Thursday, August 3, 2017

Susannah (Walton) Nevill Surprises Her Descendants

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

The title for this entry is as a bit of an understatement. Recently, I was cautioning another researcher that our ancestors surprise us all the time. In the other researcher's case, my work had connected a group of half siblings to her grandfather, and no one on that side of the family, who is now living, has ever heard of these people before. She is understandably taken aback.

Today I am joining her with my own unsettling and surprising revelation in my Nevill line. The more I research a family line, the more I think I know them. They become full blown characters in my mind. This is the case with Solomon Nevill Sr. and his wife Susannah (Walton) Nevill. After researching this line since the early 1980s, I had developed a clear picture of them. They had migrated from the Orange County, North Carolina area to the Montgomery County, Tennessee area shortly after 1810. At the time of their migration, they already had a large family of children, most of whom were born in North Carolina. Susannah's extended family, including the Waltons, Meriweathers, and Barkers, also migrated to the Montgomery County, Tennessee/Todd County, Kentucky area. According to the census, Solomon was a farmer, and they appear to have lived out the rest of their days in Montgomery County, Tennessee. That seemed pretty straight forward until I started digging through Montgomery County, Tennessee deeds last night. That's when Susannah (Walton) did a mic drop.

In my decades' long search for Grandison D. Nevill and his second wife Martha E., I've compiled over 100 pages on his siblings and their children. I have not started posting it here because it's, dare I say, incomplete? I am going to post the bare bones of what I had on Solomon Nevill Sr. and wife Susannah Walton here, and then I will add the new twist information. That's my way of warning you that this is a long post.

For those of you who have been researching Solomon Nevill Sr. and wife Susannah Walton, this first bit of what is known about them is pretty standard fare, and you probably also have it in your notes, but I am going to run through it first...

Solomon Nevill Sr. was born 15 April 1777 in North Carolina to Jesse and Elizabeth (Parks) Nevill. He married Susanna Walton, daughter of Edward and Barbara (Hester) Walton.

Edward Nevill McAllister, a descendant of Grandison Dandridge Neville and an early, avid Nevill researcher, left in his research papers a transcript of Solomon Nevill's bible, which was owned at that time [no date given] by Mrs. Bessie G. [Glascock] Moss. This is a copy of the McAllister transcript:

"Solomon Nevill was born April 3, in the year of our Lord, 1777
Susanna Nevill, his wife was born December 15, in the year of our
Lord 1775.
Solomon and Susanna Nevill was married March 17, 1795.
Edward W. Nevill was born April 5, in the year of our Lord, 1798.
Jesse P. Nevill was born August 27, in the year of our Lord, 1799.
Barbara H. Nevill was born Oct. 23, in the year of our Lord, 1803.
Edwin W. Nevill was born Jan. 24, 1806.
Solomon C. Nevill was born Feb. 1, in the year of our Lord, 1808
Elizabeth W. Nevill was born Nov. 2, 1809.
Granderson D. Nevill was born August 21, in the year of our Lord 1812
Susanna O. Nevill was born Nov. 30, in the year of our Lord, 1814.

Solomon Nevill, Sr. departed this life Jan. 20, 1848, being 70 years,
9 months, and 12 days old.
Edwin Walton Nevill departed this life Nov. 5, 1871.
Betsy Ann Peoples was born Oct. 5, 1819 died Oct 20, 1894."

This morning I am realizing that I should have questioned why Susannah (Walton) Nevill's death is not recorded if she predeceased Solomon Sr. Additionally, if any of the elder sons died young, why aren't their death dates recorded as well?

The Edward Walton Nevill papers (in the vertical file of the Clarksville, Tennessee public library) contain a 1946 letter from Robert F. Vaughan of Louisville, Kentucky, who reported owning Solomon Nevill's bible. In his letter to Frank Barker, written on 5 December 1946, Vaughan reported that the bible had been in "cold storage" for quite a while and that it was in bad condition; however, he "rescued" the following information from it:

"Solomon Nevill was born April 5, 1777 and died January 21, 1848.

He married Susanna Walton who was born December 15, 1775 and died September 5, 1841.

The following children born to this union:

Edward Walton Nevill Born April 5, 1798
Jesse Parks Nevill Born November 7, 1799
John Sims Nevill Born August 27, 1801
Barbara Hester Nevill born October 23, 1803
Edwin Walton Nevill Born January 24, 1806
Elizabeth Whitley Nevill Born February 1, 1808
Solomon Corbin Nevill Born November 2, 1809
Grandison Dandridge Nevill Born August 21, 1812
Susanna Orange Nevill Born November 30, 1814"

Given the differences between these two transcripts, they appear to be from two different bibles, the former descending through Edwin Walton Nevill's family and the latter through sister Elizabeth Whitley (Nevill) Vaughan's family.

Edward N. McAllister's transcript is important because it provides a wedding date for Solomon and Susannah (Walton) Nevill as well death dates for Solomon, his son Edwin W., and Edwin's second wife Elizabeth Ann (Peoples) Nevill. Robert Vaughan's transcript is important because it provides the middle names for all of Solomon Nevill's children and reports a death date for Susanna (Walton) Nevill that is missing from the bible owned by Moss. As of this morning, I realize that it is odd that Solomon's death date is not included in the Vaughan transcript, but that might be attributed to its bad condition.

Note that neither bible record provides a middle initial or name for Solomon Nevill. That, however, is a topic for another day.

Census records for Solomon and Susanna (Walton) Nevill:

1800, Orange County, North Carolina, p. 523:

Benjamin Nevil  00100 - 00100; 4 slaves
Solomon Nevil  20100 - 00100; 9 slaves
Jessee Nevil  12201-21011

At this time the Solomon Nevil household was composed of--

one male under ten = Jesse Parks Nevil
one male under ten = Edward Walton Nevil
one male 16 - 26 = Solomon Nevil Sr.
one female 16 - 26 = Susanna (Walton) Nevil

1810, Orange County, North Carolina, p. 819:

Sol Nevill  31010 - 2001; 11 slaves

The household is composed of--

one male under ten = Solomon Corbin Nevill
one male under ten = Edwin Walton Nevill
one male under ten = John Sims Nevill
one male 10 - 16 = Jesse Parks Nevill
one male 26 - 45 = Solomon Nevill Sr.
one female under ten = Elizabeth Whitley Nevill
one female under ten = Barbara Hester Nevill
one female 26 - 45 = Susanna (Walton) Nevill

1820, Montgomery County, Tennessee, p. 219:

Solomon Nevell  120110 - 11010

The household is composed of --

one male under 10 = Grandison Dandridge Nevell
one male 10 - 16 = Solomon Corbin Nevell
one male 10 - 16 = Edwin Walton Nevell
one male 16 - 26 = John Sims Nevell or Jesse Park Nevell or Edward Walton Nevell
one male 26 - 45 = Solomon Nevell, Sr.
one female under 10 = Susanna Orange Nevell
one female 10 - 16 = Elizabeth Whitley Nevell
one female 26 - 45 = Susanna (Walton) Nevell

Either two of the elder sons have moved, or they are deceased. Neither Edward Walton Nevill nor Jesse Parks Nevill appears as a head of household in Montgomery County, Tennessee in 1820. Evidently, Barbara Hester Nevill, who is about seventeen years old, has married Needham B. Farrier and moved out of the home. There are slaves present in the household, but the columns need to interpreted.

1830, Montgomery County Tennessee, p. 39:

Soloman Neville  00001001 - 00020001

The household is composed of --

one male 20 - 29 = Edwin Walton Neville?
one male 50 - 59 = Solomon Neville Sr.
one female 15 - 19 = Susanna Orange Neville
one female 15 - 19 = Rachel (Higginbotham) Neville, wife of E.W.?
one female 50 - 59 = Susanna (Walton) Neville

Son Edwin Walton Neville and Rachel Higginbotham had married only a few months prior to the census and are likely living with the Nevilles since E.W. Neville does not appear separately on the 1830 census. Elder sons Edward Walton Neville, Jesse Park, Neville, and John Sims Neville do not appear as heads of household in 1830.

1840, Montgomery County, Tennessee, p. 263:

Soll Nevill  000000001 - 0

Soll Nevill's household is composed of --

one male 60 - 70 = Solomon Nevill Sr.
Susanna (Walton) Nevill is not present

Solomon C. Nevil 000001 - 120010001

Son Solomon C. Nevil's household is composed of --

one male 30 - 40 = Solomon C. Nevil
one female under 5 = March C. Nevil
one female 5 - 10 = Barbara Ann Nevil
one female 5 - 10 = Eugenia C. Nevill
one female 20 - 30 = Frances Bell Slaughter Long
one female 60 - 70 = Susanna (Walton) Nevill?

By 1840 Frances B. S. (Long) Nevil had endured at least six pregnancies, but only three of her children survived infancy. This may explain the presence of what appears to be Solomon C. Nevill's mother Susanna (Walton) Nevill in the household. She had probably gone to lend the family a hand since Frances was likely also pregnant with daughter Frances Nevil who was born in 1840.

Now for the mic drop...

Last night I began reading Montgomery County, Tennessee deeds online at FamilySearch. These had been unavailable to me previously. They are located in the online catalog. Anything in the catalog with a camera next to it can be easily accessed. Just click on the camera.

This is a deed from Susanna Nevill to E.W. Nevill and others found in Montgomery County, Tennessee, Deed Bk. S, 1840 - 1842, pages 320 - 321 [image 166-167]:

Click on Image to Enlarge

"Susannah Neville
To } Deed
E.W. Neville & others

Know all me by these present that I Susannah Neville having by deed of separate maintenance from Solomon Nevill Sr. bearing date the 20th April 1838 and conveyed to Solomon Neville Jr. three negroes to wit Phebe Jackson & Louisa one thousand and sixty dollars in notes and one horse for my use and benefit and subject to any future use I chose to make of it in writing in the presence of two respectable witnesses I therefore by virtue thereof do hereby direct and appoint that sd property it increase as well as any other property I may hereafter acquire to the exclusive use and benefit of my children as hereafter named viz Jackson to my daughter Barbara Farrier the balance of my property of whatever kind to be equally divided between four of my children to wit my son Edwin W. Neville and Solomon C. Neville my daughters Barbara Farrior & Elizabeth W. Vaughn provided always that in case any of the above named persons receive a legacy from their fathers estate equal to their interest in the above named property to be null and void and so much thereof as would have fallen to their portion to be equally divided the others specified in this instrument to have and to hold the same their heirs and assigns forever

Click on Image to Enlarge

after my death reserving to myself the entire use and control of said property as fully as the same is given to me by virtue of said deed during my life time. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this the 20th April 1838.                  Susanna Nevill
Teste  Saml Wade
William Neblite
State of Tennessee  }
Montgomery County}
Personally appeared before me Samuel McFall clerk of the County Court of Montgomery County William Neblete Samuel Wade the subscribing witnesse to the within named deed of gift who bring first sworn depose and say that they are acquainted with Susanna Neblete (sic) and the within named assignor and that she acknowledged the same in their presence to be her act & deed on the day it bears date. Witness my hand at office this 3d day of January 1842.   Samuel McFall
Registered 17th January 1942  Received January 6th 1842"

The upshot of this deed of separate maintenance is that Solomon Nevill Sr. and wife Susannah Walton separated or divorced in April of 1838. Note the wording of the document. She names "four of my children," which does not mean that she only has four children living at that time.

On 7 February, 1842 S.C. and E.W. Neville sold Pheby and Louisa,  who they had received by deed to gift from the late Susan Nevill to John R. Harris for $300. This record is also in Deed Book, page 356.

On 2 February 1842, N.B. Farrior, husband of Barbara Farrior, sold Jackson, aged 10 or 12, to J.R. Harris, for $500. Jackon had been inherited by deed of gift from Susan Nevill, dec'd. This record is also in Deed Book S, page 356.

So why isn't my Grandison D. Nevill, who was also living in 1842, included in Susanna Nevill's deed of gift to her children? On 7 April 1838, just 13 days before Susanna's deed of separate maintenance was drawn up, Solomon Nevill Sr. had given his son Grandison D. Nevill four slaves: Judah and her sons Lewis and Albert, and girl named Mary. No valuation is recorded. What is of note is that the deed was registered 19 April 1838. Is it a coincidence that it was registered one day before Susanna's deed of separate maintenance was drawn up? I don't think so. This record is in Montgomery County, Tennessee, Deed Book P, page 427 [image 224]

The slaves Grandison D. Nevill received from his father were eventually valued for more than the slaves that Susanna received through her deed of separate maintenance. This is likely the reason he was not included - because he had just received this substantial property from his father. Or, she viewed the transaction between Solomon Sr. and Grandison as a scheme to move property out of Solomon's possession so that she would not be entitled to it in the separation or divorce.

In any event, on 3 December 1838, Grandison D. Nevill sold Judah age 25, Lewis age 6, Albert age 4, and Delilah age 6 months to Joab Hardin for $1,400. By then, Grandison D. Nevill was a resident of Dickson County, Tennessee. This record is in Montgomery County, TN Deed Book R, page 1 [image 288].

My tentative conclusion is that there were two bibles: his and hers. Each has a record of their own death but not the other's death. This may even be a sign of a split of allegiance among the children--that the children did not record both deaths in both bibles. Since they were still separated at the time of Susanna's death, if their graves are ever found, I do not expect them to be together. Plus, I suspect that she was, in fact, living with son Solomon C. Nevill in 1840.

My biggest question will probably never be answered. What happened?? Why did Susanna at the age of 60+ decide that she could no longer live with Solomon?

Now I need to poke around for a deed of separate maintenance, which I have not found yet in the Montgomery County Deed Books. Maybe Court Minutes? Additionally, I need to read all of the Nevill deeds in Montgomery County, Tennessee.

Keywords: Solomon Neville, Solomon Nevill, Solomon Corbin Neville, Solomon Corbin Nevill, S. C. Neville, S. C. Nevill, Granville Nevill, G. D. Nevill,


  1. What a surprise! I have to say that I'm truly impressed that you were able to discern a divorce from the above records. Only an experienced researcher would have caught that. It's all very interesting.

    1. Thank you, Nancy. I am, shall we say, a seasoned researcher. I'm looking forward to following your adventures in UK records and your progress on your Doyle line.