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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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P. E. O’BRIEN, residing upon section 2, Berrien Township, Berrien County, Mich., a prosperous citizen, devoting the labor of his life to agricultural pursuits, has held with efficiency various public offices, and has been recently appointed Postmaster of Berrien Centre, born April 25, 1840, in Ogdensburgh, N. Y., he is the son of William O’Brien, a native of Ireland. The father, attaining to manhood in the Emerald Isle, was there united in marriage with Miss Sarah T. Slorah, also a native of Ireland. Soon after they were wedded the young couple emigrated to America, and landed in 1830 in Quebec, Canada. It was not long before they made their way to the United States, locating subsequently in Syracuse, Ogdensburgh and Rochester. In 1843, the husband journeyed to the farther West to look at lands in Michigan, and, pleased with the country, remained here, his wife with their children joining him in 1844. The father and mother settled near the “Old Yellow Mill” at Niles, and here William O’Brien spent the remainder of his life. He was a man of energy and enterprise, and, a cooper by trade, readily found remunerative employment in his new home. He built the fifth house on the west side of the river in Niles, and was an applicant for the lighthouse in St. Joseph,

While at work one day, the father was suddenly stricken with blindness, from which he never recovered. He died in Niles in the winter of 1853, and three years after, in 1856, the family removed to Berrien Township, locating upon a farm on section 27. The mother survived her husband many years, passing away in the spring of 1893. Twelve children, eight of whom are now living, had blessed the home. The parents were devout members of the Roman Catholic Church, and, active in good work, carefully trained their family in the observance of religion. The father, politically a Democrat, took an active and leading part in local issues, and was a man of sterling worth and highly respected. Two of the sons served with gallantry in the Civil War. William H. was Sergeant of Company A, Seventh Michigan Cavalry, and, wounded at Yellow Tavern, was taken prisoner, conveyed first to Libby Prison, and from there removed to Andersonville, where he died in 1864. Our subject, only a little child when his parents removed to Michigan, attended school in Niles until twelve years of age, and was then obliged to go out to work, and enjoyed only three months’ instruction afterward. Energetic and industrious, he worked steadily at brickmaking for five seasons between Michigan City, La Porte and Niles, the first season being paid $8 per month, and the next receiving $10. At the expiration of the five years he engaged in labor upon a farm, and continued in the pursuit of agriculture until the breaking out of the Civil War.

In 1862, in the month of August, Mr. O’Brien enlisted in Company C, Twenty-fifth Michigan Infantry, and served as a private. He was under the command of Gen. Buell at Louisville, Ky., and took an active part in the battle at Kingston, Tenn., where he was wounded by a ball which, entering through the left side, lodged near the spine, but was afterward removed. Our subject, first taken to the hospital at Kingston, was later forwarded to Knoxville, and was finally transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps, stationed at Knoxville, Tenn. At the close of three years’ service, he was discharged in Knoxville, July, 1865. Aside from other unpleasant experiences of those troublous days, Mr. O’Brien was ill at Bowling Green with typhoid fever. Immediately after his discharge, our subject returned home. He had married and enlisted on the same day. The lady whom he then wedded was Miss Mary Jane Royce, a daughter of John Royce, of Cayuga County, N. Y. J. H. Royce, of Lake Township, this county, is a brother of Mrs. O’Brien. This estimable lady was born in New York State and died October 14, 1865, leaving no children. Mr. O’Brien again entered the bonds of matrimony, January 10, 1867, being then united in marriage with Miss Adaline Shearer, a daughter of John and Margaret Shearer, deceased, early settlers and highly esteemed residents of Berrien Township. Mrs. O’Brien, a native of Ohio, has made her home for many years in Berrien County, and has a wide circle of friends. She is the mother of five children, three of whom are living: Florence, wife of H. L. Rutter, a successful merchant at Berrien Centre; Mr. and Mrs. Rutter have two children. Addie O’Brien is at home. Edward Larue is the youngest of the family.

Our subject and his excellent wife are valued members of the Free-Will Baptist Church, and Mr. O’Brien is a Deacon of the South Berrien church. He was elected Assistant Superintendent of the Sunday-school, but could not accept the position. The daughters and son have enjoyed excellent educational advantages, and Miss Addie, who has a talent for drawing and painting, has been encouraged in her studies and the development of her artistic tastes. Mrs. Rutter and Edward both excel in music, and have enjoyed ample opportunity of cultivating their talent. Our subject bought out the heirs of the old homestead, which he later traded for his present farm of ninety-six acres, seventy under fine cultivation and well improved, with an attractive residence, good barns and other buildings. For seven years Mr. O’Brien has been Director of the school district, and is now Assessor of the same. He is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and has held office in the order. Fraternally connected with the Grand Army of the Republic, he is a member of George G. Meade Post No. 36, Berrien Centre, and has occupied the positions of Commander, Officer of the Day, Adjutant, and is now Chaplain. Politically, our subject is a Democrat and active in township politics. A delegate to various conventions, he has ably represented the views of his constituents, and is now occupying with efficiency the office of Justice of the Peace. He has also been Roadmaster, and in all his public duties displays the faithful consideration which has won him the sincere regard of a host of acquaintances.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Berrien County, Michigan family biographies here: Berrien County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Berrien County, Michigan here: Berrien County Michigan Map

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