By Diana Holland Faust
from information provided by Mr. D. Frank Hinnant, Jr. and Vickie Sams Holland

This story is about Nancy Hales who married Absalom Holland, one of the original 17 children of Elisha Holland (son of Jimmie Holland).

The story goes like this.  Nancy Hales was found, abandoned and crying, on the mill dam at Sasser's Mill, by her mother's brother, Everett Waddell, when she was a young child.  He stopped and asked why she was alone and crying.  She told him that a man came by in a cart and told her mother he was going to Georgia and if she was going with him, to get in.  Her mother got in and left with the man, leaving Nancy behind.

The Old Mill

Nancy Hales' mother was Zilphia Waddell, daughter of Edward Waddell and his wife Polly.  She had brothers Richard Waddell, Everett Waddell, Joel Waddell, Edward Waddell, John Waddell, and a sister Rhoda Waddell who married a Pearce.

Zilphia Waddell married Henry Hales [Hayles] on 29 November 1808 in Johnston County, North Carolina.  Chapman Hayles was bondsman; he appears to be Henry Hales' father.   Henry Hales was listed in the 1810 census living in  Johnston County as a male between the ages of 16-26.   Included in his household were two females, one under 10 years old and one between the ages of 16-26.  These were no doubt his wife Zilphia Waddell and their daughter Nancy Hales.   Nancy Hales, it is estimated, was born about 1809.

Henry Hales died soon after the census of 1810 was taken.  In Johnston County court minutes of 25 February 1811, Zilpha Hayles, widow and relect of Henry Hayles, gives her right of Administration to Chapman Hayles.  Instead of administering her late husband's estate, Zilphia turned the duty over to her father-in-law.   Her father, Edward Waddell, died in 1812.  Three years after the death of her husband, on 22 August 1814, Zilphia's brother Joel Waddell is appointed by the court to be guardian of Nancy Hayles, orphan of Henry Hayles.   There was no mention in the court record as to what happened to Zilphia.  

For her husband Absalom Holland, we only have an estimated date of birth for him, too, which is about 1800.  Their first child was born in 1833.  Court records show that Joel Waddell paid bond for guardianship of Nancy Hales until  1832, indicating that that was probably the year that Nancy Hales and Absalom Holland got married.

If Nancy was born in 1809, and her uncle was assigned guardianship of her in 1814, then her mother, if she did indeed ride off with a man going to Georgia as family lore has it, did so probably in 1814.   Nancy Hales would have been about 5 years old.  Did her uncle Everett Waddell find her alone and crying on the mill dam at Sassers Mills?  It is possible.  

The late D. Frank Hinnant, Jr., who told me this story in 2002, was great-grandson of Nancy Hales and Absalom Holland.   His information is from an interview he had with Mr. Zeno Langley, Nancy Hales' grandson, about 1970.   

The documented information relative to these families is from court records obtained and given to me by Vickie Sams Holland.33  Nancy Hales is her husband Dennis' great-great-grandmother.  

The painting, entitled The Old Mill, is by Kermit Wall, painted in the late 1940's when he was 18 years old.  A picture of his painting appeared in the The News-Argus in Goldsboro, North Carolina, 15 November 2002.  Mr. Wall was quoted as saying he sat against an old gum tree watching the sun rise one autumn morning and was so moved by the scene he returned later in the day and painted this picture.  The picture of the painting was purchased from The News-Argus by Vickie Sams Holland and donated to this web site.  The mill was on Great Swamp at Sasser's Mill pond about halfway between Fremont and Kenly, near the intersection of NC 581 and NC 222 in northern Wayne County.  The mill was torn down about 50 years ago, in the 1950's.   

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This Holland site Published 10 July 1996 - This page added 17 September 2002   Last updated 10 Mar 2014 

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