John vs Joseph

Q. Are John O'Neal and Joseph O'Neal Sr. the same person?

The quick answer is NO! This answer is based on the following information. 

   Excerpts from the History of Washington County, Ohio, 1788-1881, H.Z. Williams & Bros, Cleveland, Ohio, pages 503 & 526:.

Joseph O’Neal, sr., emigrated from old Virginia in 1812, and settled a short distance north of the present village of Belpre. He was born in 1770, and died in Belpre in 1807. His two sons Joseph and Colbert, continued to live on the home place. The latter, who is still living, was born in Virginia in 1805.

Joseph O’Neal, jr., was born in Virginia in 1800, and died in Belpre in 1840. He married Eunice Cole, who died February 27, 1881.

He who strolls among the graves and deciphers the moss-grown inscriptions, will find among the more prominent names and early dates the following, viz: Johnathan Stone, died in 1801; Peregrin Foster, in 1804; Noah Sparhawk, 1807; Johnathan Haskell, 1816; Captain William Dana, 1809, and his son Charles, 1817; Deacon Benjamin Miles, 1817; Major Robert Bradford, 1822; Benjamin F. Stone, 1824; Theodore Foster, 1825; Amos Stearns, 1813; William Browning, 1823; Reuben Robbins, 1821; Colonel Silas Bent; 1848; Daniel Loring, 1825; Doctor William Beebe, 1821; Benoni Lewis, 1821; Joseph O’Neal, 1810; Levi Benedict, 1824, and others.

Excerpt from Margaret R. Waters, et al, Abstracts of Obituaries in the Western Christian Advocate, 1834-1850, The Family History Section, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, 1988:

O’Neal, Joseph; b. Sep 08, VA; d. 17 Feb 40, Belpre, OH; To OH 1811. [6-196; 27 Mar 40]

 Excerpt from Elizabeth Ellery Dana The Dana Family in America, Cambridge, Mass.: unknown, 1956, page 320:

STEPHEN 5 DANA (William,4 William,3 Benjamin,2 Richard 1), born Worcester; baptized there, at First Church, Nov. 7, 1779; died June 6, 1834; married Apr. 14, 1807, BETSEY MARIETTA FOSTER (sister of his brother William’s wife), born Providence, R. I., June 7, 1788, died Apr. 9, 1870, daughter of Hon. Peregrine and Polly (Parkman) Foster. He was a farmer and large landowner. Res. Belpr‚ and Newport, Ohio. Children, born in Newport: i. SERAPH DWIGHT,6 b. July 29, 1808; d. Sept. 13, 1869; m. Nov. 1, 1832, Colbert O’Neal of Belpre‚, b. Culpepper, Va., Jan. 15, 1805, son of John and Judith (Suttle) O’Neal.

 Excerpt from Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight, The history of the descendants of John Dwight of Dedham, Mass. New York: John F. Trow & Son, 1874, page 665:

Seraph Dwight Dana, b. July 29, 1808, m. Nov 1, 1832, Colbert O’Neal of Belpre, O., Jan 15, 1805, in Culpeper Co., Va. (son of John O’Neal and Judith Suttle: she d. Sept 13, 1869, aet. 100. Her mental facilties were bright to the end. She had been eminent for her piety from early life). He is a prosperous farmer at Belpre, O.

Excerpts from William Emmett Reese The Settle-Suttle Family Fannie Lu Camp Fisher, 1974, page 578:

Judy Settle, daughter of Isaac and Jane Settle, was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, March 1776; she died in Washington County, Ohio, 13 September 1869, and was buried in Belpre Cemetery.
She was married, first, by the Reverend John Swindler in Culpeper County, Virginia, 8 April 1794, to John O’Neale*. He was born apparently in Virginia, 1770, and died in Belpre, Washington County, Ohio, 1810.
Her second marriage was in Washington County, Ohio, circa 1812, to James Russell. He was in Litchfield, New Hampshire, 1746, and died in Belpre, Ohio, 1821.
In 1810, John O’Neal and family emigrated to Washington County, Ohio, where he lived until death. In the United States Census for Washington County, Ohio, 1850, Juda Russell, age 74, born in Virginia, is shown living with her son, Colbert O’Neal.
Issue by the first marriage (All born in Culpeper County, Virginia):
Jane, b. 1795; d. near Bourneville, Ross County, Ohio, 24 October 1866; mar. William Campbell, whose father was born in Scotland, and whose mother was a McArthur, 2 April 1816, issue, Daniel, mar. Sarah Ann Mullin; John, mar. Hannah Moats; Duncan; Nancy, b. 14 September 1821, mar. Duncan McArthur, who d. 1850; Mragaret, mar. Camben Cutright; Effie, d. unmarried; Colbert, d. young; William, d. young; Mary Jane, mar. Sanmuel Moats; Judy, mar. Willis Parker; James P.. mar. Cornelia Beltzer; Elizabeth, mar. Arthur F. Burt; Matilda, mar. Peter Dick; and Christina.
Joseph b. 14 Septemeber 1800; d. in Belpre, Ohio, 17 February 1840; mar. Eunice Cole, issue, Joseph Leroy of Belpre; Ezra H. of Colorado, John C. of Belpre (1836-1924); George; Philip D., and Angenora B. (1842-1926).
Colbert, b. 1805; d. in Belpre, Ohio, September 1900; mar. Sarah Dwight Dana, issue, Foster; Amanda, mar. Thomas Rowland; Edwin Russell, b. 2 October 1839, mar. Nancy J. Scott, daughter of Wm. Scott, issue, Joanna O. and William R., who became Postmaster, Winter Park, Florida, and Treasurer of Rollins College.

 Note from The Settle-Suttle Family book by William Emmett Reese:.

*Known as Joseph in a History of Washington County, Ohio, by Williams Bros. Possibly his name was John Joseph and he was known as Joseph, although his marriage license in Culpeper County, Virginia, was issued in the name, John O’Neale.

1850 Federal Census for Belpre, Washington County, Ohio, M432_738, pages 548 & 549, for Colbert O’Neal:.

SCHEDULE I. – Free inhabitants in District No.157 Belpre Township in the County of Washington State Ohio enumerated by me, on the 19th day of July 1850. Benj. F. Stone Asst. Marshall








Value of Real Estate




Colbert O’Neal







Sarah O’Neal





Foster O’Neal






Amanda O’Neal





Edwin R. O’Neal





Juda Russel





From the book John Vogt, et al, Culpeper County, Virginia Marriages, 1780-1853 Iberian Publishing Company, Athens GA:

John O’Neale married Judith Suttle on 8 April 1794.

According to the book Marriage Records of Ross County, Ohio, 1798-1849:

Judah O’Neal married James Russell on 9 Aug 1814.

Excerpt from the Bennet O’Neale Letter postmarked 9 May 1859:

My father’s name was John. He was born in St. Marys County Maryland the 9th day of Oct 1749. His father’s name was John and I think from Ireland. My father came from Maryland to Culpepper County Virginia where he lived and died.

      Marriage records from Culpeper County, Virginia show John O’Neal and Judith Suttle getting married on 08 Apr 1794. Obviously, Rachel Wood had passed away by this time. Bennet was born in 1784, so he was still a boy. Some might argue that this was John’s son John, born in 1786 according to the Bennet letter, but he would have only been eight years old at the time.

     Juda shows up on the 1810 census as head of household, meaning poor John had obviously gone to his just reward. She is living with six children, three boys and three girls.

Will abstracts of Culpeper, VA, v.3, (1803-1809)
Culpeper Will Book E 20 June 1803-16 October 1809. p. 68
Edited & Published by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
1320 Mayflower drive, McLean, VA 22101
Copyright 1988

P214 Pursuant to an Order of the Court of Culpeper, we have first been 
sworn, have proceeded to appraise the Estate of JOHN ONEALE, decd, as 
followeth...(which inventory includes...Negro sarah aged about 50 
years, $100; Negro Solomon, aged 7 years, $133; one horse, two beds, a 
saddle, a woman's saddle. seven chairs, kitchen furniture, forty logs 
in the Town of Washington, five stacks of wheat. JUDY ONEALE 
Gabriel Smither
James Garrott
Chas Harper

At a court held for Culpeper County the 16th of February 1807
This inventory of the estate of JOHN ONEALE decd was returned into 
court and ordered to be recorded.

John O’Neal’s will was being probated in Culpeper, Virginia in 1807. So John was buried in Virginia, not Ohio. He died in 1807, not 1810. His wife Judah was still living in Virginia with her children in 1810. Joseph never even moved to Ohio.  He moved from Maryland to Virginia and subsequently died.

 1810 Federal Census for Culpeper County, Virginia, M252_68, page 63, for Judah O’Neal:




Under 10












45 and over




  1. Judah was born Mar 1776 and would have been 34 in 1810, even though she was named as the head of household the enumerator didn’t make a mark for her.

So let’s recap what we have:

  • An excerpt from a book that says Joseph sr. was the father of Joseph jr. and Colbert, moved to Ohio in 1812, and died in Ohio in 1807 or 1810.
  • An abstract showing that Joseph (jr.) moved to Ohio in 1811.
  • Excerpts from two books, probably from the same source, saying John O’Neal & Judith Suttle were the parents of Colbert O’Neal
  • Excerpts from another book showing John O’Neal & Judith Settle as the parents of Jane, Joseph, & Colbert.
  • A note from a book questioning if John & Joseph might not have been the same person, i.e., John Joseph O’Neal.
  • Marriage records showing Judah married to John O’Neale and James Russell.
  • A census showing 74 year old Juda Russell living with Colbert O’Neal and his family in 1850.
  • A letter from John O’Neale’s son Bennet, from his first marriage, saying his father lived and died in Virginia.
  • An abstract of the probate for the estate of John O’Neal.
  • A census showing Judah the head of household in Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1810.

My thoughts:

  • Hard facts:
    • Judah Suttle and John O’Neale were married in Culpeper County, Virginia.
    • Judah Suttle O’Neal and James Russell were married in Ross County, Ohio.
    • Juda Suttle O’Neal Russell was living with Colbert O’Neal in the 1850 Federal Census for Belpre, Washington County, Ohio.
    • Bennet O’Neale says his father, John O’Neale, lived and died in Virginia.
    • Judah O’Neal was the head-of-household in the 1810 Federal Census for Culpeper County, Virginia.
  • My assumptions based on the hard facts:
    • Judah was a widow in 1810.
    • John died in Virginia prior to the 1810 census.
    • Judith Suttle and John O’Neale were the parents of Colbert O’Neal, and, therefore, by extension the parents of Jane and Joseph.
  • Soft facts I feel are erroneous:
    • Joseph was not the father of Joseph & Colbert.
    • John O’Neale did not die in Ohio.
    • John’s middle name was not Joseph.
  • General comments:
    • The History of Washington County, Ohio, 1788-1881 is riddled with errors. I’m not sure how the information in the book was obtained, but I’m almost certain it wasn’t always done by interviewing knowledgeable family members.
    • As of this writing, I have yet to find a Joseph O’Neal born in 1770 in Virginia.
    • I have never found any land records for the elder Joseph in Ohio. I have found land records for the younger Joseph & Colbert. I have found no records of land being transferred from the elder Joseph to his sons.
    • If you remove the information found in the History of Washington County, Ohio, it makes sense that John O’Neale, the husband of Judith Suttle, is the father of Jane, Joseph and Colbert.
    • The one lingering problem is from the tombstone inscription from the Cedarville Cemetery mentioned in the “History” indicating that a Joseph O’Neal died in 1810.
      • My great-great-grandfather, Joseph O’Neal, who died in 1840 is buried in Rockland Cemetery, not the Cedarville Cemetery.  Other family members who died considerably later than Joseph are also buried in the Rockland Cemetery.
      • Was there a Joseph O’Neal who died in 1810, but was not the father of Joseph & Colbert?
      • If there was a Joseph who died in 1810 and he wasn’t the father, then who was he?


William Emmett Reese speculated in his book, The Settle-Suttle Family, that John Joseph O’Neal may have been the name of John O’Neal. He did this trying to make the pieces fit. The pieces don’t fit as shown above.

John O’Neal, of The O’Neal Genealogy Association, thought the pieces did fit. (I respectfully disagree, sorry John.) Thus, you see the name John Joseph O’Neal in many different family genealogies.

But, all we really have is one Joseph O’Neal, 1770-1810, from the History of Washington County, Ohio, that we don’t know anything about yet.