Thursday, March 15, 2012

26. Beyond the Book: The Thomas O'Neill Family

            "Thomas, born at Pittsburgh, October 15, 1815. Uncle Richard states [in a letter dated January 10, 1915] that, “Uncle Thomas lived at Zanesville and died there. He had a daughter named Margaret, that may be living yet; I do not know.”
            This Margaret O’Neill, at one time, sent a record of her grandfather’s family to Dr. M. A. O’Neill of Black Jack, Kansas, whose son, H. L. O’Neill, sent a copy of it to me."                                           [Quotes from the 1937 G. A. O'Neill genealogy.]

I found “our” Thomas O’Neill on the 1850 Census of Muskingum County, Ohio, living in Zanesville. There were three Thomas’ listed in Muskingum County that year, all age 30. Two were born in Ireland, however, and only one born in Pennsylvania. The age given puts his birth at 1819, but that is notoriously unreliable in census work.
[There was an Irish Catholic O’Neill family in the same area during this time, with a Thomas O’Neill married to a Bridget Flanagan. This family caused a few confusing moments and needed to be sorted out. I have yet to find any Irish Catholics among "our" O'Neill descendants.]
Our Thomas has a 29-year-old female named Ann living with him, presumably his wife, and, more importantly, a 1-year-old daughter named Margaret A. He was a coach maker and had a net worth of $1,000. In the 1851 Directory of Zanesville, Ohio, Thomas O’Neill is also listed as a coach maker and is living (or working?) at “8th corner of south.”
In a Franklin-Guiler genealogy, I found evidence that Ann O’Neill was the former Ann Franklin, born Jan. 8, 1820, daughter of John Franklin and Mary McFarland. The Franklins came from an area near Dublin, Ireland; settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then migrated to Noble County, Ohio, in 1822. This was a very similar pattern to Thomas’ family, and the two families may have known each other for a good while.
Based on Margaret’s age, Thomas and Ann were perhaps married in 1847, when Thomas would have been 32 and Ann 27. If they were married in Summerfield, then in Monroe County, the marriage record probably went up in smoke in the notorious court house fire in Woodsfield.
I found the family on the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Ohio living in the neighboring county of Perry. Thomas, Ann, and Margaret were in the town of Somerset, Reading Township. Thomas was a coach painter.
Ann died on June 30th in the summer of 1871 at age 51, and she is buried in Fultonham Cemetery in Muskingum County, about a ten-mile coach trip from Somerset.
On the 1880 Muskingum County census, page 241D, Thomas and Margaret had moved back to Fultonham in Newton Township, which is where Thomas died on August 23, 1887 at the age of 72. I have not yet found his burial site.
The Franklin-Guiler genealogy mentioned above has Margaret A. O’Neill, nicknamed “Mag,” married to a Weaver, and the Muskingum County Marriage Book 10 has a Maggie O’Neill marrying a Levi Weaver on Feb. 7, 1889, about two years after Thomas’ death. Margaret would have been 40 years old. This would be a common scenario, for a daughter to marry after caring for a father for several years.
[A second Levi Weaver, married to a Christena, is in Muskingum County during the same time frame, adding other conflicting records!]
The Zanesville-Muskingum County Directory of 1890-91 has an entry on page 290 that reads, “Margaret Weaver, farm owner, Newton Township, Fultonham.” This is probably our Margaret. There is also an entry for “Levi Weaver, farm owner, Brush Creek Township, Dillon.” Brush Creek is next to Newton, and this could be a case of two older people combining their assets.
No credible Margaret Weaver shows up on the 1900 census of Muskingum County or in Ohio, but a Margaret Weaver, age 60, does appear on the 1910 as a boarder with the Asa Fox family. She is shown as being born in Ohio, widowed but now unmarried, and working as a seamstress. This could be our Margaret. If any researcher has information to add about Thomas and his family, please bring it forward.

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