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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1883

Vol. III

(Born Cal.)

John M. Neall

(Ap'd Nev.)


Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1879, to June 13, 1883, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 4th Cavalry, June 13, 1883.

Served: on frontier duty at Ft. Bayard, and Scouting in New Mexico, Sep. 30, 1883, to Feb. 8, 1884, — Ft. Cummings, N. M., and in the field, to June 12, 1884, — Ft. Grant, Ara., to Apr. 7, 1885, — Ft. Thomas, Ara., to May 6, 1885, — Ft. Bowie, Ara., and in the field (leave of absence, Apr. 3 to Aug. 3, 1888), to –––––.

Vol. IV
[Supplement, Vol. IV: 1890‑1900]

Military History. —

(First Lieut. of Cavalry, 4th Cavalry, April 15, 1890)

Served: At Fort Bowie, Ariz., to May, 1890; at Fort Lowell, Ariz., to June, 1890; at Fort Bidwell, Cal., to Oct., 1890. — Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the State University of Nevada, Reno, Nev., Nov. 22, 1890 to Sept. 1, 1894. — With troop at Presidio, San Francisco, Cal., to May, 1896; at the Yosemite National Park, Cal., to Nov., 1896; at Presidio of San Francisco to Feb. 16, 1899, when he disappeared, leaving a deficiency in his accounts with the Post Canteen.

(Captain of Cavalry, 4th Cavalry, March 2, 1889)

— Absent without leave to March 19, 1899; in arrest at Presidio San Francisco, Cal., until

Dismissed for conduct unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman, July 15, 1899.

Civil History. — Unknown.

Vol. V
[Supplement, Vol. V: 1900‑1910]

Civil History. — Unknown.

Vol. VI
[Supplement, Vol. VI: 1910‑1920]

(John Mitchell Neall, Born Aug. –––, 1860.)

Military History. —

Captain, 4th Cavalry, March 2, 1889.

Dismissed, July 15, 1899,
Per  G. O. No. 126, A. G. O., July 8, 1899.

Subsequent history unknown.​a

Vol. VII
[Supplement, Vol. VII: 1920‑1920]

Military History: —

Captain, 4th Cavalry, March 2, 1889.

Dismissed, July 15, 1899,
Per G. O. No. 126, A. G. O., July 8, 1899.

Subsequent history unknown.

[Supplement, Vol. VIII: 1930‑1940]

Military History: —

Capt., 4th Cav, Mar. 2, 1889.

Dismissed, July 15, 1899.

Vol. IX
[Supplement, Vol. IX: 1940‑1950]

(Believed deceased)

Thayer's Note:

a Fond as I am of puzzles, this was too hard to resist. In a draft paper written for the National Park Service by Erwin N. Thompson, titled "The Presidio of San Francisco, A History from 1846 to 1995" (online), I find

[In 1899] Lt. John M. Neall, 4th Cavalry, just a week before his promotion to captain came through, suddenly disappeared. For little more than a month he had had charge of the post exchange. Following an investigation, the post commander wrote that $3,677.02 of exchange funds had disappeared also. Then, a month later, Neall reappeared at the Presidio and turned in almost $5,000. Following a court martial, he was dismissed from the Army.613

613 [. . .] Proceedings of the Post Exchange Council, February 22, 1899, to Department of California; C. E. Compton, March 19, 1899, to AG, USA, Letters Sent, PSF, RG 393, NA.

Despite his dismissal in 1899, Neall had a lake named after him in Yosemite National Park in 1903 (Decisions of the United States Geographic Board, No. 30, June 30, 1932, p17). As of 2023 Neall Lake has kept its name; at 250 meters wide, the little circular lake is not much more than a pond.

None of that tells us what happened to him. Rummaging a bit more, I find in various printed genealogical works online, a John Mitchell Neall "of Nevada" marrying Caroline Maria Hardie in 1886, and afterwards living in Johannesburg, South Africa; as we are told in the Register entry above, Neall was stationed in Nevada from 1890 to 1894.

We next find a British man named John Mitchell Neall, born Oct. 15, 1892, "Second Lieutenant, British Army, South African Horse, Trooper, #367" (1914‑1920), possibly including service in the Royal Air Force in World War I (AIR 79/1237/137813) although these may be two different men. At any rate, the name of this British John Neall, his age, and South Africa strongly suggest to me that he might be the son of our dismissed cavalry­man, although one website says the younger Neall was born in the United Kingdom. In the U. S. Census of 1940 according to online transcriptions, a single white male named John M. Neall "born ~1892 in Nevada", was living as a boarder at "415 West 23rd Street, A D 3, NY, New York County, New York".

My temporary conclusion, until firmer information surfaces — feel free to drop me a line if you know something I don't! — is the obvious one: the disgraced American cavalry­man left with his wife for South Africa where he started a new life, and where his son (most probably born in South Africa, but possibly in Britain or in Nevada) served in the British armed forces in World War I but eventually returned to the United States. I've found no trace so far of the date or place of death of either man.

A further rather interesting note, gleaned from information online about English-born Harry Hay, a founder of the Mattachine Society and thus a very early American gay‑rights activist, is that Mr. Hay's mother, née Margaret Neall, is described as having been raised in a wealthy American expatriate family in Johannesburg; and at least one genealogical page online reports a "Caroline Mariah Neal (born Hardie)", born in 1861, having married a "Neal" (no first name given) in 1885: whose own mother was named Margaret, making it plausible that she might have had a daughter by the same name.

This is confirmed by entry #130 (p56) in History and Genealogy of the Cock-Cocks-Cox Family for Caroline Cock Hardie, where her eldest son is listed as Gen. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James Allen Hardie, married to Margaret Cuyler Hunter, among whose children we find "Caroline Maria, m. John Mitchell Neall, and lives Johannesburg, South Africa".

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Page updated: 9 Feb 23