William S. McNeill was born in Hardy county, Virginia, November 1, 1837. His parents moved to this county in 1855, and his father, John H. McNeill, was president of the first fair held in this county in 1856, and had at that time the only herd of Short-Horn Durham cattle in northwest Missouri. When the war began his father raised a company of cavalry for the Confederate army, and died November 11, 1864, from a wound received in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, while at the head of his company, known as the Partisan Rangers. The command then fell to his son Jesse, brother of William S. McNeill, who with sixty men executed one of the most daring feats of the late war. Going into the Union lines at Cumberland, in Maryland, where there were 10,000 Union soldiers, he went to the hotel where Generals Crook and Kelley were sleeping, went to to their rooms, took them prisoners, and got them safe within his own lines. He rode ninety miles in twenty-four hours in performing the deed.
William S. McNeill was educated in the common schools, supplemented by a ten months term at the State University, at Columbia, Missouri. He enlisted at the beginning of the war in his father’s company and served eight months, then returned home and served eight months in the Enrolled State Militia. In 1875 he made a trip to Oregon and the northwestern Territories. He is now one of Daviess county’s best sheep raisers, having given his attention to the husbandry of sheep for several years. In the summer of 1858 he was on the trip as wagon-master to Salt Lake with General Albert Sidney Johnson, and in 1859 and 1860, was wagon-master on the plains for Majors & Russell.
Mr. McNeill was united in marriage, November 10, 1859, to Miss Mary J. Pryor, who was born July 8, 1838. By this union they have five children: Sallie, born October 23, 1860; George W., born December 7, 1862; Ursula B., born March 21, 1866; John I. V., born September 21, 1868; and William S., born March 16, 1871.