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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
Willis A. McNeal
(Reprinted from The History of Macon County, 1910)
Energetic, progressive and successful in two of the leading industries of Macon county, and bearing a hand of some weight and influence in the mercantile world, Willis A. McNeal, of Easley township, with his farm not far from the village of Elmer and his mercantile interests located in it, represents well the people of Macon county in his activities and is well worthy of the position they assign him as a representative man among them in character and citizenship. He embodies and exemplifies their enterprise and progressiveness and, at the same time, moves toward the same high ideals in government and civil and social life they aim to attain to.
Mr. McNeal is of good old Scotch ancestry, although he is himself a native of Missouri, born in Sullivan county in 1875. His father, William McNeal, was born and reared in Scotland, whose people have been sung into immortality by B urns and Scott, and in every field of human endeavor and in almost every clime have shown themselves worthy of the tributes paid to their qualities of head and heart by those gifted poets. He was brought to Missouri when he was but one hear old, and here he was reared and educated. Here, also, he has passed his life since leaving the district schools, in whose humble temples of learning he acquired his scholastic
training, as an industrious and well-to-do farmer. In 1873, he was married to Miss Melinda Palmer, and they became the parents of eleven children, ten of home are living: Willis A. , Alpha, Pearl, Grace, Lessie, Charles, Mattie, Emmett, Cecil and Opal. Both the father and mother are still living and actively carrying on their useful industry.
Their son, Willis, grew to manhood on the parental homestead and obtained his education also in the public schools. Then, following in his father's course in another way, he began the farming operations which have been his chief occupation ever since. In connection with them, he has carried on an extensive and flourishing business in raising and stock and shipping it to the eastern markets. He owns and cultivates something over 120 acres of land, and, in its state of advanced improvement, its manifest fertility and its generally clean and attractive appearance, his farm does him great credit and fully justifies his reputation as an excellent and very enterprising farmer who knows what to do to secure the best results, and does it.
In 1904, Mr. McNeal took on another engagement which has added greatly to his cares and labors, but which in return for the additional burden it laid upon him has brought him popularity and prominence as a merchant and given a considerable increase to his revenues and resources. In that year, he entered the hardware trade as a retailer with J. H. Montgomery as a partner, and during the last five years they have together conducted one of the most complete and satisfactory hardware stores in this part of the state.
The fraternal life of the community has enlisted Mr. McNeal's interest in an engrossing way and he has shown his devotion ot it by active membership for many years in the orders of Woodmen and Yeomen. In politics he is a pronounced Republican and, while neither an office-seeker nor an active partisan, he is loyal to his party and renders it good service in a quiet but effective way. He was married in 1901 to Miss Rose Montgomery,of this county. They have one child, their daughter, Letha, who is the hope and promise of the house and a general favorite with the numerous friends of her parents who make their home a center of social life and enjoyment as the inmates have made it popular and locally distinguished as a center of genuine and generous hospitality.