John Niell Searcy

From “Early Settlers of Orange County, Florida” Book (1917):

The paternal ancestor of the John Neill Searcy emigrated from Italy to England from there to North Carolina. His maternal ancestors came from England and Ireland before the Revolution. His maternal great-grandfather, Col. Matthew Martin, moved from South Carolina to Bedford County, Middle Tennessee, in the early settlement of that county.

Both of his grandfathers fought under General Jackson in the War of 1812. His grandfather, Robert Searcy, was clerk of the Federal Court in Nashville, TN, and the second Grand Master of Masons. His father, Dr. James Searcy, was born in Nashville, Dec 8th 1812. He married Miss Sarah Clay Neill daughter of Col Jno. L Neill. They raised seven children to manhood and womanhood. 

John was born near the village of Fairfield, Bedford County, March 15th 1842. His father moved his family to Panola County, Mississippi in the fall of 1855. He was living there when the Civil War began.

HIs oldest brother and he, in May 1861, joined the Pettus Artillery, commanded by Captain Alfred B. Hudson, who was killed at the battle of Shiloh. They changed the name of the company to “The Hudson Battery,” James L. Hoole then took command of the company, but owing to his ill healthy commanded it but for a short time.

Lieutenant Robert Sweeney then took command until the siege of Vicksburg, where he was killed. The command then fell to Captain Edwin S. Walton. He was severely wounded, but recovered and retained command until they were patroled at Gainesville, Alabama in May 1865. Those who were in the siege at Vicksburg can fully appreciate and sympathize with the hunger and suffering of the Belgians, as they could easily eat their three days’ rations at one meal without appeasing hunger.

They found mule meat very good and quite “filling.” After the fall of Vicksburg they were under General Forest until the surrender and were paroled May 12th 1865 at Gainesville, Alabama. He has his parole framed and hung up over the mantle—a priceless souvenir.

After the war his father moved back to Bedford County, he remaining in Bedford County until March 17th 1873, when he started to Florida. He came up the St. Johns River on the steamer Starlight, landed at Melonville on the 23rd, went out to Fort Reid after dark. Next morning he looked out at the palmetto flags and thought to himself, have I left good old Tennessee to starve in this desert?

He started to Maitland, met a good old George Cracker who persuaded him to stop with him. He homesteaded land near the town of Longwood. He had good sport with the Cracker, hunting deer where Longwood now stands. When E. W. Henck built the railroad from Sanford to Orlando, he was with the surveying party. One the second day of February 1885, he married Miss Eva L. Muzzy. Three boys were born to them, one of whom is now living—Charles Blanchard. 

His wife was born in Gardner, Maine, but was raised in Middle Tennessee. She is the daughter of Eden Muzzy, whose wife was Miss Sarah A. Wallerfield of Gardner, Maine.