Hon. W. J. Neel

The Cartersville News
Cartersville, Georgia
March 26, 1908 , Page 1
Transcribed by:  

Hon. W. J. Neel Is Claimed By Death.
Well Known Lawyer, Writer and Legislator Gone To His Rest.

Hon. W. J. Neel died, at his home, in this city, Tuesday morning at four o’clock.  Mr. Neel has been in declining health for a number of years, but through the exercise of energy and great will power he has combated the forces of disease and endured through what would have been many a man’s earlier undoing.  Rheumatism seems to have been Mr. Neel’s first notable ailment.  He had suffered from this affliction for a number of years.  Later stomach trouble developed and along with these two ills other complications arose which finally caused him to take his bed, and it was a battle between life and death from the start.  His final fatal illness lasted something like two months.  His life was despaired of over a month ago, but he afterwards rallied and seemed in a fair way to get on his feet again.  A week or so ago a spell of nausea set up, following a violent state of nervousness and out of these conditions came the final collapse which was sudden.  The end with him was so peaceful that it was like a babe going to sleep.

Mr. Neel was 48 years old, being born near Adairsville, in this county, in 1860.  He was the son of Capt. J. L. Neel, a brave confederate soldier attaining the rank of captain, a respected citizen of the very highest type of manhood, who after the war represented the county in the lower house of the Georgia general assembly, and who now survives him, a greatly beloved citizen of Cartersville.

Mr. Neel’s education was received first in the common schools of Adairsville, later at the North Georgia Agricultural College, at Dahlonega, and his legal training was secured at the Georgetown Law School at Washington, D. C.

He entered the office of his brother, J. M. Neel, in this city, and was soon admitted to the bar.  In the early eighties he went to Washington city as private secretary to Hon. Judge Clements, congressman from this district, and afterwards filled a position in the treasury department.  He stayed in Washington several years and then came back to his native state, opening an office in Rome for the practice of his profession.  He made friends and reputation rapidly in his new location and built a large practice.  He was elected representative of Floyd county in the year 1902.  His brother, J. M. Neel, was in the house at the same time from this county and the two men stood among the foremost men of the body.

When his first physical ailments began to develop, Mr. Neel sold out his possessions in Rome and went to south Georgia, expecting to remain in that milder climate, hoping to be benefited thereby, but after remaining a short while in that section, during which time he visited quite a number of places, he decided that north Georgia suited him the best, and he determined to make his home again among the people with whom he was reared.  He bought an interest in the Cartersville News and was associated with the writer in the editorship and management of the paper for one year, when he concluded the labors were too arduous for his physical strength, and he opened a law office and went also into the real estate business, the latter giving him a chance for outdoor work, a thing he believed necessary for his health. Two years ago he was elected representative of the county, the other successful candidate being J. A. Price, of Adairsville.  The two men got along splendidly as colleagues and made a valued team for the county.  Mr. Neel was a joint author of the state prohibition bill it being called the Hardman–Covington-Neel bill.

As a writer Mr. Neel made much reputation in this section.  His style was a peculiarly happy one, well adapted for planting deeply in the mind of the reader the splendid truths intended for the moral, religious and general uplift of humanity.  His articles were gems of diction and fine thought.  He was a great worker in the church and the Sunday school, being Superintendent of the Baptist school for a number of years past and up to his death.  He made many beautiful and enlightening talks on special occasions throughout this section, being always in demand among the Sunday school or religious workers.  He was a leading light in the Baptist church in his town, county and state and his work on these lines will long survive him.

The funeral took place from the Baptist church yesterday morning at 10:40 o’clock.  Rev. R. B. Headden, of Rome, conducted the services, assisted by Rev. John E. Barnard.  It was peculiarly fitting that Dr. Headden should officiate at Mr. Neel’s funeral for the two men were the very warmest friends.  Mr. Neel was converted in this city, under Dr. Headden’s preaching.

Such honor as was paid by the bar to Mr. Neel is rarely known.  Delegations were here to attend the funeral from Rome, Calhoun and Dalton, and the local bar turned out in a body, to a man.  Those from Rome were: Wright Willingham, L. A. Dean, Nat Harris, W. J. Nunnally, George A. H. Harris, Jr., P. H. Doyal, F. W. Copeland, Judge Moses Wriget, W. S. McHenry; from Calhoun were O. N. Starr and T. W. Skelly and from Dalton Col. R. J. McCamy.  There was a meeting of the men of the bar at the court house at nine o’clock at which many short but touching eulogies were pronounced on the life and character of the deceased.

The church was filled almost to overflowing with people.  A special space was reserved for the Baptist Sunday school and they presented a touching picture as they sat with eyes moist over the departure of their greatly beloved leader.  The floral offerings were numerous and very pretty. Among the notable ones were: an emblem, “Gates Ajar,” from the Rome bar; a harp from the Sunday school; a beautiful offering from the Ladies’ Missionary Union, one from the young men of the Sunday school, and many others of like beauty.

Dr. Headden pronounced “the most touching and impressive eulogy on the life of Mr. Neel that has ever been delivered before a Cartersville assemblage.  From his long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Neel, he was well prepared to speak of his many noble traits of character and in his delicate task of presenting them, he was equal to the emergency.

Among those from other points who were here to attend the funeral were: William Aycock, J. A. Price, W. M. King, G. A. Veach, of Adairsville; Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Porter, of Birmingham, Ala.; Mr. John Swain, Miss Nannie Swain, of Calhoun; Will Swain, of Reeves Station.

The pall bearers were E. Matthews, J. A. Monfort, Thomas Lumpkin, J. B. Foster, C. E. Woodruff, G. H. Aubrey.  The remains were interred at Oak Hill.

As a mark of respect, the public schools were dismissed during the time of the funeral.

Besides the many expressions of sorrow and sympathy uttered at home, Mrs. Neel has been the recipient of telegrams from scores of friends of Mr. Neel at other points who express their grief and sympathy in fitting terms. [Many of these are reproduced at the end of this article.  “Strong Eulogy of Life of Will Neel” can be found on page 1 of April 9, 1908 issue.]


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