Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Adam O'Brien

     Adam O'Brien, (1727-1836) was one of the first settlers in what is now WV;  he came to the West Fork of the Monongahela around 1756. In 1763; he defied the order of the King of England and was one of the early settlers west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sutton's "History of Braxton County and Central WV" states that a Capt. G.F. Taylor reported in a letter to a newspaper that Adam O'Brien was disappointed in a love affair with Isabel Burgoyne, the only daughter of Revolutionary General Burgoyne.  Whatever his reasons, Adam certainly wandered over a large portion of what was to become central WV.
     In the "Journal of the Braxton Historical Society" for September 1983, Virginia Carr states that Adam was living on the Potomac River in 1747 as a landowner.  Adam later served as an Indian scout and told an interviewer that he was at the battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. Adam was on a list of militia paid at Romney Virginia in 1775.
     Adam was granted 400 acres of land on the West Fork River in Harrison County and 400 acres on Lost Creek. F.J. Baxter's "Notes of Braxton County" states that Adam O'Brien assisted in making the first survey of that county in 1784.  Carr states that Adam moved all his family except his wife from Harrison County to what is now Braxton County WV in 1795, and they lived at the present site of Sutton, WV.
     Withers' "Chronicles of Border Warfare" states that Adam O'Brien was somewhat responsible for the Indian attack on Benjamin Carpenter family in 1798.  Withers’ alleges that the Indians followed trails blazed by O'Brien and discovered the Carpenter settlement.  Withers says that Adam was, "...rather an indifferent woodsman, incautiously blazed trails in several directions..." . This sounds unreasonable in light of the fact that Adam survived to over 100 years of age.
     About 1800, the O'Brien family moved to the West Fork of the Little Kanawha River in what is now Calhoun County WV.  Shortly after he moved to the West Fork, Adam and Mike Fink were attacked by Indians.  Fink was killed, but Adam escaped to return a few days later and bury Mike Fink and an Indian side by side.
     O'Brien had at least four wives and many children.  Icie Barsatti states that at one time, Adam had a wife and family on Steer Creek, Braxton County, Virginia (WV) and another on O'Brien Creek in what is now Clay County, WV.  His third wife died of exposure after she was evicted from a cabin on land claimed by O'Brien years before.
     In the May 1838 issue of "The Southern Literary Messenger" an anonymous writer reports and encounter with Adam O'Brien in Preston County VA (WV) at "Gandy's, far famed as being the worst house on the road."  The reporter told of a conversation with Adam during the course of an evening in which Adam stated that he was ninety three years old.  Adam was on his way to Clarksburg to "ferret out a land title".  Adam said that he had walked the distance of about 125 miles from Kanawha County at the rate of about 25 miles a day. Adam further told the reporter that his youngest child was a year old and that his oldest was 64.  He recounted his loss of his third wife because of exposure after they were evicted from a cabin while his wife was ill. "One of these here speculators had brought suit against me for my settlement, and what with bad management and hard swearing and perjury, he gained it."  "And the sheriff came one snowy day in January, with a writ of possession to turn me out, and out we went."  "I took my poor wife to an old cabin that had but half a roof on, and she never came out of it until she came out a corpse."
     Poet-historian, Colonel John L. Cole, once related a story told by Ephraim Bee, who had spent considerable time in a section, then a comparative wilderness, a neighbor to Adam O'Brien and Peter McCune. According to Bee, O'Brien's general complaint was of the advent of preachers, sheriffs, and lawyers into the area; he however made one exception, this was Rev. Barnabas Cook, who was one of the noted characters of his day. Bee related how a time came when the minister had to separate from his flock, and for the occasion, composed a valedictory hymn, in which he referred to all members of the congregation. In part, it ran as follows:

So fare-ye-well Adam O'Brien,
And good-by Peter McCune,
If one jump don't take us to heaven’
Light, and take a new jump from the moon.

Adam O Brien * (1727 - 1836) is my 5th great grandfather
Margaret Christina O Brien * (1767 - 1859)
Daughter of Adam O Brien and Katherine Christine Westbrook
Mary P McCune * (1785 - 1834)
Daughter of Margaret Christina O Brien and Peter McCune
Keziah Barnhouse * (1821 - 1887)
Daughter of Mary P McCune and Thomas Holsten Barnhouse
Rebecca Elizabeth Brannan * (1849 - 1926)
Daughter of Keziah Barnhouse and Lorenzo Dow Brannan
Charles William Lute * (1874 - 1905)
Son of Rebecca Elizabeth Brannan and Andrew Lute
Doran Edgar Lute * (1901 - 1982)
Son of Charles William Lute and Mary Lou Ella Stewart

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