William M. O'Brien, who is secretary of the Unity Paper Corporation, of Potsdam, is recognized as one of the
city's dependable business men and substantial citizens. He was born here, April 3, 1876, the son of Timothy and
Martha C. (Whalen) O'Brien.
Timothy O'Brien was born at Norfolk, N. Y. He came to Potsdam in 1870 and during the next year built the family
residence here, which is still owned by members of his family. He was interested in the marble and granite business,
and about 1889 purchased the interest of Frank F. Flint, of Flint and Maxfield, which became known as the firm
of O'Brien & Maxfield. He was connected with this well established business until his retirement in 1903. Mr.
O'Brien died Oct. 30, 1916, and his wife died Oct. 11, 1915. Both are buried at Potsdam. Politically, Mr. O'Brien
was a Democrat, and he held membership in the Catholic Church. To Mr. and Mrs. O'Brien the following children were
born: 1. Rose, a teacher, lives at Weehawken, N. J. 2. William M., the subject of this sketch. 3. J. Leo, an attorney,
lives at Mt. Vernon, N. Y. 4. Katherine M. 5. Margaret; the latter two are employed in the offices of the U. S.
Treasury Department, Washington, D. C.
William M. O'Brien attended the Potsdam public schools and was associated with his father in the hardware business
until 1903. He then became treasurer and manager of the Potsdam Clothing Manufacturing Company, in which capacity
he served for seven years. In 1915 he accepted his present position with the Unity Paper Corporation as secretary.
On July 8, 1903, Mr. O'Brien was united in marriage with Miss Gertrude M. Meeker, of Madrid, the daughter of John
A. and Laura (Howe)' Meeker, natives of Canada and New York, respectively. The former died in 1926 and the latter
in 1911. Both are buried at Madrid, N. Y. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. O'Brien: 1. Catherine L.,
born in 1906, valedictorian of her high school class, also a graduate of Wellesley College, and taught psychology
for two years at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass. 2. John L., born in 1911, a graduate of Potsdam High School,
attends St. Lawrence University. 3. William Allen, born in 1914, a graduate of Potsdam High School, and valedictorian
of his class, now attends the Clarkson School of Technology.
Politically Mr. O'Brien is a Democrat. He is a member of the Catholic Church, and belongs to the Potsdam Club and
Potsdam Country Club.
Mr. O'Brien is the owner of a fine farm of 300 acres on Fuller Road, three miles from Potsdam, and he has 80 head
of purebred Holstein cattle on the place. It is there that Mr. O'Brien spends much of his time.
The North Country
A History, Embracing
Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Lewis
and Franklin Counties, New York.
By: Harry F. Landon
Historical Publishing Company
Indianopolis, Indiana 1932