John's mother died when he was about 2 months old. Both he and sister Mattie went to live with their Neal grandparents. Following their deaths, they lived with childless Uncle George and Eliza Neal, where they were both listed in the 1860 and 1870 census records.
He played the French harp, sang with a men's quartet that campaigned for Presidential candidate McKinley, and led the singing at church. For extra income, he gave voice lessons. His children were taught to sing from early childhood and one Christmas he bought them all harps.
Residences and events in his life:
1880 Monticello Twp, Piatt Co, IL, was still the address when John was listed in the census with his own young family, he was still farming. John was 28, Mary, 24, and sons George and Chas, were 4 and 2 respectively.
1884 Dade Co, MO. Following the tragic death of son, George, they decided to move. They rented a house and the next year it burned, the landlord collected the insurance money and they were hit with another tragedy.
Faced with the depression, John farmed in the summer and ran singing schools in the winter with 20 pupils for 20 nights for $20. Mary taught subscription schools.
1895 Near El Reno, Indian Territory, OK. Having lost 2 more children, they decided to try their luck on one of the new homesteads offered by the government. (Descendants said the family moved there that year but either it was later or they moved back across the state line before the next census.)
6/9/1900 Green Twp, Lawrence Co, MO The census recorded John N, 47, married 25 years to Mary S, 44, who had birthed 6 children but only 3 still survived. Living with them were children, Charles, 21, Delbert, 19, and Grace, 17. John and Charles were farmers.
1903 Apparently that didn't work out either so they moved to the Capper's farm.
1905 Canadian Co, OK, 12 miles west of El Reno. They finally settled on the old homestead which remained in the family until 1971 when it was finally sold by heirs.
1910 Calumet Twp, Canadian Co, OK. The census taker listed a family of initials that year. JN was 57, married 35 years to ML, 55, with 6 children but only 3 were still living. Chilldren in the house were DB, 29, and Grace E, 26. Both Delbert and Grace were school teachers while John was a general farmer.
He suffered a stroke some 5 years prior to death and was bed ridden for the remainder of his life. Son, Delbert, moved back home to care for him and the farm.