John O'Neil, for the past four years superintendent of the Macoupin county poor farm, was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, o the 31st of October, 1842, a son of John and Nancy (Klingman) O'Neil, natives of Ireland and Pennsylvania respectively. The father emigrated from the Emerald isle to the United States in his early manhood, locating in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in 1832. There he engaged in railroad and canal contracting for eighteen years. In 1851, with his wife and family, he came to Illinois and during the first six months of his residence in this state resided in Peoria. At the expiration of that period he came to Carlinville to take a position on the Chicago & Alton Railroad, which was being put through here at that time. Upon its completion he became section foreman, continuing in that capacity until 1860, when he bought a farm north of Shipman, this county. He subsequently settled upon that place, continuing its operation until his demise on the 30th of June, 1879. His wife survived him until the 3rd of July, 1881.
A lad of nine years when he left his native state, John O'Neil had already begun his education, which was further pursued in the common schools of Carlinville until he had attained the age of sixteen years. In 1858 he laid aside his studies and apprenticed himself to a blacksmith, in whose service he remained for three years. When the call came for troops in 1861 it aroused all of the young man's patriotism and loyalty to his native land, and he enlisted in Company C, Fourteenth Illinois Infantry, remaining at the front for three years and four months, at the expiration of which period he was honorably discharged. When mustered out he returned to Carlinville, where he followed his trade until 1868. He then removed to Pittsfield, Pike county, this state, where he established a blacksmith, wagon and carriage shop, that he conducted for twenty-one years. In 1889 he disposed of his business and entered political life, continuing to be identified with this for the ensuing six years. He subsequently opened a shop, follo9wing his trade there until 1901, when he removed to Girard, Macoupin County, and there followed the same business until December, 1901, when he again entered public life for four years, receiving his present appointment as superintendent of the poor farm in March, 1907.
On the 20th of October, 1866, Mr. O'Neil was united in marriage to Miss Kate Ford, a daughter of James and Nancy (Kerigan) Ford. Her parents were both natives of Ireland, whence they emigrated to the United States in 1850. They first located in St. Louis, Missouri, where the father followed various occupations, later setting in Carlinville in 1859. He was janitor of the courthouse for several years, continuing to make this his home until his death in 1893, at the venerable age of ninety-three years. His wife survived until 1897, being eighty-four when she passed away.
The religious affiliation of Mr. and Mrs. O'Neil is with the Roman Catholic church, of which they are both communicants. Politically he is a democrat and has always taken an active interest in all public affairs. While living in Pike county he served for four years as deputy county sheriff, following which he ran for county sheriff but was defeated, and for two years he was city marshal of Pittsfield. Upon his return to this county he entered political life, again serving for four years as sheriff's deputy. In 1906 he was a candidate for the office of sheriff but was defeated by one hundred and twenty-eight votes by his republican opponent. Mr. O'Neil was well qualified for his present duties, in the discharge of which he is meeting with general approval.