Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Robert Nelson and Margaret (Ledford) McNeill

My second great-grandparents were Robert Nelson McNeill and his wife, Margaret Ledford. My knowledge is rather limited of both of these individuals. However, what I have learned about their immediate family members helps round out their story.

Robert Nelson McNeill was born 29 Oct 1858, probably in Toecane, Mitchell Co, North Carolina, to Archibald H. McNeill and Jane Howell. He was their oldest child of two or possibly three children. Jane died in Nov 1862, thereby leaving a 4 year old Robert and a 1 year old sister, Elizabeth. There is a possibility there is another child, Laura, that may be Jane's or she could be the child of Archibald's second wife. In any regards, a small 4 year old little boy lost his mother much too young. To make matters worse, his father had already been away serving in Co. E, 6th NC Infantry and was injured at the second battle of Manassas. By the spring of 1864, Archibald had deserted the Confederate Army and married a second time to a young widow by the name of Sarah Ann (Sparks) Silver. Archibald then switched sides and joined the Union Army. I can only speculate that as the oldest child a lot of responsibility was placed up on Robert's shoulders as a young boy. Times were tough in Mitchell County if you were a Union sympathizer and I'm sure that extended to their families as well. Archibald returned from his service in the Union Army but with injuries severe enough to inhibit his ability to work more than about 50% on the farm. Once again, I suspect Robert learned how to do the work of a man while still a boy to fill the void of his father's injuries. His father died when Robert was just 28 years of age.

On Christmas Day 1877, Robert (age 19) married Margaret Ledford, a woman 10 years his senior. Margaret was born 24 Oct 1848 in Snow Creek township, Mitchell Co, North Carolina, to Noah Ledford and Clarissa Grindstaff. She was the sixth of 13 children.

By 1880, Bob and Peggie, as they were known, had settled in Snow Creek township (likely in the community of Bandana) and had the first of their three children, Dora E. who was born 11 Jun 1879. Hattie Emma followed on 22 Aug 1881 and my great-grandfather, Charles, on 18 Feb 1886. These three children gave Robert and Margaret 28 grandchildren.

Robert was not only a farmer, but he also learned the blacksmith trade, likely from his maternal grandfather, Thomas Howell. His occupation was a blacksmith in 1910, whereas up to this point he had been listed as a farmer. Obviously good with his hands, he supposedly helped construct the Silver Chapel Baptist Church in Bandana, according to a resident of that community. He also served as the 1920 census taker for his township. It should be noted he spelled his own name McNeal. Spelling is negotiable when it comes to these McNeills, McNeils, McNeals......

That year, Robert and Margaret were living with their son Charles and his family. Margaret died in 1927. According to family bible records it was June 8th. I have never been able to find a death certificate for her, as I have discussed previously. By the end of the 1920s, the Charles McNeill family had relocated to Asheville and Robert lived with them until his death on 22 Oct 1932. They are both buried in the cemetery at Silver Chapel Baptist Church, in sight of their homestead in Bandana.


  1. Robert and Margaret are buried beside my great grandparents Marshall and Sarah Etta (Howell) Putnam. I recently was at the the Silver Chapel Cemetery and visited their graves. I have a picture.

  2. I am of the lineage of Thomas Howell and Piety Wilson also, through their oldest son John Dillard. John was in Co. E, 6th Reg. as was his brothers, William and Robert. John was wounded at Seven Pines and died in July. William was severly wounded at Gettysburg as was Robert who was also captured and died in a Union prison. Do you know of the book, "Cabins In The Laurel" the last chapter of which is devoted to your uncle John McNeil (with photo) and makes frequent reference to Archibald? "Chickamauga", the Thomas Wolfe short story, and supposedly the best true account Civil War story written, mentions the McNeil's at one point. My email is howelllarry2@gmail.com if you wish to exchange more info. I still live in the Rebel's Creek-Bandana area and know of a couple of likely cemetaries to look for Jane H. McNeil's grave.