The subject of the following biographical sketch was born in Hampshire, England, April 18, 1831. His father, James NEIL, brought his family to America in 1841, and came direct to Illinois and settled in Morgan county, north of Jacksonville, where he bought a fam, and continued farming until 1857, when he retired from active life. He removed to Jacksonville, and remained there until his death, which occurred in March, 1873. He married Miss Ann KING, also a native of Hampshire, England. She died in 1869. There were six children in the family - four daughters and two sons - three of the children are now living.
Richard W. is the third in the family, and the eldest living of the children. He remained at home until his twenty-first year. In 1853 he rented his father's farm, but he met with a flat failure in his first venture. In 1858 he came to Clinton county and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of raw unimproved land in section 26 of Clement township, and commenced at once improving it. In 1870 he built the large and commodious dwelling-house, a view of which, together with the farm, can be seen on another page, and there he has resided to the present, surrounded by such comforts and conveniences as are the certain attendants upon a life of industry and good management. Mr. Neil has a beautiful farm, and is an extensive grower of fruit, particularly peaches, the fame of which has gone out into other parts of the state and country. In years, when fruit is plenty, he ships large quantities, which find a ready sale wherever his fruit is known.
On the 8th of April, 1859, he was united in marriage to Miss Martha BLACKBURN, a native of Wath, Yorkshire, England. Her parents, Mathew and Sarah Blackburn, were natives of the same place. The family emigrated to America in 1842, and settled in Morgan county, Illinois, in 1843, where they remained until death. The father died in 1863, and the mother in 1875. They both died on the place upon which they settled in 1843. By the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Neil there were seven children; two of them are living, both sons, named William Henry and Charles Edmund Neil. Both he and his wife are members of the M. E. Church, and take an active interest in that Christian organization.
Politically, Mr. Neil in early life arrayed himself on the side of freedom and human rights. He was an avowed hater of the system of slavery. His first vote was cast for John P. Hale for president in 1852. In 1856 he voted for John C. Fremont, and in all subsequent elections have voted the republican ticket.
Mr. Neil, as intimated above, is one of the substantial farmers of Clinton county. He is one of that kind of men who succeed in the world, not perhaps from his superior knowledge, but from habits of industry, economy and good, careful management. In his home everything is neat and in perfect order, which is evidence of wifely care and good management. Both he and his wife are pleasant people, and make the stranger heartily welcome to their home.
Source: History of Marion and Clinton Counties, Illinois, 1881, Brink, McDonough & Co., Philadelphia
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