Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sorting Out the 5 McCager Napier's of Perry County, Kentucky

I am writing this in an attempt to sort out the 5 McCager Napier’s of Perry County, Kentucky who were born in a 10-year time span and are frequently mistaken for and mixed up with one another. I am hoping this will help sort out who is whose child, who married who, and who served in which unit(s) during the Civil War. I will be starting with the 5 listed in the 1850 Census and work forward.

Please note that one will often find these men's names spelled "Micajah" rather than "McCager". Two of their headstones actually say "Micajah Napier". McCager is the correct, proper spelling for all 5 of these men's names. "Micajah" is the phonetic spelling of the same name. They did not pronounce "McCager" as "Mick-ay-jer". It was pronounced "Mick-ay-ja". Those that did not know the proper spelling "McCager" would spell the name "Micajah" because that was how it sounded to them. But as the very first "McCager" Napier, who was a father, grandfather, or uncle to all 5 of these other McCager Napiers, spelled his name "McCager", it is clear that that is the correct proper spelling of the name, and that is spelling I will utilize in this post.

Originally posted: 5/31/2012

Update: 12/11/2014

2nd Update: 5/4/2017

3rd Update: 8/12/2017

Some new information has led to some new conclusions about some of these new McCager's, primarily concerning their Civil War service. I have worked with Faron Sparkman and Manton Ray Cornett to correctly attribute each man's Civil War service to the correct person, and I believe this has finally been accomplished as definitively as possible with the records we have available to us. Also, dates of death and places of burial for some of the McCagers which were previously unknown appear to have been pinpointed, and again credit for much of that goes to Mr. Sparkman and Mr. Cornett. I am very grateful to them for helping me sort the McCagers further than I already had, and I think it has led to this being the last update needed for this particular study. 

1850 Census – Perry County, Kentucky

No. – Name as spelled – Approx. birth year – District – Page on Census - Parents

1. Michager Napier – About 1832 – District 2 – Page 4/37 - Mother, Elizabeth Napier

2. Micager Napier – About 1834 – District 2 – Page 4/37 – Parents, Micager and Leanner Napier

3. Michager Napier – About 1844 – District 2 – Page 6/37 – Parents, James and Mary Napier

4. Michager Napier – About 1843 – District 2 – Page 4/37 – Parents, Patrick and Mihala Napier

5. Micager Napuer – About 1846 – District 2 – Page 17/37 – Parents, Stephen and Polly Napier

Henceforth, each McCager will be referred to as McCager 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, based on this list.

Now clearly, all of these McCager’s were closely related; they were all either 1st cousins, 1st cousins once removed, or had an uncle/nephew relationship.

The mother of McCager # 1, Elizabeth, is the widow of James Napier, son of Patrick Napier and Fanny Brumfield.

The fathers of McCager # 2 and McCager # 4, McCager and Patrick respectively, are also sons of Patrick Napier and Fanny Brumfield.

The fathers of McCager # 3 and McCager #5 are brothers of McCager # 2, sons of McCager and Leanna Lewis Napier.

PLEASE NOTE that this aforementioned eldest McCager Napier, who was the father of McCager #2, the husband of Leanna Lewis, and the son of Patrick Napier and Fanny Brumfield, is the McCager Napier who died August 8th 1882 in Hazard, Perry, Kentucky. NONE of the above listed 5 McCager Napier’s are THAT McCager Napier; none of them died August 8th, 1882, so PLEASE do not attach that death date to ANY of the McCager Napiers other than the husband of Leanna Lewis and the son of Patrick and Fanny Brumfield Napier.

Finally, please additionally note that James Napier, father of McCager # 3, is often attached on family trees as the son of James Napier and Elizabeth Howard Napier, the parents of McCager # 1. That makes James the brother of the eldest McCager Napier, father of McCager # 2. There is no solid documentation “officially” tying him to one brother or the other, but as James named his first son McCager and was in very close geographical proximity to the other descendants of the eldest McCager, I have always tied James to McCager and Leanna in my records.

Correct Years/Dates of Birth

There is some confusion regarding the proper years and dates of birth for the 5 McCagers. One headstone has a year of birth off by 2 years. This should be the correct birth order for the 5 McCagers.

McCager # 1 - Born 16 Apr 1833, according to the date on his stone. This date properly aligns with his Census records and is likely correct.

McCager #2 - Born 11 Apr 1834, according to his Union pension. This date properly aligns with his Census records and is likely correct.

McCager #3 - Born 1843. This aligns with Census records and is the year on his headstone.

McCager # 4 - Born 19 Aug 1843. The original source of this information is not known; it is the date on his military stone. It does align with his Census records and is likely correct.

McCager #5 - Born 17 Jun 1846. This date is NOT reflected on his headstone, which has 17 Jun 1844 on it. However, Census and military enlistment records (he gives his age as 17 in 1863) indicate he was actually born in 1846, not 1844 as his headstone currently states.

Visual of Napier Family Tree

I have created a Napier family tree starting with Patrick and Fanny Brumfield Napier and making its way down to all 5 McCagers (plus the eldest original McCager). I have labelled the McCagers 1-5 accordingly. The chart turned out almost the way I wanted, but it did not leave room for the spouses of McCagers #1 and #4. McCager #1 was the husband of Harriett McLemore. McCager #4 was the husband of Armina Davidson. Otherwise, this is a perfect representation of how the 5 McCagers are connected to one another and to the eldest McCager. This will help those in need of a visual aid in determining which McCager is "your" McCager and from whom he descends.

Descendants of Patrick Napier and Fanny Brumfield named McCager Napier.

McCager Marriages between 1850 and 1860

McCager # 2 – to Elizabeth CAMPBELL – on 23 Dec 1852 in Perry County, KY*

McCager # 1 – to Betty unknown – on unknown date, approximately 1859 (based on them having no children in the 1860 Census)*

McCager # 1 – to Harriett McLemore Fairchild – about 1860 (according to 1900 Census)

      - Please note that these are 2 different McCager’s who married two different Elizabeth/Betty’s, as proven by the 1860 Census

1860 Census – Perry County, Kentucky

No. – Name as spelled – Approx. birth year – District – Page on Census – Living with

1. Micajah Napier – about 1832 – District 1 – Page 27/97 – Spouse Betty + Future Spouse Harriett

2. M S Napier – about 1834 – District 1 – Page 3/97 – Spouse Betty (Campbell) + son Harison

3. Micajah Napier – about 1844 – District 1 – Page 53/97 – Parents Jas and Marry

4. Micajah Napier – about 1844 – District 1 – Page 49/97 – Parents Patrick and Mahala

5. Mc Cager Napier – about 1845 – District 1 – Page 56/97 – Father Stephen and step-mother Hulda


6. Micajah Napier – about 1844 – District 1 – Page 25/97 – James and Martha Napier Guinn

Note: It is not known which McCager this sixth Census entry belongs to; clearly, it is either #’s 3, 4, or 5. The problem is that the Martha Napier who married James Guinn is a daughter of McCager Napier and Leanna Lewis, and therefore sister of McCager # 2. This McCager is working as a laborer, and is either Martha’s nephew or cousin, but it is not known which. It was not horribly uncommon for a person to appear in a Census twice for one year, especially when they lived in one household and worked in another, as is the case here. (Helen Keller appears in the census twice one year as she is at home the first time, and traveling the second time.) If the person happens to be at both places whenever the Census-taker came by, then they were counted twice. I believe this is the case here, and that this is not a random 6th McCager who was not in the 1850 Census.

McCager Marriages between 1860 and 1880

McCager #3 – to Patience Spencer – about 1867, no marriage record found, year based on first child born about 1868

McCager #4 – to Armina Davidson – about 1861, no marriage record found, year based on first child born about 1862

McCager #5 – to Anna Engle – about 1870, no marriage record found, year based on first child born about 1871

1870 Census 

No. – Name as spelled – Approx. birth year – City, County – Living with

1. Cager Napier – about 1830 – Campbell, Perry – Spouse Harriett + 3 children

2. M S Napier – about 1834 – Lost Creek, Perry – Spouse Betsey + 7 children

3. Micager Napier – about 1844 – Precinct 3, Wolfe – Spouse Patience + 2 children #

4. Cager Napier – about 1840 – Campbell, Perry – Spouse Armny + 3 children*

5. McCager #5 has not been located for the 1870 Census.

* - Note: It was decided that this McCager is McCager #4 based on the fact he is living directly next door to Patrick and Mahala Napier, parents of McCager #4.

# - Note: McCager #3’s parents, James and Mary Napier, also moved to Wolfe County.

1880 Census 

No. – Name as spelled – Approx. birth year – County – Living with

1. Mc Cager Napier – about 1834 – Perry – wife Haret + 7 children

2. Mack S. Napier – about 1834 – Leslie – wife Elizabeth + 7 children

3. Mccager Napier – about 1843 – Wolfe – wife Patient + 7 children

4. Mc Cager Napier – about 1843 – Perry – wife Armina + 8 children

5. Mecager Napier – about 1845 – Perry – wife Anny + 4 children **

** - It was determined that this was McCager #5 based on History of Kentucky, Volume V by William E. Connelley and Ellis Merton Coulter (American Historical Society, 1922). In a sketch about Calloway Napier, it discusses mentions his parents are McCager Napier and Anna Engle, and his grandfather’s name is Stephen William Napier. This McCager’s oldest son is named Stephen W., and McCager #3 is the son of Stephen Napier. Unfortunately, the rest of the sketch outlining Calloway’s Napier ancestry is full of completely inaccurate, false information. It claimed Stephen was the son of a completely fictional man named John Napier, who was a supposed son of “Sir William Francis Patrick Napier”, who not only did not die in Perry County, Kentucky as the sketch claims, but never even resided in the United States. It was not uncommon in those times for someone to think of the most well-known person who shares their last name, and assume they were descended from them, or sometimes a person was hired to research the family’s ancestry, and made the same guess/assumption. This has happened in my family in determining we were descended from John Jay because he shared a family last name, or deciding we were of the same stock as Zachary Taylor, since he was a Taylor from Virginia. Many Napier lines originally claimed they descended from John Napier, a famous mathematician, but this was later disproven. This is most certainly what happened in this case.

McCager’s deceased before 1900

McCager #3 died 30 Jul 1899 in Washington County, Arkansas. His is buried in Hazel Valley Cemetery in Washington County, AR with a Union army headstone.

McCager #4 died in 1899 in Perry County and is buried in Red Hill Cemetery in Perry County with a Confederate headstone. 

1900 Census

No. – Name as spelled – Approx. birth year – City, County – Living with

1. Mccregor Napier – Apr 1833 – Hazard, Perry – wife Harriet + 2 children

2. Mc Cager S Naper – Apr 1834 – Campbell, Perry – wife Betty + 3 children and 1 grandson

5. Mc Cager Napier – Jun 1844 – Troublesome, Perry – wife Anna + 4 children and an unknown Thomas McDaniel listed as a son

McCager’s deceased from 1900 to 1910

McCager #1 died 18 May 1904 as proven by the date on his headstone at the Napier-Combs Cemetery near Grapevine. The cemetery is on Rome Napier Cemetery Road, and was originally called Napier Cemetery, and is now called Combs Cemetery. 

McCager #5 died 10 Apr 1910 according to the aforementioned biography of his son, Calloway Napier. A military headstone was procured for him and placed at Powers Cemetery, also called Captain Powers Cemetery, in Maggofin County, which is where this McCager's wife is listed in the 1910 Census, proving his residence there. The headstone incorrectly has his year of birth as 1844 instead of 1846. There is also a second flatstone by his upright military stone bizarrely reporting Civil War service in a "Virginia Militia". But this McCager never resided in Virginia, and there are no service records for a McCager Napier in any Virginia military records for the Civil War. This second stone was clearly placed in error by a well-meaning descendant, but its information should be disregarded. 

1910 Census

No. – Name as spelled – Approx. birth year – City, County – Living with

2. Mc Cager Napier – about 1833 – Campbell, Perry – wife Elizabeth + 2 children and 3 grandchildren

Death of last McCager

McCager Napier died 14 May 1912 according to his Civil War pension file. His place of burial has not been 100% determined. The Sons of Confederate Veterans' book on the 13th Kentucky Cavalry listed his burial place as Yerekes in Perry County, but that does not appear to be accurate. Some family members had him placed at Rocklick Cemetery where two of his daughters are buried. However, both family descendants and the SCV are now in agreement that he is most likely buried in what is today called the Campbell Cemetery near Napfor, which is only a couple of miles from Rocklick. In 1910, this McCager is living with his son John. He dies in 1912, and John himself dies in 1916, followed by McCager's wife Elizabeth in 1918. There are two fieldstones in the Napier plot at the very small Campbell Cemetery very near John's grave. It appears likely that those fieldstones mark the graves of McCager and Elizabeth Campbell Napier. Arrangements are currently in the works to procure a stone for McCager in this cemetery, as he appears to be the only one of the 5 McCagers without a marked grave.

The McCager’s in the Civil War

Determining in which units each of the 5 McCagers served during the Civil War has been a difficult task. I have had to rewrite and rearrange this section numerous times. However, I believe there is now consensus on who served in which unit. All five served in at least one unit, and one definitively served in two units. There are three additional terms of service by the McCagers that cannot be definitively attributed to one McCager or another. All we can do is speculate which McCager Napier is most likely to have served in these remaining three units with there being no further supplemental information available for us to determine who belonged where. Below is the final draft concluding which McCager served where, with visual aids.

These are the 9 enlistments of the various McCager Napiers along with any additional pertinent information.

1. McCager #1 was a part of the 5th Kentucky Mounted Infantry (CON). This is confirmed by George Washington Noble’s book Behold He Cometh In the Clouds: A Religious Treatise from Inspiration and Illumination, which mentions McCager many times, and mentions his wife Harriett as well. It does not appear that this McCager served in any other units. He enlisted on 4 Feb 1862, and was last marked present on 20 Oct 1863. It is not possible for him to have served in the 13th Kentucky Cavalry as well because the 3 enlistment dates for the 3 McCagers that did serve in that unit all fall between 4 Feb 1862 and 20 Oct 1863 when he was still serving in the 5th. It is possible he is the McCager that enlisted in the 19th Kentucky Infantry (UN) and deserted two days later, but that could also have been McCager #4.

2. McCager #2 served in the 14th Kentucky Cavalry (UN), as did McCager #3. They each have their own distinct service records. McCager #2’s service proven in his Pension file. He also appears to be one of the three McCager Napiers who were part of the 13th Kentucky Cavalry (CON). He appears to have enlisted September 26th, 1862 as a 4th Sergeant. He is most likely the McCager that served in Company G of the 13th, mostly because it is more likely the 27 year old McCager would be mustered in as a 4th Sergeant than his younger counterparts of the same name.

3. McCager #3 served 14th Kentucky Cavalry (UN), as did McCager #2. He also later applied for a federal pension. Like McCager #2, he also appears to have served in the 13th Kentucky Cavalry (CON). He is most likely the McCager that was conscripted into Company I of that unit and deserted less than two weeks later.

4. McCager #4 served in the 10th Kentucky Cavalry (CON), along with his brother, William. He possibly served in a 2nd unit as well. It is not likely that he is one of the McCagers in the 13th Kentucky Cavalary (CON) because it would be nonsensical for him to enlist in the 13th in September or October of 1862, just to desert and re-join the Confederacy in January, 1863. It is possible he is the McCager that enlisted in the 19th Kentucky Infantry (UN) and deserted two days later, but that could also have been McCager #1.

5. McCager #5 served in the 47th Kentucky Infantry (UN). This is proven by his service record and his son Calloway’s biography detailing his service. He enlisted in the 47th on 4 Jul 1863. It is almost certain that prior to this, he was enlisted (or conscripted) into Company C of the 13th Kentucky Cavalry (CON). He enlisted on 5 Apr 1863 and was present 25 days later, but he appears to have deserted shortly after to enroll in the Union army. All 4 of the other McCager's are accounted for in serving other units in Apr 1863 except for this one, which has brought me to the conclusion that the McCager that served in Company C of the 13th could only have been McCager #5.

A visual guide showing in which units each of the McCagers served.


I believe the evidence as I’ve laid it out speaks for itself well. I hope other researchers will find this essay helpful in attaching the appropriate records and family members to their own respective McCager Napiers. It is disheartening to see so many researchers attaching other peoples' information to their trees without at least checking to see if it’s accurate. With even just a little digging, one can figure out where each McCager belongs in their respective family tree as descendants of Patrick Napier and Fanny Brumfield, as proven above. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.


  1. I am the great grand daughter of one of the McCagers. My history is on my mother's side of the family. Her father was Henry Napier. I remember her telling me as a child how her father would tell her she so much like her grandmother Harriet. My mother, said Harriet's maiden name was Fairchild. Henry Napier had 13 children from 2 marriages. My mother was his youngest.

  2. Hi Nathan

    Great piece of research. I descend from McCager #4 and Armina Davidson. Their daughter Elizabeth married my great gf Andrew Jackson Williams. I recall my initial searches in Perry for my McCager and was baffled by the number of them! You indicate that "McCager #4 died in 1899 in Perry County and is buried in Red Hill Cemetery with a Union army headstone." However, his headstone indicates CSA (as you indicate a little later in your article).

    Best regards
    Todd Williams (a likely cousin somewhere along the line)

  3. Hi Todd, Apologies for my late response. I have amended my piece to reflect two things. One, as you mentioned, I said that McCager #4 has a Union stone, when he in fact has a Confederate stone. Two, that stone is mistakenly attributed to him. The McCager Napier who enlisted in the 10th KY Cavalry did so from Wolfe County, KY, which is where McCager #3 was from. So a descendant of McCager #4 mistakenly applied for a Confederate headstone for him as being a member of the 10th KY Cavalary, although he was not. He likely did serve in either the 13th or 19th, but it cannot be proven which if either was him.