Peter O’Brien, born in County Meath, Ireland, the son of James O’Brien and Mary Ann Smith. Aged 18, he left Ireland on September 5, coming to Australia along with his parents and siblings on the “Great Victoria”, arriving in Melbourne on November 29, 1864.
Although the family had planned to settle in the Darling Downs area of Queensland, circumstance resulted in them settling in Bega District on the far South Coast of NSW.
Peter was, apparently, a talented wrestler, and known throughout the district for his skills.
Aged 23, he met and married Mary Ann Goward, the daughter of James and Mary Ann. Although she was only fifteen, she soon fell pregnant with their frist, child, James Joseph.
At the time of their marriage, on October 2, 1870 (Reference: 1870/2194), Peter was a “Labourer” at Tantawangalo, while Mary Ann was a “Dairy Maid” at Lithgow Flat. Tantawangalo is located about 30km from Bega, east of Candelo. I am currently unaware of the exact location of Lithgow Flat, though I imagine it was closeby.
Their wedding, a Catholic Ceremony, was conducted by Father Patrick Slattery at the residence of Mr John Smith – presumably his cousin – of Lithgow Flat, south of Bega. The marriage record identifies John Smith and Eliza O’Brien (Peter’s sister) as witnesses, but fails to identify Mary Ann’s parents and age.
On Saturday 20 July 1872, The reported Peter on a list of people undergoing insolvency proceedings. According to the article, his liabities were £152 18 which £65 is secured. Assets, £79.
The Electoral Records show that throughout the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s, Peter was in residence at a number of locations, including Wolumla (1873), Merimbula (1881), Tantawanglo (1885), “Shamrock Vale” Candelo (1892), Rocky Hall (1893) and Wyndham (1894) where he was recorded as a Dairyman.
After one years illness with Phibesis – possibly relating to heart disease – Peter O’Brien died at Candelo on October 6, 1897, (Death Certificate 1897/11322) and was buried the following day.
After Peter’s death, Mary Ann lived with her son, John and his family at Towridgee, near Candelo. The house at Kameruka, which was linked to the creek by 27 pine trees along the road, was, by all accounts, a busy one; John had fathered at least 18 children. Oral history accounts speak of a large oven on the wall and a dining table that could seat 32. The house still exists. The house and family were well known in the area: presumably because of the large number of children and because John was having a relationship simultaenously with two sisters.
It is said that in her later years, Mary Ann’s eye-sight was failing and that because she was such a big person, she couldn’t get around much. Alf O’Brien reports that one day, John’s children decided to play a joke on their grandmother. They dressed one of the children, Arthur up as a Priest, he knocked on the door and started the preach the bible. Granny was furious and tried to hit them with a straw broom.
After a three-year ilnness with Chronic Congestive Heart Disease (Mitral Insufficiency), Mary Ann died, aged 77, on September 22, 1932 at Orchard Farm, Candelo. She was buried the same day in the Church of England section at Wolumla Cemetery.
Her death was reported in the “Bega District News” on September 29, 1932.
The late Mrs Peter O’Brien, who died at Candelo last week, was 77 years of age. She was a daughter of the late Mrs James Goward, of wolumla, and have lived in the district practically all her life. Her husband, who died many years ago, was brother of the late Mr Luke O’Brien, and was a noted wrestler in the early days of the district.
* 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. 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, as we has known, 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 including 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. 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 in an unmarked grave in the East Lismore Cemetery.
* John O’Brien was born April 13, 1873 at Ryans Swamp, Candelo NSW. John married (1) Sarah Agnes Went daughter of James Went and Sarah Whitby in 1897 in Candelo,Nsw,Australia. Sarah was born on 5 Jun 1876. She died on 2 Apr 1908. John also married Mary Jane Went daughter of James Went and Sarah Whitby. Mary was born on 1 Jul 1882 in Chalk Hills,Wolumla,Nsw,Australia. She died on 26 Jun 1953. She was buried in Church of England, Brownsville. John died November 9, 1948, Windsor Road, Box Hill NSW, and was buried on November 10 1948 in Roman Catholic Cemetery,West Dapto.
* Luke O’Brien was born 1876 at Bega and died 1879 at Bega.
* Patrick O’Brien was born in 1878 at Bega and died in 1900 at Candelo.
* William Albert O’Brien was born February 25, 1880 at Merimbula, NSW. He married Sarah Viola Lenora Piesley (born July 28, 1883 at Bega) on December 27, 1905 at Bega. William albert died on July 6, 1947 at Wolumla. Sarah died on September 15, 1961 at Dapto, NSW.
* Elizabeth Catherine O’Brien was born 1881 at Bega.
* Thomas O’Brien was born 1883 at Bega and died 1887 at Bega.
* George Henry O’Brien was born 1888 at Bega NSW. George married Mary A (aka Pet) Rolfe in 1908. He died 13 September 1951 and was buried in the Church of England, Bega.
* Charles Herbert O’Brien was born 1891 at Candelo, NSW. He married Florence Louisa Newlyn (who was born September 27, 1901 in Lochiel, Pambula). He died on July 9, 1941 at “Elmhgrove” near Bega and was buried the following day at the Catholic Cemetery, Bega. Florence died on December 4 1983 in Bombala.
* Ethel M O’Brien was born in 1885. She married William Hunt in 1909.
* Mary Ann O’Brien was born 1874 in Bega. She married Joseph George Hyde (born 1873). Joseph died July 3 1942 in Terania Street, North Lismore NSW. I do not have death details for Mary Ann yet. His obituary, published in the Northern Star on July 4, 1942, records they moved to the Richmond River 32 years earlier and that Joseph had been engaged in dairying at Alphadale, Rosebank and Tullera. They then moved to a property of their own at Jiggi in about 1913. They purchased a farm at Goolmangar in 1930, where he resided until his death. Joseph George Hyde was buried in East Lismore Cemetery on July 3, 1942 in the Roman Catholic Section 21B, 35. Mary Ann died May 25, 1962 at Lismore, and was buried in the East Lismore Cemetery, Roman Catholic Section, 21B, 36.
Acknowledgements: David Smith and Alf O’Brien
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