John McNeal (1840-1923)

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John McNeal (1840-1923) was the second son of John McNeal (1802-1874) and FNU Wilson?, and was born in his father's birthplace in Paisley, Scotland. In 1845, the family (his parents, older brother Peter and younger sister Mary) crossed the Atlantic to New York on the ship "Adam Carr." His mother died soon after the family had debarked. In 1853, he, his father (a tailor) and his siblings came to Newburgh NY, where his father practiced the trade of tailoring. Until the summer of 1862, John worked as an apprentice in a local butcher shop, tailored and worked as a mason/builder. He joined the 71st NY State Militia, in Company "I" out of Newburgh in May of 1862, as a respondent to a three-months recruitment call by the Federal Government. The assignment for this unit was to provide guard duty on the streets of Washington DC, at local military forts, and on the Potomac River bridges...because of the threats of a Confederate force which had occupied approaches in nearby Virginia. After this service, and in the following year (1863) in Newburgh, he married Elizabeth Wiseman (1842-1875) at the First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Newburgh. Their first-born daughter was Margaret Dunlap McNeal (1865-1950). After the War, he joined forces with his brother and fellow mason Peter at Harrison & McNeal, then later with his brother as a partner, and finally, on his own. He participated in the building of many of the homes that still stand in the Washington Heights neighborhood, then under residential development, and also many business buildings, churches and residences out in Orange County, NY. After the death of his first wife in 1875, he remarried, in 1878, to his housekeeper, Frances E. Cameron (185?-1916), of Newburgh. At about that same time, he joined a local chapter of the GAR, the Civil War Veteran's pension-lobbying organization. He lived with his family for many years in a house that he had built himself at 15 Henry Avenue in Newburgh, and died there in infirm old age in 1923. He provided an autobiographical profile in 1891 to a vanity book titled "Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens of Orange County, New York', from which much of this information was taken. His children were Margaret Dunlap, Archibald, Susan Clyde, Joseph Wilson and the infant Elizabeth by his first wife, and Clayton Cameron McNeal (1895-195?), by his second wife.

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