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John O'Neill

Male 1845 - 1914  (69 years)

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  • Name John O'Neill 
    Born 27 Aug 1845  County Tyrone, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 14 Nov 1914  Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    • John O'Neill initially made a lot of money, in partnership with with his brother-in-law Walter W. Payne, by renting cattle grazing from the Indians in Indian Territory in what was later to become Oklahoma. When the area was opened up to settlement and he was no longer able to rent grazing rights, he subsequently bought some of this land in the Chickasaw Nation. He later co-founded, with Walter Winchell Payne, the Oklahoma National Bank in Duncan, originally capitalised at $50, 000. He later raised hogs and cattle.

      He built an imposing house in Duncan in 1902. Much of the material used in this house, including the large cedar beams, was hauled by ox-pulled wagons from Gainesville, Texas. For a period of time the west upstairs bedroom was used as a Roman Catholic Mission. (Goins, C. R. & Morris, J. W.  (1980)  Oklahoma Homes Past and Present    University of Oklahoma Press: Norman) At the time of the 1910 census, he was listed as having an "independent income."

      The O'Neill home was later lived in by his daughter Byrd, and then by her sister, Annie Josephine O'Neill and her husband James Rufus Sparks. There were lots of books in the house. It is highly probable that John O'Neill was an educated man.

      The building was later bought by the Coffee family and a photograph of the house at this time appears in Goins & Morris where it is classified as a pre-statehood house with Georgian columns and called the Coffee House.

      John's gold plated top, black walking cane is the property of Mrs. Robin White of Kansas City. (1999).

      Betty from the Duncan library located these two articles about the O'Neill's in the Duncan Banner:

      7 Feb 1908

      Work of the addition to the O'Neill building will begin this week, some of the material being already on the ground. The addition will be 37X40 feet, two stories in height. It will be cut up into rooms for use by county officials. An awning will be run full length of the building on the west side. Editor Woods of the Eagle will soon move around on newspaper row. He has purchased the sheet iron building on the O'Neil lot and will move it fifty feet north, next door to the jail, where it will be converted into a print shop.

      14 Feb 1908

      Mr. O'Neill, of the O'Neill Construction Co., of Dallas, Texas, was in the city Friday in consultation with representative citizens int he matter of extending the water system. Just what agreement, if any, was reached has not been made public, who will establish a grade level and submit estimates for increased water supply, the extension of mains and a system of sewerage. If these plans meet with favor and are within reasonable bounds, the matter will be submitted to the people for approval or rejection. In the meantime it might be well to keep your ear to the ground. A greater and better Duncan is the watch-word all along the line. It's time to get busy.

      This first article definately related the John O'Neil of Duncan. The second may not be. Charles Strong does remember that John O'Neil was involved with the Duncan water works. Perhaps the O'Neill Construction Company of Dallas was owned by a relative.

      The following obituary was found by Charles Strong on a microfilm of the "Duncan Banner" at the Oklahoma State Archives in Oklahoma City. It was dated Thursday, 19 November 1914.

      John O'Neill Dead

      John O'Neill died at his residence in this city Saturday Nov. 14, 1914 at 1:45 p.m. aged 69 yrs, 2 mo, 17 days.

      The subject of this sketch was born in Tyrone county Ireland, August 27, 1845 and came to Kentucky in 1867 and to Oklahoma in 1885, settled on what is known as the O'Neill place one mile north of Velma, 29 years ago where he lived until a few years ago when with his family he moved to Duncan...Besides a devoted wife he leaves two daughters...

      The funeral services were held at the Catholic Church at 9:30 a.m. Monday, November 16th, 1914, after which the body was laid to rest in the City Cemetery.

      A more detail obituary was subsequently located by Charles Strong as well:

      The Duncan Banner  -   Special Edition Volume XVII Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma, Friday,   No. 44

      Duncan, Oklahoma, The Queen City of Southern Oklahoma

      Page 5 - Lower Left Column JOHN O'NEILL Prominent Citizen, Banker and Merchant

      But few men who have been identified with the development and growth of Oklahoma can lay claim to more popular favor and consideration of the public than this distinguished pioneer of Duncan.  Mr. O'Neill is a native of Torrone(sic),Ireland, having been born in the Green Isle in 1846, from whence he came to America, landing upon the shores of the United States in the year 1867, practically penniless but equipped with a large stock of manly courage, a strong intellect and a will to do, characteristics inherent in the native born sons of the Emerald Isle.   He first located in the state of Kentucky where, as a young man, he engaged in the pursuit of farming until 1877, when he moved to the state of Texas, where he lived and followed the business of raising cattle until 1885 when he removed to the territory now Oklahoma, settling on Wild Horse Creek, where he continued the business of raising cattle for twenty years.   As a cattle grower he was very successful in amassing a comfortable fortune for himself.   Mr. O'Neill moved to Duncan five years ago, bringing with him a large amount of capital which he invested in a way to add to the material strength and up-building of the city, becoming largely interested in the O'Neill-Frensley D(ry) G(oods) Co., which interests he has still retained, besides erecting at large cost the well known O'Neill business and office block-one of the most substantial and pretentious structures in the city.   These do not, however, include all the interests of Mr. O'Neill.  He is in fact financially interested in a number of the most valuable enterprises of the city, among other things, is a large stockholder in the Duncan National Bank.   Thus it will be seen, as a pioneer citizen of this new country, he has been a vital force in the development and advancement of the community wherein he lives.   It is due to the meritorious work of such men as he that Duncan and Stephens County are now regarded as not only a promising and profitable place for the investment of capital, but a most desirable place for settlers of all classes to locate.   Mr. O'Neill is not only a prominent figure and potent factor in the material advancement of the community, but is a man of high moral integrity and standing, one who upholds the law, supports and encourages the cause of religion, morality and good citizenship, and all public spirited movements are tendered(sic) his endorsement and support, and every new project and enterprise calculated to benefit the community or prove conducive to the public welfare is generously aided and encouraged by him.

      The following comes from Stephens County Genealogy Society publication "FOOTSTEPS", Oct. 1999, vol. 14, # 4, p 15. It was said to be based on an obituary published on November 20, 1914. Was this perhaps a second obituary?

      John O'Neil dead

      The subject of this sketch was born in Tyrone County, Ireland, in 1845, and moved to America at the age of 22 years, and has been a resident of Oklahoma, in what is now Stephens county, for 29 years, and cast his lot with the Duncan citizenship about 15 years ago.  He was the first man to erect one of Duncan's most substantial business blocks, and which he still owned at the time of his demise. He also owned one of the finest homes in the city, and was in everywise [sic] a very progressive citizen. He was loved and highly esteemed by all that ever knew him; ever ready to lend a helping hand to the needy and was never called upon by the people for any kind of a public enterprise that he did not respond nobly with his means and strength.

      John O'Neil died at home Saturday afternoon, November 14, 1914, at 1:45 o'clock. Funeral services were held at the Catholic church [sic] Monday morning at 9:30 o'clock, and his remains laid to rest the Catholic cemetery in this city. A large crowd of sorrowing friends attended the funeral services. The majority of the business houses were closed as well as all of the banks of the city.

      He is survived by his wife, two daughters, Mrs. J.R. Sparks and Miss Byrd O'Neil of this city, also one brother and two sisters who still live in their native country Ireland.

      Mr. O'Neil will be greatly missed by all the citizens of Stephens county [sic], as he was well and most favorably known to the majority of the entire population.

      The Church of the Assumption in Duncan, Oklahoma published a handout on Sunday, June 28, 1992 to celebrate Religious Heritage Day as part of the Centennial Duncan (1892-1992) celebration. "Coyles, Hills, Grahams, Huntleys, Wades, O'Neils. These among some of the earliest Catholic families no longer have descendants who carry their name on our parish rosters. However, a few of their progeny continue as active parishioners...Both sides of Anna Laura (Roonie) Strong's family history intertwines in their settlement of Duncan before the 1900s. Her Uncle John and Aunt Annie Sparks O'Neil's home presently the Phil Leonard home, was used regularly for masses before the first church was built in 1909."

      An article in the DUNCAN OKLAHOMA BANNER on 25 March 2001 had additional details on the establishment of the Catholic Church in Duncan. Titled "Young Cowboy began Catholic service in area," it detailed the contributions made by Bill Wade and his brothers in helping to establish a Catholic Church in the area. The Rev. Urban de Hasque, a Belgian immigrant priest, began regular trips by railroad from his Chickasha Parish to preside at mass in private homes. The John Weaver home was used for the first Catholic service in Duncan on December 12, 1902. In 1905, regular masses continued in the John O'Neil home, now known as the Pace Mansion. J.D. Wade gave land for the building of a church, and Lucian Haas, a young parishioner contributed much of the labor. The first service was held on January 1, 1909 with 20 Catholics present. In 1938, Duncan was almost changed to mission status. But in 1939, the Rev. George Fangauer, was appointed and the church remained a parish.

      Charles Strong also notes that John O'Neil donated land for a Catholic Cemetery.

      Finally, the following biography was emailed by Margie Meenan in February 2014. It was found on, a genealogy search engine, and was from a compilation of Stephens County, OK biographies, the original source said to be A STANDARD HISTORY OF OKLAHOMA, Volume 4, by Joseph Bradfield Thoburn.

      John O'Neill
      The late John O 'Neill was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, August 27, 1845, and was in his seventieth year when he died. His father, Patrick O'Neill, was born in the same county of Ireland in 1813, lived there a farmer all his life and died in 1901. John O'Neill spent his .early life in Ireland, was educated there, and in 1863 at the age of eighteen went to Scotland, but after a year or two returned to Queenstown, and in 1866 took passage for the New World. He landed in Philadelphia, remained there about six weeks, then went to Mount Sterling, Kentucky, and his farming experience in that state continued until 1879.

      It was about thirty-five years ago when John O 'Neill came to the Southwest and first located in the vicinity of Sherman, Grayson County, Texas. He was one of the early farmers and ranchers in that locality, but about 1881 moved to another place in Montague County, near the Red River boundary of Texas. His residence in Southern Oklahoma dates from 1885, when he was one of the pioneer white ranchers to secure a foothold on the Indian lands in the vicinity of Wild Horse Creek. His operations as a rancher and farmer continued there on an increasing scale until 1904, when he relaxed in some degree the strenuous activities that had engaged him to that time, and moved into the town of Duncan. His work and influence are visibly impressed upon the general business and civic progress of Duncan. For a time he had a dry goods store and was also one of the directors of the First National Bank of Duncan, and was one of the founders and a director in the Duncan National Bank, which was established August 8, 1904. In 1905 he was instrumental in having the bank erect its new stone building on Main street. His creditable work in the upbuilding of Duncan should never be passed over without honorable mention. He was a patron of the local schools and helped the village improve its institutions and establish its prosperity on a sound basis. Though he long stood as a leader, he had no aspirations for office, and contented himself with voting the democratic ticket. He was a member of the Catholic Church.
      John O'Neill married Elizabeth Payne, who was born within three miles of the county seat of Shelby County, Missouri, acquired her education in that and other counties of Missouri and in the Baptist College at LaGrange in that state. She and her daughter now occupy the fine residence built by the late Mr. O 'Neill at the corner of Third and Hickory streets in Duncan. In addition to this town home the real estate comprises a splendid tract of a thousand acres of land twenty miles east of Duncan, of which 800 acres are under cultivation, and also a stone business building at the corner of Main and Eighth streets, Duncan. Mrs. O'Neill has two daughters. Annie Josephine was married at Duncan November 27, 1907, to James R. Sparks, he is a Duncan hardware merchant, and they have one child living, Mary Patricia, born March 8, 1914. Bird, the younger daughter, is Joint administratrix with her mother of the O'Neill estate. She is a graduate of St. Joseph's Academy at Guthrie, Oklahoma.
      Mrs. O'Neill is a daughter of Thomas H. and Martha (Marshall) Payne. The Payne family is of Scotch Irish ancestry, and was established in Virginia before the Revolutionary war, and after that struggle moved across the mountains into Kentucky. Thomas H. Payne was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1821, and died in Montague County, Texas, in September, 1884. The principal places of his residence were in Bourbon County, Kentucky, in Palmyra, and Shelby County, Missouri, and late in life he removed to Montague County, Texas.
      He was a farmer and stock raiser during the greater part of his active career. During the war he participated on the Federal side for about one year, having first served in the Missouri militia under John Glover and continued with those troops when they were regularly enrolled in the Federal army. He was stricken with pneumonia while in the service and given an honorable discharge for disability. Martha Marshall, the mother of Mrs. O'Neill, was born in Kentucky in 1827 and died in Montague County, Texas, in October, 1900. Mrs. O'Neill was the oldest of their ten children, and some mention of the others of the family is as follows: Harriet Katherine, who now lives in Idaho, is the widow of the late Thomas Joiner, a farmer; Samuel, who lives on a farm near Marlow, Oklahoma: William, a farmer at Marlow; Winifred, at Butler, Oklahoma; Newton, a farmer near Wewoka, Oklahoma; Gallic, wife of Fred McClannahan, a carpenter and builder who lives at Holbrook, Arizona ; Lulu, wife of Allison Scott, a retired railroad man at Fort Worth, Texas; Thomas, who was a rancher and died at Duncan at the age of forty-three; Walter, a farmer and rancher at Duncan.
      [Source: A Standard History of Oklahoma Volume 4 By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn - Submitted by a Friend of Free Genealogy]
    Person ID I5463  Strong Family Tree
    Last Modified 17 Aug 2014 

    Father Patrick O'Neil,   b. Abt 1813, County Tyrone, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 1901, County Tyrone, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 88 years) 
    Mother Annie McClosky,   b. Bef 1825, County Tyrone, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID F2853  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Sarah Elizabeth Payne,   b. 10 Oct 1845, Shelby County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Apr 1919, Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 73 years) 
    Married 18 Aug 1883  Montague, Montague County, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    • Their marriage was recorded in Montague County Courthouse Marriage Book B, page 61. The wedding was conducted by S.C. Royal, Minister of the Gospel.
     1. Annie Josephine O'Neill,   b. 14 May 1884, Texas Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Jun 1967, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 83 years)
     2. Bird Elizabeth O'Neill,   b. 4 Sep 1889, Indian Territory Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Apr 1921, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 31 years)
    O'Neill Home Duncan, Oklahoma
    O'Neill Home Duncan, Oklahoma
    Born in Ireland, John O'Neill made his fortune in cattle and banking. He built an imposing house in Duncan in 1902. Much of the material used in this house, including the large cedar beams, was hauled by ox-pulled wagons from Gainesville, Texas. For a period of time the west upstairs bedroom was used as a Roman Catholic Mission. (Goins, C. R. & Morris, J. W. (1980) Oklahoma Homes Past and Present University of Oklahoma Press: Norman) At the time of the 1910 census, he was listed as having an "independent income." John and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Payne, were the original occupants of the home, along withe their daughters, Byrd and Annie. Later it was owned by Annie Josephine O'Neill and her husband James Rufus Sparks. Later still it was purchased by the Pace family and called the Pace Mansion.
    Last Modified 9 Dec 2006 
    Family ID F1054  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 27 Aug 1845 - County Tyrone, Ireland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 18 Aug 1883 - Montague, Montague County, Texas Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 14 Nov 1914 - Duncan, Stephens County, Oklahoma Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Documents
    First National Bank of Duncan, Indian Territory, 1902
    First National Bank of Duncan, Indian Territory, 1902
    Front of Business Card. Among the banks directors were John O'Neill and W.W. Payne of Duncan.
    First National Bank of Duncan, Indian Territory, 1902, Back
    First National Bank of Duncan, Indian Territory, 1902, Back
    Back of Business Card. Among the banks directors were John O'Neill and W.W. Payne of Duncan.

  • Sources 
    1. [S260] O'Neill Family Bibile (Owned by Jo Pat Kubik) Front byleaf Montague, TX 1884 Cost $5,50.

    2. [S389] State of Oklahoma, Department of Health, Certificate of Death.

    3. [S221] Montague County, Texas, Marriage License.