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BIOGRAPHY: Needham Lee born November 14, 1770

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Shelby County, Alabama & Tennessee

Needham H. Lee, Sr. was born November 14, 1770, in Prince Edward, Virginia. He brought his family from Tennessee into Alabama in 1816 near New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian Church. With him were Susan Bailey’s family from Lee’s Valley in Hawkins County, Tennessee. Needham Lee, Sr was a 3rd Cousin to President Zachary Taylor, and a 5th cousin to General Robert E. Lee.

He was the son of Thomas and Mary (Ingram) Lee, the former who is said to have been very closely related to Light Horse Harry Lee. He probably lived for a time at Carb Orchard, KY then Hawkins Co, TN and later at Bean Station, Knox Co, TN. He may have also lived in Cumberland Co, TN. He moved to Alabama in 1816 and settled in the Cahaba Valley of Shelby which at that time was St. Clair County Alabama Territory. At least 3 of his sons and 46 of his grandsons served in the War of Secession (Civil War), a record probably unequaled in the U.S. Needham and Susan (Bailey) Lee were the parents of 17 children; one of whom died shortly after reaching manhood.

“Needham Lee was one of the early settlers to come into Shelby County, Alabama after the land was claimed by the United States. He was a strong virile man who fought in the Indian Wars. He had eighteen children by his wife Susan (Baily) Lee.

Thomas Owens in his history of Alabama said that Needham, Sr. walked from Gunter’s Landing on the Tennessee River to his place of settlement in Shelby county. The Lee’s cattle and possessions came with them from their former home in Hawkins County, Tennessee. Several other families came to Shelby County and settled in the same area with the Lees, including the Bailys, Caldwells and Actons.

After Shelby became a county on February 7, 1818, Needham Lee, Sr. served as a Justice of the Shelby county Circuit Court beginning with the Third Court Term (January 1819). The next court session in April 1819 was not held because there was no quorum. In the July 1819 Court, he again served as Justice, but in October 1819, his name was not signed. He appears again served as Justice in March, June and September terms in 1820. In 1821, he was a Justice at the January and March sessions. At the March 1821 sessions he was appointed to a review jury to study “the nearest and best way for a road from the Shelby County courthouse (at the town of Shelbyville, now Pelham) to intersect a road that may be laid off by the County of Jefferson leading from Elyton to Shelby Courthouse.” However, he was not present when the review jury made its report in October 1821.”³

He probably married in Virginia to Susan Bailey. They had the following children:

  1. Thomas Lee, War of 1812, married and had children, Frederick Lee, d/War of Secession, Willis Lee, Capt in CS Army and Bailey.
  2. Col William Carroll Lee, War of 1812 and Indian Wars where he was promoted to Colonel, he married and had children: William Carroll Jr, served in CS Army, John Shakelford Lee, served in CS Army, Martin, enlisted in CS Army from Mississipi, James Ed Lee, and Rev Polk Darcus Lee, both of whom served in Co A, 10th Alabama Infantry CS Army, Henry Gaines Lee, Bryan Oldham Lee, and Robert Edward Lee.
  3. Winifred Lee married James Bailey and had children: James Irwin Bailey and Tom Bailey, both of the 20th Alabama Infantry CS Army, William Bailey, Needham Bailey and John Sevier Bailey, the last 2 of who enlisted in Co K, 30th Alabama Infantry, CS Army.
  4. Zilpha Lee married Samuel Acton and had children: Needham Acton, member of home guard during the War of Secession, John Acton and Dr Samuel Acton, both of Co K, 30th Alabama Regiment, Gaines Acton served in 20th Alabama and died in Dag Creek, Dr William Madison Acton served in 30th Alabama and was shot down leading a charge, Aaron Crawford Acton served with the 20th Alabama, and Thomas Monroe Acton.
  5. Ingram Lee married and had children: James Lee, served in Whisenant’s Co, CS Army, Edward Givens Lee, 10th Alabama Infantry and S.A.
  6. John W Lee, married and had children: Perry Lee of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry and died at home before the war was over, Sidney Lee, Thomas Lee, Gregory Lee and William C Lee, the latter 2 of the 10th Alabama Infantry, and Needham Lee.
  7. Sallie Lee married Edward Byrum and had children: Alden Byrum, Marion Byrum of Co K, 30th Alabama who was killed in 1864 at Atlanta, GA. Mal Byrum of Co K, 30th Alabama Infantry, Enarden Silas Byrum of Co K, 30th Alabama Infantry and William Byrum.
  8. Elizabeth Lee married Rev William Acton and had children John Vincent Acton, William H Acton, and James Gaines Acton, all of the CS Army.
  9. Needham Lee, Jr
  10. Henry R Lee married and had children, Mitchell Lee, and Capt Melvin Lee, of Alabama Regiment of CS Army, William Lee.
  11. Edward Lee of CS Army in 20th Alabama Regiment married and had children Warren Lee of Co B, 2nd Alabama Regiment, Thomas Lee of Co C, 10th Alabama, James J Polk Lee who died at the close of the war.
  12. Perry Lee of the 20th Alabama who died of measles in Mobile married and had children William Lee and Shelley Lee of the Alabama Regiment in CS Army, Needham Lee and A Jackson Lee.
  13. Mary married Malden Roy and had children: Bill Roy, Marion Roy, Lafayette Roy, and Perry Roy, the first 3 of who served in the CS Army
  14. Gaines Lee married and had a child, David Needham Lee.
  15. Susan Lee married Wesley Hall Hollingsworth and had children: John Perry Hollingsworth, and Edward Columbus Hollingsworth, both of the CS Army, the latter was captured and held prisoner at Syracuse, NY
  16. Martin Lee
  17. James Franklin Lee served throughout the War of Secession.

Needham Lee’s last residence was Cahaba Valley in Shelby Co, Al. where he lived since 1816 when he came from Tennessee. He was a Judge in 1818 in Shelby county and performed Marriages in the area in 1818. In the 1820 Shelby Co, Al Census, Needham and his wife were both listed as over 21 with 8 sons and 4 daughters under 21, for a total of 14 in his houshold. He served as Justice of the Peace in the 1st court ever held in Shelby Co,Al and he held that office until his death in 1820.


  1. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography
  2. Memorial Record of Alabama; Vol 2
  3. Article in “Lee Room” in the Shelby County Museum located at 1854 Old Courthouse, Columbiana, Alabama.
  4. # 49011375

More on Needham Lee and his family can be found in the books: Shelby County Alabama Pioneers Volume I

Shelby County Alabama Pioneers Volume I (Kindle Edition)

By (author):  Causey, Donna

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. I have a family tree that was researched in the late 1920’s for my grandfather Robert Lee of Helena and Birmingham, AL and was given to me by my mother Pauline (Lee) Little. The tree, which is an ink drawing on linen and is approximately 1’6″ x 3′ 8″, starts with Col. Richard Lee but is mainly about the Needham Lee, Sr. family with all his children and their families that could be identified during the 1920’s research. My mother’s family descended from Henry R. Lee’s son Leonard Lee, my great grandfather.
    My father’s family, the Littles, were from Selma, AL with my great great grandfather, James Ethelbert Little, born 1815 in NC and married to Emily Jane (Harrell) Little from Lowndes, AL, the earliest ancestors I have been able to identify. Any additional information on the Littles would be greatly appreciated.

  2. I believe that I have a copy of the same tree; but, if it was drawn by Will Franke, the foundation of the tree is incorrect as there is evidence to dispute who Needham’s grandfather was (the father of Captain Thomas Lee).

  3. We might be related on my Lee & Becton side. We’re doing some more research. If any Lee’s reading this know of a connection to the Lee or Becton families of Choctaw & Washington Counties, please let me know. We might be cousins!
    – Tim Carlisle

  4. One of my ancestors on Deshazo side.

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