A Biography of Peter O'Neal

Peter Peter O'Neal was born in 1754, in  Saint Mary's, Frederick County, Maryland to John O'Neale and Margaret Barton. Peter moved his family from Maryland to Pennsylvania where he married Sarah Sparks and they raised seven children, namely, John, Chloe, Jodeph, James, Solomon, william, Mary and Margaret. We'll probably never know why, but this is where the
ending e was dropped from O'Neale. All of Peter's descendants were henceforth known as O'Neal.

Some of the O'Neale's who remained in Maryland carried the e for another generation or two before dropping it.

Kenneth O'Neal wrote an excellent biography of Peter,  which is reprinted with permission below.

September 2, 1776 Peter was living in Fredrick Co. Maryland on Sugar Land Hundred Plantation.

Peter and three of his brothers left Southern Maryland at the time of the Revolutionary War. They were born in St. Mary's Co. 1749-1766. The family moved to'' Sugar Land Hundred '' west of present day Rockville, MD.

Peter went to Bedford Co. PA about 1779 where he is listed in a Return of Property for Colerain Twp. as a '' single freeman'' and a "single freeman in Providence Twp. in 1783. He paid One pound , 18 shillings '' Federal Supply Tax on his 200 acres, one horse and two sheep.

He is listed in the census of 1784 as a single freeman in Providence Twp. He is listed as a Warrantee of Land in Bedford Co. called 'Hibernia' in 1786, 1793, 1813.

He probably followed or traveled with the Sparks and McDaniels families, who were also from Fredrick County, Maryland. Sarah Sparks (his future wife) possibly traveled with her brothers, Solomon, James, and Joseph Sparks, who were all in Bedford Co. during the Revolutionary War and were soldiers.

Tax records for 1796 Bedford Co. show Peter owned 650 acres of land in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Peter and family show on census records for Bedford County For the years 1790, 1800, 1810. Peter was the first O'Neal of OUR ancestors to live in Pennsylvania.

His name is found spelled as follows, Peter Neel, Peter Neil, Peter Neal, Peter O'Neal From 1810 he is found as Peter O'Neal.

He received pay for service in the Pennsylvania Continental Line Co. PA. in the Revolutionary War as Pvt. Peter O'Neil PA Archives PA. 5 S V 4 P 247. He is listed on DAR list as Peter O'Neal

Peter was also a member of The Frontier Rangers, a group who fought Indians and recovered captives from the Indians. Peter apparently lived a very active life.

His will was probated May 10, 1832. Peter is buried in a family cemetery on a farm near Clearville, Bedford Co. PA , which was his first homestead.

On July 25,1998 a marker from the Veterans Administration for his service in The Revolutionary War was dedicated by his descendents, at the O'Neal reunion at his grave site.

Information on Peter also from '' The O'Neals of Bedford Co.'' by Harry E. Smith, Genealogy report by William Robert O'Neal, and census and courthouse records found in Bedford Co., and Peters Will Bedford Co Courthouse, Book # 3 page # 20.

This information from Barbara Haney of Florida. Barbara Haney E-mail Address: balamberthaney@earthlink.net
Pvt in Cpt Enslow's Militia Co. in 1781 during Am Rev War, Montgomery Co. 8th Co. Maryland Militia

On Theresa Diehl's DAR application: Soldiers of the Revolution who received pay for service taken from manuscript having neither date or title but under "Rangers of Frontiers, 1778-1783" , Peter Neil Penna Arch 5 Series Vol 4 Page 597 & 611. Put in Ensign Thomas McGaugheys Co., Bedford Co. Militia (Penna)

4/29/1783: Joseph Chapman of Colerain Twp. sells to Peter of Providence Twp. 100 acres on the head waters of Brush Creek for Five Pounds lawful money.

Above by Kenneth O'Neal, Internet Addy: kon@hhs.net

Peter died October 05, 1832, in Clearville, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

I found the following article which makes for interesting reading. It's from the letters of George Washington.  I'm not sure if this is our Peter mentioned in the missive below. The letter is dated 1777. That would make our Peter about 23 years old at the time it was written. Peter did not get married until 1785 at the age of 31, so it could very well be.

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--Vol. 08
Head-Quarters, Middle-Brook, June 7, 1777. Parole Tacenton. Countersigns Truro, Tunbridge.

As the army is now on a permanent and honorable footing, and as the General has the credit of it very much at heart--He expects that every officer, on whom the importance of the contest, and a regard to his own honor, or duty are sufficiently impressed will lend their aid to support the character of it--To this end, nothing can be more effectual, than a close attention to discipline and subordination; and particularly in an exact obedience to all General orders; which is the life of an

Officers should consider that a repetition of orders, is the highest reflection upon those who are the cause of it--An orderly book is a record in the hands of thousands, of the transactions of an army; and consequently of the disgrace of those, whose insensibility to the obligations they are under, and whose want of a manly emulation of temper, OBLIGE the Commander in Chief to publish their misconduct, by repeating his calls upon them to discharge their duty.

The General appeals to the understanding of every officer; and earnestly recommends a serious consideration of these matters--Their engagements with the public;--their own honor--and the salvation of their country demand it.--The General wishes it on these accounts, and for his own ease and satisfaction; for as nothing is more easy than to conduct an army, where a chearful and ready obedience is paid to every order; so nothing is more difficult and embarrassing, where a careless, licentious and disorderly spirit prevails. Thus much is said to lead Gentlemen into a proper train of thinking on the subject, and to engage their judgment and feelings on the side of their duty; but it is at the same time necessary to subjoin, that a punishment and disgrace will attend those, who will not be influenced by more honorable means.

Captains should make a point of seeing that every order affecting their companies is complied with--Colonels should do the same in their regiments--Brigadiers in their brigades, and Major Generals in their divisions. No officer should implicitly trust to another, but each perform his own part, and see that those under him do theirs. This being the case, every thing would go on
smoothly and well; but while the contrary is practiced, and every officer is glad to throw the irksome drudgery of obedience, upon his inferior, nothing but disorder and ruin can ensue.

No officer to be absent from camp, without a furlough from his Brigadier, nor in that case, for more than ten days, at a time--The Adjutant General will furnish each Brigadier applying, with printed furloughs for the purpose, which alone are to be made use of.  Deserters to be immediately sent to the Major General of the day--The person conducting them, not to permit them to stop any where, to answer any questions, that shall be made them.

The Commander in Chief approves the following sentences of a Court Martial, held the 4th. Instant; and orders their immediate execution.

Lieut. Shannon9 of the 1st. Virginia regiment tried for "Putting the Pay-Master of said regiment in the guard-house."

[Note 9: Lieut. William Shannon. He resigned in July, 1777.] Sentence to ask pardon in the presence of the officers of his regiment.

Andrew Spalding of Col Patton's regt. for "Disobedience of orders, and threatening to shoot an officer"--sentenced to receive 100 lashes.

Peter O'Neal, Corporal in the 7th. Pennsylvania, for "Having threatened to desert"--to receive 50 lashes.

As far as receiving 50 lashes for  "Having threatened to desert" it must be noted that this was a particularly trying time. The French and English were trying to take control of North America, Indian uprisings were not uncommon and the army was not exactly what we think of today as an army. There was no such thing as boot camp, where an enlistee would go and learn the art of being a soldier. Volunteers pretty much just showed up, were sworn in, given some basic equipment and training and sent out into the wilderness to do battle.
Also, 50 lashes seemed to be a quite common form of punishment in those days. It was common to see people receiving this punishment for a whole host of sins, such as adultery, swearing an oath, swearing an oath and taking the Lord's name in vain, owing money and not paying it, but to name a few."

The Will of Peter O'Neal
Peter O'Neal Providence twp 1832     Posted by Scott Troutman <smtroutman@home.com> on
Tue, 25 Jul 2000. Will Book 3, Page 20 Bedford Courthouse

In the name of God, I PETER O'NEAL of Providence township, Bedford County, being sound in mind, memory and understand do make and  publish this my last will & testament as follows -

I desire after by decease all my just debts to be paid and my body desently[sic] buried -
and my wife Sarah should she survive me to have all my Estate, both real and personal during her natural life -
and after the decease of myself and my wife Sarah I give all my real Estate and personal Estate to be equally devided amongst all my children, except SOLOMON O'NEAL, my son. I give him nothing, as he has been otherwise provided for.
And my son JOSEPH O'NEAL, I give him an equal share with the rest of my children of the tract of land I live on and my personal estate, but any of my other lands I give him no part.
I give my two sons DAVID and SAMUEL O'NEAL  fifty dollars more than any of my other children (each one of them) as they have continued to live with me.
I desire my Executors hereafter mentioned to sell all my Real Estate to the best advantage and as soon as convenient after myself and my wife's decease, and convey the same in fee simple -
As I have sold a tract of land to my son WILLIAM if I should die before I convey the same to him, I hereby empower my Executors to convey the same to him agreeable to the agreement between us.
I appoint my two sons JOHN and JAMES O'NEAL executors of this my last will and testament to carry the same in effect. Witness my hand and seal
the 11th day of April 1832.

Witness Sealed & Delivery in hands of Charles Ashcom Peter O Neal(e?)
William Barton
Probate: Charles Ashcom and William Barton appeared 10/5/1832
Inventory taken by Joseph Sparks and David Fletcher 11/3/1832