MATTHEW MANSFIELD NEELY was born in Grove, West Virginia. He received an A.B. degree in 1901 and a law degree from West Virginia University one year later. After serving with the First West Virginia Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American War, he held commissions as First Lieutenant, Captain, and Major in the West Virginia National Guard. He also practiced law, and was Mayor of Fairmont for two years and then clerk of the West Virginia State House of Delegates, following which he was elected four times to the U.S. House of Representatives and to two terms in the U.S. Senate, resigning from his Senate seat to run for governor. During his gubernatorial term, child welfare laws were reformed and a State Planning Board was created. After leaving the state house, Neely served one additional term in the U.S. House of Representatives and was elected twice more to the U.S. Senate, where he served until his death. He was buried in Fairmont, West Virginia.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. C. New York: James T. White & Company.