John O’Neill and Julia Duffy
(c.1790 – 7 November 1841) (c1786 – 25 August 1871)
John O’Neill (often spelled as O’Neil in church records) came from County Kildare in Ireland. We believe he was born between 1790 and 1793 – the discrepancy arises from different ages given in the burial record (aged 51 years) and on the gravestone (aged 49 years). County Kildare is an area of lush, rolling farmland and is the equine center of Ireland. Thoroughbred horses are bred, trained, and raced here and the O’Neill’s who came to Canada had this in their blood and some descendants of John got into the "horse business" in Quebec.
County Kildare, (in pink above – southwest of Dublin, town seat of Naas)
John married Judith (often called Julia) Duffy who was born in the neighbouring County of Dublin about 1786. It appears that Julia was 4 to 5 years older that John. Based on the birthdates of the known children, the marriage probably occurred about 1816. However, it is possible that the marriage was earlier and that there were other children born in Ireland that we are not aware of. It appears that John and Julia and their two infant daughters, Elizabeth and Bridget, sailed for Quebec in 1819. Although, they are not listed in the list of original landowners in Valcartier, they certainly would have been among the very first inhabitants. John was a farmer as were most of the men in the area. In addition to the two daughters born in Ireland, John and Julia had seven additional children in Valcartier.
John died an early death. His age and the date of his death are somewhat in question. St. Gabriel’s church records state he died at age 51 on November 7, 1841. The gravestone states that he was 48 and died on October 28, 1841. After raising the children remaining at home, Julia went to live with her son, Thomas and his family in Valcartier. Later, when he moved to the Little River area, she went with him. She died there at age 85 on August 25, 1871. Her body was brought back to St. Gabriel’s in Valcartier for burial.
Signatures from records:
Elizabeth – born in Ireland about 1817. She married John Wilson in Ste. Catherine’s Church in Portneuf on November, 4, 1839. They farmed in Stoneham, a few miles north of Valcartier and had at least eight children. Elizabeth died October 29, 1892 in Hull, Quebec, and is buried in Notre-Dame-de-Grace Catholic Cemetery.
Bridget – (my great- great-grandmother) born in Ireland about 1819. When she was about 20, she married Patrick Cassin in Ste. Catherine’s Church in Portneuf on the 4th of February 1839. It is curious that both girls married in Portneuf since they lived in Valcartier. They had 13 children – the 12th child, Patrick, born in 1860 became my great grandfather. Bridget died at the age of 76 on the 30th of April 1895 and is buried in St. Gabriel’s Catholic Cemetery in Valcartier.
Thomas – first child of John and Julia to be born in Quebec. Born on the 20th February, 1820 and was baptized in Loretteville, as there was no church in Valcartier at this time. On February 5, 1850, at the age of 29, he married Bridget Martin, also from Valcartier. They had 11 children and in about 1863 they moved to Little River, near Quebec City. Thomas built this house (see pictures) and raised his family on the surrounding farm. The land was on the St. Charles River and is near the present day city of Quebec City. William Patrick, son of Thomas, inherited the house and he in turn willed the house to his son, Jack, and he to his children. Four generations of the family lived in the house until 1991 when the house was bought by the city and is being restored as a historical site. The pictures include a recent photograph of the house and artist, Paul Giroux's rendering of the house in earlier times.
This information is from a translation of a Quebec City website: "Along the Saint-Charles River, stands the the O'Neill House, an old farmhouse that borders the Saint-Charles River, is a patrimonial jewel of the Les Saules district. One reaches it by a long alley bordered by tall American ash trees. It is located between motel establishments on Wilfrid-Hamel Boulevard West, just east of O'Neill Avenue.
As of the 18th century, on the northeastern part of the seigneurie of Sillery, farms were established along Little River Road, which connected Quebec to Ancienne-Lorette. The inhabitants would go to sell their products at the Quebec market. After the Conquest of 1759, several of these farms passed to Anglophones. In 1863, Thomas O'Neill, of Irish origin, acquired from Bridget Doblin and John Hearn, a farm on which there was a house, a barn and a stable. His new property extended from the river to the foot of the Sainte-Foy plateau.
O'Neill would have built the current house about 1863. It is a wooden Québécois house, similar to many of the country homes built in the Quebec City surrounding area, with a double-sloped roof and gables.
In the first half of the 20th century, the O’Neill’s become famous horse-trainers. At the south end of their property, Canadian Pacific trains regularly unloaded wild horses from the West. From 1863 to 1991, four generations of O'Neill’s lived on this farm. The property ceased to be a working farm upon the death of William Patrick O’Neill in 1947. As for the Little River Road, it became the national route #2 during the 1920’s and later, in the 1960’s, it became the current Wilfrid-Hamel Boulevard .
The City of Quebec acquired the O'Neill house and property in 1991 and turned it into a recreational park along the Saint-Charles River. The property remains a beautiful reminder of the past, where the farmers and the local village folk shared the many meandering river banks of the St. Charles."
Thomas died at the age of 74 on December 18, 1894.
Mary Sarah – born 8 September 1821 and married Francis Martin on January 14, 1845. Sarah’s brother, Thomas (see above) would marry Francis Martin’s sister, Bridget, five years later. They had eight children and Sarah lived 77 years. She died on 23rd of January 1899 and is buried in St. Gabriel’s Cemetery in Valcartier.
James – born in early September, 1823. He married Margaret Ryan, from Tipperary, Ireland, about 1854. They lived in Guelph, Ontario until 1867 and had six children. James bought and managed the Thorp British Hotel there. In 1867, they migrated to Sarcoxie, in Jefferson County, Kansas close to the present day city of Lawrence. James became a large landholder and because there was no school close by he started the O’Neill School. He died in his late 60’s in the 1890’s in Marshall, Saline County, Missouri. His wife moved north to Custer County, Montana to live with their son and she died about 1905.
Mary – born March 31, 1925 and died at the age of five on the 3rd of July, 1830. She is buried in St. Ambroise’s Cemetery in Loretteville.
Margaret – born April 2, 1827. At age 24, on October 2, 1851, she married Alexander Leonard, a young man of the same age from Quebec City. It appears that they did not have any children. Alex died at age age 58, and Margaret at 65 on January 15, 1893. She is buried in St. Gabriel’s Cemetery.
Catherine – born March 28, 1830. Married Garret Kindellan, from Quebec City, on July 8, 1858 at St. Gabriel’s Church. Catherine was 28, Garret was 42. It does not appear that they had any children. No burial information has been found.
John – born April 8, 1833 and died at 10 months of age on February 18, 1834. He is buried in Ste. Catherine de Jacques Cartier Cemetery in Portneuf.
Written by Patricia Balkcom, July, 2008