Biography of William Wuyts O’Bryan

William Wuyts O’Bryan. Around the old Catholie mission which has since developed into the City of St. Paul, a number of prominent Catholic families have lived since the Indians gave up their possessions and set out for the Indian Territory. One of the best known of these is the O’Bryans, and as an individual representing the family the name of W. W. O’Bryan has been chosen because of his well-deserved prominence as a citizen of Neosho County and his extended activities as a stock dealer and business man.

The American beginning of this branch of the O’Bryan ancestry originated in William O’Bryan, great-grandfather of William W. of St. Paul. This William O’Bryan was born in Ireland in 1760, and was three years of age when his parents came and made settlement in the Colony of Maryland, where his father died. William O’Bryan, about 1800, moved to Kentucky, and died in Marion County of that state in 1848. He was both a farmer and school teacher.

The next generation was represented by Francis L. O’Bryan, who was born in Nelson County, afterward known as Marion County, Kentucky, in 1805. He spent his life in his native state as a farmer, was an active democrat and a member of the Catholic Church. He died in Kentucky in 1891. His wife was Sarah A. Lancaster, who was born in Kentucky in 1811 and died there in 1881. Her name introduces another interesting lineage. Her father, Ralph Lancaster, who died in Marion County, Kentucky, in 1857, at the age of eighty-seven, was born in Maryland. He was an early farmer settler in Kentucky. A brother of Ralph Lancaster was John Lancaster, who was a surveyor by profession, and while on his way from Maryland to Kentucky was captured by the Indiana and remained a prisoner for one year. All his companions taken by the Indiana were killed, being burned at the stake. The Indiana promised to burn John Lancaster after a year, but in the meantime he made his escape, and making a rude boat out of two logs he drifted down the Kentucky river to Louisville, where he arrived among friends. This John Lancaster was the grandfather of the late John Lancaster Spaulding, Catholic bishop of Peoria, Illinois.

Francis L. O’Bryan and wife had the following children: Sarah Ellen, who died in Marion County, Kentucky, in 1858; John E., who died in infancy; John R., who became a merchant, was born in 1833 in Marion County, Kentucky, and died in 1864; Henry M., mentioned below; W. R., who was a physician and surgeon, and was born in Marion County, Kentucky, in 1836, and died there in 1868; and Catherine A., who was born in 1839 and died in 1884, her husband, J. M. Ballard, having been a merchant, a successful politician, a cattle dealer and for several terms filled the office of sheriff in Marion County, Kentucky.

Henry Wuyts O’Bryan, who was born in Marion County, Kentucky, March 13, 1835, is now living, at the venerable age of eighty-one years, in St. Paul, Kansas. As a boy he attended one of the old subscription schools of Kentucky. He went to school in the winter and the summers were spent in hard work on his father’s farm. Later he attended St. Marys College in Marion County. At the age of nineteen he took up the business of handling and dealing in cattle and merchandise, and was prospering until the war came on. On October 8, 1871, Henry W. O’Bryan, with his family, arrived in Kansas, locating at old Osage Mission, now St. Paul. There he built the house on Central Avenue where he still resides. He is a democrat, a member of the Catholic Church and of St. Paul Council No. 760, Knights of Columbus. For many years he has handled stock, and has been more or less actively associated with his sons, but is now retired.

In 1858, in Marion County, Kentucky, Henry W. O’Bryan married Miss Susan E. Hagan, who died at St. Paul, July 28, 1896. Their children were: Sydney F., who was educated at St. Francis Institute in St. Paul, at St. Marys College in Pottawatomie County, finished his theological course in the University at St. Louis, and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 1884, devoting many years to the service of his church and dying in Chicago, in 1901. Annie M., the second child, died in infancy. John E., born in 1864, was killed in a runaway accident in 1871. The fourth in the family is William W. Nicholas L., born in 1871, died in infancy. Annie M., born in 1873, is the wife of J. A. Smith, a stock trader at Stark, Kansas: Henry L., born in 1876, is a prominent resident of Chetopa, Kansas, where he is a stockman and is now serving as postmaster. G. I. O’Bryan, born in 1879, is a stock buyer at St. Paul. In 1900 Henry M. O’Bryan married for his second wife Mrs. S. E. (Newton) Worland, daughter of David K. Newton, who was a farmer and is now deceased. Mrs. O’Bryan was born in Indiana.

Of such ancestry and with such a record of family achievements to encourage him during his early years, William Wuyts O’Bryan was born in Marion County, Kentucky, near Loretto, January 27, 1867. He has lived in Kansas since early childhood. His early training was gained in the Jesuit schools, known as St. Francis Institute, at Osage Mission, but at the age of fourteen he left his books and studies to take up the work which has always more or less engaged his active energies. He was at first a cattle herder, and at the age of eighteen began buying and selling cattle for himself, and it is said that during the past thirty years he has handled more cattle than anyone else in this part of the State of Kansas. His operations are on a large scale. Adjoining the Town of St. Paul he has 700 acres of land, where he raises some fine beef cattle every year, and he also has 1,280 acres devoted to pasturage in Bourbon County. Mr. O’Bryan is a director in the St. Paul State Bank. He and his family reside in a very attractive home on Central Avenue. He has served as county commissioner of Neosho County, is an active democrat, a member of the Catholic Church; of St. Paul Council No. 760, Knights of Columbus; of Vulcan Lodge No. 29, Ancient Order of United Workmen, at St. Paul, and has always been generous of his time and energies in behalf of any enterprise promising benefit to the community.

On April 25, 1893, at St. Paul, Mr. O’Bryan married Miss Grace May, daughter of William and Mary Jane (Rodman) May. Her parents are both deceased. Her father was one of the early merchants at Osage Mission, along in the ’70s, and subsequently became a banker. Mr. and Mrs. O’Bryan have a most happy and charming household, and eleven children have been born to their marriage. Frank, born February 19, 1894, is a farmer on a place adjoining St. Paul. Edward, born March 8, 1896, is a dealer in live stock. Paul, born July 28, 1898, assists his father. Alice, born November 1, 1900, is attending St. Francis School. Buth, born January 12, 1902, is also in St. Francis School, and the younger children, several of whom have already begun their education, are as follows: William, born September 9, 1904; Joseph, born March 9, 1907; Charles, born December 27, 1909; Thomas, born March 3, 1911; Grace, born August 28, 1912; and John, born January 20, 1914.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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