Biography of Hugh Niel, Early Settler in Young Township
William Niel, grandfather of Hugh, was one of the
earliest settlers in the area that was to become Young Township. Some McIntyre
residents believe that the Niel family lands in Young Township were obtained
originally from William Penn and handed down through the generations. However,
the author has not been able to substantiate this information.
Like many of the earliest settlers, the Niel family originated in the British Isles. Members of this early family spelled their surname, "Niel" while later generations spelled it "Neal." No reason can be found for this. In a number of documents, newspapers, and books, the spelling of the last name has been given as "Niel", "Neil" or "Neal" for members of the same family. View the Niel family home built in 1840 in Young Township.
The family wealth came not only from farming but also from selling parcels of their land to the Coal Company. A 1913 history of Indiana County states "McIntyre, the new coal town...in the Neal settlement..." which indicates that a sizeable chunk of Niel/Neal lands were used for the building of the town. Courthouse documents also reveal that the family sold parcels of land to Adrian Iselin, president of the Coal Company.
Joshua Thomas Stewart, Indiana County,
Pennsylvania: Her People, Past and Present, vol.1
(Chicago: J.H. Beers and Company, 1913), 574.
Neil Family Folder,
Indiana County Historical Society, Indiana, Pennsylvania.
John Alexander Caldwell, History of Indiana County Pennsylvania, 1745-1880
(Newark, Ohio: J.A. Caldwell, 1880), 509.