Friday, September 25, 2015

Family Friday: John Henry O'Brien (1868 - 1942) and Fitzgerald Kin

I love this photo--even the dog looks very serious. It's on another page of the family scrapbook assembled by best friend's Aunt Janette Trainer.

Taken about 1898 in the Klondike and titled "Fitzgerald Camp, Wright Creek"* it depicts Bonnie's 30-year old great uncle John Henry O'Brien who had left Indiana that year to join the Alaska Gold Rush.** "Uncle Billy Fitz" might be his mother Jane's sibling William L. T. Fitzgerald (1839-1920) or he could be one of her cousins, another William Fitzgerald (1844-1917) because "Chas Fitz" is his son Charles J. Fitzgerald (1878-1957).***

[Courtesy of B. Poppe]

[The Gold and Coal Fields of Alaska, Together With The Principal Steamer Routes and Trails. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Charles D. Walcott, Director. Note: Published January, 1898. David Rumsey Historical Map Collection]

It's clear that John didn't strike it rich in the Klondike because in the 1900 Census of Alaska John O'Brien was working on the White Pass & Yukon Railway**** construction as a "plummer."

[ 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.:
National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.]

*The name of the photographers appears to be M. Bros. which I haven't been able to identify so far. The only Wright Creek I find is in British Columbia.
**There is an enormous amount of information about the Gold Rush online, if you want to know more this is a great place to start.
***I'm so confused. Maybe Bonnie can clarify this? Also, since I have no idea who "Alice luley" could be, I can't identify her uncle and grandfather, the only other men labeled in the photo.
****This narrow-gauge railroad is still in operation. you can visit their website here which includes a link to a 1900 magazine article here.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post, finding the video was very clever! I don't know what Fitzgeralds are who as that side of my family seemed to be very challenged when asked to come up with a name not already being used by several other family members. Perhaps that photo was not taken in Alaska, but in BC while they were on their way? Just because someone in my family had the idea the photo was taken in the Klondike doesn't make it true. I had a pair of buffalo horns with a hunk of "buffalo" hair on it that were supposed to have been from Uncle John when he was living out west, but upon inspection by an expert it appeared that the horns were correct, but the hair was a bear or some other creature. Lots of family legends in this branch of the family.