A Biography of Barton O'Neal

Barton O'Neale, American Patriot, Ohio Resident

It was a frigid winter day in February of 17581 when Barton O'Neale was born in Montgomery County, Maryland to a gentleman farmer and his wife. Barton was the seventh child of 11 children born to John and Margaret Barton O'Neale2, 3. Surrounded by such a large family he must have led an idyllic childhood on the O'Neale Manor, but as he grew to adulthood he would have to face some hard times indeed.

When he reached 18 years of age it was 1776 and Barton's world was being torn asunder by political strife and the War of the Rebellion was in full swing. Barton was among the legions of our American kindred who bravely responded to their country's call to arms. He took the Oath of Fidelity and Support4 and shortly afterward left the security of his comfortable country manor to join the Revolutionary Army. He served as a Private in the Montgomery County, Maryland Militia, 1st Company under Colonel Zadock McGruder, in his upper Battalion5.

After being mustered out, Barton took a job with the Forbs Company, who built the Forbs Road to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania6. Barton then returned one last time to Maryland. In 1785 his father died7, and a few months later, on January 09, 1786 he took a wife, Mary Dyson8, and they began a family. This was surely a bittersweet time for Barton and Mary. Then in 1801 Mary's father, Samuel Dyson died, leaving them his 186 acre estate and plantation. What a shock it must have been to the family when Barton and Mary sold the Dyson estate, gathered up their children, and set out for locations unknown.

And we'll never truly appreciate in this modern day and age, the discomforts and hardships they must have endured on their perilous journey. Vigilance was required, for hostile Indians still roamed the Ohio Territory during this time and must be constantly scouted for, lest an ambush abruptly cut short their journey, and alas, their lives.

Then there was the danger of the wilderness herself, fraught with perils sometimes subtle, sometimes glaringly menacing. Crossing mountain passes and fording torrential rivers were obstacles they surely faced and apparently overcame.

We'll probably never know what scenic vista caused Barton and Mary and their children to pull up their reigns and unload their wagons in Colrain Township in Ross County, Ohio. But stop there they did and Barton settled into this untamed territory with his bride to continue raising their family, which upon completion amounted to a total of seven sons and four daughters. This pioneer spirit must have been passed on to some of his children, for they, like so many of their time, upon reaching adulthood, continued the westward migration.  Some of his children, however, could not bear to abandon the lush fertile farmlands of the Ohio Valley and reside there yet today.

Barton fared well and his family prospered in the newly formed state of Ohio. He was noted as the first Blacksmith and Carpenter in Colerain Township9.  In addition he did quite well at land speculation. Land records show Barton purchasing and subsequently selling over 400 acres in and around Ross County10.

Barton lived 72 years, 7 months and 18 days and departed this ethereal plane on October 10, 1838. His beloved wife Mary followed him in short order in 1839.  They are resting together today and for eternity in the Old Methodist Cemetery in Adelphi, Ross County, Ohio, where their marble stones, although faded with the passage of time remain today, reminding us of their, and indeed our proud heritage in Ohio11.

Barton's grandson, Barton O'Neal, was born Jan. 5, 1827, in Ross County, Ohio, and is a son of Samuel and Martha Cowgill O'Neal, both natives of Ross County, where they grew up to maturity and married in 1851, then moved to Hardin Co., Ohio.
 Our subject is the second of a family of eight children; he was raised to farm life, and in 1846, married Miss Elizabeth Moots. In 1852, they located in West Liberty, Logan Co., Ohio, and December, 1861, in Urbana, where Mrs. O'Neal died in 1863. She was a native of Ross Co., Ohio, and left five children and a husband; the latter married Emma E. Strayer, a native of Logan Co., Ohio.
After settling in Urbuna, he was engaged in saw-milling and lumber dealing until 1867, when he purchased a mill, and since has had a pecuniary interest in the business. In March, 1877, he sold his mill and formed the partnership of Sayman, Colwell & O'Neal, which association conducted business until the death of Mr. Sayman, Sept. 23, 1879, since which the firm has been as already indicated. Mention is made of this firm in the sketch of C. F. Colwell, in this history. 12

The only photographic evidence of this family is an old photo of Barton and Mary's Grandson Eleazer and his wife, Margaret Jones O'Neal. The original is in the possession of Larry Duane O'Neal.

1 Tombstone Inscription
2 Census of Sugar Land Hundred, Frederick County, (now Montgomery Co.)  Maryland, September 2, 1776
3 Marriage License of Fredrick Co. 1778-1810 by Margret E. Myers Family Line Publications page 111.
4 Montgomery County, Maryland 1778 per returns of Edward Burgess, Revolutionary Records', Brumbaugh and Hodges, pp.4,6.
5 Revolutionary Records, unpublished, p. 133, No. 4 of Margaret R. Hodges, DAR Library
6 Mary McFarlane, a direct descendant from her Family files.
7 The Will of John O’Neal, Montgomery County, Maryland, Liber B, Folio 201, 247, Liber D, Folio 324, 325. Will dated April 1, 1785, probated April 3, 1785.
8 Marriage License of Fredrick Co. 1778-1810 by Margret E. Myers Family Line Publications page 111.
9 Pioneer Record of Ross County Ohio, I. Finley & R. Putman, Robert Clark Co. , p.1019 Cincinnati, OH
10 From the research of Betti Moore, a direct descendant.
11 Electronic: Ross County Web Page, http://www.Scioto.Org/Ross/cemeteries/oldmethodistcem-adelphi.html, OLD METHODIST CEMETERY   Row 6.Note: Inscriptions difficult to read.
12 The History of Champaign County, Ohio, 1881, Page 685, sent to the Author by Beverly Crowe, 4/1/2001

Children of BARTON O'NEALE and MARY DYSON are:
 i. ANN5 O'NEAL, b. May 12, 1788, Maryland; m. ZADOCK DAWSON, August 11, 1805, Colerain Twp. Ross Co., Oh.
ii. CHARLOTTE O'NEAL2, b. September 06, 1790, Frederick Co., Maryland; d. May 06, 1856, Kendall County, Illinois; m. ABRAHAM HALDERMAN3,4, January 13, 1807, Ross County, Ohio4; b. February 08, 1781, Chester County, Pennsylvania5,6; d. May 08, 1861, Kendall County, Illinois7,8. iii. BARTON O'NEAL, b. Abt. 1791.
 iv. JUDA O'NEAL, b. Abt. 1792; m. JAMES RUSSEL, August 09, 1814, Ross County, OH.
 v. THOMAS O'NEAL, b. Abt. 1793; m. SUSAN CLASSPILE, October 23, 1816, Ross County, Ohio.
 vi. CHARLES O'NEAL, b. Abt. 1794; m. ELEANOR CLOSE, January 07, 1817.
 vii. FELLIX O'NEAL, b. Abt. 1795; m. CATHERINE THOMAS, April 19, 1818, Ross County, Ohio.
 viii. JOHN O'NEAL, b. Abt. 1796; m. NANCY ABERNATHY, August 04, 1818, Ross County, Ohio.
 ix. MARY O'NEAL, b. Abt. 1797; m. LANDY SHOOTZ, January 27, 1820, Ross County, Ohio.
 x. SARAH O'NEAL, b. Abt. 1798; m. JOSEPH ANDERSON, May 04, 1820, Ross County, Ohio.
 xi. SAMUEL O'NEAL9, b. May 13, 1798, Virginia; d. September 04, 1865, McLean County, Il.; m. MARTHA COWGILL9, October 20, 1823, Ross County, Ohio; b. February 10, 1799, Ohio; d. October 08, 1861, McLean County, Il..


The only surviving written record from this era that we have been able to locate as of this writing is a letter from Barton's nephew, Bennet O'Neale.  Written in 1859, the letter provides a glimpse into the migration of members of the O'Neal family from Maryland to Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio.

What follows is a reproduction of that letter. I have tried to ensure all grammar, spelling, etc. was reproduced exactly as it appeared in Bennet's original letter.

Edmunton, Barren County, Kentucky       May 9, 1859

Dear nephew,

I received your letter of March the 3 it gives me much pleasure to hear from you once more and to learn where you are living for its bin a good many years since I heard from any of the relations. I am still living in Edmunton, Barren Co; Kentucky. my family consists of myself and one daughter about 18 years of age, she has bin sickly many years and never would marry. I must let you know about my last 5 years my house burnt down and nearly every thing I had, I have bought an old house weather boarded it and sealed it which makes  it quite comfortable, we are both tolerable well at the present we both are afflicted with what is called asthma. I have had of it off and on about 12 years I am better at this time than I have bin in this 12 years. There have been a great deal of sickeneys last fall and winter and many deaths. I made 22 coffins beside what other made corn dried muffins are remarkable scarce. Corn sells at 3 dollars per barrel wheat from 75 to 1 dollar per bushel flour 5 dollars per barrel money is verry scarce. I feel thankful under all my tryals and difficulties I have plenty to live on I owe about 30 dollars toward my house yet when I get paid I shall feal like a free man.
You wanted to know some things about our family I will give you the best information I can. My Father's name was John he was born in St. Marys County Maryland the 9th day of Oct. 1749. his father's name was John and I think from Ireland, my father came from Maryland to Culpepper County Virginia, where he lived and died, he had three brothers Barton, Peter & Joseph. Barton and Peter moved from Maryland to Bedford County Pennsylvania Joseph moved to what was call green brier Virginia.

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my father had six sisters I have seen two of them, but can't tell any thing about them and from history you may see the same name they were once some of the leading men of Ireland this is as far as I can give. My Mother's name was Rachael Wood her foreparents is from Wales, England. so you may see we are mixed up of Irish and Welch, and my Mother was born in St. Marys County Maryland the 14th day of February 1752 and married to my father 16th day of February 1781, my Mother died when I was a boy my father died before I was grown, my father married the second time had three sons and three daughters they all moved to the Ohio state the last account I had from them which is about 12 years past three of them were dead.

I will now come to my own Brothers and Sisters my oldest Brother's name was Jonithan Born the 28th day of Sept, 1782 then comes my self Born the 20th day of February 1784, next comes my Brother Daniel, Born the 6th day of March 1785 then comes your Father John Born the 6th day of October 1786 then comes my dear Sister Susannah Born the 6th day of January 1788, my oldest Brother Youngest Brother & Sister are dead my Brother Daniel a few months past was still living in Virginia.
So you see from these dates how old we are this is as good history as I can give you and I believe to be correct if you want to know of any particulars write to me. My parents were protestans in belief if any of my foreparents were Catholic I don't know it. I am what is called Cumberland Presbyterian I belong to that Denomination. religion is rather cold here at this time.......good deal of preaching by Several Different Denominations but for several years speculation and politics run so high that religion the one thing so important has bin neglected to the ruining of many poor souls.

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I have a shop and work some at the Cabinate busynys. I can make plenty to live on as yet we have a Steam Saw mill and two pares of Burs Stones to grind Wheat and Corn joining our little village we have 2 stores 2 blacksmith shops one saddle shop one daughery & 2 Doctors, one good Meating house where we have gathered to preaching and we have had abundent of rain this winter and spring farmers is rather backward in planting corn. A grate many people are getting the Texis fever and are making preperations to move in the fall. Some of my relations I expect will go. I will let you know when. Harvey lives in Bath Mason County, Ill. on the Illinois River he is a doctor of medistion & a manager of a rail road runing through his county it seems he is rather a noted man. So you may know where to send a letter to him, when you get this letter I want you to answer it and let us try to keep up a correspondence with each other. You must excuse my bad writing my middle finger has bin broke and is a little stiff to guide a pen or move.

Give my respects to your family, with respect I remain yours//till death
Bennet O'Neal
Source: This letter was found in a booklet titled "The O'Neals of Bedford Co., Pennsylvania" by Harry E. Smith. The book resides in the Bedford County Historical Society Library in Bedford, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

John W. O'Neal, II
The O'Neal Genealogy Association


1. Beverly Crowe
2. Larry Duane O'Neal
3. Mary Macfarlane
4. Betti Moore
5. John W. O'Neal, II