John Frost O'Neall
A 19th Century Man, His 20th Century Biography
by
Jill O'Neall Ching

John Frost O'Neall was born in Lauren's or Newberry District, South Carolina in the Fall of 1804. His parents were Henry F. and Mary Miles O'Neall, Quakers. John was the fourth child of Henry and Mary, who had 14 children in all.

John attended Meetings of the Friends with his siblings and helped on his father's farm. His friends were all his brothers and sisters and the children of the slaves on the 'plantation'.

Henry was 'disciplined' by the Quaker members for keeping slaves and by 1832 moved with his wife and several children to the Scomp or Skomp place, which they probably purchased from landowners Isaac and Sarah Skomp, their neighbors, on land situated near the border of Greene and Daviees County, Indiana.

John Frost O'Neall joined his father in this move, with his wife Anne Chandler, who he had married in 1823. John and Anne O'Neall already had several children when they embarked on their northerly journey to Indiana from South Carolina in about 1832.

Perhaps they all lived together for a time on the Skomp place.

Luck 'o the Irish was with the O'Neall's for a time in Indiana, their new home. John F. O'Neall became a well-liked individual and an influential man in his own right. Some of the 'titles' he enjoyed in his lifetime included "County Commissioner", "State Legislator", "Justice of the Peace". He ran unsuccessfully for the United States Congress, and served several terms in the State of Indiana Legislature in the 1840's.

One event for which John F. O'Neall is remembered occured during the Abraham Lincoln presidential campaign and election era. It is noted that: "Mr. John F. O'Neal was among leading party politicians in Greene county and was a member of the state Senate and House of Representatives several times; but being raised a Quaker and the old, time-honoured Quaker religious creed being yet in the ascendancy, and when Col. Fremont was the Abolitionist candidate for President, Mr. O'Neal changed his vote, and cast the only vote for Freemonth that the 'pathfinder' received in Cass township."
(Typos as written in source)

It is also noted that during the 1840-1842 terms of office in the legislature he was "instrumental in getting the Wabash and Erie Canal which although a financial disaster, was extremely important in developing western Indiana. He also was instrumental in moving the northern boundary of Indiana ten miles further north in order to accomodate a deep water harbor on the lakes." O'Neall joined the Democratic party and for a time was also a Republican. Besides publicly serving the communities of Greene and Daviees County and the State of Indiana, John Frost O'Neall was a farmer and a minister.

John and Mary O'Neall had two sons who grew to maturity and produced children, they are William Chandler O'Neall who married Alicy Jamison and John HB O'Neall who had children with two wives, including Susan Dyer and Arlena Carroll.

Their three daughters named Rhoda, Sarah and MaryAnn also married and Sarah O'Neall Slinkard and Mary Ann O'Neall Bogard raised children. John and Mary O'Neall also buried three children, who they had named Elizabeth, Laura and William, he was their first born. They named all three of these children, who were called home to glory young, and put them in the ground with markers, and a bouquet of flowers, praying for their safe and speedy delivery to heaven.

John's uncle was also named John O'Neal and was given the distinction of being called "Old John O'Neal" the Quaker, he had arrived in Indiana the earliest, by 1819 and more or less paved the way for his brother Henry's family~including John F. to .....come on up to Indiana........because everyone knows the grass is always greener somewhere else.

In the early Greene County history book it is noted that....."Old John O'Neal settled just east of Newberry, on the well known O'Neal homestead farm. Mr. O'Neal was a noted old Friend Quaker preacher, and his house was the home for all the old Indians and preachers for many years. He entered the most land and made the best farm, and it was also a stopping place for all the olden-times judges, lawyers, preachers, prophets and disciples, Jews and Gentiles."

During the 1850's John F. O'Neall served in the local militia as a Captain of the 47th Regiment. He attended the Methodist church, probably travelling by horse, as all 19th century men did, and perhaps he had a horse and buggy or horse-drawn wagon, which he loaded up with his 3 surviving daughters and 2 surviving sons, all dressed in their Sunday best for a day of preaching and to return home to a dinner of chicken and dumplings. On hot Saturday afternoons perhaps the family went for a picnic by the new Erie Canal, which John had worked so hard to build.

Then one summer passed by, and fell into memory, and the Indiana air turned chilly, and the nights very cold, the trees had lost their bounty of fruit as harvest time arrived in late October of 1865. John was just 61 years old, and Mary was 67 years old, when they both got sick and died, she died only 48 hours after her husband of 42 years, perhaps from a fever. The Civil War was raging, maybe much closer to their now sad home than we know, the war was, afterall the news of the day.

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