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Abandoned O’Neals mother finally got her due

For The Madera Tribune

In 1911, the year that Ellen White graduated from Spring Valley School, shown here, she learned that she had inherited $100,000 from her father who had been missing for more than a decade. Standing, from left, are Mr. Copsey, Mrs. Copsey, Minnie Cummings (the teacher) Charles O’Neal, Charles O’neal, Jr., and Calvine Bigelow.


The young woman dressed in black and climbed into the funeral carriage. They handed the baby to her, and then the cortege headed for the cemetery. Just a week before, life had been so full of promise. Now her world was shattered as she prepared to bury her husband. Before the month was out, she was back in Madera County. 

Young Ellen McGrogan had lived with her mother in O’Neals in the last decade of the 1800s. Although she was a pretty girl, she didn’t have a heavy social calendar. With no man in the house, it took all that she and her mother could do to make ends meet. That’s one reason J.W. White got such a warm welcome when he came courting.

White’s star was clearly on the rise. He was a successful merchant with big plans. When he finally asked for Ellen’s hand in marriage, the mother consented without hesitation. After the wedding, the couple packed up and left Madera County for Sutter Creek in 1895.

1 Comment

May 23

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