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Re: GERSHAM & Capt. JOHN HARVELL, Madison, ME, 1802, Info. needed
Posted by: Charles Harvell (ID *****3716) Date: August 07, 2007 at 18:18:00
In Reply to: GERSHAM & Capt. JOHN HARVELL, Madison, ME, 1802, Info. needed by Kathleen Martin of 1013

Hello Kathleen,

Thought I would respond to your query and add my two cents worth. In reviewing my notes for info on “Capt. John” Harvell and Gershom Harvell, I came up with a couple of issues that I will report on. What follows is a bit of “rambling” but hopefully it won’t confuse too much, and maybe it will add some new thoughts as to who the Harvells shown on the Somerset, Maine censuses were.

Gershom Harvell (c1778 - 1858) in Someset County Maine is generally shown by most of the current research to be the son of John Harvell (1736 - 1821) with the Rev. War record (although I haven’t seen the rank of Captain attached to him) and his wife Rebekah Parham. According to Dr. Paul C. Dow’s 1999 manuscript… “He was an enlisted soldier in the Hampshire Regiment in 1759, under the special command of Capt. Nehemiah Lovewell (Early Town Papers, New Boston, N.H.). After his marriage, he and his wife settled on Chestnut Hill in Amherst, N.H. in 1763.” John was also a veteran of the French & Indian War which preceded the American Revolution. John died in 1821 in Amherst, Hillsborough County, NH. If John who shows up in Somerset, Maine was a “Captain”, it would seem doubtful he achieved the rank during the Revolutionary War since John and Rebekah’s son John was born in 1764, and likely would have been too young to serve until possibly towards the end. However, he could have achieved the rank of Captain after the Revolution with other military experience. Of course this is assuming “Capt. John was the son of John and Rebekah and the one on the Somerset, Maine census in 1820.

Gershom Harvell who appears on the Somerset, Maine census records from 1810 to 1850 is almost certainly the same man. Since he is the only Gershom Harvell that appears in the immediate area of Madison, he would appear to be the one that you show marrying Mercy Martin in 1807. Does anyone have any idea where “Harding” came from? Perhaps the last name of a wife of one of the other Gershoms? Or possibly a wife of this Gershom, before he married Mercy Martin?

As stated above, the prevailing theory seems to be that this Gershom is the son of John Harvell and Rebekah Parham. Most of the children of that couple “seem” to appear on the Somerset Maine censuses. The general preponderance of evidence would appear to confirm this; but I have some reservations on whether Gershom and Joseph Harvell of Somerset are actually sons of John Harvell and Rebekah Parham.

In regard to Gershom’s siblings… I am assuming their exact birth dates (or christenings/baptisms) came from vital records accessed by Dr. Dow.. All of his siblings have them, but Gershom doesn’t, nor does he have the confirmation of where he was born and the others mostly do. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that Gershom may not be a son John Harvell and Rebekah Parham. If so, who does he belong to?

Regressing a bit, the name Gershom seems to originate from Gershom Proctor who was the father of Esther Proctor who married John Harvell (1711 - 1787). They were the parents of John Harwell who married Rebekah Parham and also of James Harvell “of Plymouth, NH” who married first Mary Snow (and 2nd Anna Flagg and 3rd Mary Morey). John and James also had a brother named Gersham, but this ain’t him… he was born before 1755 and died before Nov 1803. That Gershom is not shown with a son by that name. There was another brother Joseph (before 1753 - 1816) but he is not shown with a son named Gershom either.

Perhaps we should take a closer look at James Harvell “of Plymouth”. The exact year of his birth is not known, only that it was before 1755 (brother John was born in 1736). He could have been older or younger than John. Although we don’t know exactly when James was born, we do know he died on 13 Dec 1819. Dr. Paul C. Dow’s manuscript provides us with the following intriguing information... “In the written papers used in conjunction with the settlement of his estate appear the names of four children: MARY (or Polly), who married (first) JAMES KEYES, and (second) _____ JOHNSON; BETSY married _____ JOHNSON; GERSHOM (in Madison, Somerset County, Maine with WILLIAM and JOSEPH, joined by JOHN) in 1820, and ESTHER. The mention of only these names is not conclusive evidence that James Harvell had no other children and there is good reason for the belief that he had a son JAMES, who is known to have lived in Plymouth at a time contemporary with that of the children whose names have been mentioned, although the scene of his life was chiefly laid in the province of Quebec in Canada.” Dr. Dow seems to imply that only Gershom of the group named in the estate papers to be in Somerset, Maine, is James’s son (thus the children he names are Mary, Betsy, Gershom and Ester, and probably James). In any case, perhaps John and Rebekah may or may not have had a son named Gershom, but his brother James did (according to his estate settlement papers) and he is shown as being in Somerset, Maine at about the time of the 1820 census and was likely there at least as early as 1807 when he married Mercy Martin. The Somerset census records only show one Gershom. The evidence here would seem to point towards him being the son of James Harvell of Plymouth, NH. Something to consider anyway.

Interestingly, John Harvell (the RW vet in Amherst) had ties to Plymouth where his brother James lived. According to Dr. Dow… “John Harvell was a grantee of land in Plymouth, N.H., in 1763, and received land in the second division in 1788; he was also a Proprietor of Plymouth (History of Plymouth, NH, vol. 1, Ezra S. Stearns, 1906). Although his brother James moved to Plymouth (see below), I have found no record that John Harvell lived in Plymouth, married or had children there. It is possible to receive land and be a proprietor without actually living at that location.” It would appear that John decided to “stay south” while James made the move north up the Merrimack River to Plymouth. There seems to be little documentation on the children of James and where they went. Perhaps the group in Somerset is a mixture of the two families of the two brothers (James and John).

Capt. Joseph Harvell (that Dr. Dow shows as a son of John Harvell and Rebekah Parham) appears to have stayed in Amherst, Hillsoboro County, NH on a farm on Chestnut Hill which passed on to his son Thomas. This would appear to be the same farm that John Harvell and his wife Rebekah Parham settled on in 1763; which would certainly indicate that Joseph was his son. Joseph who was born in 1764, died at Amherst in 1858 and left a will. Therefore, it would seem almost impossible for him to be the Joseph Harvell in Somerset, Maine, and very unlikely that the Joseph Harvell in Somerset, Maine was John and Rebekah’s son. So, who is that Joseph? He may have been an “unaccounted for” son of James or perhaps he was the son of one of John’s other brothers (his brother Joseph is not shown with a son named Joseph but that‘s inconclusive; his brother Gershom does have a son named Joseph but he appears to be a bit too young to fit the description of the man on the 1810 census in Somerset. The other possibility is that Capt. Joseph Harvell of Amherst is not John’s son (highly unlikely).

The 1810 census for Somerset, Maine, shows William, Joseph, and Gershom Harvell. Perhaps in that group, only William was a son of John? Listed along with that group is James McLaughlin who married Rebekah Harvell (daughter of John and Rebekah). In 1820, John Harvell is added to the group (likely the son of John and Rebekah?) as is William Dennis who married John and Rebekah’s other daughter, Susannah. In 1830... Joseph, Gershom, and William are still in Someset (but recorded as “Harveys”); John appears to be the guy in Washington, County, ME. The Harvell’s continue to show up on the Maine census after this and new names (sons likely) appear and some of the older ones start to disappear.

Dr. Dow made a tremendous effort in clarifying some of the issues, and as he stated somewhere (I think) of generating more questions. Hopefully some of the Harvell descendants in that area will continue to seek “their roots” and join us in seeing how all of us Harvells, Harwells, Harvilles, etc. that are scattered all over the country connect.

For all of you readers... If you are a male Harvell (or similar spelling)with ancestors in the New England area, PLEASE CONSIDER joining your possible “southern cousins” by considering to do a simple (painless!) DNA test to see where you fit in. It could be very interesting and informative for all of us! It is relatively inexpensive, especially if several members of the same family all chip in and share the cost (only one member of an established family need to do the test).


Charles Harvell (“of Virginia”, residing in Colorado)

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