Chapter 23: It’s Not Just a Name

At the time of the first census in 1790, our new country was taking shape not only in the coastal regions where Loyalists had to play nice with the victorious Patriots, but also in the hills of western North Carolina. Although this corner was closely tied with Virginia in the 1700’s, the folks in this area did become independent. The 1800’s brought gold-mining enthusiasm from Dysartsville to Brackett Town before it moved to CA. Then we were dumped like hot rocks. That’s okay. I have never been attracted by what appeals to the herd. Besides, I didn’t move here until recently.

Standing on the highest elevation of Dysartsville looking west toward Montford Cove

Standing on the highest elevation of Dysartsville looking west toward Montford Cove

In the roughly twenty-mile square chunk of earth I am blogging about, the eastern side has the mountains and the minerals, and the farmers like the Sprouses at Brackett Town had a hard job to make a farm out of a rock-strewn field left by the miners. (See Brackett Town Saga Part: 4 JJ Sprouse) The western side, around Montford’s Cove, has the bottom lands for farming. And farms need workers.

These North Carolina farmers did not take part in plantation competition because their property holdings were small. They could handle the farming among themselves with their large families. Have you read Cheaper by the Dozen? However, I can see how confusing research into genealogy can be when the same name is used in successive generations by several family members. In John Bradley’s will, he left property to his son John Bradley, Jr., by his first wife, and also to his son John Bradley, Jr., by his second wife, not forgetting to mention the inheritance to his son John W. Bradley.

(His first wife had the memorable name of Diana Corntassel from her Indian chief father.)

After moving back to the Montford Cove area, Richard Ledbetter, III, and his Nancy Johnson had several more children but must have run out of names. He had sons named John (1782), another named Johnson, (1786 who BTW married Nancy Whiteside in 1810) and another named Jonathon (1798). And of course a Mary Polly. Then his son Richard IV married a Mary Polly. Family dinners must have been a circus.

(Christmas Eve 2014, a neighbor who works in northern Rutherford County told me she has lost track of the number of customers who have the last name of Ledbetter. She is from New Jersey, and like me, is fascinated by the number of people who have stayed so close to home.)

As mentioned in Chapter 18: Can you say Chickahominy?, the Nanneys were hard pressed to find the correct John Wyatt Nanny ancestor, but from John, Jr, to the present, the family is well documented, thanks to the diligence of many interested family members. Uriah was the executor of his father John Sr’s will in 1789, and he got the plantation. In 1798, Uriah at 53 accompanied his 38-yr-old nephew Shadrack and his wife Mary Cobb Wright and four children to the edge of the North Carolina wilderness. Uriah and his wife Mattie Holland (or Pollard) moved on to Mississippi.

Shadrack’s baby died that year, but I don’t know if it was before or after the move. Little Thomas was four-years-old. Certainly Mary Cobb did not thrive, for she lost another child in 1800, and she herself died soon afterwards.

It is difficult to imagine in our world of ease and plenty what the pioneer had to overcome. Different times require different measures. Unlike the then-civilized Nannau area in Wales where the families were small and land scarce, in this new country there was plenty of land to grow crops if the manpower was available. A family unit would have been critical and every hand needed to provide sustenance.

Shadrach needed a helpmate and his children needed a mother. In 1804 Shadrach married Mary (Polly) Wheeler and had twelve more children of which three died young. A lot more helpers whose names were dutifully written in the family Bible.

I must mention the back story with the Flacks who were settled here when Shadrack Nanney came to the area. Andrew Flack was married to Mary Polly Porter, and they named their baby Mary Polly Flack who would marry Thomas Nanney in 1824. So Thomas had a stepmother, and a mother-in-law and a wife named Mary Polly. What was he thinking?

Now in a rut, Thomas’s son Moses married Mary Rebecca nicknamed Mollie, and guess what her grandma’s name was? Right, Mary Polly. I understand now that Polly was a nickname for Mary, not Pollyanna like I thought. Sally was a nickname for Sarah, but there weren’t nearly as many Sarahs as Marys. Only one Shadrack.

Thomas’s son Amous would marry Tempie Wilkerson, a distinctive name, but her mother’s name was Polly. These are the common ancestors for cousins Wade Nanney and Mary Glenn Burgess, both dedicated collectors of family lore.

Since my seventh grand was born in September and given an unusual name, Saryn Mae, I am super aware of names. My apologies for teasing all the Mary Pollys. Lovely name, but very confusing when there are multiples in the same family. Same for John.

I will not be able to handle a listing of all children and their children’s children. Mary Glenn is a brave soul to keep an extensive library of binders at her home pursuing Nanney threads into different names like Campbell and Harris and Eplee and Yancy or Yancey. ( She even has a letter confirming a George Nanney changed his name to Anway around 1810. I will try to keep a narrow focus on a small geographical area and kissing cousins of Wade and Mary Glenn.

Just like Uriah Nanney did not stay in North Carolina, neither did all the Nanneys in Virginia stay put. They were on the move. It is not unusual for families to split. On the other hand, what held those who decided to remain in this area for generations?

Why was Brackett Town and Nanneytown so hard to leave?

Last night a beautiful coonhound came to my house. She was on the move and lost. We tried to contact the name on her collar but the number had been disconnected. Her battery operated collar was lighted and flashing so we could only presume somebody was looking for her. We let her go. The name on the collar was Wilkerson, proof that this family is still around. There is even a Moses Wilkerson in the phone book. I mentioned in the last chapter that the first one came in 1785. That’s a long time to keep a name in the same family in the same county.

Happy New Year to all, wherever you live!


Copyright, 2014, Georgia Wilson



This entry was posted in Brackett Town Saga, Nanney Saga, Setting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Chapter 23: It’s Not Just a Name

  1. Melinda Aydelotte says:

    Ran across this while looking for info on “The Story Of The Adairs” ( I’m attempting to compile a more exhaustive family history, as these stories are dying with my elderly family members) as my Granny Flack used to call it. She would tell it as a bedtime story to put us to sleep just as she did my mother before me. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying it.

    • georgia ruth says:

      Melinda, I am so happy to hear that the stories I enjoy writing are appreciated. Of course, I am rearranging in chronological order information that the Nanney family has gathered and including historical background to give a more complete description of their memoirs. If you have something to add, please do.

  2. Melinda Aydelotte says:

    Please forgive me for taking so long to reply. My husband and I have just been in the process of moving to Georgia and trying to sell our home in NC. I have enjoyed your writing so much and it has been so thrilling for me to read the names of so many family members. In reading this art again, I couldn’t help but laugh. Andrew Flack was my 4th Great Grandfather and when I first began research, seeing the two Mary Pollys was quite confusing. Since our families are so intertwined (my great granny Malinda, was a Koon), I am sure the elderly family members that I plan to interview will relate many tales of the Nanny family. If I come upon anything that I’ve not seen any sign of in your writing, I will most definitely share. just as a side note. I read what you wrote about Cameron Morrison Flack, he was a cousin and although I obviously didn’t know him, I have heard him spoken of my entire life as though he had only left yesterday. It meant so much to our family to have him home. when speaking to a cousin of mine at the service at Round Hill when he was brought home, she said “this is the 2nd most exciting thing to ever happen in Union Mills”, I inquired what the first was and she replied “when Austin came home from the POW camp”. She was referring to my Great Uncle Austin DeVault Flack. He was career military and was a POW in a Chinese prison camp during the Korean War. It served to remind me what a close knit community my mother’s family comes from and how important our family and their history is.

    A relative did a family history on the Flacks in 1975. It’s an amazing source as far as names, marriages, births, deaths etc. There are no more copies available (she produced a hardback), if you’ve not heard of it and don’t have a copy, I’ve made several copies for family members and would be happy to make one for you. It may not contain anything that you don’t already have but it’s an interesting read. There are some errors but I am endeavoring to correct those with help from family. Feel free to let me know if you’d like one. I also have a family page on FB.
    Warm Regards

    Melinda Aydelotte

    • georgia ruth says:

      Thank you for your warm response, Melinda. I can tell there are many out there reading, but most do not post a comment, and I love to hear from all. Yes, I would be interested to have a Flack history. I will be starting a series on Dysartsville soon, and there should be an intersection of family heritage. So sorry I missed the reunion. Miz Ruby fussed at me.

      • Melinda Aydelotte says:

        I look forward to reading the Dysartville series. 😉 Let me know where to send it and as soon as run off a few more copies, I will get one in the mail to you.



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