Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
GEORGE W. O'NEAL. One of the men who has stamped his strong individuality upon the minds of the people of western Greene county in a manner as to render him one of the conspicuous characters of this locality is George W. O'Neal, who has had a somewhat varied career as a man of affairs, farmer, miller, banker and lumberman. Faithfulness to duty and a strict adherence to a fixed purpose, which always do more to advance a man's interest than wealth or advantageous circumstances, have been dominating factors in his life, which has been replete with honor and success worthily attained. He is a scion of one of the sterling old families of the Ozark region, and many of the strong characteristics of his progenitors seem to have outcropped in him, and he has been most vigilant in keeping the record of the family untarnished, for the O'Neals have always been noted for their sterling honesty, their rare industry and their readiness to assist in the general upbuilding of the communities in which they selected as their homes.
Mr. O'Neal was born on April 8, 1841, in Carroll county, Arkansas. He is a son of Charles G. and Martha (Hillhouse) O'Neal, natives of Tennessee, where they spent their earlier years eventually moving to Carroll county, Arkansas, where they located on a farm and were well and favorably known. They were parents of thirteen children, twelve of whom lived to maturity and eight of whom survive at this writing.
George W. ONeal grew to manhood on the homestead in Arkansasand there he made himself useful when crop seasons came around, and in the winter time he attended the district schools in his community, obtaining a practical education which later in life has been greatly supplemented by wide reading and contact with the world until today he is an exceptionally well-informed man on current events. He remained on his father's farm until he was twenty-one years of age, leaving home in 1862 to go to Springfield, Missouri, where he enlisted in the First Arkansas Cavalry, and served three years and three months in the Federal army during the Civil war in a gallant manner, seeing considerable hard service in the Southwest, and was honorably discharged. About the time the war closed his father moved from Arkansas to what was known as the old Tom Dodd farm, three miles northwest of Republic, and here spent the rest of his life, and to this place came our subject when he returned from the army and engaged in farming with success until 1885, when he bought out the lumber yards in Republic owned by W. W. Coover, Keys, King & Company. When the Bank of Republic was organized he took considerable stock in the company, and was for a time its president finally resigning from this office after he had placed the bank on a safe and sound footing and made it a pronounced .Success. He also took a large block of stock in the Republic Canning Company, which was organized in 1888 and when the other stockholders of that company became discouraged after a year's run, Mr. O'Neal got four other men interested and managed the canning company himself, clearing ten thousand dollars the next four years and paying off the old indebtedness. When the R. C. Stone mill burned in 1894 it was Mr. O'Neal who took the contract to rebuild the mill, while the balance of the citizens of Republic only contributed the necessary bonus to get the mill to remain. In this transaction he lost considerable money, but he considers himself fully repaid every time he looks at the big mill, knowing that it gives life and support to a town that otherwise would be dead. Mr. O'Neal has had other reverses, including the loss on the contractor's bond of the new school building in Republic, but despite that fact he is a successful man and justly deserves the wealth he has attained. He has acquired a one-third interest in a flouring mill at Mt. Vernon, Lawrence county, in which mill his son is the prime factor. Our subject was for some time a stockholder, director and vice-president of the Monitor Printing plant in Republic, which publishes the Weekly Monitor, but has recently retired from this firm. He is a thorough business man, ready at all times to help in any cause that will benefit Republic and vicinity, and he has done as much as any other one man toward the material upbuilding of this town and toward the general welfare of the people in this section of Greene county. He has one of the most extensive lumber businesses in the county, having recently rebuilt his sheds, making them ninety by one hundred and sixteen feet and all covered with felt roofing and iron. He is a progressive man of high ideas and has long enjoyed the good will and confidence of all who know him. Religiously he is a worthy member of the Christian church, and while he is deeply interested in public affairs; he has never sought office.
Mr. O'Neal married Ellen Wallace, who died after a married life of eighteen years, leaving six children, who still survive. Mr. O'Neal married again in 1892, Zetta Bingman, of Greene county and a daughter of James and Elizabeth (Lamb) Bingman, whose family consisted of ten children.
Personally, Mr. O'Neal is a genial, obliging and courteous gentleman whom it is a pleasure to meet.
Springfield-Greene County Library