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In January of 2002, I began to correspond with Dr. Philip Kearney regarding Naff family information he had found on my web site. He was writing a family history of the Massengill, Kearney, Calbough, and Shell/Schell families. Dr. Kearney knew that William Riley Schell had married the daughter of a Jacob Naff and that one of their children was named Cordelia.

In searching for the Naff connection to the Schell family, he had noticed in my genealogy files a Cordelia Naff listed as the daughter of Henry Hoss Naff, Jr. of Greene County, Tennessee. At first it appeared that Cordelia had been placed in the wrong Naff family because I had recorded her father as Henry Hoss Naff, Jr. and Dr. Kearney's records showed her father as William Riley Schell.

As we continued to correspond, I began to realize that what Dr. Kearney had was more complete information on the second marriage of Jacob Naff to Amanda Melvina Broyles. It was apparent that the Cordelia Naff in Dr. Kearney's family records could not be the child of Henry Hoss Naff, Jr. The Kearney family has primary records to support the parentage of Cordelia Naff. Also, they added the middle name, "Ann" to their records, giving the name as "Cordelia Ann Naff."

John Wesley Boitnott, Ph.D., 1897-2002, was the original researcher of Jacob Naff, Sr. and his descendants. This family is designated as the E1 line by the Neff Family Historical Society. Dr. Boitnott had recorded the marriage of Jacob Naff to Margaret Ann Eakin in his book, Naff and Related Families, published by him in Harrisonburg, Virginia, 1979. He also stated that there was a second marriage of Jacob Naff to Amanda Melvina Broyles, but he had no further information at the time his book was published.3

This article will not only give a fuller history of the second marriage of Jacob Naff to Amanda Melvina Broyles; it will give some basic information on the families making up the background of William Riley Schell who married on the Jacob's daughters.

Before proceeding further, it might be convenient for the reader to view the below chart, showing the ancestry of Jacob Naff of Greene County, Tennessee, with whom this article will begin.

Jacob Naff and Margaret Ann Aikin/Eakin

Jacob Naff, b. 26-May 1805 in Greene County, Tennessee, died 06-Nov-1877, in Tennessee.1,2 He was the son of Jonathan Nafe/Naff and Catherine (Hoss) Naff. Jacob was also the grandson of Jacob Naff, Sr. and Eva Katherine (Flora/Florey/Florin) Naff, immigrant ancestors from Switzerland, who settled in what is now Franklin County, Virginia.

Jacob Naff and his first wife, Margaret Ann Eakin, daughter of George Eakin and Mary Steele, were married in Tennessee on 10-Jan-1828. Jacob was twenty-two and Margaret Ann was only sixteen years old.3 Jacob was a tailor, but we do not know how he learned the trade or when he began his business. We might assume it was around the time he was first married to Margaret Ann Eakin.

Jacob and Margaret Ann (Eakin) Naff had two children: George Eakin Naff, born 03-Jul-1829 in Jonesboro, Tennessee, died 3-Feb-1862; and John Summerfield Naff, born 21-Nov-1830, died 13-Jul-1831. John Boitnott listed a third child, William Crawford Naff, born 27-Jul-1851, but this child was of Jacob Naff's second marriage, a twin of Isaac Newton Naff. Both children of Jacob and Margaret Ann Eakin listed above were born in Washington County, Tennessee.1, 2

George Eakin Naff, eldest son of Jacob and Margaret (Eakin) Naff, became a Presbyterian minister. He graduated from Emory and Henry College in Virginia in 1848 where he was awarded the coveted Robertson Prize for Oratory in his senior year. George Eakin Naff was president of Soule College3, now Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Apparently Rev. George Eakin Naff wrote his autobiography, because John Boitnott refers to it on page 69 of his book, Naff and Related Families. Rev. George Eakin Naff married on 16-Oct-1851 in Emory, Virginia, Margaret Elizabeth Hope, daughter of Margaret Montgomery and John Hope.

Jacob and his wife, Margaret Ann, faced some difficult days in their marriage. Their second son, John Summerfield Naff, died at only eight months of age in 1831. We can only imagine what sort of disease or infirmity caused this devastating loss to the couple. Only two years later, on 14-Dec-1833,1, 2 Margaret Ann passed away, leaving her husband a young widower with a son only two years old.

View the home of Jacob Naff in Jonesboro, the oldest city in Tennessee.
The home is built in the Federal style and is included on the Jonesboro Historic Tour:

View 1View 2

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The Broyles Family

Jacob Naff married Amanda Melvina Broyles 25-Jun-1835, about eighteen months after the death of his first wife. Amanda Melvina Broyles was the daughter of Rosina (Rosanna) Broyles and Adam Broyles. Rosina, born 19-Nov-1769 in Culpeper, Virginia, died 25-Oct-1837 in Washington County, Tennessee. She was the widow of Reuben Broyles. Adam Broyles, born 7-Oct-1781, in North Carolina, died 15-Sep-1863 in Washington County, Tennessee. He was the son of Adam Broyles, a blacksmith (1735-1799), and grandson of Conrad Briles/Broyles).4

Adam Broyles (1781-1863), the father of Amanda Melvina, was twelve years younger than his wife, Rosina. He and Rosina were second cousins. Adam was a quite picturesque character who acquired considerable property in Tennessee. After the death of Rosina Broyles in 1837, Adam remarried Nancy (Doak) Mitchell in 1838. Nancy was the daughter of the Rev. Samuel Doak, D.D., the first president of Washington College Academy (1783) and the founder of Salem Presybterian Church.4

It is interesting to note that Jacob Naff was a trustee of Martin Academy, later Washington College Academy, when it was first formed. [Boitnott, page 41] According to Goodspeed's History of Washington County, Tennessee: "In the establishment of a school for the higher education of youth, Washington County has the honor of being the pioneer west of the Allegheny Mountains. In 1777 the Legislature of North Carolina granted a charter for Martin Academy in Washington County, and Samuel Doak, who came to the county the following year, established a school under the provisions of this act. At what time he began teaching is not definitely known, but it must have been in 1783 or 1784. He taught at first in a small log building, which stood on his own farm, a short distance west of the present college campus." See also the history of Washington College Academy at Select the "History" button on the home page.

The village of Broylesville in Tennessee was named for Adam Broyles. He was an influential man with the reputation of having entertained three presidents of the United States: Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson as a rather frequent visitor. "It is said he had pronounced features, Indian-like, powerful jaws and cheek bones, yet with a kindly look in his eye."6 He was an outspoken Union supporter during the Civil War. When he died he was wrapped in a large Union flag which had been presented to him by Col. Robert Johnson, son of Andrew Johnson.4,5

The Broyles family traces its roots back to Johannes Breyhel, son of Conrad and Margaretha Schelling. Johannes was born in Dusslingen, Württemberg, Germany. He moved to Oetsiheim around 1700, where he married Ursula Ruop (Rüpp), daughter of a local grave digger.6 They emigrated to Germanna, Virginia in 1717.

Germanna was a German colony established by Lt. Governor Spotswood of Virginia. He imported a number of miners from Germany to dig for silver. Silver was never found, but it established a fairly large number of German immigrants in the State. More information about the Germanna Colonies may be found at, and

Johannes adopted the name John Broyll in 1727 after completing his seven years of indenture-ship. In 1728, a Hans Jacob Broyle, son of John (Johannes) Broyle, purchased 400 acres of land in Madison, Virginia. Many Germans moved from Germanna to Madison County, Virginia, and established a settlement there. Hans Jacob was the progenitor of the Broyles family. It was into this family that Amanda Melvina Broyles was born.7

Jacob Naff and Amanda Melvina Broyles

Jacob and Amanda Broyles were married in Washington County, Tennessee on the 25th day of June, 1835. He was thirty years old and she was twenty-six. They began their family bible together with the record of their marriage. On the Births page they entered their own birth dates and the date of birth of George E. [Eakin] Naff and John Summerfield Naff, the children of Jacob's first marriage. On the Births page they have six names listed as members of a "Coloured Family." Apparently these were Jacob's slaves, and were valued highly enough to have their names recorded in the family bible.2 Below the list of the "Coloured Family," the children of Cordelia Ann Naff and William Riley Schell are listed. Cordelia Ann Naff is the fourth child of Jacob and Amanda Melvina Naff. We go into more detail about Cordelia below.

It is interesting to note that the deaths of the family were entered in the left column of the Marriages page and the other marriages of the family on the right side of that page. Either there was no "Deaths" page in the bible or they were using a bible already started by earlier family members.

View Naff - Broyles Family Bible Page - Marriages

The first child of Jacob and Amanda, Martha Melvina Naff, was born 5-May-1836, about ten months after their marriage. She lived only three and one-half months, until 20-Aug-1836. Almost exactly one year after the death of this first infant girl, Adam Ferdinand Naff was born on 7-Aug-1837. After that, their children arrived in two to three year intervals, including twin boys born in 1851. Their children are: (1) Martha Melvina Naff, born May 5th 1836; (2) Adam Ferdinand Naff, born August 7th 1837; (3) Isabella Caroline Naff, born April 20th 1839; (4) Cordelia Ann Naff, born Feb 28th 1841; (5) Catherine Jane Naff, born January 21, 1843; (6) James Melville Naff, born March 18th 1846; (7) Sidney Lamentine Naff, born May 26th 1848; (8) Isaac Newton Naff, born July 27th 1851; (9) William Crawford Naff, born July 27th 1851 [Isaac Newton and William Crawford were twins]; and (10) Mary Virgie Naff, born September 29th 1858. No children were born to them during the Civil War Period.

Note that the last child listed on the "Births" page, just below Mary Virgie Naff, was Clara Gertrude Naff, born 29-Oct-1876. The unusual thing about this birth is that it occurred eighteen years after the birth of the prior child, Mary Virgie Naff, on 29-Sep-1858. In 1876, when Clara Gertrude Naff was born, Jacob Naff would have been 71, (he died in 1877), and Amanda Melvina would have been 66 years old.

Some months after the bible pages were received and studied, we received many letters from Jane Wallace of Ohio, great great grandaughter of Jacob and Amanda (Broyles) Naff. In these letters were many written from Clara Gertrude to Kitty, her first cousin. Kittie Ellen Schell, daughter of William Riley Schell and Cordelia Ann Naff, born in 1875 was only one year older than Clara Gertrude Naff, born October 29, 2876. The letters from Clara to Kittie were those of a school girl sharing confidences with her cousin, yet contained valuable information allowing us to place Clara Gertrude in the proper Naff family.

From the dates and contents of these letters we believe Clara Gertrude to be the child of William Crawford Naff and the older sister of Henry Hudson Naff. Cited are 5 examples: 1) Clara to Kittie - Sept. 30, 1888: "...little brother is very sick they are going to have a baby show when they have the fair. I think Mama will take brother...I will send you a good picture of the baby when we get them. I think you might come down to the fair I think I will go brother is as sweet as he can be if you come down he will smell you just like a flower he heard Mama coming now and he is running from her afraid she will ketch him...." 2) Clara to Kittie - 18 Jan. 1889: "...Henry is just as mean as ever. I know you would like to see him. We had turkey Christmas and he called it a Dutcher. Papa has learned him (?) little speeches. He has a little chicken and he calls it a bird..." 3) Clara to Kittie - 25 July, 1889: "...Henry can talk right smart and can go up the stairs by himself. We have shaved his hair off almost to the skin and he looks real funny..." 4) Clara to Kittie - 8 Sept, 1889: "Henry can call all of our names now he went up stairs one day and went out of the house and sit down and Mama called him and he answered her but never came down and Mama went after him and he was talking just as fast as he could to the trees and ran off Saturday and I found him already half way down in town he had stoped in at Mrs. Leanrivers (?) and was playing with her little boy..." 5) Clara to Kittie - 5 Sept., 1891: "Brother is just as cute as he can be you ought to hear him talk..."

[Punctuation and spelling is kept the same. See copies of letters in Addendum to this article.]

Checking the Naff families in John Boitnott's book, Naff and Related Families, we find that William Crawford Naff, twin brother of Isaac Newton Naff, had a son named Henry Hudson Naff, born December 1, 1887. William Crawford married Mary Virginia McCampbell on February 9, 1876. Clara Gertrude was born almost exactly nine months after the marriage of William Crawford and Mary Virginia. John Boitnott does not have a record of Clara Gertrude Naff's birth. [Please check dates with Naff/Schell Bible pages in this article. See Family Group Sheet for William Crawford Naff in Addendum.]

A search of the Tennessee Census records showed the family of William Naff [William Crawford Naff] for the first time in the Census of 1880. The 1880 Census year began June 4, 1879 and ended May 31, 1880. The enumeration for District Number 9, Greene County, Tennessee shows William Naff, Head of Household, male, married age 28, occupation, dentist, born in Tennessee. Other members of the household were Mary, age 21, Wife, married, KeeperHouse, born in Tennessee; Gertrude, female, age 3, Daughter, unmarried, born in Nebraska; Charles, male, age 0, Son, unmarried. Since the "little brother" Clara speaks of in her letters to Kittie, Henry Hudson Naff, was not born until 1-Dec-1887, he would not have been included in the 1880 Tennessee Census. The 1890 census records were destroyed by fire.

If Clara Gertrude were born 29-Oct-1876, as is shown in the bible pages, she would have been three years old in May of 1879, and this would agree with the age of the "Gertrude" shown in the home of William Naff in the Tennessee Census of 1880. From the previous facts, we place Clara Gertrude in the family of William Crawford Naff.

From the above facts, we place Clara Gertrude in the family of William Crawford Naff.

The Tennessee Census of 1880, raises more questions to be answered. How did "Gertrude's" [Clara Gertrude] birth occur in Nebraska? Did the family make a visit to Nebraska in 1876, the year of Clara Gertrude's birth? Why is the child "Charles," born in 1880 not listed in the birth pages of the family bible? Looking over the Birth pages of the bible, we note that no births were recorded after the year 1876.

View Naff - Broyles Bible Page - Births

View Family Group Sheets for Jacob Naff's Marriages

The Schell Family

The following is quoted from: Kearney Family Genealogy, 1850 - 2000, by Philip C. and Sharlene K. Kearney, Chapter 11, pages 8 - 9.

"The earliest record we have on this family is Arnold Shell, who was born in Germany. He came to America and is buried in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Two of his sons were named Joseph and Andrew. A major genealogical problem arises here, in that there is more than one Andrew Shell in the family. Several genealogical charts show another Andrew Shell born in Sullivan County, Tennessee on April 18, 1818. Joseph Shell had a son named Andrew Shell who is directly in the family lineage. Joseph, his wife Mary Troxell, and son Andrew went to Indiana in the 1830's. Mary died there and is buried in White County, Indiana. Joseph's brother Andrew is the uncle of the Andrew Shell who returned to Tennessee. Joseph disappears around 1830-1840 and it is unknown what happens to him. Much of what we know about the Shell family comes from Bob Shell.4

"One of the sons of Joseph and Mary was the Reverend Andrew Shell(Schell). He was born April 13, 1797, on the banks of the Holston River in northeastern Tennessee. In early manhood he married Winifred Boy and settled in Piney Flats, where he owned a large farm. Piney Flats was once called Shell's Crossing or Shell's Crossroads after Andrew Shell. The name was changed to Piney Flats after the Southern railroad came and a depot was located on the flat land at the base of the pine forests. Because of the abundance of pine and the gradual slope of the land toward the Watauga River, the name Piney Flats was eventually made official...

"The Southern Railroad was built through Piney Flats, although the exact date is unknown. According to the "Bristol Herald Courier," Sunday, July 1, 1856, "Near the end of May in 1856, a single railroad spike became a momentous factor in Bristol's history. On May 26 of that year, the spike which joined the Norfolk and Western Railway with the tracks of the Southern Railway was driven, and Bristol entered a new era. For the first time the Eastern Seaboard was joined with the Mississippi, and Bristol [The town of Bristol lies partly in Tennessee and partly in Virginia.] became a focal point of a new surge in travel, trade and commerce. Here was the "Gateway To The South", and a vast new market opened." On its first run from Johnson City to Bristol, the train stopped at Andrew's house and the passengers ate lunch with the family. A large number of Shells worked for the Southern Railroad in and around Piney Flats. While the Southern Railroad provided employment for our relatives in Tennessee, the Pennsylvania and Baltimore and Ohio employed the Kearneys in Pennsylvania and Baltimore. Andrew was one of the pioneer Methodist preachers in eastern Tennessee, and he founded a church on his land which was called Shell's Chapel. The chapel still stands today and is known as the Piney Flats Methodist Church...The Shell cemetery is located at this church."

"The Rev. Andrew Shell, born 13-Apr-1797, died 22-Apr-1880 in Piney Flats, Tennessee, married Winifred Boy, born unknown, died 25-Jul-1873 in Piney Flats. They had ten children, one of whom was William Riley Shell, born 11-Sep-1836. William farmed a part of his father's land and preached in some of the eastern Tennessee churches. When he preached in Knoxville, more than 100 miles from his home, the train picked him up and let him off at his gate...

Cordelia Ann Naff and William Riley Schell - Cordelia Ann was the fourth child of Jacob and Amanda Naff, born on 28-Feb-1841, in Piney Flats, Tennessee, in today's Washington County, Tennessee, where her parents made their home. She was an unusual young lady for her time. She became an important civic leader in Piney Flats. Cordelia was one of the charter members of the Order of the Eastern Star, The Grand Chapter of Tennessee, Utopia Chapter No. 17. The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest Fraternal Organization in the world to which both men and women may belong.2

Jane Wallace, Philip Kearney's first cousin, found several family documents in a trunk in her attic which were valuable to the history of Cordelia Naff and her family. One was a deed from Cordelia's father, Jacob Naff, conveying 207 acres of land to her in 1867, the year before her marriage. Another was a document of family history found in the same trunk. Philip Kearney wrote: "Let me cite part of that document, ‘Cordelia Ann's brother, Reverend George [Eakin] Naff, was the president of Soule Female College at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Cordelia Ann spent a number of years there and graduated with a ‘Mistress of Arts' degree and a sterling silver thimble for being the neatest girl in college." Armed with these accomplishments, she came to east Tennessee to teach. There she met and married William R. Shell.2

The Kearney family has Cordelia's certificate of graduation, dated 1861. And so Cordelia started out to teach at a tempestuous time in the history of our country. The Civil War had begun, and some very bloody battles were fought in Murfreesboro and through the state of Tennessee. The important battle known as The Battle Murfreesboro, part of the Stone River Campaign, was fought December 31 - January 2, 1863 near the home of Jacob and Amanda. See: It was not a merry Christmas for the families of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

View Deed from Jacob Naff to Cordelia Ann Naff

We have the following transcription from Philip Kearney of a letter from Jacob and Amanda Naff to William Riley Schell. The letter was not dated, but it is assumed that it was written about January, 1868, since the couple was married in February of 1868:

Dear Sir,

I have before us a note with your signature to it, requesting our sanction to a matrimonial allegiance entered into between you and our daughter. She is our only daughter and this being a momentous engagement of vital importance and her happiness and welfare for time and eternity our great concern and desire and fondly hope that she has in her choice found in you a mind and disposition [which] will sweetly chord with hers in shaping together a life's chequered scenes. She is kind and tender hearted and a disposition similarly we think. Do the best we can we find disappointments, trials and troubles on the way and it surely behooves us to make our yoke easy and our burdens light. Much depends on how we demean ourselves to each other as man and wife. She has been raised rather tenderly not accustomed to the rougher hardships of life though not inclined in the least to idleness. A marriage is an institution of divine appointment we give her up to your tender care and protection though not without many tears and sorrow trusting that God in his wisdom has chosen in you and her hearts that will sweetly vibrate to your mutual happiness so long as you may live.9

Jacob and Amanda Naff

Note that Jacob and Amanda speak of Cordelia as their "only daughter." This would be true in 1868. Their first child, a daughter, Martha Melvina Naff, died in 1836 at age eight months. Their second child was a son, Adam Ferdinand, born in 1837; and their third child, another daughter, Isabella Carolina Naff, was born 20-Apr-1839. Isabella Carolina died 20-Oct-1843, at the age of four years. Cordelia Ann, born 18-Feb-1841, was only two years old when little Isabella Carolina Naff died.

William Riley and Cordelia Ann (Naff) Schell began their married life in Piney Flats, Tennessee. The educated young lady who earned the silver thimble for neatness married the son of the pioneering Methodist preacher and lived the rest of her life in Piney Flats, Tennessee.

William Riley Schell died May 20, 1902 in Piney Flats, Tennessee. Cordelia died there on June 19, 1924. They had four children: (1) Willie H. Schell, b. 10-May-1870 (2) Fannie Pearl Schell, b. 8-Jun-1872, (3) Kittie Ellen Schell, b. 6-Sep-1875, grandmother of Philip Kearney, and (4) Robert Sidney Schell, b. 15-Oct-1876.

View Family Group Sheet for William Riley Schell & Cordelia Naff


1John Wesley Boitnott, Naff and Related Families, Published by the Author, 1979, Harrisonburg, VA. Page 41. Out of print.
2Pages from the Naff/Broyles Family Bible, letters and other family papers from Philip Kearney, Ph.D., University of Maryland, 2001. Attached to e-mail from Philip Kearney, Ph.D. Subject: Naff Family Records, Date: 03 Sep 2001.
3Boitnott, pages 41 & 69.
4Bob Shell. Email Subject: Amanda Melvina Broyles. Date: 01 Aug 2002.
5Steve Broyles, "Broyles/Briles Database,"
6Philip and Sharlene Kearney, Kearney Family Genealogy 1850 - 2000, Published by the Authors. 2002. Chapter 11, page 12.
7Kearney, Chapter 11, page 13.
8Kearney, Chapter 11, page 9.
9Kearney, Chapter 11, page 14.


Published and Copyrighted © by Betty Naff Mitchell
April 23, 2003