ISAAC NEWTON NEELY
A resident of Milton, Isaac Newton Neely dates his connection with California from 1852 and is a pioneer liveryman in the town in which he makes his home. He was born in Greenville, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, on the 12th of September, 1830, and is of Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch descent. His grandfather, David Neely, with four brothers left the Green Isle of Erin for the new world and took up their abode in South Carolina, taking part in the events which formed the early annals of the state. John Neely, the eldest son of David Neely and the father of our subject, was born in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, the family having in the meantime left the Keystone state. There he was reared and after attaining his majority he married Miss Martha Simpkins, a daughter of Peter Simpkins, one of the early settlers of Westmoreland County. After their marriage they removed to Grant County, Wisconsin, taking up their abode there in 1847, when Wisconsin was still a territory. The father was a resident of that locality throughout his remaining days, and on the 4th of July, 1854, he passed away at the age of forty-eight. His good wife survived him for some time, attaining the age of three-score years and ten. This worthy couple were the parents of nine children, but Isaac Newton Neely is now the only one in California.
He was a young man of twenty-two when he crossed the plains for the far west, traveling in a train composed of thirty wagons. On the 26th of April, 1852, they crossed the Mississippi River, on the seventeenth of May, the Missouri River, and on they traveled over hot sands and through the mountain passes until they reached the Humboldt, when Mr. Neely left the party and drove the first team that ever covered the distance from one end of the Honey Lake Valley to the other. He arrived in Shasta County on the 20th of August, 1852, and there began mining, but soon afterward was taken ill with chills and fever. He started for Sacramento during the holidays but was so ill that the party with which he traveled camped at what is now known as Red Bluff. There they spent the winter, living on venison and using ground barley for coffee. Mr. Neely was in a very critical condition and other members of the party suffered with smallpox. They endured many hardships and trials that winter, but on the 6th of March, 1853, he had recovered sufficiently to return to Shasta, whence he made his way to Weaverville, going afterward to Whiskytown, where he engaged in conducting a hotel through the summer, making considerable money. In the fall of the same year he engaged in mining at Jackass Flat, and also followed mining near Bidwell’s Bar on Feather River. There was no rain, however, and as the water supply was low Mr. Neely went to Hangtown, where he engaged in mining throughout the winter of 1853, meeting with very poor success, however. Possessing considerable skill as a violinist, he engaged to play at night until twelve o’clock, receiving five dollars each evening for his services. He would follow mining through the day, often working in the rain, but fate did not seem to vouchsafe him much return for his labor in that direction and he accordingly changed his occupation.
His great fondness for dancing led some of the residents of the locality to solicit him to establish a dancing school and for two years he made considerable money in that way. In 1856 he went to Volcano, Amador County, where he again took up mining, remaining there until 1858, investing his money in a tunnel, which proved a failure. Mr. Neely next followed teaming from Sacramento to Jackson, Sutter Creek and Volcano, and his industry in that work brought to him gratifying prosperity during the ten years in which he followed the business, as there were no railroad and all goods had to be hauled by team and the price of transportation was high. On abandoning that work he engaged in logging for the Eureka, Amador and other mines in the vicinity of Sutter Creek and in that business he lost between five and six thousand dollars. In 1872 he moved his family to Sacramento in order to afford his children good educational privileges, and there he accepted a position in the store of Booth & Company, while later he was employed in the hardware store of Gillis Mott & Company. He opened a livery stable in Copperopolis in 1883, conducting it successfully for seven years, when he sold out for fifty-five hundred dollars. He then stabled his livery barn in Milton, in 1892, and purchased the livery stable in Jackson in 1898. Both are conducted under the name of the Pioneer Livery. Mr. Neely is an experienced horseman who keeps good stock and does a reliable and successful business, his earnest desire to please his patrons securing to him the liberal support of the public. He has a wide and increasing acquaintance among the pioneers of the state.
On the last day of January, 1858, Mr. Neely had married Miss Sarah Williams, of Volcano, and to them have been born six children: Walter P., who lived to be thirty-seven years of age and died October 15, 1897; May Irene, the wife of Elijah Thomas, a resident of Sonora, California; Robert William, who is in Redding, California; Mattie, the wife of Frank Schotell, a resident of San Francisco; Hattie, who resides in New York City; and Edward, who makes his home in Angel’s Camp. While the family were residing in Sacramento the mother died in 1877 after a happy married life of nineteen years. In 1883 Mr. Neely was united in marriage with Mrs. Maria Martin, a native of Boston, Massachusetts. By her former marriage she had three children: Richard, who is now in the recorder’s office in San Francisco; Ella, the wife of Hon. A. Caminetti, of Jackson, Amador County; and Henrietta, whose very superior vocal powers have awakened the highest admiration. She is now pursuing her studies in Paris. Mr. and Mrs. Neely have a delightful home in Milton and its generous hospitality is enjoyed by a large circle of friends. Mrs. Neely is a member of the Congregational Church and is a lady of refinement and culture. He is a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has filled all the chairs in both branches of the fraternity. In 1856 he voted for Fremont and has since been a staunch Republican. He has passed through many vicissitudes in his business career, has met with reverses and encountered many trials, but by persistent purpose has overcome these and has advanced to a creditable standing as one of the substantial residents of the community.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.