The Old O'Neal Homestead

A Log Cabin, Carved in the Wilderness
Home of George O'Neal and Betsy Singleton
near Nealton, Kentucky~ A special thank you to Anne O'Neal for furnishing the history of this
branch of the O'Neall family and for these beautiful photographs!
If you connect with Anne O'Neal please write to her at:

Pictures of the Old O'Neal homestead

George O'Neal was born in colonial times, the eighth child of Hugh and Anne Cox O'Neall, originally of Delaware. His father Hugh had died before he was born and his mother died when he was a child, when he was fourteen he apprenticed as a shoemaker, and he ran away and joined the army, during the American Revolution, fighting in battles including Pennington, Stillwater, Valley Forge, and Yorktown. He was one of 100 men detailed and sent forward to draw on the fight at Brandywine, serving honorably and never suffering a wound.

After the war, he came to Kentucky and lived in the fort at Bryan Station, where he met and married the daughter of Col. Manoah Singleton, Elizabeth Betsy Singleton on February 15, 1785.

They lived in the fort to be safe from the Indians and must of suffered, as Elizabeth's father was bitterly opposed to the marriage. They moved to what is now Parks Lane off Harrodburk Pike, 5 miles south of South Elkhorn, in Jessamine Co., Nealton, KY. He built the log cabin pictured here, and they made their life and family. Elizabeth would take her baby and sit in a hemp or fodder shack with a loaded gun to watch for the Indians while her menfolks broke out the hemp, she was just 12 years old when the Bryan Station Siege had occured and she was the only one who could blow the conch shell, which came into the possession of Mamie O'Neal who donated it to the Craig Museum in Paris, Kentucky. When Elizabeth's baby was six weeks old she rode on horseback, alone, to Lexington, to buy the locks and hinges for her new house. Their home adjoined the farm of Manoah Singleton and his wife Sarah Sallie Craig, and was acknowledged as one of the finest in the county, with people coming from miles around to see it. The house contained three rooms, log house shaped. There is buried in the little cemetery lot by the yard George O'Neal, pioneer and his wife Elizabeth Singleton O'Neal, the DAR had a marker dedicated to his memory at the gravesite.

An American Soldier

George O'Neal had a very rich military history. He fought in the Indian Wars and served as a soldier in the American Revolution. During the war he dropped the O' from his name. His DAR record number is 200439 and WF 2843, these records include his service record, children's names and dates of their births and their spouses as well as pension records.

In 1850 Judge John Belton O'Neall wrote in 'The Annals of Newberry', about his granduncles that "James and George belonged to the American army: the former was a Major in the Virginia line, the latter a common soldier. Both served the entire war, and at its close, ignorantly supposing that the O in their names was some aristocratic distinction, instead of meaning as it really does, the "son of" struck it off and wrote their names Neall. James settled and died at or near Wheeling, VA; George in Jessamine county, near Nicholasville, KY.

An anecdote illustrative of their performance in the war as related by one of the actors of the action is as follows; Towards the close of the day, when the American army was in full retreat, it was found that an attempt would be made by the British cavalry to cut off part of the retreating columns. To prevent this it was necessary a pass should be gained and maintained; if this could be done, the enemy would be compelled to make a sweep of several miles before they could again strike at the retreat.

A company of Virginians from Washington's immediate neighborhood volunteered for this perilous duty. They were, apparently, indeed a forlorn hope, and were so called; they were commanded by James O'Neall, who subsequently rose to be a major in the American army. Under his command was his youngest brother George. From him the particulars herein related have been derived. It is well known if they (the forlorn hope) failed to reach the pass before the cavalry, they must be cut to pieces. They were young, athletic Virginians, accustomed to Indian warfare, with nerves strung for any service, and capable of a long and steady run. They therefore sprand forward to the race upon which depended their own lives and the safety of the army. They reached the ground and formed hollow square, covering the pass, as the head of the British column of cavalry appeared in sight. A few moments' observation satisfied its commander-he was foiled.

Wheeling his squadrons, he made the attempt to reach the retreating army through the longer route. The perilous duty was now only half performed; it remained to rejoin the army. Again the Virginian metal and bottom were to be tried, and again they succeeded; they rejoined in safety, their regiment, under the command of Colonel Stevens, and aided in checking the pursuing enemy and covering the retreat. Next morning Washington reviewing his line called for the forlorn hope; they presented arms, and were reported as all present. He lifted his hat, and withstreaming eyes said, "God bless you, boys; I never expected to see you again." All of the above quoted material from Annals of Newberry, by John Belton O'Neall pp. 186, 187, 278, 283, 355, 361, 370, 726. Available on microfilm from LDS.

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