“If a man has something to say that is worth saying one time he should let the written or printed word keep on saying it after he is gone.”
“…I felt that it was necessary for me to do something to keep us from being entirely forgotten.”
James Larkin Pearson,
Poet Laureate of North Carolina, from 1953 to 1981
One never knows whom he will meet during a simple, holiday outing!
On Friday evening, December 7, 2012, my husband, Doug, and I, accompanied by a few members of my genealogy club, participated in the guided Christmas tour of the Carter Mansion in Elizabethton, Tennessee.
To set the stage for this account, I would like to provide some historical information about this site.
An Evening at the Carter Mansion
Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee
The Carter Mansion on the Watauga River in Carter County, Tennessee, is the oldest mansion in Tennessee.John Carter of Virginia purchased 640 acres of land in the area, which was known as the “Watauga Old Fields,” where he erected his home between 1775 and 1781.This western frontier was decreed “off-limits” to settlers by King George III in his 1763 Proclamation.However, as we recall, little did the adventuresome pioneers heed this degree.John Carter was a prominent leader in the Watauga Association.This association is recognized as “the first democratic association of free American-born men west of the Appalachians.”After his death of smallpox in 1781, his son, Landon Carter, assumed a leading role in the Watauga Settlement.Carter County was named for Landon Carter, and the town of Elizabethton was named for his wife, Elizabeth MacLin Carter.
The Carter Mansion is part of the Sycamore Shoals State Historical Museum under the Tennessee State Parks.Sycamore Shoals was the site where the Overmountain Men mustered and departed as they marched to Kings Mountain, the site of that epic Revolutionary War battle.
Wassail by the Bonfire
As we were touring the mansion and talking with the re-enactors, to my surprise, my discussion with the docent playing the role of Mrs. John Carter revealed that she and I descend from the same McNeil family of Wilkes County, North Carolina.Immediately, we exchanged our contact information so that we could follow up this brief encounter.
Through our e-mail communications and our Ancestry.com trees, we have determined that we are 6th cousins with our most recent common ancestors (MRCAs) being our 5th great grandparents, Rev. George McNeil and Mary Coats.My newly-found cousin, Linda, descends through George and Mary McNeil’s daughter, Elizabeth who married Robert Bingham, and I descend from George and Mary McNeil’s son, Joseph McNeil and his wife Hanna Wilson.