Daniel Harrison was born at Smithtown, Long Island, New York around 1701. His father, an Englishman named Isaiah Harrison settled there with his second wife Abigail and she gave birth to her eldest son, Daniel. The family lived on a 500 acre tract in Suffolk County. Around 1721, Isaiah and Abigail Harrison moved their large family to Delaware, where his holding was 900 acres and called Maiden Plantation.
By 1738, the family was migrating further south, this time to the back country region of western Virginia, once part of Orange County, then called
Augusta County (now Rockingham County). Along their journey, after crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains at Thornton's Gap and entering the Page Valley, they remained in temporary quarters somewhere along the Shenandoah River, in the Massanutten region of what would become Page County.
In the early 1740's, Isaiah died and was probably buried at this location along the banks of the Shenandoah River. The family decided to move yet again and moved further southwest into present day Rockingham County.
Each brother in the family chose a location near a good water source.Daniel would buy land on the headwaters of Cook's Creek, in what would later become the small town of Dayton. John claimed land near the Big Spring (now Lacey Spring) along the Great Wagon Road. Thomas chose land along Cook's Creek in an area that would later become the site of the city of Harrisonburg. Thomas would become the city's founder, providing land for public use. These sites were not only near water, but also along the few more developed roads ( really trails) in the area.
Daniel Harrison's final settlement would be on Cook's Creek, near what is now the Town of Dayton, building a substantial limestone house in 1749. The house would remain in the family for two more generations, passing first to his son Benjamin and on to his grandson, Dr. Peachy Harrison. After 72 years, the house passed out of Harrison hands, being sold by Dr. Harrison, who lived on Court Square and practiced medicine in Harrisonburg.
Altogether, Daniel Harrison and his sons were granted some 4,294 acres of Augusta (now Rockingham) County lands in seventeen patents, all but three of these patents being issued to Daniel himself.
Lands, Springs and other Holdings
In 1749 Daniel Harrison purchased a tract of 120 acres located near the head of the western branch of Cooks Creek. The Daniel Harrison House is located on this tract.
Harrison also purchased land on other parts of Cooks Creek and in the surrounding area. By 1740 he owned 400 acres on the headwaters of Linville Creek and 400 acres on branches of Muddy Creek and Dry River. Between 1739 and 1756, he and his sons had acquired 4,294 acres in Augusta (now Rockingham) county. By 1764 a road from Cooks Creek to the headwaters of Linville Creek and down that stream was known as Daniel Harrison's Road.
Daniel Harrison's home plantation, including the spring which is the source of present day Silver Lake, was 1,129.5 acres.
In 1751, the Augusta County Court gave him permission to construct a water-powered mill on Cook's Creek. He also operated a distillery in the area.