Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/5/2001 at 20:21:54
From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Uriel Neal is numbered among the honored pioneers of Van Buren County, dating his residence from 1836, and for fifty-four years he has resided upon his present farm in Bonaparte Township. He was born in Boone County Kentucky, October 11, 1810, and is a son of John and Susan Ricketts Neal, who at a very early day settled in Kentucky where was born unto them a family of five children, only two of whom are now living—Abeli a resident of Ft Madison Iowa; and Uriel of this sketch. The parents came to Iowa in 1836 and spent the remainder of their lives in Van Buren County, but many years have now passed since they were called to their final home. Mr. Neal was a farmer and from the wild land in this section developed a fine farm, which supplied him with all the comforts of life. In politics, he gave his support to the Democratic Party.
Our subject was reared and educated in his native county and when a young man accompanied his parents to Dearborn County Indiana where in 1832, he led to the marriage altar Miss Catherine Brokaw, a native of Pennsylvania. The union was blessed with a daughter, Rachel M. Neal.
Fifty-four years have passed since Mr. Neal and his wife came to Van Buren County and great have been the changes, which time and the honored pioneer have wrought. They saw on their arrival broad acres of uncultivated land, which was then a part of the Territory of Wisconsin. Few indeed were the settlements, which had previously been made, the cities of Fairfield and Keosauqua had not then been founded and the work of civilization seemed scarcely begun. They settled on what is now one of the best farms in the community and it was not then an infrequent sight to see the red men pass and pass again on their way to and from Keokuk, while their camp fires gleamed red along the river banks. Almost entirely cut off from the outside world the settlers were dependent upon one another for company and entertainment, and many a worthy pioneer now looks back with a sigh of regret to think that those days when intercourse was free and hospitality unlimited, have passed away. But years rolled along and changes came. Log cabins were replaced with commodious residences; towns and villages sprang up, churches and schools were built and transformation at length obliterated nearly all the landmarks of the pioneer days. Like many others, Mr. Neal was dependent upon the labors of his hands for support. When the expenses of his journey to this state were paid he had but fifty cents remaining, yet youthful hopes supplemented his energy and industry and encouraged him to renewed effort when the days looked darkest. The furniture in the pioneer home was very crude, as for example, a dry goods box was used as a table or perhaps the door was taken from its hinges and served the same purpose. Their milling was done in Missouri and their groceries were obtained in Lexington but the prosperity, which attends untiring effort, came to Mr. Neal, and he is now the owner of a fine farm of two hundred and two acres.
In politics, Mr. Neal is a Democrat and has served as Justice of the Peace and other township offices. In his religious views he is liberal and neither is he connected with civic societies. He and his worthy wife have traveled life’s journey together for fifty-eight years, sharing with each other its joys and sorrows, adversity and prosperity. The end of the journey is probably near at hand, but in looking backward they need feel no regret, for their lives have been worthily spent.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.
Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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