No big surprises in Bill’s ancestry. From working on his genealogy it appears most of his ancestors can be traced back to immigrating from Ireland. I do have one major brick wall on his side. His paternal grandfather, William H. O’Neill. Most of the first-born son’s on that side of the family were named William. No one talks much about him…all I have heard was he was a ne’er-do-well. From census records he and his wife were living separately after their 3 children were born. I did find his death certificate…apparently he was found with broken ribs along the side of a highway-cause unknown. My husband’s father is the one who identified him…but both parents were listed as unknown. This was even a surprise to my husband…said his Dad never told him much about his grandfather. And my father-in-law passed away over 20 years ago. Am hoping this DNA analysis will result in being able to break down that brick wall!
Katharine Taff O’Neill (1925-2003) was my mother-in-law. She was one of those rare special people who come and go in your life. Having never met me until a few days before I married her son, she was able to embrace me and make me feel a part of her wild and crazy little family. I could probably write a book about her. But, I thought I would let me son do the writing this week. When he was in 3rd grade he had to write a paper about the life of one of his relatives. He chose Kate. Below is the paper he wrote:
A Spoiled Child
By Graham – written in Spring 2000.
“My Grandma, Katharine Taff O’Neill, was born May 8, 1925 in Philadelphia. She was the only child in her family. The house she grew up in was a 3 story rowhouse. Next door to her lived her Uncle. Her Uncle had 6 boys. She was a spoiled child. In elementary school she was taught by nuns in a parochial school. She liked the subjects of history, reading and math. She remembers when she was little going to Atlantic City to walk on the boardwalk, swim at the beach and play in the amusement park. They did not have sunscreen back then. She also remembers traveling to Boston to visit relatives.
My grandmother went to an all girls high school called Little Flower. She tried out for choir and she made it. She also had to study hard. She enjoyed hanging out with her friends, Anna and Jeannie. They liked to go to parties and movies together. She doesn’t communicate with them anymore because they have passed away.
She didn’t go to college because her mother couldn’t afford to send her. She got married in 1952 at the age of 27 to my grandpa, William Francis O’Neill. She raised three boys, which was the joy of her life. My dad, Bill, was one child, Uncle Dave was another. Uncle Donald was born a couple of years later in 1963 when my dad was in the 4th grade. My grandma worked in a department store, Wanamakers, and she enjoyed meeting and helping people.
My grandma is now 74 years of age. She is kind and nice to everyone. I like to visit here in Philadelphia. She lives with my funny Uncle Donald. She stays at home now because she has been sick.
My grandma enjoys seeing me and spending time with me. She is very loving to me and everyone else. I really like my grandma. My grandma is nice to everyone she knows.”
“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.” Teaching children values and giving them the opportunity to excel is essential to good parenting. However, I feel I must also provide my children (and myself) insight into the ones who came before us: our ancestors whose lives and stories have shaped us into who we are. This is my journey; these are their stories…