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Suggestions to take this further?

Discussion in 'Researching Your Civil War Ancestry' started by Michael O'Neil, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. Michael O'Neil

    Michael O'Neil Private

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    Hi folks - it’s been a while since I posted but I’ve come across this and was wondering if anyone knows where if anywhere I could go next.

    I'm (still) trying to find out about the Civil War service of a Patrick F. O’Neil and if indeed he did actually serve. He was born 28 Jan 1844 in Ireland and he died 17 Jun 1918 in Akron, Ohio. He lived in New York City prior to moving to Akron in 1880 so I suspect his service would have a New York connection.

    His obit states: "When the Civil War broke out he and two brothers enlisted. The other two boys were killed during the great struggle but Patrick O'Neil fought all the way through, serving most of the time under General Thomas, and taking part in the battles around Nashville and the campaigns west of the mountains."

    To me that seems to imply that the branch of service was the army?

    I have the cemetery inscriptions for St Vincent's in Akron (done in 1959 and 2002) which states US veteran marker is present and I was in touch with a guy from NARA back in 2011 who examined their burial records and application for headstones and was unable to locate any information. So NARA have no record of an application for a marker.

    Someone once suggested that it could have been a GAR marker but I've not found anything for him online there. I have an image of his headstone - it's a simple one in the ground that's it and there is no other marker.

    Anyhow this has just popped up on Ancestry in the Ohio, Soldier Grave Registrations, 1804-1958. Whilst the absence of any service record info isn't that unusual as I reckon about 10-15% of those I've looked at so far don't have any, I was wondering whether the fact that it says Yes to Marker: Upright and that it says F. Company, St Vincent's Roster means anything to someone that I could look into further?

    Ever the pessimist, my gut feeling is that there's a bit of invention about this. He's not in the 1890 Veteran's Schedule for Akron and I know that at one time he was involved in local politics in Akron. A family member once said to me that they'd once seen an old election pamphlet that said he was in the 'Fighting 69th' which was predominantly a New York Irish infantry regiment. If that was the case then I'd have expected him to be in the veteran's schedule. I have all the NY regiments' muster rolls and there's nothing that I can tie him down to there and certainly not in the 69th. I've gone through all the records at Fold3 and nothing definitive there either for any branch of service. Plus his obituary is wrong as I know for a fact that only one brother was killed (John USN) and the obituary was written by his brother Michael who appears as next of kin on the Soldier Grave Registration. When Michael wrote the obituary it didn't matter - no-one would check. Michael was a major business figure in Akron so no-one would have doubted the obituary. The election pamphlet I referred to earlier might have been Patrick's way of boosting his candidacy?

    Suggestions?

    Mike (Limey from Liverpool).
     

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  3. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator Trivia Game Winner

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    Not only army, but specifically the United States Army of the Cumberland.
     
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  4. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    We have terrific researchers here so have a feeling you'll find answers. I'd like to say it seems unlikely he could have posed as a vet and gotten away with it? Maybe don't run away with idea no one would check his background just because he was an important guy? I realize an astonishing amount of Generals came out of the war who were probably privates but bet they didn't hang around vets groups. If Patrick was a humbug he'd have been outed in a big hurry, IMO? Thinking he'd have been especially crazy to lie about his service so loudly, as candidate for anything.

    Not sure his brother Michael would have lied in an obit about yet another brother and this one's service? Noticed ' O'Neil ' tends to be spelled ' O'Neill ', in the era- a Bernard of the 69th killed at Fredericksburg.

    They had a maddening habit of say, dropping a first name and using a middle name. A Patrick O'Neil could have had more than the one middle name indicated by his ' F '. ( Francis? )
     
  5. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator Trivia Game Winner

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    The 69th New York fought in the Eastern Theater. By mid-1864, it was badly depleted and disbanded. Your ancestor may have been originally in the 69th and reenlisted in another unit that fought with the Army of the Cumberland in the Western Theater.
     
  6. Taylin

    Taylin Corporal

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    The obituary for one of my ancestors says, and I'm paraphrasing, "the first man of the field of Chikamauga" the only problem was he resigned in 1862. This could be a similar error. I'll look into O'Neil when I'm home from work
     
  7. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

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    Screenshot (11).jpg
     
  8. Michael O'Neil

    Michael O'Neil Private

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    Hi folks - cheers for the replies. I downloaded every roster for NY regiments quite a few years ago - all 261 of them and I use them to check. All the Patrick O'Neils (all spellings) in the 69th seem to be too old by at least 4 years or so. Now I appreciate he might have lied about his age given that he'd have been 17 in 1861 and so a couple aged 21 or 22 could have been him. if he did lie. I wouldn't read too much into the O'Neil / O'Neill spellings as I check both given we have to rely on the person writing it down at the time but if it helps at all Patrick always used O'Neil and nearly always included his middle initial F which I think might have been Felix.

    However I do have some letters that his brother John (who perished June 1862) wrote in May 1862 which seem to indicate that Patrick was still at home in NYC at that time as they were addressed to him. In addition their father James died in July 1865 and Patrick is listed as being at the family home in NYC so it appears that the window is from May 1862 to July 1865 which rules out all of the 69th possibilities as they either enlisted earlier in 1861 or were discharged/died.

    Finally I have toyed with the idea of him using an alias which would almost certainly be the proverbial dead end. My strongest evidence is that a brother Felix paid a substitute and for some reason another brother Peter appeared twice in the NYC drafts (need to check the dates but certainly a couple of years apart) but I've got no record of Peter actually serving.

    PS I've got full Ancestry and Fold3 accounts and I'm reasonably confident I've checked everything they've got hence my throwing this out to everyone.

    Cheers for any suggestions.
     
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  9. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots Captain

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    Peter O'Neil, age 19. enlisted 3/3/1862, mustered 4/11/1862 as a Private into "G" company 63rd NY Infantry. Re-enlisted 12/21/1863. Wounded at Spotsylvania 5/18/1864. Mustered out 6/30/1865 at Alexandria, VA.
     
  10. Michael O'Neil

    Michael O'Neil Private

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    Cheers east tennessee - I'll quickly add this as I meant to keep this post to Patrick but in short there's too many possibilities for Patricks and Peters to narrow down any search especially when I don't even know branch of service. That's why I've been chipping away with other cribs (home address, obits, burials, etc).

    Anyhow as I said, for Peter he appears twice in the NYC drafts so either he was very unlucky being drawn twice or he dodged it somehow the first time at least. It's definitely him as the home address listed is 84 Madison Street and that's my bingo information for everything. Curiously he was named on his father's July 1865 probate as residing in Charleston but Charleston has been crossed out and replaced with 'undetermined'. This to me says he might have been serving (branch of service unknown) and had not returned by July 1865 with his last known whereabouts to have been in Charleston but now unknown? No info in his obit in 1882 about service.

    As for Felix, given the less common first name, then the numbers are reduced for possibilities. I did find the attached enlistment details and the reason it looks a likely possibility is the occupation Tavern Keeper. My Felix ran liquor businesses in Manhattan and Brooklyn with both Patrick and another brother James and there's only 3 or 4 Felixes in the NYC directories at any given time and only one was a liquor dealer - each time it gives business address (8 Chambers Street) and home address as 84 Madison Street. Now the problem I have with this actually being for him is firstly the age - this Felix would have been born 1834 where as my Felix was born 1839. I can understand folk lying about their age when they were too young to enlist but why say you were 5 years older when you don't need to given my Felix would have been 23? And secondly, my Felix is listed in every NYC directory throughout the war meaning surely he stayed in NYC? He is also named on his father's July 1865 probate as residing at 84 Madison Street. Later though Felix's obit mentions “that members of companies I and K, Twelfth regiment N.G.S.N.Y." are invited to attend the funeral”. This is the National Guard State of New York and they only did 30 days/3 months musters in 1861, 62 and 63 and Felix wasn’t present on any of them. He does appear in an honorary roll from 1867 as a Corporal but this date is post Civil War so he may have joined after.

    Blimey I meant to keep this quick but I ended up going on a bit. I just didn't want to digress from Patrick nor do I want folk going down avenues I've already exhausted. Nevertheless I've got so much tantalising yet possibly circumstantial info for all three of these brothers that I feel so close each time a new bit of info becomes available.

    As for the brother John (who perished) I feel very lucky as I have the complete history for him from enlistment to service to death to burial to 120 odd page pension application made by his mother which is a genealogical gold mine.

    Mike.


    felix-oneil-ny-2ha.jpg
     
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