My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company; Elwood Roberts, Editor.  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.

* * * *

MICHAEL PIERCE O’BRIEN was descended from an old and eminently respectable family of County Meath, Ireland, where his grandfather, Michael O’Brien, was born, who was an only child of his parents, and was educated and reared to manhood in his native county, where he was a merchant for many years and an extensive land owner. He married and had an only child, Christopher O’Brien, who was given a practical education and was reared to manhood on his father’s estate. He married Catherine Gugarty, and to this union were born the following named children: I. Michael, whose name introduces this review, and who was baptized Michael Pierce O’Brien; 2. John, who married Mary A. Tracy; 3. Rosanna, deceased; 4. Margaret, who married James Tracy; 5. Maria; 6. Elizabeth; 7. Matthew, who married Margaret Ryan; 8. Henry. Of these children, Maria, Elizabeth and Henry reside at present at Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. Both the parents --Christopher and Catherine (Gugarty) O’Brien -lived to be over three score years of age, the father having died in his native land.

Michael Pierce O’Brien was born on his father’s estate, February 18, 1829. His early mental training was acquired at the schools of the neighborhood and under private tuition, and this was supplemented by a course at Maynooth College, a celebrated institution of learning of those days in the city of Dublin, Ireland. At the early age of nineteen the young student, being desirous to satisfy his ambition in life, decided to come to the United States and accordingly in 1848-49 sailed for Philadelphia with many others, sons and daughters of the Emerald Isle. Upon his arrival here the ambitious youth at once made his way into the valley of the Lehigh in Pennsylvania. Here he found employment, and became connected with the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, where he remained for some time, subsequently coming to Conshohocken, where he accepted the position of general agent for the railroad company, and here it may be said that the company could have had no better representative than Michael P. O’Brien. He was the soul of honor and integrity, and by diligence, perseverance and husbanding his resources he was enabled to engage in other enterprises in Conshohocken, becoming identified with Colonel James Boyd, of Norristown, and Charles H. Stinson, of the same place, under the firm name of the East Conshohocken Quarry Company, which was engaged in the quarrying of Conshohocken stone; probably the finest in the country for building purposes. This enterprise proved very remunerative under the judicious management of these gentlemen. Later Mr. O’Brien became engaged in building and real estate enterprises in Conshohocken and vicinity, which under his capable management proved very profitable.

He was a man of exceedingly kindly and amiable disposition, thinking evil of none, but quick to call to order anyone who did wrong, and possessing a native courage which made him fear no man. He was the man for any emergency that might arise; he rose rapidly in every position in which he was placed, with the faculty of accumulating money in every enterprise with which he became identified, and soon became recognized as an able financier. He filled many positions of trust in connection with banking and other institutions, serving for many years as president of the First National Bank of Conshohocken, of which he was one of the organizers. He was also a director of the Norristown Trust Company, a director of the Norristown and Germantown Railroad, and a director of the Plymouth Railroad, in both of which latter named institutions he took an active and earnest interest. It will thus be seen that his interests were varied and numerous, constantly demanding much of his time and thought. He, however, found time to take an active interest in civil and local affairs. Politically he was an ardent Democrat, but received the votes of men of all parties when he was a candidate for public office, and he was therefore an exceedingly hard man to defeat; indeed, few men in any community have ever been so much respected for their sterling qualities.

Michael P. O’Brien was married March 18, 1853, to Mary Fox, who was born May 22, 1835, at Stanton, Leicestershire, England, a daughter of Thomas and Anna (Chesterton) Fox, and to this marriage were born the following named children: I. Harriet Clark (Mrs. David H. Tracey); 2. Catharine (Mrs. James Bullock) now deceased; 3. Anne (Mrs. Horace Hallowell); 4. Thomas C., deceased; 5. Margaret, deceased; 6. Mary, deceased; 7. Mary Louise; 8. Madaline (Mrs. Anthony N. Bullock); 9. Elizabeth Eustace (Mrs. Edward D. Britt); 10. Michael Pierce, Jr.; 11. Jane, deceased; 12. Louis Henry. The father of these children, Michael P. O’Brien, passed to his reward August 24, 1900, beloved and esteemed by all who knew him. He was a consistent christian of the Roman Catholic faith, and carried with him his religion into all the transactions of his daily life, performing everything conscientiously in regard to the rights of others. He was a good citizen, a loving husband, and an indulgent father to his children. Mrs. Mary (Fox) O’Brien is among the last of this generation of the descendants of George Fox, the well known founder of the Society of Friends. She came to this country when but seven years of age.

* * * *

This family biography is one of more than 1,000 biographies included in the Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania published in 1904 by T. S. Benham & Company and The Lewis Publishing Company.  For the complete description, click here: Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

View additional Montgomery County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Biographies

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.