Excerpt from “History of the North Country”
by Harry F. Landon; Published 1932
Transcribed for internet by Anne M. Cady
The following biography is extracted from the “History of the North Country – A History embracing Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Lewis and Franklin Counties, New York” by Harry F. Landon. This massive history consists of three large volumes with hundreds of short biographies. As time permits, I will be transcribing the entries with ties to Saint Lawrence County and putting them online.
William M. O’Brien –
William M. O’Brien, who is secretary of the Unity Paper Corporation, of Potsdam, is recognized as one of the city’s dependable business men and substantial citizens. He was born here, April 3, 1876, the son of Timothy and Martha C. (Whalen) O’Brien.
Timothy O’Brien was born at Norfolk, N.Y. He came to Potsdam in 1870 and during the next year built the family residence here, which is still owned by members of his family. He was interested in the marble and granite business, and about 1889 purchased the interest of Frank F. Flint, of Flint and Maxfield, which became known as the firm of O’Brien & Maxfield. He was connected with this well established business until his retirement in 1903. Mr. O’Brien died Oct. 30, 1916, and his wife died Oct. 11, 1915. Both are buried at Potsdam. Politically, Mr. O’Brien was a Democrat, and he held membership in the Catholic Church. To Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien the following children were born: 1. Rose, a teacher, lives at Weehawken, N.J. 2. William M., the subject of this sketch. 3. J. Leo, an attorney, lives at Mt. Vernon, N.Y. 4. Katherine M. 5. Margaret; the latter two are emplyed in the offices of the U.S. Treasury Department, Washington D.C.
William M. O’Brien attended the Potsdam public schools and was associated with his father in the hardware business until 1903. He then became treasurer and manager of the Potsdam Clothing Manufacturing Company, in which capacity he served for seven years. In 1915 he accepted his present position with the Unity Paper Corporation as secretary.
On July 8, 1903, Mr. O’Brien was united in marriage with Miss Gertrude M. Meeker, of Madrid, the daughter of John A. and Laura (Howe) Meeker, natives of Canada and New York, respectively. The former died in 1926 and the latter in 1911. Both are buried at Madrid, N.Y. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. O’Brien: 1. Catherine L., born in 1906, valedictorian of her high school class, also a graduate of Wellesley College, and taught psychology for two years at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass. 2. John L., born in 1911, a graduate of Potsdam High School, attends St. Lawrence University. 3. William Allen, born in 1914, a graduate of Potsdam High School, and valedictorian of his class, now attends the Clarkson School of Technology.
Politically Mr. O’Brien is a Democrat. He is a member of the Catholic Church, and belongs to the Potsdam Club and Potsdam Country Club.
Mr. O’Brien is the owner of a fine farm of 300 acres on Fuller Road, three miles from Potsdam, and he has 80 head of purebred Holstein cattle on the place. It is there that Mr. O’Brien spends much of his time.
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