genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.
JOHN E. NEELY is a contractor and builder of Pana. He has made his home in this city for thirty-five years, and has been closely identified with its growth and progress. On all sides may be seen evidences of his handiwork, for many of the business houses and residences of the city were erected under his supervision. In other ways, aside from his business, he has also aided in the promotion of Pana's best interests.

A native of Pennsylvania, Mr. Neely was born in Chesapeake County March 19, 1828. His parents, William and Maria (Hesseick) Neely, were also natives of the Keystone State. Of their family of eleven children, numbering six sons and five daughters, seven are yet living: Rachel Ann, wife of Albert Dilworth, of Pennsylvania; Anna Maria, widow of Philip Hughes; Emma Jane, wife of Thomas Wynn; Sarah, wife of S. McAfee; John E., William and Frank.

The father of this family was a Pennsylvanian farmer, and died in his native State in 1873, at the age of seventy-three. His wife had passed away some twenty years previous, in the faith of the Methodist Church, with which she held membership. Mr. Neely was reared as an Episcopalian, and was ever a great student of the Bible.

The family is of Irish origin, having been founded in America by James Neely, the grandfather of our subject, who was a native of the Emerald Isle. The maternal grandfather, John Hesseick, was an agriculturist of Pennsylvania, his native State.

In taking up the personal history of our subject, we present to our readers the life record of one of Pana's influential citizens. His boyhood days were quietly passed under the parental roof, where he was reared to habits of industry and usefulness, and in the public schools of Chesapeake County he acquired his education. Not wishing to devote himself to agricultural pursuits throughout life, when a young man he learned the carpenter's trade, which he has followed in connection with the undertaking business continuously since. His excellent workmanship, and the faithfulness with which he performs his part of a contract, have won him an excellent trade, which in turn has yielded him a good income.

The lady who now bears the name of Mrs. Neely was in her maidenhood Mary Ann Millard, daughter of Joseph and Maria (Heatherly) Millard, natives of Pennsylvania. Five children were born to our subject and his wife, but Emma Jane and John are now deceased. The three still living are Ida, William M. and Hannah Maria.

In his political affiliations, Mr. Neely was formerly a Republican, but is now independent in politics. His wife is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He has twice served on the City Council, but has never been an office-seeker in the popular sense of the term, preferring to devote his attention to business interests. As his financial resources have increased, he has made judicious investments in real estate, and now owns one hundred and sixty acres of good farming land in Missouri, besides his home and other city property in Pana. He is a public-spirited and progressive man, and during his residence here of more than a third of a century his life of uprightness has won him warm regard.


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