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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County, New York published by John M. Gresham & Co. in 1891.  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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JOHN W. O’BRIEN had an unexpectedly hard battle to fight in life, but he fought it nobly and won a victory of which any one might be justly proud. He was born in county Carlow, province of Leinster, Ireland, July 20, 1842, and is a son of William and Ann (Kelley) O’Brien. His father, William O’Brien, was a native of the same place, a farmer by occupation, a member of the Catholic church and died in 1852, at forty years of age. He married Ann Kelley, of county Wicklow, a mining and pastoral district in the province of Leinster, by whom he had eight children, three sons and five daughters: John W.; James, who died in Ireland; Thos. B., is foreman in a large manufacturing establishment in Erie, Pa.; Ellen, wife of James Carroll; Jane, married Bartholomew Cavauaugh; Annie, married to P. C. Mulligan; Bridget and Mary, who resides with John W. All the daughters reside in Dunkirk. Mrs. O’Brien came to America in 1858 and located in Dunkirk, where she is now residing with her son, John W., in the seventy-fifth year of her age. She is also a member of the Catholic church.

John W. O’Brien received a portion of his education by a brief attendance in the common schools, but it came mainly by studying at home in the evenings. His father was in reduced circumstances at the time of his death, and John W., at the age of thirteen, with his sister Ellen, aged eleven, came alone to America in 1855, and from New York City to Dunkirk, where they expected to meet an uncle, Thomas O’Brien, but found he had died. He then went to work on a farm, remained there two years and then secured a position in the flour and feed house of William O’Neil, who was an old friend of the O’Briens in Ireland. He continued to clerk for Mr. O’Neil until 1879, when he entered into partnership with Thomas O’Neil, under the firm name of O’Neil & Co., and bought out William O’Neil. This firm continued two years, when his partner died and he bought his interest of the heirs, and since then has continued the business alone. He carries a large stock of all kinds of flour, feed and seeds and enjoys a fine paying trade. He has reared and educated his brothers and sisters and has also accumulated a moderate competency. In politics he is a democrat and in religion is a member of the Catholic church. He enjoys the respect of all who know him and is satisfied with his experience in his adopted country.

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This family biography is one of 658 biographies included in Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County, New York published in 1891. 

View additional Chautauqua County, New York family biographies here: Chautauqua County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Chautauqua County, New York here: Chautauqua County, New York Map

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