Libertyville’s World War I Veterans: Mark Neville

While researching the Decker & Bond drug store, I came across an article from the early 1940s about Mark Neville, pharmacist. The article mentioned that he was a member of the American Legion which made me wonder if he served in World War I and, if so, was he on our list of those that served? He was! So it’s time to write a new profile of a Libertyville World War I vet.

Independent Register, April 12, 1951, p.1

Mark Eldon Neville was born in Grayslake in 1894 to Everett B. Neville and Jennie Forvor Neville. He attended school in Grayslake and Waukegan. After graduation, he spent a year in business college and worked a summer with the Druce Drug Co. in Grayslake. In September 1913, he enrolled at the University of Illinois for coursework in pharmacy and chemistry, finishing his first year on the honor roll.

In the summer of 1914, Neville accepted a position at the “Rexall Store”10 – Decker & Bond Druggists. By October 1915, he was the “new graduate pharmacist”11 – likely having either completed his degree or having passed the registered pharmacist examination by that time.

Decker & Bond Druggists. Courtesy of the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County.

 

In May 1917, just about a month after the U.S entrance into World War I, Neville enlisted in the army in advance of the draft. He took the examination to be a member of the Medical Corps at the Jefferson Barracks in Missouri and was accepted. Less than a week into his service, he wrote a letter to Libertyville postmaster J. R. Alleman which was reprinted in the May 24, 1917 Libertyville Independent.

Jefferson Barracks, Mo., May 21, 1917

Hello Jake,

Well I got here safe and sound, passed all the examinations and am a real soldier in uniform.

Tell the boys to come ahead as it is going to be a much harder grind after the draft starts. The first three or four days are not the most pleasant things in the world, but I am still kicking and believe me I have got an appetite. I could eat a raw dog and relish it. I took the last physical examination yesterday morning and it lasted about three hours, going before about fifteen specialists and lastly I got a shot of typhoid serum in the arm and couldn’t use my arm at all for 24 hours although I continue to navigate and am in the best of health and spirits at present, although it is a little lonesome at times as I haven’t seen anyone I know out of 6000.

I have been told that I will probably be transferred to some other post in the course of a couple of weeks and the general opinion is that we will see some real action, but not for some little time.

Well I have got to report to my barracks soon while retreat is sounded, but tell the boys all they need is a little sand and the education is worth the while as I am learning something every minute.

Regard to all.

Sincerely,

Mark Neville

 

Private Neville shipped out to Europe on February 27, 1918. When he returned from Europe on the Virginian out of Brest, France on August 4, 1919, he had been promoted to Sergeant First Class, Medical Department.

After he was discharged on August 15, 1919, Neville moved back to his family’s home in Grayslake and was employed at the Pearce drug store in Waukegan. After a few years there, in 1922 he purchased an interest in the Decker drug store in Libertyville where he had cut his teeth as a young pharmacist. The store became known as Decker & Neville. Neville bought complete control of the business around the time William Decker passed away in 1950 and Decker was removed from the drug store’s name.

Milwaukee Avenue looking north, 1940s. Decker & Neville is on the far right. Courtesy of the Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society.

 

Not long after establishing himself in business, Neville started a family. Catherine “Rena” E. Miller and Mark Neville were married about 1924. They raised their two children, Arlene and Mark, at their home located at 536 Brainerd Court, which is now the site of a parking garage.

Neville was featured in a series of newspaper articles that ran in the Independent Register in 1941 under the title “Who’s who Among Libertyville Merchants.” The profile described him as “a man of medium build, about 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall. He parts his sandy, straight hair on the side, smokes cigarettes constantly, and speaks in a quiet controlled voice that is almost a drawl. He thinks in the same way, and that quality of easy going but fundamental progressiveness is what has made Markk [sic] Neville one of Libertyville’s most popular merchants and civic workers.” 18

In addition to running his business, Neville was very involved in community organizations and civic affairs. He was a member of American Legion Post No. 329 and served as commander for two terms. He was a charter member of the local Lions Club, the Community Club (“an organization to promote the moral, welfare, social, civic, athletic, educational, and industrial interest of the township of Libertyville”1), and the Chamber of Commerce. Mark served as a director of the First Lake County National Bank, chairman of the Lake County Draft Area No. 2 Board during World War II, and as a village trustee.

Independent Register, April 12, 1951, p.1

 

His importance in Libertyville was illustrated by the large headline announcing his death in April 1951. Services were held at the American Legion hall with full military rites and burial was at Ascension Cemetery. A Memorial Resolution was issued by the village board in his honor. A fitting tribute to a man who served his country and community.

Independent Register, April 12, 1951, p.1

 

Sources:

  1. 1951 Libertyville Directory and Street Guide, http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/cookmemo11/id/6024/rec/31
  2. Mark Neville & Rena Neville, findagrave.com.
  3. Neville, Mark E. U.S. Census for Grays Lake Village, 1900.
  4. Neville, Mark E. U.S. Census for Grays Lake Village, 1910.
  5. “Libertyville Briefs.”  Lake County Independent, April 5, 1912, p.3.
  6. “Doings and Sayings of Grayslake.” Lake County Independent, September 12, 1913, p.3.
  7. “Doings and Sayings of Grayslake.” Lake County Independent, September 19, 1913, p.3.
  8. “Newsy Items from Grayslake.” Lake County Independent, December 5, 1913, p.3.
  9. “Newsy Items from Grayslake.” Lake County Independent, May 8, 1914, p.3.
  10. “Newsy Items from Grayslake.” Lake County Independent, June 5, 1914, p.3.
  11. “Libertyville Happenings.”  Lake County Independent, October 1, 1915, p.2.
  12. “Libertyville Boys Enlist in the Army and Navy.”  Libertyville Independent, May 17, 1917, p.1.
  13. “Mark Neville Writes of His Experiences.”  Libertyville Independent, May 24, 1917, p.4.
  14. Neville, Mark E. U.S. Census for Grays Lake Village, 1920.
  15. “Local and Personal.” Libertyville Independent, Mar 2, 1922, p.5.
  16. Neville, Mark E. U.S. Census for Libertyville, 1930.
  17. Neville, Mark E. U.S. Census for Libertyville, 1940.
  18. “Libertyville Has Its Servants; One of Them is Mark Neville.” Independent Register, April 24, 1941, p.1.
  19. “Mark Neville Passes Away.” Independent Register, April 12, 1951, p.1.
  20. Neville, Mark. U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans. Ancestry.com Library Edition. Accessed December 9, 2018.
  21. Neville, Mark E. U.S. Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939. Ancestry.com Library Edition. Accessed January 2, 2019.

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