which covered most of the present day State of Tennessee. Eventually, as new settlements were carved out of the wilderness, the Salisbury District encompassed the counties of Lincoln, Montgomery, Richmond, Rutherford, Wilkes (all in present day NC), and Sullivan (in present day TN) as well.

It was almost 200 miles from Salisbury, NC to Botetourt County, VA.  I hope John wasn’t on foot, but I bet he was.  Horses were at a premium.

John Harrold Salisbury

Bounty Land

John appoints a power of attorney to collect his land grant based up on his service record..

John Herrald rev war 6 jpg

Know all men by these presents that I John Harrald of the County of Wilkes and State of N. Carolina have constituted and appointed Alex. ? McKenzie of the county of Wilkes and State aforesaid my true and lawful attorney for me and in my name and stead to procure and receive from such officer person or persons or shall be legally authorized to grant this same a land warrant to which I am entitled for my services rendered the United States during its revolutionary war as my original discharge certified and I hereby further empower my said attorney to give such receipts as shall be required in obtaining said lands. Patent in my name in as full and ample a manner as I myself could do were I personally present and I hereby certify and confirm whatever my said attorney shall lawfully do in the premises given under my hand and seal this 30th day of January 1819.

Signed, John Harrald

Witnessed by George W. Smith and Joshua Shumate (his mark

I believe this is John’s actual signature.  Whether or not the discharges themselves are forgeries is irrelevant to these signatures being authentic.  Note that this affidavit states that this is his original discharge.

John acknowledges the power of attorney in open Court on Febnruary 5th, 1819.

John Herrald Rev war 72 jpg

Next, John sells his claim.

John Herrald Rev War 8 jpg

Know all men by these presents that I John Harrald Sr. of the county of Wilkes and the State of N. Carolina have bargained and sold unto Alexander McKenzie my claim for 330 acres of land to which I am entitled for services rendered by me in the Revolutionary army and I have bargained and sold unto said McKenzie my claim of 18 months pay for services rendered by me during the revolutionary war in the southern states and I bind myself my heirs assignees executors and administrator to have no recourse on said McKenzie  on the claim? of said claims by ? one hundred and fifty dollars the amount in full for my said claims.  Signed under my hand and seal this the 3rd day of January 1819.

Signed John Harrald


Joshua X Shumate
George (W his mark) Smoot

John Herrald Rev War 9 jpg

In this document, John swears that he has not drawn the warrant for his land and that he authorizes Alexander McKenzie to do so.

This is the third example of John’s signature.

At this point, John would have been about 70 years old

Botetourt County, Virginia

Now we know that John was from Botetourt County, Virginia and that is where he considered home.  He was returning there when he was released from Valley Forge.  He also returned there in 1782 when he was released, which just happens to be the same year (or just before) that John Harrold Jr. was born.  Even if both of these discharge records were forged by (or for) John, it gives his home location as the same place in both.  That much would be accurate.

Now, we have a new problem.  There are other Harrold men in Botetourt County, leading one to the presumption that they are the same family line…but they aren’t.  There is a James Harrold there as early as 1770 living on Harolls Creek but the Y DNA of James’ line (that went to Warren Co., KY) does not match the DNA of our John’s line.

However, there is another very interesting record found in the Botetourt County records.

Botetourt County Virginia USGenWeb Archives – Court held for Botetourt County the 11th day of March, 1779.

This court doth allow Mary O’harrell, wife of John O’harrell, a soldier in the Continental Army, thirty pounds for the support of herself & two small children.

This would imply that Mary and John have been married at least 5 years.

If this is our John, then the June 1779 discharge date would be the correct one, not 1777.

Is this our John and is O’Harrell misspelled?  Are there any other instances of O’Harrell?  There are no John O’Harrell Revolutionary War service records at – yet this court entry clearly says he was serving and we know the records for the Virginia 8th, the unit in which he would be serving out of Botetrout County, are intact.

And then, there is this Augusta County record…

Augusta County, Virginia

Another Harrell researcher sends the following:

John Harrold (? Harrell) became an indentured servant in Augusta County, Virginia April 15, 1773. His master was Edward Cather, as the record indicates: April 15th.1773 John Harrold (? Harrell), servant to Edward Cather of Augusta Co. Virginia. Edward Cather’s parents were from Ireland and Scotland. He was born about 1740 when his parents were listed just married in Ireland. Though they say Edward was born in Virginia, his parents are listed as coming to America about 1777. Thus it is only a guess but I would believe this John Harrold also came from Ireland/Scotland and perhaps his way over were paid by the Cather’s. He was only assigned to work for two years for Edward Cather, which I would assume would reimburse his transport to America. Edward Cather quickly left Virginia for Kentucky about the time of at least the mid 1780s. Not sure if John Harrold followed.

If this is our John, this would explain why his DNA does not match with the other Botetourt or Frederick County, Virginia Herrell lines.

What Next?

It has been a long journey finding John.  The most difficult part was actually getting my hands on his Revolutionary War records.  Once I did, so many questions were answered.  We have added another chapter in the puzzle of “where was John?” and have pushed the brick wall back a little further.  We know that he was living in Botetourt County, VA in either 1779 when he was discharged after a 3 year service commitment, so he was likely living there in June of 1776 when he would have enlisted.

And of course, now we have the added mystery of whether or not John’s discharge papers are forgeries, which begs a whole new set of questions.  That was a sucker punch – and it doesn’t help that the pay records we have do nothing to corroborate John’s discharge papers.  Of course, they don’t disprove them either.  So frustrating with no clear way to obtain answers.

In all the years I’ve been doing genealogy, I have never, not once, actually seen a discharge letter of one of my ancestors, let alone two.  Maybe I still haven’t.

We are left to wonder if the Botetourt County John and Mary O’Harrell is the same as our John, in 1782.  No John Harrold, O’harrell or any similar surname appearing on the Botetourt tax lists in 1782 or as late as 1787.

We know that by 1779, John in Botetourt, based on the court record, assuming it’s our John, already had 2 children, if they survived.  The depth of their destitution is demonstrated by the fact that Mary had to ask for money to simply survive.  This is actually a very unusual occurrence and may indicate that her own family is either dead or not living locally.  John’s 1782 discharge record indicates that he had not been paid, and even had he been paid, he had no way to get the funds to Mary.

I am still very anxious to discover more about John Harrold, although short of a DNA match to another Harrell or Harrold or Harrald overseas or from earlier colonial times, I don’t quite know how I’ll ever connect the dots.  Of course, I can always pray for that Bible on e-Bay.

The good news about the Harrald Y DNA is that at 25 markers, the three descendants of John Harrold who have tested match only one other man, a Todd from Ireland with 1 mutation difference.  The three John Harrold descendants are group 7 in the Harrell DNA project.

Harrell group DNA

Thank goodness for Y DNA, because I know that we don’t descend from any of those other Herrell groups – so no need to bark up those trees.

I checked one last possibility.  There are several known descendants of John who have tested autosomally.  I checked each of them for matches to other Harrold/Harrell/Herrell lines in case we’re dealing with an undocumented adoption or illegitimate birth to a Harrold female.  So far, only one match and that person of course could match that individual on a completely unrelated line.  That match goes back to a George Troup Harrell who is attributed to a line descending from Josiah Harrell (1733-1773) and Mary Ann Gardner out of Bertie County.  Since it’s a male Harrell that we match, I’m hopeful that I can talk him into Y DNA testing.  I’m sure he’ll likely match the large Harrell Group 1 which is the eastern Virginia, eastern North Carolina group…but I’d still like to know for sure.   Y DNA doesn’t lie and it’s not ambiguous.  No forgeries or questions about forgeries.

Harrell group 1

I think today, we’ve done all with the records we can do for now.  So, now we wait, because someday, another Harrold or man with a similar surname will test and will match, and we’ll continue to chip away at that brick wall.



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31 thoughts on “John Harrold (c1750-1825), Forger?, 52 Ancestors #82

  1. Bobbi,
    I am going to print this and e-mail your article To a DAR sister. VThe surname Harrell is a strong branch in her family tree and if I remembermber correctly it is her parental line. It has been awhile since I looked at the information she sent to me.
    One of her Harrell’s married into my mother’s Oldham line. Her name was Eleanor “Ellen”Harrell born 11 Sep 1816 Virginia and diied. 7 Nov 1896 Indiana. She married John Oldham my 1st cousin 4X removed.
    Her parents were William and Mary Harrell born in Virginia and died in Indiana.
    His father was Page Harrell born 19 Sept 1805 Ky, and died 11 Mar 1874, Illimois. He married Ellen Callaway. From what I received from her I do not see any of them living in North Carolina or being born there.

  2. Roberta, I am a descendant of Barbara Harrell (b 1735, daughter of Thomas Harrell and Rebecca Cain Harrell of Bertie County, NC). She married Jonathan Cain, and died in Edgecomb County NC. Their son Abijah Cain m Martha Elvira Rodgers & moved to Fountain, Indiana. I have found multiple DNA cousins in this family… about 3 times the norm for other lines. Do you have info you can share on the Harrell descendants who have done autosomal tests? I would be very interested in running comparisons. We believe our Thomas Harrell is a descendant of Thomas Harrell b 1712 in New Kent VA, wife Elizabeth LNU.

    Thank you!

    Judy White

    • Absolutely Judy. I’ll contact you privately with a list of GedMatch kit numbers. If you’re not at GedMatch yet, please upload your kit there so you can match against people from all of the testing companies.

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  5. Thank you for this. I’ve been trying to solve the mystery for years. I’m a descendant of Alexander Herald from Breathitt County Ky. My family name is spelled Herald.

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  7. I know why the rounded their graves. They believed if a grave sank to fast or sank at all it was an omen someone else in the family was subject to die. My father was a descendant of Alexander Herald born in 1785 then moved to Kentucky. They still do this in KY

  8. Roberta, I am descendant; Drury Harrold b. 1817 in Virginia and d. 1886 in Missouri married his wife Catherine Widner b. 1822 in Virginia. They married in Indiana around 1837, they had four daughters. One of their daughters Mary C Harrold married Brown family of Ohio. Both of these families are block walls. I wanted to see if any connection between the two Harrold’s.

  9. Roberta, is it possible that John Herrald,(or whichever spelling) is related to the Harwells in Colonial Virginia. I’ve been reading how the family name started through this line and it would explain in part why we cannot locate John Herrald past the 1750s. Any info is appreciated.
    Jenny Marsh
    P.S. this is an ongoing search for me.

  10. I’ve reread your post and I have a question. Are you saying there is no DNA evidence to tie John Herald to any of the John Heralds referred to in the military records.

    • Assuming that John Harrold of Wilkes Count is the John Harrold in the Revolutionary War record, we do have his Y DNA profile and also several of his descendants have tested autosomally. However, there is no way to actually prove that the John in Wilkes IS the John in the records. As for other Harrell (or similar spellings) men in Revolutionary War records, a positive identification of each of them would need to be made, with males traced to current to identify the Y DNA of that line. Autosomal matching would require triangulation and other evidence as well. Proving the DNA of a Patriot goes a step beyond proving the DNA of a specific man because you also have to prove that man is the same man as in the Rev War records.

      • thank you for responding to my question on the DNA evidence, I know it is a long way back to determine who is who and which ancestor is which.

      • Just found that you responded to my post. With my mom’s death and the Covid lockdown I’ve been slow to get back to ancestry. Will give you details shortly. Thank you for responding.

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