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Re: William E. Donnell of Wilson CO, TN
Posted by: Carol Fulton (ID *****7941) Date: October 15, 2004 at 06:20:20
In Reply to: RE: William E. Donnell of Wilson CO, TN by Franklin Womack of 687

For the reasons listed below, I think your ancestor is William Eagleton Donnell, born about 1836 in TN to Josiah Donnell and Nancy Thompson. He married Julia Porterfield before 1860 and died in about 1862 at the Battle of Fort Donelson.

1. A Genealogy of Donnell, Langford and Other Families by Charles E. Donnell is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Note that this book contains some errors. However, on pages 117-118, the author states the following:

“Josiah Donnell was born in the Nottingham Colony, North Carolina in the 1780’s and moved with his family to Wilson Co., TN in 1796-1800. He was one of the seven sons of Capt. William and Mary Jane Donnell. Josiah’s first wife was a Majors; his second wife was Nancy Thompson. The following children were all born in Wilson Co., TN. I do not know which of the two wives was their mother: Sindy, Betsey, Mary Francess, Camelia, Louise, Cassandra, Fredonia, Eagleton, Robert Thompson, and James Peter Donnell. Mary Francess Donnell married a Mr. Thompson; Louise married a Baird, or Beard; Eagleton Donnell married Julia Porterfield; Cassandra Donnell married Fulton Porterfield.”

Note that other sources, including the census data, indicate that Josiah Donnell was born in NC as early as 1795 or perhaps later but not in the 1780s as indicated above.

2. Marriage Records
Josiah Donnell’s first wife was Nancy Major. I do not have a marriage record, but the marriage is confirmed in the will of Nancy’s father, John Major. Josiah and Nancy had two daughters: Lucinda and Elizabeth.

I am trying to prove that Josiah’s daughter Elizabeth is Elizabeth Harriet DONNELL (my gg-grandmother) born about 1825 in Wilson Co., TN; married John A. STEWART 2 Dec 1841 in Wilson Co., TN; moved to Ellis Co., TX in 1857; and died about 1866 in Ellis Co., TX. Some researchers think that Elizabeth Harriet Donnell is the “Betsey” or Elizabeth mentioned above as a child of Josiah Donnell. If so, then she would be a half-sister of [William] Eagleton Donnell.

Josiah married his second wife, Nancy P. Thompson, on 17 May 1930.

3. Census Data:
1850 Census, Wilson Co., TN
District #20, family 888
Joseph DONALD [this is probably Josiah DONNELL], 46 m NC [His age in the 1860 census is        65—should it be 56 here?]
Nancy, 31, f, TN [is this Nancy P. Thompson who married Josiah Donnell 17 May 1830? If, so, then her age doesn’t fit—she should be about 41, not 31. In the 1860 census, her age is 50.]
Louisa, 18, f, TN
Cassandra, 15, f, TN
William, 14, m, TN (Is this William Eagleton DONNELL, your ancestor?]
Robert, 11, m, TN
Frances, 8, f, TN
Fredonia, 6, f, TN
Peter, 4, m, TN
Clementine, 1, f, TN

1860 TN Mortality Schedule
Donnell, Camilla A. born Wilson Co., age 10, female, died August 1859? of Scarlet fever

1860 Wilson Co., TN data:
Household 77, family 67
Josiah Donnell, 55, m, NC
Nancy Donnell, 50, f, TN [note that her age is more plausible here, since she married 17 May 1830]
Louisa, 28, f, TN
Frances, 18, f, TN
Fredona, 16, f, TN
Peter, 13, m, TN

1860 Wilson Co, TN
Household 332, family 309
W. E. Donnell, 23, m, TN [this is probably your ancestor]
Julia Donnell, 23, f, TN
Mary Donnell, 1, f, TN.

3. Civil War Questionnaires and Pension Applications
Peter Donnell, [this is James Peter Donnell, the brother of William Eagleton Donnell] in his TN Civil War Veterans Questionnaire indicates that he served with “Lt. Egleton Donnell, from Wilson Co., Tenn. killed at Ft. Donelson” [Note: The name of the fort is very difficult to read, but there is a Fort Donelson in Tennessee where a Civil War battle took place on 16 Feb 1862.] (A copy of the questionnaire can be ordered from

J. P. [this is James Peter] Donnell, TN Soldier’s Application for Pension, dated 30 July 1927, (available from He states that he was born in Wilson Co., TN on 31 July 1846, enlisted in 1864 in the Confederate Army, served in Co. C, 4th TN Cavalry, under McLemore.” One of the witnesses for the application is Ben Moser, Watertown, TN. A note on the front indicates that J. P. Donnell died April 8, 1935.

Ben Moser, TN Civil War Veterans Questionnaire (
“Served with: Peter Parnell (Parnell or Donnell); Guss & Geo. Alexander; Thom E. Parnell; Eggleston Parnell”
[Note: It is possible that this Eggleston Parnell is actually Eggleston Donnell since Ben Moser also had the name of Peter Donnell wrong.]

I hope this information helps. Additional proof might be found in the church records of the Spring Creek Presbyterian Church, Wilson Co., TN, which I do not have.

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