Lee County Biography


Robert E. Neir has been long and worthily associated with the farmers and stockraisers of Lee County, and though he is now living in retirement from active business at Paw aw, he still retains his agricultural interests and has two well equipped farms in Wyoming Township. He was born in Cumberland County PA October 14, 1822. His father, Francis T. Neil, was a native of Germany as was his father also. The grandfather in his native land and had a family of children growing around him, when the determination grew strong within him to emigrate to America, that land of promise whither so many of his countrymen had gone, and where he thought he would be able to provide better for his dear ones than in the old country. Accordingly, one day he embarked with his wife and offspring on a ship bound for these shores. But he was not destined to make port here, as ere the voyage was ended, he and his family with one exception, had passed through the gates of death to the land of the immortals. On child remained in Germany.

The father of our subject, then a lad of eight summers, was the sole survivor of the little family group that a few short weeks before had left the German Fatherland to found a new home across the sea, and thus sadly bereft of all his kin, he landed in Baltimore, orphaned and penniless, without friends or a home to go to. But he was taken in charge and kindly cared for by James Hemphill, a farmer of Cumberland County PA with whom he remained until he attained his majority. He was a steady, studious youth, made the best of his opportunities to obtain an education while with his employer and after leaving him taught and attended school alternately for some time. After his marriage he rented land and engaged in farming in Cumberland and Franklin Counties, PA until death ended his work. The maiden name of his wife was Margaret E. Earley, and she was a daughter of Robert Earley. She was a native of Pennsylvania and died in Franklin County, that State. She was the mother of eight children; one died in infancy.

Our subject was the eldest son of the family and when he was very young he commenced to assist his father on the farm, and thus early gained a good experience in the calling which he was afterward to pursue so successfully on his own account. He remained with his parents until he was twenty years old, and then served a three years apprenticeship to learn the trade of a cabinetmaker in Roxbury, Franklin County. He then carried on business in that line for two years and at the end of that time left his native State to establish himself at Ft. Seneca, Seneca County Ohio, where he worked at the trade of a carpenter and joiner until 1857. In that year he came to Lee County and identified himself with its pioneers, settling in Wyoming Twp. on a tract of land on section 31, that he bought. He erected suitable buildings and busied himself with tilling the soil, continuing to reside on his farm until he removed to Paw in 1881, where he has since lived in retirement from active labor. He is still interested in farming however, and owns 210 acres of choice farming land in Wyoming Twp. , said land being divided into two farms that are under excellent tillage an dare amply supplied with good buildings.

Mr. Neir has been twice married. April 22, 1847, his marriage with Miss Sarah A. Shuman was celebrated. Their wedding life was brief, as she died in 1851, leaving two children; Jefferson S. and Francis. The maiden name of our subject's present wife was Catherine Hade. She was born in Franklin County, PA and is a daughter of Jacob Hade, who is supposed to have been a native of that county also. He removed from there to Ohio, and was an early settler of Seneca County, where he bought a tract of timber land, one-fourth of a mile from Ft. Seneca. He erected a log cabin and in the course of time hewed out a good farm from the surrounding wilderness and made it his home until death. The maiden name of his wife was Margaret Snyder. She died in PA.

The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Neir has been blessed to them by two sons; Ray S. and Clark E. Our subject is one of the solid, self made men of the county whose only capital when they started in life was what lay in themselves in the shape of muscle and brain and a steadfast determination to accomplish all they could and always to do their best in whatever position they might be placed. That he has used these God-given faculties well may be seen not only in the fact that he has become one of the moneyed men of his community, but by the sincere respect and regard in which he is held by his fellow citizens. Religiously, he and his wife are esteemed members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and are active in its every good work. Politically he is a Republican and is ever true to his colors.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL


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