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James (JN) was born in 1865. He was the son of Newton A. John/Jacob ( Jeff) Pless Jr. and Euphania Ann Effie (Ridgeway) Taft Rogers. A lawsuit was filed by John Ridgeway against Effie for having an an extramarital affair with Newton A. (Nathaniel) Pless during 1864 which produced James. Newton Pless was married to Mary Ann “ Mattie” Brown at the time of his affair. The affair occurred when her husband, James Taft was at War. When James A. Taft returned home from the War and found Effie pregnant, he filed for divorce and sued Effie on the grounds of adultery. In order for Effie to be pardoned from her adultery sentence, she had to allow her mother, Mary Ann “Polly” (Cole) Ridgway Weaver to raise her unborn son .

James or JN was forced by the Franklin County Tennessee Courts to be raised by his maternal grandmother Mary Ann Polly Cole and her husband John "Johnny" Weaver. JN was just given the surname Weaver to spare him from being called a bastard child. The Weaver name was then added to James Neal, as there was no formal adoption in Tennessee before 1900. James Neal was then raised with step brother, Jacob Weaver & step sister-Victoria Weaver.

On 13 Mar 1886, he married Elizabeth Shasteen. [1]

He passed away in 1931. [2]

Court Documents


  • Ridgeway/ Taft, Euphania versus husband Taft, James A. . The Franklin County Tennessee Court House divorce Records. Winchester, Franklin County, Tennessee: 26 July 1865 /

Divorce Agreement court documents This may not be exactly correct but it is as close as I can determine:   To the Hon the Circuit Court Sitting at Winchester Tennessee   _________ Complaint James A. Taft a citizen of Franklin County Tennessee _______ respectfully    represent & states  unto _______Here _____  _____ the 21st of Nov 1864 the inter married with one    Effie Ann Ridgeway of said county & state that about December last she was guilty of adultery    with one Nathaniel (Nat) Pless said Effie A he is still a resident of said county & state   The previous  _______ ______ prays that all proper process issue that said Effie Ann Ridgway Taft be    made _____ to this till that ______ final having the _______ of matrimony ______ _______    officials to be dissolved & ______ restored to ______ the rights of a single man & grant _______   ________       This day James A Taft personally appeared before me & made oath that this is ____ in the    ______ ______ as of his own ______ _____ and _____ there stated _____ information & _____ he    believes to be (page break)     true and that the above complaint is not out of ______ or fraud or by _______ with the _____ but    is ________ and with ______ _________ _______ stated sworn to  & ________   before me July 25 1865   signed by James A Taft Two other signatures   I acknowledge myself the plaintiffs security for the prosecution of this cause.     July 25 1865 William Tunney


  1. "Tennessee, County Marriages, 1790-1950," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK4B-C4KM : 3 November 2017), J N Weaver and Elizabeth Josephine Shasteen, 13 Mar 1886; citing Franklin, Tennessee, United States, Marriage, p. , Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville and county clerk offices from various counties; FHL microfilm 1,148,922.
  2. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 October 2020), memorial page for James “Neal” Nathaniel Newton “Neal or JN” Pless/ Weaver (1865–1931), Find A Grave: Memorial #32631416, citing Marble Plains Cemetery, Winchester, Franklin County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Terri (contributor 47248133).

content/view/117741973:9841?tid=&pid=&queryId=3a9769b7e22c6abca445b424e9637781&_phsrc=GUU369&_phstart=successSource Moses Leonard Godden Ancestry.com. England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 [database on-line. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.]

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