JAMES E. NEELY.
The firm and unfalterng purpose which is an indispensable element in the attainment of success finds expression
in the life record of James E. Neely, who is engaged in dealing in coal in Grinnell. Through sheer force of perseverance
and capable management he has won success that places him with the foremost business men of the city. He was born
in Fairfield, Herkimer county, New York, June 19, 1846, and is a son of Jerome and Elizabeth (Nellis) Neely, who
were likewise natives of Fairfield, where they were reared and married. The father devoted his life to general
agricultural pursuits and continued to reside at the place of his nativity until his death, which occurred September
2, 1856, when he was forty nine years of age. The mother continued her residence in Fairfield until the fall of
1871, when she came to Grinnell to make her home with her son James, here residing until her demise on the 18th
of May, 1888.
James E. Neely spent his youth in the Empire state and the public schools afforded him his early educational privileges,
while later he had the benefit of instruction in the Fairfield Academy. He took up teaching at the age of sixteen
years and followed the profession through five winter seasons, while the summer months were devoted to farm work.
When twenty one years of age he made his way westward to Perry, Lake county, Ohio, where he engaged in the produce
With the establishment of a commercial enterprise he also undertook the establishment of a home and on the 22d
of December, 1869, Mr. Neely was united in marriage to Miss Lydia A. Wire, a daughter of Truman Wire, a sawmill
man who cut the cross ties that were used in the building of a section of the first Lake Shore Railroad built through
that part of the country. He had removed from Yates county, New York, to Lake county, Ohio, and it was while the
family was living in the latter state that Mr. Neely was married. He began his domestic life in Ohio, but in February,
1871, he removed westward to Grinnell, where he arrived on the 28th of the month. Soon afterward he purchased a
farm of one hundred and sixty acres, three miles east of the town, and took up his abode upon that property, continuing
its cultivation and improvement until 1894, when he left the farm and removed to Grinnell. In 1873 he began the
manufacture of cheese in connection with the cultivation of his fields, and statistics show that he was among the
first cheese manufacturers in this state. He also developed the leading enterprise of this character in Iowa and
conducted his factory until 1902, when he sold his farm and discontinued his factory. On his removal to Grinnell
in 1894 he established himself in the coal business and is today the leading coal dealer of this city. °His
business affairs are capably and profitably managed and keen discernment and enterprise are elements in his prosperity.
The home of Mr. and Mrs. Neely has been blessed with four children: Walter J., who now occupies a political position
in the Grinnell postoffice; Earl M., of the firm of J. E. Neely & Son, coal dealers; and Ada P. and Ida E.,
twins, who died of diphtheria in 1893, one on the rah and the other on the 13th of February. The family are widely
and favorably known in Poweshiek county and Mr. and Mrs. Neely have a circle of friends almost coextensive with
the circle of their acquaintance. He is a prominent Mason, belonging to Herman Lodge, No. 273, A. F. & A. M.,
Palestine Chapter, No. tot, R. A. M.; St. Andrew's Commander, No. 22, K. T., of Newton, Iowa; and Za-Ga-Zig Temple
of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of Des Moines. He and his wife are also members
of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he is serving as one of the trustees. In politics he is a progressive
republican and has repeatedly served as a delegate, to the county and state conventions. He has also been a member
of the city council of Grinnell at various times, in which connection he has ever exercised his official prerogatives
in support of many measures and movements which are of marked value to the city in the promotion of its best interests.
He never gives up a cause in which he embarks and, therefore, his aid and cooperation are eagerly sought where
the best interests of the city are to be conserved
History of Poweshiek County, Iowa
A Record of settlement, organization
progress and achievement
By: Prof. L. F. Parker
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Poweshiek County, IA
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