Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hector McNeill and Betty Presnell

Hector McNeill and his wife Betty Presnell (or perhaps Pressley) are my 4th great-grandparents. Hector McNeill was born some time between 1808 and 1817. Alas, he is one of my ancestors that does not age a decade with each census. According to the 1850 Yancey Co, North Carolina census, he would have been born in 1817. Both 1860 and 1870 have him born in 1815 and from out in left field, the 1880 census lists him as 72 years old which equates to 1808. So therefore I use the age range, though I likely suspect it was probably in the 1815-1817 range.

Hector wasn't listed in a Yancey or Burke county census prior to 1850, nor can I find any other McNeill, though it is likely he was there. He is estimated to have married Betty Presnell in the mid-1830s as their first child was born about 1836 and said to have been born in Burke Co. (later Yancey), North Carolina.

Hector and Betty had the following children:

1. Daniel born abt 1836 - died 9 May 1862 Ashland, Virginia while serving in Co E 6th NC Infantry

2. Archibald (my ancestor) born 1838 - died 31 Jul 1886 Mitchell Co, NC

3. John born 3 Jan 1841 - died 26 Nov 1935 South Toe, Yancey Co, NC

4. Alexander L born abt 1842 - died 13 Mar 1924 Asotin Co, Washington

5. Sarah J. born abt 1844

6. James born 1846 - died 21 May 1926 Asotin Co, Washington

7. Elizabeth born 2 Apr 1849 - died abt 1934 in Virginia

A descendant of Elizabeth provided me with her exact birthdate and the information that the day after Elizabeth was born her mother Betty died (3 Apr 1849) presumably as a result of complications related to childbirth.

The book Cabins in the Laurel by Muriel Earley Shephard details a story about Hector's second wedding in a chapter entitled "A Burnt Mountain Wedding". Hector married Martha (Patty) Gouge on Christmas Eve some time during the 1860s. The story recounts his rapid walk over the snow-covered mountain to get there on time as well as the revelry (i.e. imbibing) that took place.

I have no record of Hector's death date, though it occurred sometime after 1880. A dear online friend and cousin-in-law has been kind enough to share some photos of a memorial marker at the Gouge Cemetery in Mitchell Co, North Carolina. Her family, the Gouges, believes that Martha Gouge McNeill is buried at that cemetery and believe that Hector may be with her. To honor their memories, a marker has been installed at that cemetery. She has given me permission to include a photo here and also to allow me to post them at Find-A-Grave.

Additionally I do not know who Hector's parents were. Family lore indicates a McNeill came to Camden, South Carolina in 1760 with a three year old son Neill. That Neill would marry another another passenger on the (as of yet unknown) ship by the name of McMillan or McMillian. The story goes that those are the parents of Hector. So assuming that Hector was born about 1815, it seems more likely that this Neill and wife McMillan may be grandparents to Hector, not his parents. However, I've yet to come across anything to indicate who Hector's parents may have been nor have I found a Neill McNeill that married a McMillan in any online trees. Alas, the hunt continues.

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