In 1792, a young Peggy Neely was pregnant out of wedlock so she left Belfast, Ireland for America.
Accompanying the pregnant Peggy Neely was William Tweed and his young son, James.
The mystery surrounds as to whether William was paid to accompany Peggy to America or not. This stands as the best theory although there is no proof.
Peggy would give birth in route on the Atlantic Ocean to a daughter, Rachel Neely.
Through Census records, one can trace the migration of the little group from Charleston to Orangeburg, South Carolina and then to Mills River, North Carolina.
Their farm bordered the French Broad River with the Mills River Presbyterian Church being adjacent.The two children, James & Rachel, wound up marrying.
About 1815-1820, they bought land in what is now known as the Shelton Laurel Community of Madison County, North Carolina. The land was bought from The Willie Blount Speculation Company in several transactions, with James trading taxed whiskey, handmade clay pipes, four fatted hogs and cash. The acreage totaled approximately 1,500 acres.
James and Rachel built a log cabin in what is now known as the Joe Tweed Holler area and the original part of the cabin still stands.
They would welcome six sons: Neeley, Reuben, Thomas, Joshua, Abner Grainger (A.G.) and John.
Staunch Unionists, the Civil War would seal the fate for three of the brothers:
Neeley, a former Madison County Clerk of Superior Court, would shoot Sheriff Ransom Merrill and then die of “fever” in Flat Lick, Kentucky after mustering into the Union Army.
Thomas would be beaten and starved at a Confederate prison camp.
Joshua was hung by the neck repeatedly by “Bushwhackers” until dead.
Reuben did not fight in the war but A.G. and John did fighting for the 1st Tennessee Cavalry, a Union outfit.
A.G. contracted Typhoid Fever in December of 1864 in Nashville, Tennessee and was sent to a hospital in Jeffersonville, Indiana where he spent over three months.
He was treated there until “well” in March of 1865. However, upon his return it was noted that he was weak and had scurvy, so he was Honorably discharged from the Union Army on December 11, 1865 almost four years to the day after the war had started and less than one month until the official end of the war.
After the war, A.G. returned to Madison County and was nursed back into good health by his wife, Jane Pinner Tweed.
Two years later in 1867, A.G. ran for Sheriff of Madison County and won. He would hold the office until 1883.
Now, I know many of you have seen The Andy Griffith Show on television. Sheriff Andy Taylor never carried a gun.
Neither did A.G. However, A’G.’s reasoning was much different than the fictional Sheriff Taylor’s.
Please notice that he did not say “holster”. He said “waistband”.
Following his family’s history of making whiskey. A.G. reportedly owned five thousand apple trees and made brandy for the United States Army, hence the need for the apple trees.
A.G. was also somewhat of a “rounder”, fathering two sons out of wedlock with his mistress, Judith Shelton.
A.G. would go on to live to the ripe old age of 82, dying of heart failure in 1907.
The son of Irish immigrants had left behind an unheralded but timeless legacy.
Y’all have a great week!
*Authors Note*- I would like to give special thanks to Tweed Historian Diana Smith Chesser for providing the photo of A.G. with his wife Jane Pinner Tweed and for also going to the trouble of documenting, organizing and printing all of the dates and historical timeline of our family.