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McNeill, Archibald

by Harry L. Watson, 1991

ca. 1796–1849

Archibald McNeill, congressman and militia colonel, was born in Moore County. He represented Moore in the House of Commons in 1808 and 1809 and in the senate in 1811 and 1815. In 1821 he ran for Congress as a Republican against the incumbent, John Culpepper, a Federalist. McNeill was elected and served in the Seventeenth Congress (1821–23), where he made one speech against the tariff. Culpepper opposed McNeill for reelection in 1823. During that campaign, both candidates refused to declare a preference on the upcoming presidential election of 1824, but McNeill rejected the principle of a caucus nomination. McNeill also accused his opponent of insufficient support for the War of 1812 while a member of the General Assembly, but Culpepper won the election. Running against Culpepper again in 1825, McNeill was elected and served in the Nineteenth Congress (1825–27).

The 1830 census for North Carolina records Archibald McNeill as a resident of Robeson County, living alone in his household (presumably, therefore, unmarried) but owning a female slave between the ages of forty and fifty who was deaf and dumb.

McNeill moved to Texas in 1836. In 1849 he organized and led a group of about a hundred men on an expedition to the newly discovered gold fields of California. A sandstorm struck the party while it was crossing the Arizona desert. McNeill and most of the others perished, and his body was never found.


Annals of Congress (1823).

Biog. Dir. Am. Cong. (1961).

Carolina Observer, 24 July, 7 Aug. 1823.

Additional Resources:

"McNeill, Archibald, (Birth date unknown - 1849)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed July 11, 2013).

Origin - location: 


Unfortunately, some of the information in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography that was used for this article about Archibald McNeill is incorrect. In the 1830 census, Archibald was still living in Moore County. Around 1835, Archibald and most of his family moved to Marshall County, Mississippi, near Holly Springs. He died in 1838 in Marshall County, Mississippi. This information was documented by one of his daughters, Ann Eliza, in the book titled "Memorial Record of Alabama; Vol. 1"; Published by Brant & Fuller, Madison, WI, 1893; pg. 488 – 490 and by one of his sons, William Wallace, in the book titled "History of Texas – Central Texas; Published by The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1899; pg. 255 – 257". Neither child's account mentions anything about Archibald being a militia colonel, so I believe this is also inaccurate.

Please let me know if this information can be corrected and if you need extracted copies of the supporting information referenced above. Thanks for your consideration.


Unfortunately we cannot change the information as it comes from a published book, it can only be changed with the publisher's permission. But your comment will help others to clarify information. Thank you for sharing your information and hopefully will help others. 

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

What Joey says make sense to me because I have been confused about our family tree. I am a descendent of Dr. William Wallace McNeil who relocated from Mississippi to Texas. Our family history states that after the death of William’s wife and his father, William moved to Texas with his infant son to Erath County, Texas. There seems to be more than one Archibald McNeil and it is difficult to say which one is our ancestor without further proof. I have questioned if the Congressman Archibald was really our ancestor because of the death date. Any further information would be great.

Hi Jan. Thanks for your comments. I can confirm that Dr. William Wallace McNeill was the son of Archibald McNeill, the congressman from Moore County, NC. Archibald's daughter, Ann Eliza, provided the names of Archibald's children in her input to the book "Memorial Record of Alabama; Vol. 1"; Published by Brant & Fuller, Madison, WI, 1893; pg. 488 – 490. Given by her, they are: Thomas, Sarah, Lydia, Lucy, Mary, Ann Eliza, Margaret, John, Daniel and William W. This book can be located using an Internet search and can be downloaded in various formats. The story I have read on Dr. William Wallace McNeill is that he moved to Erath County, Texas, after his mother, Mary, died around 1852 or 1853. His father, Archibald, had died in 1838. Please note that Ann Eliza's input into the book indicates that her mother died in 1843, but I believe this is a typographical error and was meant to be 1853.

Is this the same Archibald McNeill , the owner of Libby’s food products?


The Archibald of this article died in 1849, but Libby's, which was started in Chicago, was formed in 1869. Here is a link to the history on their website.

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library

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