Education, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

David C. McNeely’s erratum.

Eons ago, one of the first documents I found related to my great-great-great-grandfather John Wilson McNeely‘s family was an 1828 obituary for his brother David C. McNeely, a student at Yale College.


Western Carolinian, 22 April 1828.

Wow, I marveled. There could not have been many Scotch-Irishmen from the backwoods of Piedmont North Carolina studying at Yale at that time.  What a terrible loss this must have been for John and his family. I entered David’s name into my Family Tree Maker tree alongside Samuel McNeely’s other children William and Acenith (or Acintha).

And then the other day, I found this:


Western Carolinian, 29 April 1828.

Oh. … Okay. … So all my sentiments hold — except the loss to John. David was not Samuel McNeely‘s son after all, but James McNeely’s.

If there was one James McNeely in Rowan County in the first quarter of the 19th century, there were a dozen, and I have been singularly unsuccessful at teasing apart and differentiating them. Evidence shows that Samuel and his son John W. had close relationships with several James. However, the will of Samuel’s father John McNeely (1724-1801) lists no heir named James, only John, Alexander and Samuel and their sister Ellinor McNeely Bell. It is past time that I pull together a chart or a list or a something that summarizes links I’ve found among these McNeelys and may reveal previously unnoticed clues.


Births Deaths Marriages, Land, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

John W. McNeely’s heirs.

John Wilson McNeely died childless in July 1871. Or at least, you know, childless in any way that mattered to probate court. He had not made a will, so his heirs at law were his widow Mary McNeely McNeely and his two surviving siblings. His son Henry W. McNeely did not warrant notice.

In August, Joshua Miller, administrator of John’s estate, and Mary McNeely filed a Petition to sell Land for Assets against John’s brother William B. McNeely and sister Acintha McNeely or Corryer [or, as most commonly spelled, Corriher.]  McNeely’s debts totaled about $2000, and his estate was valued at only $800, of which $300 had been set off for his widow.  At death John had owned “about 235 acres on Catheys Creek in Rowan County adjoining the lands of Joshua Miller, Frederick Menus, Dr. F.A. Luckey, and others” and valued at about $7/acre.  This property was to descend to William, age 65, believed to be living somewhere Missouri, and Acintha McNeely or Corryer, age 60, living somewhere in Tennessee.

On 8 September, justice of the peace John Graham, J.M. Harrison, and S.A.D. Hart allotted a year’s provision to Mary McNeely, which included a mouse-colored mule worth $125, four horseloads of hay, 500 bundles of fodder, two hogs, one sow and four pigs, one old buggy and harness, 37 pounds of bacon, two bushels of Irish potatoes, one ax, an old washtub, one “foalding leg table,” one “old poplar cubbard & contents,” one waterbucket and washpan, a half dozen chairs, one candlestand, one bureau, an old looking glass, two beds and furniture, one small Bible, two Hymn books, four handtowels, and three “table cloth.”

William and Acintha were never located,* and, on 31 October, Joshua Miller sold the remainder of John’s personal property at auction. The items sold included a “crout” stand, 550 shingles, “sythes,” a log-chain, tanner’s knives, a cross-cut saw, ceiling-dogs, moulding planes, “clevis & strechers,” planes, “waggon cloth,” “hackel & chain oil,” a cultivator, a tar bucket, five sheep, nine hogs, a red calf, a blue calf, two cows, two horses, a mule, a bureau, mirror, a small table, two beds and furniture, a book case, a clock, two chests, two pairs of boots, shoe tools, sheep skins, a map, Scotts Bible, another Bible, a hymn book, 14 lots of books, a razor and strop, an armchair, ten chairs, one counterpane, a coon skin, two padlocks, a slate, and 240 1/2 acres of land sold at $10.80/acre for a total of $3266.19 1/4.

The land sale apparently did not go through, and six weeks later, Miller advertised the sale of 235 acres from John’s estate.


Carolina Watchman, 8 December 1871.

It is likely that Henry McNeely’s mother Lucinda worked in John W. McNeely’s household until he died. The 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County, lists J. Wilson McNeely and wife Mary at household #292; Henry W. McNeely, wife and children, including a son John Wilson, at #293 (this Henry was NOT John W.’s son, though he was certainly a nephew by marriage and/or cousin); then Lucinda, her son Henry and two grandchildren at #294 and Lucinda’s son Julius, wife and nephews at #295. I have no doubt that Lucinda and her offspring lived on John McNeely’s land. Or that the sale of John’s 235 acres forced them off. By 1880, they were living just north in Mount Ulla township, where Julius bought a small farm.

*I have never found a trace of Acenith McNeely Corriher, but William Bell McNeely outlived his brother by 13 years. More later on his life in Iron County, Missouri.

Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Oral History, Religion

Church home, no. 8: Back Creek Presbyterian Church, Rowan County NC.

Founded in 1805, Back Creek Presbyterian Church is a historic church in Mount Ulla, North Carolina. In 1809, the congregation built a small log house of worship, which was replaced by the congregation’s present Greek Revival sanctuary in 1857. This building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  — From


Back Creek was the church of my white McNeely forebears — John Wilson McNeely and his father Samuel.  In 1905, Rev. S.C. Alexander and John K. Goodman published History of Back Creek Presbyterian Church, Rowan County, N.C., for 100 Years. It is too much to call it a scintillating work, but its dramatic retelling of the church’s founding compels:

During the latter part of last century, infidelity spread like a contagion all over our country, from one end of it to the other. It gathered round the Church, and settled down upon it like a thick cloud of moral death Although far removed from the busy marts and thorough- fares of the world, this retired part of the Lord’s vineyard did not wholly escape the infection. A cold dead formality had well nigh chilled the vitals of true religion. But this state of things was not permitted to remain long. God heard and answered the prayers of his faithful servants. His life-giving spirit was sent forth with power, and breathed upon the valley of dry bones, and an army of living men stood up to praise Jehovah’s name. This was an important era in the history of our Church and country. It was a time when angels in heaven, and men on earth rejoiced together. It was a time when a most powerful and sudden death-stroke was given to the cause of infidelity. So that its hideous form has never since been reared so high in the majesty of its ugliness to pollute and annoy the Church Thyatira with her then widely extended limits, seemed to have been thoroughly aroused in those exciting times.

As in all communities, so in that venerable Church, there necessarily existed a great diversity of sentiment. The time had now come, when this diversity was to be fully manifested, The Revival of 1802, let it be remembered, was accompanied with many strange phenomena, such as “jerking,” “leaping,” “shouting,” “swooning,” and many such-like bodily exercises. Those who were possessed of more ardent zeal and strong affection, thought this a necessary part of the revival, and produced by the influence of the Spirit. While those of a more phlegmatic temperament, and less impulsive nature, looked upon it as dross around the precious metal; or rather, as the work of Satan trying to counterfeit and hinder the work of religion. Thus there were two parties formed, and each doubtless conscientiously thought they were right. Those who favored the “exercises” were called the “revival party,” as if they alone were desirous of promoting the cause of religion. While those who thought differently were called “opposers” or “anti-revivalists,” as if they wished to hold back the Gospel car. One party wished to have profound silence during public worship. It mattered not how eloquent the speaker was, or how powerful the movings of the Spirit, all must be quiet and still. The other party wished to give vent to their feelings in whatever way inclination might lead. If they felt happy they would shout aloud for joy, or if distressed they would cry out for mercy. The congregation ofttimes presenting the appearance of a Bochim-Babel.

Thus the matter went on for two or three years each party becoming more and more sensitive; and owing to the weakness of human nature, one seemed to exasperate the other, until it became evident to all that some final and decisive action should be taken for the welfare of the Church. A day of fasting and humiliation was appointed, that they might pray for wisdom to guide them in the path of duty, and that they might adopt some plan of action which would be for their peace and edification. The day was accordingly observed. At which meeting the Session was publicly charged with a neglect of their duty in permitting what was looked on by one party as disorder and confusion to exist in time of public worship. The Elders defended their conduct in a mild and Christian-like manner, but all to submit to the other. Thus the day seemed likely to close without having bettered their condition. But something must be done was the universal feeling. Whereupon, it was resolved unanimously, that all those who sympathized with the “Revival Party,” and acted under its influence, should be permitted to withdraw from the Congregation, and leave the other party in the quiet possession of their house and minister. This resolution was acted upon immediately, when about thirty families withdrew, including five Elders — all that Thyatira [Presbyterian Church] then had — men of whom the world might be proud. This was the birthday of Back Creek. The mother travailed with pain, and a noble daughter was born. —

Thus the infant colony, springing off from the western part of Thyatira principally, was left without a minister, and without a house in which to worship. But with zeal like theirs, with hearts so large, and hands so willing, all difficulties were soon removed, and their necessities met. They resolved to build a house in their midst, in which they could worship as their conscience dictated.

A year after Back Creek’s founding, my great-great-great-great-grandfather assumed a leadership role:

On the 27th of December, 1806, William Kilpatrick, Samuel McNeely, and George Andrew, were added to the list of Elders — men of whom we cannot speak too highly. Each was distinguished for his own excellency of character. When sitting in council about the welfare of the Church, it is said William Kilpatrick would devise ways and means for the prosperity of Zion. George Andrew would discourse on its practicability. He would present it in one aspect and then in another, in order that it might be weighed well, — while the venerable John Barr and Samuel McNeely who knew their Bible by heart, would decide whether it were right or not, or whether it would be for the general good. Thus each wheel in the machinery performed its part; and the consequence was, the Church like a healthy plant, grew and flourished, and became a praise in the land. In 1833, another addition was made to the Session by the election and ordination of William King, Thomas Mathews, John Houston, John M. Lowrance and Abner Adams. — Only two of this number are spared to be with us now. The other three have fallen asleep. They were men with whom you were all familiar. Their names are embalmed in your memories. Their excellencies are well known. — And you have long since mourned their loss.

Fifty years later, his son was elected deacon:

On August 10, 1856, the last public service, the last sermon was preached in the “Old Log Church,” built in 1811. The first Deacons in Back Creek Church were elected on May 22, 1858, viz:— Col. Alfred M. Goodman, Jno. F. Clodfelter, Jacob P. Goodman, Moses Lingle, James Miller and J. Wilson McNeely; and on the following June 27 they were regularly ordained and installed. Prior to this the financial,and temporal affairs of the Church were administered, (under the session) by a board of trustees elected by the Congregation, but not regularly ordained and installed into office as is now the more scriptural practice with Deacons.

Given the close association of the McNeelys with Back Creek, it is likely that their slaves also attended the church.

Before the emancipation of the Southern Negro he worshipped with his master in the same church, and enjoyed all the church privileges, consistent with the relations existing between the white and negro races; many of them being worthy members of the church. The gallery in this church was built for their express accommodation. Faithful attention was given to their moral and religious training. Frequently the minister in charge would preach a sermon specially to them; they leading and furnishing the music, of no inferior quality. And they were not forgotten in the Sabbath-School; separate classes were formed of them, taught by the whites. This relation and condition continued for some time after “freedom;” finally, they changed order of relation, and natural trend of events led to their separation from the church of the whites, and to their distinct organization; still, however, some reluctantly took this step.

I don’t know about the “natural trend” or the reluctance. In any case, my forebears remained in the larger fold for, as my grandmother put it, Henry W. McNeely, J. Wilson’s son and former slave — “when he moved to Statesville, when Mama’s daddy moved to Statesville, child, he ran that Presbyterian church.”

The early lists of church members do not determine the proportion of whites to colored.

In regard to the numerical strength of Back Creek, from time to time, complete records fail us. In 1829 the membership was 124, but it is not stated how many white.

In 1850 we numbered 136 white and 26 colored — total 162.

In 1864, 96 white and 74 colored — total 170.

In 1869, 58 white and 50 colored — total 108.

In 1880, 83 white and no colored — total 83.

In 1894, 77 white; in 1900, 90 white; and in 1905, 150 white.

Sometime after 1869, African-Americans left — or were put out of — Back Creek en masse. Hopefully, a little research will reveal their new church home.

Photograph at, all rights reserved.



Births Deaths Marriages, Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Photographs

Cousin Rufus McNeely.

Lucinda McNeely‘s son John Rufus McNeely and Emeline Atwell registered their 11-year cohabitation in 1866. John and Emeline’s youngest son, born in 1873, was Rufus Alexander McNeely. He died in 1964.


This photo of Rufus is attached to the public family tree of jeromemurray128. I’ve reached out unsuccessfully several times with offers to share information about the McNeelys. Perhaps he’ll see this post and get in touch. In the meantime, I hope he won’t mind me sharing this wonderful snapshot!

Education, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Colored children of school age.


McNEELY -- School records_Page_1

McNEELY -- School records_Page_2

Thirty-five years after Emancipation, the Miller-McConnaughey and McNeely families were still clustered in western Rowan County, working small farms that they owned or rented. Education was a prized advantage, and many children in the neighborhood completed at least a few years.  This school census, taken in 1900, lists all school-aged children in a household, though there is no way to tell if the children actually attended.

The six youngest children of Ransom and Mary Ann McConnaughey Miller are listed: Florence A., Ida L., Margaret Lina, Spencer Lee, Hattie A., and Thomas Eddie Miller.

Green and Grace Adeline Miller Miller‘s household included Walter, 10, and Bertha, 7. Both children were listed as the couple’s grandchildren in the 1900 census. Bertha Todd was the daughter of Green and Adeline’s daughter Margaret Miller and Alfred Todd. I don’t know who Walter Kerr’s parents were, but it seems likely that his mother was either Margaret or Mary Caroline Miller.

George Miller, by then in his mid-60s, is listed with a 13 year-old boy named Ernest. This appears to be the Earnest Hilliard listed in his household in the 1900 census and described as a grandson. Was he Maria Miller’s son?

Finally, Arch McNeely, nephew of Martha Miller McNeely‘s husband Henry W. McNeely, is listed with four of his children, Ann J., Callie, Julius L.A., and Mary E. McNeely.

Copy of document from School Records, Rowan County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Angeline McConnaughey Reeves; or, Charlotte and beyond.

Angeline McConnaughey‘s mother Caroline may have lived long enough to breathe the sweet air of freedom, but not deeply. By 1870, she was gone, and her only child is listed in the census that year with Caroline’s mother, Margaret McConnaughey. By 1875, Angeline had left the Mount Ulla countryside for the town of Salisbury and in February of that year she married Fletcher Reeves, the 21 year-old son of Henry and Phrina (or Fina) Overman Reeves. With unusual candor, Angeline named her father on her marriage license. He was Robert L. McConnaughey of Morganton, white and a relative of Angeline’s former owner, James M. McConnaughey.

Angeline Reeves gave birth to her first two children, Caroline R. (1875) and M. Ada (1878), in Salisbury. The Reeves had plans bigger than that town could hold, however, and shortly after 1880 the family settled at 409 East Eighth Street in Charlotte’s First Ward, a racially integrated, largely working-class neighborhood in the city’s center. Fletcher Reeves went to work as a hostler for John W. Wadsworth, who climbed to millionaire status with his livery stables even as Charlotte’s first electric streetcars were poised to dramatically transform the city’s landscape. In short order, three more children — Frank Charles (1882), Edna (1884) and John Henry (1888) — joined the household, and Angeline took in washing to supplement the family’s income.

Fletcher and Angeline’s combined incomes created a comfortable cushion for their children. On 1 March 1894, in an article snarkily titled “A Fashionable Wedding in Colored High Life,” the Charlotte Observer identified Carrie Reeves, accompanied by Cowan Graham, as a bridal attendant at the marriage of Hattie L. Henderson and Richard C. Graham, “one of the best and most popular waiters at the Buford Hotel.” The ceremony was held at Seventh Street Presbyterian Church and “‘owing to the prominence of the contracting parties,’ a number of white people were present.” Carrie herself was a bride eight months later when she married James Rufus Williams. Her sister Ada’s nuptials, in March 1895, were announced in the March 14 edition of the Observer: “Frank Eccles and Ada Reeves, colored, were married Tuesday night. The groom is Farrior’s man ‘Friday.’ He is a good citizen and deserves happiness and prosperity.”

By 1900, the Reeveses were renting a house at 413 East Eighth. Fletcher continued his work as a “horseler,” but Angeline reported no occupation, apparently having withdrawn from public work. Eighteen year-old son Frank worked as a porter, and youngest children Edna (15) and John (11) were at school. On 21 August 1902, Frank made an ill-starred marriage to Kate Smith. Two and a half years later, his sister Edna married William H. Kiner of Boston, Massachusetts.

When the censustaker returned in 1910, he found Fletcher and Angeline still living in the 400 block of East Eighth. All of their children had left the nest, and in their place was 7 year-old grandson Wilbur Reeves, who was probably Frank and Kate Reeves’ child. If the boy found comfort and stability in his grandparents’ home, however, it was not to last. On 4 September 1910, Fletcher succumbed to kidney disease. He was buried in Pinewood Cemetery, and Angeline went to live with her oldest daughter’s family.

In the 1900 census, Rufus and Carrie Williams and sons Worth (5) and Hugh J. (2) shared a house at 419 Caldwell Street with Frank and Ada Eccles and their son Harry. Rufus, who owned the house, worked as a hotel waiter and Frank as a day laborer. In 1906, Carrie posted a series of ads in the Charlotte News seeking customers for her sewing business.


Charlotte News, 5 September 1900.

Rufus seems to have spent his free team pitching for a top local baseball team:

Char Obs 8 13 00 Quicksteps

Charlotte News, 13 August 1900.

Charl Obs 9 4 00 RWms Baseball

Charlotte News, 4 September 1900.

In the 1910 census, the family is listed at 212 West First Street. Rufus worked as a porter at a club and Carrie as a seamstress. Sons Worth (14) and Jennings (12) were students. Ada Eccles, already a widow, had migrated to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is listed at 8 Rockwell Street with brother-in-law William H. Kiner, sister Edna E. and their children Addison F. (4) and Carroll M. (2), plus brother John H. Reeves. William worked as a clothes presser in a tailor shop, Ada as a servant, and John as a hotel waiter.  William was born in Virginia, all the others except Carroll in NC. (The Kiners also spent time in Oak Bluffs, on Martha’s Vineyard. Son Carroll Milton was born there in 1907; the birth register gave William’s occupation as theological student.) Frank is not found in the 1910, but the state of his marriage can be inferred from a newspaper article about his wife, passing for white in Hollywood.

 Charl News 5 15 10 schools J Wms

Charlotte News, 15 May 1910.

Hugh Jennings Williams died after a battle with tuberculosis in 1913, during his final year in Biddle University‘s preparatory division. (His older brother, Worth Armstead Williams, also attended Biddle for high school and college.) Jennings’ obituary paints a charming picture of the boy and makes clear his parents’ status in the eyes of white Charlotte. HJW obit

Charlotte News, 20 November 1913.

Just months later, more than 800 miles away in Cambridge, Jennings’ uncle John H. Reeves also contracted TB. He was dead by April 1915.

By 1920, the Williamses had moved a little ways out of the heart of the city to 826 South Church Street in the Ninth Ward. Widow Angeline Reeves was listed in the household with Rufus, Carrie, and 24 year-old Worth Williams.  Rufus was a porter at a club, Carrie was a dressmaker, and Worth a student at a dental college.  (Worth was only at home temporarily. He was enrolled at Howard University’s dental school.)Meanwhile, up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the censustaker found William H. Kiner (a chipper at a shipyard), wife Edna E., and children Addison F., Carroll M. and Evelyn C. living at 8 Rockwell Street, and Ada Eccles and her son Harry at 65 Grigg Street.

Charl Obs 3 4 1917 R Williams

Rufus Williams continued to enjoy the esteem of his employer and patrons at the Southern Manufacturers Club — at what personal cost unknown. Waiting on the cream of the Queen City’s burgeoning manufacturing magnates was a path to economic security, but that path was strewn with daily indignity, both casual and intentional. Rufus, and his father before him, were what some fondly called “white man’s niggers,” but to acknowledge this is not to indict them. In a 1924 news article, note that Rufus’ speech honoring his benefactor, John C. McNeill, also shines a light on the fruit of his years as a servant — his “son, W.A. Williams, who is a surgeon dentist at New Bern.”

rufus Wms deskCharlotte News, 1 June 1924.

James Rufus Williams died 24 May 1947 in Charlotte. Six years later, on 25 March 1953, his mother-in-law Angeline McConnaughey Reeves passed away at the age of 94. Her mother and husband gone, Carrie Reeves Williams lived just six months more and died 28 September 1953. I have not found record of Frank Reeves’ death. His sisters Edna Reeves Kiner died in New York City in 1969 and Ada Reeves Eccles in Cambridge in 1979.

Enslaved People, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

McNeelys enumerated.

Perhaps he ticked them off on his fingers: “One female, aged 24 to 36. … One female, under ten years of age. … Three males, all under ten….” The enumerator for the 1840 federal census of Rowan County dutifully recorded the information that Samuel McNeely provided, inking in  small numerals in the appropriate column under “SLAVES.” The adult female was Lucinda. The female child was her daughter Alice, and two of the males were her sons John and Julius. It is likely that the third boy was also Lucinda’s, as Samuel was not likely to have purchased a small child and Alice was too young to bear children.

Samuel died in 1843 and, under the terms of his will, son John W. McNeely inherited slaves Lucinda and her offspring. In the 1850 slave schedule, John reported owning eight slaves: a 34 year-old black female [Lucinda]; a 19 year-old black female [Alice]; a 17 year-old black male [John]; a 14 year-old black male [the third boy above, name unknown]; a 12 year-old black male [Julius]; a 9 year-old mulatto male [Henry, Lucinda’s son by John W. McNeely]; a 2 year-old mulatto male [Joseph Archy, Alice’s son]; and a 1 year-old black female [probably Alice’s daughter Mary].

In 1860, John W. McNeely reported only seven slaves: a 44 year-old black female [Lucinda]; an 11 year-old black female [Mary]; a 22 year-old black male [Julius]; a 19 year-old mulatto male [Henry]; a 12 year-old mulatto male [Archy]; a 9 year-old black male [Alexander “Sandy,” who was probably Alice’s son]; and a 7 year-old black male [John Stanhope, who was probably Alice’s son.]  The same seven appear, by name finally, in the 1863 Confederate tax valuation. [A vexatious question: Where was John Rufus in 1860 and 1863? When he married in 1866, he reported John W. McNeely as his former owner. Had he in fact spent his final years of servitude under a different master?]

And then came freedom. In the 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County, at household #294: Lucinda McNeely, age 54, domestic servant; Henry McNeely, 29, school teacher; Joseph A. McNeely, 22, farm laborer; and Elizabeth McNeely, 13, “attends school.” [According to my grandmother, this Elizabeth was Henry’s daughter, abandoned by her mother at his doorstep.] At #295: Julius McNeely, 32, farm laborer; wife Mary McNeely, 25, “keeps house”; and nephews Alex’r McNeely, 17, farm laborer; and John S. McNeely, 18, farm laborer. [On the other side, at #292: John W. McNeely, 63, and wife Mary, 63, and at #293: Henry W. McNeely, 35; wife Nancy E., 24; and children Margaret, 3, and John W., 1. This Henry W. McNeely, son of James H. McNeely, was John W.’s cousin, though the exact relationship is unclear.]

DNA, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

DNA Definites, no. 12: Van Pool.

Iredell County, North Carolina, was settled in the mid-eighteenth century largely by Scots-Irish and German immigrants pushing down the spine of the Shenandoah Valley from the mid-Atlantic colonies. Interspersed among them, of course, were the omnipresent English, but also here and there a Dutch family. Such were the Van Pools, who settled first in Maryland before heading south in the mid-18th century.

Ancestry DNA estimates D.F.M. as my 5th-8th cousin. I would not have noticed her name among my hundreds of distant matches, but Shared Ancestor Hint — a comparison of family trees, and Ancestry’s best feature — brought her into sharp focus. To be precise, we are fifth cousins, once removed, both descendants of John Van Pool and his wife, Elizabeth Peyster Van Pool. I am descended from daughter Nancy Van Pool, who married Samuel McNeely, and D.F.M. from son David Van Pool. Nancy and Samuel McNeely’s son John W. McNeely fathered Henry W. McNeely, my maternal grandmother’s maternal grandfather.

Ancestry also estimates L.B. as my 5th-8th cousin, and I found him, too, via Shared Ancestor Hint. We are in fact 7th cousins, descended an equal number of generations from Jacob Van Pool and Elizabeth Hampton via sons John Van Pool and Henry Van Pool.

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

Where did they go?, no. 3: more McConnaugheys.

Simon, 57, $200 (rheumatism). Ceasar, 54, $400 (“crip.”). Perry, 45, $300 (“bad rupt.”). Isaac, 36, $1400. Charles, 32, $1450. Nelson, 32, $1450. Edward, 32, $1450. George, 31, $1450. Ellick, 26, $1500. Henry, 17, $1500. Thom, 14, $1200. Giles, 14, $1200. Dallas, 7, $400. Alfred, 4, $300. John, 25, $1500. Juber, 24, $1500. Nancy, 36, $1000. Ritta, 32, $1100. Harried, 23, $1200. Liza, 23, $1200. Laura, 11, $650. Louisa, 8, $400. Jennie, 4, $250. Ellen, 5 mo., $100. Allice, 3 mo., $200.

As did his brother John M. McConnaughey, James C. McConnaughey was required to pay taxes on the slaves enumerated by a Confederate tax assessor canvassing Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1863. James reported owning the 25 people listed above, whose total value was just over $23,000.  What were their links to one another? What were their links to John M. McConnaughey’s slaves?

Cohabitation records shed some light. In 1866, North Carolina afforded freedmen the right to legalize marriages made during slavery by appearing before county justices of the peace to register their relationships. Rowan County cohabitation registers not only record the names of the parties and the length of their marriage, but the former owners of each party. Listed below are registrants who named one of the McConnaugheys (John, James, or James’ son Joseph) as an owner:

George Hall (Dr. Joseph McConnaughey) and Mary Cowan (N.N. Nixon). 3 years.

Simon Hall (James C. McConnaughey) and Nancy McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey). 20 years.

David Litaker (Elizabeth Litaker) and Hagar McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey). 13 years.

Abram McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey) and Eliza Barger (John Barger). 6 years.

Charles McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Lucinda Kerr (Dr. [illegible] Kerr). 15 years.

Edward McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Loretta McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey). 4 years.

Nelson McConnaughey (James C. McConnaughey) and Martha Graham (James C. McConnaughey). 11 years.

Isaac McCorkle (Dr. Joseph McConnaughey) and Ann Kerr (George C. Barnes). 14 years.

George Washington Miller (John M. McConnaughey) and Eliza Catherine Kerr (John M. McConnaughey). 9 years.

Hezekiah Mitchell (Lueco Mitchell) and Louisiana McConnaughey (John M. McConnaughey). 6 years.

Except Martha Graham, the seven freedmen and women who named James C. McConnaughey as their former master are readily identifiable in his 1863 tax assessment. The two who named Joseph (George Hall and Isaac McCorkle) also appear to have been listed with James’ slaves in 1863. (There was no tax listing for Joseph McConnaughey, who did not inherit slaves from his father until 1864.)

Later Rowan County marriage records also disclose family relationships among McConnaughey’s bondsmen. These documents reveal that Simon Hall (who also used the name McConnaughey) and Nancy McConnaughey’s children included the 17 year-old Henry, 14 year-old Giles, 8 year-old Louisa, and probably 4 year-old Jennie listed in 1863. Further, when Jupiter “Juber” McConnaughey married in 1870, he listed his parents as Simon Hall and Cynthia McConnaughey. The age gap between Simon and Nancy suggests that she was his second wife, and Cynthia McConnaughey may have been first.

Perry McConnaughey was named on a marriage license as the father of Thomas McConnaughey, perhaps 14 year-old Thom above. If so, where was Thomas’ mother Rockey, who was also named as the mother of Alexander “Ellick” McConnaughey on an 1883 marriage license?  (Alexander gave his father as Toby McConnaughey.) Perry himself named his parents as John Henderson and Pricilla McConnaughey when he married in 1867. Alex and his first wife Judy share a household — no children — in the 1870 census of Atwell township, Rowan County.

Isaac appears twice in the 1870 census — once as Isaac McConeehugh, age 45, with wife Ann, 35, and sons Thomas, 4, and Edmon, 2, then a few households later as Isaac McCorcle, 45, with wife Ann, 42, and son Thomas, 4. (A reminder of the vagaries of the United States federal census.) Neither boy was born at the time of the 1863 tax list. Isaac and Ann married about 1852. Were there older children? Are they among those name in the tax list?

Both John M. McConnaughey and James C. McConnaughey owned slaves named Charles. The whereabouts of the Charles McConnaughey who formerly belonged to John are discussed here. The Charles in the 1863 list above would appear to be the Charles McConnaughey, 40, listed with wife Phillis and ten children in the 1870 census. Who, then, is the Charles who reported a 15-year marriage to Lucinda Kerr in 1866? Is Phillis Lucinda? If so, I have not found any other reference to her by that name, though there are plenty of references to “Phillis.”

Dallas McConnaughey named Edward and Ritta McConnaughey as his parents when he married in 1876, ten years after they registered their cohabitation. Sadly, Loretta “Ritta” may not have enjoyed freedom long. She does not appear with her husband and son in the 1870 census, when they are listed in the household of John M. McConnaughey in Mount Ulla, Rowan County.

Though Nelson and Martha McConnaughey’s cohabitation certificate seems to indicate that both were enslaved by James C. McConnaughey, evidence suggests that in fact, Martha and their children had a different owner. Neither Martha nor their oldest children David, born about 1859, and Maria, born about 1861, are  listed among James’ human property. (As an aside: Abram McConnaughey presided over the marriage of Nelson and Martha’s son David McConnaughey in 1879. Was he a relative?)

Harriet McConnaughey appears in the 1870 census of Locke township, Rowan County, with R. McConnaughey, a 55 year-old male, Mary McConnaughey, 35, and Hiram McConnaughey, 4. Harriet’s age is consistent with the “Harried” listed in 1863, but the other adults do not appear on that list, and relationships among them are indeterminate.

There’s a seven year-old Alice McConnaughey listed in John M. McConnaughey’s household in the 1870 census among an assortment of his and James’ former slaves. She is listed under Eliza McConnaughey’s name, as if her daughter. (This Eliza appears, at 23, too young to be the Eliza listed above, but in 1880 is listed as 39, so….)

In summary: in 1863, James C. McConnaughey’s 25 enslaved laborers comprised at least two intact families (Simon, his wife Nancy, their children, and his son; Edward and Ritta and their son); a father and son (Perry and Thom); at least three men married to women who were enslaved elsewhere (Isaac, Charles, Nelson); two apparently unmarried women (Harriet and Eliza); three possibly unmarried men (Caesar, George and John); and three or four children whose relationship to the others cannot be determined (Alfred, Laura, Ellen and Alice.)

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Photographs

Family cemeteries, no. 3: Boyden Quarters.

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.