TOGA - X - 2002

The O'Neal Genealogy Association Expedition 2002,
Day Two, The James O'Neal Cemetery Dedication

On day two of TOGA-X we got up bright & early and departed Connellsville for Bedford, Pennsylvania. Our first stop of the morning was at Denny's Restaurant where we met other TOGA Members and researchers. Among them was Harriet Clapper, from Florida, Glenn Nave from Maryland, and Bob Rose, who drove his camper in all the way from Washington State to attend the activities over the weekend. After breakfast we toward Everett to attend the James O'Neal Cemetery Dedication Ceremony.

It was a perfectly beautiful day for a drive and we soon arrived at the site. We parked our vehicles along the road and trekked back through some brush, across a tree line and out into the center of a large field. Being recently planted, the stones and the fence were visible from quite a ways off. As we crossed the field, the first thing to catch your eye is the glass chips Ken spread around the site to keep the woodchucks at bay. The sunlight caught them and they glistened like myriad little jewels spread around the site. It was quite spectacular to see.

Below is a transcript of the ceremony Ken gave...............

     We are gathered here today to dedicate the James O'Neal Cemetery. This cemetery was found in september of 2001. We (TOGA Members) decided to fix it up and make it look like a cemetery once again. If you remember last year when the site was found the weeds were all grown up covering the stones.  Groundhog holes had caused some of the stones to tip, and some to break. As you can see here today it once again looks like a cemetery.
     I'd like to share some information on James O'Neal and his family. James was the son of our Great-Great Grandparents, Peter O'Neale and Sarah Sparks O'Neale..At one time this land was probably owned by Peter. As his sons married he would give them a hundred acres of property as a wedding gift. Being that James is buried here, there's no doubt in my mind that his homestead was located near here and that his family lived on this property.
     James was born December 04, 1791, in Providence Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania and died there on October 20, 1869. He married Catherine Snively in 1824. she was born May 09, 1792, in Washington County, Maryland and died in Providence Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania on May 12, 1848. This information was taken from their stones, which were found here.

When we first started working on the cemetery we found Catherine's stone and assumed the unreadable stone probably belonged to James, since there wasn't a stone here for him. During the process of digging holes for the fence posts I hit something hard and dug it out. I dug up two pieces of James' stone. I fit the two pieces back together as best I could and set it back in place.

The children of James & Catherine include Henry, born about 1824, Rebecca, born about 1824 and died in 1870, Samuel, born about 1825 and married Priscilla Roberson, and died about 1850. Samuel was found living in Providence Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania in the 1850 Census and his occupation was listed as shoemaker. Sarah O'Neal was born about 1828 and died after 1871. We're assuming the unreadable stone on the far side of the cemetery may be Sarah's stone, seeing as two of the other children are also buried here.

Elizabeth's stone is here on the corner. she died January 02, 1907 and according to her stone was 70 years, 3 months and 16 days old when she died. The next stone belongs to John Harvey O'Neal. He was born November 06, 1837,  and died October 03, 1917. He was listen in the 1850 census as living in West Providence Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania and in 1870 in bloody run, which is now known as Everett. His occupation was listed as a Farmer.

As for the cemetery we hope to keep it in good shape in the years to come and support it so that future generations can come here and see where their ancestors lived and died. We'd like to thank the TOGA Members who contributed to this project. One of the contributors, Marjorie England Gromme, a direct descendant of James lives in california and was not able to make it here to the cemetery. But without the generous donations of persons like her, it would have been impossible to to accomplish what we did here.

Kenneth O'Neal, James O'Neal Cemetery Project Coordinator, July 27th, 2002

One last time I must thank EVERYBODY who contributed and got involved in this worthwhile project. Thanks to your contributions and Cousin Ken's contributions,  work, sweat and blood we have assured that our descendants will have a cemetery they can visit for many years to come. I was never prouder to be a TOGA Member than while standing there at The James O'Neal Cemetery, knowing that without our intervention, our ancestors resting there would have been lost to us forever. Thank you all.

The O'Neal Genealogy Association Expedition 2002,
Day Two, The Sweet Root Inn

     After the dedication ceremony we decided to do the Bedford County Tour. Kenneth O'Neal graciously volunteered to lead us around, and off we went. We visited Cleareville, Everett, Chaneyville and most likely visited a few towns that never had the honor of making it onto a map. We found lots of new headstones in various cemeteries, took photos and will begin cataloging and posting them on the web site as time permits.
     Probably the most unexpected find of the 2002 TOGA-Xpedition was what we unearthed at the Sweet Root Inn in Chaneyville. Family History says that Bernard O'Neal built a Hotel in Chaneyville. (See Endnote.) We've known about this hotel for some time now, but have never had the time to investigate further. As we approached the old hotel we noticed that there was a family living in it and they were having a yard sale. Never one to be bashful I jumped out of my truck and walked up to the lady of the house and explained to her the purpose of the convoy of vehicles that had just pulled into her driveway. I explained that we were members of the O'Neal Genealogy Association and we were on expedition and searching out the haunts of our ancestors. I told her that my Great x 3 Grandfather's Brother had built this hotel in 1850 and asked if she would mind, since we had traveled so far, if we took a couple of photos. She replied that if it was her ancestors house she would not be happy to just take a couple of pictures, that she'd want to look inside, too. And then she asked if we'd like to come inside and look around. I thanked her and I could barely contain my excitement as I rushed back to the driveway to tell the others the good news. We all began grabbing our gear up and proceeding into the cabin. None of us were prepared, however, for the treat that lay inside.
     The original "Bar Room" of the Inn was still intact with a large oak bar spanning almost the entire length of the Bar Room. The Bar Room itself was incredible. It had to be a commodious 20 x 20 ft. square. (I still haven't figured out how they got such a large room into such a small cabin.) But the real treat, what astonished us most of all were the photos. Almost every inch of wall space in the Bar Room was filled with old photos. There were photos of old Chaneyville residents, homes, maps,
you name it. We found a photo of Edward O'Neal's old household. It's gone now, but the family gave us directions to the site and told us that Edward's barn was still standing. By this time the residents had to think we were crazy. We were running around, babbling with excitement like little kids in a candy store, and all the while snapping photos like there was no tomorrow. .
     After finishing inside we went back to the front porch and talked with the residents awhile and played with their "ferocious" beagle puppy before departing on to our next adventure. We visited more cemeteries in the area and then decided to call it a night. We headed back to Bedford. Tomorrow was the big day. The Peter O'Neal Reunion at the Old Frame Church.

*Note: We've always thought that Bernard built the Hotel in 1850. The current residents had done research on the deed and told us that the original cabin was built in 1838 by Thomas Chaney.. Bernard O'Neal then purchased the building from him in 1850 and added the Hotel or Inn portion of the structure.