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Posted By: Jake Tornholm (email)
Date: 4/23/2020 at 14:34:42

JOHN L. NEILL, a farmer of Douglas township, Adams county, first arrived here in 1856, when a boy, and is, therefore, one of the best known citizens. He was born in Des Moines county, this State, near Burlington, in 1843, when Iowa was a Territory. His father, John Neill, deceased, was born in county Down, north Ireland, March 12, 1812, and came to America when a young man, and becoming one of the first settlers at Burlington, when there were but three log cabins in the place. He opened a farm near there, and later engaged in the grain trade, shipping the first ear-load from that place; also dealt in live-stock, etc. He married Mrs. Lucinda Boyd, whose maiden name was Ladd; she was born in Indiana, a daughter of Christopher Ladd, who built one among the first log houses in Burlington. He and his sons owned a large portion of the town site. He moved to Adams county in 1855, settling upon 320 acres which he had purchased near town from Jude Lowe. In the spring of 1856 he bought 220 acres more, - all wild land. He and his two eldest sons, Henry and John L. (our subject), with three hired men, broke ninety acres the first season, during which time they lived in a board shanty which they had built, and where Mr. John L. Neill was cook, and had charge of the "Hotel de Neill." In the fall they built a log house sixteen feet square, on section 23, and there the family of parents and seven children, and hired men and hired girl, all lived, and sometimes strangers, arriving cold and hungry, were also welcomed to the best the house afforded. Mr. Neill, the father, opened here a large farm, bought stock, which he drove to Eddyville and Ottumwa, 140 miles distant. It required three or four weeks to drive the hogs to that point; cattle were driven twelve to fifteen miles a day. They hauled their dressed hogs to St. Joseph, Missouri, when the market was better for dressed meat. Engaging in the mercantile trade on the old farm, Mr. Neill sold goods to the best settlers. Later he started a store at Red Oak, where Henry and John L. had charge, hauling their goods from Council Bluffs, St. Joseph, Des Moines and Ottumwa. Some time afterward the father and John L. engaged in trade at Hawleyville, Page county, and still later did an extensive business at Villisca. The father was a good business man and financier. He was a self-made man, politically a Democrat, and was a valuable man to this county in early days. He died at Villisca, in 1875; his wife had in December, 1869. They had four sons and three daughters, namely: Henry, now in the livery and money lending business at Santa Ana, California; John L., our subject; Samuel, of Douglas township, Adams county; Julius, of Kansas; Emma, wife of James Preston, of Rock county, Minnesota; Ida, wife of Samuel Leach, of Springfield, Nebraska; and Ella, who died in 1861, at the age of twelve years.

Mr. John L. Neill, whose name introduces this sketch, was a lad of thirteen years when he came to Adams county, where he was brought up on a farm, and still follows that noble calling, farming, now owning 662 acres of land, - all in one body and mostly bottom land; eighty acres are in Page county. His pasture is in blue-grass and clover. His residence is a good one, of modern style, 26 x 36 feet and two stories high, with porch. The barn is 44 x 72 feet, and there are the other outbuildings necessary for good farm management. Mr. Neill keeps fifty horses, from thoroughbred Clyde and Norman down, 150 head of cattle of good grade, etc.

In 1863 he crossed the plains and mountains with team to the Pacific coast, leaving the Missouri river April 16, and arriving at Portland, Oregon, September 18. He went to San Francisco by water, and thence by the Nicaragua route to New York. In 1881 he went with his family on a visit to Santa Ana, California, where he bought and sold some real estate, with profit. Thus he has spent two winters on the Pacific coast.

Mr. Neill is a Democrat in his political views, is a successful business man and a useful and popular citizen.

He was married at the age of twenty-five years, to Miss Eliza Hollis, a lady of intelligence and of a good family, born in Indiana, a daughter of Ed Hollis, who was a well-known early settler of Page county. Her mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Murphy. Mr. and Mrs. Neill have six children, namely: John Edward, who married Ada Hollingsworth, has one son, Ralph E.; Anna Stella, Cora May, Grace Blanch, Belle and Willie.


Adams Biographies maintained by Jake Tornholm.
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