Early Cabarrus Obituary: Archibald Neely Departs This Life

12 Sep 2014

Early obituaries are rare; the earliest known Cabarrus newspaper is the Weekly Gazette (extant copies 1855-1857), and only a few issues survive. Cabarrus researchers often use early Salisbury and Charlotte newspapers, beginning with Salisbury’s Western Carolinian in 1820, to fill in the blanks. However, lack of early papers is not the only reason obituaries are hard to find; later newspapers like the Tribune and the Daily Independent did not begin printing obituaries extensively until the 1930s. That is why this Charlotte Journal obituary is invaluable, even though it does not name family members of the deceased. The following is reproduced exactly as printed on September 12, 1845:

OBITUARY: Departed this life, on the 29th ult., at the house of John B. Moss. Mr. Archibald Neely, a graduate of Davidson College, in the 25th year of his age. Mr. Neely was born and raised in Rocky River congregation and from his earliest years was remarkable for a benign and pleasant disposition. He received his academic course of studies at Rocky River academy under the instruction of Mr. Robert J. McDowell and early developed a rare talent for close application and deep study. In all his studies he stood at the head of his calass both in his Academic and Collegiate course. At an early period of his life he made a profession of religion and joined the church at Rocky River under the pastoral care of the Rev. D. Lindly. At an early period of his life, the writer of this had a good opportunity of witnessing with what industry he applied himself in searching scriptures. There were few students in the writer’s Sabbath School class that understood the scriptures better (of which class there are some four or five now Ministers of the Gospel.) Mr. Neely had intended on leaving College to enter on his studies for the Ministry, but on his return to his father’s, he found his father’s mind so impaired as to make him incapable of managing his affairs – and about the same time he lost his only brother who could have attended to his father’s affairs. Having settled his father’s business and placed it in such a way that he was released in a measure from that business, he had taken a school in the vicinity of Poplar Tent church, with a fair prospect of raising funds to enable him to pursue his studies in Divinity in some Theological Seminary; but alas, death had marked him for his victim, and in less than ten days from his attack, he was in his cold and icy arms – his disease was typhus fever. Mr. Neely was a young man of genuine piety, was plain and unassuming in his demeanor and in his last sickness his prayers were continually ascending to his Savior. He was truly lovely in his life – there were few who knew him but loved him; but he has gone to his reward in Heaven.

Photo courtesy of Connie Cunningham, findagrave.com.

August, 30 1845

The October 1842 Cabarrus Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions granted special administration for Alexander N. Neely to Archibald Neely, but not until January 1843 did the Court indicate Alexander was deceased. Alexander may be either Archibald’s “only brother” or his “impaired” father. The Rocky River Presbyterian Church Register also shows John Neely, removed by death, October 17, 1868. Archibald himself was dismissed June 4, 1837, “to help form church at Davidson, NC.” The inscription on Archibald Neely’s stone is: Archibald Neely, A. B., b. December 17, 1815, d. July 29, 1845. The letters “A. B.” in the inscription surely stand for Archibald’s Davidson College degree (Latin “artium baccalaureus,” Bachelor of Arts), an unusual accomplishment for the period.