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Rev Neil Robert “Neely” French

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Rev Neil Robert “Neely” French

  • Birth 2 Sep 1861 USA
  • Death 3 Feb 1939 Gurley, Madison County, Alabama, USA
  • Burial Gurley, Madison County, Alabama, USA
  • Memorial ID 62253101

Son of Neil Richard French and Isabella Dooley French

Neil's parents bought steerage on a cattle boat. From Northern Ireland to New Orleans. His mother delivered Neil on the ship and died shortly thereafter. A great uncle told Auntee and Aunt Eloise that they tried to find an island to bury her and after three days decided to bury her at sea. He said he was standing there as a boy and saw the sharks attack her before her body hit the water.

Grand Daddy, as an infant, was given to a relative, an uncle named John French. He was called Red John and had two other sons. Red John took grand daddy back to Union and began to raise him as one of his own children. However, he was a very cruel man. Those were very hard times in Indian Country. When grand daddy was almost seven years old, Red John whipped him with a hand saw. That was all he could take. He ran away from home and went to West Texas. As a child he was taken in by a charitable rancher whose wife raised him.(new information leads us to believe this was his Uncle and aunt). She taught him to read and write and play the piano. He worked as a ranch hand and used to tell Tom, Bill and me stories about life on the ranch. Anyway, when he was 18, the rancher sent him off to Buffalo Gap College to study for the ministry. He graduated and went on to Red Oak Presbytery at South Fork Texas. As an evangelist Neil traveled from Texas into Mississippi conducting revivals. In Connehatta, Mississippi, he had a young woman pianist, a graduate of the Mississippi College for Women. They fell in love, married, and she traveled with him eventually winding up in Gurley where he was the minister 41 years. He died in 1939, at age 84, of pneumonia. So, go back 84 years and that was when he arrived here. He was one of the founders of the Covenant Presbyterian movement. Written by Robert B. French Jr.

Senior Soldiers The Biographies and Autobiographies of Eighty Cumberland Presbyterian Preachers
After much searching I have talked to distant cousins and thru their research have learned it was his father's first wife Which died on board the ship. His father went back to Ireland and remarried Isabella and she gave birth to Neil and soon died. We have no idea when his parents died, but census shows us Neil lived with other relatives after age one. I would love to know who Red John was. He was orphaned as a very small child and the life events are true.

I want to thank Terrie for sponsoring Grandfather French's memorial!
Married: December 6, 1900 Newton County, Mississippi

Family Members

Siblings Half Siblings
Gravesite Details Beside historical tree #13
  • Created by: Anita Bennich Penn
  • Added: 28 Nov 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 62253101
  • Terrie
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Neil Robert “Neely” French (2 Sep 1861–3 Feb 1939), Find A Grave Memorial no. 62253101, citing Gurley Cemetery, Gurley, Madison County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Anita Bennich Penn (contributor 47387914) .