The Wooten Article

The Wooten article was found in the archives of The Montgomery County Historical Society at the Sween Library in Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland during a visit there in 2000 by John W. OI'Neal, II and Bev Crowe. The article was hand written on old yellowed, brittle paper. Included with the article was a typewritten transcription. We copied the transcription, brought it back with us and scanned in the text. The result is reproduced below..............

A paper was then read by Mr. Wooten, which he read as follows:

A request having come to our Secretary for any information in the possession of our members relative to the Neal family which once resided in Montgomery County. I have a few words to say concerning a branch of that connection, with which I was well acquainted, for I take it for granted that notwithstanding the various forms of the name, Neal, Neale, O'Neal and O'Neill, etc they are but variations of what was the original title of the clan.

About the close of the last war with Great Britian there lived in the western part of Montgomery County, Maryland in what was then called the Medley District, a good Catholic family by the name of O'Neal, consisting of one or more sisters, a brother, his wife and children. They owned lands and negroes, were hospitible and intelligent and were highly respected. The brother familiarly called Jack, was noted for his fondness for fun and sport. Such attempts at joking as the following were frequent with him. On one occasion he came home appearing to be greatly agitated and told the family he had committed murder. They were terribly shocked; some took to crying, others to praying. But he soon relieved their trouble by telling them he had only killed a toad.

Among the negroes owned by him was a boy or young man, named Jake, who was very active. He could turn on his hands and feet like a wheel, and perform many athletic tricks like those seen in a circus. At that time many of the people of Montgomery County were much given to sport, and gatherings for horse-racing, foot-racing, _________, cock fighting, and so on, were quite frequent. Jack O'Neal generally attended theses assemblies, and usually took with him his servant Jake to make fun and add to the frolic. On their return from one of these bouts, through some unknown reason, Jake struck his master and knocked him insensible frm his horse. The boy, beibg much frightened, hastened home and told his mother about it. She, thinking to smother the matter, advised him to go back and finish his master, upon the idea that "dead men tell no tales." But, murder, it is said, "will out." Jake was arrested, tried and convicted, and was hung at Rockville about the year 1816. His body was taken by the physician for dissection, and I myself, in my boyhood, saw his skeleton in the possession of Dr. Reuben Summers, then practising medicine in Rockville.Dr summers afterwards moved to Martinsburg, West virginia, where he practiced for some years and then died. The skeleton was probably taken there by him.

Mr. Jack O'Neal left three daughters, all of them intelligent, sprightly and pretty. My father attended the family as their physician. The(y) lived about fifteen or more miles from us, but they frequently visited my mother who was very fond of them. The eldest daughter married a highly respected young (man) named James Peter, a relative of Hon George Peter, now rsiding in Rockville. It was said that, in sport, she and Peter dressed up in rags and ran off to get married. He, however, did not live long after the wedding, and some years later she married again, this time to Col. John Leonard. When they came to Rockville to be made husband and wife, they found the priest absent, and so they were united by Rev. Joseph H. Jones, Baptist minister, who died in Frederick county during the war. He was father to Spence Jones, now treasurer of Maryland. During the ceremony she made so many funny remarks that the parson threatened to stop, if she did not decist from her merriment. The couple afterwards lived on a farm in Montgomery County.

These daughters of Mr. O'Neal often visited Washington. There, one of them married Mr. Cutts, a nephew of Mrs. President James Madison, and a great favorite of hers. Mrs Cutts is still living. She was the mother of Miss Adelaide Cutts, who married the well known statesman Hon. Spephen A. Douglas. Mrs Adelaide was said to be a woman of surpassing beauty, magnificient in presence, and of most captivating manner. After the death of Judge Douglas she married _______ Williams, who became Adjutant General of the Army. He, she and their children now reside in Washington.

The third daughter of Mr. O'Neal was Miss Rose, a celebrated belle and beauty and admiration of all who met her. In her visits to Washington she often indulged in her country pranks. On one occasion she was seen by the artist Greenhough who has been called the Father of American sculpture, who afterwards made the celebrated heroic statue of Washington which now stands on the capitol grounds. He was immediately entranced with her radiant charms and followed her, perfectly bewitched as in her sport she leaped over store boxes and other obstructions on the side walk. He at once sought her acquaintance, courted and married her.

All of these sisters were true and good women and I believe made affectionate and faithful wives.

After the death of Mr. Greenhough, his widow lived some years in Washington. But at the breaking out of war among the states. or, as our Northern friends are pleased to call it, the Rebellion, owing to her strong southern sympathies [The following is crossed out]
she went south. During the progress of hostilities it was reported that owing to her fascinating manners it was thought she might be of service to the cause in Europe. and so she took passage at Charleston for the old world. [End of crossed out words.]

She was arrested and confined as a prisoner in her own home on sixteenth street. Subsequently she was transferred to the Old Capitol (Prison) but eventually she was sent south.During the progress of hostilities, it was reported that owing to her fascinating manners, it was thought she might be of service to the Confederate cause in Europe, and so she took passage at Charleston for the old world. As the vessel in which she sailed was not immediately heard of, it was long supposed by some of the friends of Mrs. Greenhough that she had been lost. But later an account appeared in the newspapers of her having reached England, where she published a book called "My Imprisonment at Washington." This had an immense sale, insomuch that it brought her considerable money. subsequently she started on her return to America, and ran the blockade at wilmington. Whilst entering a boat which carried the passengers ashore, she slipped and fell into the water and was drowned, her progress to the bottom being accelerated by the gold she had on her person. After three days her body was recovered and given a magnificent funeral from the town house in Wilmington. So far, this story not credited by some. She left three daughters, who being pretty and sprightly, married early......

In my boyhood there were several other families of neals or O'Neals in Montgomery. At one time a William O'Neal sheriff of the county. But they have passed away and I must leave the chronicle of their genealogy to other investigators.