Benjamin Grady Oneal, state senator and historical preservationist, was born in Grenada, Mississippi, on August 20, 1874. After moving to Breckenridge, Texas, with his parents at the age of four, he attended Breckenridge schools, the University of Texas, Peabody Normal College in Nashville, Tennessee, and the University of Texas law school, where he graduated in 1906. After graduation he and his wife, Cora Maud (Norton), taught school in Weatherford, Texas, where Oneal later entered law practice with Frederick (Fritz) G. Lanham. In 1916 Oneal moved to a growing Wichita Falls and went into legal practice with Bernard M. Martin.
Although he had never before run for public office, in 1930 Oneal was elected to the Texas Senate from Wichita Falls. He served from 1931 to 1938 and during his terms of office worked in the areas of education and the welfare of young people, law, the environment, taxation, and oil and gas. He voted for larger appropriations for public schools and wrote and secured passage of the Oneal Amendment No. 1 to the Texas Centennial bill of 1935, which provided for the placement of historical markers, the restoration of structures connected with the history of Texas, and the placement of monuments to early patriots. He guided the restoration of Fort Belknap in Young County after saving the fort from destruction.
Oneal died on November 14, 1960, and is buried in the State Cemetery in Austin. His correspondence was donated to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin, and his papers dealing with the 1936 Texas Centennial are housed in the State Library in Austin.