WILLIAM BORLAND NEEL, one of the successful and progressive business men of the country, was born near Mount Pleasant, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, January 4, 1826, the only son of Samuel and Rachel (Borland) Neel. He is of pure Irish descent, his ancestors on both sides having been natives of north Ireland. The progenitor of the Neel family in America was John Neel, who left his native land, sailing for American shores, and located in Dauphin county. He married, and had children: John, William, Robert, James, Margaret Cochran, Jane Clark, Eleanor Simpson, and Agnes Fleming. His death occurred October 7, 1792, in Dauphin county .Two of his sons, John and William, crossed the Allegheny mountains about 1770 and settled near Mount Pleasant, where they were married to two sisters of Samuel Warden, who was residing on the Warden farm one mile west of the present borough of Mount Pleasant.
John Neel, son of John Neel, senior, and grandfather of William Borland Neel, was an elder of the Presbyterian church and one of the six who held the first meeting of Redstone Presbytery, at Pigeon Creek, Pennsylvania, September 10, 1781. He married, May 23, 1775, Margaret Warden, and their children were: Robert, John. Samuel, Eleanor Vance, Margaret, Andrew, Martha Tittle and Mary Thompson.
Samuel Neel, third son of John Neel, Jr., was born in 1785, and was by occupation a farmer. He inherited a portion of the home farm and this he operated and lived upon until his death. He was industrious and prosperous, having in his possession a tract of land comprising one hundred and seventy acres located near Mount Pleasant. His political belief was in accordance with the old line Whigs, but after the formation of the Republican party he joined that organization. Like his father he was an elder in the Presbyterian church.
He married, April 1, 1812, Ruth Jack, and their children were: Lucinda Lvtle, and Rev. J. J. Neel, who died February 10, 1852, aged thirty-three years. Ruth (Jack) Neel died in 1819, and Mr. Neel took for his second wife, Rachel Borland, June 25, 1822. She was the daughter of Samuel Borland, who emigrated from Ireland to America settling in "The Manor," Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, where he engaged in farming. He was an officer in the Revolutionary war. At the close he married Mrs. Lidia Gregg, at her father's home, Winchester, Virginia. They made their home for a few years in Bedford county, Pennsylvania, before moving to Westmoreland county. He was a Presbyterian and married Lydia Gregg, who was born in Winchester, Virginia, removing from there to Bedford, Pennsylvania. Mr. and Mrs. Neel had children: William Borland, of whom later; Lydia G.; Ruth Shields; and Margaret A., who died November 28, 1884. Samuel Neel died October 28, 1862, at the advanced age of seventy-seven years, after a useful and well spent life. His wife survived him ten years.
William B. Neel acquired what education the subscription schools of those days afforded, and was reared to agricultural pursuits. Immediately after leaving the school room he engaged in farming, which occupation he has followed ever since, ever being attended with the greatest success in this line, and has now in his possession four hundred acres of valuable and fertile farm land, and also town property. In about 1859 he engaged in the stock droving business, in partnership with William I. Hitchman, continuing in this business for about twenty years. Mr. Neel was also largely identified with the coal and coke business of East Huntingdon township, and purchased extensive coal lands in West Virginia which he still has in his possession, but which have not yet been developed. He was also connected with Mr. Hitchman in the banking and real estate business for many years. He was one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Mount Pleasant in 1865, and is still a director in that institution. In politics he is a staunch Republican, and takes the deepest interest in the welfare of that organization. He is also largely interested in educational pursuits, and served in his township for over ten years as school director. In matters of religion Mr. Neel adheres to the principles of the Presbyterian church, the denomination of his forefathers. He has been elder of his church since 1862, and represented the Red Stone Presbytery in the general assembly at Chicago in 1877, and again at Saratoga Springs in 1890. Mr. Neel is one of the representative men of Mount Pleasant, a leading factor in business circles of that place, and a man who by his liberal views, commendable industry , patient perseverance, and genial, hospitable disposition, has won the confidence of his business .associates and endeared himself to a host of warm and admiring friends. William B. Neel married Nancy I. Hurst, daughter of Nathaniel Hurst, a prominent citizen of Fayette county, Pennsylvania. Their children were: John I., a civil engineer, of Greensburg, Pa.; Samuel, a farmer and contractor, of Westmoreland county; Rachel; Ella May; and Sarah H.
Source: Page(s) 112 - 113, History of Westmoreland County, Volume 2, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed June 2001 by Nathan Zipfel for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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