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2013 Cemetery Walk - Samuel M. O'Neal (1846-1912) - portrayed by Andy Rubenacker.




Samuel Marshall O'Neal
Portrayed by Andy Rubenacker

Welcome. I am Samuel Marshall O'Neal. I was born here in Hamilton County on October 18, 1846. I grew up on my father's farm with my sister, Mary, just east of McLeansboro, in Crook Township. That would be over near Dolan Lake. I was named after my Uncle Samuel Marshall.

Let me introduce you to my parents, the late Capt. John W. and Jemima O'Neal. Father was born in Kentucky in 1817 and he moved to Hamilton County as a young man. Mother was born here in Hamilton County in 1825 and they married on January 9, 1842. She was the daughter of Daniel & Sophia Marshall and they are buried right up past the big tree.

My father served as an election judge when McLeansboro was incorporated in 1842. He was one of the founding members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) (Hamilton Lodge No. 191) in1856.

The Order of Odd Fellows established this cemetery in which now I am buried in. Father had a small farm just outside of McLeansboro next to Grandfather Marshall, and we were doing pretty well until the War came along.

Father served his country in the Grand Army of the Republic during the great rebellion. He enlisted right here in Hamilton County in the 56th Illinois Infantry in 1862 and served until 1866. He rose from a 1st Lieutenant to Captain in the 56th. He was in the Red River Campaign in Louisiana and Sherman's March to the Sea. The 56th was never driven from the field of battle.

When I turned eighteen, I enlisted in the 58th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company I and I'm a proud member of the McLeansboro Post No. 483 of the G.A.R. That would be the Grand Army of the Republic. There are some great patriots in our post like: Col. Hall and A. L. Sloan and we have been to several reunions together here in Southern Illinois.

Let me introduce you to my sister, Mary, and her husband T. B. Wright (Thomas). They were married in 1864 and they have a wonderful family. They own T. B. Wright & Sons Lumber Yard on the north east corner of the square.

After the War, the family moved to Shawneetown and father was a stock purchasing agent for the government. I worked at one of the local dry goods stores learning the merchant trade. Later, dad and I operated our own store right here in McLeansboro, J. W. O'Neal & Son, which I took over after father's death in December of 1880. That was a terrible fall that year. In August, mother passed away and in December father was on a purchasing trip for the store in New Orleans, LA, when he became ill and passed away.

Right here next to me is my sweet wife, Ms. Sarah Crouch. We were married on March 17, 1869, right here in McLeansboro. Everybody calls her Sallie and I swear she was the prettiest girl in town. You do know she was the sheriff's daughter. We were blessed with 3 wonderful daughters, Sallie, Nora and Edith.

But, that first winter little Sallie caught a cough and we buried her that spring. But, in the years that followed, we were blessed with Nora and Edith. In the spring of 1874, my beloved Sallie caught a cold in her chest and we lost her in May. It was real hard on the girls, they were so little and they really missed their mother. So, we moved in with my mother and father in their house here in McLeansboro. Mother took care of the girls and father and I operated the store.

On March 26, 1876, I was united in marriage to Ms. Philenia Ingram, but we all called her Lena. Her and the girls really got along well and in March of 1878, we were blessed with little Excie.

The girls grew up and got married. Nora has a great family. She married T. W. Biggerstaff and he is the County Superintendent of the Public Schools here in Hamilton County. Edith married Captain Mastin Buck and they are living in Ohio currently. He's a military man and has a bright future. Excie married W. C. Fairweather. He is the Superintendent of McLeansboro Schools and they operate the local newspaper here in McLeansboro, The Times Leader.

I've had a good life here in McLeansboro. I like to think of myself as a successful merchant here in town. I've been providing the community with groceries and some of the best chicken, pork and beef that money can buy! And they're all raised locally I can say! I have some free samples from the store, if you're interested. Mammoth Cave, our best chewing tobacco that we carry for the gentlemen, and something sweet for the ladies. (Offer Samples)

Does anyone have any questions that I could answer? If not, you all feel free to come back and visit the family any time! Thank you.