Jim Ward's Genealogy Pages: My O'Brien Ancestry
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Jim Ward's Genealogy Pages

My O'Brien Ancestry

Related surnames: LaRue/LeRoux, Mandeville, Moore, Bertholf, Smidt, and Helling.

Frank and Eveyln (Spencer) O'Brien were my maternal grandparents. I can remember many trips to Bellevue as kid. We'd always stop first at Fruin's Pharmacy, where she worked at the time. Her big old house had many bedrooms, one of which had a queen-size bed with a feather mattress. After bedtime, some of my family members had trouble sleeping due to the constant train traffic a block away, but I slept well on that big old mattress. Beyond the fence in the back yard sat two Hudsons, rusting relics from the late 1940's. And, of course, the water. It had a sulphur taste to it. I remember Grandpa Frank's funeral in October, 1959. I was just  7 years old at the time. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease, but died of pnuemonia. Grandma Evelyn passed away in 1987. She was 86 years of age, and was "scared to death," as she told me several weeks before she became ill. The ravages of osteoporosis had made her afraid to walk for fear of falling and fracturing bones.


The 1870 Michigan Census has 42 year-old Charles Emmet O'Brien living in Lapeer County's Marathon Township with 28 year-old wife Emogene (Perkins) and 10 year-old son Frank, my G-Grandfather.  Charles' age is likely wrong, since 8 years earlier, he was 24 when he traveled to Detroit from Blissfield in Lenawee County to fight for the Union in the Civil War.  GG-Gf Charles' listed occupation was Blacksmith.

A kind and helpful lady named Helen found a record of Charles E. O'Brien whose claimed residence in 1862 was Blissfield, Lenawee County, Michigan. He enlisted 08 November 1862 in Detroit, Mi., and served in F Company, 27th Infantry Regiment, MI. His age at that time was given as 24, which coincides with the birth year of our Charles. The record says he was discharged due to a disability on 18 April 1863, at Detroit, MI. So, he served about 5 months, which coincides with my Mother's recollection that her G-Grandfather wasn't in the army for long. Since Charles' son Frank was born in Lenawee County, I have reason to believe the enlistment/discharge record is that of our Charles Emmet O'Brien. 

Frank Emmet O'Brien's wife Hattie Anne Smith's parents were from Ohio's Ashtabula County, according to family records.  What thin information I have on the Smith line is that Hattie's parents were Amos Smith & Esther Ann Dockham, and Amos' father was Isaac Smith.  Esther had previously been married to someone named Monro (no further info on him).  Several cousins recently sent me their research on the Dockham line, which includes the LaRue/LeRoux, Mandeville, Moore, Bertholf, Smidt, and Helling surnames.  See my Gedcom in RootsWeb's WorldConnect for info on these surnames.  

According to census info on Charles Emmet O'Brien, his father Richard was born in Ireland.  Not much to go on with a common name like that.  If anyone has info on a Richard born there after 1800, I'd appreciate an Email from you!

See my Beach page for a wedding photo of Grandma Evelyn's parents, Walter Alonzo Spencer and Lodema Olive Beach.

B & W photo of Frank Emmet and Hattie Ann Smith O'Brien, taken in the mid-1930s.

See my Graves2 Page for images of the headstones of GGrandparents Frank Emmet and Hattie Ann Smith O'Brien.

Charles Emmet O'Brien (Father: Richard O'Brien)
b. 1838, in N.Y. state (Census info)
d. 23 February 1895, buried in Lapeer County, Mi.
Emogene Perkins (Father: Richard Perkins)
b. about 1842 in NY State (Census info)
Their related son:  
Frank Emmet O'Brien
b. 6 June 1859, Lenawee County, Mi.
m. 23 April 1884
d. 2 November 1939, buried in Lapeer County, Mi.
Hattie Ann Smith (Parents: Amos Smith & Esther Ann Dockham (Munro))
b. 2 February 1869, Lapeer County, Mi.
d. 1949
Buried in Lapeer County, Mi.
Their related son:  
Frank Richard O'Brien
b. 20 October 1894, Lapeer County, Mi.
m. 26 June 1920
d. 3 October 1959, Battle Creek, Mi. Buried: Bellevue, Mi.
Evolyn (Evelyn) Spencer
b. 9 February 1901, Bellevue, Mi.
d. 10 May 1987, Charlotte, Mi.
Buried in Bellevue, Mi.

frobrien.jpg (10844 bytes)

 The young boy in this photo is identified as Frank Richard O'Brien, but the woman is not named. We think it is Grandpa Frank's mother Hattie Ann Smith O'Brien, but "Frank and a Great Aunt from Adrian" is written on the frame above the picture, presumably by Grandma Evelyn.

Grandma Evelyn identified this photo as her father Walter A. Spencer in his teenage years, but his other daughter, my Aunt Lorena, says it is not him. Compare it with the the wedding day photo of him and Lodema Beach on the Beach page, and you can see a distinct resemblance.  What little  I know  about G-Gf Walter's ancestors is that his father Alonzo was an alcoholic in later years.  Alonzo had worked in the logging industry in the Saginaw Bay area in the mid-1800s.


Hattie Ann Smith O'Brien's signature from my mother's 1941 high school graduation party book.


Marjorie J. Ward's family records

1870 Michigan Census

Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers, 1861 - 1865, MIRoster, published in 1903

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