EASLEY — A little bit of history came to life during a recent memorial service for Zekiel Nalley, Confederate soldier and ancestor to one of the Upstate’s oldest family names: Nalley.
According to the Civil War records for Hall County, Ga., the 56th Regiment, Company D, in which Nalley served, has but a single record of Zekiel. It reads simply: “Nally, Z. T. – Private – May 8, 1862. Appears on bounty pay roll for June 13, 1862. No later record.”
Through old census records, more information on the life of Nalley was uncovered.
Zekiel Thompson Nalley was born on July 28, 1832, in Anderson County, S.C., as the youngest child to Barksdale Nalley Sr. and Tabitha Williams.
At the age of 20, he married Mary Pettygrew Smith and in the 10 years they were together, Zekiel and Mary had four children: Martha, Sarah, George and William, all of whom reached adulthood, although Sarah died at age 34.
On May 12, 1862, Zekiel volunteered for the Confederate Army and enlisted in the 56th Georgia Infantry. Less than three months later, Zekiel was dead, leaving his wife Mary with four children, all under the age of 10.
The story of Zekiel Nalley should have ended there. Like so many other soldiers, his body was never recovered and circumstances surrounding his death are, at best, “educated guesses.”
It is known that the 56th Georgia Infantry, to which Nalley was attached, fought at the Battle of Cumberland Gap, a battle that was lost by the South in June 1862. Because all records for Nalley stop at this time, it is likely that he was either killed in battle or was gravely wounded and died while in transit with the 56th as they moved into Kentucky.
Family lore tells another story.
In a tale that has been passed down to the current Nalley descendants, Zekiel Nalley met his end by being burned alive by Federal troops. The story goes that he was on military leave in Forsyth County in Georgia before being captured and making his fiery end on July 25, 1862.
However Zekiel perished, his descendants live on. Through his and Mary’s children, the Nalley name and bloodline continues to be passed on from generation to generation in the Upstate as well as other parts of the country.
Direct descendants of Zekiel Nalley honored his memory recently by holding a memorial service for their ancestor at Fairview United Methodist Church just over the Anderson County line in Easley.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.