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Three men who apparently were brothers were living in Fairfax Co., Virginia at the time a tax list was compiled there in 1782: John, Bryant, and Charles O'Neal. (Through the years some members of the family have simplified the name to Neal.) They had probably been there for some years, because in 1764, John O'Neal, residing with Jane Langley, was added to the county's tithable list, having turned 21. (This goes along with the tradition in the John O'Neal family that his mother married a Langley after his father's death.) There is no evidence in the deed books of Fairfax Co. that these brothers owned any land, so it is somewhat difficult to locate them in the county. The tax list that John O'Neal appears in contains several people who leased land on the Fitzhughs' "Ravensworth" estate, so it assumed that he lived in that section of the county. Interestingly, several of the others on this same list also migrated to Nelson Co., Ky.
A document in Nelson Co., Ky., cited below proves that Charles and Bryant are brothers. There is nowhere an explicit statement that John is their brother, but the circumstances referred to hereafter make that extremely likely.
There are a number of mistaken traditions in the John O'Neal family relating to John's life, many of which can be easily disproved. There is absolutely no evidence that John settled in Nelson Co. in 1777. In fact, he was in Fairfax Co., Va. as late as 1782, and he was in Ohio Co.,Va. (now W.Va.) in 1784, when he was involved in Bryant's incurring a debt there. He probably arrived, with Bryant in 1785, the year that Nelson Co. was formed, and appears in the tithable list of that year with Bryant, probably on the land outside Bardstown that is identified with the Heavenhill family. The idea that George Washington mismanaged the settlement of the O'Neal estate in Fairfax finds no basis in any county documents there. John could not have been granted land by Virginia in the Jackson Purchase area of Kentucky, because that land was only acquired from the Indians about 20 years after Kentucky became a state. This family tradition credits John with driving the Indians out of Kentucky. This is quite improbable, since by the time he arrived the Indian presence in Kentucky was not significant. It is certainly possible that some of John's children recalled that his father was named Constantine, but no Constantine appears in any records that would prove that he was the father of John, Charles and Bryant. There certainly is no Constantine O'Neal in the records of Fairfax Co., although it is not impossible that he had died before Fairfax was formed in 1742, except for the fact that John appears to have been born in 1743. Neither has such evidence been found in Prince William Co., from which Fairfax was taken, nor in Stafford from which Prince William was taken in 1731. However, these latter two counties have lost a great many of their records.
Bryant O'Neal, who died by Oct. 1821 (estate inventory in Nelson Co. Will Book D, pp. 276-77 with sale on pp. 297-99), was possibly the son of Constantine and very probably the brother of John O'Neal of Nelson Co., Ky. He was definitely the brother of Charles of Fayette Co., Ky. He and John were in Nelson Co. by 1785. Bryant m. Ann Cotton, dau. of John Cotton of a family that is on record in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Stafford cos., Va. and Nelson Co., Ky. There are many circumstantial factors in both Kentucky and Virginia, in addition to tradition among earlier generations of the family, that point toward his having been a brother or at least an associate of John O'Neal, who also came to Nelson Co. at the same time. In fact, they are listed together in the first tithable list of the county, but no explicit statement exists in any official county court or federal documents saying that John and Bryant were brothers. Neither has it been proved that they had a mother born Jennie/Jane Dean who married a Langley after their father's death, although that idea is made tempting by the fact that John was living with Jane Langley when he turned 21 in Fairfax Co. Only one other Langley has been found in early Fairfax records. In Order Book 1756, a suit against John Langley by John Ratcliff is mentioned on p. 622. His goods were attached and he had to pay £27/19/7 and costs. John Langley was also sued by John O'Daniel.
Bryant acquired land in what was then Jefferson Co., Ky. with Virginia Survey No. 3042, dated 14 Jan. 1783. It was located on Beech Fork and Stuart and Bardstown Creeks in what became Nelson Co. and was granted on 25 Nov. 1785, by which time Nelson Co. had been formed. In the 1785 tithable list for Nelson Co. he is shown as Bryan Neal with Thomas Langley and John Neal following in sequence in a list that covers a large portion of the county, so that they cannot be placed with any great precision. In this same list are the following who were to have direct or indirect associations with him: Peter Panebecker, Oliver Havenhill, Robert Patrick, Jacob Yoter, and Thomas Hurley. In 1786 Bryan O'Neale and Thomas Langley are listed together in the same area, but John Oneal is in an area closer to Bloomfield, near the confluence of Plum Run and Simpson Creek (spellings of names as they appear in the lists).
Both John and Bryant show associations with the Langleys. Bryant and Thomas Langley appear to have lived on adjoining property in Nelson Co. James Langley was surety for the marriage of John's daughter Elizabeth to Uriah McKay. On 16 Oct. 1764 in Fairfax Co., Va., John, who had just turned 21, was living with Jane Langley (Minute Book 1763-65, R.D. 1763, p. 169, paragr. 2). There were marriages in Nelson Co. between Langleys and Bryant's children. In Fairfax Co., as recorded in Will Book D, pp. 65-66, Thomas Moss wrote a will on 28 Jan. 1778, which was witnessed by Drummond Wheeler, Elija. Williams, and "Bran." Oneale. Drummond Wheeler was security for John O'Neal when he had a bill of £5, as shown in the accounts of Glassford and Co. (Glassford Accounts, Library of Congress, Vol. 164, p. 53 and Vol. 165, p. 5 and for Alexandria store Vol. 165, p. 170, which is the one referred to here). Thomas's will is immediately followed on p. 67 by that of his wife Sarah Bea(t)ch Hall, dated 20 Feb. 1778. Her witnesses were Drummond Wheeler, Frances Hall, and Simon Summers. An account was given of the estate of Moss that was recorded on 20 Sept. 1779 (Deed Book D, pp. 150-52). There are payments made to or by Jane Langley (twice) and Palmer Hall, a son of Michael Hall, as well as a payment for weaving to "Francis" Hall. In Fairfax Co. Will Book E, pp. 266-68 is the will of Michael Hall, dated 3 March 1788. In it he mentions daughters "Francis" Oneale and Catherine Langley as well as sons Sylvester Hall and" Parmer" Hall. (A Hall listed as both Parmer and Palmer was on a tax list of Barren Co., Ky., on 10 Sept. 1800.) This Frances Hall is the traditional second wife of John O'Neal. In Nelson Co., Ky. on 17 May 1812, Michael Hall married Susanna Heavenhill, with Sylvester Hall a surety and witness. Thus, an in-law of Bryant's from Virginia married an in-law of John's.
It is interesting that Bryant O'Neal does not appear in the 1782 tax list of Fairfax Co., Va. taken by Josiah Watson, but note the number of people in John's household then. In that list are many names associated with Nelson Co., Ky.: Jervis Hammond, John O'Neal, Michael Hall, Parmer Hall, Drakeford Gray, Eli Stone, and Simon Summers. It turns out that some of the people in this list were leasing land on the Fitzhughs' "Ravensworth" estate. No O'Neal has been found among those leasing Fitzhugh land, however, according to Mrs. Beth Mitchell, a student of Fairfax Co. land records.
A somewhat remote possibility for further tracing of the O'Neals in Virginia has to do with a Gray family. Drakeford Gray transferred land on Slate Creek in what had been Fayette Co and later Clark Co. in Kentucky to John O'Neal. This is the land mentioned in John O'Neal's will, where Slate was erroneously transcribed as "State." Robert P. Moore has been unable to trace this land further, although it was already in the hands of John O'Neal in a very early Nelson Co. tax list in the category of property in other counties. (This land could possibly be in modern-day Montgomery or Bath Co.) Drakeford Gray's son Presley married Barbara Cotton, a sister of Bryant O'Neal's wife in Nelson Co. These Grays may have also been related to the Calverts of Prince William Co., Va., who settled in Nelson Co. At one time in Virginia one of the Grays was married to a Spencer man, who apparently gave her difficulties. It is remotely possible that this is the origin of the name of John O'Neal's apparently eldest son Spencer. Both Grays and Calverts are associated with the Neals of Fayette Co. Both Cottons and Neals are associated with the family of William Stone in Fayette Co., and there was an eventual association between Neals and Calverts in Nelson Co. The Nelson Co. Calverts are descended from a Richard Gray, although not the Richard who lived in the same area as the Fayette Co. Neals.
Bryant O'Neal, d. by Oct. 1821 (estate inventory in Nelson Co. Will Book D, pp. 276-77 with sale on pp. 297-99),m., probably in Virginia, Ann Cotton, dau. of John Cotton.
1. Jane O'Neal, d. before 1822, m. 14 March 1802, Nelson Co., Ky., James Coleman. Two of their grandchildren are buried on what is known as the old Heavenhill place, although it was probably the Bryant O'Neal land. It is not known what happened to the other two. The four are children of James, the only child found of James and Jane.
2. Dosha/Docia O'Neal, m. 3 July 1806, Samuel Johnson (surety James Coleman). Nothing further known about them.
3. Susan O'Neal, b. 26 Oct. 1783, d. 26 Jan. 1871, m. 20 Oct. 1808, Nelson Co., Ky., William Heavenhill, b. 15 Sept. 1783, d. 6 June 1870, both bur. in Heavenhill cem., Bardstown, Ky. He was the son of Oliver Heavenhill and Elizabeth Tesch. William Heavenhill was a distiller, and Bourbon whiskey distillery on their land is known the brand name Heaven Hill. A good many descendants of this line are still in Nelson Co., Ky.
4. Sally O'Neal, b. 18 Oct. 1786, d. 10 Jan. 1847, bur. Heavenhill cem., Bardstown, Ky., m. 7 Nov. 1813, Isaac Patterson. Also buried there, and possibly her son, is James Patterson, b. Nov. 1822, d. Dec. 1847. In the 1850 census of Morgan Co., Ill., a Bryant Patterson, b. Ky., with wife Mary, b. Ky., and family is living next to Ellen (Eleanor?) O'Neal, b. Ky. and George Price, b. Ky. It is assumed that Bryant is the son of Isaac and Sally.
5. Catherine O'Neal, b. 5 June 1788, d. 4 May 1834, m. 11 Feb. 1827, Nelson Co., Ky., James Langley, b. 11 Jan. 1786, d. 10 July 1880. They both died in Morgan Co., Ill. and are bur. there in the Scott cem. James died intestate. Evidence for their grandchild comes from a suit against James's estate. James served in the War of 1812 for which he received 80 acres of land. They were not found in the 1850 census of Morgan Co., Ill. Very little is known about this family.
6. Thomas O'Neal, b. 23 Sept. 1793, d. 7 Mar. 1877, m. 10 June 1825, Nelson Co., Ky., (1) Mary Langley, d. ca. 1837/8, dau. of Thomas, (2) 25 Dec. 1840, Brown Co., Ind., Martha Ann Ratcliff, b. 1818, Fayette Co., Ky., d. 1903, widow of James Gristy. The first five children are by the first marriage. By Martha Ann he had the last five. They appear in the 1850 census of Morgan Co., Illinois with all their children except Melvina and Fred.
7. Elizabeth O'Neal, b. 1 June 1793, d. 28 Feb. 1865, m. 7 Nov. 1813, Nelson Co., Ky., Joseph Price, b. Dec. 1786, d. 24 Nov. 1846. They lived in Nelson Co., Ky. Elizabeth and son Thomas are bur. in Heavenhill cem., Bardstown, Ky. [Information on this line from the late Mrs. Lorene Dant Goepper. As Mrs. H. W. McNamara suggests, the date of birth on Elizabeth's tombstone may be incorrect, since she was over 21 in 1813 when she married. Thus she must have been born no later than 7 Nov. 1792, meaning that she was the sixth child and should be placed before Thomas, born 1793.] Many of this line remained in Kentucky.
8. Mary O'Neal, b. 18 May 1798, d. 3 May 1866, m. 30 Nov. 1823, Edmund Moore, b. ca. 1798, d. 29 May 1877, age 79, both bur. in Scott cem., Morgan Co., Ill. In 1824 they were in Spencer Co., Indiana, when they sold their interest in the land of Bryant O'Neal to Thomas O'Neal (Nelson Co. Deed Book 16, p. 442).
9. Eleanor O'Neal, b. Dec. 1799, d. Feb. 1876, moved after 1845 to Morgan Co., Ill. Buried in Scott cem., Morgan Co., Ill., unm. It is assumed that she is the Ellen O'Neal, b. ca. 1804, Ky., living in Morgan Co., Ill., with George Price, b. ca. 1824, Ky., living with her. Just before them is the family of a Bryant Patterson, b. ca. 1824, Ky.
John O'Neal, b. ca. 1743, d. 1832, Nelson Co., Ky., m. (1) _____ _____ (2) Frances Hall, dau. of Michael Hall of Fairfax Co., Va., (3) 11 May 1800, Nelson Co., Ky., Margaret Mills, b. ca. 1777-80, Pa. The descendants of George, Charles, Aaron, and Elizabeth are the lines that for the most part continued to live in Nelson Co. About a third of the children moved to the Jackson Purchase area of Kentucky, and another third moved to the Middle West. Those in Nelson Co. have tended to use the name Neal instead of O'Neal.
by the unnamed first wife:
1. Spencer O'Neal, b. ca. 1766 or 1771, probably Va., d. ca. 1840-41, Carroll Co., Ark., m. (1) Huldah Butler, d. possibly by 1815, and certainly by May 1818, dau. of Gilbert Butler of Muhlenberg Co., Ky., (2) 15 May 1818, Washington Co., Mo., Neoncy Woolsey, b. ca. 1785. The date of Huldah's death is based on the fact that she had been administratrix of her father until Spencer took over administration in 1815. It has not yet been proved that this was the Spencer who was John's son. The information on this line, which moved to Missouri, does not yet contain enough information to know whether this is John's son by this name. It seems to be a fiction that Spencer was captured by Indians.
2. George O'Neal, b. ca. 1769 or 1774, probably Fairfax Co., Virginia, d. ca. 1801, Nelson Co., Ky., m. 22 Dec. 1796, Nelson Co., Ky., Eleanor McKay, dau. of Richard McKay and Ann (Hebb?), who had come to Nelson Co., Ky. from St. Mary's Co., Maryland. He is proved to be John's son by the sale by his heirs of his interest in John's land. Until quite recently most of George's descendants still lived in this part of Kentucky.
3. John O'Neal Jr. m. 2 Jan. 1810, Nelson Co., Ky., Elizabeth Carter, dau. of Edward Carter and Margaret Mason. John and Elizabeth (and some of his half-brothers by his father's third wife, Margaret Mills) moved to the Jackson Purchase area of western Kentucky, where John was deeded land on Mayfield Creek in 1838 by Jerome Hobbs. It has not yet been proved by documentation that he is John's son, but the Carters lived on land adjoining John Sr. They moved to the same part of western Kentucky as John Sr.'s children by the third wife.
4. Charles O'Neal, b. 26 Jan. 1777, probably in Fairfax Co., Va., d. 2 Dec. 1859, Nelson Co., Ky., m. 21 March 1811, Nelson Co., Ky., Margaret Murray, b. 20 June 1781, d. 22 Feb. 1863, dau. of John Murray and Dorcas Robinson (dau. of Joseph Robinson of will, Fauquier Co., Va., 1782). Both are bur. in the Baptist cem. in Bloomfield, Ky. He is mentioned in his father's will. This continues to be a relatively small group, and many of them are still in this part of Kentucky.
5. Sarah O'Neal, b. ca. 1780, m. 6 Dec. 1795, Nelson Co., Ky., Jacob Spilman. Despite the fact that her name is spelled without the "O" on her marriage bond and despite there being no mention there of her father (she was "of full age"), Sarah is called the daughter of John O'Neal in her sale to Fielding Merrifield (Nelson Co. Deed Book 28, p. 267, dated 14 May 1853) of her interest in his lands after his death. At that time she was living in Westport, Oldham Co., Ky. Beyond that, little is known of subsequent generations.
6. Bryant O'Neal. Corwin O'Neal's "Meet the O'Neals" lists him and says that he was told that he died young. He does not appear in any records.
By Frances Hall, the second wife:
7. Nancy O'Neal, b. 1 Feb. 1784, probably in Fairfax Co., Va., or Ohio Co. (W.) Va., dau. of John, who consented and was bondsman, m. 17 July 1804 (bond), Nelson Co., Ky., John M. Lanham, b. 25 Mar. 1782, Maryland, d.5 Apr. 1853, Jefferson Co., Ind., bur. Mannville cem. John's consent for her marriage proves that he was her father. Most of this line remained for along time in this part of Indiana.
8. Elizabeth O'Neal, b. 1786, d. 18 February 1891, aged 105 years, 8 months, 14 days, m. 18 Feb. 1808, Nelson Co., Ky., Uriah McKay, b. 1782, d. 1830, son of Richard McKay and Ann [Hebb?]. He was the brother of Eleanor McKay who m. George O'Neal. They lived near Madison, Indiana, and later in Taylorsville, Spencer Co., Ky. Elizabeth, known in the larger McKay and O'Neal families as "Aunt Betsy" McKay lived to be nearly 106. She is proved to be John's daughter by his consent to her marriage A very great part of this family remained in Kentucky.
9. Thomas O'Neal, b. 10 Jan. 1792, Nelson Co., Ky., d. 17 Nov. 1861, Vermilion Co., Ill., m. Sarah Howard, b. 15 Apr. 1795, Ky., d. 4 Nov. 1863, Vermilion Co., Ill., both bur. Parrish cem., Vermilion Co., Ill. The record of this marriage has not yet been found. Polly Lanham, an O'Neal descendant, thought they were married in Jefferson Co., Ind. (living there in 1820), but no record has been found there, and their second child, John, is recorded as having been born in Ky. He is not yet proved by documentation to be John's son., but his family's tradition is that he came from Nelson Co., and Betsy McKay's sons say that he was Betsy's brother. John's son Moses is buried with Thomas's family. Until recently many of this family still lived in Illinois.
10. William O'Neal, b. ca. 1795, Ky., [d. 4 July 1869, according to Corwin O'Neal's account], m. (1) 16 July 1818, Switzerland Co., Ind., Malinda Grimes, d. ca. 1839, Vermilion Co., Ill., dau. of Elijah Grimes, (2) 5 May 1842, Vermilion Co., Ill., Mrs. Permelia (Walters) Wiley (widow of James Wiley). He is not yet proved by documentation to be John's son, but the name Spencer is used in his family, and Betsy's McKay's sons say that he was her brother, and they lived together for a time in Indiana. This family lived in Illinois and in California.
11. James O'Neal, b. 1795, d. 22 May 1833, m. 13 Jan. 1820, Mariah Ogan, b. 2 Feb. 1803, dau. of Thomas Ogan. He died in Cincinnati, Ohio in the cholera epidemic and was buried with others in an unmarked mass grave. He was the grandfather of Corwin O'Neal, who compiled "Meet the O'Neals." He is proved to be John's son by the disposal of his interest in John's land. Several descendants of this family moved to Iowa.
by the third wife, Margaret Mills:
12. Aaron O'Neal, twin, b. 23/25 Feb. 1801, Nelson Co., Ky., d. ca. 1862, Murray, Ky., at home of son Bryan/Brian O'Neal's wife, m. 1821, Nelson Co., Ky., Anna Patrick, dau. of Elizabeth. He was the son of John O'Neal by his third wife, Margaret Mills, as is proved by his sale of his interest in John's land. The Corwin O'Neal account states that Aaron was famous locally as a strong man whom no one could outwrestle. Descendants of this family are in Nelson Co. and in far western Kentucky.
13. Moses O'Neal, twin of Aaron, b. 25 Feb. 1801, Nelson Co., Ky., d. 10 Aug. 1871, m. 27 Jan. 1827, Shelby Co., Ky., Hannah Mills, b. 9 May 1810, d. 1 Oct. 1877, sister of Thomas Mills, and daughter of Moses Mills. They lived in Sullivan Co., Indiana, Vigo Co., Ind., and Vermilion Co., Ill., where they are buried The Corwin O'Neal account in "Meet the O'Neals" says that Moses and Aaron were large, powerfully built men. He is mentioned in John's will.
14. Jane O'Neal, b. ca. 1804, m. 20 May 1824, Nelson Co., Ky., William Murphy, b. ca. 1801, son of Philip Murphy. There is no evidence that they had children. They were living in Chaplin, Nelson Co., Ky. in 1850, but are not in the records after that. John gave consent for the marriage of his daughter Jane.
15. Constantine O'Neal, b. ca. 1805-8, Nelson Co., Ky., d. by 4 Oct. 1859, Hickman Co., Ky., m. (1) 19 Feb. 1829, Nelson Co., Ky., Elizabeth Wooley, b. ca. 1806-8, d. 20 Aug. 1852 of typhoid fever, Hickman Co., Ky., daughter of Thomas and Violetta Robertson, (2) 25 May 1854 in Missouri, while residing Hickman Co., Ky., Mrs. Martha A. (Booker) Pillow, b. ca. 1821, widow of James Pillow. They are said to have lived on Wolf's Island No. 5 in the Mississippi. The state vital statistics are surely incorrect on the date (22 July 1860) of his death. His daughter Lydia had a guardian in Jan. 1860 when she married, and the documents administering his estate begin in 1859. Cannot find the origin of Martha's maiden name. No documentation has yet been found that proves him to be the son of John. He is, however, called John's son in Corwin O'Neal's "Meet the O'Neals." Constantine has many descendants in the Jackson Purchase area of Kentucky, as does Joseph below.
16. Joseph O'Neal, b. ca. 1813-20, Nelson Co., Ky., living in 1881, m. 7 Oct. 1852, Ballard Co., Ky., as a resident of Hickman Co., Martha Ann Henderson, b. Ballard Co. (In 1881, as an heir of James Henderson, she was deeded land.) His mother Margaret was living with them at age 70 at the time of the 1850 census. No documentation has been found that proves him to be John's son, but John's widow Margaret made her home with him in her later years.
17. Polly (Mary) O'Neal, under the name Neale m. 1 Oct. 1839, Hickman Co., Ky., Solomon Dodson, Elam O'Neal bondsman (Hickman Co., Ky., Marriage Bonds, 1822-45, p. 22). They are said to have moved to Missouri, but they appear in the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Ballard Co., Ky. [In Nelson Co., Ky. on 27 Oct. 1814, Polly Bishop, dau. of Solomon Bishop, m. Wesley Dodson, and on 18 Dec. 1805, Sally Bishop, dau. of Solomon, m. Isaac Dodson.] No documentation has yet been found that proves her to be the dau. of John. The Elam O'Neal who was bondsman was probably the son of John Jr. by that name, a name that came through Elam's mother's Carter family.
Charles Neal, who d. in Fayette Co., Ky., by Oct. 1803, m. probably in Prince William or Fairfax Co., .Va., Ann Stone, dau. of William Stone. He was probably the William Stone of Fairfax Co., Va., who had a wife Grace, a name that recurs among Neal descendants. Nearly all of Charles Neal's descendants left Fayette Co., Ky. except the line of Ann Wheeler and perhaps that of Grace Calvert Bragg, daughter of Catherine Neal. As far as can be learned from existing Fayette Co. land records, Charles Neal first appeared there in 1788, buying 100 acres on South Elkhorn from Andrew and Margaret Gatewood and 43 acres from Levi and Catherine Covenhoven in the same area.
1. Catherine Neal, d. ca. 1848, Fayette Co., Ky., m. Peyton Calvert. Peyton Calvert was the son of Levi Calvert of a Prince William Co., Va. family that sent a good many representatives to Nelson Co., Ky. All the lines of this family, except perhaps that of Grace Bragg, left Kentucky for Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois.
2. Polly Neal m. 17 June 1806, Fayette Co., Ky., William Wilkinson of Ohio. Some of their descendants moved to Indiana.
3. Grace Neal m. 12 Feb. 1805, Fayette Co., Ky., cousin John Hollyman. Settled in Marion Co., Mo. All of the Hollymans were living in Missouri at the time of the division of the Neal lands.
4. Jane Neal. d. 1850, Fayette Co., Ky., unm.
5. Ann Neal, b. ca. 1794, m. 27 Oct. 1813 (bond), Fayette Co., Ky., George N. Wheeler, b. ca. 1793, d. 1855 [in 1850 census, living near Grace Calvert Bragg]. The overwhelming majority of members of this family remained in Fayette Co.
6. Frances Neal, unm. In Fayette Co. Deed Book 55, p. 34, 21 Oct. 1875, for love and affection for her great nephew Lenox M. Tucker, she deeded him her one-fifth interest in the land of her late brother Charles Neal.
7. Charles Neal, d. ca. 1875, age 80, unm. It was his land that was divided in 1877.
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