Frederick James O’Brien

No. 13139 Frederick J. O’Brien

Photograph of Frederick J O’Brien. Contained in an album at the Dorchester Historical Society of about 150 photos kept by Nathaniel R. Perkins, MD, who examined thousands of men who were going into the war, 1914-1918. Given by Mrs N. R. Perkins in accordance with instructions from her late husband, Dr. Nathaniel P. Perkins of 1122 Adams St, Dorchester. Index catalog has entries for the individuals.

Frederick J O’Brien 11 Fairmount St age 26 enlisted July 3, 1918 second class seaman stationed Missahickon? Barracks Cape May NJ 11th Company

Frederick James O’Brien.  Written by Camille Arbogast.

Frederick James O’Brien, sometimes known as Fred, was born on December 31, 1892, at 59 West Sixth Street in South Boston. His father, John, immigrated from Ireland in 1865 and worked as a teamster. His mother, Elizabeth (Kane), was born in Boston. John and Elizabeth married in Boston in April 1889. Frederick had five siblings: John born in 1890, Anna in 1895, Matthew in 1897, Mary in 1898, and William in 1900.

In 1900, the family was living at 154 West Third Street in South Boston. Three years later, John O’Brien died of tuberculosis at the Free Consumption Home. By the time of John’s death, the family had moved to 40 Langdon Street in Roxbury. In 1910, they were still at 40 Langdon Street. Frederick’s mother worked as a hotel chambermaid and his brother, John, was a street concrete worker. Frederick, too, had gone to work, as a shoe cutter in a factory.

In June 1917, Frederick lived at 55 Monadnock Street in Dorchester, and was as a shoe cutter at W.H. McElwain & Company, shoe manufacturer, in Boston. A year later, Frederick’s address was 11 Fairmont Street in Dorchester. On July 3, 1918, he enlisted in the Navy at a recruiting station in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and he was made a Seaman Second class. On November 11—the Armistice—he was sent to Camp Wissahickon in Cape May, New Jersey. From there, on January 31, 1919, he was stationed in Philadelphia on a receiving ship (a ship in harbor that receives sailors before they are assigned to a crew). He remained on the receiving ship until March 4, when he was placed on inactive duty. He was honorably discharged from service on September 30, 1921.

In 1920, Frederick resided with his family at 11 Fairmont Street, once again working as a shoe cutter. His mother no longer worked outside the home. His sister Anna was a telephone operator and his brother William worked as a shipbuilder in a shipyard. The next year, the Boston directory listed Frederick at 75 Howard Street in the Uphams Corner neighborhood of Dorchester.

In September 1922, Frederick married Elizabeth Bowen. They had three sons: Frederick born in 1924, William in 1926, and Paul in 1928. During this time, they moved regularly, living at 190 Eustis in Roxbury, as well as 56 Fuller Street and 55 Whitten Street, both in Dorchester. Elizabeth died in October 1933.

The 1930 census recorded Frederick and his three sons at 55 Whitten Street, living with Frederick’s mother and two of his unmarried sisters: Anna, a telephone operator, and Mary, a medical stenographer; his brother Matthew had died in 1924. In 1931, Frederick resided at 18 Mildred Avenue in Mattapan. The next year he moved to 45 King Street in Dorchester. At the time of his wife’s death, he lived at 38 Semont Road. In 1935, he was listed at 37 Harbor View Street.

In 1937, he moved once again, this time to 57 Robinson Street. The 1940 census found Frederick, his sons, and sister Anna living there; his sister Mary had died in late 1933 and his mother in 1939. While Anna was still employed as a telephone operator and making $1,248 a year, Frederick had been unemployed for 78 weeks. He reported a yearly income of only $27 and had worked only two weeks in 1939. Their rent was $30 a month. In the directory, he was listed as a laborer.

In 1942, Frederick and Anna moved to 47 Juliette Street. On his World War II draft registration, Frederick reported he was working for the Boston Quartermaster Corps out of the Army Base on Summer Street in Boston. During the war his sons served in the armed forces, William in the Army and Paul in the Navy. Throughout the 1940s, Frederick remained at 47 Juliette Street. The Boston directory listed his occupation as inspector in 1942 and 1948, and in 1943 through 1947 as working for Boston Edison.

In March 1952, Frederick was invested as a Brother in the Pallottines, a Catholic society of apostolic life. He died two years later, on February 6, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was buried there in Holy Cross Cemetery and Mausoleum.


Birth record, Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts;

Family Tree;

Federal Census 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930,  1940;

Death record for John J, Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts;

Boston Directory, various years;

United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration;

Military, Compiled Service Records. World War I. Carded Records. Records of the Military Division of the Adjutant General’s Office, Massachusetts National Guard.

United States, Selective Service System. Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration, National Archives and Records Administration;

Deaths, Boston Globe, 18 Oct 1933; 26

Deaths, Boston Globe, 13 May 2003; 23

“In Memory of Paul P. O’Brien 1928-2016” Briton Funeral Homes, Inc.; <>

Deaths, Boston Globe, 8 Feb 1954; 21

“Rev. Fred O’Brien;”



Posted on

April 8, 2022

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