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J. C. McNeill III

MCNEILL, JAMES CALVIN, SR. (1844–1933). James Calvin McNeill, Sr., rancher, son of James Campbell and Emily (Jordan) McNeill, was born on November 4, 1844, in Union Parish, Louisiana. In 1848 he was taken to Texas by his parents and his maternal grandparents, Sarah (Stone) and Levi Jordan, who established a large sugar plantation in Brazoria County. McNeill served as a private in the Confederate Army, after which he and his brother Charles Philip McNeill renewed production on the plantation; they replaced slaves with convicts leased from the state (see CONVICT LEASE SYSTEM). In 1867 he bought all the cattle owned by Samuel Rowe, acquiring thereby the SR brand that he used the rest of his life. In 1882 he bought, in Crosby County, one-half of the odd-numbered sections in a fifty-section tract designated Block 28, Houston and Great Northern Railroad. In 1883 he shipped 1,500 cattle to Crosby County, where he shared the range with the Kentucky Cattle Raising Company, which had bought the remainder of Block 28. He established headquarters in a dugout on Waddell Draw.

During Reconstruction, while the Ku Klux Klan was active in Brazoria County, members deposited their arms at the McNeill house and were issued ammunition by McNeill's wife and children when he was away on business. The organization did not survive, however, but was replaced by the San Bernard Rifles, which initially met in secret and drilled behind the large barns at the McNeill home, originally the Fannin-Mims Plantation. By 1880, when McNeill was commissioned captain by Governor O. M. Roberts, the group had apparently come out in the open. McNeill was thereafter always addressed as captain.

He never made his home at the Crosby County ranch, and no house was built there until 1894. After liquidation of the Kentucky Cattle Raising Company, he solidified and added to his acreage to form a block of 28½ sections. He was one of the organizers of the First State Bank in Brazoria in 1909, and served as its president until his resignation in 1930. In that year he directed that his ranchlands and cattle be divided among his five living heirs. In 1875 he married Sarah Emma Reese, who died in 1888; to them were born eight children, of whom three preceded him in death. McNeill died on December 17, 1933, and was buried beside his wife at West Columbia, Texas.

James A. Creighton, A Narrative History of Brazoria County (Angleton, Texas: Brazoria County Historical Commission, 1975). Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum, A History of Crosby County, 1876–1977 (Dallas: Taylor, 1978). J. C. McNeill III, The McNeills' SR Ranch: 100 Years in Blanco Canyon (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1988). William L. Richter, The Army in Texas during Reconstruction, 1865–1870 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1987).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, J. C. McNeill III, "MCNEILL, JAMES CALVIN, SR.," accessed October 19, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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