Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Photographs

Jay’s brothers.

My grandmother: I had another cousin that died. A man named Jay. He was Aunt Elethea’s boy. She died when I was about 12 years old, I think. Anyway, she died, and she had three sons.

Me: That was Jay and Charles and William.

Another time:

My grandmother, looking at a photo: Now, who is that?

Me: That’s William, isn’t it? Elethea’s son?

My grandmother: Ah, yeah. Yeah. Bill.

Me: Bill.

My grandmother: No — that’s Charles. Boy, they were crazy about us. I mean, no man bed’ not even look at us. Bed’ not even look at us. You know how men can say things about women when they walk by? Child, they bed’ not say one thing about us. …

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In 1942, Charles Edward McNeely filed for a delayed birth certificate in Iredell County. The document issued by the Register of Deeds reported that he was born 15 Jun 1904 to Eleather B. McNeely. No father is named. I have not found a birth certificate for Charles’ brother William “Bill” McNeely.

In the 1910 census of Statesville, Iredell County, on Salisbury, three little boys surnamed McNeeley were listed in the household of their grandparents, Sam and Mary Steelman. William was five, James was three, and Charlie was two. I once was pretty sure that these were Elethea’s boys, but I’m pulling back. Charles and Bill appear nowhere else in the census, but the ages of these boys are off. And who is James? (He’s not Jay/J.T. — Irving McNeely Weaver — whose father was Archie Weaver and who was not born until 1911 or 1912.)

I’ve found none of Elethea’s sons in the 1920 census, though they were probably living in their grandmother Martha McNeely‘s house in Statesville with their mother and aunts Minnie and Janie McNeely:

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On 23 May 1926, Charles Edward McNeely, 22, married Willie Ann Davidson, 18, before witnesses Mary Louise Colvert, Levi Moss and Bertha Mae Hart. Louise, my grandmother’s older sister, was his first cousin. Bertha was the half-sister of my grandmother’s father. Charles listed his parents as Ed Stockton (living) and Letha McNeely (dead.) John Edward Stockton (1881-1955) was born in Iredell County to Alfred and Caroline Kerr Stockton. He was working as a bellhop at the Hotel Iredell at the time of Charles’ birth. I don’t know whether he was also Bill McNeely’s father.

CE McNeely Mrr

Charles and Willie Ann’s marriage apparently did not take. In the 1930 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York, Charles M. McNeely, 26, and Willy M. McNeely, 22, were listed as boarders in household headed by Lucy R. Reid.  Both were North Carolina-born and reported being married, though their wives were not enumerated with them. Charles worked as a machine operator in a mayonnaise factory and Willy as an elevator operator in a private house.

In 1940, Charles McNeely was still in Manhattan, but I lose sight of Bill.  Thirty-six year-old Charles lived at 308 W. 127th Street, a lodging house run by Lillie Collins. He gave his occupation as steamship laborer.

On 29 September 1950, William and Charles McNeely are listed as nephews in the death notice of Edward McNeely of 454 Avenue C on September 28, 1950.  Other survivors included wife Delphine (nee Peterson), sisters Emma Hauser [sic], Carrie Taylor and Minnie McNeely, nieces Ardeanur S. Hart and Lonnie [sic] Mae Jones, and nephews Henry and Erving Hauser [sic].

Charles McNeely, resident of north Harlem, died 1 Apr 1968.  Four and a half months later, on 15 August, Bloomfield, New Jersey, resident William M. McNeely passed away. This William, however, was not Bill, but a son of William E. and Sarah L. McNeely. I have no evidence that either Charles or Bill had children.

McNEELY -- Charles McNeely

“No — that’s Charles.”

Interviews of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; photographs in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

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Maternal Kin, Military, Other Documents

Draft card revelations: McNeely.

Most of my grandmother’s male McNeely first cousins were too old to have served in World War II. They were required to register nonetheless, and the draft cards I’ve found offer interesting little snapshots of their lives:                                  RHMcNeely WW1

RHMcNeely reverse

The scars on Robert Henry “Jinx” McNeely‘s head were external evidence of the skull fracture he received when his bicycle collided with an automobile in 1937. His aunt, Mary Bell Woods McNeely Frink, was his mother Margaret Woods McNeely’s sister, but she was also his stepmother, having married (and divorced) his father Luther McNeely after Margaret’s death. She is an interesting choice for “person who will always know your address,” as, as far as I know, Jinx’ wife Katie Woodsides McNeely was living at the time. Jinx started working as a drugstore porter, making customer deliveries and running errands on a bicycle, in his teens.

QE McNeely

QE McNeely reverse

Though he was close to her age, my grandmother never knew her uncle Edward McNeely‘s son Quincy. Ed and his wife, Lucille Tomlin McNeely, divorced early, and by 1920 she and their son had moved 100 miles west to Asheville, North Carolina. Quincy married Addie Sims in 1930, then Elizabeth [last name unknown] by 1935. He does not appear to have fathered children, and he died in Detroit in 1966.

JG McNeely

JG McNeely rev

I’ve written of James “Red” McNeely alias Smith here. He was the cousin closest in age to my grandmother, but I heard her mention him only once. After their mother Addie McNeely Smith‘s death, aunt Minnie McNeely reared James and his older sister Ardeanur. He moved to High Point, perhaps in his early 20s, and may have been briefly married to a woman named Mildred.  (They appear together in the 1930 census of High Point, but I haven’t found a license or anything else about her.) It did not last, and he had no children. Red was a pool room operator and died in 1960.

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CG Taylor rev

This really wrecks my notions about when the Columbus, Ohio, branch of my McNeely family really put down roots in that city. The card shows that in 1942, 19 year-old Carl Taylor was living in Statesville — in the household of his first cousin, Louise Colvert Renwick — but his mother Janie McNeely (not Taylor?) was living in Columbus and working at a Children’s Home.  My inability to find Janie’s family in the 1940 census makes it difficult to pinpoint when she migrated north. In any case, she apparently moved back and forth between North Carolina and Ohio during the 1930s before settling permanently in Columbus, perhaps during the War.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Other Documents

Frank, found.

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My first question: why have I just found this 1940 census entry today?

My second: Cousin Ardeanur married a Jamaican????

Her age is way off — Ardeanur was 37, not 47 — but this is definitely my great-great-aunt Minnie McNeely, my grandmother’s first cousin Ardeanur Smith Hart, and Ardeanur’s mysterious husband Frank living right in Jersey City, the city next door to Bayonne (where Martha Miller McNeely and most of her children lived for greater or lesser stretches of time.) The address was 359 Pacific Avenue. A family of McKoys rented one apartment in the building, and the Harts, Aunt Minnie, and a William Macklin shared another, splitting the $30/month rent. Frank Hart, a naturalized citizen, worked as a butler in a private home and reported earning $500 in 1939. Ardeanur and Minnie were housekeepers in private homes earning $400 and $360 respectively. Macklin, an insurance agent, earned more than everybody else in the flat combined — $1700.

I still don’t know when Ardeanur married Frank Hart, but they reported that they’d been living at the same address five years before. This suggests they were married before 1935.

I don’t see Frank in earlier census records, but is this his arrival in the U.S. in 1922?

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If so, did he leave his first wife back in Jamaica, or maybe Cuba?

This World War II draft registration card is definitely Ardeanur’s Frank:

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The back of the card, dated 27 April 1942, described him as Negro, 5’8″ and 165 lbs., with a light brown complexion, brown eyes and black hair. It’s the last record I’ve found for Frank W. Hart.

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359 Pacific Avenue, Jersey City, as seen from Google Street View. Per Zillow, the building was built in 1901.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

John McNeely vs. John McNeely.

Okay, now I am genuinely perplexed. A couple of months ago, I wrote about finding my great-great-uncle John McNeely’s first wife, whom he married in 1899. I had just found a marriage license for John Alexander McNeely, colored, son of Henry and Martha McNeely of Iredell County, and Carry Armstrong. Prior to this, I had only known wife Laura Nesbit, whom he married in Statesville in 1912.

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I have not found John and Laura McNeely in the 1920 census, but in 1930 they and Laura’s daughter Marie shared a house with John’s sister and brother-in-law, Emma and Irving Houser, in Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1940, John and Laura and Marie and her husband James Watkins were living on West 19th Street in Bayonne. And when John died in 1947, his obituary noted that he was the beloved husband of Laura (Nesbitt.)

So yesterday when I found yet another marriage for John A. McNeely, son of Henry and Martha McNeely of Iredell County, I was flummoxed.

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Did John marry Laura, divorce (or otherwise leave) her, marry Jane Nichols, divorce her, then remarry Laura Nesbit? If so, where is the second marriage license for Laura? If not, who is this John McNeely? And who are the other Henry and Martha McNeely?

The only Henry and Martha McNeely in the 1900 census of North Carolina are my John’s parents, living in Statesville township. In 1880, they’re in Rowan County, and still the only couple with those names in the state. Henry died in 1906, before death certificates were kept, and Martha died in New Jersey. I have not found death certificates for any other Henry or Martha McNeely in Iredell.

As for John: John and Jane McNeely appear in the 1900 census of Statesville, my John McNeely does not. In the first decade of the century, a John McNeely pops up in the pages of the local paper for various misdeeds — shooting at a rival, having smallpox, fighting, slicing a man with a knife, shooting at a dog. I’d like to think that this is not my John, but there’s no clear way to know. And there’s no John McNeely at all in Iredell County in the 1910 census.

I’ll have to leave it here for now. I don’t have enough to know for certain whether John McNeely and John Alexander McNeely were the same man.

UPDATE, 19 June 2015: Is this a clue to the identity of John A. McNeely?

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This Henry McNeely is not my great-great-grandfather Henry McNeely. He’s his nephew. Henry’s father John Rufus McNeely was, I believe, the half-brother of my Henry. Unfortunately, this Henry was born about 1863, and John A. McNeely was born about 1870. I don’t believe this Henry and Martha were the couple named on John A. McNeely’s marriage licenses.

UPDATE, 21 June 2015: Then there’s this.

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This is from the marriage license of my John McNeely’s brother, William Luther McNeely, who married Mary Belle Woods in 1906 at Statesville’s Associate Reform Presbyterian Church. My great-grandparents Lon and Carrie McNeely Colvert wed there the same year. Is it just coincidence that John Alexander McNeely was also married by Rev. J.H. Pressly in this church?

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Maternal Kin

Mini McNeely reunion.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a delightful Friday afternoon in Augusta, Georgia, getting to know my cousin M.H. and his wife C.H. M.’s grandmother was Emma McNeely Houser, beloved and much-admired aunt of my grandmother Margaret Colvert Allen. M. and C. were every bit as warm and friendly as I’d expected, and the whole time we laughed and swapped stories. I wish he’d been able to meet my grandmother.

Here’s me and M.:

melroy

And here’s my great-grandmother Carrie McNeely Colvert Taylor, Aunt Emma holding a grandchild, Aunt Minnie McNeely Hargrove, and Uncle John McNeely, sometime in the early 1940s in Jersey City, New Jersey:

McNEELY -- McNeely Siblings

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Uncle John’s first wife?

I am clearly getting my whole life in these marriage records, but I have to wonder. What in the world have I been doing? Why have I missed so many of these records? Have I just assumed that what was on the shelf or on-line was all that was available? Fie.

Here’s another.

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Lots about this license says it relates to a previously unknown first marriage for my grandmother’s uncle, John McNeely. First, the parents are named correctly, and they were the only Henry and Martha McNeely in Iredell County at the time. Second, the church is right, as the McNeelys were Presbyterians. (Except when they were being Episcopalians.) Third, that middle name, Alexander — the first I’ve heard of one for John! — is a family name, borne first by Alexander “Sandy” McNeely, son of Henry McNeely’s sister Alice. In fact, the only thing that throws me is John’s age. Uncle John was 27 in 1899, not 21. That’s a curious error, but not critical enough to trump the other details. I’ll update my tree to include John’s middle name and his first wife.

McNEELY -- John McNeely young w cigarette

John A. McNeely as a young man. (I think. Even as I post this, something is worrying me about the timeframe of this photo….)

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Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Religion

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 7: Iredell County Public Library.

Iredell County Public Library has a nice local history and genealogy room, and during my sojourn I spent a nice hour or two there, disturbed only by the raucous banter of three students prepping for a nursing assistant exam. Anyway.

A back wall of cabinets contains files from the Homer Keever collection, and I found several of interest. Under “Black Churches,” I found a four-page handwritten document, apparently compiled by Alice Murphy Ramseur in 1973, entitled “Historial [sic] Data of Holy Cross Episcopal Church.” Holy Cross, of course, was the church my grandmother grew up in in Statesville. Its earliest services were held in 1887 in “the old brick storehouse on depot hill” and with success moved to the Good Samaritan Hall at 118 Garfield Street. This was all very interesting, and then: “May 24, 1899 the Bishop conmfirmed twelve Members they was William Pearson, Mrs Laura S. Pearson, Mrs. Lucy Chambers, Henry McKneely, Mrs Marther McKneely, Mr John Reeves, Mr. Will McCulland, Mrs Rebecca S. Allison, Mrs Clara S. Seaborn, Miss Carrie Bidding, Mr Mik Stevenson.”

Henry McNeely? What was this Presbyterian doing joining an Episcopal Church? Had Martha been an Episcopalian all along?

Here’s the entire piece, with thanks and acknowledgement to the library:

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