Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 2, May, 1998 Page: 51
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The Angus McNeill Family
by Ernest Mae Seaholm
Colorado County had many famous and notorious citizens in the nine-
teenth century, but few surpassed the exploits and accomplishments of the Angus McNeill
family. In a period of speculation and expansion, political upheaval and conflict, and
unbridled adventures in the pursuit of fame and fortune, the Angus McNeill family seems
to have personified that century while advocating the doctrines of manifest destiny, free
enterprise, and states' rights. The family, which had its roots in North Carolina, became
particularly well-adapted to the way of life in Mississippi, Louisiana, the Republic of
Texas, and the State of Texas. Well known to the movers and shakers of the time, Angus
McNeill used his skillful manipulation of people and affairs to become involved in the
opening of the frontier in two states, the building of two cities, and the participation in
several armed conflicts. Called "a very intelligent man, but visionary . .. at least twenty-
five years in advance of the state of things" by William Fairfax Gray and Major Alexander
McNeill,' Angus McNeill experienced some successes and fame, but in the end he be-
came a neglected old man who had outlived all of his family except his grandchildren. His
accomplishments, however, were not completely destroyed, and the documents of Angus
McNeill and his family have survived, though they are somewhat ignored, in the states
where he lived, schemed, fought, and died.
Angus McNeill was born in North Carolina on February 22, 1806,2 the
son of Alexander McNeill and Mary Walker. His father died in Caswell County, North
Carolina, leaving a simple will, dated November 19, 1808 and proved in the court in
December 1808. In the will, Alexander McNeill left his wife one third of his estate during
her widowhood, and the rest went to his son Angus. If the boy were to die before he
reached maturity, the estate was to go to his mother. Alexander also stated that he wished
the child Angus "to be sent to my Brother John P. MacNeill of Charleston South Carolina
as soon as he is old enough to leave his Mother." He appointed his wife, Alexander
Murphey, and Joseph Anthony executors of the will, which was witnessed by William
Walker, William Walker (Stiller), and Hugh Walker.3 On February 10, 1809, a sale of
Alexander's estate was held at which Mary McNeill purchased most of the household
1 William Fairfax Gray, From Virginia to Texas, 1835: Diary of Col. Wm. F. Gray (Houston: The
Fletcher Young Publishing Co., 1965), p. 32.
2 Deposition of Angus McNeill, in District Court Records of Caddo Parish, Louisiana, Angus
McNeill, et al. v. Hicks and Howell
3 Probate Records of Caswell County, North Carolina, Book F, Will of Alexander McNeill, or
xerographic copy in McNeill Family File, Archives of the Nesbitt Memorial Library, Columbus, Texas.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 8, Number 2, May, 1998, periodical, May 1998; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151403/m1/3/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.