This is the story of my family connection to Stephen Howell Neal of Carroll County, Georgia.He was born in 1807 in Franklin County, Georgia.(We were told that Stephen Howell Neal came from Ireland and dropped the O for O’Neal from his last name, which was often done.Possibly his father did this and that he has the same name.)Stephen Howell Neal is my Great-Great Grandfather.He married Laura Malone on January 3, 1828 in Franklin County, Georgia.The family moved to Texas between 1841 and 1848.They settled somewhere near Marshall Texas. While living in Texas, Stephen Howell Neal had to return to Georgia on business.Upon completing the business, he returned to Texas and discovered that his wife had died and was buried around Marshall, Texas.He and his children returned to Campbell (now Carroll) County, Georgia.
After returning from Texas, Stephen Howell Neal married Mary Elizabeth Burnett from North Carolina on March 6, 1849 (according to information written down by their granddaughter Mary Frances Neal).According to the census information of Oct. 5, 1850, he was 43 years of age and Mary Elizabeth (nicknamed Polly by Stephen Howell) was 26.She was 17 years his junior.According to the census of 1850 they had six children living at home.They were Juliann L. age 17, Mary E., age 15, Stephen J., age 12, Lucinda G. age 11, William H., age 9 (apparently these are the children of Stephen and Laura) and Laura W., age 6 months (the daughter of Stephen and Mary Elizabeth). Also on this 1850 census is James Upchurch which is a relative of Mary Elizabeth Burnett Neal.Her grandfather was Sherod Upchurch of Rutherford County, North Carolina.
In the late 1840’s, after returning from Texas, Stephen Howell Neal built the family Plantation house on the Douglas and Carroll County Line near Douglasville, Georgia. The house was two stories with two fireplaces on each end of the house.The bottom floor had four large rooms 12X12 and a kitchen outside.The second floor was never completed and was primarily used for storage. The house was built up on stilts and you could park a buggy under it.The house had two root cellars. One cellar was for pastries and one for vegetables.Stephen Howell Neal built a lot of the furniture used in the house.Some of the furniture is still in the family of Lucinda Neal Wilson and some of it burned in a fire at the location that it was being stored after 1928 when the house was sold by Mary Frances Neal. This house is still standing, but is no longer owned by family.The Neal family cemetery is on the property.This is the burial site where Stephen Howell Neal and Mary Elizabeth Burnett Neal are buried.There are other people buried in the cemetery.Some may have been slaves.
His granddaughter, Elsie Clyde Neal, the daughter of John Tomlin Neal, conveyed to her children, that the slaves loved their grandfather and would come to see them often after they were freed.She also told her children that her grandfather would smoke meat in the smokehouse and share it with the slaves.On the census of 1860 Stephen Howell Neal had 12 slaves and the record showed that one of the slaves took his name. (This was not unusual practice at that time).Apparently, the family used the house as a gathering place, because in later years, Elsie told her children that Aunt Cindy (Lucinda) Wilson and Aunt Mary McCoy would come and spend a month each year at the house.Lucinda Wilson only lived five miles away, but probably wanted to visit her sister while she was there at the house.I do not have any details about Mary McCoy.Both of these ladies are John Tomlin’s older sisters.
On the census of 1860 the children at home are William now 18, Laura age 10, John age 8, and Vallentine age 4.I have not had any luck with getting the 1870 census, so I do not know if Vallentine is on it or what happened to him.
Elsie also told a story that took place during the Civil War.A troop of union soldiers were burning plantations and taking animals in the area of the Neal plantation house.They eventually came to the house, but did not burn it down because the officer in charge found out that Stephen Howell Neal was a Mason.The officer in charge of the unit was also a Mason.Instead they only took animals.A lot of the plantations were burned down during that time, but the Neal plantation was spared by this quirk of fate.
Stephen Howell Neal and Mary Elizabeth Neal’s son, John Tomblin Neal is my great grandfather.John Tomblin Neal was born in 1852 and he married Laura Jane Camp at the age of 28.John Tomblin met Laura Jane Camp in 1880 when she was 25 years of age and a school teacher.She came to a social on horseback with friends, from the community of Palmetto, across the river from Neal house.They are believed to have married that year.While married they lived with his parents in the plantation house on the Carroll County and Douglas County Line.
John Tomlin Neal and Laura Jane Camp Neal had two children.A daughter, Elsie Clyde Neal was born in October 1885 and a daughter, Mary Frances Neal was born in July 1889.There was a female child born between the two that died.Laura Jane died in January 1928 and John Tomlin died one month later in February 1928.They are buried at the Mount Zion Baptist Church Cemetery, in Carroll County, Georgia.
Mary Frances (Aunt Fannie) never married.She lived and worked in Atlanta in her early twenties and cared for her elderly parents until they died in 1928.After their parents John and Laura died she moved to Texas to be close to her sister and family and cared for elderly people by living in their homes and giving them nursing services.The last home she lived in before becoming to elderly to work was Mrs. Stovall of Italy, Texas in the 1950’s.I remember her talking about the lady across the street being Dale Evan’s mother (as in Dale Evans and Roy Rogers).Dale would come over and visit Mrs. Stovall and Aunt Fannie when she was visiting her mother. When I was a child I wanted to be there to meet Dale but never got a chance. Aunt Fannie died in 1964 at the age of 75 of Liver Cancer.She is buried at Fort Parker Memorial Cemetery west of Groesbeck, Texas on Ranch Rd 1245.
My grandmother Elsie Clyde Neal married Lindsey Franklin Bradley in 1909.Elsie was 24 and Lindsey was 23.Their children were daughter Vada Francis born in 1910, son James Neal (Neal) 1912, daughter Mattie Laura 1914 (my mother), daughter Coburn Camp 1917, daughter George Elliott (Elliott) 1919,daughter Virlula (Lou) 1923, and sons Clyde Franklin 1925, and Leonard Howell (Lynn) 1927.The family lived around Fairplay, Georgia until her parents died.In December 1928, after her parent’s deaths the previous winter they moved to Texas.
My grandfather Lindsey wanted to move to Texas because friends that lived there wrote letters about how great the soil was for planting.The ground was rocky and difficult to plant in Georgia, but Elsie would not go to Texas until after her parents died. For the trip to Texas, the family split up.Elsie and the four younger children came to Texas by train and Lindsey and the four older children came by car.The trip to Dallas took a week in a Ford Model T.When they arrived in downtown Dallas, it had just rained, and Lindsey got his introduction to Texas rich soil. He got out of the car to get gasoline and the black clay clumped on his shoes and he did not know what to think.He was told that he would have a hard time trying to knock the black clay off, but the one sure solution was to use a knife to cut it off.Lindsey and the children then drove to Groesbeck, Texas.Elsie and the younger children traveled for two days by train to get to Groesbeck Texas.They arrived before Lindsey and were picked up at the train station by Tiny Yates (a childhood friend of Elsie’s). Lindsey and Elsie befriended George and Ruby O’Neal in the Groesbeck area and settled on the farm next to them.Some of our relatives have lived in the area ever since.Many are still there.
In June of 1929 things turned bad for the family.All of the family got sick, except for Elsie, with dysentery.Vada 19, Clyde 4, and Lynn 2, died in the month of July 1929 and were buried in Fort Parker Memorial Cemetery.In August 1937 Neal was working for an Oil Drilling Company near Houston and fell to his death from an oil derrick.He was also buried in Fort Parker Memorial Cemetery.The Life Insurance money from Neal’s death bought a farm for the family and got them through some tough times.During the depression life was hard for the family.In order to make ends meet all of the girls worked in the Cotton Gin, in Mexia Texas.My grandfather Lindsey died in 1961 and Elsie died at the age of 95 on June 5, 1980.Both are buried at Fort Parker Memorial Cemetery with their children.Fort Parker Memorial Cemetery is located in Groesbeck, Texas on Ranch Rd 1245.My mother’s sister Coburn and her husband Louie Atkins are also buried at Fort Parker.
Mattie Laura, my mother, turned 91 years old on January 5, 2005.She married William Harvey Medders in July 1937, one month before Neal’s death.They had five children. William Harvey Medders Jr. (deceased), Donnie Dee Medders of Taft, Texas, Jerry Lynn Medders of Dallas, Janice Medders Lewis of Kilgore and Padgett Scheibe of Plano area.Mattie Laura was born in 1914 and she was 4 years old when Mary Elizabeth died in Georgia in 1918.She remembers her great grandmother Mary Elizabeth (she lived to be 84 years old) being in her casket in the Neal house and been taken to the family cemetery on their land down the hill west of the house.In 1998 Mattie Laura, her two daughter’s Janice Lewis and Padgett Scheibe and her sister Virlula (Lou) and Virlula’s husband Walter Brashear went to Georgia to see the Neal plantation and cemeteries.In Georgia we visited with Winnie Wilson Edison, Aunt Lucinda Neal Wilson’s granddaughter, and my mother’s cousin.Winnie is 97 years old.Mattie Laura and her 2 living younger sisters stay in touch with Winnie who still lives in Douglas County, Georgia.
Coburn (deceased) married Louie Adkins of Groesbeck, Texas and had three children. They are Louie Neal Atkins of College Station, Texas, daughter-Sammie Lynn Atkins Wheat of Groesbeck, Texas and David Bradley (Brad) Atkins of Tyler, Texas.Elliott married Millard Wright of Point Enterprise, Texas and settled in Mexia, Texas and had two boys.Her sons are Preston Howell Wright of Nashville, Tennessee and Thomas Franklin (Tommy) Wright of Mexia, Texas.Virlula (Lou) married John Debrock of Mexia, Texas and had one son.Her son is Leslie Wayne DeBrock of Seattle, Washington.She and John settled in Kilgore, Texas.John Debrock died in 1959 and she remarried Walter Brasher around 1965.
This information was compiled by Padgett Scheibe