The Neal Manor Library

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       Carl B. Neal  published the Beaver Pond Neals of Virginia in 1965 after several years of extensive research. This book is well documented and can be found in most major libraries and Carl's records were  microfilmed and placed in the LDS Library in Utah. The film was also donated to the Seattle City Public Library. Carl put his heart and soul, and money, into researching and publishing the BP book and I for one owe him a great deal of gratitude and thanks. I never met or talked to Carl before he passed away but I did correspond with his widow, Mildred Sinnott Neal and she gave me written permission to use the BP material in my research and in any subsequent publications. 

        Although this on-line edition relies heavily on the original BP book it does not by design contain every item. The purpose of this edition is to integrate additional data that has been found since the BP book was published. It also focuses on my direct line. Also, while the BP book makes an excellent reference book, it does in my opinion, contain too much data that is presented in a manner that makes it difficult for the average reader to follow. Hopefully, this work will allow one to follow the generations easier and those needing additional data and/or documentation can consult the BP book.

        As with all genealogy projects there are inevitably missing people and sometimes whole lines that are not accounted for. The BP book is no exception and that is one of the reasons I decided to write Volume II. I also wanted it to be an extension of the BP book rather than a separate book to honor Carl and to simply expand and continue his research.

      When I began my research in the mid 1970s, I quickly ran into the proverbial brick wall as most, if not all genealogist do at one time or another. I knew who my g-grandfather Neal was, where he was born, and his mother's first name but that was it.  My g-grandfather, Thomas Fletcher Neal, apparently had some kind of rift with his mother and/or with his brothers Wellington and Armistead Neal and moved away from the family into another county. My father remembered Thomas very well and he said Thomas never talked about his family. Ironically, after an argument over a horse, Thomas also had a son that walked off the farm one day and never returned or heard from again. 

        I worked for the Federal Government at the time I started my research and was able to do most of my early research at the DAR Library in Washington D.C. as well as the National Archives. On one visit to the DAR Library I came across the BP book and immediately felt a connection. It's weird but I just knew these were my ancestors! Unfortunately, disappointment soon set in as I could not find my connection. I did find someone that could be my g-grandfather but things just didn't seem right. On subsequent visits to the library I was drawn to the BP book like a magnet, hoping each time I would find something that I might have missed before. 

      On one occasion I was reading about a Judge Stephen Neal that seemed to be a very interesting person and might therefore of had a biography published somewhere. He also happened to belong to the branch that I thought my g-grandfather might belong to. As luck would have it, I found a biography of Judge Stephen Neal and lo and behold, all my prayers and questions were answered. 

       When I saw my g-grandfather and gg-grandmother's names in Judge Neal's Biography, my first impulse was to jump up on the table and shout "I found you!!!!!". Being in the DAR library, however, I decided that probably would not go over very well so I just shouted it in my head. After all, I certainly did not want to be barred from this library. So, my strong feelings of a connection to my ancestors, who were living through the work of Carl B. Neal, were true and correct. My g-grandfather was pretty much where he belonged in the BP book but what Carl didn't know, and what made finding my connection difficult was that my g-grandfather was from a second marriage. It seems that after his first wife died, John Neal who was about 65 years old at the time, remarried a young lady, Eliza Fletcher, and became the father of two additional sons: Thomas Fletcher Neal, my g-grandfather, and James W. Neal. 

        The Neal family outlined here came from Ireland and settled on Beaver Pond Beach of Deep Creek, which flows east into the Appomattox River. It is just south of Amelia Court House, Amelia County Virginia, and is an artificial reservoir above a dam built for a grist mill. This area was initially Prince George  Co. The Beaver Pond drainage basin terrain is slightly rolling and the soil is a grayish red, probably a mixture of clay and sand. At one time, Beaver Pond Beach was used as a canal from the dam to Petersburg for transporting tobacco.

        According to Virginia records, we know our Neals came from Ireland in 1718 and 1730. The Neals were Presbyterians and it seems likely that they were Scots-Irish who initially migrated from Scotland to Ulster Ireland perhaps in the late 1600s. Anyone interested in the history of the Scots-Irish should read "The Scotch-Irish, a Social History" by James G. Leyburn, published in 1962 by the Univ. of N.C. Press.

       Carl B. Neal corresponded with Professor Leyburn regarding our Neals as being more Scots than Irish in their character rather than more Irish as he thought Professor Leyburn had described the Scots-Irish. Professor Leyburn replied "your Neal ancestors came to America in 1718; that was pretty early in the century of migration. It may well have been that their own parents had very recently gone to Ulster from Scotland, for there was a considerable migration from Scotland after 1689. This would easily account for their being "more Scotch than Irish". What you quote from John Hatchett's narrative about the qualities of the Neals would also apply to literally hundreds of Scotch-Irish settlers."

        John Hatchett in his narrative, written between 1790 and 1805, describes the Neals as "honest, industrious, money making people, Protestant religion, were great church people, their creed and catechisms were strictly attended to and learned to their children at an early age. My mother's parents lived on a rich plantation." John Hatchett also stated that his Neal ancestors, including several uncles, were from Ireland and settled on Beaver Pond.

       Professor Leyburn also wrote "that they should have gone to the Appomattox River region seems very understandable to me. That district of central Virginia was one of the early centres of Presbyterianism in the colony. Indeed, the first Presbyterian in Virginia was named Hanover, and the Presbyterian religion is still strong in that whole region. My guess would be that the early Neals felt that in Amelia county they would be settling among people of their own sort, even though many of the Presbyterians there were of English stock rather that Scotch-Irish."

       There were other Neals on record in Amelia County that lived, or at least owned property there. There was an Arthur Neill, a Thomas Neal and a William Neal. While it may seem resonable to assume they were related in some way to our Neals, there is absolutely no record or evidence to show any relation. What the available records do show, however, is that they could not have been descendants of Steaven Neall Sr.


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