The Harrison family was as close to American Royalty as possible, two Presidents bear the family name, and another has his roots intertwined therein. A Harrison signed the Declaration of Independence. Harrison names pepper Virginia’s annals, and they also extended their influence westward as America expanded into the Midwest. Their homes are among Virginia’s crown jewels illustrating just how impressive they were. But as impressive as they were, we know relatively little about their American foundations. In this episode we piece together their history and then show how the family impacted Virginia and later the United States.
Benjamin Harrison’s Berkeley Plantation
Harrison Graveyard at Berkeley Plantation
Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence is buried at Berkeley Plantation.
Lower Brandon Plantation
Benjamin Harrison, 23rd US President
Benjamin Harrison IV by Charles Wilson Peale
Claremont Manor, on land patented by Benjamin Harrison I
Sarah Harrison’s grave with Sycamore Tree on Jamestown Island
Battle of Tippecanoe, 1811
Upper Brandon Plantation
Benjamiin Harrison’s signature on the Declaration of Independence
Thomas Dale and his fellow Virginia Company leaders spent much time in Ireland before they trekked to Virginia. While they were subjugating the Irish, Dale and others learned a few things about how to set up a system of plantations.
It was reasoned that the best way to dominate a region was to first subdue it, and then build self-sustaining units on the newly conquered lands. Dale certainly subscribed to this school of thought, and began establishing a plantation system along the James River.
This system would not, however, be centered upon Jamestown. It was too unhealthy. Instead, Dale had Henricus built, but he planned an even larger power center on the bluffs overlooking the James and Appomattox Rivers that he called Bermuda Cittie.
Bermuda Cittie would then be the governing location overseeing a series of 5 separate plantations that were all established in 1613 –
Nether Hundred (Later called Bermuda Hundred)
West and Shirley
Diggs His Hundred
These 5 plantations, however, were not the only plots of land that had activity on them. Many claim that in 1614 Captain John Martin began working the lands of what is today Upper and Lower Brandon Plantation.
It’s hard to validate the claim, as it is hard to say much about any work done on these plantations, but the 351 settlers still alive by 1616 were busily, if not miserably, working lands along the James River. It was their work on increasingly independent lands that began making Virginia a desirable destination. A destination that attracted a greater migration after 1616.