Notable WindsoritesOld Newspaper Stories

Fred Neal – 1855-1931

Fred Neal was a local historian, who’s early work “Township of Sandwich, Past & Present” left us an invaluable record of early days in Sandwich. If you don’t have a copy, or have never read it, a copy can be found here:

Below is the news of his passing as it ran in the Border Cities Star November 13, 1931.

Fred Neal Dead at 76

Flags Being Flown
At Half-Mast In
County Town

Born in Sandwich Keen Student of Local
History Wrote Book About Border

Fred Neal, 76 years old, court Crier at Sandwich for a number of years and well known as an Essex County historian, died early today at his home, 512 Mill Street, Sandwich. following a lengthy illness.


Mr. Neal was a life-long resident of Sandwich. His father came to Sandwich in 1844. Mr. Neal was court crier at the County courthouse for more than 15 years. previous to his retirement about two years ago. Before his career at the courthouse he was a printer and was formerly in the employ of the old Windsor Record.


Mr. Neal took a seen Interest in the history of his native town, and of Essex County. He was vice-president of the Essex County Historical Society and published a book, in 1909,
on the history of the Township of Sandwich. This book is still in use at the present day and is prized for reference purposes.
Mr. Neal had been in poor health since four years ago. when he fell downstairs. This accident resulted in his retirement from his position as court crier two years ago. For the last year he was confined to his bed.
He was an Anglican, he was a life Member of the Knights of Pythias and a member of the L.O.L . No. 584. His interests were wide and he was known to many other local organizations.
Surviving are one daughter. Miss Alice Neal, and one grandson, Neal Harwood, both of the Border Cities. His wife predeceased him a number of years ago.


For many years Mr. Neal was one-half of the Sandwich police force and also served as volunteer fireman and keeper of the cemetery. Mr. Neal started out as a printer and was on the composing room staff of the Windsor Record for many years. In 1914 be was appointed court crier.


“He was a good and faithful servant and was widely liked.” stated John Millen, county treasurer.
‘”He was a true patriot of Sandwich a friend of everyone and a splendid citizen.” was the tribute of James Smith 78-year-old former Chief County Constable, who knew Mr. Neal for 54 years.
“With his passing the town loses one of its stalwarts.” stated Chief Proctor “He was a very kindly man.”
“We have lost a most faithful resident, one whose passing will be widely mourned.” observed Mayor Donnelly.,
“He was one of the most accommodating and kindest hearted men that ever declared E. R. North, Sandwich town clerk
“Mr. Neal was very much interested in lawn bowling and was a familiar figure at all tournaments from here to Amherstburg.’ he recalled.


Flags in Sandwich are at half-mast today as an indication of the widespread regret felt at the news of Mr. Neal’s passing.
Everywhere throughout the municipality and surrounding districts tributes are being paid.
It is expected that practically the entire town will attend the funeral,
which will be held on Monday afternoon from his late home on Mill street at 3 p.m. to St. John’s Anglican cemetery.
The services will be conducted by Rev. Canon E. Appleyard, of the Church of the Ascension. and Rev. H. P. Westgate, of St. John’s.
Floral tributes began to arrive at the home shortly after noon today, and arrangements are being made to accommodate the hundreds who will desire to call and pay their
last respects while the body is in repose at the home Saturday and Sunday.

Mr. Neal spent his entire lifetime in Sandwich. and it was typical of his “all Sandwich” attitude that he vigorously opposed any suggestion of amalgamation of the Border Cities.
He had occupied nearly every public office known to the municipality over a period of more than a half century.
Mr. Neal was born in Sandwich on the 15th of April. 1855. The dedication in his book reveals that he was of United Empire Loyalist stock.


The dedication reads: “To my beloved parents, Thomas and Sarah Ann Neal, whose memory I revere for their personal integrity and adherence to the cause of the Empire Loyalists, this book is affectionately dedicated.”
The work, which Mr. Neal prepared over a period of five years and helped to publish himself. covers the history of Sandwich from the time of the Indians and includes the municipality’s part in the War of 1812. It is well illustrated and lists the post¬masters, councilors and other public men of the early days.
Included in it is Mr. Neal’s favorite poem. “The Wreck of the Julie Plant,” with a Lake St. Clair setting.
The last two verses, which Mr. Neal was want to recite in French-Canadian dialect, read:
“Now all good wood skow sailor mans, Take lesson from that storm, and go and merry nice French gal, And live on Grosse Pointe farm.”
“Den the wind may blow like hurricane And spose she’s blow some more. You can’t get drowned on Lac St. Clair So long you stop on shore.”


Mr. Neal suffered the injuries which eventually caused his death when he fell down stairs while carrying a Christmas present. Friends of his today remarked that he must have suffered as much because he couldn’t get out to chat with his cronies as from the injuries.
“He used to be up and down the street all the time, talking with everybody and he must have felt pretty bad when he no longer could do that,” remarked Mr. Millen.

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