A Biography of John Ellsworth O'Neal


John was born February 05, 1843 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.   He married Elizabeth Pennell on April 17, 1867 in Clearville, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  She was born March 05, 1843 in Bedford County, Pa., and died 1908 in Artesian, South Dakota.

John was a soldier in the Civil War, belonging to Company D, 138th Regiment, of the Pennsylvania Volunteers. He enlisted August 17th, 1862 and was promoted to Corporal June 30th, 1864. John was discharged with his unit on June 23rd, 1865.

John moved to Pasadena, California after the War, where he died in October 1924.

 The following account appeared in the COMPENDIUM OF BIOGRAPHY,  by Olgie, 1896,, Miner County, South Dakota:

J.E. O'Neal, a progressive and up-to-date farmer of Miner County, whose home is in section 30, Clinton Township, is a native of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, born February 5th, 1843,, a son of William and Ary (Robinson) O'Neal, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter a native of Vermont. The parents lived and died in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Mr. O'Neal was reared on a farm in Bedford County and educated in the district schools there. August 17, 1862 he enlisted in Company D, One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and was first sent to Relay House near Baltimore. In June (1863) he went to Harper's Ferry and joined the Army of the Potomac, under General Mead and took part in the following engagements: Snicker's Gap, Grande Station, Cedar Grove, Mine Run, Brisker Station, Cedar Mountain, Rappahannock Station, battle of the Wilderness under Grant, *Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, the Siege of Petersburg and tearing up of the railroad at Reems Station.

Pearl O'Neal said that at St. Petersburg, Va. Near Richmond, Grandpa O'Neal tunneled under the Confederate lines because they couldn't break through the confederate lines. The opening to the tunnel is still there. Union Soldiers blew up lines. Confederate reorganized and it didn't accomplish the purpose. John O'Neal lied about his age to get into the Army.

The Army was then sent to the Shenandoah Valley by the way of Baltimore, from there to Battle of Monocacy Junction and to Washington, District of Columbia. He then participated in Sheridan's Raid in the Shenandoah Valley, the battle of Opagan Creek, Winchester, Fisher Hill, Harrisburg, Cedar Creek and then returned to Petersburg and spent the winter in Fort Ducham.
The following year came to Siege of Richmond, Appomattox and the surrender of Lee's Army; after which our subject marched with the command to Columbia and participated in the Grand Review and then encamped at Washington until June 23, 1865. *During the war Mr. O'Neal received several slight wounds, but never missed a battle in which his regiment participated.

After the close of hostilities, Mr. O'Neal returned to Pennsylvania and was there engaged in farming for one year and then moved to Clearville where he was engaged at tanning until 1876. His next move was to Marshall County, Iowa where he operated a meat market two years. After discontinuing this business he was employed by the railroad company as bridge carpenter until 1882 and then moved to Miner County, S.D., filed a homestead claim to the farm which is still his home and there worked for a time for the Northwestern Railroad company as a carpenter. He began the improvement of his farm by building a house 14 x 16 feet and although he did some breaking in 1882, his first crop was in 1883.

One hundred acres of the farm is now under cultivation, the little shanty has given place to a omfortable and commodious residence, and a neat set of buildings has been added to the improvement of the place, and Mr. O'Neal is considered one of the substantial farmers of the township. Since 1894, he has made a specialty of fine stock and now has nine full-blooded
Herefords and 50 head of grades. At a late sale of twenty-seven head of cattle consisting of five Hereford yearlings, two Durham yearlings and twenty Durham grades two years old. Mr. O'Neal realized nine hundred dollars.

*Military Records confirm that John was wounded slightly in the arm at Spottsylvania Court House, VA, on July 12th, 1864.

From a submission to the Pioneer Library in Bedford County, Pa; by Dorothy O'Neal Grim on September 28, 1987.