McNeel selected for West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame
Jacob Moffett McNeel, Jr. , the youngest child of Jacob Moffett, Sr. and Rachel Edgar McNeel, was born at the familyﾒs homeplace in Hillsboro, May 22, 1928.ﾠ He shared that home with his sisters, Mary Lydia and Nancy Penick, and brother, Samuel Edgar, but it was Moffett who stayed and farmed the land for these many years.
As a result of his commitment to family, farming and the community, he will be inducted into the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame in July.
ﾓEnshrinement in the Hall of Fame is reserved for those individuals, businesses, organizations, institutions and foundations that have made outstanding contributions to the establishment, development, advancement and improvement of the agricultural, forestry and family life of West Virginia.ﾔ
There is no doubt in the minds of those who know him that McNeel more than fills the requirements for this honor.
McNeelﾒs earliest childhood recollection of farming was that of ﾓbringing chilled lambs into the house to warm them up.ﾔ
That is not much of a problem today.
ﾓWe have a better facility - a better maternity ward,ﾔ McNeel laughs.
Lambs are only a part of this farming operation which includes cattle, hogs and chickens and the necessary crops to sustain them.
Lessons learned from family and farming have been passed on to three generations of McNeels, the congregation of Oak Grove Presbyterian Church in his roll as Lay Speaker and to scores of 4-Hers through nearly 40 years as a 4-H leader.
It was through McNeelﾒs involvement in 4-H as a young man that he was afforded the opportunity to travel to Chicago on two occasions for national competitions.
One of his prized possessions is his first award, a gold watch he received as the State Meat Animal Winner in 1946.
As winner of the 1949 4-H Sheep Shearing competition, he returned to Chicago to attend the National Club Congress.
Thus began a lifetime of awards.
McNeel has served this community well.
He was a member of the Pocahontas County Board of Education for eight years, serving as its president for two years.
The walls of the home tell a story of the commitment and perseverance of McNeel and his partner, Elma, in the collection of plaques and certificates:
A clock inscribed for his 35 years of service as director of Lewisburg and Roanoke Farm Credit; 1956 County Winner Farming for Better Living; 1960 Regional Winner Farming for Better Living; 1968 Grand Sweepstakes winner Farming for Better Living; President of the Pocahontas County Farm Bureau, serving as Secretary-Treasurer for 35 years; President of the Pocahontas County 4-H Foundation for 35 years; Director of West Virginia Farm Bureau; 20 years as Vice-chairman of the Pocahontas Historic Landmarks Commission; 1987 State Soil and Water Conservation winner; 1988 Binging Honor and Recognition to the State of West Virginia; 1994 Recognition of 41 years as Sunday School Superintendent; 1996 West Virginia Farm Bureau Distinguished Service Award; 1997 4-H Faithful Service Award; 1999 West Virginia Agriculture Achievement Award; 1999 Heritage winner at the WV State Fair; Pocahontas County 4-H Foundation for 35 years, and the list goes on.
What is McNeelﾒs fondest memory of life on the farm?
ﾓWhen I got married and brought my wife home,ﾔ he said without hesitation.
McNeel married Elma Virginia Cutlip, daughter of Cameron Columbus and Ruth Jane Curry Cutlip, on May 27, 1949 in the Presbyterian manse in Hillsboro.
It was a union that lasted nearly 60 years.
The couple worked together on the farm, in the community, at church and in 4-H, ﾓloving the life of a farmer, even with the hardship that can come with it,ﾔ they state in the Pocahontas County History, 1981.
The family grew to include four sons who took to the farming way of life.
Donald Eugene was born June 28, 1952.ﾠ He received a BS in Agriculture Engineering from WVU and operates theﾠ farm today alongside his father. Jacob Cameron was born June 28, 1955 ﾓknocking me out of a birthday present that year,ﾔ said Donald. Jacob received his BS Degree from WVU in Agriculture Mechanics, going on to receive his degree as Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.ﾠ He now lives and works in Beckley. Allan David was born January 21, 1959, received his degree from WVU, as well, and is a veterinarian in Cross Lanes. Charles Andrew, born April 4, 1968, has put his Masterﾒs Degree in Forestry to work in his position with Mead-Westvaco in Beckley.
Following in the footsteps of their father, the sons were involved in 4-H, showing animals and winning awards at the county fair, the State Fair of West Virginia andﾠ Jacksonﾒs Mill.
The family retains the old traditions with ties to the farm, the community and the church.
As a very active member of the Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, McNeel has served as Sunday School teacher and superintendent, Deacon, Elder, Clerk of Session, choir member, past-moderator of the Greenbrier Presbytery and served for eight years on the Presbytery of West Virginiaﾒs Committee on Ministry.
As a certified lay speaker McNeel has preached many sermons in many churches in the area.
Is there any profession more dependent on God than farming?
ﾓI donﾒt know what it would be,ﾔ McNeel said.
Every year on Thanksgiving Day as most families gather for a feast and more than a little TV, the McNeel family can be found carrying on the tradition of ﾓall hands on deckﾔ for butchering day.ﾠ
Thankful, to be sure, for their blessings and for the harvest from their stewardship of the land and hard work.ﾠ At the end of the day, they have laid away enough meat to feed the extended families through the upcoming year.
McNeel and his wife, Elma, were leaders for the Pepped Winds 4-H Club which later became the Little Levels 4-H Club.
In the past 21 years the family has been host to hundreds, if not thousands, of children through an annual Farm Tour for second graders, and this year they included a tour for eighth graders.ﾠ This event allows children to get a feel for what life is like on the farm, with an emphasis on safety.
What is McNeelﾒs worst memory of life on the farm?
In response he raises his right arm.
An unfortunate corn chopper accident in 1961 cost him his right hand.
Despite, and in some cases, because of that ﾓhardshipﾔ McNeel has set an example for the young people of this county.
His work ethic is strong, his love of family knows no bounds, his commitment to the community is inexhaustible and his faith has made him strong.
The McNeel family has marked this land with its history, but the land holds its own history, as well, as noted in the Pocahontas County History-1981.
ﾓThe following is an excerpt from a letter written by Georgeanna Dunlap Arnold to Mr. Calvin Price in the 1939 edition of The Pocahontas Times.ﾔ
ﾓSometime ago I was at Ponca City, Oklahoma, visiting my father, M. A. Dunlap.ﾠ My sister showed me an old deed -dated 1830, I think - from a Hughes to Col. Paul McNeel.ﾠ My father told me that Hughes traded the land for horses, knives and equipment preparatory to going west.ﾠ The land is now owned by Moffett McNeel; formerly the Wallace Beard farm.ﾔ
No quantity of horses, knives or equipment could winch McNeel from this land, though he and Elma traveled extensively as a result of their awards and service on various boards and in organizations.
Through the years they could be found in Puerto Rica, New Orleans, Hawaii, Niagra Falls, Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, The Greenbrier in White Sulphur and at The Homestead in Virginia.
But always the land and love of farming drew them home.
Does he have any regrets?
ﾓNo regrets,ﾔ he said.
ﾓI think that Iﾒm most proud of the family that weﾒve raised here.ﾔ
McNeel will be inducted into the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame at the foundationﾒs annual reception and dinner at Jacksonﾒs Mill on July 24.