I am the oldest living Neese in the Jesse Neese family. All of my parents’ generation has passed away, but memories of them linger and are occasionally recalled by the events of an ordinary day – hearing their name or in the face of the newest member of our family. Some-times, I can almost hear a voice from my childhood or feel a touch from the past. We live our lives standing on the shoulders of our ancestors and someday we will stand for our descendants.
This is a story of two families – ordinary people intertwined with the dates, places, and extraordinary events of world history. Their names are not found in history books. Many in the 18th century could neither read nor write their own names, but the Neeses and the Falcons were part of the great movement of peoples from around the world who came to the New World and helped to lay the foundation for the most powerful country on this planet. They did this despite any illiteracy or other deterrent. They established freedom as the bedrock upon which America stands. Our people endured much hardship and privation, but they did not give up in their determination to build America. Our people were among the pioneering immigrants who laid the foundation of our country – the ideals of our country are steeped in the sweat and blood of these early Americans – the Neeses and Falcons.
This book will read like a historical story because our memory of the ancestors of Jesse Neese and Carrie Falcon should not be just names and dates on a family pedigree chart, but as real people who lived real lives.
Jesse’s and Carrie’s story begins before the United States of America came into being and closes with the generation of my parents. This story ends, but the Jesse Neese and Carrie Falcon family is alive today and is continuing to grow and prosper into the twenty-first century and, hopefully, beyond……
The Search begins ….
More than thirty years ago, I asked my father, Woodrow “Dude” Neese, some questions about his father, Jesse Harrison Neese. Questions like, “Where was he from?”, “What did he look like?”, and “Can you remember him?” My father was not able to tell me much since he was only 6 years old when his father died.
This just kindled a desire inside of me to find out more of my grandfather Jesse and my connection to him. Of course, the research broadened with time as I discovered genealogical facts about Jesse, then on to his family and more. One trail has led to another and then another over the years of research.
I can remember standing on the ground before the grave of my third great-grandmother Susannah Barnhart Low Neese. It was the summer of 1977 in Chapel Hill, Tennessee and I was 40 years old. She died October 24, 1852 at the age of 71. As I am writing this today, I, myself, am 71 and can vividly recall that hot summer day in Chapel Hill in the pasture of a dairy farm standing in chigger-laden knee high weeds of the old Neese-Wilson family cemetery. This was one of those goose-bump moments as I visualized the day when her family stood here before her open grave and mourned her passing.
Susannah’s children were all born in North Carolina. In 1825, when she was 44, she gave birth to her last child, daughter Elizabeth Prince Neese, and sometime after 1825 and before 1830 , she and her husband John packed all of their world’s belongings in a Conestoga wagon and walked, with their eight children, 400 miles to Central Tennessee.
Standing among my kin is where it began for me. Somehow, I felt almost near enough to reach out and touch my third-great grandmother and the great-aunts and great-uncles that were laid to rest beside and around her in this small place. I wanted to know more about them, about what living and growing up in a brand new country was like. Perhaps, looking back across the mists of time, I would learn of my ancestors and how they lived.
In recent years, I slowed the hunt and finally stopped. Other interests became more important. Then a recent email from my brother asking me to send some family information to a cousin rekindled the dormant desire to search for yet another ancestral connection.
When I began this ancestral hunt more than 30 years ago, one of my main goals was to document an ancestor as a Patriot of the American War of Independence. Over the years of researching the Neese and Falcon family trees, I confess to never considering my Falcon ancestors being a part of the American War of Independence. Much to my great surprise, however, extensive researching of our Neese/Falcon ancestry in this time period has uncovered evidence, that I believe, proves we are descendants of Patriots of the American Revolution on both our paternal and maternal pedigree.
This is the story of the Jesse Neese family lineage and of the Carrie Falcon family lineage, two distinctive and dissimilar groups of people from which the Jesse H. Neese and Helene Carrie Falcon family branch was born.
Our Falcon family ancestry originated in Spain sometime earlier than the 1500’s and the Neese family ancestry in the Palintate area of Germany in the 1600’s. Our story here will begin with Martin Nease born about 1760 in Pennsylvania and Gaspar Falcon born May 29, 1752 in Los Llanos, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain.
The National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and the National Society of Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR) both recognize Spain’s critical and far-reaching military contribution toward aiding the colony revolutionists. The Fixed Infantry Regiment of Louisiana blockaded critical British ships out of New Orleans, drove the British out of Baton Rouge, Mobile, and Pensacola. Our maternal patriarch, Gaspar Falcon served in the Valenzuela militia under Lieutenant Antonio de St. Maxent and sublieutenant Francisco Corbo during this period.
From his home in the Canary Islands, Gaspar enlisted for military service in the Fixed Regiment of Louisiana and on October 29, 1778 sailed with his family to Spanish Louisiana and settled in the Valenzuela Settlement which was located near present-day Donaldsonville, Louisiana. His name is listed as an armed recruit in the passenger manifest of the Spanish frigate San Ignacio de Loyola.
In the early 1700’s, many Germans were fleeing their homeland to find an easier life in other European countries, the Western Hemisphere, and Australia due to extremely violent conditions. In fact, Germany was repeatedly being attacked by armies of various nationalities. In particular, inhabitants of Southwestern Germany were constantly robbed and tortured. Entire villages were often burnt down and their inhabitants killed. During the flood of emigrants from Germany, its rulers tried to stop the flow, but to little effect. In fact, the flow increased, and in 1709, about 3,000 German immigrants arrived in New York. In 1745 there were an estimated 45,000 living in Pennsylvania. From these Pennsylvania villages would come the ancestors of Jesse H. Neese to ultimately reach the rich farming land of central and western Tennessee.
The German spelling of Neese was Nehs and the name changed after settling in Pennsylvania. Various spellings, from one generation to the next, such as Niece, Nece, and Ness would be used until, generally, Nease, Neace, and Neese became the traditional spelling.
In the opening chapters, the spelling of the Neese surname for indi-viduals will follow how they spelled it. Historically, it was commonplace for persons to be illiterate and their names would appear on documents spelled phonetically by the recorder.
Carrie Falcon, the matriarch of our Neese family, married Jesse H. Neese in 1912. How and where they met is part of our story. Jesse’s story begins in the British colony of Pennsylvania and Carrie’s story begins in the Spanish colony of The Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Africa.
I have found it fascinating that Jesse Neese and Carrie Falcon found each other and were married. Their ethnicity was worlds apart. He was of Germanic origin with a Lutheran religious upbringing and she was of Spanish origin raised in a culture intertwined with the Catholic Church.
After Martin Luther published his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517, others who shared his beliefs came under inexorable religious persecution.
For most of the 17th century, the country of Germany suffered from the horrors of pillage and plunder by the French and Roman Catholic armies. Villages and towns were destroyed and men, women, and children lost their lives. Our Neese ancestors had lived through this turmoil for over two hundred years when our forefathers decided, in the mid-1700s, to come to America. This was an important decision that would separate them from the land of their birth and their families forever.
Approximately one hundred sixty years later, these two pioneering families would be brought together through a business transaction between Madison Neese, Jr. and Frank Falcon, the fathers of Jesse and Carrie.
Sometime prior to 1760, immigrant Germans including our Neeses arrived in the Port of Philadelphia in great numbers, many as inden-tured servants to pay for their passage to America. Once free of this obligation, our pioneering family began establishing a better life for themselves and their families. An industrious people, they became known for their highly productive trades and agriculture.
This is not a fictional account of our family. The author has painstakingly relied upon recognized supporting documents and/or a preponderance of evidence to write the story of the individuals and families in this book.
The meticulous effort in determining the accuracy of the data pre-sented in this book by the author notwithstanding, the possibility of data error still exists.
The author presents his family story as factual and accurate. However, the author does not warrant, imply, nor declare this book is without error. Further, the author presents the contents of this book as an evolving database subject to future revision.
Our family ancestry is more than a list of people’s names and their birthdates. We are descendants of two families of people who lived, worked, raised their families, and who helped light freedom’s torch and then passed it on to their children.
Genealogists, by the nature of their work, quickly become students of history. In learning who our ancestors were, we must study their lives where they lived them, when they lived them, and how their world(s) intertwined with the regional, state, national, and world environment of their time.
I have learned that many of my ancestors were brave, industrious, and gifted people. The blood of my paternal ancestry and maternal ancestry flows through me and that gives me pause to wonder if I could have lived alongside them and done as well.
Billy Joe Neese