Abijah and Ann Kelly O’Neall & Samuel and Hannah Pearson Kelly ~ Early Quaker Settlers
Abijah O’Neall was born in Winchester, Va. on January 21, 1762. The family moved to Bush River, South Carolina in 1779 and their place was know as O’Neall’s Mills. During the Revolution, the O’Nealls did not volunteer for the army although they were sympathetic to the cause of American freedom. In 1781 the British forces under Col. Tarleton camped on the O’Neall farm during the Battle of Cowpens effectively destroying their property. British officers attempted to force Abijah O’Neall to reveal the movements of the American army under Col. Morgan. He refused and was beaten severely. His head was cut open and his scalp was hanging in tatters. He was carried to the home of John Kelly whose daughter, Anna, nursed him back to health. They fell in love and were married at Bush River Monthly Meeting on December 9th, 1784.
Abijah O'Neall was a successful farmer and merchant in South Carolina, but was disturbed by the institution of slavery. He traveled to the Northwest Territory to scout out a variety of opportunities to purchase land. His brother-in-law, Samuel Kelly was negotiating with Dr. Jacob Roberts Brown for the option on his Military Land claim near Waynesville. This land consisted of 3,110 ⅔ acres on the east side of the Little Miami River across from Waynesville. Kelly and O’Neall made a journey to see Dr. Brown’s land before their purchase.
Abijah O’Neall requested a Certificate of Removal from Bush River Monthly Meeting and sadly they refused saying that he was insane to take his family into the wilderness. He realized that the real reason was that he was manumitting all his slaves and they were threatened by what he was doing since many Friends owned slaves at that time. None-the-less, since he was very much his own person, he manumitted his slaves and moved. The process of manumission in South Carolina was a long and difficult process. The Master had to give bond and security that the slaves freed would not end up wards of the state or cause a crime. Because of these stipulations, Abijah O’Neall had to travel back to South Carolina a number of times to deal with problems related to his ex-slaves.
In September of 1799 fourteen wagons left Newberry. It took 42 days to get to Waynesville. The travelers were: The O’Nealls, David and Ellis Pugh, William Mills, Robert Kelly and Isaac Perkins. The O’Nealls lived in the then tiny village of Waynesville for only a short time. In the spring of 1800 they moved to their farm across the Little Miami River. The farm became known as “Diamond Hill” farm. Abijah was also a surveyor and teamed up with another early settler, Joel Wright, in the acquisition of land and the sale of land. Abijah started one of the earliest schools in the area on his property across the Little Miami River from Waynesville. The first teacher was Joel Wright who was also an excellent teacher. For more information about the Wright family see, The Jonathan Wright House in Springboro, Ohio: The Home of the Founder of Springboro and a Station on the Underground Railroad .
For more information about Abijah O’Neall and Samuel Kelly, Sr., see: Proceedings; Centennial Anniversary, Miami Monthly Meeting, Waynesville, Ohio, 10th month, 16-17, 1903 (Waynesville, Ohio, Press of Miami Gazette, 1903), pp. 116-125, the wonderful website of the O’Neall Family, http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~joneall/famhisty/aoneall_lifetimes.html), and Genealogy: O’Nealls and Related Families, Vols. 1-4 (Compiled by Albert E. O’Neall, 1994), pp. 12-13 and 18-27).
Samuel Kelly, Sr. died at the age of 91 and was buried in the Friends Hicksite Graveyard in Waynesville on 2 mo. 6th day 1851, 9th Row, #15. His wife, Hannah Pearson Kelly, was buried in the Friends Graveyard on 7th mo 27th day 1839 (Fifth Row, #14). They had eight children together.
See, the following article online about the history of the Kellys: THE KELLY FAMILY ~ SKETCH READ AT THE CELEBRATION OF SAMUEL KELLY'S 92D BIRTIDAY ~ 17 December 1890