The Eller estates in Germany were located near Dusseldorf and
Elberfeld and are now marked by the village of Eller a few miles south and east
of Dusseldorf. Some of the family migrated further south to the Mosel River
where another village of Eller is situated.
In 1727 Elias Eller founded the Ellerian Sect in Elberfeld. After a turbulent
beginning he and his followers, who called themselves Zionites and believed in
the Millennium, founded the now prosperous town of Ronsdorf. He died in 1750,
after which the sect rapidly disintegrated and became extinct.
The Eller immigrants to America landed in Philadelphia between 1740 and 1747.
They lived for a few years in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, after which Jacob,
Christian and Melchoir moved to Rowan County, North Carolina. They were educated
men and devout Christians. They joined the McNiels and Vannoys with which
families the direct ancestors of Virginia Eller intermarried, to establish the
Baptist Church in the rugged mountain districts of western North Carolina.
George Eller, Virginia's great great grandfather, became a Baptist Minister
under the leadership of another great great grandfather,
Rev. George McNiel, a
member of a distinguished Scottish family of the same name.
Rev. McNiel founded many Baptist Churches on the Yadkin River before the
Revolution and in 1786 established the Yadkin Association and became its
Moderator. Together with his brothers John and Thomas McNiel he emigrated to
North Carolina from Glasgow, Scotland, before 170. Tradition says that he was
educated as a Presbyterian, but changed to the Baptist faith after his arrival
in North Carolina and Lower Virginia where he was contemporary with the Murphey
brothers and John Gano. He is accredited as the pioneer in the establishment of
the Baptist Church in Western North Carolina. The church commemorated the one
hundredth anniversary of his death in 1905 and erected a permanent memorial at
his grave. His son James McNiel married Mary Sheppard and to this union a
daughter, Fanny McNiel, was born who married Simeon Eller.
The Eller line runs from Christian to Rev. George, to John, to Simeon, to
Harvey, to Virginia the subject of this sketch. The name of Rev. George Eller's
wife was Christina Buhlen or Bullen. John's wife was Susannah Kerns of Holland
Dutch ancestry; Simeon married Fanny McNiel; and Harvey married Mary Caroline,
daughter of Jesse and grand daughter of Nathaniel Vannoy.
The direct ancestors of both James and Virginia for the most part were farmers
with a good many preachers and a few country merchants sprinkled in. Even some
of the preachers, and all of the merchants, were farmers as well. All of them
were men and women of character, highly respected by their neighbors, and
identified with the best movements in the communities where they lived. As one
goes through the old records one finds them establishing churches and schools,
donating money or its equivalent for deserving enterprises, acting upon
important committees, and signing petitions for worthy causes. They are also
found in positions of trust, on school boards, in county offices. and in various