Tuesday, March 6, 2012
20. Beyond the Book: Hugh of Mason Co., WV (Part 1)
On page 33 of my 2005 O'Neill genealogy, I did not know much about Hugh and Deborah's son Hugh. After some work--and luck--here is the rest of the story [in two parts since it's rather long!]
Hugh O’Neill II
Hugh, born at Frankfort, NY, December 31, 1808. Uncle Richard states [in a letter January 10, 1915] that, “I saw Uncle Hugh once forty-eight years ago. He was then living at Letart, in Meigs County, Ohio.”
Per Richard O’Neill, “forty-eight years ago” equals 1867, but I could not find Hugh on the 1860, 1870, or 1880 census indexes of Meigs County or Ohio. The name is such a common one in Irish records that the various Hugh’s are difficult to sort out. I could not find a good match for any Hugh born in New York around 1808.
Richard also said that Hugh was a “riverboat pilot who lost his job due to intemperate habits,” presumably alcohol. If he continued as a river man in some capacity, he could be anywhere in the southern or western U.S.
The truth is much simpler: Hugh was just across the Ohio River in Mason County, West Virginia, in the town of Letart, bearing the same name as the Ohio one. Our story begins much earlier, though, as Hugh and a young wife were located in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1840.
At the same time, living right across the river in New Albany, Indiana, was his brother Alexander, also married and also working in the steamboat trade. I suspect that the two brothers, both interested in working on the river, migrated to the bustling steamboat area of Louisville-New Albany together. Alexander moved to New Albany in 1836, so Hugh probably started in the same area at the same time.
If the "intemperate habits" family story is true, Hugh probably caused an accident or missed his schedule or some such common problem with alcohol during this time frame, while in his twenties and living in the wild and wide-open riverboat environment.
However it happened, Hugh left the river trade, and he and his wife Rebecca were located in Newport, Kentucky, across from Cincinnati, by 1850, and he was now a farmer. As an evident sign of brotherly affection, Hugh named his first-born son Alexander, and the two brothers probably kept in touch, although we have no proof of their later connection.
I have identified Hugh's wife as Rebecca Reynolds, born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, but have not found their marriage date or location or her parentage. There were numerous Reynolds families in the Ohio River counties around Kentucky and Indiana, so pinning down one is difficult.
After some years in Newport and several children, Hugh and Rebecca relocated to Mason County, then Virginia, by 1855, and remained there the balance of their lives. They had several additional children in Mason County.
Hugh, who worked as a blacksmith in West Virginia, lived past 1880, and Rebecca was living with her daughter Annie Elliott in Mason County in 1900, but I do not yet have their death dates or burial sites.
The Children of Hugh O'Neill and Rebecca Reynolds
1. Alexander O'Neill was born in 1841 in Newport, Campbell County, Kentucky. He moved to Mason County, Virginia, with his family and remained there until the 1860's.
I have not found him on the 1870 census, but by 1880 he is living in Jefferson County, Montana, working as a miner. Around 1875 Alexander married Rhoda Austin in Jefferson County. Rhoda, born in Grayson County, Virginia, had migrated to Montana with her parents Bledsoe and Matilda Austin in the 1870's.
The couple had four children in Montana, and then, sometime between 1894 and 1896, they moved to Gibbonsville in Lemhi County, Idaho, and lived there the balance of their lives. They had one more child in Idaho.
Rhoda died in Idaho in the late 1890's, probably in Lemhi County and maybe as a result of childbirth, but I do not have any details of her death or burial. Alexander died in Gibbonsville on December 26, 1931, and is buried in the City Cemetery at Salmon, Idaho.
The children of Alexander O'Neill and Rhoda Austin are:
a. Lula O'Neill, born in Montana in 1876. She may have died in infancy.
b. Anna E. O'Neill was born in Montana on March 27, 1882. On March 13, 1901, she married Edward E. Edwards, a prominent businessman in Lemhi County. In 1910 Anna was the Postmaster in Gibbonsville. They moved between Gibbonsville, Salmon, and Boise, Idaho, and enjoyed a prosperous lifestyle. They had two daughters, Edena and Jessie.
c. Paris A. O'Neill, born in Granite County, Montana, in April 1886 (what were they doing there?), married Ivie Eby in Butte, Montana, on November 5, 1913, and the couple moved to Lemhi County, Idaho, probably with Alexander and Rhoda. They had five sons-Franklin, William, Paris, Harry, and John.
Paris died in Boise, Idaho, in 1956, and Ivie in 1975. Both are buried in the Morris Hill Cemetery at Boise.
d. Frank V. O'Neill, born on November 19, 1891, probably in Granite county, Montana, lived most of his life in Boise, Idaho, where he died unmarried and childless in July 1969. He is buried in the Dry Creek Cemetery at Boise.
e. Mary O'Neill was born in April 1897 in Idaho, and may have contributed to her mother's death. In 1910 she was living in Gibbonsville with her sister Anna. I have not found her after that.
2. Ann Elizabeth O'Neill was born in October 1844 in Newport, Kentucky. After moving to Mason County, then Virginia, she married Phillip H. Elliott there on April 12, 1864, at age 20.
Phillip at the time was a member of the 4th West Virginia Infantry and fighting in the Civil War. West Virginia had separated from Virginia and became a state in 1863. Their early marriage years undoubtedly involved lots of separation.
They had their first child just before the War was over, and four more prior to the 1880 census. The couple remained in Mason County for the balance of their lives. Ann died in 1916 and is buried in the Graham Baptist Cemetery in Mason County. Phillip died November 24, 1923, and is buried there also.
The children of Phillip and Ann O'Neill Elliott are:
a. Carrie Elliott was born in January 1865 and married Phillip E. Buffington sometime around 1884, although I have not yet found any marriage information. She died in June of 1885, after giving birth to a son, Frank Buffington. She is buried in the Graham Baptist Cemetery. I do not know what happened to Phillip, but Frank seems to have moved to Kanawha County, West Virginia, and lived here.
b. Everett A. Elliott, born May 8, 1867, lived in Mason County and married Mary H. Poole around 1905. They had four children, Harry, Emil, Elizabeth, and Pearl. Everett worked as a day laborer in Mason County. Mary died in 1936. and he died in 1947 and both are buried in Graham Cemetery.
c. Adolph Imbert Elliott was born in Mason County on January 5, 1869, and became a towboat crewman and then captain on the Ohio River. He married Rebecca Elizabeth Coen in Mason County on May 20, 1899. [They also have a marriage record in Noble County, Ohio, for some reason!]
Adolph and Lizzie had two daughters, Mildred and Mary. In later life they moved to Zanesville in Muskingum County, Ohio, and Lizzie died there on March 22, 1945. Adolph himself died there on November 5, 1950. both are buried in the IOOF Cemetery of Mason County.
d. Ira Otmer Elliott was born in Mason County on November 8, 1872. [You wonder where the Elliotts came up with their children's names!]
Ira remained single and worked as a farmer throughout his life. He died in Mason County on November 19, 1932, at age 60, and is buried in the Graham Cemetery.
e. Henry B. Elliott, born in Mason County in October of 1879, lived with his family at least through 1900, and worked as a steamboat deckhand. I have not found him after the 1900 census.