McNairy County, Tennessee
Sam Nethery, farmer, tanner and Justice of the Peace,
was born December 2, 1827, near Pocahontas, McNairy County, in
western Tennessee. His parents were probably James and Lucy Nethery,
of English and Scotch descent, who migrated to Tennessee from
either Virginia or North Carolina prior to the Civil War.
Athelia Jane Gittens was born May 19, 1833, in Alabama.
Her mother was Margaret H. Gittens. One of her grandsons told
me Jane had "right smart of Indian in her."
When Sam was about 22, he and 16 year old Athelia
Jane Gittens were married. According to the Family Bible, eight
children-six boys and two girls-lived to maturity. They were:
i. James Thadius ("Thad") (1850-c1890)
ii. John Tidwell ("Dr. Tid") (1852-1913), physician, married c1877 to ?Hanna, lived in west Tennessee
iii. Samuel Leroy ("Lee") (1854-1909), farmer, lived near his father
iv. Louisa Angeline ("Angie") (1855-before 1914), married Dr. Young, lived nearby
v. Mary Priscilla (1858-1877), married W. A. Gurley, lived nearby
vi. Franklin Thompson ("Dr. Frank") (1860-1902), physician, married Emma Wade, lived near Pocahontas, TN
vii. William Edmond (1863-1910), Southern Railroad General Agent and storekeeper, married Mary Gamble, lived in Belle Mina, AL
viii. Sidney Johnson ("Sid") (1865-1945),
married Stella Campbell, lived in Belle Mina, AL
The 1850 Federal Census shows Samuel Nethery, 23,
farmer, born in TN, and Jane, 17, born in AL. Sam's first recorded
land purchase was on January 16, 1854, when he received 200 acres
from James Nethery. He was 26 years old.
The 1860 Federal Census for the Bighill Post Office
village area shows Samuel Netheree and Athilia with
six children. Five of them match the children the Family Bible
says were born by 1860 (see above), but a sixth, George G. one
month old, is something of a mystery. If he were Franklin Thompson's
twin brother, then Frank should have been included, too. Could
his name have been changed later to Frank? Or is this a relative's
baby being cared for while parents are ill? Until the Census can
be rechecked for the actual date the Nethery house was enumerated,
baby George remains a mystery.
When Tennessee entered the Civil War on May 7, 1861,
Sam was 33 years old, a bit old for military service. The National
Archives were not able to locate a military record in 1978 but
suggested I contact State Archives to be sure. That has not yet
The 1880 Federal Census shows Sam (52) and "A.
J." (47) living with four of their sons and with M. H. Gittens,
In 1888, when Sam was 60 and Jane was 55, she died
of cancer. Her son, "Dr. Tid," cared for her in her
last illness. Sam re-married in 1897, this time to Allice Lee
DuPoyster, also from Tennessee.
The 1900 Federal Census shows Sam, a farmer, now
72, and Alice, 35, Netherie. Samuel L., farm laborer, 46
years old and married 2 years, is also listed as a member of the
household. This is probably the son the family knew as "Uncle
Lee." His wife's name is not mentioned and no one identified
as Lee's wife is buried in the family cemetery even though the
family record shows Lee as having two children.
On February 25, 1902, Sam's grandson, Roscoe Nethery,
wrote him at Otterville, TN, to say:
"Dear Grandpa: I have just come up from Pocahontas
this morning and Papa is very sick. There are no ones there but
Heber and Uncle Lee to stay with him. Uncle Lee asked me to write
you today to come down. Papa has something like marlial (!) the
doctor said. I think some body ought to be there to help wait
on him right away for he is very bad."
This suggests that Sam, even though now almost 75
years old, was still well enough to care for his sick son.
Some time around 1910 my grandmother, Mary G. Nethery
(William Nethery's wife), visited the Nethery farm in McNairy
County with her children. Her daughter Helen, my mother, barely
remembered the visit: "It was a long ride from Pocahontas,
down a rough country road. Sam was a very old man with a long
white beard. I was afraid of him. His wife wasn't our real grandmother
and she didn't pay much attention to us."
On May 27, 1914, after a brief illness, Sam died
on his farm in McNairy County. He was buried near his parents
and beside his first wife in the nearby family cemetery where
their gravestones were still to be seen in 1957.
Very few of their possessions remain in family hands.
Cousin Sam Nethery (Hayti, MO) had the Family Bible in 1957. He
promised it to me but evidently didn't tell anyone else about
it so it went to another relative. I have his picture taken "not
later than 1902 or 3," according to a note on the reverse.
There is also a handwritten legal paper signed "S. Nethery,
I also have a short pen and ink composition by Athelia
Jane Gittens titled, "Description of a Good Girl at School,"
and a small tintype identified by Cousin Sam Nethery as probably
Athelia Jane Gittens. Unfortunately, the image was badly damaged
some years ago by a professional photographer I had engaged to
copy the pictures for protection. He attempted a restoration but
much of the face was lost and it is no longer gives us much idea
how she looked.
The family lived along highway 8119, about a mile
north of route 57. The cemetery is just off 8119, to the west.
Just north of it is Neatherly Branch. The Steadman family currently
live on the property and Will Steadman was very willing to share
family information with me in 1975. I think he wanted to be in
the book-if I ever got around to writing it.
(These informal notes are intended to pass along
what I've found out thus far. A footnoted copy with all sources
indicated can be had on request. See main home page for name and