Only the skimpiest information is available concerning the origins of James Joseph McNeill and his wife, Mary Burke McNeill. They were married about 1873 when James was twenty-nine years old and Mary twenty-two. The family bible has been lost and no historical record of the marriage of James and Mary has been found.

James was born August 11, 1844 in Ireland. He migrated to and across the United States to California. The first information we have is that he, like many Irish immigrants of that time was working for the railroad as the tracks were pushed north up the Sacramento Valley. Possibly he came both west and north with the railroads. He married and remained in Shasta County and worked as a supervisor of the railroad. The railroad did not push past Redding into Oregon until 1886.

Mary Burke was born in Ottawa County Michigan, west of Grand Rapids on August 4, 1851. Mary and her older sister, Ellen Burke (Mrs Benjamin Oliver) came west in the early 1870s and both soon married. Later a younger sister, Anna joined her sisters and married Thomas Mullen.

During the early years of their marriage they lived in Anderson and five children were born there:
Mary Josephine b. 1875 died in childbirth
Emma b. 1877 died in infancy
Anna Leona b. April 7, 1878 one son, Melville m. Wesley James Scott
James Joseph b. April 7, 1878 died in infancy Twin to Anna Leona
Agnes b. December, 1879 Worked in San Francisco until her father's death in 1905. Worked as telephone operator in Redding and later at Southern Pacific Office in San Francisco d. 1953
James Burk b. August 24, 1883 d. December 15, 1943; one son, James Francis Served in U.S. Army Field Artillery in WWI m. Gladys Mabel Holbert

James and Mary bought their property in Redding between 1883 and 1886 as the Railroad moved north. Three children born there:
Francis Thomas b. 1886 d. 1966 Southern Pacific conductor
Jerome b. 1889 Killed in action in France just before the Armistice
Genevieve Ethyl b. 1893 d. 1968 m. Mienert Shurtleff; one daughter

With his son, Francis, James made a visit to Ireland a few years before his death; the exact areas of the visit are not known.

James Joseph died at work on the Railroad, November 23, 1905. Mary remained in the family home until about 1930 when her health caused her to move to San Francisco to live with her daughter, Agnes.

Mary died in San Francisco in 1935 and was buried beside her husband in the family plot in Old St. Joseph's Cemetery in Redding.

Source: Shasta Historical Society - May, 1995

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