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O’Neill’s Settlement

By Shirley Cail
 
O’Neill’s Settlement is located on Indian Mountain about 15 km. northwest of Moncton, in Westmorland county. It consisted of the two crossroads on the McLaughlin Road (Route 495) – at Communication Road and Indian Mountain Road and went along Indian Mountain Road in a westerly direction. A small farming community containing a schoolhouse and a post office, it was located on a ridge that was fairly rich agriculturally but relatively isolated. Most of the Irish settler families have since left the area.

Land Grant map of O'Neill’s Settlement (west to east but excluding the McLaughlin Road area
Land Grant map of O’Neill’s Settlement (west to east but excluding the McLaughlin Road area1
 

John and Alice (McQuade) Delahunt home, O'Neill's Settlement
John and Alice (McQuade) Delahunt home, O’Neill’s Settlement

It is not known when this community was established but the Delahunt family was living there around 1830. One can still view the remains of the basement where the first Delahunt home was located. Also, the O’Neills arrived soon after in 1832 and 1837 along with other families – the Kellys and the Murrays. Some who had arrived in the province earlier were also along this ridge including the Fitzsimmons (1816) and the O’Rourkes (1812). Some had land grants here but never settled, and were only interested in the land for the timber stands – i.e. the Humphrey’s, Harris and Wilbur grants. One land grant to a M[ichael] Donovan is on the map. However, he left and later settled in nearby Irishtown where his wife’s people and other members of his family had settled.2

O’Neill’s Settlement was essentially a farming and lumbering community. Fairly isolated because the nearby McLaughlin Road was no more than a cart track and only accessible in dry weather, the community had close ties with the neighbouring Irish communities of Irishtown and McQuades. In many ways, these three communities were inter-connected and the families worshiped at the same church, St Lawrence O’Toole’s in Irishtown. Indeed, the road that connects the three communities was called “Communication Road”.

 
 
The O'Neill family home
The O’Neill family home
The post office in O’Neill’s opened in January 1887 and closed in 1932. The first postmaster was Daniel O’Neill who served from January 1, 1887 until September 1893. He never married and died in November 1902. It was at this time that the community became known as O’Neill’s. Other postmasters were: Robert C. Kelly (Jan 1994-May 1904), Maurice O’Neill (July 1904-Sep 1904), Mrs. Ellen O’Neill (Nov 1904-Jan 1913), Robert C Kelly (March 1913-April 1925) and Mrs. Celeste Kelly (May 1925-Feb 1932).3

The New Brunswick Archives in Fredericton contains information on Westmorland County schools from 1877 and the school at O’Neill’s is listed from that date. In the beginning it was known as the Bud School District #20. In the early years there were several Budd families living in that area. The school district name was probably changed to O’Neill’s in 1887 when the O’Neill’s post office was opened. The school closed around 1967, at the time many schools were being consolidated, and remained vacant for several years until it was burned on a Halloween night.

 
O'Neill’s School, District #20
O’Neill’s School, District #20
 
There were 35 pupils attending the Budd School in 1880. There were the Delahunt children – Thomas, John, William, James and Pierce. There were Hennessys – Patrick, James, William and Walter. Also there were Martin, Annie and Elizabeth Fitzsimmons and James, Louisa and Ellen Wilkins. There were several O’Neills – Mary E., James, Elizabeth, Jane, Sarah and John. Also, there were many McFarlanes – Mary Jane, Edward, James, George, John, Alberta, Carrie, George and Annie. Also students at the school were Victoria and Elizabeth Gray, Frank Eddington, Mary Gaynes, and Rebecca Steeves.4

Some of the parents of these children were Robert and Catherine McFarlane, John and Eunice McFarlane, James and Caroline McFarlane, John and Elizabeth O’Neill, Maurice and Ellen O’Neill, John and Alice Delahunt, Richard and Rhoda Delahunt, James and Letitia Wilkins, Patrick and Elizabeth Hennessy, James and Mary Fitzsimmons and Mary Gray, a widow.

Social life in the community was limited to playing cards, having dances in different homes and occasionally fund raising activities such as basket socials. The women in the community would bring decorated baskets of food to the social for the men to bid on. The highest bidder would get the basket and share the food with the woman who brought it.

Bertha (Horseman) Demmings tells the story about bringing her basket to a basket social. Two young guys bought the basket but when they found out that she was a married woman they took off with the basket and did not share the food. Fortunately, another man at the social knew the guys and took off after them. He was able too retrieve her china dishes and cutlery.

O’Neill’s Settlement is no more than a crossroad today. Just outside Moncton city limits, it has become part of the commuter belt into the city. Some of the farms are still in operation – an attestation to the good soils in the area – but the descendants of the first Irish settlers have all moved on – into Moncton and beyond.


[1] ______, Crown Land Grant Map No. 109, Department of Natural Resources, Fredericton, NB.

[2] Wayne A Gilcash, Ed., The New Brunswick Census of 1851: Westmorland County, Vol 1, Parish of Moncton, Fredericton: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, 1981, various pages.

[3] ______, Library and Archives Canada, Post Offices and Postmasters, www.colectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/post-offices, PSFDS03-18128

[4] ______, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Westmorland School Records P3, Teachers and Trustees Returns 1877-1956 (microfilm)


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BIBLIOGRAPHY

______, Crown Land Grant Map No. 109, Department of Natural Resources, Fredericton, NB.

Gilcash, Wayne A, Ed., The New Brunswick Census of 1851: Westmorland County, Vol 1, Parish of Moncton, Fredericton: Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, 1981.

______, Library and Archives Canada, Post Offices and Postmasters, www.colectionscanada.gc.ca/archivianet/post-offices, PSFDS03-18128

______, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Westmorland School Records P3, Teachers and Trustees Returns 1877-1956 (microfilm)