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Ira David O’Neal



Born:       November 16, 1880, Cainsville, Missouri

Married:  Laura Ellen Bain  August 8th 1899

Died:       November 2, 1961 in Cainsville, Missouri





Ira was born November 16, 1880 on a farm near Cainsville, in the northwest corner of Missouri, near the Iowa border.  Ira was the oldest son of William Henry O’Neal (son of William O’Neal and Lucretia Casey) and Amanda “Mandy” Stanbrough O’Neal (daughter of James Stanbrough and Melissa Ann Wright).    Throughout the 1880’s, Ira grew up on his father’s farm, helping out with farming chores and attending school.    In 1899, Ira married a daughter of John “William” Bain in neighboring Mercer County, Missouri.  


Ira had grown up only a short distance from William Bain’s farm and undoubtedly knew Laura as a young man, possibly even attending school with her.   Laura Bain was raised by her father, William and her step-mother, Florence Laura Nelson Bain.  In 1884, when Laura Bain was only three years old, her mother died tragically of puerperal fever in 1884, after delivering twins.  




In 1902, after three years of marriage Ira and Laura had their first child, Anna Arlene O’Neal.   In November of 1904, Ira and Laura’s first son, Theodore Nelson O’Neal, was born.   Ira and Laura had seven more children over the next 19 years, raising a large family on their farm. 


           Ira’s Family



This photo shows Ira O’Neal and his wife, Laura Bain O’Neal with their children. 


In the front row:

sons Clarence O’Neal (b: 1917), Earl (b: 1923), and daughter Erdene (b: 1920)


second row: 

daughter Anna (b: 1902), son Theodore (b: 1904), son Junior (b: 1909), and daughters Florence (b: 1907), Thelma (b: 1912) and Berniece (b: 1915)


            Click Image for Larger View




  World War I

On September 12, 1918, with Europe on the brink of war, Ira registred for the draft.  Although already 38 years old with no prior military experience, Ira was ready to serve his country if needed, fulfilling his obligation in what later became known as the World War I “old man” draft. Click

the images on the right to view Ira’s draft registration documents. 


WW I Draft Card – page 1

WW I Draft Card – page 2



By 1920, Ira and Laura are the parents of 6 children, all living with them on their farm.  The 1920 Census image shows Ira in Lindley Township, Mercer County, Missouri in 1920 with his family:


·         wife Laura

·         daughter Anna, 17

·         son Theodore, 15

·         daughter Florence, 12

·         son, Ira W “Junior”, 10

·         daughter Thelma, 7

·         daughter Berniece, 5

·         son Clarence, 2 ˝



.pdf file

1920 Mercer County, MO Census

LIndley Township

(T625 roll 935 page 16)



Tornado vs O’Neals . . . O’Neals win!

In 1926, Ira and his son Theodore were both injured in large tornado that swept through northwest Missouri and southwest Iowa, destroying property and farms in it’s path.   Both men were picked up and thrown by the tornado while working on Ira’s farm in Mercer County, Missouri.    Theodore, as a strong young man of 22 at the time, was injured when thrown by the tornado, but survived the encounter.    He realized the tornado had went directly through the area on the family farm where his father was working and realized immediately that he needed to find his father and the rest of his family and determine if they were hurt.   After seeing the destruction left behind in the tornado’s wake, and realizing his father was directly in the path of the violent storm, Theodore feared the worst.   After unsuccessfully looking for his dad amongst the debris, he returned to the farmhouse to find his mother and sisters safe in the house.   He sadly reported to his mother that “dad was gone”.   After a short time, the family was able to find Ira, who had been picked up and carried a substantial distance by the violent storm.   Badly hurt, but still alive, they carried him back to the farmhouse and began the process of nursing him back to health.    Amazingly, Ira recovered from his injuries, and went on to live a long, full life. 


The 1930’s

By 1930, Ira’s oldest children have moved away from home, while he and Laura continue to raise the youngest of the 7 children, Erdene, now 10, and Earl, 7 on their farm.    The image below shows the location of Ira’s 60 acre farm in 1930 in western Mercer County, just southeast of the town of Cainsville, Missouri.   The image, from a 1930 plat book, clearly shows a number of Ira’s neighbors:


·         Samuel Shelton Crawley, son of William Crawley and Sudie Cain.   For more info on the Crawley family ŕ click here.

·         To the north, E E Harper.

·         Immediately to the east, E Cain. 

·         Across the road, W H Crouse.

·         ˝ a mile or so to the north are Ray Chapman and Simeon Bird Chapman.  For more info on the Chapman family ŕ click here.













Image of Ira David O’Neal’s farm in Mercer County, Missouri from

a 1930 Mercer County Platbook.

Click Image for Larger View



Pool Balls and Hammers

Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, Ira owned and operated the pool hall in downtown Cainsville, MO.   Somewhat of a free-wheeler at times, the family story is that Ira purchased the same pool hall at least three different times during this era, possibly more.    While not busy with pool hall, Ira was an accomplished carpenter, and built or helped build a number of homes in the Cainsville area    In an era when extended family not only lived together under the same roof, they also often worked side by side to put the roof in place.   This was definitely the case in the O’Neal family, as Ira and his brother Earl helped design and build the farmhouse that Ira’s oldest son, Theodore, lived in. “Ted” lived in this house from the 1930’s until the 1970’s. 


Ira lived the rest of his life near the Cainsville area, passing away in 1961.  He is buried next to his wife, Laura Bain O’Neal (1881-1970),

in the Zoar Cemetary near Cainsville. 


As time permits, additional information about the Ira O’Neal ans his life will be added to this page.   If you are a descendant of this family or have stories you would like to contribute to this web page, please email me.


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© Copyright  2004-2008 by Steve O’Neal.  No portion of this website may be copied or reproduced without the author’s express permission.



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