Elvis Presley Family History

By: Elvis Australia
Source: www.elvis.com.au
January 1, 2015

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Elvis' paternal heritage through to his father, Vernon

>> Elvis' maternal heritage through to his mother, Gladys

Johannes Valentin Bressler, the founder of the Presley family in America, was born in the Palatinate, Germany, 1669 in the village of Hochstadt (where the Preslar family was first mentioned in 1494); Valentine was employed there as a vine dresser; he married Anna Christiana Franse (Born Germany 1674) and immigrated to New York in 1710; In the early generations of the family, in America, the German surnames were often turned into English (in parenthesis); after the mid-1800s many members of the family changed their last name to Pressley or Pressly. This continued down Elvis Presleys 'line' to his grandfather Jessie (J.D.).

(Johannes was shortened to Johann and then John).

In June of 1710, approx. 2,400 Germans (Palatinate) arrived in New York and New Jersey from England. On June, 14 arriving on the ship 'Fame', Captain Walter Houxton, were the following: Johann Valentin Bressler, 41, Anna Christiana, 36, Anna Elisabetha, 14, Anna Gertrud, 12, Andreas, 6, Antoni, 4, and (son) 1-1/2.

Regarding the sons of Valentine and Christina Bressler/Preslar, the following information as given by a Preslar descendant, Robert Allen, who defines that the two sets of Preslars living in Anson County, NC, are not only the children of Andreas and Antje (Anna) Wells, but of Hans Jurie Preslar, brother of Andreas. It appears that the descendants of Hans Jurie kept the 'Preslar' surname while the descendants of Andreas seem to have shifted over to Pressley and Presley, perhaps to differentiate between the two families.

Allen writes that '... Valentine Preslar, the founder of the family in America, was born in the Palatinate, Germany, 1669 in the village of Hochstadt (where the Preslar family was first mentioned in 1494); Valentine was employed there as a vine dresser; he married Christina Franse and immigrated to New York in 1710; In the early generations of the family the German surnames were often turned into English (in parenthesis); after the mid-1800s many members of the family changed their last name to Pressley or Pressly'. This continued down Elvis Presleys 'line' to his grandfather Jessie (J.D.) and on occasion his Father, Vernon.

Johannes Valentine Bressler/Preslar Line

Children of Valentine and Anna Christiana:

Anna Elizabeth Preslar b. 1696
Anna Gertrude Preslar b. 1698
Andreas (Andrew) Preslar b. 1704 (ancestor of Elvis Presley)
Anthony Preslar b. 1705
Maria Agnes Preslar b. 1710
Hans Jurie (John) Preslar 1713-1777
Martinus Preslar b. 1716
Pieter (Peter) Preslar b. 1717

(Some sources list Andreas (Andrew) Preslars year of bith as 1701).

Andreas Preslar was born in Germany in 1704 and died 1759 in Anson, North Carolina, USA. He was to marry Antje (Anna) Wells of Staten Island, New York, in 1727, they moved through New York through PA to Maryland and then to Anson Co. NC. Antje Wills born 1697 in Southold, Suffolk, New York, USA and died 1765 in Anson, North Carolina, USA. (Some sources have her last name as Wills).

Children born and baptized in St. Stephen's Parish, Cecil County, MD:

Christian Preslar b. 1725
John Valentine Preslar b. 1726
Sarah Preslar b. 1728
Thomas Preslar b. 1730
Andrew Preslar, Jr b. 1732

Andrew Presley, Jr. Line - first generation NC/SC/TN/MS {Elvis direct line}

Andreas (Andrew) and Antje (Anna) Preslar had five children born and baptized in St. Stephen's Parish, Cecil County, MD; Christian Preslar b. 1725, John Valentine Preslar b. 1726, Sarah Preslar b. 1728, Thomas Preslar b. 1730 and Andrew Preslar, Jr younger brother of Thomas, was born 1732.

Andrew Preslar Jr's children, were: Charles, John, Andrew III, Peter, and Joseph. John, born in Rowan County, NC in 1748, served in the American Revolutionary War for his brother, Peter, born in 1756. After the war, John relocated to Monroe County, TN, where he filed for a pension and received it beginning 1833. John was in Monroe County, TN, at the same time as Dunning Presley and Dunning, Jr. who was born in Monroe in 1827. However, John, it was said, moved there to be close to his children. Charles Presley also served in the American Revolution along with his wife, Polly Keziah. (Hereafter referred to as Presley).

John Presley, son of Andrew, Jr. is the father of Dunning (Dunnan) Presley. Dunning, Sr. is listed by himself on the 1810 Buncombe County Census, and on the 1820 census record for Buncombe County, NC, along with John Presley. It is now believed that John Presley may have been married to a Casiah/Keziah, daughter of Dunning Casiah, the neighbour of Andrew Prestley, and whose other daughter, Mary Polly Keziah, married Andrew's eldest son, Charles. ohn's son, Dunning John Presley, providing that his mother was a Casiah, would have been, in Tuscarora tradition, named for the maternal grandfather, in this case, DUNNING Casiah.

Interesting to note here are the census records and applications for Rev. War pensions that show us Andrew Presley/Priestly with Charles, John, and Anthony, and Andrew III, born in 1754, also a son of Andrew, Jr., also had a son named John, both of who also moved to TN. Both Andrew Presley and his brother John were given Bounty-Land Warrants which is why they moved to SC and TN from NC. We have Charles Presley/Priestley who served of his own accord but also stepped in to serve in the stead of both Andrew and John, his brothers. John had recalled in his pension that he had served in the stead of his brother, Peter. Dunning (Dunnan) Presley, Sr. was born 1780 in Lancaster County, South Carolina, and died at age 70 in 1850 in Polk County, Tennessee. He married (1) Mary. He married (2) Catherine on Abt. 1808 in Lancaster County, South Carolina.

Children of Dunning Presley and Catherine are:

+ Dunning Presley Jr ., b. July 1, 1827, Monroe County, Tennessee, d. March 10, 1900 in Mississippi.

Dunning Jr was the son of John Presley, grandson of Dunning Presley Sr. and great grandson of Andrew (Andreas) Preslar, the first immigrant of the family to America. On November 1, 1847 at the age of 20 he enlisted at Knoxville as a private in Captain Jno. C. Vaughn's Company C of the 5th Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers.

On November 7th he was issued a warrant for 160 acres of land based on his army service.

Dunning married Martha Jane Wesson several years his junior, whom he marries on August 15, 1861. In February of 1862, the couples first child, Rosella Elizabeth Presley, is born.

The 1880 Federal census for Independance Arkansas states Rosella and Rosalinda's father Dunnan Presley Jr's last name was in fact Presley. Dunning died March 10, 1900 in Mississippi, at 73 years of age.

Children of Dunning Presley, Jr. and Martha Jane Wesson are:

+ Rosella Elizabeth Presley b. Feb. 1862, Fulton County, Miss. d. July 30, 1924, Pineville, Itawamba County, Mississippi. Rosella Elizabeth Presley never married, according to records, and some family members speculate for different reasons. However, Rosella lived alone and was a sharecropper in Mississippi, raising her children, most of whom could not read or write. The 1900 US Federal Census for Itawamba, Mississippi states that Rosella's middle Initial was M. She is listed with several of her children. However other sources list it as Elizabeth.

Mary Jane 'Rosalinda' Presley, b. 1864, d. date unknown.

Children of Rosella Elizabeth Presley are:

1. Walter G. Presley b Dec 1880 in Itawamba Co, MS
2. Joseph Warren Presley b About 1886 in Itawamba Co, MS
3. Minnie Elizabeth Presley b July 1889 in Itawamba Co, MS
4. Noah E. Presley b: August 1890 in Itawamba Co, MS - m. Susan Izora Griffin, 1911, Itawamba County, MS and; m. Christine Mary Houston, 1940
5. Jessie D.McDowell Presley b: April, 9 1896 in Itawamba Co, MS
6. Calhoun Presley b May 9, 1898 in Itawamba Co, MS
7. L. Presley b: Before 1900 in Itawamba Co, MS
8. Mack Presley b: About 1901 in Itawamba Co, MS
9. Robbie Presley b March, 1 1903 in Itawamba Co, MS

Jessie D. McDowell Presley was born April 9, 1896 in Itawamba County, Mississippi, to Rosella Presley, unmarried. He died 19 April 1973. He married (1) Minnie Mae Hood on July 20, 1913. She was born June, 17 1888 and died May, 8 1980. He married (2) Vera (Kinnaird) Leftwich.

Divorce: August 03, 1954, Lee County, Mississippi.
Marriage: July 20, 1913

Children of Jessie D. McDowell Presley and Minnie Mae Hood are:

Vester Presley b. Sept, 11. 1914 d. January, 18 1997 m. Clettis Smith
child: Patsy Presley b.
+Vernon Elvis Presley b. April 10, 1916, Fulton, Itawamba County, Mississippi, d. June 26, 1979.
Delta Mae Presley b. m. Biggs
Gladys Earlene Presley b. m. Morgan
Lorene Nashval (Nash) Presley b. m. Earl Pritchett

Vernon Elvis Presley was born April 10, 1916 in Fulton, Itawamba County, Mississippi, and died June 26, 1979. He married Gladys Love Smith on June 17, 1933 in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. He later married Davada Mae Stanley.
Marriage: June 17, 1933, Pontotoc County, Mississippi. (More About Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Smith).

>> Elvis' maternal heritage through to his mother, Gladys

Elvis' great-great-great-grandmother, Morning White Dove (1800-1835), was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian. She married William Mansell, a settler in western Tennessee, in 1818. William's father, Richard Mansell, had been a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Mansell is a French name--its literal translation is the man from Le Mans. The Mansells migrated from Norman France to Scotland, and then later to Ireland. In the 18th century the family came to the American Colonies. The appellation 'white' in Morning Dove's name refers to her status as a friendly Indian. Early American settlers called peaceable Indians 'white', while 'red' was the designation for warring Indians or those who sided with the British in the Revolutionary War. It was common for male settlers in the West to marry 'white' Indians as there was a scarcity of females on the American frontier.

Like many young men in the American Southwest, William Mansell fought with Andrew Jackson in the Indian Wars of the early nineteenth century. He fought with Old Hickory in Alabama, at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, and later in Florida too. Returning to Tennessee from the Indian Wars, William Mansell married Morning White Dove. Elaine Dundy says of the marriage, William Mansell gained 'age-old Indian knowledge of the American terrain; of forests and parries; of crops and game; of protection against the climate; of medicine lore, healing plants as well as something in which the Indians were expert--the setting of broken bones'. Moreover, added to Elvis' lineage were Morning White Dove's ruddy Indian complexion and fine line of cheek.

Like many other settlers, the newlyweds migrated to Alabama from Tennessee to claim lands garnered in the Indian Wars. The Mansells settled in Marion County in northeast Alabama near the Mississippi border.

Elvis' great-great grandfather

Morning White Dove and William Mansell prospered in Alabama. Their land was fertile and they built a substantial house near the town of Hamilton. They had three offspring, the eldest of who was John Mansell, born in 1828, and Elvis' great-great grandfather.

Elvis' great grandfather

John Mansell squandered the legacy of the family farm. In 1880 he abdicated to Oxford, Mississippi, changing his name to Colonel Lee Mansell. His sons left Hamilton to seek their fortunes in the town of Saltillo, Mississippi, near Tupelo, the birth place of Elvis Presley. The third of John Mansell's sons, White Mansell, became the patriarch of the family with John Mansell's removal to Oxford. White Mansell was Elvis' great-grandfather.

White Mansell married Martha Tackett, a neighbour in Saltillo. Of note is the religion, Jewish, of Martha's mother, Nancy Tackett. It was unusual to find a Jewish settler in Mississippi during this time. All accounts point to White Mansell as a hard-working, upright, provider for a clan increasingly besieged by economic factors beyond their control. The Civil War fractured the Southern economy and soul. Cotton, the backbone of the South, was subject to financial depressions such as the Panic of 1890.

After the devastation of Civil War, like many other Southern families, the Mansells were stretched to the breaking point. They sold their lands and became sharecroppers. The prosperity of the South, along with the fortunes of the family, had plummeted. However the life of a sharecropper was not unremittingly grim. They had music and dancing and the comfort of religion. Tenant farmers, sharecroppers, were often invited to the owner's house on Saturday nights for square dancing and parties. Sundays there were picnics on the ground after church. Although there was little hope of escaping poverty, it was a life of community with some gayety.

Gladys Presley's mother and Elvis' grandmother

Enter now Doll Mansell (1876-1935), Gladys Presley's mother and Elvis' grandmother, of whom Elaine Dundy had this to say. 'And the gayest of all the girls at these gatherings, the acknowledged beauty, was the slim, exquisite, tubercular, porcelain-featured, spoiled third daughter of White Mansell ... Doll'. She was a delicate beauty and the apple of her father's eye. She did not marry until 27, and then to her first cousin, Robert Smith.

Gladys Presley's Parents - Bob and Doll Smith - Day of Wedding September 19, 1903
Gladys Presley's Parents - Bob and Doll Smith - Day of Wedding September 19, 1903.

Bob Smith (1873-1931) was the son of White Mansell's sister, Ann.

Ann Mansell was a striking woman of dignity and stature, a commanding presence until her death at eighty-six. Bob Smith and Doll Mansell, Elvis Presley's maternal grandparents, were first cousins. This was a genetic intensification, a doubling, of the family lineage. The marrying of first cousins, with its intensities and possibility for dysfunction, was common in insulated communities of the agrarian South. Like Doll, Bob Smith was very handsome, his Indian blood evidenced in a noble brow, good bone structure, even features and dark, deep-set eyes. His black hair was dark as coal. Doll would be bedridden from tuberculosis throughout the marriage. Like his uncle and father-in-law, White Mansell, Bob Smith laboured long and hard as a sharecropper, and occasional moonshiner, to support his invalid wife and eight children. The noose of poverty tightened on the family, and on Elvis' mother, Gladys Love Smith (1912-1958) who was born on April 25, 1912.

In 1931, when Gladys was 19 her father Bob Smith died. It was completely sudden and unexpected. Everyone had expected the sick 'Doll' to die first. As was his request he was buried in an unmarked grave.

So Gladys did not have a strong role model in a mother, and Vernon did not have a strong bond with his father. Both these facts would impact heavily on Elvis Presleys life.

Vernon and Gladys Presley

Vernon & Gladys Presley.
Vernon & Gladys Presley.
Vernon was but seventeen when he married Gladys Love Smith, four years his elder, in 1933. Like his relatives before him, Vernon worked at any odd job that came along. For a while, he and Vester, his older brother, farmed together, raising cotton, com, soybeans and a few hogs. Later, he took a job with the WPA, a federal government make - work program during the Depression. Next, he drove a delivery truck for McCarty's, a Tupelo wholesale grocer, delivering grocery items to stores throughout northeast Mississippi. These, then, were the Presley genes, passed along from generation to generation, some of which undoubtedly were inherited by the infant born in that two-room house in the hills of East Tupelo.

Gladys sister Clettes married Vester, Veron's older brother. Thus, two brothers married two sisters. Few know it, but in the beginning, their roles were reversed. Vester started out dating Gladys. Vernon, eighteen months younger, originally dated Clettes, 'Yeah', recalls Vester, 'I dated Gladys a few times and Vernon dated Clettes. Gladys didn't like my attitude much. As I have always told you, I was too wild, in those days. So, Gladys quit seeing me and we quit seeing the Smith girls for awhile. Then, Vernon started dating Gladys and soon there was only one object of his affection - Gladys.

June 17, 1933, Gladys Smith and Vernon Presley eloped and were married in the County of Pontotoc, where Vernon was not known, both lying about their ages. Vernon gave his age as 22, Gladys 19. While Gladys was of legal age Vernon was not at age 17. Gladys would hide her real age for much of her life. In her book, Elvis and Gladys, Elaine Dundy says 'Impetuosity and impulsiveness played a large part in Gladys make up. She knew nothing of half measures, nor was there anything half-heated or self-protective about her'. Elvis would inherit from Gladys his unpredictable impulses.

About the end of June 1934, Gladys knew she was pregnant. Some time around her fifth month she was sure she was having twins - she was unusually large, could feel two babies kicking and had a family history of twins on both sides of the family. Gladys was earning $2 a day at the Tupelo Garment Company, while Vernon worked at various odd jobs, including one on the dairy farm of Orville S. Bean. With $180 that he borrowed from Bean after Gladys became pregnant in the spring of 1934, Vernon set about constructing a family home, and he and Gladys moved in that December.

Elvis' birthplace was built by his father, Vernon, with help from Vernon's brother Vester and father, Jessie, whose relatively 'spacious' four-room house sat next door. Located above a highway that transported locals between Tupelo and Birmingham, Alabama, and nestled among a group of small, rough-hewn homes along Old Saltillo Road. The house had no electricity (It was connected but it was not used due to the cost) or indoor plumbing, and was similar to housing constructed for mill villages around that time.

Articles about Elvis Presley Read more about Vernon and Gladys Presley (Including audio of the one Vernon recorded)

Elvis Presley

Gladys, Elvis & Vernon.
Gladys, Elvis & Vernon.
January 8, 1935, not long before dawn, Elvis Aaron Presley was born. Gladys delivered a second son earlier that morning, a stillborn identical twin named Jesse Garon. Elvis would be their only child.

After the birth Gladys was close to death and both her and Elvis were taken to Tupelo Hospital. After Gladys and Elvis returned home, it was noticed by family members and friends that she was overprotective of her new born son. Paranoid that something bad would happen to him.

Gladys' mother, 'Doll' Smith died in 1935 and was buried next to her husband Bob Smith, again in an unmarked grave. So like Elvis, Gladys lost her mother at a young age. Gladys was 23, Elvis 22.

Children of Vernon Elvis Presley and Gladys Love Smith are

+Elvis Aaron Presley, b. January 8, 1935, Tupelo, Mississippi, d. August 16, 1977, Memphis, Tennessee.
Jessie Garon Presley, b. January 8, 1935, d. January 08, 1935.

Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, and died August 16, 1977 in Memphis, Tennessee. He married Priscilla Ann Beaulieu.

Children of Elvis Aaron Presley and Priscilla Ann Beaulieu are:

Lisa Marie Presley

Children of Lisa Marie Presley and (1) Danny Keough:

Daughter: Danielle Riley, born May 19, 1989
Son: Benjamin Storm, born Oct. 21, 1992

Children of Lisa Marie Presley and (3) Michael Lockwood:

Twin girls born October 7, 2008:

Harper Vivienne Ann
Finley Aaron Love

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Elvis Presley Video Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD

Never before have we seen an Elvis Presley concert from the 1950's with sound. Until Now! The DVD Contains recently discovered unreleased film of Elvis performing 6 songs, including Heartbreak Hotel and Don't Be Cruel, live in Tupelo Mississippi 1956. Included we see a live performance of the elusive Long Tall Sally seen here for the first time ever. + Plus Bonus DVD Audio.

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The 'parade' footage is good to see as it puts you in the right context with color and b&w footage. The interviews of Elvis' Parents are well worth hearing too. The afternoon show footage is wonderful and electrifying : Here is Elvis in his prime rocking and rolling in front of 11.000 people. Highly recommended.

Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Video with Sound.