The gentleman whose name heads this review is one of the leading farmers
in his community in Marion county, and this volume would be incomplete were
there failure to make mention of him and the enterprise with which he is
identified. Tireless energy and honesty of purpose are the chief
characteristics of the man.
Thomas B. Neal, a native of Marion county, Illinois; was born October 31, 1830, the son of Thomas and Rossanna (Walters) Neal. The former came to this county from Kentucky about 1828 and located near Owens Hill where he spent the remainder of his life, having made a comfortable living from his farming pursuits, being a hard worker and a man of highest integrity. The Walters people were born in Georgia and came from that state to this county. The father and mother of our subject were married in Kentucky.
Thomas B. Neal, our subject, was reared on a farm which he helped develop from the wild country into which the father had moved, but this was an industrious family and soon a good and productive farm was developed. His early schooling was somewhat limited owing to the fact that it was necessary for him to work on the farm and schools were of the most primitive type in those days, taught only a few months out of each year. Our subject showed his loyalty to the "old flag that has never touched the ground" during the forties when this country was in war with Mexico. Being unable to restrain his patriotism when he heard the call for troops to fight the descendants of the Montezumas, and he is today one of the few highly honored survivors of that famous conflict in this country, and it is indeed a privilege to meet and to show proper courtesy to such heroes. Mr. Neal enlisted in Company C, First Illinois Volunteer Regiment, and served with marked distinction in the same throughout the war. He is now remembered by his government with a pension of twenty dollars per month, as the result of his valor in this war. The only other living Mexican war veteran in Marion county besides our subject is William Bundy.
After his experience in the army, Mr. Neal returned home and was married in 1851 to Julia H. Chandler, whose people were from Wilson county, Tennessee. To this union eight children were born, all deceased but four. Mr. Neal's first wife passed away May 2, 1898, and he was married again April 10, 1900, to Manda S. Cozad. No children have been born to this union. The names of the subject's children by his first wife follow: Alexander, deceased; John A., deceased; Etta, Della, Rose A., deceased; Cora, Charley and Ben, deceased.
Our subject has six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, of whom he is justly proud. Mr. Neal owns a fine farm of forty acres in Tonti township, which he has developed to a high state and which has yielded him a comfortable living from year to year and enabled him to lay up a competency for his old age. This place shows that a man of good judgment has had its management in hand, and while he is now in the evening of life he is able to still successfully manage his affairs. He lives in section 9 of Tonti township in a substantial farm house which is surrounded by convenient outbuildings, and his farm is properly stocked with various kinds of live stock and poultry. He delights to see the advancement of his community and county, and he formerly took an active part in the affairs of the Democratic party.
Extracted 10 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 319-320.