Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Daniel O'Connell

DANIEL O'CONNELL. It often has happened that what at the time seemed a great misfortune has turned out to be a benefit in disguise. The changing of an individual's life plans by some unforeseen incident or occurrence has often changed his entire career for the better, and the seeming calamity has resulted finally in the gaining of a far greater success than had the career been pursued as per original intentions. Had it not been for the condition of his health Daniel O'Connell would have remained on his Missouri farm, and while it is impossible to estimate what his prosperity might have been in that event, it surely cannot be questioned that he is now one of the substantial men of Lane County, Kansas. Mr. O'Connell, who is now a retired resident of Dighton, has been living in Lane County since 1891, and up to the time of his retirement was carrying on agricultural operations.

Daniel O'Connell was born August 25, 1846, in County Kerry, Ireland, being a son of Morris and Ellen (Clifford) O'Connell. His parents immigrated to the United States in 1848, on a sailing vessel which made port at New Orleans, and Mrs. O'Connell died just as the boat pulled into the docks and was buried in that city. Mr. O'Connell, with his two children, Daniel, of this notice, and a younger child who died in young womanhood, pushed on to Fayette County, Kentucky, where he secured employment as an overseer of slaves for planters. Subsequently he married Mary Cole, and they became the parents of twin sons: Wilson, of Dighton, Kansas; and William, of the old home farm in Missouri. Just before the war between the states, Morris O'Connell suffered a partial stroke of paralysis which resulted in his being exempt from military service, and in 1864 he left Kentucky and moved to Missouri in order to save his son from army life. In the latter state he settled on a farm in Clark County, and there the rest of his life was passed in the pursuits of the soil, his death occurring in 1890, when he was seventy-five years of age. He was one of the quiet citizens of his community, a man not given to seeking preferment, but was a substantial man who exerted a strong influence for good in his locality.

Daniel O'Connell received a fair education in the public schools. He was three years of age, or thereabouts, when the family arrived in the United States, and his youth was passed in Kentucky where he attended the public schools at Lexington. At a time when every available man was being secured for army service in Kentucky Mr. O'Connell went with his father to Missouri, and thus he missed army hardships and dangers. His education was completed in the school at Georgetown, Kentucky. When he began his independent career it was as a farmer, his first purchase of land being in Clark County, Missouri, near his father's homestead, where he remained until 1891. He was prospering well and accumulating a good property when asthmatic trouble, from which he had been a sufferer for a number of years, became acute and he was forced to seek a climate which would be more favorable to his ailment. Accordingly, he disposed of his personal effects in Missouri and came in that year to Kansas, making the journey by train to Dighton, where relatives of Mrs. O'Connell resided. After a visit he became so pleased with the country that he decided to remain and try his fortune among the farmers of the Sunflower state.

Mr. O'Connell's first property in Lane County was this he erected a three-room "soddy," plastered and a homestead which he entered on the northeast quarter of section 10, township 20, range 30, and upon papered, and, to quote Mr. O'Connell, "the most comfortable, winter and summer, that he ever lived in." He resided in this primitive home for seven years, or while he was learning the ways of Kansas, and his grain and cattle maintained him and made him a fair share of profit. During the period that he continued on the farm he gathered together seven quarter-sections of land, and at the end of that time considered that he was ready for retirement and took up his residence at Dighton.

A few years after settling in Lane County Mr. O'Connell was made county surveyor, but this office called for little exertion, as the duties were light and the incumbent seldom called upon for any labor. In 1899 he was elected county treasurer of Lane County, succeeding Treasurer Bickett, who had died in office, and John Schireck, his successor. He served five years in that office and was succeeded by William Baird. Since retiring from office he has been living quietly at Dighton.

Mr. O'Connell was married February 9, 1876, in Knox County, Missouri, to Miss Ellen Northcraft, a daughter of William F. and Ann Hill (Smith) Northcraft. Mr. and Mrs. Northcraft were from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and came to Missouri about 1836, settling in Clark County, at a time when the country was still overrun with Indians. Mr. Northcraft, who was a veteran of the War of 1812, in which it is believed he served under General Dearborn, became a Missouri farmer, and rounded out his well lived career in 1861, while his widow survived him for twenty years. They were the parents of the following children: Mary R., who married John Schnebly and died in Knox County, Missouri; William J., who died in Clark County, Missouri, where he had become a wealthy farmer; Amanda, who married Thomas Russell, and died in Scotland County, Missouri; Summerville A., who married S. I. Rench and resides in San Diego, California; Hannah E., who married first Andrew Morrison and second George Ackles, of Keokuk, Iowa; Louisa, who married George McFarland and died in Scotland County, Missouri; Lewis B., who was shot by Federal troops while a prisoner during the Civil war; Smith T., who died at Springfield, Missouri, leaving a family; and Mrs. O'Connell, who was born June 3, 1852.

Mr. and Mrs. O'Connell are the parents of the following children: William Morris, president of the Citizens State Bank of Jetmore, Kansas, married Charity B. Brumbaugh; and Julia Cornelia, a graduate of the Dighton schools and the Central Normal College of Great Bend, Kansas, a rural school teacher until her marriage to Elisha S. Freeman, of Dighton, and the mother of two sons, Morris Ansel and Daniel E.