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Some Interesting Family History

ca 1953
Will Young Neely (G-Grandfather) & Karen Neely (Mother)
I have lived in Sumner County all my life(since1975). The funny thing is that I have never seen a sheep/lamb any where around Middle Tennessee, until my Mom started giving me information on My Grandfather's side of the family.
I am related to many who settled the area of Goodlettsville, Sumner County, Tennessee. I was getting really interested in finding this information out. I started going to the libraries and checking out books about Sumner County, TN. One day I had checked out a book that told all about the State of Tennessee and knew that it might help find out some information on the Neely's and many other surnames that is listed in our family. It was The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture. This is a real thick book. I started going through the book and noticed that the city of Goodlettsville (located in Davidson & Sumner Counties) there was a club. The Goodlettsville Lamb and Wool Club. In the article there is not any names mentioned so I thought, " interesting, wonder if my Mother knows about this?" So I asked and sure enough. She laughed a little laugh and said, "yeah sure". She stated that George Jackson (my GG-Grandmother's brother) was the last surviving member at his death in 1936. He lived in Sumner County and owned a good deal of land around Moss Wright Park and on Highway 31-W. The pictures above are of my Great Grandfather Will Young Neely the son of Zachary Taylor and Mary "Mollie Lee" Jackson Neely & my Mother Karen Neely the dau of Sarah Goode and Felix J. Neely. George Jackson was the son of William Jackson and Nancy Vanderville.

ca 1953
Will Young Neely and Karen Neely



 Organized by nineteen farmers in May 1877, the Goodlettsville Lamb and Wool Club has the distinction of being the oldest cooperative livestock organization in the United States. This farmer-owned association was the progenitor of future cooperative marketing organizations that, by 1950, encompassed nearly one million members in similar clubs across the United States.

At the close of the Civil War, Tennessee farmers struggled to recover their once prosperous lands from the war's devastation. The Granger Movement, which sought to improve farmers' standard of living through cooperative enterprises, met with limited success in the South. Nevertheless, the movement educated farmers about business dealings with manufacturers and middlemen in an increasingly complex agricultural market. The depression created by the Panic of 1873 was especially severe to southern farmers, who sank deeper and deeper into debt. Several crusades, including the Agricultural Wheel of the 1880s and the Farmers' Alliance of the 1880s and 1890s, developed from these conditions.

Sheep farmers in the northern Davidson County town of Goodlettsville had long submitted to the sheep buyer's practice of "guessing" the weight of spring lambs and paying the farmers accordingly. When buyers apparently were systematically underestimating the actual weight of the lambs, nineteen sheep growers headed by William Luton banded together to insist on proper weighing of their livestock. They called themselves the Goodlettsville Lamb Club and the next year changed the name to the Goodlettsville Lamb and Wool Club. In 1920 the name again changed to the Goodlettsville Wool Club.

Club bylaws protected members by keeping sales records of lambs and wool. The association guaranteed buyers that no underweight lambs would be sold and required members to sell lambs and wool only through the club. The club's success meant increased profits for sheep farmers, improvement in their farms, and a better community spirit. The success also inspired the founding of similar organizations, not only in Tennessee, but in other states. The Goodlettsville Lamb and Wool Club showed that cooperation was the best way to combat the pressures from buyers of farm products.

                              Wayne C. Moore, Tennessee State Library and Archives

Suggested Reading(s): Mason McGrew, "The Story of Goodlettsville Lamb and Wool Club," reprinted in
Makers of Millions (1951).

ca 1953
Will Young Neely & Karen Neely





I  e-mailed The Tennessee Historical Society on 3/21/2003 to ask for permission to use this article. On 4/8/2003 I was granted permission from Ann Toplovich Executive Director of the Historical Society. This is copyrighted to The Tennessee Historical Society. Text copyright 1998 by The Tennessee Historical Society, Nashville, Tennessee. Online Edition copyrighted 2002 The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, Tennessee. All rights reserved.

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