Ellen (Lena) Noonan 1876-1953

James O’Brien and Lena Noonan

James Joseph O’Brien

James Joseph O'Brien 1871-1944
James Joseph O’Brien 1871-1944

James Joseph O’Brien, who was the eldest son of Peter O’Brien and Mary Ann Goward was born at Bega, NSW on February 4, 1871 (7059/1871). His parents were very young at the time (Peter was 23, Mary Ann was 15) and unmarried when Mary Ann fell pregnant. At the time of marriage on October 2, 1870 (1870/2194), Peter was listed a “Labourer” at Tantawangalo, and Mary Ann was  listed as a “Dairy Maid” at Lithgow Flat.

A number of other children followed in quick succession (between 1873 and 1885) in a number of locations, including Candelo, Bega and Merimbula. The electoral records also indicate, he, 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 roll as a “Dairyman”.

In 1895, aged twenty-four, James married twenty-one year old Lena Noonan (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.

Lena Noonan

Ellen (Lena) Noonan 1876-1953
Ellen (Lena) Noonan 1876-1953

The birth records for their other children indicate they lived at a number of locations around the NSW South East including: Candelo, Bemboka, Bega, and Wolumla.

The Southern Star (Bega, NSW : 1900 – 1923), Saturday 1 December 1906, page 4 reported James’ appearance in court along with Joseph Noonan (presumably his brother-in-law) on using obscene language in public.

Southern Star (Bega, NSW : 1900 – 1923), Saturday 1 December 1906, page 4 At the police court yesterday before Messrs Hawkins, P.M., A. Nickle and J. Jackson, JPs, Charlie Glass was fined 1os and 6s costs for assaulting Henry Higgins on October 20. Constable Ivory deposed to seeing the assault, and laying the information. James O’Brien was charged with using obscene language in Bega street on the morning of November 11. He pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr. Curtis. Constable Turner deposed to being attracted to the Bridge lane after midnight on the 1oth by a row which could be heard all over the town ; he stood by the roadside, and heard defendant use the words complained of. By Mr. Curtis : Was in Gipps street when I first heard the noise ; there were five men there ; was sure defendant was the right man ; did not know who the two were who cleared out; he was not making fish of one, and flesh of another; they were all under the influence of liquor ; did not know whether there were two horses or one in the buggy. James Sirl deposed to having been in bed, and hearing bad language on the road. Defendant denied using the language ; there were six of them altogether ; he was holding the horses when the Constable arrived ; asked him what charge he had against me, and be would not say. By Sergeant Scott: Had two whiskies and three beers that night, but was not drunk (laughter) ; used no bad language ; Noonan wanted to fight ; am sober now ; had two drinks this morning. Mr. T. J. Bateman, J.P., of Numbugga, whom accused works for, gave him a good character, and said he had never heard him use a bad word. The Bench were unanimous in convicting defendant, and fined him 5s and 6s costs. Joseph Noonan was charged with using indecent language on the same occasion, and pleaded not guilty, being defended by Mr. Curtis. The constable’s evidence was similar to the former case. Defendant denied using the words complained of, although he may have used other words ; he was half-drunk. The P.M. : Which half — the head or the legs? Witness said they were on their way home, and had a quarrel with two men on the road ; O’Brien had a bit of a tussle with Bourke. Jas. 0’Brien deposed that defend ant did not use the language. Larry Bourke was also called, but he stated that he was too drunk to know what was said ; he and O’Brien had a row, and he thought he got the worst of it. Mr. Bateman also gave Noonan a very good character, and addded he had never heard him use a bad word. Fined £1 and 65 4d costs. Mr. Curtis gave notice of appeal. Larry Bourke was fined 5s and 4s 4d costs for riotous conduct.

Moving to the NSW North Coast

A couple of years later (1908-1909) the family moved to the NSW North Coast, along with many others who I have read were relocating there due to a rabbit plague, drought conditions, and the prospect of new improved pasture grasses in the North Coast dairy industry. Lena’s brother, Matthew Noonan, also moved to the North Coast at about the same time.

According to one granddaughter, there was a great deal of instability in their working and homes lives for Lena and Jock, possibly because Jock “liked a drink or two”. Over the next few years, the electoral rolls indicate they lived at a number of locations on the North Coast including Ettrick (1917), Boorie Creek (1926), 89 Bridge Street North Lismore (1926).

The Northern Star of Wednesday 22 February 1928 reports the following incident which mentions a Joseph James O’Brien and Robert O’Brien, residing at Pitt Street, North Lismore.

Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), Wednesday 22 February 1928, page 11
Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), Wednesday 22 February 1928, page 11
Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), Wednesday 22 February 1928, page 11

Over the next few years, they lived between Upper Mongogarie (1932), and Lismore at 112 Casino Street (1934). In 1934, it appears that year Lena was still living with her family (or perhaps her brother-in-law’s family) at Upper Mongogarie. The Daily Examiner of September 26, 1936 reports…

Mr and Mrs. J. o’Brien and family, after residing at Cherry Tree for some time, have left for Lismore.

They finally settled at 21 Kyogle Street, South Lismore.

Death of James O’Brien

James Joseph O’Brien died on the weekend of June 11, 1944 (100414/1944)  and was buried in an unmarked grave in the East Lismore Cemetery on Monday, June 12. The death was announced in “The Northern Star” of June 12.

An obituary appeared in “The Northern Star” on Wednesday, June 14, 1944.

James Joseph O’Brien Obit
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 officiated 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.


Mr. James O’Brien, who died in the Lismore Base Hospital yesterday was born at Wolumla (SouthCoast) 73 years ago. He married Miss Eleanor Noonan. also of the South Coast, 50 years ago. They moved to the North Coast 37 years ago, and he followed dairying interests in the Lismore, Kyogle and Casino districts. Retiring from dairying 10 years ago, he lived at Kyogle Street, South Lismore until his death. He is survived by a widow and three sons and two daughters. The sons are John and Robert (Lismore) and Henry (A.I.F.), and daughters are Mesdames L. Brown (Brisbane) and A.Webb (Lismore). Another son, Norman, was killed in an accident on the Cawongla “Road nine years ago. Surviving brothers are Messrs.William (Wolumla), John (Camden), George (Bega) and Ted O’Brien (Lismore). Two sisters, Mrs. Geo. Hyde (Goolmangar) and Mrs. Holzhauser (Byron Bay) also survive. The funeral will move from the Roman Catholic Church, South Lismore to-day at 11 a.m. A  Requiem Mass will be celebrated at 8 am.

His death certificate states the causes of death were (anaemia??) and chronic nephritis (kidney disease).

Throughout the 1940s, Lena continued to live at the house in Kyogle Street, along with her son and daughter-in-law, Albert and Bertha. A brief advertisement in Northern Star on page 8 on Thursday 21 February 1946, refers to the following “Will take in washing at 21 Kyogle Street”.

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..

Death of Lena Noonan

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.

James O'Brien and Lena Noonan
James O’Brien and Lena Noonan in East Lismore Cemetery, Catholic B, Row 23 F

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

Matthew James O’Brien (known as Robert or Bob) was born at Candelo, NSW on September 8, 1896 (2309/1896). He married Eileen Crummy (born on 9th October 1904) http://www.echonews.com.au/news/northies-wanted-to-tell-their-aboriginal-stories/485757/ ) at Lismore in 1934 (14105/1934).

With thanks to his grandson, Matthew James O’Brien
With many thanks to his grandson, Matthew James O’Brien
Eileen Crummy

The North Lismore Plateau, NSW Cultural Heritage Assessment provides some information about Eileen’s heritage.

One such forefather was Charlie Brown (formerly Charlie Wilson – c. 1853-1924) whose partner was Topsy Davis/Brown (c. 1849-1919). Charlie Brown came to the Richmond River where he lived with an Aboriginal woman, Topsy, of Widjebul Country, in Modanville area. Charlie (also known as “Yella Charlie” because of the colour of his hair) and Topsy had several children and was living at “Booerie” in 1901. One of their daughters was Janie Brown (c. 1878-1957 – later married to Jim Crummy c. 1869-?). Janie’s oldest child, and daughter, Eileen was born at “Booerie” (in Widjebul Country), 9th October, 1904. Eileen became Mrs O’Brien, and in 1991 was living at 3 Johnston Street, North Lismore (aged 86). It is possible that Isabel Brown who was living at Goolmangar in 1915 was another daughter to Charley and Topsy. Isabel had a son, Stephen James Brown who lived at Goolmangar until he enlisted as a private in the A.I.F. 25.02.1915 (Regt No. 1154 2nd Light Horse) aged 22 years and 4 months. Stephen embarked for Australia 21.05.1917 due to a gunshot wound to the head and neck received in Palestine. Information supplied by Eileen O’Brien, Mrs Meg Timbrell, and Mr David “Huggonson” with the Donor being Mrs Robyn Howell, 1991. For further reading of “Yella Charlie,” see M. Oakes, in the story of a north coast city: LISMORE (1979), The First Inhabitants, Aborigines of the Lismore district.

From Facebook, James Speeding

Aunty Eileen O’Brien (my nan), Widjabul Elder, was interviewed (transcriptions recorded) 12 months before passing away in 1997. Aunty Eileen stated that during her younger days in Lismore Lane, NorthLismore, late 1929, she worked alongside a young Neville Bonner and his grandmother, Ida Bell [Granny Ida] cutting paspalum grass. She also spent time helping Granny Ida make clothes from hessian bags and calico. On some weekends, she just lolled about for hours listening to Granny Ida raving on about how it was as a young girl and how traditional life was before the settlers forced her people off their traditional lands. The interview seemed so exciting and so real – it sounded and felt as though I was there, some 70 years ago, having the same discussion! Reliving the old times, Aunty Eileen’s sanguine emotions seemed very spirited – I could feel her spirit and see her eyes like a well filled up with tears. Aunty Eileen finished off the interview by saying, ‘yes son, everything was not all gloomy in Lismore Lane…there were good days and bad days.’ Aunty Eileen’s oral evidence of cutting paspalum grass is supported by documented research evidence in Neville Bonner’s biography. Neville Bonner took his place in the Senate of Canberra 15th of August 1971, becoming the first Australian Indigenous politician. Angela Burger, Neville Bonner: A Bibliography (South Melbourne: Macmillan Company, 1979), 1.

Matthew (Bob) 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.

They had the following children: Kevin (Sth Lismore) and Violet, Earl and Alma (both dec.) and Terence and Ruth (Petrie, Qld), 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.

Earle O’Brien and Alma Gill

The Northern Star of February 19, 1953 records

ALLOVER LACE FOR BRIDE Somerville studios. Alma Gill wore a frock of allover lace when she married Earl O’Brien in the Holy Family Church, North Lismore. Alma is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Gill, of Buckendoon,* via Coraki, and Earl is the son of Mr. and Mrs. M. J. O’Brien, of Johnston Street, North Lismore. The bride’s frock featured long fitting sleeves, a V-neckline, with a high collar and a full skirt with a train. The shower bouquet consisted of carnations, gladioli and tuber roses. Bridesmaids were Fay Wray and Juna Deasey, wearing white lace and blue satin respectively. Best-man was Allan Speeding and groomsman, Frank Harris. After the wedding reception at the Railway Institute, South Lismore, they left for a honeymoon at Brunswick Heads. They will live in Lismore.

Patrick O’Brien

Patrick O’Brien was born at Bemboka in 1898 (1499/1898) and died at Bemboka in 1898 (4766/1898)

Margaret O’Brien

Margaret E O’Brien was born at Bemboka in 1899 (10222/1899) and died at Bemboka in 1899 (12253/1899)

Elizabeth Jane O’Brien

Elizabeth Jane O’Brien (known as Bib and Betty) was born at Candelo on August 28, 1900 (30430/1900). Elizabeth married Leonard A Brown at Murwillumbah in 1921 (8419/1921).

Leonard was the son of Joseph and Ellen Brown, and 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 Boatharbour.

A report in The Northern Star of December 27, 1935 mentions

Leonard Brown, of Tweed Heads, was attacked by two men in the lower Domain yesterday morning and robbed of 12s 6d and his shoes. He was treated at Sydney Hospital for cuts on the face.

A report (and photograph) in The Northern Star of Wednesday 1 October 1941 mentions

Pte. Leonard Aubrey Brown, of Clunes, previously reported missing, is now reported located in hospital, sick.

I only met Aunty Bib just the once, at dad’s funeral. She died at Brisbane in the 1980s. I remember briefly speaking on the phone with their daughter, Lyla, after she arrived back from living in the United States.

ARRIVED IN US: Mrs. J. Curtis, with 12-months old son John, who has just reached San Francisco, where she was reunited with her American husband. They will live at Louisville. Mrs. Curtis, known to Lismore as Lyla Brown, is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L Brown.

Currendina Private Hospital was located in Ewing Street and is currently the E-Street Guest House (currently owned by friends!!).

The Northern Star of July 27, 1946, reported

ARRIVED IN US: Mrs. J. Curtis, with 12-months old son John, who has just reached San Francisco, where she was reunited with her American husband. They will live at Louisville. Mrs. Curtis, known to Lismore as Lyla Brown, is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L Brown.

Norman Leslie O’Brien

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.

Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954), Tuesday 13 August 1935, page 6

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 work 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.

The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday 13 August 1935, page 11 reported the following.

The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday 13 August 1935, page 11.jpg
The Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday 13 August 1935, page 11.jpg

On March 27, 1936, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the following…

The Sydney Morning Herald Friday 27 March 1936, page 7
A verdict for the 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.

The Northern Star of September 26, 1935 reported

Lismore, on Monday night, proceeds of which were m aid ot wie wiaow family of Mr. “Sandy” O’Brien, who was accidentally killed at Cawongla quarry, attracted a record crowd. The total receipts were £49 8s and the ex penses £7 14s 4d, leaving a balance oi £41 13s 8d. Music was supplied gratuitously by the Riordan-Chittick orchestra, Jones’ “Forlana” band, Messrs. J. Casey, D. McFarlane and L. Gates. A cake, donated by Mrs. White, North Lismore, was won by Mr.Len Sharpe. a goose (donated by Mrs.
Cecil Spinks, Bonalbo) by Miss Jean Spinks, North Lismore, chocolates (donated by Mrs. Fitzgerald) by Miss Freda Ubrihein, armbands (donated “by Mrs. Homer) , by Mr. Ubrihein, cigarettes (donated by Mrs. Beclcer) by Mr. J. Leis, a fancy dish (donated
by Mrs. Williams) by Miss Norris, a cash trophy by Mrs. R. Tulk, and prizes donated by S. McLean’s Ltd. by Mesdames Waters and McMillan. Mr. Duley, on behalf _ of Mrs.
O’Brien, thanked the musicians, the”Northern Star,” Station 2XN. Lismore Greyhound Racing Club, Mr. L-es Smith, and the collectors and others who had assisted to make the effort a success.

She re-married in 1946 (27785/1946), as was reported in “The Northern Star” of October 2.

A blue crepe street-length frock with white accessories was worn by Mrs. Florence May O’Brien, daughter of ‘Mr. and Mrs. R. Spinks, of 49 Tweed Street, Lismore, for her wedding to James Douglas Sowter, son of Mrs. M. Sowter, of Goonengerry. They were married in St. Andrew’s Church of England, Lismore, by Archdeacon Benyon, at 7.30 on Saturday night. Given away by her father, the bride carried a bouquet of white roses and gladioli and also wore a white straw hat. She was attended by Mrs Clare : Jones, wearing a pink crepe street-length frock with black accessories and carrying a bouquet of pink roses and gladioli. The groom was attended by Douglas Gibson. “Love Everlasting” was sung by soloist, Mrs. C. Walker, in the church. Mesdames Spinks and Sowter received guests at a reception held at the Daffodil Tea Rooms. They will make their home at Goonengerry after a honeymoon at Coolangatta.
Tuesday 5 August 1952 Hobart Mercury
Private Ray O’Brien and his mother Mrs I Sowter of Lismore. http://remembrance2010.indev.com.au/#p=media/15/Korean-War. With thanks to research by Lyn Davey, it’s confirmed that Raymond Cecil O’Brien was born 11 May 1934, died maybe 2003. He Married June Gladys, and they had a son Wayne Norman. Raymond Cecil served in Korea and did a stint in the regular Army as well. He was possibly an instructor at Enoggera Barracks. He was shown as soldier on electoral rolls until 1972, then as instructor, but still living in the Enoggera area. In 1980, a Darren Raymond O’Brien was shown living with Raymond and June. He was a factory hand and may have been another son. DVA has a service summary for him for the Korean War. He married in possibly 1957. The photograph above appared as a front page story on The Age
According to this article on Trove, he was wounded in action https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/18274758
Northern Star photograph
His wife, June died last year.
June Gladys O’BRIEN
Passed away on 1 March 2018
Aged 82 years
A Service will be held at Chapel of Pinnaroo Crematorium, Graham Road, Bridgeman Downs, AU on Wednesday, 7th March 2018 at 11:00 AM.
Service Location: Chapel of Pinnaroo Crematorium
Address: Graham Road, Bridgeman Downs, AU
Published in The Courier-Mail Mar 05, 2018
After 14 days from today an application for a Grant of Probate of the Will dated 6 September 2000 of
JUNE GLADYS O’BRIEN late of Beaumont Care, 111 George Street, Kippa-ring, Queensland,
deceased, will be made by WAYNE NORMAN O’BRIEN to the Supreme Court at Brisbane.
You may object to the grant by lodging a caveat in that registry.
All creditors of the Estate are required to send particulars of their claim to the Applicant’s Solicitors
within six (6) weeks of the date of publication of this Notice.
Lodged by: HARDINGS GULHANE SOLICITORS, 29 Samford Road, Alderley, Qld 4051.

The Brisbane Telegraph of February 12, 1954, also confirms ENGAGED Valma ALLYSON, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. A. Burrows, of Hawthorne, who has announced her engagement to Pte. Raymond C.O’Brien,only son of Mrs. J. Sow-ter of Lismore, and the late Mr. N. O’Brien.

Henry Augustus O’Brien

Henry Augustus O’Brien was born at Wolumla on June 5, 1905 (20967/1905).

The Northern Star of March 6, 1928 reports the following   COURT OF PETTY SESSIONS:  The- following.cases were dealt with in the Court of- Petty Sessions before Mr. TV D. H. Sutherland,, P.M., yester day John Joseph Green and Henry Augustus O’Brien wore charged with breaking, entering, and stealing from the shop of Michael Phillips between, the hours of 6 p.m. on February 20 and 8 a.m. on Eobruary • 21. Accused were remanded: for eight days. O’Brien– was . granted bail—self –.in .£100, with one * surety of £. 100 or two sureties of. £-50 each

There is a further report in the Northern Star of April 13, 1928

LISMORE CASE John Joseph Green and Henry Augustus O ‘Brien were presented on ; a joint charge of having at Lismore on ; February’-21 -broken’ and entered the jewellery ; premises :’of M5cl|ael Phil lip? and stolen 12.watches,’50 bangles,; and’ 24 rings. A plea of guilty was •entered; by the accused, O’Brien, but , Green pleaded not guilty. Mr. F. J. .K’jngBlev “Newell, instructed fby}. Mr1. S..K. Hanlin, of the Crown .Solicitor’s Office^ appeared to prosecute for the Crfown.’. The accused were unrepre sented by counsel. • At the outset the; Crown Prosecutor, in- response’to’his Honour,-stated that, as the chief witness. O’Brien, was an accomplice. and. would be wanted to give, evidence, it was for the Crown to pray’ no judgment against him. His Honour : Do yon pray.no judg ment f The Cro^yn “Prosecutor : Yes. His Honour (to the accused, O’Brien) : You are released. The Crown .Prosecutor stated that the charge against the two accused was that they had broken and entered a jeweller’s shop in Uismore known as Phillips’s, in Woodlark-street, about two doors down from the Imperial Hotel. O’Brien,, who had just pleaded guilty, would be one of the main wit nesses, and he: would tell .them m% iiis movements with accused Green on the ‘night” in question. It was, however, a dangerous thing’.to convict a man on the evidence, of – an accomplico unions there were some corroborative evi dence in” support. At. the conclusion of it.he case for tli; prosecution Green made , a statemem on. oath from the witness box describ ing his movements on the night of the robbery, in which his account tal lied with his story as contained in his statement to the police. .. His’ Honour, in” his-address to the jury, pointed out that the law required a judge, to warn-the jury of , tlio dan ger of accepting ‘the’ uncorroborated evidence of a person who either ad mitted’ or was shown to have been an accomplice, and he thought it would bp unsafe to act upon O’Brien’s evi dence unless they could find some material corroboration in other evi dence which would tend to remove all doiibt from their minds as to Green’s guilt. The jury, .after. a retirement of 20 minutes, returned. a verdict of not. guilty, and” accused was discharged.

There is also 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…

The Sydney Morning Herald Monday 16 April 1928, page 12
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.
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Saturday 14 April 1928, page 18
The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864-1933), Saturday 14 April 1928, page 18 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 Casino in 1931 (6817/1931), aged 25, he married Florence Irene Vidler, the daughter of Henry Vivien Vidler (originally from Dapto) and Edith Ann Clifford (originally from Scone) .

On April 2, 1942, at Paddington, NSW and living at Stony Chute (near Lismore), Henry enlisted 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.

At this stage, I’m unsure of what happened to Henry and Florence after this, though a report about the death of Florence’s father (in Northern Star of Saturday 29 April 1944, page 5) records them living at Stony Chute (near Nimbin).

The next record of Henry is a Northern Star report of November 18, 1952 which has Henry living at the Camping Reserve, Ballina.

Two men were each fined £2 in Lismore Court of Petty Ses sions yesterday for drunkenness. They were Clive Cook, 37, lab ourer, of Tuncester, and John King, 29, labourer, of Tuncester. Four other men forfeited bail of £2 when they failed to appear to face drunkenness charges. They were Benjamin Roberts, 42, labourer, of Tuncester; Donald Herron, 38, labourer of Casino; Donald Roberts, 39, labourer, of Tuncester; and Francis Baker, 59, labourer, of Crabbe’s Creek. Harry Nott, 25, labourer, of Bobrie Street, North Lismore, and Henry O’Brien, 47, labourer, of the Camping Reserve, Ballina, each forfeited bail Of 10/- when they failed to appear.

I assume Florence might have returned to live with her family at Cawongla for a period of time, as the next reference I can find to them is a report in “The Northern Star” of November 3, 1952 which has her (and not Henry) being farewelled from Cawongla, and moving to Terania Creek.

Farewell At Cawongla
A farewell and presentation was tendered Mrs. H. O’Brien and family in Cawongla Hall. Flowers were presented to Mrs. O’Brien by Lenore. Hall. Mrs. K. McGuirmess was chairman and other speakers were Mesdames Young and McNellie and Mr. Leaney. Mr. W. Kay made the presentation of a dinner set. ‘ Mr. Henry O’Brien, jun, responded. Music for dancing was sup plied by Clarke’s orchestra with extras by Miss Delia Tindall. Mr. W. Tindall was M.C. A chocolate waltz was won by Miss Delia Tindall and Henry O’Brien. The O’Brien family will live at Terania Creek.

An advertisement in The Northern Star, dated March 16, 1954

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN We, FLORENCE IRENE O’BRIEN and HENRY JAMES O’BRIEN, of Terania Creek, hereby give notice that we in tend to take legal proceedings against any persons found trespassing on our property at Terania Creek. Dated the 15th day of March, 1954. Signed, F. I. O’Brien, Florence I. O’Brien (for H. J. O’Brien).

An article in The Northern Star, May 13, 1954, refers to the following

£10 Fine for Cycle Theft A man who, according to his solicitor, was “footsore and weary and yielded to temptation”, was fined £10 in Lismore Court of Petty Sessions for stealing a bi- cycle. The man, Henry Augustus O’Brien, of Kyogle Street, South Lismore, was said to have walked from Ballina to Wardell and then taken the bicycle from near a house. “He rode the bicycle to Woodburn,” said Detective Constable J. Bernard. – “He stayed there the night with a friend and the following day he painted the bicycle and came to Lismore,” he said. Since that day, O’Brien had been riding the bicycle. On May 8, Constable Besnard said, he saw him and took the bicycle from him. Mr. Newton, who appeared for O’Brien,, said that O’Brien was a 48-year-old ex-service man who had spent a consid erable part of his service abroad. He had been wounded and suffered nervous dis orders. “He was footsore and weary after walking from Ballina and succumbed to temptation,” said Mr. Newton, The bicycle was in much better ‘condition when handed back than when he took, it.”. O’Brien was given a month to pay the fine.

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.

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)

Lismore Lawn Cemetery, Portion G Row 41

Co-incidentally the funeral notice was directly next to the three-year “In Memoriam” notice for her brother-in-law, my dad.

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.”

Betty (June) Franchi died on April 4, 2001 and is buried with her mother.

Mary Beatrice O’Brien

* 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).

As reported in The Northern Star, June 25, 1929.

The death occurred in a private hospital in Lismore yesterday of Muriel Webb, aged 20 years, wife of Mr. A. T. Webb, junr, of North Lismore. Deceased, who was ill only a few days, was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Rudd, of Rosebank. Mrs. Webb, with her husband, came to live in Liamore from Dunoon, where she was very popular with the younger set, and was an ardent worker for tho P.A.T.S. lodge at that centre. She is survived by a widower and an infant son aged 8 months. The funeral takes place to morrow.

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.

Weekend Brides In Lismore (Photos by Esquire Studios) Lenore Webb had two bridesmaids when she mar- ried Greg Batterham in St. Andrew’s Church of England. Mr. and Mrs. A.. T.. E. Webb, of Parkes Street, Lis- imore, are the bride’s parents land the groom is a son of Mr. land Mrs. G. Batterham, of Alstonville. The bride wore a gown of embossed faille cut on classi- cal lines with a roll standup collar and fitting bodice offset, by a princess peak. An un- usual effect was achieved by the front panel of pleated nylon organza forming an un- derskirt to the faille redingote skirt. A full circular scalloped train fell from a nestle of pleats. A Tudor hat held the wispy tulle veil. The bride car- ried a bouquet of carnations and lily of the valley, Margaret Webb and Audrey Batterham were bridesmaids and Don and Neville Batter- ham attended the groom, After a reception at the Rowing Club, the couple left for a Brisbane and Barrier Reef honeymoon.

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.

From the Northern Rivers Echo: Alf Webb, the oldest licensed amateur operator in Australia, cuts the 100 year birthday cake for radio while Martin Corben, manager of 2NR waits for a slice of the action.
From the Northern Rivers Echo: Alf Webb, the oldest licensed amateur operator in Australia, cuts the 100 year birthday cake for radio while Martin Corben, manager of 2NR waits for a slice of the action.

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.

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

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, he 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.

Wedding of Albert Bernard O’Brien and Bertha Ann Dunn. Witnesses were Eunice Dunn and J.A. Doyle who I presume was Jack Doyle of Crown Street, South Lismore, as the death notice for the wife of J.A. Doyle Northern Star Thu 20 Aug 1942 says he worked at the Broadwater Sugar Mill which is where Albert also worked. Lizzie Doyle is aged 41 according to the report, and by the look of Jack he was also in his 40s. I can’t be sure, but this looks right, I think.

You can read more of their story here https://jamesobrien.id.au/genealogy/albert-bernard-obrien-and-bertha-ann-dunn/

91 responses to “James O’Brien and Lena Noonan”

  1. Barry O'Brien Avatar
    Barry O’Brien

    Hi James

    I have apologise for not keeping in touch with you over the years. Sadly, my research stagnated for a number of years, but I am now getting back in to it. I note that you have made a lot of progress in your research. I will contact you again soon. I noticed on another site, which I cannot find again, that you have had contact with Victoria Whyte (Ellen Agnes’ grand-daughter) and also Jeanette ? I will speak to you soon.


  2. James Avatar

    Hey Barry, welcome back!! Hope all is well. Gosh, your kids must be all grown up now? Talk soon. James

  3. James Avatar

    Johanna, lovely to hear from you. Thanks for the sad news. James

  4. Johanna Lowe Avatar
    Johanna Lowe

    Thank you for posting your family history stories. I am half-sister-in-law of Fae Hallman (nee Webb). Very very sad news, i just saw an funeral notice Dec 2008 in Ryerson Index for her daughter Jennifer Ann who died only in her forties leaving six children, I do not know any more yet, Johanna

    1. Geoffrey Hallmann Avatar
      Geoffrey Hallmann

      Johanna … feel free to Email me at geoffhallmann@yahoo.com if you like

  5. James Avatar

    There’s also a comment here about the O’Brien/Holzhauser connection which says

    Hi James,
    We are doing a tree on our family.
    i am a daughter of Pearl&William Carter.
    My mother was Pearl Irene Cooper,her father was
    Joseph Cooper&Doris Holzhauser.The Obriens are her
    relations.Could i ask for any info you may have please.
    My name is Florence Ann Carter,I get called Ann.

  6. Geoffrey Hallmann Avatar
    Geoffrey Hallmann

    Hi James

    Just a couple of corrections for the above entry of Mary Beatrice Webb (My Grandmother):

    FIRSTLY Dare of Death was 1999, not 1994.

    SECONDLY Alf O’Brien was Alf Webb.

    THIRDLY, just to add to was Johanna said, Jenny passed away on 9 December 2008.


    1. Geoffrey Hallmann Avatar
      Geoffrey Hallmann

      Make that 1998 … sorry … so long ago I had to check myself

    2. James Avatar

      Geoff, thanks for picking up the error about Alf O’Brien v Alf Webb. One of the big O’Brien researchers is Alf O’Brien and I typed in error. I’ll update both pieces. Cheers, James

  7. Nola Avatar

    Hi James . after looking for many years I may have come across something. Would you know the parents of eileen. I knew her all my life but something tells me i am related to her.

    1. James Avatar

      Hi Nola, loveyl to hear from you.

      According to NSW BDM, these are the Crummey’s born in Lismore 1900-1909. So there’s no father listed for Eileen with mother Amelia, but there is a father listed for John (father James, mother Amelia). If I can help any further way, or if you have anything to add, please pass on a comment or drop me an email james @ jamesobrien.id.au


    2. chris nissen Avatar
      chris nissen

      eileens parents are my great grandparents her mum was janey crummy nee brown and james

  8. nola Avatar

    Hi James , I was bought up in Nth Lismore and lived quite near Earl and Violet and remember them quite clearly. My grandmother was Catherine Crummy and I am thinking it is her brother who is the father of Eileen. One of grandma’s brothers married Polly Capeen. I will have to search for information I have put away.

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Nola, great to hear from you. As I recall, though, Earl lived at the bottom of Casino Street in South Lismore. Still not far, and so odd that North and South Lismore are so close. James

  9. Audrey Zambelli Avatar
    Audrey Zambelli

    Hi James,
    You sent me a letter ages ago. But I think I have misplaced it. My sister is starting to get our family tree rolling, so i will share this info with her. My Mum is Dorreen Zambelli (O’brien) and Dad, Davide Zambelli. I still remember Eileen O’Brien very clearly, though I was probably around 10, when she lived in North Lismore. She was affectionately called Black Aunty or Aunty Iylee. I loved rummaging around the treasues under her house. Dad and her were good mates sharing many laughs together

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Audrey

      Great to hear from you, and great that your sister is doing some family tree stuff. I think the older we get the more interested we as humans become in this stuff. Glad that what’s here can be useful.

      I mostly grew up with the Dunn side of my family, and didn’t know much about the O’Brien side until I started to do some research. I knew Matthew and Simon from South Lismore, but I never knew that we were related until recently. Small world, eh?

      Hoping the research goes well, and hopefully we can share some further info.


    2. Ina Smith Avatar
      Ina Smith

      Hi Audrey,
      My grandmother was Evelyn (Vidler) Serone, a sister of your grandmother Florence (Vidler) O’Brien. I’m compiling a family tree of the Vidlers and I have photos of all of my grandmother’s siblings as adults except for Florence. (I have a photo of Florence as a child). Do you have a photo of her that you would be so kind as to share with me?

      Ina Smith

      1. James O'Brien Avatar

        Wow, a connection to the Serone family also. I hadn’t realised I was related to so many people from school.

  10. Elizabeth B Avatar
    Elizabeth B

    Looking for information on a Ruth E Petrie (and her descendants) DOB 1-1-1903 Chicago, Illinois.

  11. Kathleen Starr Avatar
    Kathleen Starr

    I enjoyed reading your family history. It has some parralells to my McDonald family history. They immigrated from Scotland in 1837/38. They lived, married, died and farmed in Nimmitybelle, Bega, Queanbeayan, Bombala, Bemboka and Tumut. Like the O’Briens they also moved to the Lismore area in the early 1900’s. I always wondered why. My grandmother, Mary Eileen Clifford nee McDonald remembered as a little girl travelling up the coast on a ship to I think it was Ballina. I have also other ancestors who lived and farmed in the Kyogle and Lismore arears. Their surnames are CLIFFORD, MARSDEN, MARZOL, DEAN, STARR and STAFF.

  12. mark franchi Avatar

    i am the grandson of henry augustus o’brien my mum is colleen dawn o’brien the last born child of henry and flo we where just wondering how are we related aunty eilleen was my mum godmother

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Mark, good to hear from you. Your grand-dad and my dad were brothers, so your mum and I are cousins, which I guess makes us second cousins. Cheers James

  13. mark franchi Avatar

    which brother was it as mum wants to no

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Mark, my dad was the youngest child, Albert Bernard (known as Johnny O’Brien). We grew up in South Lismore. Here’s some more info http://jamesobrien.id.au/genealogy/albert-bernard-obrien-and-bertha-ann-dunn/ James

  14. mark franchi Avatar

    Do you remember my mum colleen

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Mark, I don’t actually. I was raised knowing my mum’s family much more than dads, though I’ve come to know a few of them in the last few years through this site which is a good thing. James

  15. christine nissen Avatar
    christine nissen

    Janie Brown married Jim Crummy
    children [ aunty Niley] -Eileen @ Bob O’brien [uncle charlie] Charles Crummy @Llexie
    Jessica [aunty Jess ] 1st Roy Deacy 2nd Speeding.
    Mabel [my grandma] Dolly wed Jim Smith my father is anzac

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Christine, thanks for the info. That’s terrific.

      I’m a little confused, though as the NSW BDM has an Eileen Crummy (born 1905, mother Amelia, no father listed 24420/1905 at Lismore) and I couldn’t find a marriage or birth with the names mentioned.

      I knew the Speeding family fitted in somehow – I was in the same year at school as Peter – but wasn’t really sure how.



      1. Tristan Avatar

        Aunty Elieen was my 2nd great Aunt. Mother Amelia. 24420/1905 Also has same birth registration number under the names of “Dears” and “Peanna”
        Am looking for accurate info as I have nothing for her father James Crummy.

  16. Valerie Avatar

    Hi James, my Name is Valerie Franchi the doughter of Betty June Franchi doughter of henry augustus o’brien, I am trying to find out some history on My Grandads side of the family and seem to be seeing alot on your site it has been fun to look up history but i just wont to find out how my Grand dads side of the family was like and how i fit into the piture so i can pass it onto my children and so on. , I remember aunty Illy as it was yesterday as i am only 37 I remember her a little lady full of life and fun to be around i used to go and visit her all the time in south lismore, And my partner also comes from south lismore, iam just starting my family tree, I know that their is a photo of a bullock team of Henry O’Brien
    hanging on the wall that the Channon Taven,
    regards Valerie

  17. James O'Brien Avatar

    Hi Valerie, great to hear from you. I’m guessing this makes us second cousins or something like that. Glad the info has been useful and hopefully it will help in your own research. Would love to see the pic of the bullock team. Are you living on the North Coast? If not, I can ask some friends to pop along and take a look and grab a photo, I’m sure. If not, I’m hoping to make it home soonish to visit the family and to see my new niece. James

  18. christine nissen Avatar
    christine nissen

    james this is christine again spoke to mum she says she always knew granny as being called jannie brown before marriage .indigenous births were not required to be registered at birth as we were not recognised as being of the human race.my father as far as i know was not
    registered either . jim crummy is or was her husband bye for now

  19. Valerie Avatar

    To james, I am living in south Sydney with my family, I have a photo that i took if you would like me to email i found it, it has been great to find out so much history on my mums side of the family tree thanks regards Valerie

  20. Jenny smith Avatar
    Jenny smith

    hi james, i am the daughter of bob smith,son of dolly and james smith,i have.been doing a.bit of family history,dolly is a sister to aunty niley,(eileen) I also have other information about north lismore, in particular smith,brown,crummys family,ta I would also like to hook up with uncle anzacs family,if you could email christine,that would be great thanks

    1. christine nissen Avatar
      christine nissen

      jenny ican be contacted at cpnissen@gmail.com now i check email every few days

    2. Bec Waite-Pullan Avatar
      Bec Waite-Pullan

      Hi Jenny I am Rebecca granddaughter of Gloria who was daughter of Dolly and James so Bob is Gloria’s brother? I am try to track my heritage too, can see Gloria on the family tree and how can I gain information about her past.

  21. Diane Smith Avatar
    Diane Smith

    Hi Jenny

    My name is Diane Smith I am Christine Nissen’s younger sister. I have been trying to get some information on the family to assist my children (Courtney Wicks (nee Everitt) Wilde Page, Baine Page and Auston Page) with their ancestry. I know about our Great Grandmother Janie and a little about our Grandmother Dolly but am not sure about our Grandfather there doesn’t seem to be much knowledge about him perhaps you can help.


    Diane Smith

    1. jenny smith Avatar
      jenny smith

      Hi Di,

      I have a family tree at home that i have been working on, I can send it to you guys, so that yous can connect yourselfs in.

  22. Monica Gray (nee O'Brien) Avatar
    Monica Gray (nee O’Brien)

    HI, i am a descendent of William Albert O’Brien. born 25/2/1881 who was a son of Peter O’Brien and Mary Ann Goward. My father was Cedric Vincent O’Brien born 21/6/1921. His mother was Sarah Viola Peisley born 28/7/1883. Cedric, known also as “Bunty” Married Dorothy Eileen McCabe in June 1949 at Bega. We lived on a dairy farm at Sth Wolumla near Bega until Nov 1952 when we moved to Wollongong. My father, along with his brothers Arthur Albert (b1912) Leslie Henry (b1913) Aubrey Oswald (b1914) all worked at Lysaghts , Port Kembla; which later became part of BHP and then Bluescope. Ironically my husband is from Byron Bay, and his auntie worked at Caroona Nursing home for many years.I need to talk to her about Eileen O’Brien and Alf Webb. i’m sure she will know of them. When i was a young child we stayed with Cecil Hyde at Tregeagle, he was a cousin (2nd maybe?) of my father. I am also related to the Laing’s from Bega (the Postman was my ggg grandfather (i think it was).I have an old printout of a family tree done by Barry O’Brien of Musswellbrook in 1996!!! Monica Gray (nee O”Brien)

    1. James Avatar

      Hi Monica, lovely to hear from you. I also have the printout of the family tree done by Barry all of those years ago. In terms of my O’Brien lineage, it was an absolute breakthrough helping my own research. It’s amazing to see all the connections, despite the fact we are related, but don’t know each other, including the Laing connection (!!!) as well as all of the O’Brien connections. James

      1. sharon Avatar

        Hi James,
        I am Eileen’s great grand daughter (well one of). I would love to see a copy of the abovementioned family tree. Would it be possible for you to email it to me?

      2. Sharon Stewart Avatar
        Sharon Stewart

        Hi James,

        Just following up my previous comment, could you please send me a copy of the printout of the family tree done by Barry.

        1. Sharon Lansley Avatar
          Sharon Lansley

          Hi Again James or anyone with any information re Eileen that is reading this. Please could you email me a copy of the family tree and anything else you may have

          1. James O'Brien Avatar

            Hi Sharon, I always share everything I have, so hoping the info here is useful.

  23. Courtney Wicks Avatar
    Courtney Wicks

    Hello James,
    My name is Courtney and this evening I was idly Googling my name when your site came up. My maiden name is Everitt, my mother is Diane Smith and her father Anzac Smith who originated from Lismore. The surname Crummy rings bells but my oral family history is so fragmented its hard to keep track. However, the Eileen Crummy you write about sounds similar to a great Aunt Nielee we had who had a son named Terence. Family history states that Terry was adopted by Aunty Nielee from my great grandmother Dolly (?), and it is believed Dolly didn’t survive long after his birth. Could these women Eileen and Nielee be one and the same?

    1. Courtney Wicks Avatar
      Courtney Wicks

      Ha! It seems my mother is already on the case! It is hard to have a clear genealogy when half of your family history is blank because of race.

      1. James O'Brien Avatar

        Hi Courtney. Nice to hear from you. I think it’s probably the same person as the story sounds right. I must ask if your mother Diane grew up in south lismore as did I. If so we were probably at school together at Richmond river high. Currently traveling overseas so a little distracted from family history research. Will get back into it when I return home. In meantime hope your research goes well. James

        1. James O'Brien Avatar

          Hi Courtney, how’s it going? Back in Australia now, and keen to make some sense of this all. James

  24. Bec Waite-Pullan Avatar
    Bec Waite-Pullan

    Hi James, I found your page after googling Dolly Mabel Crummy, Dolly is my paternal great grandmother. Do you have any information on any surviving family members I can contact? I am currently tracing my aboriginal heritage and would like to find out as much as I can on top of what I know. Thanks in advance!

    1. Bec Waite-Pullan Avatar
      Bec Waite-Pullan

      Hi James I am Rebecca granddaughter of Gloria Elaine Smith, her mum and dad was Dolly Mable Crumbie and James Smith re the comment above.

      1. James O'Brien Avatar

        Hi Bec,
        Hope you’re keeping up to date with the comments. Sounds like we’ve got a family reunion happening here!

  25. James O'Brien Avatar

    Apologies for the delay in approving these comments. I’ve been in the air for what seems like an eternity. If you’ve commented previously, they should now be automatic. It sounds like there’s a bit of interest in the Crummy connection right now. I’ve published everything I have, but would appreciate any further comments. My own connection to Eileen (also known as other names) was through my dad. She was my dad’s sister in law. I grew up knowing a couple of the sons, and went to school with a couple of her grandsons.

  26. Mark Brady Avatar
    Mark Brady

    Hi James, my great grandmother was Elizabeth Jane O’Brien. My mum grew up with her until she was 12 years old, when her grand mother passed away. She then went to live with one of her brothers, who was adopted by her aunty. Then her and her other brother went to an orphanage. She also has an older brother who I think lived alone. His in Newcastle.

    You can e-mail me and I can ask my mum if you like. She has many photo’s. She recently reunited with her brother after 50 years, and my cousin John has supplied her with the photo’s. John is a bit of a family history buff. His e-mail is john.obrien.aus@gmail.com.

    Talk soon


  27. Mark Brady Avatar
    Mark Brady

    I should add that my mother is the daughter of Dolly and Jim. She lived with Janey when she was young because Dolly died when my mum was around 2.

  28. Mark Brady Avatar
    Mark Brady

    Sorry I think it should be James, not Jim:)

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Great to hear from you. Wow!

      I only met her once, at my dad’s funeral in 1981, and then it was only briefly. I do remember dad was very fond of her, and he used to call her “Bib” as I recall. I also remember being amazed at how much she and dad looked alike.

      When I was growing up, I didn’t know dad’s family all that well as I knew my mum’s, so it was great to hear from you. I would love to know more, and would love to see any family photographs.

      In the last few weeks this part of my family’s extended story is really starting to open up and it’s very exciting.

      I’ll drop you a note.

      UPDATE – After seeing Mark’s comment below, I realised I’d confused the two women called Elizabeth Brown.

  29. Mark Brady Avatar
    Mark Brady

    Hi James, I had a quick chat with my mum.

    From what I understand Elizabeth Jane was initially a Brown, then she married a Crummy. They had Eileen, Mabel (Dolly), Jesse, and Charles. My mum is the daughter of Mabel. Mabel married and became a Smith and had a number of Children such as my mum, Roy, John and Terry (others as well). Eileen married and became an O’Brien, she adopted Terry and his name changed from Terry Smith to Terry O’Brien.

    I could be mistaken, but I am not sure if the Elizabeth Jane O’Brien who became Elizabeth Jane Brown is the same Elizabeth Jane Brown I am speaking about. My mum said the Elizabeth Jane Brown she is speaking about had a maiden name of Brown then became a Crummy. She died around 55 years ago when my mum was 12. They lived in the same tin shed at the back of Eileen’s property together.

    After Jayne died, my mum lived with Eileen for about 12 months before she went into an orphanage.

    Roy, Terry and my Mum are still alive. John sadly passed away a number of years ago now. My mum and John lived together with Eileen for a period of time. I am not sure exactly how long John stayed with Eileen for.

    I hope this helps a little:)



    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      I was confusing the two, Mark, but still there’s a connection there. Lots of other people also chasing this part of the tree at the moment.

  30. christine nissen Avatar
    christine nissen

    hi james i asked about having a family reunion sometime in the near future if we do it will have to be sooner rather than later as the older people are passing away and soon it will become harder for us to work out whose who but we are all related all the names that are here are names my dad spoke of he died in 1979 if i started something on your site by putting information up i am glad others saw it .every now an then i check to see what else has been put there your site is helping connect family a good thing in itself even i never new a lot about who my cousins are , as the family are very disjointed due to the times and events that occured in the early and mid part of the last century. i knew names of my aunts and uncles but not all of their children diane smith anzacs daughter is my sister she was born in newcastle but uncle bob has a daughter [ my cousin ] who was born in lismore and as far as i know still lives there i think the elisabeth may have been jannies correct name but records are hard to find and so many people have the same name . due to the laws of the time , it was not considered important to register native births . while i,m at this how if in any way are we related is it just through marriages or what , probably not at all, but related to relations any way like catching up and annoying you bye for now

  31. Latoya Avatar

    Hi my names latoya my mums leslie obrien yo ungest child of kevin james obrien and violet obrien my grandfather kevin is the son of Ilien obrien and matthew (bob) obrien was woundering if you no or have heard from her oldest brother kevin as no ones seen him in 15 yrs thanks

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Latoya, good to hear from you. Hoping this message helps you find him. James

    2. jess rankin Avatar
      jess rankin

      Hi latoya kevin died a while ago he is buried in goonellabah cemetery with his mum eileen

      1. sharon Avatar

        Hi Jess,
        Wrong Kevin… The Kevin Latoya is referring to is Kevin James’ (Eileen’s son – or Kevin Snr’s) oldest son (Kevin Jnr). Confusing, I know!

  32. Christine Speeding Nichols Avatar

    Hi James
    My name is Christine Speeding. How do the Speeding’s fit into your Family.
    I’m related to James Speeding. My father was Ernie / Ernest Speeding. If you know of the
    family I would love to hear from you. Thanks Christine.

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Christine, my dad’s sister in law was Eileen Crummy/O’Brien. Her sister Jessy married a Speeding. Though I’m not sure of the eaxt connection, there was a Speeding family who lived around the corner from her in North Lismore. Eileen lived on Johnstone Street. The Speeding Family lived on Terania Street. As I recall, there was a Peter Speeding in my class at South Lismore Primary, and then later at Richmond River High School. Hope the info helps? James

  33. christine nissen Avatar
    christine nissen

    james the speedings still live there l will ask my uncle roy where his cousin kevin lives that seems to be latoya,s grandfather . but i think he may now have passed will let you know

  34. latoya Avatar

    There are heaps of speedings here still and my grandfather kevin past away in 2009

    1. Christine Nissen Avatar
      Christine Nissen

      guess we are related to relations or some such thing all i know is we are family as defined by my people

      On Sat, Nov 23, 2013 at 2:32 AM, jamesobrien.id.au wrote:

      > latoya commented: “There are heaps of speedings here still and my > grandfather kevin past away in 2009” >

    2. Christine Nissen Avatar
      Christine Nissen

      james just a note terrance obrien died a few weeks back

  35. James O'Brien Avatar

    Hi Christine. Thanks for the update. Cheers, James

  36. Alison Avatar

    Hi James, My name is Alison I am one of Kevin James O’Briens granddaughters. Just wanted to let you know reading your page has been wonderfully enlightening. Obviously I never knew my great grandfather but remember my Grandmama Eileen very fondly. Thank you so much.

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Alison, I’m really pleased the info has been useful and interesting to you. If you have any further stories to share, please do so, as I know lots of people read the page and are always keen to know more. By the way, you live in Lismore or have moved elsewhere. Cheers, James

      1. Christine Nissen Avatar
        Christine Nissen

        james our family are planning a reunion the family includes the descendants of janey crummy nee brown her children my gran mabel dolly smith ,aunty jess and aunty nile obrien if any one is interested feel free to contact jenny smith in lismore we are hoping to get together in the june long weekend of this year . thanks christine. wow am i putting a lot on jenny well she lives up there so here goes .

        On Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 1:35 AM, JAMES O’BRIEN wrote:

        James O’Brien commented: “Hi Alison, I’m really pleased the info has > been useful and interesting to you. If you have any further stories to > share, please do so, as I know lots of people read the page and are always > keen to know more. By the way, you live in Lismore or have moved e” >

        1. James O'Brien Avatar

          Hi Christine

          Good luck with it all. I helped organise a school reunion a few years. It’s a big job, but well and truly worth it.


  37. Bernedette Stephenson Avatar
    Bernedette Stephenson

    Hi james
    Just found this site I am the daughter of Robert Leslie Spinks from Lismore who is the Grandson of The Spink”s Norman (Sandy) lived with, His Aunt Is Florence Spinks.

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Hi Bernadette
      Great to hear from you. I guess that makes us distantly related in some way.

  38. Bernedette Stephenson Avatar
    Bernedette Stephenson

    My father is the unknown son of Sandy dad got to meet his brother Ray in 1997 with myself and family, we all went to his sons wedding. Dad got to know his brother in the last years of Rays life and spent time with him. It was my mum who discovered this and unfortunately mum died September 1996 and never got to meet Ray.

    1. Bernedette Stephenson Avatar
      Bernedette Stephenson

      Hi James just wanted to let you know that my father Robert Leslie Spinks passed away on the 26th of November 2015.

      1. James O'Brien Avatar

        Hi Bernedette,
        I’m sorry to hear that. Best wishes to you and your family.

  39. James O'Brien Avatar

    Hi Christine, Latoya and others, was searching and found this article with a photo of Eileen’s mother, Janey.


    1. christine nissen Avatar
      christine nissen

      hi james that was a bit later than 32 my dad looks to be about 7 or 8 and uncle noel about 10 and the other 2 are the obrien boys . we use this pic on the smith family reunion page good to know your still around

      1. James O'Brien Avatar

        Hi Christine, that’s great. Which ones are Earle and Kevin O’Brien?

  40. christine nissen Avatar
    christine nissen

    earl and kevin are on grannies left not sure which is which would have to find the picture in my stuff

  41. Suzanne Waite-Pullan Avatar
    Suzanne Waite-Pullan

    Hi James and Christine, I am Gloria Elain Smith’s daughter in law, she was Mabel Dolly Smith’s daughter, Eileen’s sister.

    Can you direct me to the Smith Family Re-Union Page please. Also on reading this again Rebecca Waite-Pullan who is my daughter and granddaughter of Gloria Elain Smith has already been on here, she and I are attempting to do a family tree. We found some messages from Eileen for Topsy on the AITSIC Aboriginal stories website and some stories about Janey and Charlie and some mention of a possible parents of Topsy being Piggy and Kitty Nerang?????? Is this true. Also if you do have the family tree from Jenny Smith a cousin can you forward it to my address please. Gloria passed in 5th Jun 1984 from complications of diabetes and congenital heart disease. It was a very sad day, Rebecca was born 1st of Jun 1984, Gloria sang a song to Rebecca;s photo before she died but never got to hold her.

  42. christine nissen Avatar
    christine nissen

    hi if you need the smith family reunion page just send me a friend request my name is christine nissen from hexham

  43. Sharon Avatar

    Hi Gloria & Christine,

    I am Eileen’s eldest great grand daughter and would be pleased if you could send me any information you have. My email address is shodges5@hotmail.com
    Thank you

  44. Anne Maye Avatar

    Wonderful exchange of information. I have been following the O’Brien family from near Pambula and Bega. They are connected to my HYDE/SHIPWAY and therefore McQUILTY. I have done extensive work on the McQUILTY line on the North Coast and that includes some koori connections. I also believe that any research I do is to be shared so anyone looking for extras from this post is welcome to contact me.

    1. Gerard Avatar

      I am the great great great grandson of Annie Marie Doyle and Denis O’Brien that came out here in 1841 from Ireland and lived in the Carcoar area. They had a daughter Mary Ellen who married James Patrick O’Brien (no relation).

      I cant find where he comes from. He was born in the 1840s. I used BDM and saw there was a death in the early 1900s in the area with james p but his parents dont seem to have him listed as a son (thomas and mary). There was another death in 1895 with james and mary being parents but cant find anything on them.

      1. amayezingAnne Maye Avatar

        I wonder if you are looking for the wrong name? By this I mean that a child is christened with one name and is known by another because with generations following naming patterns the repetition can become confusing so that it you have 3 brothers e.g. James, Patrick, Daniel and Michael and they each name their children James, Patrick and Michael the family knows them as Patrick James or Pat Pat or James Michael. Then there are lots of reversals. Also with the An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) there were so many deaths and then thre were remarriages with some children growing up and not knowing that their birth mother was not the mother who raised them virtually from birth.

  45. Lyn Davey Avatar
    Lyn Davey

    Hi James. You know that Florence Mary SOWTER died on 18 December 1963, and that she was interred in Balmoral Cemetery, Morningside, Brisbane Qld, Site 15-469Q, on 21 December 1963. Here is the address on Australian Cemeteries Index website for a photo of her headstone: http://www.austcemindex.com/inscription?id=15688573#images. I hope it works. Florence May’s second husband, James Douglas SOWTER seems to have moved back to northern NSW and remarried. On the 1972 Electoral Rolls a Marjorie Jean SOWTER is shown with him. I am guessing they married some time between 1963 and 1972. They are buried together in Lismore Memorial Gardens NSW. She died in 1994 and he died in 1997. Here is the address for a photo of their headstone (probably not of great interest to you but I am a bit of a pack rat when it comes to including stuff in the family story!) http://www.austcemindex.com/inscription?id=9167051#images.

    1. James O'Brien Avatar

      Thanks Lyn. Awesome information.

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