Neely History and items of interest
Last update Feb. 2 1998
Most of the data contained in this page was researched by the late Harold Neely
With updates from various other sources


The Neely Family, Simpson County Mississippi

 The few bits of information that my father told me in the 1930's about the Neely family in Simpson County, Mississippi have proven to be most helpful in my research of the Neelys. Those bits of information are worth repeating because they have been the guidelines used to keep the research properly directed. They are:

      1. The Neely family came from North Carolina
      2. The Simpson County and Rankin Neely are closely related
      3. There was a migration of some members of the Simpson County Neelys to Arkansas or Texas in the mid 1800's.
With these facts in mind I have been able to accumulate data over many years and can now put the information in meaningful order. The earliest direction ancestor I have identified is William Neely. Neely is spelled three ways in this research, Neely, Nealy and Neeley.

William Neely
Born---? Died 1782

The birthplace of William Neely is not known yet. (However, data submitted by Eloyce Hubbard Kockler suggest that William was born about 1710 in Lancaster Pa) It is known that he owned land on the northeast form of the Flat River in what was then Orange County North Carolina as early as June 1756. This land corresponds in description to that which is described in his will. This location is not in Person County, North Carolina. Person County was formed from Caswell County in 1791, nine years after the death of William Neely. Caswell County was formed from Orange County in 1777. The land on the northeast fork of the Flat River did not change only the county names.

 William's will is quoted as follows:(note) This information can be found in the North Carolina Department of Archives and History in Raleigh, North Carolina.

 The State of North Carolina, Caswell County.

On the 29th of December in the year of Our Lord, 1782 William Neely who deceased on the 31st of said month and year above written made the following Verbal Will in the presence of the underscribers (to will) first, he gave and bequeathed unto Eleanor Neeley one third part of all his goods and cattels also gave and bequeathed to his son Samuel Neeley, the one hundred acres of deeded land whereon he then lived also one hundred acres of land lying on the East side of the aforementioned land that is not in dispute and under- with Thomas Persons; for whicn the said Samuel Neely is to maintain the said Eleanor Neely his widow and appoint his son, Samuel Neeley, his executor of his will together with Eleanor Neely to settle his affairs, also he gave to Jacob Neeley, his son, the entry of land lying and being on both sides of Flat River, and the remainder of his goods and cattle to be equally divided between John Neeley, Thomas Neeley, Samuel Neeley, Joseph Neeley, Jacob Neeley and Mary Pryor and the over plus of the undeeded land to be sold and equally divided amongst the aforementioned children. The above will was proved before me, on of the justices of the said County this 31st day of December, 1782.


William White(Jurat)

His mark


His mark

James(x)----(Jurat) John Womack his mark March 1783

The above Will was duly proved in open county by the oaths of Wm. White, John Satterfield, James _____, and ordered to be recorded.

The Execr. Qualified ACD. Murphy

The inventory of William Neeley's will is found in the same book as above mentioned will on page 253. Listed among is assets are horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, geese, one loom with taking and two hackles, one wooling wheel, two combing wheels, two guns, farm implements, carpentry tools and household furnishings. The William Neeley that took up and in 1754, 1758 and 1767 along the N. C. -S. C. border on fissing Creek (West side of Cataba River) and on the North side of the Tiger River is not the same William Neeley who dies in Caswell County in 1782. The will of that William has been located and indicated that he died October 10, 1778.

The Caswell County William Neeley probably came from some where to the north Virginia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey. These states are where many persons in Orange County in 1750's and 1760's had their origins. It is shown in William Neeley's will that he and wife, Eleanor , had the following children: Samuel, Jacob, John, Thomas, Joseph and Mary Pryor. Records show that at least two of the sons, Thomas, a lieutenant, and Jacob, a private were soldiers in the Revolutionary War. Thomas Neely returned to Caswell county following the war and became active in public life. Little information has been found on what happened in the lives of the other children, with the exception of Jacob. The D. A. R. in the early 1950's did extensive research on connecting the life story of Jacob Neeley. Much of the information that follows comes from the D. A. R.

Jacob Neely

Jacob Neely was born in 1857 in Caswell County, North Carolina, 18 years before out country began its official military struggle for independence in 1776. In the spring of 1780, before the Battle of King's Mountain, his brother, Thomas was acting as a commissary for Washington's army at the county seat of Caswell County, serving under Captain Douglas and Colonel Moore. Jacob enlisted in the Continental Army and was assigned as an aide to his brother, Thomas, with whom he served for three months. After this service Jacob volunteered again, and served for two months in the North Carolina Troops. Once more under his Brother Thomas, who by this time had become a lieutenant under the command of Captain Douglas and Colonel Williams. Jacob was in the Battle of King's Mountain, and one of his comrades in the battle was William Steen, whose grandson many years later married in Mississippi a granddaughter of Jacob Neely.

 Shortly before the Battle of Guilford, Jacob volunteered the third time and served for three months as a private in Captain Harris's Company in the North Carolina Regiment, under the command of Colonel Moore. He was in a skirmish during this period of service at a place called "The Brick House" about 12 miles from Wilmington , North Carolina. Altogether, Jacob Neely served 10 months with the North Carolina militia at various times during the Revolution.

(This was ascertained from his application for a pension)

 At the close of the war, Jacob decided to migrate south as so many of his neighbors were doing. He moved from Caswell County, N. C. to Georgia, where he lived for about 15 years. Official records of Georgia state that Jacob Neely was granted 150 acres in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1787. This information's contained in Grant Book NNN Page 462. Little additional information on the family life of Jacob Neely while living in Georgia has been found. It has been determined that his wife was named Rebecca and that there were several children. A son, Thomas was born April 2, 1787, *Wilkins Neely, born about 1789, David Neely born January 22 James Samuel Neeley born about 1793, Mary (Polly) Neeley & Elizabeth Neely born Feb 4 1795, Henrietta Neely, born about 1797. Names of the children have been ascertained from census reports and tax records over a period of several years in the area where the family lived.

 *Note: Research by Harold Neely indicates Wilkins was born Nov 30 1800, basis for this date is not known.

 The D.A.R. study indicates that Jacob and family migrated from Georgia to the Mississippi Territory in about 1798 and settled near Fort Stoddard, Alabama. The family remained near Fort Stoddard on the west side of the Tombigbee River for 4 or 5 years then moved on the west a few miles.

 The Mississippi Territory was created by Congress in 1798. Washington County, M. T. was created by the Territorial Governor, Winthrop Sargent on June 4, 1800. At the time it was first created Washington County M. T. contained 25,000 square miles. From this 25,000 square miles, 26 counties in Mississippi and Alabama were formed. Green County, Mississippi was created in 1811.


Jacob Neely appears on the Washington County, M. T. tax rolls in 1804 as follows:

Jacob Neely---1 horse, 20 cows --tax .52 1/2

On the 1805 tax rolls Jacob appears, but no property is listed

No 1806 or 1807 records were available.

On the 1808 rolls Jacob is shown as follows:

Jacob Neely----1 white poll tax --- $1.00


Beginning with the year 1812 Jacob and other Neely family members appear on Green County, Mississippi tax rolls as shown below. Some years only a name is listed, tax information is not shown. Because of missing records all years are not shown. Not all known names appear on the years that records are available.


 1812----------------Jacob Neely--------------200 acres-------------tax .50

1815----------------David Neely--------------1 white poll ---------

1816----------------Jacob Neely---------------

Thomas Neely-------------

Joseph Neely--------------


1817----------------David Neely---------------1 white poll--------Tax .40 land tax

James Neely--------------- 1 white poll

Jacob Neely----------------1 white poll

Thomas Neely-------------1 white poll

  1. David Neely --------------------------------------.90
Thomas Neely-----------------------------------1.50

James Neely---------------------------------------.83

1819 Thomas Neely--------------620 acres, 4th

class, 3rd quality land tax paid .83, paid 1 white poll 1.83


Jacob Neely-----------------160 acres 4th class -----Land tax--.21, 2 slaves tax 2.21

3rd quality



James Neely -----------------1 white Poll-------------tax 1.00

David Neely------------------1 white Poll-------------tax 1.00


1820 Thomas Neely----------------2 Polls ------------------1 Slave tax 1.50

Jacob Neely-------------------2 Polls--------------------1 Slave tax 1.50

  (Note) Poll tax was paid only by men 21 to 50 years of age and never by women. Some years records will show slaves included int the number of Polls and then listed separately, i.e. 12 Polls, 11 Slaves meaning 1 white Poll male 21-50 and 11 slaves.

 In 1816 a special census of all existing counties in Mississippi Territory was ordered in preparation for Statehood in 1817.

 The 1816 Mississippi Territorial Census for Green County lists three Neely families as follows:


Green County Mississippi Territory Census

Name ............White Male White Male White Female White Female Slaves Total

..........................Over 21...... under 21....... over 21.............. under 21

Jacob Neely -------2-------------- 1--------------- 1------------------ 2-------------- 1------ 7

Thomas Neely ----1-------------- 1--------------- 1------------------ 2----------------------- 5

Joseph Neely -----1 --------------1----------------1------------------------------------------- 3

 The 1820 Census Report listed two Neely families. A third family is listed in the Perry County Census report. From other sources it is known that Joseph Neely had moved on toward Arkansas about that time.

Green County Census

Name ........White Male White Male White Female White Female Slaves Total

.....................Over 21....... under 21......... over 21.......... under 21

Jacob Neely ---1------------------------------------------------------- 1-------------------- 2

Thomas Neely 1-------------- 2--------------------------------------- 3-------------------- 6


Perry County Census

Name -----------Males--- Females--- Males -----Females--------- Total

--------------------25-45 ----16 to 26 ---under 10 ---under 10

James Neely 1----------- -----1 -----------2--------------- 1---------------- 5

Note: Perry County was established in 1820 from Green County

 In 1825 Simpson County tax rolls list the following Neely's


Jacob Neely

Thomas Neely

Wilkins Neely

David Neely

 (Note) This is the first time that Wilkins Neely's name has been found in official documents. However, the 1816 M. T. census shows a male member of Jacob Neely's family under 21 years. This point is made here to keep the reader from confusing this Wilkins Neely with Thomas Neely's son, also named Wilkins.

A ledger that is owned by a descendant of Thomas Neely shows Jacob and Rebecca Neely and the following children:

Name Born Died

Thomas Neely April 2 1787 February 16, 1874

David Neely January 22, 1791

James Neely January 30, 1793 June 23, 1879

Polly and Elizabeth February 4, 1795

Henrietta Neely December 24, 1797 September 20 1930

Wilkins Neely Nov 20 1800 September 6 1833


The Jacob Neely, Thomas Neely, David Neely and James Neely families departed Green and Perry Counties between 1818 and 1825, and moved to (then) Copiah County, Mississippi. Jacob, Thomas and James settled near the town of Westville. Then in 1824 Copiah County was divided to form Simpson County east of the Pearl River.

The 1830 Mississippi Census shows David Neely, Wilkins and Mary Neely as heads of family and living in Rankin County. Thomas and James Neely were living in Simpson County as heads of family. Prior to 1840 Thomas and James moved their families to Rankin County and bought land near Jackson.

Jacob Neely's wife, Rebecca died in the early 1820's. Mississippi Marriage Records show that Jacob Neely married Permely Welch on September 26 1824 and that he married Sarah Stanton on September 3, 1830. No record of children from these marriages was found. Jacob moved from the Westville are across the Pearl River to Copiah County after Rebecca died. Record of his land holdings can be found at the county site in Hazlehurst, Ms.

 A few years before his death Jacob moved into the home of his son, Thomas in Rankin County, Ms. He was baptized in to the fellowship of Liberty Baptist Church, Rankin County, Ms. On September 17, 1843. He died in 1845 at the age of 87. He is buried in the Old Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery. This cemetery (located on the north side of old highway 80 near the entrance to the Jackson Airport) is often called the Neely Cemetery. A white marble stone marks his grave. The Magnolia State Charter D. A. R placed a bronze Revolutionary War marker on his grave on March 29, 1953.

 Jacob was a civic minded man and did many things for the development of his section of the country, as is proved by records in the Mississippi Territorial Papers, copies of which are in the Mississippi Archives. We find that on November 25, 1803, he with other settlers of the Mississippi Territory, signed a petition to "The honorable Senate and House of Representatives, in Congress Assembled" requesting instead of selling the vacant Territory lands for $2.00 per acres, which many were not able to afford, Congress should for the limited term of three years, grant small tracts to actual settlers, who would continue to live on the lands and cultivate them for five successive years. The inducement could not fail to produce a rapid increase of population.

(Territorial Papers of the U. S. Mississippi Vol. V, by C. E. Carter)

 Again on December 13, 1809, we find Jacob petitioning with other settlers east of the Pearl River, to the U.S. Congress, praying for a division of the Mississippi Territory, "with a new government erected, to be bounded by the West by the Pearl River, on the East by Georgia, on the North by Tennessee, and on the South by the National Boundary, dividing the Territory of the United States from the domination of the King of Spain". Again on December 14, 1815, he and other Mississippi Territory landowners petitioned Congress" That the Mississippi Territory by admitted to the American Union, assuming the dignified attitude of a sister state".

 Jacob Neely's children grew up in the Mississippi Territory during a time when many changes were taking place. The national boundaries between the U. S., England and Spain, only a few miles from his home, were fluid. The threat of war with either England or Spain or both were ever present. Further, both countries were secretly selling arms to the Creek Indians who were on the war path again the isolated settlers in the MT. By the year 1813, the settlers have become so numerous that the Creek Indians realized that their lands and hunting grounds would soon be completely overrun and their way of life destroyed forever.

At noon on the 30" of August, 1813 about a thousand Indians stormed Fort Minn located on the East bank of the Tombigbee River, near present day Mobile, Al. Of the 275 soldiers, men women and children in the fort only 15 escaped. This terrible tragedy spread fear through the MT. Settlers living near the Tombigbee and Alabama Rivers fled to the near-by forts, leaving their crops in the field to waste. No one knew when or where the next attack would come.

 Victory over the hostile indians came with the destruction of their fortified town on the upper Tombigbee called Holy Ground and after the defeat of the British in the Battle of New Orleans in 1814.

What caused the Jacob Neely family to keep moving further into the MT is not evident from the records. The family moved as fast as the national boundary and Indian treaties permitted. The first Choctaw Cession was made in 1805 about the time the Neelys moved to now Green County, MS. The second Choctaw Cession was in 1820 and the Neely family members had begun their move to what is now Simpson County. At that time they were engaged chiefly in cattle raising and hunting. They had large herds of cattle which lived on the grass and canes that grew abundantly among the tall longleaf pines along the creeks and branches of the area. In these almost endless pine forest wild animals, deer, bear and wolves, were numerous. The typical frontier settler was the man of the axe and rifle. He lived with his is wife and his many children on a wooded track of land as much as 200 to 300 acres. Of this domain not more than 8 to 10 acres were cleared and in cultivation. His home was a log cabin with one or two rooms and a loft.

 A good description of the discomforts and hazards that settlers experienced when moving to Copiah/Simpson County in the 1820s was written by Bee King in his articles published in Simpson County News. Several are included in this history.

1800--1833 1800(?)---?

Wilkins Neely appears on the Rankin County Tax roll as early as 1828. He obtained land from the US government on November 15, 1827. The parcel of land is located in the southwest corner of Rankin County near the Simpson County line and Pearl River. Rankin County records show that Wilkins and Elizabeth owned other parcels of land in Rankin County. Wilkins Neely had a short life. He died in 1833 and Elizabeth was appointed by Rankin County Probate Court as guardian of their children. The children listed in the Court Order were: Rebecca, James P., Sarah Ann, John G. Mary and David Neely. Soon after the 1837 Court Order Elizabeth disposed of the family land in Rankin County and moved to Beat 5 in Simpson County. The exact location is not known. All Simpson County Records prior to 1860 were destroyed when the Courthouse burned down.

 A search of Rankin County Cemetery Records did not reveal the location of the Wilkins Neely's burial place. He was probably buried in the Mountain Creek community near the Simpson County line. That is where his family lived at the time of his death.

 Elizabeth Neely is listed in the 1840 census as head of a household with 6 children and living in Beat 5, Simpson County. Ten years later she is shown to be living in Beat 5 with the following children: John G. Neely age 21, Sarah Ann Neely age 17, Mary Neely age15 and David Neely age 14.

 James P. Neely is listed as head of his family with his wife Matilda age 15 and a son name William D. Age 1. This James Neely is buried in the Harrisville Cemetery. His gravestone reads - James Pinckney Neely born April 23, 1825 -died January 4, 1868.

 About 1856 or 57 some members of the Elizabeth Neely family moved from Simpson County to Texas or Arkansas. No one knows where.

John Geoge Neely and family returned to Simpson County about 1858. The James P. Neely family returned sometime after 1860. Sarah Ann Neely also returned to Simpson County, probably with John George. She is buried in the Harrisville Cemetery. Her gravestone reads - Sarah Ann Neely - Feb. 24, 1827 - Feb 18, 1900. At this time the mystery of what happened to the Elizabeth Neely family after they moved to Texas or Arkansas has not been solved. The missing members were Elizabeth, Mary and David. Rebecca Jan Neely married G.W. Russell on September 22, 1850. It is not known where she and her family made the move west.


 The 1850 Mississippi Census listed only the John George Neely family living in Simpson County. Listed with him are his wife and the following children: Lewis-age 7, David-age 5, Elizabeth-age3 and George -age 8 months.

Upon returning to Simpson County, John G. Neely moved to property near his wife' s family (Joseph G. Spell and wife, Elizabeth Wheeler) in the New Zion Baptist Church Community about 2 miles east of Harrisville. In addition to farming he was a leather tanner. He did his tanning work in the creek near his home.

In later years he and his wife, Melvina, moved in with their son, David, nearer Harrisville. Melvina died in 1904 and John G. died in 1908. Both are buried in the Harrisville Cemetery as well as all the Children with the exception of Josiah, who is buried in the Spell Cemetery near the Spell home place. The children of John G. and Melvina were:


Louis N. Dec 6 1863 Mar. 25 1927

David (Dave) 1855 1939

Elizabeth(Lizzie) 1858 1928

Geor W. Jul 15 1849 Apr 30 1907

Dr. Emanuel P Dec 26 1863 Mar 25 1927

Josiah Jul 13 1864 Aug 11 1878

Francis Annie N Aug 08 ???? Dec 22 1885

Manson Aug 28 1868 Nov 28 1885

Lemuel Aug 28 1868 May 08 1892

Dr. W. N. Sr. May 30 1874 Mar 27 1961

T.N. (Tal) Mar 20 1877 Nov 1 1948

Dr. W. N. (Pappy) Neely Sr.

He was a beloved Harrisville physician whom so many citizens and many from miles around depended on for all their illnesses. In his early years of practice he went from horseback to buggy to automobile.

He was married to Laura Barlow and raised 12 out of 16 children. He attended the University of Tenn. Medical School, and graduated in 1899. After 50 years of service the townspeople and surrounding communities celebrated his Golden Anniversary. To express their gratitude a special service was held. At a program sponsored by Harrisville School, Dr. Neely was presented a new Ford car. But the town of Harrisville was not alone in the celebration, the university where he finished medical school gave him its Golden T. Certificate for 50 years of loyal service.

In the first 49 years of his practice he had delivered 3,764 babies. He practiced for several more years. Even after he was unable to travel to his office patients would go to his home for medication. He was a person that all who knew him will never forget .


 To be continued.