Four generations of the McNeill family have dedicated their lives to the art of pharmacy and healthcare for more than 100 years in Whiteville and throughout southeastern North Carolina.
Brothers John A. and Ben McNeill began the family tradition after graduating in the late 1860's from the Edinburgh School of Medicine in Raeford, the first medical school in the state. After graduation, the brothers moved to Hope Mills to set up their medical practice. To better serve their patients, John and Ben studied pharmacy, and in 1875, began compounding and dispensing their own medicines. During this time, John married Janie Cameron and they had one son, George Raymond McNeill.
In 1886, John and Ben McNeill moved their practice to Brunswick County. A newspaper ad placed by Dr W. W. Crowell in 1900 announcing his medical practice and building for sale in Vineland, now known as Whiteville, attracted their attention.
Seeing a good opportunity to grow, the brothers purchased Dr. Crowell's business and packed up their pharmacy equipment for shipment by schooner to Wilmington and then by train to Whiteville. Unfortunately, all their personal belongings, medical diplomas, and drug store fixtures were lost when the schooner sank in a storm at Lockwood Folly. Soon after this loss, Ben pursued an interest in politics and died in 1901 of a heart attack on the floor of the North Carolina General assembly.
Undaunted by tragedy, Dr. John opened his medical practice on Madison Street in Whiteville and built J.A. McNeill and Son Pharmacy next door for his son, George, a graduate of Page’s School of Pharmacy in Raleigh. Little did he know the business would become North Carolina’s oldest family-owned pharmacy.