On Saturday October 7th, 2000 Dorothy & I drove to Connellsville, Pa. to meet with Cousin Kenneth O'Neal. Ken had offered to take us around and show us the cemeteries where our mutual ancestors are buried in the Connellsville area. To our surprise Ken had also invited Norman Good and his wife Betty Jean O'Neal Good and their daughter Susan Good Seese along. I first met Susan Seese on the internet and we traded information. I was excited about the meeting because we are relatively close cousins. This was the first time I have ever acxtually met a 2nd cousin through the internet. A lot of the cousins I meet on the internet are so far removed as to barely even say we're related. Susan's Grandfather was my Grandfathers brother.
My Grandparents lived with us from the earliest times I can remember until they died. We were very close but my Grandfather never talked much about his family, so I was quite anxious to meet Betty Jean and learn anything she might want to share. We all met at 10:00am in a restaurant in Connellsville and had breakfast. Everything went great. Betty Jean and Norman and Susan were all very personable and soon we were carrying on like we had known each other all our lives.
From there we formed a small caravan and followed Ken around the beautiful Pa countryside to various cemeteries and to Emanuel O'Neals' old homestead. The articles below will allow you to share the experience through photographs. Hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did.....
The Emanuel O'Neal Homestead, a Journey Back in Time to 1894.
The trip to the Emanuel O'Neal Homestead was undoubtedly the highlight of our weekend excursion. We drove to South Connellsville and began our journey down a 3.5 mile long dirt & crushed rock township road. As we drove up the mountainside we could almost feel civilization slipping away behind us.
The natural beauty of the Pa hills in October was breathtaking. The trees were starting to change colors but there was enough green left to set off the colors in fabulous contrast. The road was rough with some nice ruts and pools and bumps, but smooth enough that Ken was able to navigate it in his car. (I have a 4x4 pickup, so if it had been rougher, I'd have been ecstatic!) The 3.5 mile trip took about a half hour and by the time we arrived it felt like we had driven to the deepest part of the wilderness possible.
We parked along the side of the road and walked up a slight rise about 50 yards from the road. It was about 55 degrees with partly cloudy skies, making for a wonderful afternoon. The first sign of habitation was an old single fence post. What appeared to have once been the entranceway to the property was now an active deer trail. Our footprints mingled with those of the deer as we climbed the slight incline to what was once Emanuel's yard.
There in a clearing lay the remains of the foundation. The area where the house once stood was filled with small saplings and shrubs and weeds. Most notable, however was a piece of the foundation that protruded about two feet out of the ground and was about 3 feet long. If my bearings are correct, this was the Eastern foundation wall where it would have connected to the Northern wall.
We all stood around the foundation, taking pictures and chatting. I couldn't help looking around and wondering what it might have been like back then in 1894. I could almost see the cabin, about 15 x 20 in size, lazy smoke rising up out of the stone chimney. Thoughts of a huge set of antlers hanging over the doorframe came to mind. As I looked around, I imagined small children running around the cabin. Young girls in long flowing white dresses and young boys in knickers, tousled hair and dirty faces with huge boyish smiles came to mind. It was very serene and peaceful. My reverie was interrupted by a calling turkey off in the distance.
We milled around a little longer and then Ken took us down to the Spring
House. I've always thought of myself as a country boy, but I must admit,
I had no clue what a spring house was. We walked down a slight incline
between some trees, around a bend and there it was.
I was amazed.
There was a small cliff about 8 feet tall. In the cliff there was a small area about 3 feet wide with a bare rock face. Running out of the rock was a steady stream of water. Around this was a rock enclosure that at one time would have resembled a well. The largest rock was about 1 foot wide by 1 foot tall by about 3 feet long. It must have weighed at least a couple of hundred pounds and was cut to shape to fit the rock face of the cliff. Emanating from that point were a series of rocks that formed a circle, making the well like structure.
As we were exploring around the base of the spring house, Dorothy climbed
up the hillside, around some trees and reappeared on a flat area above
the spring house. You couldn't miss the excitement in her voice, when she
called out, "Oh, WOW, look what I found!"
In unison we all looked up to see her standing there with a large piece of a broken pottery vase in her hand. She lay the piece on the top of the spring house and began digging around in the leaves and twigs on the ground, looking for more. Meanwhile I reached up and got the piece and dipped it into the water to clean off the mud & dirt adhering to it. We all passed the piece around, wondering if piece of glazed earth was ever held in the hands of our common ancestors.
As Dorothy found more pieces of pottery in the dirt, I would wipe them off, hand them down, and Susan and Norman and Ken began to piece them together. After all was said and done, we found about 40 pieces, from about 7 different pieces of pottery. One in particular held some writing. After some debate we finally agreed that the writing probably said Parkersburg, W.V. The only real disappointment of the day was the fact that we could not assemble a complete vase or pot.
As we started working our way back to our vehicles, somebody spotted an old chamber pot lying in the brush. I climbed down the hillside and retrieved it. The bottom was completely rusted away and there were numerous holes throughout. It looks like someone in recent times had used it for target practice. It was a porcelain pot and most of the porcelain was gone. I decided to rescue it from oblivion. I'm going to spray it with a clear lacquer and plant hens & chickens in the little holes. When completed, I'll post a photo.