Name: John MCNEAL
Birth: 1743 in probably the " falls of Beaver Creek" in Western Pennsylvania. (See manuscript).
Death: OCT 1819 in Washington Co., Ohio (Age 76)
Burial: Henry Cemetery, Watertown Twp., Washington Co., Ohio
Reference Number: 2687
Unpublished manuscript "A History of the McNeal Family in America" written by Franklin McNeal, probably written between 1880-1910:
Owing to the extreme poverty of the family, (John's parents) he was put out to be raised by a neighbor woman who had lost a child about the same age, and later was apprenticed to the tanners trade.
There is not much known of his life until he was fourteen years of age.
He was captured by the Delaware Indians and remained with them 7 or 8 yrs. His capture must of been in 1756 or 1757 and he remained with the Indians until the Boquett Treaty in November 1764 by the terms of which the whites were to give up all prisoners and the Indians were to give up their prisoners also. Had it been left to his own choice he probably would have remained with the Indians, as they were always very kind to him. When he was first captured be was adopted into an Indian family who had lost a son about the same age.
Circumstances of his capture by the Indians:
It seems to have been a custom among the boys, and men also, to try to scare each other by running and hallooing “Indians!” He, the hero of this history, John McNeal and another boy had been sent out to tap sugar-maple trees, not fearing Indians so early in the season, it being the month of February 1756 or 1757. They had completed their work and were returning to the fort when the other boy ran past him yelling, “INDIANS!” Thinking it was only a ruse, he did not even look around and did not know of the presence of Indians until one ran past him in quest of the other boy, who succeeded in making his escape. As the boy passed through the gate of the fort the Indian threw his tomahawk at him and it stuck in the post of the gate.
Some incidents of his Indian life may be of interest to those who may read this narrative.
Perhaps that of his Indian history most interesting and important was a trip to the far west. His home or the place he called home was at the falls of Big Beaver Creek in western Pennsylvania but much of the time was spent in the wandering fashion of life.
Of his western trip there were three Indian Chiefs; a Delaware, a Wyandot, and a Cherokee (I think), with him and another white boy named John ROGERS as waiters or servants. They traveled through was is now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Dakota and Montana to the head waters of the Missouri River. He know nothing of the names of many of the rivers they crossed. The Mississippi and Missouri were described as “two big rivers.” One traditions says they went as far as Great Slave Lake in northwestern
He mentioned the western country as very cold and disagreeable. It took three years to make the journey and they visited all the principal Indian towns and had consultations with all notable chiefs’ during their journey which the white boys were not permitted to attend. He never knew what the object of the journey was unless it was to unite the different tribes of Indians in a general war against the whites, as they could see that the whites were constantly encroaching on their hunting grounds and driving them farther and father back. If that was the object of the trip the visit was a failure.
He used to tell some incidents of his trip which were interesting, showing the hardships of such a wandering life. When the Indians came to what they called the “Wabash Barrens” or Illinois prairie lands they know enough of the country to know in order to camp in the timber where they could have fire they must cross the barrens in the day, so they camped in the last skirt of timber and would start the next morning when the “heath-hens” (prairie chickens) began to crow. They walked as fast as they could until late in the afternoon when the Indians took his and Roger’s packs and guns from them and told them they must run. They ran as fast as they could until dark when they came to the timber and water where they stopped to camp. After resting for a while the Indians told Roger to go to the stream for water but he was so stiff and sore he could not rise from the ground; the Indians told him to go, so with much difficulty he arose and would walk a very little. They told him to sit and they went for the water and wood themselves. The next day they traveled but a short distance.
During his Indian life he visited Niagara Falls several times. On one occasion he told of his Indian floating down the river in a bark canoe with a jug of whiskey (fire water). Through carelessness he got so close to the falls that he found he must go over. He threw down his canoe paddle and took up his jug and drank all he could so as to go to the ‘happy hunting ground’ in good Indian fashion.
At one time he and the celebrated Indian Chief “White Eyes’ (so called because he had blue eyes) in their bark canoe floated down the Ohio River on one of its extremely high floods and camped one night where Marietta, Ohio now stands. He marked the height of the water at the time. The river was never known to be so high again until the flood of 1832. They then proceeded on down the river going over the falls where Louisville, Kentucky now stand, in the night.
He spent one winter in what is now Tennessee. He liked the country there much better than in the extreme northwest, or his Pennsylvania home.
He had many exciting experiences in stream and chase during his Indian life. One one occasion the Indians found a hollow tree with the top broken off and with the appearance that it might be the habitation of bears. With their tomahawks they cut a small tree that was against the large one; then he went up the small one and ran a pole down the hollow in the large tree. He soon punched the bear and heard him start to climb out, so he slid down the small tree, but unexpectedly slid against a limb which stopped his progress. The bear came to the top, put out his paw and took the boy by the shoulder, leaving the mark of three nails to the elbow. The Indians were prepared with their guns and brought the bear down before he could get another hold.
On another occasion while hunting in the month of June he lay down to rest and began imitating the bleat of the fawn or young deer. Hearing a noise behind him he looked around and saw a young bear a few feet from him. He sprang to a tree, the bear after him; then began a race around the tree, the bear after him but could not catch him. Circling the tree several times the bear became much enraged; he threw his paws around the tree and began gnawing the bark. That gave the hunter an opportunity hand he chopped off one of the bear’s paws with his tomahawk. This so enraged the bear that he started around the tree again but this time in the opposite direction which gave the hunter the advantage of a
right-handed blow with his tomahawk in the bear’s head which killed the bear.
Of his western trip he always spoke in very severe terms, as he suffered much with cold and hunger. He told of the snow drifting in the valleys until the deer could feed on the branches of the small trees, the snow crusting over until it would hold them up. The Indians would get the deer to running where they would break through the crusted snow. Then they would run up and kill the deer with their tomahawks.
After his release from the Indians he returned to Philadelphia and bound himself as an apprentice to the blacksmith and bell makers trade - his apprenticeship to last four years and his boss was to teach him to read, write and cipher, as an education was then called.
Upon completion of his apprenticeship he tried to find his people. His father was dead. He saw his sister once. His mother visited him several times in Philadelphia but he never saw his twin brother after his capture by the Indians.
The Indian numerals or their way of counting as far as ten was thus: killy (1), kooty (2), nishy (3), nashy (4), nooshy (5), nawy (6), Plany (7), cooshkunk (8), pash kunk (9), Telant (10).
During his captivity he learned the Indian language thoroughly and he was chief interpreter in Dunmore’s Campaign against the Indians at Chillicothe, Ohio and Point Pleasant, Virginia and also in the Revolutionary War when it was necessary to converse with the Indians.
During the Revolutionary War he was engaged at his trade as a gunsmith and had the name of making the smallest bullet guns then in use. An anecdote is told of how he learned to weld gunbarrels which was then carefully guarded as a great secret and was done with closed doors. Through a crack between the divisions of the shop he watched the process and afterwards had the name of being very skillful in one of the fine arts. At that time there were no factory made guns.
As to this history this far, I am somewhat indebted to my cousins Edwin J. Mansfield and Austin J. Pickett. They were grandsons of the hero of this narrative John McNeal. Pickett says the name was spelled. “McNEIL” until after his release from the Indians but I have never heard it from any other source.
Having gone this far in his history whether it be right or wrong we will now proceed with him as a citizen with a family and as a mechanic.
After completing his trade as a blacksmith he settled in western Maryland where he was married to Miss Anna HOWELL, a daughter of William HOWELL who “lived on the Potomac”, said to be of Welsh extraction - another legend says “Pennsylvania Dutch” - a pioneer settler of the wilds of the new country.
He (John) carried on a shop there for some years and at the outbreak of the Indian War he volunteered with Governor Dunmore - Virginia in the summer of 1774. He was in the battles of Fort Pitt where Point Pleasant, West Virginia now stands, at the mouth of the Great Chanukah River. Governor Dunmore at that time commanded an expedition against the Indians at Chillicothe, Ohio. After the battles were fought and won, the volunteers of the army were disbanded with nothing but their guns and powder and left to make their way across the Ohio River and Allegheny Mountains to their homes.
In this campaign he met his old Indian friend “White Eyes”, and Indian Chief with blue eyes, one of the chiefs of the western expedition before mentioned. Here White Eyes saved Dunmore’s army from defeat or rather annihilation. A few miles below Chillicothe there was a very narrow place between the river and hill; the side-hill being very rocky. Dunmore was about to march his army single file through this narrow defile. White Eyes seeing the danger begged for and got the command of Dunmore’s army. He divided it into three divisions, marched on division to the top of the hill, one at the bottom and the other midway of the hill. The Indians had secreted themselves and intended to capture and defeat the whole army, but by arrangement their plans were foiled and they soon sent a delegation asking for peace.
We now take him up as an emigrant to the country “Northwest of the Ohio River.”
There is no record to tell how he with his family crossed the Allegheny Mountains. When he got to the Allegheny River, he in company with some other immigrant families built a boat and floated down the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers to Marietta, Ohio, arriving there in the spring of 1796 or 1797. (See note below) He went to the Land Office of the Ohio Company and drew 100 acres of donation land, Lot No. 28 of the allotment between Rainbow and Waterford now in Waterford Township, Washington County, Ohio. At that time of making the allotment of the land he knew nothing of the location or whereabouts of his land so moved from Marietta to near Stanleyville in what is now Fearing township and lived there two years.
During that time he learned of his own land in the spring of 1799 moved into a deserted log cabin which stood on 100 acre Lot No. 54 of Rainbow Creek allotment now owned by Joseph Schwindelman which joined his land on the south. He then commenced clearing and improving his land and finally built a log house, moved into it and make it his home during the remainder of his life.
In moving from Stanleyville to their cabin home before spoken of, the family had hard luck. The narrative does not say how they got from Stanleyville to the Muskingum River at or near where Devol’s Dam now stands. But they were met there by Ebinezer STARLIN with a heavy cart and three yoke of oxen. They had not proceeded far until the cart broke down and they were obliged to unload. They stored their clothing etc. in a hollow log. They had not proceeded very far when there came up a fearful thunderstorm which sent Devol’s Run to its high water mark and carried away the log and everything they had except what they had carried with them. This left them the poorest of poor.
As has been stated before in this narrative he was married to Anna HOWELL, daughter of William HOWELL of Maryland. As to the date of their marriage, I do not know.
Their children were: James, who never married, and died at about thirty years of age; Elizabeth, died at nineteen years of age; John, never married; Mary, died at five years of age; Margaret and Susannah twins; Anna; Sarah; William; Andrew, died in 1828, aged twenty-five years, never married; Levi; and David, who died in 1856, aged fifty-two years.
NOTE: Emigrated to Morgantown, Va, some time prior to July 1791 and remained there unitl the spring of 1796, when they floated down the Monogeahala and Ohio Rivers to Marietta, Ohio where they arrived
the latter part of April.
History of Washington County, Ohio By H.Z. Williams
Among the early pioneers of Washington County, was John McNeal, Sr. He was of Scotch parentage, born about the year 1743. When fourteen years of age he was taken prisoner by the Indians in Pennsylvania and remained in captivity for seven years. During his captivity he and another white boy accompanied three Indian chiefs as servants from Pennsylvania to the headwaters of the Missouri, as he called the county which is now Dakota or Montana. They visited on their journey the principal Indian tribes and consulted their chiefs. He did not know positively the object of the visit, but supposed it was to unite the various tribes in a general war against the whites. If such was the case it did not succeed. The journey both ways consumed three years. When the treaty of November, 1764 was concluded, he was set at liberty. He made his way back to Pennsylvania, where he found one sister still living. He subsequently married Anna Howell who was a native of New Jersey, born in 1760, and some time prior to the summer of 1791 removed to Morgantown, Virginia. In the spring of 1796 he decided to remove to the Northwest Territory and floated down the Monongahela and Ohio rivers to Marietta, arriving in the later part of April. He drew his donation lot (No. 28) between Rainbow and Waterford. He first settled on Duck creek, near what is now Stanleyville, where he lived until the spring of 1799 when he moved to his clam where he resided until his death which occurred probably in the fall of 1819. His wife survived him many years, dying in 1846. Their children, who grew to mature years, were James, Elizabeth, John, Susan and Margaret (twins), William, Andrew, Levi and David. Of these Anna is still living and is the only survivor of the family.
My NOTE: If John was born in 1743, and taken prisoner at 14 yrs. old it would of been in the year 1757, and in captivity for 7 years, would take you to the year, 1764.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Indentures, 1771-73
Name: John McNeal
Date: 19 Jun 1772
Whom Indentured: Casper Graff and his assigns
Term: 4 yrs.
Amount: pound 12.
Pennsylvania Census, 1772-1890 has U.S. Federal Census indexes (and other related census indexes) for Pennsylvania from 1772 to 1890
Name: CASPER GRAFF
County: Philadelphia County
Database: PA Early Census Index
The reasons why I think it COULD BE is because John was in Philadelphia when he was released from the Indians and was bound over as an apprentice. And, Franklin also said in his manuscript that his apprenticeship lasted 4 years. I wondered if this Casper Graff was his boss or master during his apprenticeship??
I did some calculations of dates and tried to put a timeline together about John. Here are my notes that I have in my database:
"If John was born in 1743, and taken prisoner at 14 yrs. old it would of been in the year 1757, and in captivity for 7 years, would take you to the year, 1764." Give or take a couple of years on these dates because this is only an estimated timeline.
Franklin's writes that after John finished his apprentiship, he carried on a shop in Philadelphia for some years, then went to Virginia in the summer of 1774 to fight in the battles of Fort Pitt with Gov. Dunsmore. I wonder if the date of June 19, 1772 was the date where he was bound over, or when he finished his apprenticeship? If you follow my generic timeline, I am thinking that is the date he finished his apprenticeship.
To view a photo of John and Anna (Howell) McNeal's headstone, visit this site:
Father: Andrew MCNEIL\MCNEAL b: in Scotland
Mother: Margaret MCDONALD\MCDANIEL b: in Scotland
Anna HOWELL b: 1760 in New Jersey
- James MCNEAL b: 1775
- Elizabeth MCNEAL b: BET 1776 AND 1784 in Died at age 19.
- John MCNEAL b: ABT 1786 in Morgantown, Virginia (now WV)
- Mary MCNEAL b: BET 1787 AND 1790
- Susannah MCNEAL b: 31 JUL 1791 in Morgantown, Virginia (now WV)
- Margaret MCNEAL b: 31 JUL 1791 in Morgantown, Monogalia County, Virginia (now WV)
- Anna MCNEAL b: 1793
- Sarah MCNEAL b: 1795
- William MCNEAL b: 25 MAR 1799 in Washington Co., Ohio
- Andrew MCNEAL b: BET 1800 AND 1803
- Levi Howell MCNEAL b: 6 JUL 1804 in Washington Co., Ohio
- David MCNEAL b: ABT 1806