Farming in the Family

Jacob Moffett McNeel tells the story of his life as one of three generations of McNeel men currently living on the McNeel family farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia.

By Sara Wise and Preston Hartman | 03/16/2012

The McNeel family farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia, has been home to four generations of McNeels since 1908.

Jacob Moffett McNeel, the second caretaker of the farm, was born there in 1928 and has lived the life of a farmer ever since. In 1949, he married his high school sweetheart Elma and, together, the two started their own family on the farm.

Over the years, Moffett managed a total of 880 acres, harvesting corn and tending cattle and hogs, even through the loss of his dominant hand in an accident with a corn picker in 1961. He and his wife played an active role in the local state and farming communities for most of their lives. Four years ago, just short of their 60th anniversary, she passed away.

These days, at 86 years old, McNeel is still tending to the land and livestock with the help of his son, Donald (who lives with him), and grandson, Ben, who lives with his wife in another home on the land.

Through it all, he is just happy to have lived the life that he has.

“I was glad that I was able to stay here and live a life that my parents envisioned for me back then,” said McNeel.

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