First my grandfather on the 14th, then Aunt Julia on the 23rd, Papa Allen on the 24th, and finally Aunt Tee on Christmas Day. Here she is circa 1910.
I doubled back through Iredell County on I-77 and exited on US-70. I crossed into Rowan County on backroads, cresting rolling hills on my search for the lands on which my McNeelys and Millers lived and worked. I came out just east of Mount Ulla, the hamlet that gave its name to the entire district. Finding nothing much to see, I headed toward Bear Poplar and Salisbury on NC-801, also known as Sherrills Ford Road. From the corner of my eye, I spied a cluster of church signs pointing up a side road. “Thyatira Presbyterian” I recognized from histories of early Scots-Irish in Rowan County. And “Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Boyden Quarters” — Boyden Quarters!!! That’s the area that many of my Miller-McConnaughey kin lived in in the early 20th century. I’d thought they were AME Zions, but decided to have a look anyway. And there they were:
Mary Emma McNeely Leazer, daughter of Joseph Archy McNeely and Ella Alexander McNeely. This stone faces into, and has been overgrown by, a cedar.
Right next to it is a double stone for Mary McNeely Leazer and her husband George H. Leazer.
Addie Brown Sifford was the daughter of William C. and Mary Caroline Miller Brown. Her grandmother was Grace Adeline Miller Miller.
Sarah Ellis Sifford was the daughter of Callie McNeely Ellis and granddaughter of Joseph Archy McNeely.
James W. McConnaughey was the son of James R. McConnaughey and Mary Leazer McConnaughey (sister of George H. Leazer, above) and grandson of John B. McConnaughey.
Lula Mae Aldridge died 16 November 1919 in a state hospital after a battle with mental illness. She was 37 years old. Lula had a few hundred dollars, probably inherited from her father, John W. Aldridge, and her brother John J. Aldridge was appointed administrator of her estate.
Lula was the oldest of John and Vicey Artis Aldridge‘s daughters, and the second to die that month. (Amanda Aldridge Newsome has succumbed to influenza ten days earlier.) Her family spared no expense for her funeral — $140.00 paid to undertaker L.T. Lightner and $80 to Goldsboro Marble & Granite Works for her marker.
This, despite the considerable debt against her estate, primarily in the form of a $277 judgment against her by William Mozingo. (What in the world?!? I’ll have to look this up.) Lula’s brothers John and James Thomas Aldridge and her mother Vicey contributed $337.95 (about $4600 today) to settle her affairs, and the estate closed in 1923.
I broke my drive home for the holidays with a stop near Greensboro, North Carolina. It rained much of the day, I was exhausted, and I sank gratefully onto the couch at Sister’s. At 88, she’s one of two surviving daughters of my great-aunt, Mamie Henderson Holt (1907-2000). She was the only girl to migrate North and that, plus her enduring beauty, gave her an alluring aura. Here’s one of my favorite photos of her:
Two of Lucinda McNeely‘s sons are accounted for, but what of her older children, John and Alice?
The record for Alice is frustratingly scant. I have found her exactly twice. Once, in the deed filed by Mary Kilpatrick when she sold Alice, Lucinda and John to Samuel and John McNeely in 1834. The McNeely’s slaves seem to have comprised a single extended family — Lucinda, her children, and grandchildren, and the grandchildren probably were all Alice’s. The four listed in the 1863 Rowan County tax assessment above are Archy, Mary, Stanhope and Sandy. Alice is not listed and is presumably dead. (Though, possibly, of course, sold away.)
Alice’s son Joseph Archy McNeely was born about 1849. In the 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County, 22 year-old farm laborer Joseph A. McNeely is listed in a household with Lucinda McNeely, 54 year-old domestic servant, Henry McNeely, 29, schoolteacher, and Elizabeth McNeely, 13. Three years later, Joseph Archy McNeely applied for a license to marry Ella Alexander and listed his parents as Henry Courtney and Aley McNeely. (This is the second known reference to Alice.) Over the next 22 years, the couple had at least eight children: Octavia J. (1874), Lucinda (1876), Ann J. (1879), Callie B. (1885), Julius L.A. (1891), Mary E. (1893) and Joseph Oliver (1896).
I have not been able to locate Alice’s daughter Mary after 1863, but in the 1870 census, her sons Sandy and Stanhope appear in their uncle Julius McNeely‘s household as Alexr. and John S. This is the last record I have of either.
Some years ago I decided that Lucinda’s son John was John Rufus McNeely, generally called Rufus, who died 1870-1880 in Rowan County. He married Emeline Atwell about 1855 and was father of five children: Mary, Betty, Charley, Henry and Rufus Alexander McNeely. John’s absence from the 1863 list mystifies me, though, and I’m not sure how I came to this conclusion. For now, I’m withholding sanction.
UPDATE, 26 January 2014: John Rufus McNeely’s 1866 cohabitation registration noted that he was the former slave of John W. McNeely. As the rest of J.W.’s slaves comprised a single family, I renew my conclusion that John Rufus was Lucinda McNeely’s son.