Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The Alexander O’Neill Family
The Hugh O’Neill family, on their way west from upstate New York, stopped in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for several years before settling in Ohio. Two of their children were born there, including Alexander on September 11, 1811.
Alexander grew to adulthood in what was then Monroe County, Ohio, and somewhere along the way developed an interest and training in steam engines. The Ohio River valley area was heavily developed by riverboat traffic, so Alexander could have worked at many places along the shores of the river.
In his 1937 genealogy, G. W. O’Neill quotes Richard O’Neill, who states in a letter January 10, 1915, that, “...Uncle Alex, down the river at New Albany, Indiana.”
If you were a steamboat engineer in the 1830’s through the 1860’s, New Albany was the place to be. The river city was the major boatbuilding center on the inland water system during those years, so it was no accident that Alexander chose to move there. He arrived sometime in 1836, according to a newspaper account.
He also started a family very shortly, as Alexander O'Neill and Margaret Louisa Kain were married in Floyd County on July 13, 1837, and soon had five children. Margaret, a native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, had recently arrived in New Albany as well.
Alexander O’Neill owned a steamboat, the Yazoo Belle, in 1846-48, and the 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses provided that fact that Alexander was a Steamboat Engineer, and some city directories noted that both his sons were also--a new research area for me!
A Floyd County history indicated that both sons, William and Andrew, served in the Civil War, as did Alexander himself. Even though he was older than the usual recruit, Alexander served as the chief engineer on the Union steam rams USS Fulton and USS Horner, which were part of the Mississippi Marine Brigade assault force.
Margaret O’Neill died in New Albany on November 27, 1879, and is buried in Alexander’s family plot in the Fairview Cemetery.
On the 1880 census Alexander is elusive; he may have been on the river, working below on a steamboat and missed by the enumerator. He is still listed in the New Albany Directories around the era.
Alexander himself died on March 16, 1897, and is buried beside Margaret. In the New Albany Daily Ledger on March 16, 1897, I found the obituary of Alexander, which stated that a son and two daughters survived him.
There is one mystery: Who is the Mary L. O’Neill, age 60, born Ohio, who died in 1879, and who is buried in Alexander’s plot?
The Children of Alexander O’Neill and Margaret Kain
1. William James O’Neill, born in 1838 in New Albany, was an engineer like his father. During the Civil War, William was a Private and Corporal in Co. G of the 23rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry and fought at Shiloh, Vicksburg, Atlanta, and Sherman’s march to the sea.
He evidently returned to New Albany and resumed a career as an engineer. He last appears on the 1868 city directory, and then somehow disappears. I can not find him on the 1870 or 1880 censuses, or anywhere in the country. He did not claim a Civil War pension.
My thought at this time is that he died on one of the numerous steamboat accidents on the inland river systems and was not noted as a casualty. He was not listed as a survivor on his mother’s 1879 obituary.
2. Andrew Foster O’Neill, born on May 10, 1840, in New Albany, was known in the family and community as “Foster.” He became a steamboat engineer like his father and brother.
In the Civil War, he crossed the river and joined Company A. of the 9th Kentucky Cavalry of the Union army. I guess he wanted to ride to war! After his one-year enlistment was over in September 1863, he went home for two years, but then rejoined in the spring of 1865 and became a 1st Lieutenant in Co. A of the 143rd Indiana Infantry for six months.
After the end of the war, Andrew returned home to New Albany and married Lucinda Lyons on Oct. 9, 1866. Lucinda and Foster, according to the 1910 census, had one child that died. We have no other details about that. Lucinda operated a dressmaking shop out of their home for many years, either for the extra cash or to have something interesting to do.
Later in the 19th century, the boating business slowed down, mostly due to the growth of the railroads, and Andrew became a postal mail carrier.
The Sep. 9, 1913 issue of the Public Press informs us that Lucinda died at the age of 72, and that she and her husband were childless. She was also a native of Flint, Michigan, and I wonder how and why she was in New Albany by her marriage date of 1866? Some Civil War related event?
Andrew applied for and received a military pension for his Civil War service less than a year before his death.
The Public Press issue of June 17, 1914 contained Andrew’s obituary, and there is where I found that he was usually known as “Foster” and that he was a mail carrier. The article let me know that his sisters, Sarah and Emily, were both still alive.
Andrew and Lucinda are both buried in Fairview Cemetery at New Albany.
3. Sarah Jane O’Neill, born April 25, 1843, in New Albany, married Norman Campbell there on May 1, 1873, at the age of 30. Norman, born in Nova Scotia, Canada, was a worker in the Ohio Falls Iron Works.
Sarah and Norman later had six children, but Norman did not see them grow to adulthood, as he died on June 16, 1886, at age 43, after a year-long illness. The official cause of death was paralysis of some kind. He is buried at Fairview Cemetery.
Sarah and her family was supported by her sons for some time, who also worked in the mill. Her daughter Edith worked as a saleslady in a dry good store, which probably helped financially, too.
Sarah Jane O’Neill Campbell died in New Albany on February 26, 1929, at the age of 85, of pneumonia. She is buried in Fairview Cemetery.
The children of Sarah and Norman Campbell are:
a. Walter Norman Campbell was born on January 27, 1874, in New Albany. He married Elizabeth A. Sloman on May 1, 1906, a few miles upriver at Jeffersonville, Indiana. By 1910 Walter owned a liquor store in New Albany and employed his brother Harry as a sales clerk.
Walter died on May 19, 1929, at the age of 55, and is buried in Fairview Cemetery. Elizabeth’s name is on the same stone without a burial date. She was on the 1930 Floyd County census alone, but may have remarried later.
b. Anna Campbell was on the 1880 census at age one, but died in New Albany in early June 1894 of typhoid fever. She was buried in Fairview Cemetery on June 4.
c. Margaret L. Campbell was born in New Albany in March of 1878 and married Thomas Maley in Clark County on August 19, 1895, at the age of 17. Maggie and Thomas had a daughter Margaret in 1896, a son Thomas in 1897.
Thomas, Sr. died sometime before the 1900 census, as Margaret was living with Sarah, widowed at the age of 22 and without her two children. I do not know where the children were staying at that time. It may be that Thomas had died very recently and Margaret was pregnant at census time and was staying with her mother until delivery. The children may have been farmed out as a help to her. On the 1910 census Margaret said she had borne three children; on the 1900 census she said only two. So one died in infancy, which would explain the discrepancy.
Sometime between the 1910 census and 1912, she may have moved to Indianapolis, as she married Otto Wunderlich there on August 26th of that year. By 1920 the family was in Portland, Oregon. Living with Margaret and Otto was her now-widowed daughter Margaret Loser and her daughter Sarah Loser, age 2. These women seem to have back luck with husbands! Granddaughter Sarah was still with Margaret in 1930. I have not found Margaret’s son after 1910or her daughter after 1920.
d. Edith Campbell was born on May 25, 1884, in New Albany. She married Daly D. Busenbark there on June 16, 1912, at the age of 28.
Edith and Daly had one daughter, Katherine J., born on March 12, 1916, before Daly died in 1917 of a cause unknown to me.
Edith and Katherine moved to Indianapolis by 1920 and by 1930 Edith was working as a servant in the home of businessman Robert Wecheler. Katherine was living with her mother in the Wecheler house.
Edith evidently never remarried, and she died in 1957 and is buried back in New Albany in the Fairview Cemetery. Katherine did not seem to marry ever and died in Johnson County, Indiana, on February 7, 1997.
e. James R. Campbell was born in New Albany on September 25, 1882. He married Alma G. Allen at Jeffersonville in Clark County on September 23, 1909, and the couple relocated almost immediately to Joliet, Will County, Illinois.
His job may have driven the move, as he was a locomotive engineer, and Illinois was a major railroad state. They lived in Joliet at least through 1930.
James and Alma had four children: Richard L., born in 1912, Walter N., born in 1914, James R., born in 1922, and Marjorie, born in 1924. I do not know anything more on this family after 1930.
f. Harry Campbell was born in New Albany on September 19, 1884. He grew up in that town, and, as a young man, worked as a clerk in his brother Walter’s liquor store.
He married Minnie M. Meyer on August 19 1913, in his hometown. Harry was 29. The couple had one daughter, Margaret, born in 1914.
Harry died sometime between 1918 and 1920, as Minnie was on the census that year as a widow and again in 1930, still in New Albany. Margaret seems to have graduated from New Albany High School in 1933, but I have no further information on Harry’s wife and daughter.
In Fairview Cemetery there is a headstone for a Harry Campbell, but it indicates he died in 1925. This may not be “our” Harry.
4 Emily Isabel O’Neill, usually known as Emma, the youngest daughter of Alexander and Margaret O’Neill, was born in New Albany on March 17, 1846, and lived there all her life.
She married Joseph McPherson on Dec. 1, 1869, in New Albany, and the couple had seven children.
Emily’s husband, Joseph McPherson, was killed in an industrial accident at the Union Steel Works at Alexandria, Indiana, on Oct. 2, 1895. He was insured by a new company insurance program, so that must have helped Emma with the children.
She raised her children, never remarried, and continued to live in New Albany until her death on September 15, 1930. Emma is buried in Fairview Cemetery there.
Emma and Joseph’s children are:
a. Guy D. McPherson, born in September 1870, worked as a steel roller in a mill for most of his life. He remained single and lived with Emma until 1925, when he married a wife, also named Emma. I have no further information on Guy after 1930.
b. Edna A. McPherson, born in New Albany in 1872, married Robert P. Bottorff in New Albany on September 3, 1896, at the age of 24. In 1910 they were living in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and had two daughters, Ione and Laura Roberta.
Robert was a trimmer in a carriage factory, not exactly a growth industry by that time. By 1920 the family had moved to Louisville, Kentucky, and Robert was now a trimmer in an automobile shop; it seems he had seen the handwriting on the wall!
Edna’s family suffered a tragedy on February 13, 1924, when their youngest daughter Laura died of meningitis. Robby, as she was usually known by, is buried in the Walnut Ridge Cemetery at Louisville.
On the 1930 census the Bottorff family was still living in Louisville, all still together. Ione was marked as an artist in a studio. I do not know what kind or if she had her own studio. I do not know anything about Edna’s family after 1930.
c. Josie E. McPherson, Emily’s second daughter, was born in New Albany on December 9, 1875. She married William Merkel in New Albany on August 1, 1894, but the couple divorced before 1900.
In 1902 Josie gave birth to a son, James E. McPherson. I do not know his father. Both Josie and James were living with Emma in New Albany, but soon after the census she married Isaac Chauncey Hull, a widower with two children.
The Hulls moved to Isaac’s home of Owensboro, Kentucky. Josie gave birth to a baby daughter, Emma Isabel Hull, on August 21, 1913, but the baby only lived for two months, dying on November 7, 1913, of tuberculosis.
Josie herself died on November 30, 1913, less than three weeks later, also from tuberculosis, and both she and the baby are buried in Elmwood Cemetery of Daviess County, Kentucky.
One mystery exists with this family: On the 1920 census of Louisville, an Isaac Chauncey Hull, born in 1911 in Kentucky, was living in an orphanage there. Was he a son of Josie? If he was a McPherson grandson, why was he not with a family member in New Albany? This Isaac seems to have moved to Detroit by 1930, so further research may be needed on him.
James McPherson was mentioned in Emily McPherson’s 1930 will, and he was living with her and the unmarried Sarah that year. He was working as a bookkeeper in a store.
d. William A. McPherson was born in New Albany in January of 1877. He lived with his mother his entire life and mostly worked as a catcher in a steel rolling mill.
On June 14, 1908, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and is buried in Fairview Cemetery at New Albany. He never married and had no children.
e. Sarah J. McPherson was born in New Albany in July of 1879. She lived with her mother her entire life, never married, and had no children. Sallie died in 1933 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery at New Albany.
f. Gale McPherson was born in New Albany in 1884, but only lived until May 1, 1885, dying of measles. Gale is buried in Fairview Cemetery.
g. Iola McPherson was born in New Albany on October 21, 1887, and died there on January 10, 1889, of pneumonia. She is buried in Fairview Cemetery.
5. Charles W. O’Neill, Alexander’s last child, was born in 1849, appears on the 1850 census, but never thereafter. I do not know what happened to one-year-old Charles, but he probably died of a childhood illness. I have not found a burial record or any further mention of him.