Biography of John H. O’Bryant

JOHN H. O’BRYANT. – We esteem it a privilege to be permitted to chronicle for the history of our county a brief review of the substantial and prominent citizen, whose name is at the head of this article, and who has wrought in the pioneer’s life so well and faithfully for the opening of this and adjacent counties and for their development and advancement for over one-third of a century, while his life of constant adherence to right and the principles of truth and uprightness, together with manifestation of sagacity and sound judgment, has placed him in a most enviable position of esteem and prominence throughout the entire county.

John H. O’Bryant was born to Elias and Sarah O’Bryant on July 10, 1830, in Blount county, East Tennessee, and at the age of seven years he was brought by his parents to the city of Springfield, Missouri, where they settled on a claim. At the age of fourteen our subject was called to mourn the loss of his father and from that time until he was twenty-(?) years of age he was constant in labor on the farm for his mother and the other members of the family. When he had arrived at the age of twenty-four, others had matured to be able to shoulder some of the responsibilities of life, and John H. followed the desire that the reports from the Pacific slope had kindled in his breast, that of coming hither to seek his fortune and build a place for himself. Accordingly he embarked with an expedition that was bringing cattle to the coast; It consisted of eighteen men, four wagons drawn by oxen, thirty-five horses and mules, and six hundred and seventy-six head of cattle. For four months and one day they steadily pursued their way toward the setting sun, and they arrived in Beckwith valley, in California. Mr. O’Bryant went from there to Mariposa county and commenced to mine, continuing at that enterprise until the spring of 1857, then went to Sonoma county and there worked in the redwood forests for a period and then in 1860 came to Salem in this state and later went to Polk county. In this latter place he remained until the fall of 1862, and then came to Auburn, in Baker county, and embarked as freighter from The Dalles to Auburn, and in 1863 he went to Idaho basin with freight. In the fall of this year he came to Baker county, settling eight miles below Baker City and remaining there until 1866. In that year he came to his present place, which is five miles west from North Powder and entered a homestead on the ground where he is living at the present time. To the original holding he has added by purchase until he has a good farm of two hundred and fifty acres. During all the years from 1866 until the present time, he has labored faithfully, and wisely at the home place, and the result is that he has a fine estate, well improved, large barn, good dwelling, orchard, and many other conveniences and necessaries that make the rural life both pleasant and profitable. While Mr. O’Bryant has devoted most of his time to the culture of the soil, he has some stock and gives some attention to rearing animals.

The marriage of Mr. O’Bryant and Mrs. Elizabeth J. hand was solemnized at Baker City, on June 12, 1884. They are both devoted and prominent members of the Baptist church, and their lives are daily exemplifications of the teachings of the faith that they espouse. Mr. O’Bryant’s mother died in 1867, near Springfield, Missouri. Mr. O’Bryant has seen much of the life of the frontiersman and endured the hardships that beset that path, taking his full share in both danger and grief and endurance of trying ordeals, but at the present time he is enjoying the fruit of his toil and the esteem and love of his neighbors, and all that are acquainted with him, while he and his wife are faithful in showing to a world the light of Christianity and the Redeemer of mankind, whom they delight to honor and love to follow.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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