ABNER GILBERT M. NEFF
A well-remembered old settler of Fayette county and
one of the brave officers of the Ninth Iowa Infantry was the late Lieut.
Abner Gilbert M. Neff, who was born in Westmoreland county,
Pennsylvania, in August, 1829, the son of John Neff, a native of Germany
who emigrated to America in his youth. Abner Neff received a fairly good
English education and served as an apprentice to the shoemaker's trade
in his father's shop, and became an expert workman. He also studied
medicine, but did not complete the course. On October 27, 1851, he
married, in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, Anna Hobson, daughter of John
W. and Abigail Bishop (Scott) Hobson and a sister of the Hon. Joseph
Hobson, of West Union. Her father was born in Peniston, Yorkshire,
England, August 22, 1794, and emigrated to America in 1816. While living
in Pennsylvania, in 1819, he was married to the daughter of Joseph
Scott, a wealthy manufacturer there. Mrs. Hobson was born in New Jersey,
April 10, 1799, and crossed the mountains on horseback with her parents
during her girlhood, the family coming to Fayette county, Iowa. They
were originally from Massachusetts, of English and Scotch descent. Mr.
Hobson died of cholera, August 14, 1834, his wife surviving many years,
dying in 1883; their daughter, wife of Mr. Neff, was born in
Connellsville, Pennsylvania, October 29, 1829.
For several years Mr. Neff engaged in the boot and shoe business at West
Newton, Pennsylvania. In June, 1856, he located in Fayette county, Iowa,
opening a shop at Auburn. His medical studies were interrupted by the
Civil war, and in August, 1861, he enlisted in Company F, Ninth Iowa
Infantry, and on September 12th following was made first lieutenant. He
was mortally wounded in the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, his first
regular engagement, March 9, 1862, receiving a gunshot wound in the
region of the heart from the effects of which he died on March 11, 1862,
in the hospital. He was much esteemed by his brother officers and men as
a true soldier and a brave and faithful defender of the country's cause.
Lieutenant Neff was survived by a widow and five children, four sons and
one daughter, namely: John Devitt, born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania,
January 4, 1853, received a common school education and wedded Mary C.
Hare of Summerfield, Ohio; he died July 10, 1884, leaving a wife and two
children, Homer M. and Minnie M.; his wife survives and is a teacher in
the institute for the deaf at Olathe, Kansas. At sixteen years of age he
became a clerk in a drug store and two years later was appointed deputy
clerk of the court of Fayette county, filling the office until 1877,
when he embarked in the drug business at West Union. In the fall of 1880
he was elected clerk of the court and re-elected in 1882, serving his
second term at the time of his death. Mary Elizabeth Neff was born in
Connellsville, Pennsylvania, August 21, 1854, and became the wife of
Rev. S. P. Marsh, now of Birmingham, Alabama. Homer M. Neff, born in
Connellsville, Pennsylvania, March 6, 1856, studied for the profession
of architect and engineer, at Chicago. Returning to West Union in 1881,
he served from 1884 to 1889 as clerk of the court. Since then he has
carried on the work of his chosen calling. Full sketches of Charles G.
and Joseph H. Neff appear elsewhere in this work.
Mrs. Anna Neff, mother of these children, resides in Birmingham,
Alabama. Mr. Neff was a Republican, studious, honest, talented and a
born leader of men, -- in short, a most estimable citizen. He was a
member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.