Treasures from the Collection

Today we begin a new feature highlighting important objects in the museum collection of Mackinac State Historic Parks. The items presented here belonged to the O’Brien’s of Fort Mackinac. The O’Brien collection also includes John and Charlotte’s letters (the basis for our book The Caplain’s Lady), John’s sermons, and letters to John from his son, Lyster, while he served in the Civil War. 

Charlotte O’Brien Tintype, ca. 1860

Charlotte Tull O’Brien (1812-1855) was the wife of Fort Mackinac chaplain Rev. John O’Brien.  She was born in Berkshire, England and came to Monroe, Michigan in 1832 with her family.  There she met and married John, who became chaplain at Fort Mackinac in 1842. They lived and raised their family at Hill Quarters until Charlotte’s death thirteen years later. She is buried in the Fort Mackinac Post Cemetery. The tintype was made from an 1848 daguerreotype.


Gift of O’Brien Nicholas Young, descendent

John O’Brien Daguerreotypes, ca. 1848-1860

John O’Brien (ca.1806-1864) was born in Ireland.  He remained as chaplain at Fort Mackinac after Charlotte’s death until the troops were withdrawn at the start of the Civil War. He obtained a parish in Pontiac, Michigan and died from a stroke in 1864.

2003.28.2, 2003.28.3

Gift O’Brien Nicholas Young, descendent

O’Brien Spoons, 1835-45

Three of the spoons are engraved with John O’Brien’s monogram and two that of Charlotte O’Brien. These items, though mundane, were nonetheless treasured and preserved by the O’Brien descendants.  Made by George Doty, Philadelphia


Gift O’Brien Nicholas Young, descendent

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