Jacob Nabors




Submitted by John Robert Walker

This article appeared as the "Cover Story" in the Shelby County Historical Society Quarterly magazine dated March 2004.
Cover photographs included Mary Elizabeth Nabors Ozley, 1844-1914, and Jesse Robert Nabors, 1882-1953.
Visit the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc.   for further information.


Jacob Nabors, my fourth great-grandfather, is believed to have been born in Virginia. 1748-1752, and died in Greenville, South Carolina. He and his wife, Judith, were the parents of at least six known children, two were known to have lived in pioneer Alabama and descendants of others also lived in Alabama. Attempts have been made to link Jacob Nabors to his “probable” parents and grandparents. Some researchers have connected him to be a son of Benjamin Neighbours, possibly born in Virginia in 1700 to 1710, who was a reported son of Abraham and Rebecca Neighbours. Abraham was believed to be the original Neighbours emigrant to America from either France or Ireland.

Through the years the Nabors families spelled their names in various ways, including Neighbors, Neighbours, Nabors, Nabours, and Nabers. However, family tradition carried down through the many generations implies that all are descendants of the original emigrant, Abraham and Rebecca Neighbours.

The known places that Jacob and Judith Nabors lived were Laurens County, Virginia, Prince Edward County, Virginia, and Greenville District, South Carolina. Jacob Neighbors is one of the original signers on 24 September 1776 of the “Petition For Religious Liberty” in Prince Edward County, Virginia. In 1817, his last will and testament was probated in Greenville County, South Carolina and his son, John Nabours, was the Administrator of the Estate. A dower release of the probate was dated 3 November 1818 and was signed by his six “heirs and lawful issue” as being (1) John Nabours, with wife Sally, (2) Arthur Nabours, with wife Sally Nabours, (3) Abraham Nabours, with wife Nancy, (4) Jacob Nabours, with wife Betsy, (5) William Nabours and (6) Henry Hill, spouse of Judith Nabours Hill. The probate described 110 acres located on the southwest branch of Horse Creek in the Greenville District of South Carolina as being the “track of land occupied by the aforesaid Jacob Nabors, deceased”. The probated estate made no mention of a surviving spouse; therefore, it is assumed that his wife, Judith, may not have survived him. Arthur “Artur” Nabours/Nabors and Rev. Abraham Nabours/Nabors lived in Shelby County Alabama at some time during their lives.

Arthur “Artur” Nabors was born in Laurens County South Carolina between 1780-1784 and was the son of Jacob and Judith Nabors. He and his wife, Sally, had fourteen children. The first seven children were born in South Carolina before the family moved to Shelby County Alabama. They were (1) Judith Nabors, who was believed to be the oldest child (2) Lucinda Nabors, born 1804, married Horatio Wilson. They lived in Attata County Mississippi and had six children, *Horatio *William *Lucinda *Parela M. *George *Elizabeth. (3) John W. Nabors, (1808-1868). (4) Jane Nabors, born 1809, married Hammet Shaw and they had seven children, *Eliza *Artur *Mary *Parthina *William *Catherina *Jane. (5) Druscilla “Betsy,” born 1812, married John H. McNeer, 1810-1855. Their children were *Andrew *William *Sarah Jane *Thomas *Jane *John *Martha *James Francis. (6) Kesiah, born 1814, married John Blanton in Winston County Mississippi on 20 July 1836. They lived in Choctaw County Mississippi and their children were *William *James *Malinda *Lavisa *Edmond *Sarah F *Berry H. (7) Arthur Jr., 1815-1864. He married Sarah Crawford on 29 August 1843 and their four known children, all born in Shelby County Alabama, were *Isabella *Susan *Rachiel *Jeff D. During the Civil War Arthur Jr. served the Confederacy in Company B, 1st Battalion, Mississippi Sharpshooters.

Their next five children were born in Shelby County Alabama. They were (8) Lindsey M., 1817-1888. He married Elizabeth Crawford. He died and is buried in Winston County Mississippi. They had one known son, *William. (9) Allen J., 1820-1866. In 1838 he married Julia Ann Brown. He died in Bradley County Arkansas. Their children were *James “Jim” *Sarah *Julia Eveline “Evie” *Owen K. “Kay” *William Jackson “Jack” *Arkansas “Arkie” *Virginia Lucinda “Jenny” *Tennessee “Tenny” *Florence *John Allen. (10) William, born 1823. During the Civil War he served the Confederacy in Company F, 28th Alabama Infantry. (11) Paralee, born 1827, married James M. Dean. (12) Elizabeth, born 1829. She married Peter G. Crawford on 24 February 1849 in Winston County Mississippi.

Their remaining children were (13) James M., born 1831 probably in Mississippi. He married Adaline Smith on 27 June 1855 in Shelby County Alabama. He served the Confederacy during the Civil War in Company B, 2nd Alabama Calvary. Their two children were *Francis, and *Mary. (14) Blassingame, born 1833 in Winston County Mississippi. He married in Mississippi to Nancy A. Bandy on 21 October 1853.

Arthur “Artur” Nabors served in the War of 1812 as a private in the 3rd Regiment of the South Carolina Militia. He served with his cousin Buel “Tinny” Blassingame Nabors. Prior to 1820, probably after his father's will was probated in November 1818, he and a group of his brothers and cousins moved to Shelby County Alabama. “Arter Neighbours” and family were identified in the 1820 census of Shelby County Alabama. Transcribed in the June 2002 Shelby County Historical Society Quarterly magazine, page 5, “Arther Nabers” and 11 others on 8 July 1822, including his cousin Buel “Tinny” Blassingame Nabers, entered into contract with Titus H. Mundine to teach an “English school” for two months at five days per week and two hours per day. The Tuskaloosa Land Office indicates that in 1824 he purchased 79.48 acres in the eastern half of the NW quarter of Section 9, Township 21 and Range 3W in Shelby County Alabama. The Commissioner's Court of Shelby County appointed him Commissioner of Township 21 on 2 January 1826. He was appointed to replace his brother, Abraham Nabors, who had refused to qualify himself. On 11 February 1828 he sold the 79.48 acres to David Merredith and after the 1830 census of Shelby County Alabama he and his family moved to Winston County Mississippi where they lived the remainder of their lives. He is believed to have died in November 1838.

John W. Nabors was born 21 October 1808 in South Carolina. Some believe that his middle name was “Washington” and he was possibly a “Sr.” In about 1826 he married Elizabeth “Betsy” McNair. It is believed that Betsy was the sister of John H. McNeer, the spouse of his sister, Druscilla Nabors. John and Betsy Nabors raised a family of 10 children in the Camp Branch/Longview area of Shelby County Alabama. The Nabors home was on the southeast corner of present day County Road 26 and Massey Road. John W. Nabors assumed the title to the property in 1854. He became a wealthy landowner in Shelby County and St. Clair County Alabama. His oldest child, Jane, married her first cousin from St. Clair County and that led to his buying land there. He owned several slaves. According to an article in the book The Heritage of Shelby County, Alabama, by Judith Harmon Acker, “he deeded property to two of his freed slaves: to Hudson, land near the Siluria Mill, and to Lee Bias (buried in the Elliottsville Cemetery) land along Old Highway 31 from Longview to the Simsville Road area.” He owned a Sawmill and a Tavern and Inn near Blue Springs, now Siluria, in Shelby County Alabama. Betsy Nabors, was born in South Carolina on 5 October 1807 and died 15 October 1868 and was buried in a small area near the home. John W. Nabors died sixteen days later and was buried next to his wife. These were possibly the first two gravesites in what is known today as the Nabors Cemetery. He died intestate and it took over 8 years to probate his will in Shelby and St. Clair counties. His son, John Washington Nabors, inherited the Nabors home and later passed it on to his son Jesse Robert Nabors.

The children of John and Betsy Nabors were (1) Jane H., 1827-1863. She married on 22 September 1852 to James M. Nabors, 1832-1893, a first cousin and the son of Allen and Ann Moore Nabors. The 1860 Federal Census for Shelby County Alabama indicate that James and Jane to be keepers of the Poor House with five paupers in their care. Their children were *Columbus C. *Sarah Elizabeth *Zilla Ann *Henry M. *Margaret Catherine “Maggie” *William Thomas “Tom.” After the early death of Jane, Grandfather John was awarded guardian of their six children. On 30 October 1866 his second marriage was to Martha Prentice, daughter of James Prentice. They had 3 known children *Martha Prentice *James Franklin *Robert Lafayette. (2) Hugh, married on 23 September 1856 to Priscilla Nivens, 1837-1881. Their children were *James L. *Mary A. *William M. (3) Sarah M., 1835-1909, married first to Stephen Wharton Lee, 1833-1888, on 4 January 1854. Stephen Lee was a son of Needham and Nancy Lee. Her second marriage in June 1876 was to Thomas Elias Little, 1849-1909. (4) James “Jim” J., 1836-1902. (5) Margaret Anne. Born 1841, married on 11 November 1869 to James W. Howard. (6) John Washington, 1842-1915. (7) Mary Elizabeth, 1844-1914. (8) Andrew Henry, 1846-1899. His first wife was Lula Bay Jones and his second marriage on 19 September 1965 was to Sarah C. “Sallie” Muse. Andrew and Sarah had 6 children *David J. *Jasper *Maliciah A. *Elizabeth D. *Edna L. *Louis M. (9) Thomas D., born 1848, was married to Virginia Ann “Jenney” Street, born 1853. Their children were *Gaster L. *Lexie Griffin. (10) William M., 1850-1919, married on 2 September 1873 to Addie S. Elliott, 1856-1936. Their children were *Robert D. *Rollie *Floraie *Horace L. *Augustus F. *Olah *Fred F. *Hugh F. *Leila.

James “Jim” J. Nabors, born December 1836 in Shelby County Alabama. On 22 September 1852 he was married to Jane Starrs. They had no children. His second marriage on 11 August 1861 in Shelby County Alabama was to Mary Frances Naish, 1841-1901. She was the daughter of John Womac Naish and Elinor Nell Lindsey. Both parents were descendants of pioneer Shelby County families. Jim served the Confederacy in the Civil War in Company “C” 31st Alabama Infantry. The 31st Alabama Infantry was organized in Shelby County in March 1862. He served with his brother Hugh. The children of Jim and Mary were *Jannie, born about 1862 *Virginia ”Jenny” T., 1862-1940. She married on 2 August 1883 to James G. Jones. Their children were Charley C., John W., and Chester A. *Elbert W., 1866-1902 *Alabama “Allie,” 1872-1905. *Mary “Mollie” Allice, 1872-1882 *William “Willie” Franklin, 1874-1924. He married Sarah Elizabeth Bell, 1879-1960 and their children were Francis Murrel, Marrion Bell, Helon Elizabeth, Paul Edward, and Marvin H.

John Washington Nabors, the sixth child of John and Betsy Nabors, was born 26 June 1842 at the Camp Branch/Saginaw home. He married in Shelby County Alabama on 1 August 1861 to Piety Elizabeth “Betsy” Leonard, 1846-1925, the daughter of Jacob Madison Leonard and Emily Reeves, both Shelby County pioneer families. John served the Confederacy in the Civil War in Company “C” of the 31st Alabama Infantry. He was wounded several times and was captured by federal forces at Columbia, South Carolina on 25 February 1865 and remained a prisoner until he was discharged on 15 June 1865. John and Piety were named as guardians of Jane and James Nabors six children in his father's estate settlement. John died 5 July 1915, and Piety died on 9 May 1925. Both are buried in the Nabors Cemetery in Saginaw, Shelby County, Alabama. Their 12 children, all born in Shelby County, were *Harvey W., 1867-1915. On 1 March 1893 he married Leona Murphy and their children were Earline, Cecil C., and John Arthur. *Joanna “Johanna,” 1868-1918. She married John Frank Wilson, 1867-1925 *Charles P., born and died 1870. *Lula G., 1871-1896. On 20 November 1889 she married John C. Loftin. *Lelar J., born and died 1874. *Thomas Anderson, 1876-1959. * J. William, born 1877. *Emely, born and died 1878. *Alice, 1879-1967. On 11 September 1899 she married Elishia Thomas Gullehorn, 1872-1933. Their children were Russell, Wallace, Frank C., Mildred, John Raymond, Piety Lucille, Elmer Joe, Ella Pearl, and Thomas. *Jesse Robert, 1882-1953. *Pearl “Lizzie,” 1886-1952. She first was married to John Lavinsky and their child was Charles Roy. On 6 November 1923 her second marriage was to John Frank Wilson, 1867-1925, her former brother-in-law. *Ella P., 1890-1977, married Lawrence Edward McCain, 1875-1971.

Jesse Robert Nabors, the tenth child of John Washington and Piety Nabors, was born 7 September 1882 in Camp Branch, Shelby County, Alabama. On 22 November 1907 he married Anna Eleanor Naish, 1884-1978, the daughter of Randolph and Julia Wilson Naish. Jesse received the Nabors farm and home from his parents, and he and Anna lived there with their children for several years before moving to Helena. They later moved to Siluria and then to Alabaster where they lived the rest of their lives. Jesse worked for 45 years for the L&N Railroad. Jesse and Anna were long standing members of Siluria Methodist Church. Jesse died 17 September 1953 and Anna died 21 December 1978. Both are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama. Their children were *Helen Mae, 1910-1991. She married Henry M. Johnson, 1907-1968, and their children were Henry M. Jr., Steven Nabors, and Anne, who died as an infant. *Julia Madeline, 1914-1997, married Larry Fern Ward, 1906-1963. Their children were Sandra Ann and Larry Fern, Jr. *Frances Nell, 1919-1996, was first married to William Earl Duke, 1921-1968. Her second marriage was to John H. “Jack” Wilson, 1919-1997. Their granddaughter, Sandra Ann Ward, married John Bertrand Lott on 25 August 1961. Sandra Lott was a contributing source for information included in this article.

Mary Elizabeth Nabors, the seventh child of John and Betsy Nabors, was born at home on 3 May 1844 in the Camp Branch/Saginaw community in Shelby County Alabama. On 19 August 1869 in Shelby County Alabama she married John Willis Ozley, 1847-1911. He was the son of Thomas and Zilpha Bailey Ozley. Mary was a petite girl with red hair and a matching disposition. The Ozley home was located in the hills behind the site of the present day Dravo Lime Company. John Willis Ozley died in Shelby County Alabama on 18 March 1911 and Mary Elizabeth Nabors Ozley died in 1914 in Jefferson County Alabama, at the home of Ollie & Parrie Lee Green. They were buried in the Nabors Cemetery in Shelby County Alabama. Their children were *Parrie Lee, 1870-1934, married 9 November 1891 to Oliver H. “Ollie” Green. He was the son of John and Nancy Elizabeth Loveless Green. Their children were Joe Willis, Charles Lester, Herman Reed, Oliver Lee, George Buford, Mary Lucille, and Eunice Ann. Eunice Ann Nabors first married John William Calhoun Walker. They were the parents of John Robert Walker, the submitter of this article. *George, born and died 1871. *Henry Clay, 1874-1941, married Cora Clara Clayton, daughter of John Asroe Clayton, a Cherokee Indian, and Margaret Ann “Maggie” Stonecypher. Their children were Willie Edgar, John Willis, Asrow Clayton, Mary Magdalene, and Filey Minnie Odessa. *Thomas “Tom” Franklin, 1876-1942, never married. *Lillie, 1878-1879. *Claudie E., 1880-1887. *Unnamed, died at birth in 1882. *Etta Mae, 1886-1965. married on 24 April 1903 to Milton Edward Woolley, 1884-1951. Their children, all born in Shelby County Alabama, were Mary Ann, Lucy Lee, Ida Mae, Robert E., Roy Willis, Virginia Elizabeth, Archie E., Dorothy Frances, and Justine Tena. *William Clifton, 1889-1961, married on 12 February 1921 to Lettie Leonia Fraser, 1902-1984. They had no children.

Rev. Abraham Nabors, son of Jacob and Judith Nabors, was born about 1790 in Laurens County South Carolina. He married Nancy (Crockett) Crawford, born 1792. She died in 1860 in Shelby County Alabama. Abraham was a Methodist minister, and his third child, Paul, was also a Methodist minister. The family of Abraham moved to the Shelby County area in about 1816-1817, along with his brother, Arthur “Artur,” and probably his cousins, Buel Blassingame, Charles, Lewis, and Samuel. All have been reported to move to Alabama in that time period. Rev. Abraham Nabors died in Perry County Alabama in 1848.

The children of Abraham and Nancy Nabors were (1) Annie Louvine, 1808-1889. Her marriages were to Rev. John Crowson, John Harless, John Weeks, and John Crowson. (2) Sarah H., 1810-1875, was married to John H. Harless. Their children were *Margaret C. *Charles C. *Henry *Nancy Elizabeth *Sarah Rebecca. (3) Rev. Paul Hampton, 1811-1878, married on 25 January 1834 in Shelby County Alabama to Mary “Polly” Hanna Harless. Their children were William Henry, Mallissa Caroline, Elizabeth, John Wesley, Martha Ann, George Milton, James Harrison, Margaret Elizabeth, Sarah Catherine, Mary Elizabeth, Thomas Annason, Nancy Pida, Mellon Paul, and Paul Hampton. (4) Silas Mason, 1815-1881, married Mary W. Neal. In 1841 he served as a Justice of the Peace in Shelby County Alabama. Their children were *Eleanor *Sarah *Abraham Monroe *Salina *Robert. (5) Mary “Polly,” born about 1815, married James Farley. (6) Ira, married Lucinda Foust. Their children were Jane and Mary. (7) James G., married Mary Wiggins. Their child was James J. (8) Wilson Burr, born about 1822, married Sarah Ann Barham. He served in the Civil War as a Private in Company “A” 61st Alabama Infantry. (9) Joshua W., 1824-1901. His first marriage was to Jane (Reeves) Smith. Their children were *James *Mary *Benjamin *Cordiana. His second marriage was to Jane Reid and their child was *Margaret Loucretia. (10) Sallie Catherine, 1831-1910, married on 20 September 1855 to Joshua Henry Frost, son of Jesse and Catherine Harless Frost. Their child was *Joshua Mitchell. (11) William Mason, born 1832, married on 30 August 1851 to his cousin, Rebecca A. Nabors, daughter of Buel and Jane Nabors. Their children were *Mary S. *William M. *Allice *Harvy *Florance *Sarah. He served as a Captain in the Civil War in Company “D” 28th Alabama Infantry. (12) Elizabeth, married Hilliard Ben Stewart. (13) Caroline, married Jim Brieland (14) Margaret, married Mathias Mowdy. The obituary, The Shelby County Advocate, December 2, 1909, “Death of Mrs. Mowdy. On the morning of Nov. 18th, 1909, death entered the home of Mrs. Mattie Butts and took from it her aged mother, Mrs. Margaret Mowdy, she had been very feeble for sometime being in her 84th year. Her death was very sudden but peaceful as a little babe going to sleep. She was a daughter of Rev. Abraham Nabors formerly of Shelby county, and had been a consistent member of the M.E. Church for 70 years. She leaves two daughters and a number of grand children and great grand children and friends to mourn her loss; but weep not dear ones for our loss is Heavens gain and may we all live so as to meet her in a brighter world beyond for we feel sure that dear one is at rest, but oh! how sadly we all shall miss her here. She was laid to rest in Stanton cemetery on the 19th. Revs. Martin and Ruddick conducting funeral services. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved ones. A Friend. Dearest mother thou has left us. And they loss we greatly feel, But tis He who hath bereft us, He can all our sorrows heal. R.E.B., W.J.B." Their daughter, Nancy C. Mowdy, married William Knowles in Shelby County Alabama on 20 November 1872. Their daughter, Lexie Knowles, 1881-1942, married in Shelby County Alabama on 12 November 1899 to Joseph S. Essman, 1877-1916. (15) Hariet, married James Barnett. (16) Lucricia, married on 30 November 1841 to Matthew Asbury Farley. Their children were *John Cannon *James W. (17) A. Wesley, married on 3 July 1859 to Mary Moore. Their child was *Parrie. He served in the Civil War as a Corporal in Company “D” 30th Alabama Infantry.