Here is a copy of a letter written by Narcissus Verlilia 'Lily' Lee, at age 66, explaining what was believed to be the family connection with Henry 'Light Horse Harry' Lee, and his son, Gen. Robert E Lee. It is well known that some descendants of the 'Virginia Lees' went to Alabama at that time.
"The history of the Lee family, to my Harry Lee, and Jerry Lee, were my fathers own grandfathers. My father were Robert Edward Lee's own nephew,and he is a son of Harry Lee. My father were named after two uncles of his Robert, Washington Lee. I am told that my grandmother was a Lee, and married his cousin See that is why both our grandfathers are named Lee. This is a true history. See I am a great grand child of theirs and a great neice of R. E. Lee. My name is by birth Narcissus Verlilia Lee, but known now as Mrs Lily Williams, Patsy Jean Williams grandmother. Hope she can honor the name.
He is her great great great uncle. I wish her all of the honors can be bestowed upon her for my sake and Stanleys. Respectfully, Mrs Lillie Williams Pine Valley, Miss to Port Arthur, Tx postmarked 1938 with a three cent stamp".
Here is what research has shown from Lillie Lee's letter:
Descendants of Richard Henry Lee I 1 Richard Henry Lee I Abt. 1617 - 1664 ..+Ann Constable Abt. 1621 - Aft. 1664 2 Richard Lee 1647 - 1714 ...+Laetitia Corbin Abt. 1656 - 1706 3 Henry Lee Abt. 1691 - 1747 ....+Mary Bland 4 Henry Lee ......+Lucy Grymes 5 Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee 1756 - 1818 .......+Matilda Lee 6 Robert Edward Lee, General 1807 - 1870 .........+Mary A R Custis 2 William C Lee Abt. 1650 - 1696 ...+Alice Felton 1648 - 3 Richard Lee Abt. 1670 - .....+Mary Young - Aft. 1690 4 John Lee, Esquire Abt. 1690 - 1766 ......+Mary W Bryan 1704 - Bef. 1780 5 Edward Lee 1725 - 1775 ........+Mary Allen Abt. 1730 - Abt. 1815 6 Jeremiah Lee 1771 - 1824 .........+Elizabeth Avera Abt. 1771 - Aft. 1830 7 Henry 'Harry' Lee 1810 - 1835 ...........+Elizabeth Jane Lee 1814 - 1877
General Robert E Lee and Henry 'Harry' Lee are both descendants of Richard Henry Lee, I (the Imigrant, and son of John Lee). They are 4th cousins, once removed. Henry 'Harry' Lee married Elizabeth Jane Lee.
Elizabeth Jane Lee is a descendant of Hugh Lee, I (and his son of Blackwater River, Virginia). Elizabeth Jane Lee is half-sister to Jonathan Lee, father of Robert Washington Lee. The relation is: Jonathan Lee is the half-brother... of the wife... of the 4th cousin, once removed... of General Robert E Lee.
It is rare to find an actual connection between the two Lee lines, no matter how distant or remote.
This one is done by half-siblings and marriage.
The letter of Lilly Lee is accurate up to a point. From her letter, the 'Robert' part of Robert Washington Lee's name was from Robert Edward Lee that was the son of Henry 'Harry' Lee. But this Henry 'Harry' Lee was not the same person as the famous Henry 'Light Horse Harry' Lee, father of General Robert E Lee. Also, Robert Washington was born before Henry 'Harry' had any known children. Henry 'Harry' did have at least 3 brothers, but I have not verified their names at this time. It's possible the name came from one of them. The 'Washington' part of Robert Washington Lee's name possibly came from his uncle, Samuel Washington Lee, brother of Elizabeth Jane, and half-brother to Jonathan. Or there may be another Washington that I have not found yet, such as the brothers of Henry 'Harry'.
The Jerry Lee is Jeremiah Lee, of Johnston county, North Carolina, and father of Henry 'Harry' Lee. In one North Carolina census he is listed as Jerry Lee, and Jeremiah in others. Elizabeth Jane Lee would be the grandmother that Lily was told married a cousin. It should be noted that the mother of Elizabeth Jane Lee was Mary Rhodes, 2nd wife of Samuel Lee, Jr. Robert Washington Lee's first wife was Margaret Rhodes, and there is a strong probability she was a relation to Mary Rhodes, his step-grandmother. This could make for all kinds of other possible connections. Starting in North Carolina and continuing through into Alabama, there were several families very closely associated that had many marriages among them. Just some of these were the Lee, Allen, Rhodes, Thigpen, and Williams. With the way the names match, the locations, and the time period, it's easy to see how mistakes could be made.
Lily was born in 1872, many years after most of these people had died, and was given handed down information. Everyone in the South, then and now, looked to a 'family connection' with the famous 'Virginia Lees'. I hope this makes sense, and you are able to follow the rationale.
It has taken a LOT of research to reach this point, and I believe these are the mostly likely conclusions, based on Lily's letter, and available facts.
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