30 October 2011

Not Many Stories

My Grandpa Neill would have been 108 years old on 29 October 2011. He was born in St. Alban's Township, Hancock County, Illinois, the son of Charles (Charlie) and Fannie (Rampley) Neill.

Grandpa died when I was six months old, so I don't remember him myself.

When my girls were small, we took them to see my Aunt Nellie, Grandpa's younger sister. I asked her what she remembered about her parents, Grandpa, etc. She said she didn't remember much and I was never one to press for details or stories when they were not forthcoming.

She did tell me thing about my Grandpa and apparently it meant a great deal to her.

The Neills were not well-off, and the Depression hit them hard like it did most families in the area. Aunt Nellie had gone to Bowen [Illinois] to finish out her high school and lived in the hotel there and worked as a housekeeper to earn her keep and help make ends meet. She wanted to go to school to be a teacher and was accepted at Culver-Stockton College, across the river in Canton, Missouri.

It wasn't easy coming up with her tuition money. Grandpa, who was still single at the time, had been building hoghouses with the intent of selling them to earn some cash. Aunt Nellie told me that instead of keeping the cash for himself, he sold them and gave her the money so he could pay her tuition that first semester.

Perhaps that's the only story I really need.

Cecil Neill died in December of 1968 after farming north of Carthage, Illinois, for over thirty years. He is buried with Grandma and next to his parents in the West Point [Illinois] Cemetery. Aunt Nellie taught elementary school for forty years. She died in September of 2001 in Adams County, Illinois.