Father Warren Neal
Born in Guthrie County, just west of
Dexter, Iowa, on the farm
where Cousin Vince lives now.
The oldest of five children,
first high school graduate.
Farmed until Pearl Harbor.
Enlisted in the Air Corps, became a pilot,
instructed advanced cadets in Texas,
married Doris Wilson, became a dad.
After the war, returned to the farm,
bought his own in Madison County, south of Dexter.
Patiently taught young girls how much to
feed the cattle and hogs, how much water to
pump into the tank.
How to shift gears, to navigate country roads
and driveways, making sure we mastered the farmer wave,
might be a neighbor, and admonishing always,
“Be awful, awful careful.”
Farmer, carpenter, active in church,
teaching Sunday School over twenty years.
Remember him most wearing overalls,
laughing with his head back,
napping after noon dinner, head on folded arms,
on the Formica farm table.
Grandfather Kenneth Neal
Born in west of Dexter, farmed.
Because of a matched team of horses,
often called on to pull the hearse to the cemetery.
Married Ruby Blohm, whose parents
were German immigrants. Her father
owned the grocery and meat market.
Farmed his entire life, sang with
the Metha-Quaka-Terian quartet.
He was the Presbyterian, like his
father before him.
Teased kids, whether grandchild or not.
Fireworks with cake and ice cream
near Independence Day, as he was born
on July 5 (1895).
A pipe and cigarette smoker, he came down
with lung cancer. Fifty years ago this May 8,
I took him lilacs in the hospital. It was the awful day
I realized he wasn’t going to get well.
He died just short of his 75th birthday,
the age I am now. I remember the forlorn
feeling of being cheated out of my Grandpa.
Great Grandfather Swain Neal
O.S. (Orlando Swain) was born
near Redfield, Dallas County, Iowa,
the sixth and last child of John and Rhoda,
the only son.
Married Nellie Edith Keith, had four children,
including a set of twins. Farmer,
bottled and delivered milk, drayman in Dexter.
On the committee to plan and build the 1916
Community Building, now on the National Register
of Historic Places and, although elliptical in shape,
is affectionately known as the Roundhouse.
Great Great Grandfather John Neal
Born in Jefferson County, Tennessee,
married Rhoda Marshall
in Wayne County, Indiana,
but when the War of the Rebellion
broke out, being a southerner at heart,
became a private in 3rd Forrest’s Tennessee Cavalry.
Perhaps Rhoda’s Quaker father and brothers
were part of that decision. John later shows up
on the roster of the 9th Regiment, Indiana Cavalry.
After the war, they moved to Dallas County, Iowa,
the place Rhoda’s relatives had crowed about,
with four children–two born in Tennessee,
two in Indiana. Two more were born in Iowa.
Five daughters, one son.
A farmer and fiddler, however you interpret that,
he is buried at Dexter, along with his elderly parents.
In fact, all of my fatherline and one more (Thomas Neal)
are buried in the Dexter Cemetery.