James Joseph O’Brien, the eldest son of Peter O’Brien and Mary Ann Goward was born at Bega, NSW on February 4, 1871 (7059/1871). Although I’m unaware about whether or not it was a “shotgun marriage”, his parents were unmarried when he was conceived, and both very young. His mother, Mary Ann was just fifteen at the time of her marriage.
The Electoral Records show that throughout the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s, he and his parents and siblings were in residence at a number of locations around Bega, including Wolumla (1873), Merimbula (1881), Tantawanglo (1885), “Shamrock Vale” Candelo (1892), Rocky Hall (1893) and Wyndham (1894) where his father, Peter was recorded on the Electoral Roll as a Dairyman.
Aged twenty-four, James married twenty-one year old Lena Noonan in 1895 (717/1895). Lena, who was born “Ellen Noonan” at Araluen on January 3, 1876 (8810/1876) was the daughter of Irish immigrants, John Noonan and Hannah Lynch.
Their first child, Matthew James (known as Robert) was born at Candelo in 1896 (2309/1896). The birth records for their other children indicate they lived at a number of locations around the South East including Bemboka (1898 and 1899), Candelo (1900), Bega (1901 and 1905).
Soon after the birth of their daughter Mary, the family moved to the NSW North Coast, probably in about 1908 or 1909. At about this time there was a great deal of relocation occuring from the South Coast to the North Coast due to a number of agricultural factors, including a rabbit plague, drought conditions, and the prospect of new pasture grasses in the dairy industry. Lena’s brother, Matthew Noonan, also moved to the North Coast at about the same time.
According to one grand-daughter, there was a great deal of instability in their working and homes lives for Lena and Jock, and that maybe Jock “liked a drink”. This may help to explain why over the next few years they moved around so much, living at Boorie Creek and Johnston’s Ridge , near Lismore and at Ettrick, near Kyogle. It was at Ettrick, aged 38, that Lena fell pregnant with twins, Albert Bernard and Annie (who never survived), born September 12, 1917. They continued to farm at Ettrick until the early 1920s.
Over the next ten years they lived at a number of locations includiong Boorie Creek (1926), 89 Bridge Street North Lismore (on the right hand side, just past the pub as you head towards RRHS) (1928), Upper Mongogarie near Casino (1932), and 112 Casino Street South Lismore (1934) although it appears that year Lena was still living with her family (or perhaps her brother in law’s family) at Upper Mongogarie.
A more permanent base came in about 1935/1936, when the family moved into a house at 21 Kyogle Street, South Lismore which remained in the O’Brien Family for the next 50 years .
James Joseph O’Brien died on the weekend of June 10-11, 1944 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the East Lismore Cemetery on Monday, June 12.
An obituary appeared in “The Northern Star” on Wednesday, June 14, 1944.
MR JAMES O’BRIEN – The funeral of Mr. James O’Brien of South Lismore, moved from the Roman Catholic Church, South Lismore, on Monday, after a service conducted by Rev. Father McGrath, who also officated at the graveside. The pallbearers were M. Noonan (brother-in-law), L. Brown (son-in-law), R. O’Brien (son), L. Winkler, C. Hyde (nephew) and T. O’Brien (brother). The wreaths were carried by Mr. A Graham. James Sweeney had charge of the funeral arrangements.
Throughout the 1940s, Lena continued to live at the house in Kyogle Street, along with her son and daughter-in-law, Albert and Bertha. Although the electoral roll states Lena continued to live at 21 Kyogle Street up until her death, her death notice indicates she was living with her son, Matthew James (known as Robert) and daughter-in-law, Eileen (nee Crummy) at Johnstone Street, North Lismore..
She died at Lismore in May 1953 (21816/1953) and is buried with her husband and son, Matthew (known as Bob) in the East Lismore Cemetery. For many years, the grave was unmarked. Recently however, some descendants have erected a plaque. I assume it’s descendants of Bob.
The funeral following notice appeared in “The Northern Star”, on Friday May 15th, 1953:
O’BRIEN – The funeral of MRS. LENA O’BRIEN, of Johnston Street, North Lismore, and relict of the late James O’Brien, will move from St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, TODAY (FRIDAY), following a service commencing at 11 a.m. for the Roman Catholic portion of the Lismore cemetery. WILL RILEY & SON, Funeral Director.
MRS. LENA O’BRIEN – Rev. Father D. Troy conducted a service in St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, yesterday morning, prior to the burial in the Lismore Roman Catholic Cemetery of Mrs. Lena O’Brien, relict of the late James O’Brien, of Johnston Street, North Lismore, who died in Lismore on Wednesday. Mrs O’Brien was buried with the remains of her husband. Father Troy also conducted the graveside service. Pallbearers were Messrs. Bob Henry and Albert O’Brien (sons), Earl and Henry O’Brien (grandsons), and Alf Webb (son-in-law), and the wreaths were carried by Messrs. Ed O’Brien (brother-in-law), Cecil and David Hyde and Kevin Collins (nephews). Will Riley & Son conducted the funeral arrangements.
* Matthew James O’Brien (known as Robert) was born at Candelo on September 8, 1896 (2309/1896). At about the age of twelve or thirteen, he moved with his parents and younger siblings to the NSW North Coast. Over the next few years, the family lived and worked at a number of locations, including Boorie Creek and Johnston’s Ridge, near Lismore and at Ettrick, near Kyogle.
He married Eileen Crummy (born 1905, mother Amelia 24420/1905 at Lismore), at Lismore in 1934 (14105/1934). They had at three children, Earle (who lived at 46 Casino Street, South Lismore, who married Alma Gill and who died on November 3, 1985 at Ballina, Alma died April 17, 1979 and is buried at Goonellabah); Terrence and Kevin (who lived for many years in Crown Street, South Lismore) In the latter years of her life, his mother Lena also lived with them at Johnston Street.
Eileen is listed on the electoral roll throughout the 1950s and 60s, highlighting the different laws which existed from state to state relating to Indigenous people on the electoral roles.
Matthew died at Lismore on May 6, 1968 (20437/1968). For the next thirty years, Eileen continued to live at Johnston Street, before taking a place at Caroona Nursing Home in the mid 1990s. She died at Lismore on January 13, 1999, with a probate notice appearing in “The Northern Star” on March 4, 1999.
O’BRIEN – EILEEN – Peacefully at Caroona Nursing Home, Lismore on January 13, 1999. Loved mother and mother-in-law of Kevin (Sth Lismore) and Violet, Earl and Alma (both dec.) and Terence and Ruth (Petrie, Qld), beloved grandmother of Kevin (Little), Tony, Veronica, Phillip, Katrina, Sandra, Greg, Mark, Kim, Paul, Sharon, Theresa, Lesley, Judy, Rosemarie, Shirley, Earl (Boy), Matthew, Simon, John and Jane, and loved great-grandmother of their children, great-great-grandmother of Dakota and William. Eileen was a long time resident of North Lismore. Aged 94 years. Relatives and friends are invited to attend her funeral to leave OUr Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church, South Lismore, TOMORROW (FRIDAY, January 15), after prayers commencing at 11am for the City of Lismore Lawn Cemetery, Goonellabah. DENISE PAITSON. WILLIAM RILEY AND SON FUNERALS, AFDA Telephone 66212237. Members of the Floral Society are invited to attend her funeral.
* Patrick O’Brien was born at Bemboka in 1898 (1499/1898) and died at Bemboka in 1898 (4766/1898)
* Margaret E O’Brien was born at Bemboka in 1899 (10222/1899) and died at Bemboka in 1899 (12253/1899)
* Elizabeth Jane O’Brien (known as Bib and Betty) was born at Candelo on August 28, 1900 (30430/1900). At about the age of eight or nine, she moved with her parents and younger siblings to the NSW North Coast. Over the next few years, the family lived and worked at a number of locations, including Boorie Creek and Johnston’s Ridge, near Lismore and at Ettrick, near Kyogle.
Elizabeth married Leonard A Brown at Murwillumbah in 1921 (8419/1921). Leonard was the son of Joseph and Ellen Brown. According to a death notice in The Courier Mail (December 29, 1927) their other children were Mrs P Bonney (Emily), Miss May Brown, of Boatharbour, and Mrs Vincent Macrossan, of Brisbane, William Owen and Arthur Gregory Brown, of Sydney, and Leonard and Frank B. Brown, of Boatharbon.
I don’t know a lot about them, except I know they had a daughter, Lola, who I believe married an American serviceman called Curtis and that she lived in the United States for a long time, before returning to Austalia after his death in the 1990s. I understand they had a son, David, and a daughter, who still live in the US. I think Lola may have passed on, though I am not sure. I spoke briefly with her when she was living in Brisbane in the 1990s. I only met Aunty Bib just the once, at dad’s funeral. She died at Brisbane in the 1980s.
* Norman Leslie O’Brien (known as Sandy) was born at Bega in 1901 (20111/1902). He married Florence M Spinks in Lismore in 1934 (14105/1934). In 1935, Sandy died tragically at Cawongla near Lismore. The matter was reported in “The Northern Star”.
Norman Leslie O’Brien (33) received fatal injuries at Cawongla yesterday morning when he was struck on the left side of the chest by a large piece of blue metal which was blown from a quarry about 75 yards away.
Workmates who were close to O’Brien when he received the slow showed commendable bvravery in dragging the injured man under shelter while five more charges exploded in the quarry. O’Brien who lived at North Lismore was a motor lorry driver under contract to the Main Roads Department. He was employed to carry metal required on the road construction work in the Cawongla district where more than than 100 men, operating two shifts are engaged.
O’Brien left his home at Lismore on Sunday and commenced work with the first shift early yesterday morning. When workemn ceased for breakfast about 9 o’clock six charges of explosive were placed in the quarry face. O’Brien had taken a billy to the open fire to obtain boiling water and was stooping over the fireplace when the first charge exploded.
“A shower of blue metal went up in the air and one piece of stone weighing about 12lbas struck O’Brien, said a workmate. “A warning was shouted but it was too late to be effective.
The force of the blue metal spun O’Brien round and his head struck the ground. His extensive injuries included a fractured shoulder and a fractured arm and lacerations to the face. A party of about 14 other workmen were nearby and, ignoring the possibility of being struck by a piece of flying metal went to O’Brien’s aid.
William Campbell, who was standing a few feet away from O’Brien when he was struck said the injured man was picked up and taken behind the galley.
The remaining shots went off in quick succession. O’Brien was still alive when he was placed in a lorry owned by the engineer-in-charge (Mr Steel) for transport to Kyogle. on the way to Kyogle, however, O’Brien died. In addition to a widow O’Brien is survived by one child.
Known as “Sandy”, O’Brien was popular with the men employed in the Cawongla district, and it was stated yesterday that following the tragedy the men had held a meeting and decided to assist the widow. Instead of taking a holiday to attend O’Brien’s funeral, the men will work their usual shift. The wages earned by the 130 men, the majority of whom are employed under the Emergency Relief Scheme, will be pooled and presented to O’Brien’s wife and child. An inquest will probably be held in Kyogle on Monday.
On March 27, 1936, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the following…
Damages to Wife and Child.
A verdict for plaintiff for £1226 against the Comissioner for Main Roads in a case in which Florence May 0′Brlen, 24, widow, of Lismore, claimed £2000 damages for the death of her husband, Norman Leslie O’Brien, who was killed on the Main Road, Board’s quarry near Lismore on August 12, was given at the Grafton Supreme Court last night. The
damages were apportioned to the widow and the child and an amount towards the funeral expenses of £20.
The Chief Justice (Sir Frederick’ Jordan) said that the child’s poition was to be administered on behalt of the child by the Public Trustee.
Evidence for plaintiff was that O’Brien was dipping tea from a fireplace at crib-time in the quarry, when ten shots were fired without adequate warning. A shower of stone fell on the spot, a large piece killing O’Brien and a smaller piece striking a man standing beside him. Plaintiff alleged that insufficient precautions were taken to ensure the safety of the men and that. after the fatality, those precautions were instituted, which showed negligence before the accldent.
The defence was that every necessary precaution was taken on the day of the accident, and that O’Brien left a safe place under the hoppers to go out Into the open at a critical time, and thus contributed to the cause of his death.
* Henry Augustus O’Brien was born at Wolumla on June 5, 1905 (20967/1905).
There is a report in the Sydney Morning Herald of Monday, 16 April 1928 (page 12) which mentions a “Henry Augusta O’Brien” being involved in an alleged robbery in Lismore. The article says…
ROBBERY CHARGE FAILS.
Before Mr. Justice ferguson, in the Supreme Court, two young men, John Joseph Creen, and Honry Augusta O’Brien, were charged with having, at Lismore, broken and entered the jewellery premises of Michael Phillips and stolen 12 watches, 50 bangles, and 24 rings. A plea of guilty was entered by O’Brien, but Green pleaded not guilty.
The Crown Prosecutor stated that as O’Brien was an accomplice, and would be wanted to give evidence, the Crown prayed that no judgment be entered against him.
His Honor (to O’Brien): You are released.
After evidence had been heard, His Honor said the only direct evidence against Green was that of O’Brien, who was an accomplice. It was dangerous to take the evidence of an
accomplice unless corrobated by some material evldence.
The Jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and accused was discharged.
At this stage I cannot be absolutely sure it was Henry, though the name and circumstances certainly seem to suggest it was him.
A few years later, aged twenty-five, he married Florence Irene Vidler, the daughter of Henry Vivien Vidler and Edith Ann Clifford at Casino in 1931 (6817/1931). On April 2, 1942 at Paddington, NSW and living at Stony Chute (near Lismore), Henry entlisted in the Australian Army (Service Number NX94276). At the rank of Private, and a member of 140 Australian General Transport, Henry was discharged on November 12, 1945. WW2 Nominal Role. Although I am not entirely sure, I believe Henry and Flo may have lived and farmed in the Terania Creek area. Henry died and was buried on September 6, 1971 (56020/1971).
O’BRIEN – The funeral of MR HENRY AUGUSTUS O’BRIEN, loved husband of Mrs Florence O’Brien of Terania Creek, loved father of Henry (Qld), Maureen (Mrs Eggins, Brisbane), Doreen (Mrs Zambelli, Modanville), June (Mrs Franchi, Terania Creek), and Colleen (Byron Bay) and loved brother of Betty (Mrs Brown, Queensland), Meg (Mrs Webb, Lismore) and Mr John O’Brien (South Lismore) will leave St Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, TODAY (MONDAY) after a Requiem Mass commencing at 11.30am for the City of LIsmore Lawn Cemetery. WILLIAM RILEY AND SON PTY LTD Funeral Directors.
Florence died on June 20, 1985. Her funeral notice in “The Northern Star” reveals some further information about their family. Co-incidentally the funeral notice was directly next to the three year “In Memoriam” notice for her brother-in-law, my dad.
O’BRIEN, FLORENCE IRENE – June 20th 1985 at her residence, Terania Creek, The Channon, widow of the Late Henry O’Brien, loved mother and mother-in-law of Henry and Ailsa O’Brien (Nambour), Maureen Eggins (Brisbane), Doreen and David Zambelli (Modanville), Betty (June) Franchi (Terania Creek), and Colleen O’Brien (Stanthorpe) and loved grandmother and great grandmother of their children. Aged 78 years. Relatives and friends are invited to attend her Funeral which will leave St. Andrews Anglican Church, Lismore, on MONDAY, JUNE 24, after a service commencing at 11.30am for the City of Lismore Lawn Cemetery, Goonellabah. WILLIAM RILEY & SON A.F.D.A. (NSW)
There is a report in The Northern Rivers Echo about the eightieth birthday of David Zambelli (son-in-law) which says “David and his wife of 47 years, Doreen, raised a family of five children – Deanna, Bruno, Nancy, Audrey and Linda – on their farm at Modanville, and are also the proud grandparents of 11 grandchildren. David is still actively involved in the running the farm – a testimony to hard work being good for your health. His family managed to keep the party a complete surprise for David, and many old friends came along, making the occasion even more special.”
There is also a note in the files of the Richmond River Historical Society that Betty (June) Franchi died in 2001.
* Mary Beatrice O’Brien (known as Meg) was born at Candelo (I think) in about 1908. As a baby she moved to the North Coast in about 1908 or 1909. At Lismore in 1932 (12534/1932), she married the widow, Alf Webb who had a young son, Ron from his first marriage to Muriel Rudd (she died soon after childbirth). Alf and Meg had four children: Lenore, Margaret, Faye and Warren, who all followed their parents into service with the P.M.G./Telecom/Telstra. For most of their marriage, I believe, they lived in James Street, East Lismore. Meg died at Lismore on October 15, 1998. The funeral notice appeared in The Northern Star.
WEBB, MARY BEATRICE “MEG” – Peacefully at Lismore Base Hospital, October 15, 1998. Beloved wife of Alf of Parkes St, LIsmore. Dearly loved mother and mothew-in-law of Ron (dec’d) and Val (Goonellabah), Lenore and Greg Batterham (Lennox Head), Margaret and Des Plater (Narellan), Fae Hallman (Blue Knob) and Warren and Maureen (Goonellabah). Loved Granma of her 13 grandchildren and their partners and a proud great-grandmother of her 17 great-grandchildren. Aged 90 years. Friends and relatives are invited to attend Meg’s funeral service which will be held in St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Lismore on MONDAY after a service commencing at 10.30am, thence to the City of LIsmore Lawn Cemetery, Goonellabah. “AT PEACE”. KEN RAMSAY FUNERAL DIRECTORS AAFD Phone (02) 66252545 FDA of NSW.
LISMORE RSL INDOOR BOWLERS – Members of the above club are invited to attend the funeral service of their late committee member MEG WEBB as per above family notice. Mary Piccoli, hon sec.
SOUTH LISMORE WOMEN’S BOWLING CLUB – Members of the above club are invited to attend the funeral service of their late committee member MEG WEBB as per above family notice. Uniforms please ladies. B. Conroy, hon sec.
In December 2001, Alf Webb cut the cake at ABC North Coast in Lismore, commemorating 100 years since Marconi’s first radio transmission. Alf was also recognised as Bigpond’s Oldest Customer. This media release, issued by Telstra, provides some information about Meg, Alf and their family.
Alf Webb was born on 10th September 1905 in the London suburb of Islington. He migrated to Australia in May 1911. He married Muriel Rudd in 1928 and they had a son Ron 1929. Muriel died soon after the birth. In 1932 Alf married Mary (Meg) O’Brien who passed away in 1998. They had four children Lenore, Margaret, Faye and Warren, who all followed their father into service with the P.M.G./Telecom/Telstra. His children have provided Alf with 14 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren. He served in the 15th Light-Horse Regiment from 1924 to 1931. In 1940 he joined the Volunteer Army Defence Force until entering Army Signals in 1943 where he served until his discharge in June 1946. In 1942 he was in a Signals Section that wor ked Morse by Heliograph. Having been introduced into amateur radio by a cousin in 1922, Alf obtained his Amateur Radio Operators License in 1947 and today remains an active operator. During the 1954 Lismore flood he provided the only communication to the outside for telegraphs, police and councils. (Alf was a Morse code operator and still is!) He joined the P.M.G. in Lismore in 1947 as an Exempt Technicians Assistant, working in the Casino and Kyogle areas as well before being appointed to Lismore in 1948 when he qualified as a technician. The “Webb” family has contributed 15 members to the ranks of the PMG, Telecom and Telstra, providing a total of 319 years, which continues with four grandsons still with Telstra. In 1987 Alf was awarded the “Meritorious Medal” by the R.S.L., followed in 1990 by an Order of Australia Medal for service to the RSL and community. He is a Life Member of the Lismore RSL; the NSW Branch of the RSL; the RSS&AL of Australia and the Old Timers Radio Club. He is a life member of the Ballina Ex-services Homes, a member of the Ballina RSL Club and a member of the Ballina Sub-branch RSL.
Alf died on July 17, 2007. The funeral notice appeared in The Northern Star.
WEBB, ALFRED THOMAS (ALF) O.A.M. 1905 – 2007, died peacefully, 17/7/2007 at Caroona Kalina, formerly of Parkes Street Lismore, aged 101 years 10 months. Loved husband of Meg (dec); much loved father and father-in-law of Ron and Val (both dec), Lenore and Greg Batterham, Margaret and Des Plater, Fae Hallman and Warren and Maureen; beloved grand dad of his 14 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren; loved brother and brother-in-law of Bill and Charlotte (both dec) and Wal and Merle (Brisbane). Relatives and friends are invited to attend Alf’s funeral service to be held THURSDAY 19/7/2007 commencing at 1.30pm at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Lismore, followed by burial at Lismore Lawn Cemetery, Goonellabah. Alf was a returned serviceman and all ex service personnel are invited to attend. PARKVIEW FUNERAL HOME – Lismore. “Family-owned and 100% Australian” NFDA 1800 809 336 FDA NSW
His death was also reported in amateur radio circles…
SILENT KEY – VK2UC
It is with deep regret we advise that Alf Webb VK2UC is now Silent Key. Alf Webb, Silent Key at just on 102 years of age. Alf Webb was born on 10th September 1905 in the London suburb of Islington. He migrated to Australia in May 1911 and moved to the Lismore. He served in the 15th Light-horse Regiment from 1924 to 1931. In 1940 he joined the Army Volunteer Defence Corps until entering Army Signals in 1943 where he served until his discharge in June 1946. In the VDC his Section passed Heliograph traffic from Mt Warning to Coffs Harbour, 133 miles serving as a Signaller and later got his Amateur License in 1947. In 1990 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to Returned Servicemen and the RSL and the community. Alf was a foundation member of Summerland Amateur Radio Club and also
President of SARC in 1984 and later made a Life Member of SARC. He was Australia’s oldest active amateur, being active on air every day on Morse and voice until a few months before his death. He would have been 102 years old next September.
Vale Alf Webb OAM, VK2UC, SK.
(John Alcorn. VK2JWA for SARC)
* Albert Bernard O’Brien (known as Johnny) was born September 12, 1917 at Ettrick, near Kyogle in Northern NSW. His twin sister, Annie, died at or soon after birth (13582/1917). Throughout his childhood, his family lived at a number of locations, including Boorie Creek and Upper Mongogarie before finally settling at South Lismore in about 1935. A few years later, he met and married Bertha Ann Dunn (known as Betty or Toby), born at Bombala on February 7, 1922, the eldest child of Charles Henry Dunn and Bertha Rixon. They raised a family of four daughters and one son. Albert’s mother, Lena continued to live with them until closer to her death in 1953. After some years living alone with their children, Bertha’s mother, Bertha Rixon and brother, Leslie John (a wardsman at St Vincent’s Hospital) moved into the house with them in about 1959. In 1970, to make way for a weigh-bridge in Kyogle Street, the house was relocated to 195 Casino Street, South Lismore. Throughout all of this period, Johnny worked as a Plumber at the Lismore Base Hospital, however, due to ill-health, he was forced to retire medically unfit. Upon retirement, he performed some voluntary work for Meals On Wheels, but was soon diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a form of brain cancer. In the early hours of the morning of June 22, 1982, he suffered a stroke which caused his death. For the next two years Betty suffered increasing ill-health due to a combination of heart disease and asthma. She died from a heart-attack on November 7, 1984.
* Annie O’Brien was born September 12, 1917 and died at or soon after birth (13582/1917)
Apologies in advance for the slightly garbled gallery below. I have tried to fix it, but I just cannot figure out why the automatic gallery does this. But anyway, here are all the pics.
Sharing Around: Please feel free to copy any of the information on this page which may help you in your own research. My feeling is that family research is hard enough, without the need to constantly re-invent the wheel. It would be great, however, if you’d leave a comment below just to say “hi”.