Ophelia’s Children

O'Neil Sykes Group front

The ladies and gentleman in the above photograph are probably four of William Thomas O’Neil and Ophelia Young O’Neil‘s five children. I qualify that statement because one of the ladies is not named in the inscription on the back (below). Also unclear is which daughter is which.

We can positively identify Henry Edward O’Neil (1876-1923). In Census records and newspaper accounts of Ed’s death there is considerable confusion about his name. Was it Edwin or Edward, was this name first or was Henry first? In spite of good professional and financial fortunes (Saint Regis Falls National Bank president, Saint Regis Falls Light and Power Company president, considerable lumber holdings) his life ended early and tragically. According to press accounts, in April 1923 Ed drove from his home in Saint Regis Falls, NY to Brasher Falls, NY and checked into the Riverside Hotel. That night he went to a dance and returned to his room very late. When he didn’t show up for “dinner” at midday, the hotel owner investigated and found that Ed had hanged himself using bed sheets tied to a bedpost. In The Journal and Republican and Lowville Times of 26 April 1923 it was written that “No reason could be ascribed for his act other than belief he was a victim of despondency.”

Dorothy Grace O’Neil (1891-1969) married Edwin Gilchrist Sykes (1890-1959) in 1917. They operated a dairy and they had three sons.

Florence Louise O’Neil (1885-1976) married Chester Marion Austin (1885-1969) and they had two sons.

Edith O’Neil (1874-1934) married Canadian-born Donald Alexander MacDonald (1862-1935). In 1914 and 1915 Edith was the Assembly District Leader of the Franklin County Suffrage League, a position from which she resigned when she moved to Albany, NY with her husband who was an assemblyman and Conservation Commissioner. Read her “It Is The Indifferent That Oppose Suffrage” in the 15 September 1915 edition of The Norwood News. In 1917 Edith received a patent for “a process for extracting dye from autumn leaves.” According to Sustainable Fashion: Past, Present, and Future by Jennifer Farley Gordon and Colleen Hill, the development of the process, inspired by the stains leaves leave on sidewalks, was timely because WWI had disrupted synthetic dye imports from Germany. Her patent emphasized the fact that fallen leaves were a renewable resource which could be recycled as fertilizer after processing.

Not pictured is the youngest sibling, Arthur S. O’Neil (1893-1965), who married Katherine Russell Warner (1897-1972). They had one daughter. Arthur was president of the Ogdensburg Trust Company in Ogdensburg, NY when he died. His absence from this photograph could be explained by his service in WWI which took him overseas between 26 February 1918 and 6 July 1919. He served in the 41st Engineers and the 13th Battalion of the 20th Engineers.

O'neil Sykes Group back

Ophelia’s Children

Senator and Mrs. William T. O’Neil

William T O'Neil front

William Thomas O’Neil (1850-1909) was a businessman and farmer who was serving his second term in the New York State Senate when he died at age 59. His obituary in the 6 May 1909 edition of the The New York Times observed that “Senator O’Neil earned distinction in the Legislature as the man who safely guided Theodore Roosevelt past the legislative pitfalls when both were new to political life. This was in 1882. Theodore Roosevelt had been elected to the Assembly for the first time from the old Twenty-first (New York) District. Senator O’Neil was an Assemblyman from Clinton County. The two occupied adjoining seats in the Assembly Chamber and soon became firm friends.” The 12 May 1909 edition of The Malone Farmer contains a glowing obituary and description of his funeral service which is accompanied by a poor copy of the above photograph.

He married Ophelia Young (1853-1932) in 1873.  She appears in the two following photographs. Her obituary appeared in the 23 November 1932 issue of The Malone Farmer and is partly included on her findagrave.com memorial page.

Ophelia Young O'Neil front

Ophelia Young O'Neil 2 front

The O’Neil’s had five children who will be the subjects of my next post.

These three photographs were among 12 I purchased at a “mega flea market” at the Maryland State Fairgrounds over the July 4th weekend.

The following are the reverses of the above photographs, in the same order they appear above.

William T O'Neil back

Ophelia Young O'Neil back

Ophelia Young O'Neil 2

Senator and Mrs. William T. O’Neil