Bio: O’Neil/O'Neill, Family
Contact: Lani Bartelt

The O’Neil Family of Neillsville, Clark Co. WI.

James O’Neill, founder of Neillsville, Clark Co, Wis. b 4 May 1810 on the O’Neill family farm in Lisbon, St. Lawrence Co, N.Y. on the St. Lawrence River.

His father, Andrew O’Neill was born in Shane’s Castle, on the O’Neill estate County Antrim, Ireland 23 Sept 1766 and moved to the Province of Ontario Canada where he was a schoolmaster. He married Jane Armstrong, one of his pupils. She was born in Edwardsburg, and was of English descent. In 1798 they moved across the river around Ogdensburg, N.Y. and became the first settlers of Lisbon Township. Mr. O’Neill died 31 Dec 1840 and Mrs. O’Neill died 9 May 1846. They had eight children. The ones I know of from doing this research are James, Andrew, William and Henry and a sister who became Mrs. George W Sparrowhawk .and they would take over the farm of Andrew and Jane O’Neill in N.Y.

James O’Neill, the founder of the city of Neillsville, Clark Co, Wis. came to Wis. In June 1845 with his brother Henry O’Neill (who died in 1858), E. L. Brockway, and brothers Samuel F and William Ferguson and they became the first permanent settlers in what became Clark Co, WI. The party came overland in a wagon drawn by oxen, cutting their way through the brush and the trip took two days. That was the first road ever made in Clark County.

Shortly upon arrival the O’Neill family felled trees and built a rough log cabin about 18 feet by 24 feet on the banks of O’Neill Creek. Next a mill was built and by the end of the year it was ready for work.

Constructed of logs and located in the bed of the creek it was supplied with one upright saw with a capacity of 4000 feet of lumber every twelve hours and it worked continuously.

The pine logs were easily obtained along O’Neill Creek and they were floated down to the mill. The lumber was rafted at the foot of the mill, run to the mouth of the creek and combined in rafts, which usually contained 10,000 feet. Having reached the falls these rafts were again combined into still larger ones containing 40,000 to 50,000 feet and ran to the Mississippi, then to Burlington, Iowa, consigned to Alexander O’Neill and sold for an average of $10 per thousand.

In 1846 James O’Neill erected a larger home to live in and the abandoned log cabin, undermined by the water, fell into the creek. In the summer, John Kennedy and his wife arrived and Mrs. Kennedy became the first white woman in the county.

She became the housekeeper at the O’Neill place, where the entire colony boarded.

One of the recreational activities in Clark and Jackson Counties in those years was to have parties at the various homes with people traveling to a particular home via sleighs over the frozen Black River One winter persons from Clark County would go to the homes of persons in Jackson County and then the next winter persons from Jackson County would come to homes of persons from Clark County.

On Christmas Eve, 1846 James O’Neill gave such a party at his house. Among those that attended were the Douglas family from Melrose, Jackson Co, WI including one of their daughters, Isabella.

Here began the courtship of James O’Neill, which when completed ended in his marriage to Jane Douglas on 7 March 1847 officiated by John Valentine, Justice of the Peace.

The following March their first daughter, Isabella Jane would be born, as the first child born in Clark Co. WI She would later marry Wilson S Covill. Following next another daughter Maria would be born in 1854. She would marry Frank Darling. A son Thomas would die as a young man and another son, John would die in the Civil War

James O’Neill had the first farm in the county and by 1850 he had about 50 acres cleared on his lands. A Mr. Hamilton McCullom opened a small farm in connection with his mill near the mouth of Cunningham Creek, and a little later, Moses Clark opened a farm near his mill on the creek.

James O’Neil would have a son, John, who would serve as a Private in the Civil War in Co I of the 14th Wis. Infantry. He would serve from 10 Feb 1862 till 15 April 1862 where he would die at Paducah, KY. He too is buried at Neillsville City Cemetery.

14th Regiment, Wisconsin Infantry Organized at Fond du Lac, Wis., and mustered in January 30, 1862. Left State for St. Louis, Mo., March 8, thence moved to Savannah, Tenn., March 23-28. Served in unattached Army of the Tennessee to May, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 5th Division, Army of the Tennessee, May, 1862. Provost guard at Pittsburg Landing and Hamburg Landing, Tenn. Unattached, Army of the Tennessee, to August, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, District of Corinth, Miss., Army of the Tennessee, to November, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, Left Wing, 13th Army Corps (Old), Dept. of the Tennessee, to December, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, 16th Army Corps, to January, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 6th Division, 17th Army Corps, to September, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 17th Army Corps, to March, 1864. 2nd Brigade, Provisional Divisional, 17th Army Corps, Dept. of the Gulf, to June, 1864. (Veterans attached to 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 17th Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee, April to November, 1864.) Detached Brigade, 17th Army Corps, and 4th Brigade, 1st Division, 16th Army Corps, to August, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 16th Army Corps, to December, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Detachment Army of the Tennessee, Dept. of the Cumberland, to February, 1865. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 16th Army Corps (New), Military Division of West Mississippi, to March, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 16th Army Corps, to August, 1865. District of Alabama to October, 1865.

SERVICE - Battle of Shiloh , Tenn., April 6-7, 1862. Advance on and siege of Corinth , Miss., April 29-May 30. Provost duty at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., till July 23, and St. Hamburg till August 23. Moved to Corinth August 23. Battle of Iuka, Miss., September 19. Battle of Corinth , Miss., October 3-4. Pursuit of Ripley October 5-12. At Corinth till November 2. Grant's Central Mississippi Campaign. Operations on the Mississippi Central Railroad November 2 to December 23. Moved to Moscow and duty along Memphis & Charleston Railroad till January 10, 1863. Moved to Memphis January 10, thence to Young's Point, La., January 17 and to Lake Providence, La., February 8. Duty there till April. Movement on Bruinsburg and turning Grand Gulf April 25-30. Battle of Champion Hill May 16. Siege of Vicksburg , Miss., May 18-July 4. Assaults on Vicksburg May 19 and 22. Expedition to Mechanicsville May 26-June 4. Moved to Natchez, Miss., July 12. Capture of Natchez July 13 and duty there till October 9. Moved to Vicksburg, Miss., October 9 and duty there till March, 1864. Regiment veteranized December 11, 1863 and Veterans on furlough January 3 to March 6, 1864. (Company "E" and Veteran detachments from each Company joined 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 17th Army Corps, at Clifton, Tenn., thence march to Ackworth, Ga., via Huntsville and Decatur, Ala.. and Rome, Ga., April 29-June 8. Atlanta (Ga.) Campaign June 8 to September 8. Operations about Marietta and against Kenesaw Mountain June 10-July 2. Assault on Kenesaw June 27. Nickajack Creek July 2-5. Chattahoochie River July 5-17. Howell's Ferry July 5. Leggett's or Bald Hill July 20-21. Battle of Atlanta July 22. Siege of Atlanta July 22-August 25. Flank movement on Jonesboro August 25-30. Battle of Jonesboro August 31-September 1. Lovejoy Station September 2-6. Pursuit of Hood into Alabama October 3-26. Rejoined Regiment at Nashville, Tenn., December, 1864, except Company "E," which went as a pontoon train guard to the sea November 15-December 10, and through the Carolinas to Washington, D. C., rejoining Regiment at Montgomery, Ala., July 16, 1865.) Non-veterans on Meridian Campaign February 3-March 2, 1864. Red River Campaign March 10-May 22, 1864. Fort De Russy March 14. Occupation of Alexandria March 16. Grand Ecore April 3. Pleasant Hill Landing April 12. About Cloutiersville April 22-24. About Alexandria April 26-May 13. Wells' Plantation May 6. Bayou Boeuf May 7. Retreat to Morganza May 13-20. Mansura May 16. Moved to Vicksburg, Miss., May 20-24, thence to Memphis, Tenn., May 28-30, and duty there till June 22. Moved to Moscow and LaGrange June 22-27. Smith's Expedition to Tupelo, Miss., July 5-21. Camargo's Cross Roads, near Harrisburg, July 13. Harrisburg, near Tupelo , July 14-15. Moved to St. Charles, Ark., August 3-6, thence to Devall's Bluff September 1, and to Brownsville September 8. March through Arkansas and Missouri in pursuit of Price September 17-November 17. Moved to Nashville, Tenn., November 23-30. Battle of Nashville December 15-16. Pursuit of Hood to the Tennessee River December 17-28. Moved to Eastport, Miss., and duty there till February 6, 1865. Moved to New Orleans, La., February 6-22. Campaign against Mobile and its Defences March 17-April 12. Fish River March 17. Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely March 26-April 8. Assault and capture of Fort Blakely April 9. Occupation of Mobile April 12. March to Montgomery April 13-25 and duty there till August.

Moved to Mobile August 27 and duty there till October. Mustered out October 9, 1865. Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 116 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 3 Officers and 194 Enlisted men by disease. Total 319.

James O’Neill engaged in lumbering in Canada and NY. State for several years and then in 1836 moved westward working on river boats on the Mississippi cutting cord wood and running a keel boat but he developed ague and was forced to get off the Mississippi. In 1839, with his brother, Alexander journeyed to the Black River Falls, Jackson Co, Wis. area. James operated a sawmill there .In 1844 he came to Neillsville, Wis. building another sawmill while his brother Alexander moved to Burlington, Iowa to establish a lumberyard to sell and distribute lumber from the Neillsville mill. James O’Neill held local offices in Clark Co (Chairman of the County Board, County Treasurer, and County Judge.) served in the state assembly (1849, 1868) He was first chairman of the town of Pine Valley which preceded the organization of the county, he was first superintendent of schools of Pine Valley when the township took in the whole county, and farmed and operated a sawmill and a hotel, O’Neill House (which he sold and then bought back in 1878) in Neillsville until his death.

In 1856 Neillsville was named in his honor.

James O’Neil Sr. died 3 Sept 1847 and is buried in Neillsville City Cemetery, Neillsville, Wis.

Jane (Douglas) O’Neil died 9 June 1873 and is also buried at Neillsville City Cemetery. She was 59 years, 7 months and 22 days old.

After her death James O’Neil Sr. married a second time to a widow, Mrs. Caroline Teller, who would give him one more son, James, who as an adult lived in Tacoma, Washington.

Lani note/March 2006 I think this Mrs. Caroline Teller O’Neil may have gone to Tacoma, Washington with her son, James O’Neil as I find no record of either of them buried with the rest of the O’Neill family at Neillsville City Cemetery.

The other O’Neill family members buried at Neillsville City Cemetery are as follows:

Ernest Andrew O’Neill b 10 Mar 1877 d 5 Oct 1905 of TB was single and son of James & Marion (Robinson) O’Neill.

James O’Neill b 3 Sep 1847 d 9 Jun 1929 wife Marian R Robinson married 1876 Parents Andrew & Mary (Holiston) O’Neill.

Marion R O’Neill b 6 Jun 1858 d 31 Aug 1942 husband James O’Neill Parents David & Emma Robinson

Thomas O’Neil b Jan 1851 d 2 Mar 1872 Parents James & Jane O’Neill

There are also two markers/listings in the O’Neill family group, which are markers

Jimmie O’Neil is actually James/Jimmie Covill, son of Wilson S Covill and Isabella (O’Neill) Covill and is buried at the same cemetery under the name Covill.

Maria D (O’Neill) Darling daughter of James O’Neill Sr. & Jane (Douglas) O’Neill is actually buried with her husband Frank Darling at the same cemetery under the name Darling.

Isabella (O’Neill) Covill, the eldest daughter of James O’Neill Sr; and Jane (Douglas) O’Neill moved to Washington State with her husband Wilson S Covill and they are both buried in Washington State.

James O’Neill, nephew of James O’Neill Sr. James O’Neill was b 3 Sept. 1847 in Lisbon, St. Lawrence Co. N.Y. to Andrew O’Neiland Mary (Holliston) O’Neil. His father, Andrew O’Neil was a farmer in Lisbon, N.Y. and also was the customs collector in Lisbon N.Y. for sixteen years. His grandfather, also Andrew O’Neil was one of the first settlers of Lisbon N.Y. born Shanes Castle on the banks of Lake Neag in the north of Ireland. His mother was born near Ogdensburg, N.Y. and died in Cleveland, Ohio in 1852. Her parents were both from Berwickshire, Scotland. His paternal grandfather’s name was Armstrong and his nationality English. James O’ Neill was raised in the Episcopal faith. He received his education in the schools of Lisbon, N.Y. and began teaching at age 15 and taught for several terms.

At age 16 he entered St Lawrence University at Canton, N.Y. and studied there for three years, dropping out occasionally to teach school and earn money to continue his studies. While at the University he was editor of the Cornell Era for a year and he was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity. In 1868 he entered Cornell University as a sophomore and he completed his studies and graduated in June, 1871.

From 1870-1871 he was principal of the Ogdensburg Academy.

Entering the Albany law school in 1872 he graduated in 1873 and came to Wisconsin, in September following a visit to his uncle James O’Neill at Neillsville, Wis.; who was its’ first settler. At the earnest solicitation of his uncle he decided to make Neillsville his home and he opened an office for the practice of law. H.W. Sheldon was his first partner from 1877 –1879. He then worked alone until 1890 when Spencer M. Marsh became his partner under the firm name of O’Neill & Marsh.

James O’ Neill political record was as a Republican and he was a member of the lower Houses of the legislature in 1855, was appointed district attorney of Clark County by Gov. Rusk in 1887 and elected to the same office in the following year, in 1888 he was a Delegate to the Republican national convention. He ran for attorney general in 1890 and 1892 but was defeated and was a candidate for Judge of the 17th Circuit Court in 1891 and was again defeated. He again ran for the same position in April 1897 and was elected defeating W.F. Bailey and carrying the vote of every county in the circuit and he had the endorsement by the press for his candidacy.

He married 6 June 1876 to Marian Robinson of Neillsville, Wis. and they had two children Ernest and Marian.

Ernest d 5 Oct 1905 at age 28 and Marian became the wife of F.D. Calway of Neillsville, Wis.

Marian Robinson O’Neill came to Clark County with her parents in Jan. 1859. She was twenty months old.

It is interesting to note that the pioneer farm in N.Y. was still in the family, being occupied by two grandchildren, William H. and Mary J., now Mrs. George W. Sparrowhawk, and owned by them and another grandson, Judge James O’Neill. James & Marian are both buried at Neillsville City Cemetery.

In his obituary it stated that he was 81 yrs 9 mo and 7 days old and died of heart problems. He had been in poor health for about a year before his death and bedridden the last several weeks. Funeral services were held at the home of F. D. Calway with Rev G.W. Longenecker, Pastor of the Congregational Church officiating.


Contact:  Taylor O'Neill

Hello, Obviously I am an O'Neill and I am from Oshkosh, WI. It seems pretty likely to me that I am related to the folks mentioned on this page and if anyone has any more info on the O'Neill's in WI I'd be very interested, especially to see how I relate to the people mentioned on this page.

Contact:  Patrick JERRY O'Neill


Hello friends & relatives! 10-09-2006

Alexander O'Neill is my gg grandfather. He begat Augustus "Gus" O'Neill. "Gus" settled in Clear Lake, Iowa & begat Walter O, who begat Donald O, who begat me, Patrick JERRY O'Neill. I & my wife, Sharon, begat four more O'Neills: Patrick, identical twins Tim & Tom, & Mary. They are busy begatting us nine grandchildren! And still counting.

My wife says the O'Neills are an interesting bunch. Talented & funny & of course, good-looking. Please contact.

By the way, looking for where Alexander O died & is buried. He lived 1807-1858. Born in upstate New York (Lisbon) to Andrew & Jane (Armstrong) O'Neill. Came to Wisc as a lumberman @1839. Lived in Clark County & in Prairie du Chien & also Burlington, Iowa on the Mississippi where they had outlet for their lumber business. His wife is buried in Prairie du Chien & her stone says "Elizabeth M. Dandley, wife of Alexander O'Neill"but Alex is not buried there...can't find a death record for him...

Glad to share any info. My (3rd?)cousin in Des Moines, Ia is Jane Clemenson & she has a fair amount of info. She is an Alexander O descendant also.  Get in touch!  Jerry O'Neill, 2507 So. Lakeview Ct., Clear Lake, Ia 50428, e-mail



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