Samuel Nethery

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 been done.

The 1880 Federal Census shows Sam (52) and "A. J." (47) living with four of their sons and with M. H. Gittens, mother-in-law.

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, J. P."

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 address.)

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