Joseph Neeley (1776 - 1849) & Elizabeth Houston (1773-1870)
1776, What a year to be born! When the revolution was over, military grants had been earned and it was time to move to a new unspoiled land. I believe that Joseph was born in south west Virginia around Mine-Mill Creek on the New River, now Montgomery Co., VA., and moved with his parents through the Cumberland Gap, through Kentucky settling 2 miles north of Bledsoe's fort on the Cumberland River, then a part of North Carolina; now Tennessee. His father, Alexander Neeley/Neely, had been a long hunter and had traveled back and forth between Virginia and the Cumberland area. He had been with Daniel Boone in 1769. The family moved with other families about 1783 into what we now know as Sumner County Tennessee. Joseph was only seven years old. Here he grew to manhood. His father and two brothers (James and Charles) were killed by Indians while collecting tanning bark in 1790. Joseph was only about fourteen. The family may have retreated to Kentucky for a time, but eventually returned.
Joseph married Elizabeth Houston/Huston about the time he was nineteen. His first child was born In North Carolina in 1796. (Tennessee was still a part of North Carolina then... and also the border between Virginia and North Carolina had been changed). It was in 1796 that his father's land, on Bledsoe's Creek, TN, was divided and Joseph received the land 2 miles north of Bledsoe's fort. His daughter Phoebe was born near Nashville in 1799. His son John was born in 1803 in TN., his son Samuel Alexander was born in TN in 1806, daughter Elizabeth was born in TN in1809, but their son Thomas was born in Illinois territory in 1811. It was also about this time that Joseph sold his land in Sumner Co.
The War of 1812 was fought. Records show a Joseph Neely serving in the West Tennessee Volunteers. Probably, this was our Joseph. On the 1818 Census, Joseph was in Madison Co. Ill. at Fort/Fork Prairie. Again military land was given for service. Joseph and his son Henry, now 22 were living in Illinois by the time of Illinois' first census taken in 1818. They settled in Detroit, Pike County about 1821 and lived there until Joseph died in 1849.This was an area surveyed for military land.
Joseph's sons fought in the Black Hawk war when they lived in Illinois. They soon began to look for new land.
Sons Samuel and John with extended family members including the Mize's, Bakers, McMahon's and the Meredith's began to herd cattle to Texas around Red River Territory for grazing and then back to market. They made several trips back and forth before deciding to move their families to the wilds of the Texas frontier. Samuel's first child to be born in Texas was C. Joseph Jackson Neeley born in 1843. John's son David was born in Illinois in 1843, John's son Lewis was born on the trip south at Memphis Tennessee in Feb of 1847. Letters from the Mize side of the family say that the trip down took about 3 months. I calculate, the John Neeley family settled in Texas in the spring of 1847 although I believe John and brother Samuel had some earlier land grants. My great grandfather Jimmie was John Neeley's first child born in Texas, Grimes County, 1849. . John bought land from Daniel Mahon. It was part of Austin's Colony on the Brazos River. After Joseph, her husband died, my fifth great grandmother Elizabeth Houston/Huston Neeley migrated with son Houston Neeley and others from Illinois to Grimes County, Texas in 1850's to live near some of her other children and extended family who were already established in the new state of Texas. Yes, she helped to settle the Texas frontier and saw her sons and grandsons off to fight the Civil War knowing some of her children were still living in Illinois and fighting for the Union. She lived to be 97 years! 1773 to 1870. She experienced the first century of the United States. What a life...
We believe that Joseph is the son of:
Samuel Alexander Neeley & Elizabeth Montgomery
who were at Fort Chiswell and owned land on the New River of south-west Virginia. Alexander served in the Revolution. He was a long hunter and helped to explore and settle the Cumberland River area. His heirs received a pre-emption land grant in what is now Sumner Co TN near present-day Nashville. Alexander was killed by Indians in 1790.
We believe Joseph to be the son of Samuel Alexander Neeley/Neely because:
of the inventory and land division of Alexander Neeley found in the loose records of Sumner Co TN. In 1796, his land was divided between three sons or their heirs...John, William and Joseph. Maybe they divided the land at this time (6 yrs after Alex's death) because William was older and had been farming the land. John was dead and his two sons would inherit his one-third. Joseph would have been 20 years old and newly married. His first child Henry was born in 1796 in NC. TN was still a part of NC at this time. (This has caused confusion)
Our Joseph and Elizabeth's daughter Phoebe Neeley Baker was born near Nashville in 1799 according to the Sagamon Co., Illinois History book. In the division of Joseph's estate, he names all of his children and mentions daughter Phoebe married to William Baker. (Phoebe's son James was later to be known as Jim Baker, Mountain Man)
The Pike County Ill history book says the family were kinsmen of the Samuel Alexander Neeley who explored Kentucky with Daniel Boone in 1769.
Joseph named a son Samuel Alexander Neeley.
Some family researchers believe that Joseph is the son of William & Eleanor Neeley of Orange Co North Carolina. There is a will that names a Joseph as a son. But the birth date is not quite right. I believe that other lines have proven that that Joseph married Nancy Horton and moved on to Indiana. Therefore, he is not our Joseph, although, I feel sure there is a family connection.
Who is the father of Alexander? ? If you are a proven descendant of the long hunter, Alexander Neeley/Neely, please take the "Y" DNA test and let us know the results. If you would like to take the test; we would be willing to pay.
It is interesting that William Neeley of Neeley's Bend and Alexander were both early settlers of the Davidson/Sumner TN area. That they both came around the time of the Donelson or the Robertson's party cause me to believe that they might have been cousins, brothers?? The McNeels/McNeils/McNeals and even a William McNeeley were also in Sumner Co. Is there a relationship there?? Alexander lived on the New River near Ft. Chiswell in now Montgomery Co. Va. Some sources say he was from the Yadkin region of NC. These two areas are fairly close. Many of the long hunts started at Ft Chiswell, VA. There are records of James, John, William Neely/Neeley/Neelly in Montgomery Co Va. These seem to be the Virginia bunch of Neeley's. But many of the settlers from the Carolinas would come up to this area before heading west. Recently, I have determined that Alexander might be part of Neeley/Neelys who settled for a time in Ulster Co New York. Of course, there is also a theory that he is the son of Victor Neely of the Carolinas. More research is needed here.
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