Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

James R. McNeley

JAMES R. McNELEY. When inquiry is made in Ness County as to one of the men most conversant with and on authority on successful methods of stock forming, the inquiry soon leads in the direcrcetion[sic] of James R. McNeley as one of the best fitted by experience and actual results to return satisfactory answers. Mr. McNeley has lived in Western Kansas since 1877, when he was a small boy, and for upwards of thirty years has been through all the phases of the livestock industry, beginning in the open range era and since 1909 has been a farmer and rancher in Ness County.

He is a native of Northwest Missouri, born in Clay County of that state March 12, 1866. The McNeley family were among the pioneers of that county, and Preston McNeley, his father, was born in the same county during the decade of the '40s, being one of six children. Clay County at that time was practically on the frontier, and he secured a limited education in the country schools. When the war came on he enlisted to fight for the cause he believed just, and was a Southern soldier until the close of hostilities. Afterward he manifested his political belief as a democrat, but was satisfied merely to vote. He married Mary Rightsman, a daughter of Peter Rightsman, who it is believed came out of Virginia to Missouri and was also a farmer in that state. Preston McNeley died in 1889 in Ellis County, Kansas. He had brought his family to this county from Missouri in 1877, homesteaded a claim there and spent his remaining years as a farmer and stockman. His widow is still living, a resident of Ellis County. Their children were: Ida, who died unmarried; James R.; Maude, wife of Lewis Gordon, of Ellis County; Thomas, an Ellis County farmer; and Lola, wife of Frank Marker, of Ellis County.

James R. McNeley was eleven years of age when the family came to Kansas, and nearly all his education had been gained in Clay County, in the country around old Missouri City. He continued to be a factor on the home farm in Ellis County until past twenty-one. In the meantime he also worked out for other farmers and ranchers, and his individual career began with the leasing of a ranch in Ellis County. He operated it four years, and the success he had with his first venture proved the inspiration and gave him confidence for all his subsequent endeavors in the same line. He is one of the men who have a personal knowledge of the old time stock industry. In 1889 he helped drive a bunch of cattle for the "N Bar N" Company overland from the Platte River to Montana. The drive began north of Cheyenne Wells, passed west of the Black Hills, crossed Yellowstone River and stopped on Red Water in Montana. He remained with the cattle in Montana a month as a line rider, and then returned home. He kept on handling cattle as an individual rancher, and just before he left Ellis County he became a shipper of livestock.

Mr. McNeley bought his first land in Ness County southwest of Bazine, where he owned a farm of 280 acres and also leased two sections for ranching. After four years there he sold out and came to his present ranch, two miles east of Ness City. He has three quarter sections, stretching for 1 1/2 miles along the Ness City and Bazine Road. His cattle brand is simply "N." In the way of improvements he has added barns and feeding places, and every year he feeds a number of cattle ready for the market. His own stock is the Hereford, and he is one of the influential members of the local Hereford Association.

Mr. McNeley has never desired to figure in politics and politics is a consideration with him only at the close of a campaign, when he casts his vote like any other good citizen. He began his voting in 1888 for Mr. Cleveland. He is a director of the Pemberton School and fraternally is affiliated with the Masons and Odd Fellows.

On December 3, 1903, in Ellis County, Kansas, Mr. McNeley married Miss Maggie Fulcher. They have no children. Mrs. McNeley is a daughter of F. D. and Lizzie (Burns) Fulcher. Her father came from North Missouri to Kansas, was a homesteader in Ellis County, and he and his wife had the following children: Mrs. McNeley; Elmer; Everet; Benjamin; Mary, wife of Scott Yohe; Martha, who is also married; Finley; Martin; and Myrtle, wife of David Staples.

Pages 2358-2359.