John Clinton

John Clinton O’Neill (1897-1985)
Elva Margaret Mugiven (1890-1990)

John Clinton O’Neill was the fourth of ten children of William O’Neill & Annie Maud McEwen, born on 11 Jul 1897 in Gresford, NSW. William and Annie (or Ann) were famers who in 1923 decided to move to north Queensland farming sugar cane. John had moved to Garah, about 50km north of Moree near the NSW – Queensland border, aged only 14, to live with an aunt and uncle, Elizabeth McEwen and James Carrigan.

John became a stock and station agent with Hubert Elliot Halsted, who had married John’s sister Mary Mozelle O’Neill in 1919.

On 27 Feb 1921 John married Elva Margaret Mugiven at Garah. They decided to move to the land, so in 1922 John left the company to move to their first property, Dewart. From the Moree Gwydir Examiner and General Advertiser, Mon 10 Jul 1922:

Dissolution of Partnership.

We the undersigned HUBERT ELLIOTT HALSTED and JOHN CLINTON O’NEILL trading under the Firm or Style of HALSTED & O’NEILL STOCK & STATION AGENTS GARAH N.S.W. hearby notify the Public of GARAH MOREE & BOOMI DISTRICTS that this partnership has been DISSOLVED as from 30 June 1922 and that the said business of HALSTEAD & O’NEILL will in future be carried on under the same name by HUBERT ELLIOTT HALSTED.


My thanks to Yvonne O’Neill, one of John and Elva’s grand-daughters, who supplied me with John’s obituary (see below) that appeared in the Moree Champion (which, she notes, is not on Trove at the time of writing). It is from this obituary, and discussion with Yvonne, that the following facts were gleaned.

In 1929 the family moved to Banyandah, a property that has stayed within the family to this day. There they bred Merino sheep and shorthorn cattle, though John continued to work as a stock and station agent for another 20 years or so. There is currently only one other Trove mention of John, on Mon 04 Oct 1937, recommending that a lease of land that was under conflict be granted to John.

John and Elva had five children:

01. Paul James (b. 1922)

02. John William (b. 07 Feb 1923, d. 07 Dec 1990)

03. Kevin Joseph (b. 1924)

04. Ronald Francis (b. 1929)

05. Cedda Bernard (b. 1932)

The Moree Champion carried an obituary of John, written by his son Cedda:

John Clinton O’Neill
(1897 – 1985)

THE family and friends of John Clinton O’Neill were saddened by his recent death after a short illness.

John was born at Gresford, near Maitland, on July 11, 1897.

His parents were the late William and Anne O’Neill, whose family consisted of eight sons and two daughters.

At the age of 14, John came to the Garah district to stay with his uncle and aunt – the late James and Elizabeth Carrigan of “Avermore”, Garah.

At the end of World War 1 (1918), John and his brother-in-law (the late H.E. Halstead) went into partnership as stock and station agents until 1922.

John was married at Gunnedah to Elva [Magivan] on April 18, 1921.

The following year, the newly marrieds left Garah to take over a property known as “Dewart”, Garah, where they remained until 1929.

The next and final move was to “Banyandah”, Moppin, Garah a stay of 56 years, till his recent death.

On settling in at “Banyandah”, John resorted to his former work in the stock and station agency business, which he started at Moppin.

By the mid 1950’s, John disposed of the agency to Mr Reg Courts of Garah.

John was then able to devote more time to running the family business, “Banyandah”, a property on which he was building up a good class of first class Merino sheep, as well as good quality shorthorn cattle.

John’s main interest was in livestock rather than in crop production.

John was always a keen stockman. He loved the outdoor life, and was always delighted to get around the sheep and cattle on horseback.

Indeed, it was only 12 months ago, at the age of 87, that he gave up riding.

He was still interested in an active manner, and with sound advice, even to a few weeks before his death, in the draughting yards for the sheep nnd cattle musters.

His good, old grey mare was pensioned off last year, and to the surprise of all, chose to present a foal and carry on the work of “Banyandah” rather than lapse into an inactive retirement.

John O’Neill was a genuinely good man possessing a gentle, kind and patient nature.

As much could be said of his wife, so that their lives were perfectly compatible and sincerely happy after 64 years of married life.

A visiting priest from Melbourne called on Mrs O’Neill (now 95 years of age) to bring her Holy Communion.

He asked her what she attributed to their long and happy life together? She replied: “Hard work, and we always prayed the Rosary together every day!”

The O’Neill family has always been known as pillars of the Church at Garah.

A call for help in manual labour or moral support never fell on deaf ears

John’s record as a collector at the Sunday Mass spanned a period of 50 years.

John’s interests were many and varied, and he could be relied upon for personal involvement in community activities.

He was a member of the Talmoi Picnic Race Club at Garah for 60 years, and was still so at the time of his death.

This race club began in 1911 and is still functioning.

Right to the end he managed “Banyandah” property until realising it was beyond him, he passed over the cheque book and his power of attorney to his sons with the advice, ”Take this and look after your mother”.

It was on October 1, that the Funeral Mass for John O’Neill took place at St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Moree.

The chief celebrant was Father Barry Bell (Parish Priest of Mungindi), with two co-celebrants, Father William Dowd (Parish Priest of Boggabri) and Father Peter O’Brien (Moree).

John is survived by his widow, Elva, at Banyandah and five sons, Paul (Inverell), John (Garah), Kevin (“Kurrajong Hills”, Warialda), Ron (Moree) and Cedda (“Banyandah”).

There are 14 grand children and seven great-grand children.

John has two sisters – Mrs Mossey Halstead (Newcastle), and Mrs Madge Doran (Sydney), and one brother, Hugh O’Neill (Brisbane).

May the soul of John remain always in the peace and love of God.

Yvonne recently alerted us to a photo of John & Elva’s son Cedda Bernard O’Neill that won the Peoples Choice Prize for the 2019 My Moree Photography Competition. The photo was taken by Melanie Jenson. As Yvonne says: “It is a thoughtful and sensitive word picture of Cedda to accompany a local award winning photo of him and he is both bemused and gratified by the interest the photo and story have attracted.” The photo appeared in The Moree Champion on Oct 29 2019.


If anyone has any information  on this family we would be delighted to hear from you. Please email

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