William T. O'Neil, born in Brighton February 7, 1850, studied law with Smith M. Weed. at Plattsburgh, but considerations
of health prevented him from completing his course and from engaging in practice. He located at St. Regis Falls
in 1878, and was soon conspicuously identified with business interests there, becoming a merchant, building and
conducting a hotel, and prosecuting lumbering enterprises. Later he was farmer, operator of creameries, manufacturer
of chairs, and organizer with others of an electric light company, a water works company, and a national bank.
Between times financial misfortunes befell him, but he recovered eventually, paid every dollar of his debts in
full, and at his death possessed a comfortable competence. Mr. O'Neil early hecame a power in local politics, served
his town frequently as supervisor, and was in the Assembly for four years from 1883. During this period he had
the reputation of being the best informed man in that body on pending measures generally, and was Theodore Roosevelt's
principal aide and counselor, and the regulator of the latter's impetuosity. In 1884 the younger element in the
Republican party made a contest for control of the State convention to choose delegates to the national convention,
and won. It was commonly regarded as due to Mr. O'Neil's generalship that success was achieved. In 1902 Mr. O'Neil
was a candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress, and, though almost every active and influential Republican
in the county was for his opponent, he almost pulled through single handed, as a change of very few votes in the
caucuses in certain towns would have given him the majority of delegates. In 1906 he was elected to the State Senate,
at once taking high rank in that body, and was reelected in 1908. His health began to fail in the latter year by
reason, as he himself believed, of the change from an active, stirring outdoor life to the more luxurious and confining
habits prevalent at Albany; and, adhering to his work when he ought to have been at home or in an institution,
died during the third session of his service. Mr. O'Neil was strong with the people as a canvasser, straightforward
and upright in all of his personal and public life, and well balanced. He did his own thinking, worked out problems
for himself, and acted upon conscientious judgment. He died May 5, 1909.
Historical Sketches of Franklin County
and its several towns.
By: Frederick J. Seaver Malone, New York.
J. B. Lyon Company, Printers Albany, NY 1918.
Franklin County, NY
Names A to L
Names M to Z
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