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Hon. George A. Neeley, of Hutchinson, is one of the younger men of Kansas, but had already gained distinction both in the law and business and as a valiant fighter for the cause of advanced principles in public affairs.
Mr. Neeley came into special prominence not only in Kansas but over the nation during his two terms as congressman from the “Big Seventh” district. He was elected on the democratic ticket. In 1910 he was a candidate for the office against the redoubtable E. H. Madison. Madison was elected, but died in September, 1911, before finishing his term. At a special election on January 11, 1912, Mr. Neeley was chosen his successor for the term ending in March, 1913, and in 1912 was regularly elected to the sixty-third congress by the biggest majority received in that year by any congressional candidate, either republican or democratic, in the State of Kansas. In 1914 Mr. Neeley contested the nomination in the democratic primaries for the United States Senate. He had six opponents, but won the race. In the following election he was defeated on the face of the returns by Charles Curtis, though out of a total vote in the state of 527,000 the plurality of Curtis was only 3,896.
While in Congress Mr. Neeley was especially prominent in banking legislation. He was a member of the Banking and Currency Committee and was a member of the Pujo sub-committee which investigated the “Money Trust.” He was also associated with two other congressmen, James F. Byrnes of North Carolina and Hubert D. Stephens of Mississippi, in writing the report on the money trust. He also had an active part as a member of the committee in framing the present currency law, one of the greatest achievements of President Wilson’s first administration. Mr. Neeley is generally credited as having been chiefly responsible for what is known as the Agricultural Section in the currency bill. This particular section permits the discount by the regional reserve bank of agricultural paper secured by staple crops and staple farm products, such as wheat, corn, cattle, etc. The chief opposition to this feature, which had received so much praise since it was enacted, necessitated the consideration of the bill by the democratic caucus before it was presented to the house as a whole. For three weeks every day Mr. Neeley led the fight for this section in the caucus and his persistence secured its insertion and it passed with practically no opposition when the entire bill was considered.
George A. Neeley was born at Detroit in Pike county, Illinois, August 1, 1879. His Neeley ancestors came originally from Ireland, settling in North Carolina in colonial days. One his direct ancestors was a soldier in the Continental Army during the Revolution. His grandparents were Henry and Margaret Neeley, the latter of French descent. Henry Neeley was born in North Carolina and was a pioneer settler at Detroit in Pike County, Illinois, where he spent his last years. He homesteaded the farm which his son George M. later acquired and on which Hon. George A. Neeley was born.
George M. Neeley, father of the Hutchinson lawyer, was born at Detroit in Pike County in 1839, and spent his youth there. At the age of nineteen he went to Texas, and had a career of varied adventure and experience. For three years and nine months he served with the Third Arizona Cavalry in the Confederate Army, his service being chiefly in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. He was in many different battles, including some of the engagements in the Red River campaign. He was twice wounded, once being struck by a shell, and received an injury which kept him in a hospital for some time. Following the war he went to Mexico and engaged in merchandising, but after two years returned to Texas and was appointed United States marshal of the Eastern District of that state. Later he served as county judge of Madison County, Texas, and was sheriff of both Madison and Grimes counties. About 1875 he returned to Illinois and while on his way in Jasper County, Missouri, he married Mary Elizabeth Stephens. She was born in Iowa in 1855. After returning to the old homestead at Detroit, Illinois, he followed farming and merchandising, and in the fall of 1883 removed to Joplin, Missouri, and in the spring of 1893, at the opening of the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma, moved to Wellston, Oklahoma, where he homesteaded 160 acres and is still living on that farm. He had always been a democrat in politics, and is an active supporter and had served as deacon in the Christian Church. He and his wife had four children: Lillie, who died unmarried at Wellston, Oklahoma, at the age of thirty-nine; George A.; Elva, wife of John Dunham, an expert cotton man at Wellston, Oklahoma; Lola M., who married James A. Dunham, brother of John, a merchant at Frederick, Oklahoma.
George A. Neeley was educated in the public schools of Joplin, Missouri, and Wellston, Oklahoma. He graduated from the Southwestern Baptist University at Jackson, Tennessee, in 1902, with the degree Bachelor of Science, and in 1904 received his law degree from Kansas University. He was admitted to the bar of Oklahoma in that year, practiced one year at Wellston, and 3½ years at Chandler. January 20, 1908, he moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, and had developed a very large civil and criminal practice. His offices are in the McCurdy Building. Besides his work as a lawyer Mr. Neeley is prominent in business affairs. He is president of the Hutchinson Mutual Fire Insurance Company, had served as president of the Farmers National Bank and vice president of the Farmers Hail Insurance Company and is identified with a number of local business organizations. He also owned 480 acres of land in Western Kansas, and had other holdings of Hutchinson real estate, including his home at 819 Sherman Avenue, East.
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Mr. Neeley is a member of the First Christian Church of Hutchinson, of the American Society of Jurisprudence, and of Reno Lodge No. 99, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Hutchinson Camp No. 566, Modern Woodmen of America, Hutchinson Lodge No. 20, Knights of Pythias, and Hutchinson Lodge No. 77, Ancient Order of United Workmen. Mr. Neeley and former Governor W. R. Stubbs married sisters. Mrs. Neeley’s maiden name was Eva Margaret Hostetler. They were married at Mulvane, Kansas, October 31, 1904. Mrs. Neeley spent most of her life before her marriage at Mulvane. She is a member of the First Christian Church at Hutchinson and of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her parents were J. N. and Martha (Fish) Hostetler, the latter now deceased. Her father for the past ten years had been a retired merchant at Mulvane. Mr. and Mrs. Neeley had two children: George Newland, who died at the age of twenty-nine months in Chandler, Oklahoma; and Eva Margaret, born February 17, 1911.