John O’neill. One of the largest estates in Stephens County is known as the O’Neill estate, left by the late John O’Neill at his death at Duncan on November 14, 1914. John O’Neill had an interesting career of pioneer experience in the Southwest, and was a fine type of the old settler, a man of sterling character, one who accomplished a great deal during his individual energy, and was as popular as he was successful. His family resides at Duncan, where Mrs. O’Neill occupies one of the largest and most attractive homes in that little city and she is herself n capable business woman as well as a lady of culture and of old Southern family stock.
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 1903. 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, who 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.