About the Author
William Neill was born to William and Jane Snodgrass Neill
in McKeesport, Pennsylvania in April 1778 or 1779, though the exact
date is unknown. While William was still an infant, his father was killed
by a band of Indians, and soon thereafter his mother died as well. After
her death, William and his five siblings were scattered among relatives.
Neill moved to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania where he attended country schools
and later became a clerk in a country store. In 1797 he entered the
Canonsburg Academy with the intention of becoming a Presbyterian minister.
He later enrolled at Princeton University, graduating in 1803. He immediately
took a job as a tutor at Princeton, and on October 5, 1805 he married
his first wife, Elizabeth Van Dyke, with whom he had two children. In
that same year, Neill became a pastor in Cooperstown, New York, and
while there he tutored James Fenimore Cooper and his brother Samuel.
He later took positions in Albany and Philadelphia. In 1809 Elizabeth
died, and on February 25, 1811 he married Frances King.
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