Biographies and Obituaries
In loving memory
William Farres O'Brian
History of the Catholic Church in Indiana
William Farres O'Brian, a prominent business man of Montgomery, Daviess county, is a native of Mount Pleasant, Martin county, Ind., was born November 17, 1851, a son of William Pius and Sarah Ann (Gates) O'Brian, whose family of six children were born in the following order: William F., whose name opens this biographical notice; Alice (deceased) was the wife of Thomas I. Brown; Eliza, wife of Sidney Smith, a farmer of St. Mary's parish; John B., station agent for the B. & O. S. W. railroad at Huron, Ind.; Emily, widow of James L. Clark, of Cannelburg; and Delia, also a resident of Cannelburg.William P. O'Brian, father of this family, was born in Kentucky in 1827, and now lives in Cannelburg, Ind. He was educated in the common schools, was reared a blacksmith; and has been a life long democrat. Mrs. Sarah A. O'Brian, also a native of Kentucky, was born in 1825, and is a devout member of St. Peter's congregation at Montgomery. William F. O'Brian, the subject of this memoir, was confirmed by Bishop de St. Palais, in St. John's church, Loogootee in 1865.
When a young man he began learning the trade of a blacksmith, but, disliking this calling, at the age of nineteen years he entered the mercantile house of McCafferty & Ward, at Montgomery, as salesman, and remained with this firm two years, or until 1871, when he went to Cannelburg, where he was employed for about a year as bookkeeper by the Buckeye Cannel Coal company, but his abilities were so apparent that he was appointed chief salesman and manager for the concern, which position he retained ten years, when, in 1882, he was chosen superintendent and manager of the mines and store, in which capacity he served three years. In 1885 he took charge of the dry goods department of Johnson and Chenowith's establishment at Shoals, Ind., where he remained five years, when he returned to Cannelburg, where he was placed in charge of the Mutual Mining company as superintendent and manager, and remained until 1892. In 1894 the Daviess County Coal Company established a mercantile house in Montgomery, and the well known business qualifications of Mr. O'Brian caused the officials to elect him as their chief purchaser and salesman. This large concern has been a prime factor in the development of Montgomery, Ind., as, on locating here, the hamlet numbered a population of about 300, but in 1898 it had reached to 800.
November 25, 1879, Mr. O'Brian was united in marriage by the Rev. Father Massic, of North Vernon, to Miss Elizabeth C. Colsher, a native of Milan, Ripley county, Ind., and this union has been blessed with four children, of whom George Earl died May 26, 1886, at the age of three and one half years; Mary Afra, who is devoted to music; William Gordon, at school, and George Forrest. Mr. and Mrs. O'Brian have charge of the North Side Hotel, over which Mrs. O'Brian has personal supervision and makes it superior, in all respects, to the ordinary hotel in country towns. Mrs. Elizabeth C. O'Brian is a daughter of A. W. and Amelia J. (Gosney) Colsher, of whose nine children, five sons and four daughters, four are still living, viz: Mrs. Eliza J. Morrell; Mrs. O'Brian; Mrs. Laura Gordon; and Charles C. The father was born in Pennsylvania and the mother in Kentucky, but both are now deceased. Mrs. O'Brian was well educated in the common schools and was confirmed by Bishop Chatard in June, 1896. In politics Mr. O'Brian is a democrat, and cast his first presidential vote for Horace Greeley in 1872, and in 1896 voted for and earnestly worked for W. J. Bryan. Twice he has been chosen as delegate to the democratic state conventions, held at Indianapolis, but has never sought public office. He and family are members of St. Peter's church.
Contributed by: John D. McMullen