Monday, October 6, 2014

Follow the Leads

Last month I had a professional researcher in Indianapolis look up some news articles on my O'Brien family at the Indiana State Library. The obituaries for my great-grandparents Harry O'Brien and Blanche Lamon O'Brien mentioned that they were members of the Millersville Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. I reached out to the Millersville Chapter, which still exists. The Secretary of the Chapter wrote back with some new leads to follow for Harry and Blanche. The information helps fill in more gaps on their interesting lives.

Blanche Lamon O'Brien

My great-grandmother petitioned for membership in the Millersville OES on 19 April 1933, a year before Harry submitted his petition in 1934. The petition is a family history goldmine, as it shows her date of birth, prior residences, marriage date, names and addresses for her brothers, school attended, occupation and later death information. A lot of this I already had from other sources, but the petition contains some new nuggets that I may have never known without reaching out to the Millersville Chapter.

The petition confirmed her marriage date to Harry O'Brien as 18 February 1912, but provided missing detail on the years before 1912. Between her birth in 1887 and 1893, she lived in Fort Branch, Indiana. Her family lived in Browns, Edwards County, Illinois between 1893-1899, and then moved to McMinnville, Tennessee from 1899-1900 before returning to Fort Branch. Blanche attended Fort Branch High School in Gibson County, Indiana, and then Lockyear's Business College in Evansville, Indiana. I found an advertisement for the college on I'll have more on the college in a future post., Crittenden Press, 1 Dec 1904
I had previously found Blanche in the City Guides for Evansville between 1907-1911, often working as a stenographer. It looks like she received her training at the college.

The petition also notes that Blanche was elected to the Millersville Chapter on 17 May 1933 and initiated 24 May 1933. In 1942 she was Worthy Matron for the Millersville Chapter. The petition notes that Blanche was a member of the Royal Neighbors of America.

Harry Edward O'Brien

For Harry, the petition states that he applied on 20 June 1934, and was elected on 5 September 1934 (initiated 12 Sept 1934). He was a member of the Millersville Masonic Lodge #126 at this time. The real nugget of the petition was that it shows he went to Soule Business School in New Orleans, Louisiana. I knew he went to New Orleans to play music, but I didn't know he went to school there. This is a huge lead to follow.
Lafayette Advertiser, 1905
Ad from Colfax (LA) Chronicle, 1908
I'll have more on both Harry and Blanche's schools in upcoming posts. It is fascinating to see both went to business school, and that Harry, son of a coal miner, had the opportunity to leave Shelbyville, Illinois for cosmopolitan New Orleans sometime between 1900-1910.

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