Keeper Bio: Henry E. O’Neill

Keepers

Date of Service: 1881 – 1919

1841: Born on June 6 in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

1850s: The O’Neill family moves to Baltimore, Maryland.

1861: Henry enlists on September 12 in Baltimore, as a Private in Company D, 5th Maryland Infantry in the Union Army. His father, John O’Neill Jr., is named Keeper at Concord Point Lighthouse on April 12.

1862: Is wounded at the Battle of Antietam in September.

1863: During the Battle of Winchester from June 16-18, he is captured. His father, John O’Neill Jr., passes away while serving as Keeper at Concord Point Lighthouse on April 16. His mother is named Keeper the same day.

1863: Marries Fanny Kirby on November 12, in Baltimore, Maryland, where they go on to have 3 children, Mary, Warren, and Harry.

1864: Officially discharged from the Union Army on October 28, where he returned to Baltimore where he worked as a bricklayer. His brother, Charles Z., is killed at the Battle of Laurel Hill, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia.

1881: Henry’s mother, Esther resigns as Keeper at Concord Point Lighthouse, MD. Henry is appointed Acting Keeper on April 21 at Concord Point Lighthouse, MD where his starting salary is $500.

1885: Promoted to Permanent Keeper on November 3.

1896: His wife, Fanny, passes away in July.

1897: Marries widower Lillie A. Moulsdale on April 13.

1919: Passes away serving as Keeper at Concord Point Lighthouse, MD on December 12 is buried in Angel Hill Cemetery. His son, Harry F. O’Neill is appointed Keeper until the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1920.

Anecdote – Keeper Henry E. O’ Neill
Henry E. O’Neill had quite the service during the Civil War. After enlisting in Baltimore on September 12, 1861, as a Private in Company D, 5th Maryland Infantry, he was injured during the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. His injuries consisted of a gunshot wound to the left wrist and little finger on his right hand. He walked to a hospital in Frederick and was transferred to a Baltimore hospital where he remained for the next 3 months. After rejoining his regiment at Harpers Ferry, he was captured during the Battle of Winchester, Va., June 16-18, 1863. He was originally held prisoner in a tobacco warehouse in Richmond, Va. and eventually transferred to Belle Isle Prison, and then Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia. Libby Prison had a wicked reputation for overcrowding and harsh conditions, where many prisoners died.

After spending two months in Libby Prison, he was paroled and then reported to Brandywine Springs, Delaware where his company had reorganized. He was eventually sent to Fort Delaware to guard Confederate prisoners. On September 17, 1863, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. At some point, he must have returned to Baltimore, where he married his wife Fanny Kirby on November 12, 1863.

Sometime between May and June of 1864, he was once again promoted to Lieutenant. He served in the siege of Petersburg, the Battle of Chapin’s Farm, Fair Oaks and eventually the fall of Richmond, Virginia. He resigned his commission on October 22, 1864, where he returned to Baltimore and worked as a bricklayer until being appointed to succeed his mother, Esther O’Neill, as Head Keeper at Concord Point Lighthouse, in 1881.

Henry died while serving as Keeper at Concord Point Lighthouse on December 12, 1919. His son, Harry F. O’Neill was appointed Keeper after his death and served until the lighthouse was decommissioned in 1920.

Source: Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse, Concord Point Lighthouse Study, Sandra MacLean Clunies Research, 1997-2003, updated 2018

 

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