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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Daniel O'Brien

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 199 - 201

Daniel O'Brien, of the town of Greenbush, takes rank among the worthy old settlers of Sheboygan County. He is now a farmer residing on section 27, where he owns a valuable farm of one hundred and sixty acres. His post office is Glenbeulah, Sheboygan County.

The subject of this sketch is a native of the Emerald Isle, born December 20, 1830, in County Cork. He is the oldest child to John and Mary {Maloney} O'Brien, both natives of Ireland. In 1835, when five years of age, he emigrated from his native land, with his parents, to the United States. The family reached New York on the 19th day of May of that year, and proceeded to Chester County, Pa. Daniel's father, who was a stone-cutter by trade, was employed seven years and two months on the construction of Girard College. On the 1st of May, 1845, Mr. O'Brien, Sr., removed with his family to Seneca County, Ohio, where he resided until 1854, when he removed to Wisconsin, and settled in Sheboygan County on a farm of two hundred acres, located in the town of Lyndon. Here he was engaged in farming until his death, which occurred in 1878. His good wife survived him several years, dying in 1883. Their family consisted of four sons and three daughters, Daniel, the gentlemen whose name heads this sketch, being the eldest; the second is Dr. Cornelius O'Brien, of Edina, Knox County, Mo,; Dr. John O'Brien, who is the third son, married Anna Smith, and is a practicing physician of Milwaukee; Johanna, the eldest daughter, is the wife of Joseph Unser, of Seneca County, Ohio; Joseph William wedded Mary Rood, of Lyndon, and is a farmer in the Des Moines Valley, Iowa; Mary became the wife of John O'Hearn, of Milwaukee; and Hannah, the youngest, is the wife of John O'Brien {sic}, of the last named city. The parents were consistent members of the Catholic Church, and, in politics, the father was a Democrat.

Daniel O'Brien has led rather an eventful life, and has been quite a traveler. His childhood and youth, after coming to America, were spent with his parents in Pennsylvania and Ohio. His education was limited to a brief attendance at the public schools. In April, 1852, when not quite twenty-two years of age, he, having an inherent love of adventure, joined a company of Gold-seekers and started from Tiffin, Ohio, overland to California. At St. Joseph, Mo., they secured ox-teams and the necessary supplies for the journey, and set out on their long, tedious trip across the plains and mountains for the Pacific Coast. They met with no hostile Indians, and the journey was uneventful. Leaving St. Joseph on the 4th of May, they reached Placerville, or, as known locally, "Hangtown," Cal., on the 15th of August.

For a time Mr. O'Brien engaged in gold-mining on the South Fork of the American River, in company with others. They were quite successful for a time, but when the rainy season set in, an unusual flood happened, that swept away everything they had, causing a loss to our subject of upwards of $2,000. In hopes of bettering his fortunes, Mr. O'Brien went to San Francisco, where he engaged in draying. By hard work and economy, he accumulated a nice little stake, which he deposited in the Adams Bank, only to lose it by the failure of that institution in 1854. He had $1,175 in the bank, and received but twenty-five cents on the dollar back. Previous to this he had traveled through the main mining districts of California, and had explored the Pacific Coast to Oregon and Washington Territory. He was in Portland, Ore., and through the Willamette Valley in 1853. Soon after his experience in San Francisco, Mr. O'Brien made a change of base and engaged in agriculture near San Jose, in the Santa Clara Valley. He spent two years there successfully, and then returned East by way of the Panama route, coming from New York to his father's home in the town of Lyndon, Sheboygan County, Wis. There he purchased a farm, but returned to California in 1857, via the ocean and the isthmus route. After setting up some business matter in that State, he returned home, coming this time by way of Tehuantepec, Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico and New Orleans, reaching Sheboygan County February 22, 1860.

On the 3rd day of July following, Mr. O'Brien was married in the town of Lyndon to Bridget, daughter of John Barry, of Vermont. Mrs. O'Brien, who was a teacher of Lyndon Township for a number of years, died October 18, 1872, leaving five children, one having died previously. Celestus married Mary Ready, and is a resident of Stockton, Cal.; John married Nellie Butternut, and also lives in Stockton; Charles, who is a practicing physician of Ackley, Iowa, married Ann Brennan; Joseph William and Mary are twins, the former being a student of Rush Medical College, of Chicago.

Mr. O'Brien was married on the 19th of April, 1873, to Bridget Haslam, the wedding ceremony being performed in the town of Greenbush. Mrs. O'Brien was born in Marbury, Queens County, Ireland, September 29, 1849, being a daughter of Joseph and Mary Haslam. With her parents she came to America when five years of age, the family settling in Ithaca, N. Y. Five years later they removed to Kendallville, Ind., and in 1857 became residents of Greenbush Township. Mr. Haslam died in July of 1877, and his wife September 5, 1888, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. O'Brien. She was a woman of scholarly attainments, and though she reached the advanced age of eighty-fours years, retained good use of her faculties.

Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. O'Brien. The first-born died in infancy; Romanus P. was born February 28, 1876; Daniel Lewis, who was born September 30, 1878, died at the age of twelve years; Andrew Nathan was born November 10, 1881, and died aged three months; Zita Mary was born September 28, 1884; and Leo Haslam, the youngest, was born August 15, 1889.

Mr. O'Brien was engaged in farming in the town of Lyndon until April, 1868, when he sold out, and went to Iowa in search of a new place to make a home. Not finding one to his taste, he returned to this county, and purchased his present farm, on which he located in September of that year, and where he has since resided. He is a Democrat in politics, and with his family belongs to the Catholic Church. In his travels Mr. O'Brien kept a memoranda of dates and places visited, reference to which recalls many pleasant scenes and incidents, and some not so pleasant. Among the places visited are, Havana, Cuba; Kingston, Jamaica; Aspinwall, Panama; Tehuantepec, Mexico; San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; and various other places. Having been fairly successful in his business undertakings while in the West, he was enabled to purchase a good farm on his return to this county.

Mr. O'Brien is a man possessed of a large fund of general information, as a result of his travels and habit of observation. He is genial and kind hearted, which is a characteristic of his nationality, and is accounted a good father, husband and citizen.


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