While writing earlier about Ellen Murphy O'Neill, I realized that I didn't have much information on what had happened to her son James. I contacted the library in Watseka, who then passed on my request to the Iroquois County Genealogical Society who initially could not locate an obituary, but within a week I heard back from them and they had found one.
I learned that James O'Neill, born in 1864 in Kickapoo, Peoria County, Illinois died on the second of December in 1885, at the age of 21. James was the second child born to Edmond and Ellen Murphy O'Neill. The family moved to Iroquois County, Illinois in around 1872 when James would have been eight years old. He was listed with the family in the 1880 Census and was sixteen years old.
On the second day of December in 1885, James and three other boys went to work with their machine digging a ditch. James was managing the horses and "before he could get hold of the sweep it forced itself away from the strong arms of the man and struck James on the back of the head, killing him instantly". It was written that he was "a quiet industrious young man".
Such a sad story. A young man's future gone in an instant, leaving his family to grieve the loss of him.