Joseph O'BRIEN 1869-1938, b. Branxholme, S-W Victoria to Joseph Richard O'BRIEN and Christina McPHERSON was married in 1892 at Carapook, S-W Victoria to Isabella "Bella" HART 1871-1922, b. Carapook, S-W Victoria, to James HART and Mary EGAN.

Joseph and Bella O'BRIEN esablished themselves as dairy farming sharefarmers on "Talisker" Estate, near Merino, S-W Victoria where 10 children were born from 1893 to 1911.

Joseph O'BRIEN, aged 45y, enlisted from Merino, Victoria in the 1st AIF on 26 Mar 1915, leaving behind a wife and ten children at "Talisker" Estate, near Merino, S-W Victoria. He served as Pte 927, 24th Battalion, AIF and embarked for overseas service on the "Euripedes" from Melbourne, Victoria on 8 May 1915. Joseph served at Gallipoli, then on the Western Front where he was wounded in action at Pozieres, France on 5 Aug 1916. He was hospitalised at Bristol, England and convalesced in England and Scotland before embarking on the "Benalla" from England for return to Australia on 25 Aug 1917 with chronic bronchitis and recorded as overage for the AIF. He was the first Merino soldier to be welcomed home, initially at the Merino Railway Station and later at the Merino Mechanics' Hall as outlined in the following newspaper reports from 1917...

"The Casterton News" (Vic.) Monday, 29th October 1917.
Welcome Home. -- Private J. O'Brien, Merino. -- Private Joseph O'Brien was met and welcomed home on Friday night, when a large crowd assembled at the railway station. The station approaches were beflagged and the school children were marshalled and sang patriotic airs. Mr A. C. Ross, J.P. (who had been appointed spokesman in the unavoidable absence of our municipal councillors), in a few feeling words welcomed Private O'Brien, on behalf of the Merino people, congratulating him upon his safe arrival, after his two years' thrilling experiences abroad doing his duty to King and Empire. Private O'Brien, who was looking hale and hearty, acknowledged the warm welcome he had received, and said he hoped to tell his friends about his experiences later on. Amidst strains of "He's a jolly good fellow" and "Australia will be there," he was at last got to Mr Brock's motor and made a start for his home, about two miles distant from Merino. A social in honor of Private O'Brien, the first Merino soldier to return from the war, will take place in the Mechanics later on.
"The Casterton News" (Vic.) Monday, 12th November 1917.
Welcome Home. -- Private J. O'Brien, Merino.
Private J. O'Brien, a dairyman on Talisker Estate, father of 10 children, enlisted for active service some two years ago. After taking part in the campaign on Gallipoli and in France, and being wounded at Pozieres, he was invalided and allowed to return to his home at Merino, where his return was made opportunity for a very warm expression of welcome on Friday, 2nd last., when a social gathering was held in honor of the occasion. The Mechanics' Hall had never been seen to better advantage, being gaily dressed with all the available bunting, very tastefully arranged by Mr Wood and his assistants, to whom many thanks of the Committee are due for the trouble they took in decorating the hall, and in arranging the numerous details of the social and musical programme.
The attendance was easily a record, and proved that the accomodation provided in our hall is not keeping pace with the increase in the population of the district. Every part of the hall was crowded, and many people had to be content with listening outside. The President of the Shire, Cr. J. Little, occupied the chair, and he was supported by ex-Cr. Jas Ross, a well-known patriot from Casterton. On the platform were the guest of the evening, Lieut. H. S. Fredman, Recruiting Officer for the Wannon, and Sergeant Hellier, another recruiting officer. The chairman in opening proceedings apologised for the absence of Cr. H. H. Rhodes, who was unable to attend through ill health.
The chairman, also Mr J. Ross, Rev. F. T. C. Reynolds and J. P. Schussler, Mr R. Dunstan, Lieut. Fredman, and Sergeant Hellier addressed the gathering during the evening, congratulatng Private O'Brien upon his safe return to Merino after his thrilling experiences abroad, and wishing him many happy days in his quiet town, after having so manfully done "his bit" for King and Country.
Both the recruiting officers made stirring appeals to those present for recruits, Lieut. Fredman making eloquent appeal for just one recruit to fill the gap caused by Private O'Brien's enforced retirement, but there was no direct response. The guest of the evening then with much feeling thanked the people of Merino and visitors for their warm welcome which he would never forget. He could not tell them how pleased he was to be back amongst them again. He would like especially to thank all for the kindness shown to his wife and family during his absence. (Loud and prolonged cheers). Mr A. C. Ross then moved a hearty vote of thanks to the visitors from Casterton, especially to the Shire President for presiding. Votes of thanks were also accorded for the ladies' efforts, to all who had helped to make the social such pleasing success. Supper and an enjoyable dance were concluding items in the programme for the evening, which included also:--Musical Overture, Miss Holmes (piano), Miss Kraatz and Mr Moon (violin), Miss Tait (mandolin) ; "Home Sweet Home," Merino Glee Party ; recitation, "Not Too Bad" (enc.), Mr Shanklin ; solo, "Home from the War," Mrs Graham ; song, "That dear little place called 'Home' " (enc.), Lieut. Fredman ; song, "Mother Machree," (enc.), Sgt. Hellier ; song, "My Little Grey Home in the West" (enc.), Mr Brock ; Musical Selection, Misses Holmes and McInroy.

1919 : Joseph O'BRIEN was allocated a Soldier Settlement block on the "Struan" Estate, later renamed as Paschendale Estate near Merino in 1919. He is also named on the Merino War Memorial.

1922 : Isabella "Bella" O'BRIEN (nee HART), wife of Joseph, died and was buried at Merino, S-W Victoria in 1922, leaving a husband and 10 children.

1938 : Joseph O'BRIEN died at Hamilton, S-W Victoria and was buried at Merino, S-W Victoria in 1938.

Joseph O'BRIEN & Isabella HART had the following family:

  1. Florence Isabella O'BRIEN 1893-1968, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. Sea Lake (Wimmera), Victoria, m. 1924 to John Leslie HODGSON 1889-1976, b. Swanwater, near Donald, Victoria to Benjamin HODGSON and Harriet PENFOLD; d. Bendigo, Victoria.

  2. James Dugald O'BRIEN 1895-1938, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. St Arnaud, Victoria; m (?)

  3. Christina O'BRIEN 1896-1966, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. Perth, Western Australia; m. 1921 to Edgar William HOPE 1894-1964, b. Power's Creek, near Dergholm, S-W Victoria to Richard Armstrong HOPE and Isabella EDGAR; d. Adelaide, South Australia.

  4. William Joseph O'BRIEN 1897-1941, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. Donald, Victoria; m. 1925 to Edith Grace BURGESS 1904-1994, b. Digby, S-W Victoria to Nathaniel John BURGESS and Julia Edith GUTHRIDGE; d. Hamilton, S-W Victoria.

  5. John Stanley O'BRIEN 1899-1977, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. Melbourne, Victoria; m. 1924 to Mary Ethel "Mollie" WATERS 1904-203, b. Digby, S-W Victoria, to William Francis WATERS and Grace Elizabeth CLARKE; d. Melbourne, Victoria.

  6. Gordon O'BRIEN 1901-1923, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. Merino, S-W Victoria; m. 1923 to Isabella Mary "Della" HADDEN 1905-..?.., b. Glenthompson, S-W Victoria; d. ..?..

  7. Charles Rellan O'BRIEN 1903-1928, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. Nhill, Victoria.

  8. Joseph Murray O'BRIEN 1908-1960, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. Merino, S-W Victoria.

  9. Lindsay O'BRIEN 1909-1972, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. Portland, S-W Victoria; m. 1932 to Beryl Maud ROGERS 1912-2001, b. Coleraine, S-W Victoria; d. Merino, S-W Victoria.

  10. Margaret "Maggie" O'BRIEN 1911-1991, b. Merino, S-W Victoria; d. merino, S-W Victoria; m. 1922 to Hector George WALKER 1903-1960, b. Coleraine, S-W Victoria to George Halliday WALKER and Flora Ann McMILLAN; d. Merino, S-W Victoria.
    NOTE : Margaret O'BRIEN and Stuart CAMPBELL 1891-1930, a Paschendale Soldier Settler from a neighbouring farm to her father's farm on Paschendale Estate, had planned to marry in December 1930, but Stuart CAMPBELL died in December 1930, about 2 weeks prior to the planned wedding date.