A Biography of Bennet O'Neale

Bennet O’Neale was born February 20, 1784 in Culpeper County, Virginia, the third son of John and Rachel Wood O’Neal.  He married Ann Sally Embrey on August 06, 1807 in Culpeper County, Virginia where they first set up housekeeping.

By 1810, Bennet, Ann, their two young daughters, Rachael and Eliza, along with Bennet’s younger brother, John, had relocated in Adair County Kentucky. Whether Bennet moved or the county boundary changed, in 1820 we find he and Ann, along with their growing family, now numbering 7 children, Rachael, Eliza, Ann, Polly, Carroll, Lucyndia, and Harvey, in Barren County.

Bennet worked as a cabinet maker and managed to provide for his growing family.   As a skilled cabinet maker he met and was friends with many in his small community.  He was a teste to the 1824 will of Ballenger Wade of Cumberland County.
His oldest daughter, Rachael, who was born May 28, 1801, married William S. Greer on October 28, 1824 in Barren County.  His second daughter, Eliza, born September 23, 1809, married Henry Huffman, the son of Ambrose and Mary Railsback Huffman, March 11, 1828 in Barren County, and by 1860 they were the parents of 10 children, Mary, James, Sarah, Bennet, Frances, William, Emily, Henry, Robert, and Eliza.

Bennet and Ann had their last child, a daughter Sarah, January 06, 1828, and they, along with their daughters Ann and Polly and sons, Carroll and Harvey were still living in Barren County in 1830.  Shortly thereafter, Ann Sally Embrey died.

Bennet then met and married Mary Jan Waller Vanzant, a widow, in 1831.  From this union, a daughter, Frances Josephine was born about 1838.  By 1840, Bennet had again become a widower as he, Harvey, little Josephine, Sarah, and Ann were living in the household.  His daughter Polly, married Henry Hestand prior to 1840.

As a woodworker and cabinet maker by trade, Bennet’s skills were oft used to fashion caskets for those who had fallen ill and died during the hard winter times.  To also supplement his income for the rearing of his children, Bennet served as the postmaster of the small town of Edmonton during the years of 1843 through 1847.

Bennet’s youngest son, Harvey, moved to Bath, Mason County, Illinois, on the Illinois River where he was not only a doctor of medicine, but also the manager of a railroad running through the county.

Harvey met and married Ann B. Beesley on November 12, 1844 in Cass County, Illinois.  There were no children from this union, and Ann died prior to 1851. Harvey then married Charlotte E. West on September 23, 1851, in Cass County, Illinois.  From this union, 4 children were born, James, Josephine, Helen, Charles, and Richard.

Bennet, Ann, and Josephine were residing together in Barren County in 1850.  Frances Josephine married Robert L. Browning, a farmer, in 1857, and by 1870 had 5 children of their own, Mary, Sarah, Francis, Bettie, and Eliza.

In May of 1859, Bennet wrote a letter to his nephew, providing a brief genealogical history of his own parents and siblings.  The reproduction/transcription of Bennet’s letter gives the age of his daughter as “about 18 years of age”.  This is most likely an error in transcription for the last census listing has Bennet as 76 and his daughter Ann being 50.

Bennet and his daughter Ann are last found in 1860 living together in the newly formed Metcalfe County, Kentucky.  Bennet O’Neale died August 17, 1868, at the age of 84.

            Adair County Kentucky Census 1810
            Barren County Kentucky Census  1820, 1830, 1840, 1850
            Metcalfe County Kentucky Census  1860 & 1870
            Mason County Illinois Census 1860
            Illinois Statewide Marriage Index
            Kentucky Marriages, Barren County Kentucky
            Cumberland County Kentucky Wills
            “Historical Trip Through Barren County Kentuck” in Glasgow Times Dec. 3, 1942-Sept.
            2, 1943, by Clayton C. Simmons
            “The ONeals of Bedford County, Pennsylvania” by Harry E. Smith
            “Railroad Depot at Bath”  Photograph courtesy of Gerta Jean Griffin, Bath, Illinois
            Bennet O’Neale signature, Barren County Kentucky Census 1830

This page was researched and built by Bev Crowe and put on line 01/25/2002

Below are photos of Bennet's daughter Eliza O'Neale Huffman and her husband Henry Huffman.
These photos are owned and were sent to us by John H. Huffman, Sr.
They are from his book, 'Huffmans to the Barrens" which is currently out of print.