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John Hilyard Family ca. 1909

Monday, February 19, 2018

52.7: Valentine; Mary Ann Valentine Hilyard Neely

This post is part of a project called "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" created by Amy Johnson Crow.

The prompt this week is "Valentine". I actually have ancestors with the surname Valentine, and I blogged about the reluctant immigrant, Barnabas Valentine, a few years ago.

One thing I like about the 52 Ancestors project is that it is making me write about things that I don't feel are "ready." Usually when I blog, I have a fairly complete story to tell on a topic I have researched. Here, I am gathering up what I know about someone and presenting what I have. I hope it will produce some leads.

Today, with the Valentine prompt, I will tell you what I know about the granddaughter of the above mentioned Barnabus Valentine. She was my 3x great-grandmother, Mary Ann Valentine. I have a bit of information on her, but so many more questions that I have been unable to answer.

Mary Ann was the daughter of Barnabus Valentine's son John Valentine and Agnes Neeley.  Both John and Agnes, who went by the nickname Nancy, were married previously and left widowed. They were married 15 Oct 1818 in Fairfield County, Ohio. They each had one son from their first marriages.
John Valentine married Nancy McCrory (nee Neeley)
Fairfield County, Ohio Marriage Book 1800-1836, page 165
If the information on her gravestone is correct, John and Nancy Valentine had their first daughter Mary Ann on 13 Mar 1819, five months after their marriage. This was most certainly in Fairfield County, Ohio, as that was where the couple was married as well as where they were living in the 1820 census. As a side note, I would like to point out that before writing this blog post, I had Mary Ann's birthdate as 13 AUG 1819 in my database, but no source. A careful look at the gravestone gave me what I suspect is a more accurate date, and one I can at least point to a source for.

Shortly after her 10th birthday, Mary Ann's father John Valentine died, on 20 Jun 1829.  This left Nancy Valentine with seven children to raise, the oldest being her stepson age 16, down to a daughter only nine months old. Nancy never remarried, and I'm sure she had a difficult, work-worn life.  Her story will be for another post, however.

About 1838, a family moved in near the Valentines in Rush Creek township of Fairfield County, Ohio by the name of Hilyard. Thomas and Elizabeth (Haught) Hilyard came from Fayette County, Pennsylvania. I believe at the time they moved they had 17 children with them. Their oldest son was already married, and some children were not yet born.  I imagine a match was welcome from both families.

Jeremiah Hilyard married Mary Ann Valentine on 14 Mar 1839 in Fairfield County, Ohio.

Jeremiah Hillyard married Mary Ann Valentine
Fairfield County, Ohio Marriage Book 1835-1869, page 100
The couple is listed adjacent to Nancy Valentine on the 1840 census of Fairfield County, so they may have initially lived with or near her. I believe they stayed in the area for about 10 years before moving west to Allen County, Ohio. Although Jeremiah purchased land in Allen County on 30 Mar 1850, the family was still located in Fairfield County at the time of the census on 30 Aug 1850.

1850 Fairfield County, Ohio Federal Census, Auburn Township, p. 410B
Full image found on

Jeremiah Hilyard died a few years later, on 2 Apr 1855, at the age of 37. The widow Mary Ann was 35.  Just like her mother before her, she had seven surviving children (having lost a girl a few years earlier), and was now living on a farm over 100 miles from her mother and other family.

However, Mary Ann did not follow in the footsteps of her mother Nancy by remaining a widow and raising the kids on her own. Nine months after the death of Jeremiah Hilyard, Mary Ann remarried to what still strikes me as a surprising choice.

Mary Ann Valentine Hilyard, age 36, married Samuel Neely, age about 18 (I don't know his exact birthday).  While it was certainly not uncommon to remarry at that time, and sometimes quickly after a spouse's death,  it was usually a man to a younger, and sometimes much younger, woman. This is one aspect of Mary Ann I have so many questions about.  Was this a love match? How did they meet? What were they thinking?? 

Here is the family in 1860:
1860 Allen County, Ohio Federal Census, Amanda Township, p. 146
Full image found on
Samuel is listed as the head of household, but Mary Ann owned the land (the "1500" refers to the value of her real estate). The others in the house are Mary Ann's children; she and Samuel did not seem to have had children together.

Sam Neely enlisted in the Civil War. In fact, he fought in the same regiment and company as his step-son Thomas Hilyard (only two years his junior):  the 81st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, company E. You can read some about Thomas Hilyard's Civil War service in this blog post. Very little is known of Samuel after this. According to service records, Sam enlisted on 1 Sep 1861 and mustered out 10 Sep 1864, serving his three-year term. The only other record I have found for him is in his mother's will dated 1866, she leaves him one dollar. There's another question: what happened to Samuel Neely?

By the 1870 census, Mary Ann had taken back the surname of Hilyard. I never would have found her before the advent of digitized/indexed censuses. She was living in Fawn River Township, St. Joseph County, Michigan with three of her sons. Another son, John, lived in the same area with his wife.
1870 St. Joseph County, Michigan Federal Census Fawn River Township, p. 106A
Full image found on
Why did they go to Michigan? What brought them back?

By 1880, Mary Ann, now using the surname Neely and marked as being a widow, was back in Ohio. She is listed in her own household, but the two previous entries are for her sons John and Ephraim and their families.
1880 Allen County, Ohio Federal Census Amanda Township, p. 3
Full image found on 
Why Neely? Was she really widowed?

The only other record I have found for Mary Ann is her gravestone. She shares a stone with her first husband, Jeremiah Hilyard. 
Gravestone of Jeremiah and Mary Ann Valentine Hilyard
Allentown Cemetery in Allen County, Ohio

Mary Ann's side of the stone
Died Sept. 13, 1888; age 69 YRS 6 MO
Because of the stone having both Jeremiah and Mary Ann on it, plus a poem about mother and father, I feel it was placed after Mary Ann's death, not Jeremiah's three decades prior.

And that's all I have on Mary Ann Valentine Hilyard Neely. Two marriage records, four census records, and a gravestone. And questions. So many questions. I'll leave you with a picture said to be Mary Ann's oldest daughter, Nancy Ann Hilyard. It was shared to Ancestry by user Dennis Kendall, and I so appreciate it. Perhaps Nancy took after her mother:

Nancy May Hilyard (1842-1877)
who married Joseph Brenneman

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