O’Brien, Thomas

Thomas O’Brien

Free Will Baptist Cemetery, Marker #3

(~1798?-1868)

Thomas died of “heart disease” in Brookville (now Woodvale) 2 May 1871. His surname appears as O’Brine on the grave marker. He was born in Ireland. Determining the year of his birth is difficult as there is conflicting information in two available records. The record for his second marriage in 1868 says he was 52 (possibly could be read as 62) which would give a birth year of 1816. His death record and his grave marker say he was 73 when he died in 1871, making his birth year 1797 or 1798, a discrepancy of at least 8, probably 18, years. We suspect the marriage record is incorrect, yet one must ask why a 70 year old man would give his age as 52. His bride was 58.

There is some confusion about the names of Thomas’s parents. His marriage certificate says they were Robert and Mary O’Brien; his death certificate says they were William and Catherine O’Brien. It is assumed Thomas would have been the source of the names of his parents at the time of his marriage. The informant for his death was his 2nd wife.

Thomas was a priest who left the priesthood in Ireland and eventually moved to the Beaver River area. Apparently he was authorized by the province to act as a lawyer. His death record says he was a farmer.

Thomas married 1st Ruth (Crosby) Moses, widow of George Moses. The date and place of this marriage are not known. They had three children: Thomas, Lizzie and Catherine. There are transcriptions of grave markers in Free Will Baptist Cemetery that were completed around 1899. It appears there was a grave marker at that time that said their son, Thomas Jr, died 2 Feb 1892. No other record of his death or burial has been found and there is no current evidence of a grave marker in that cemetery that bears his name.

A Thomas O’Brien was on the Mary Jane, the “gold rush ship” that sailed from Yarmouth on 22 November 1849 and arrived in San Francisco 25 May 1850 after “a passage of 183 days. This might have been this Thomas O’Brien or may have been someone from the area with the same name. If records are correct it could not have been Thomas Jr who married, probably in Nova Scotia, Hannah Corning on 7 Feb 1850 while the Mary Jane may have been rounding Cape Horn.

On 13 Dec 1868, eight months following Ruth’s death, Thomas married in Hartford (now Wellington) Mary (Churchill) Wyman, widow of Edmund R Wyman. He died less than three years later in Brookville where they were probably living.

More about Thomas and his family will be found in the Old Stones Family Group Sheet Index.

Please leave a comment if you are related to Thomas or can shed light on any of the mysteries concerning his early life and whether he joined the gold rush to San Francisco.

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