Hilltop Manor – John Neely house built ca. 1810

My 5 x great-grandfather John Neelly (that’s how he signed his name) built a wonderful home in Williamson County, Tennessee over 200 years ago.

(The quote below was taken from a National Park Service document confirming the addition to the National Register of Historic Places dated March 3, 1988)

“The John Neely House is a two-story brick, hall-parlor plan residence constructed ca.1810. On the main (south) facade is the main entrance with a ca.1900 frame and glass door. Over the door is a wood linteL The windows are ca.1960 six-over-six sash with added brick sills and original wood lintels. The main facade of the house is of Flemish bond construction with the other facades of five and six-course common bond. The house has a gable roof, stone foundation, and exterior end brick chimneys…

The John Neely House, or Hilltop Manor, in Williamson County, TN Photo taken by Ronald Neeley in 2003
The John Neely House, or Hilltop Manor, in Williamson County, TN Photo taken by Ronald Neeley in 2003

…The John Neely House is a notable example of a hall-parlor brick residence from the early 19th century. Hall-parlor floor plans are rare in the county and only three intact examples are included in the nomination. Despite the removal of 19th century porches and door and window alterations, the original floor plan and appearance of the house are evident.

John Neely moved to Williamson County from Virginia in 1806 and purchased lots in Franklin during those years. In 1808 he purchased land south of Franklin and began construction of a two-story brick residence. Neely lived at his residence until he died in 1818. The house was then purchased by John
Fitzgerald, and his family occupied the residence for many years. Fitzgerald was listed as owning 15 slaves in 1820 and owned property valued at $30,000 in 1850. John Fitzgerald Sr. died in 1858, and his home was then occupied by his son, John Jr., until his death in 1884. The house remained in the Fitzgerald family until 1926 when it was purchased by William Sedberry.  Alterations to the house occurred primarily around 1900 when new glass and frame doors were added. Added 19th century porches have been removed and new windows added in recent years. Despite these changes the house displays its original form and notable hall-parlor pflan.”

Below I quote a paper edited by my “not yet met” cousin, Ronald L Neeley.  He writes, “A special ‘Thanks’ to Juanita Naron & Mary Ann Thorton who provided much of the historical facts on the Neeley lineage.”  Here’s some of what he reports about the John Neely House and family in Williamson County.

“…although much altered from its original appearance; this fine old brick house has been a landmark in the Thompson Station area for over a century and a half. Williamson County was still in its infancy when John Neely, along with his family and his three brothers and their families, cut a trail from Virginia over the mountains to Tennessee. John Neely was the son of James Neely, originally from Philadelphia and later of Botetourt County, Virginia, and Jane Grymes Neely of Northampton, Burlington County, New Jersey. He married Susanna Evans, the daughter of Daniel and Rhoda Griffith Evans, sometime after 1770. By 1791 he owned almost 2000 acres “on the north side of the Roanoke (River)” in Virginia where apparently all of his children were born.

They arrived in Williamson County early in 1806 since John Neely bought town lots 85 and 95 in February of that year. In 1808, he made a permanent settlement on land bought from James Robertson in the West Harpeth where he built this brick house on a rise overlooking the rich meadows and forests spread out below. His children were James, Rhoda, Jane, John H, William, Sophia, and Charles Lynch who married into the Sanders, Drake, Neely, Woldridge, Priest, and Welles families and are the progenitors of numerous descendants in Williamson County today.” (bold added by me)

So, if you or your ancestors are from Williamson County, TN, check your family tree, we may be related.  Oh, and by the way, I’m also related to the Roberts, Sammons, Haley, Tatum, Wallace Nichols, Blackwell, Giles and Smithson families of Williamson County from other lines on my tree.

John Neely house known as "Hilltop Manor" in Williamson County, Tennessee. Photo taken by Janice in 2016
John Neely house known as “Hilltop Manor” in Williamson County, Tennessee. Photo taken by Janice in 2016

I recently “met” a wonderful cousin, Janice ____ (last name withheld intentionally because I didn’t ask her permission to publish it?!).  She still lives in the county (lucky girl).  I asked Janice if she had ever seen the house and she ran out and snapped a picture of it!  Aren’t cousins wonderful!  Thanks Janice!  I’ll be by to see the house in the fall.


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