Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens
JAMES O'BYRNE. Springfield has long been headquarters for a great number of commercial travelers. Men representing a wide diversity of firms maintain their homes here, which some of them have an opportunity to visit only infrequently. It is a good residence town for their families, is conveniently and centrally located in one of the best sections of the Union, and salesmen go out in all directions in the adjacent territory, representing not only local houses but companies in many of the eastern and northern cities. Of this number the name of James O'Byrne should have specific mention, as he is not only one of the most successful but one of the best known traveling men out of the Queen City of the Ozarks.
Mr. O'Byrne is a native of northern Ireland, and is a son of Patrick O'Byrne and wife. His paternal grandfather, James O'Byrne, emigrated from the Emerald Isle to America in an early day and proved his loyalty to the United States by enlisting in our army during the War of 1812, and he fought at the memorable battle of New Orleans under Gen. Andrew Jackson. He was a farmer and also a manufacturer of Irish linen of a superior quality. He finally returned to Ireland, where his death occurred at the unusual age of one hundred and three years, and was buried beside his wife. He spent ten or twelve years in the United States. His son, Patrick O'Byrne, father of our subject, was born in Ireland, where he learned the machinist's trade when a young man. After emigrating to America he followed his trade in New York City, working in one shop for a period of seven years. After spending ten years in this country he returned to his native land. His wife was known in her maidenhood as Margaret McCallig, a daughter of Hugh McCallig, a native of Ireland. Two sons and one daughter were born to Patrick O'Byrne and wife, James, our subject, being the only one living, and the only one to come to America. The death of the father occurred at the advanced age of ninety-eight years.
James O'Byrne spent his boyhood in Ireland and received a good common school education. He has always been a commercial man, and he came to the United States before the Civil war. On April 17, 1861, at New Orleans, he enlisted in the Confederate army, among the first to offer his services, and as a private in the Third Louisiana Volunteer Infantry he served with valor and credit all through the struggle of four hard years, participating in many important campaigns and nearly all the great battles. After the war he remained in the South until the spring of 1867, reaching Springfield, Missouri, on March 17, and he has made his home here ever since. He has traveled in every state in the Union, also Central America and South America and Australia, having a record as a commercial traveler which few can equal in the United States. He has no doubt traveled more miles as a salesman than any other man in the Middle West. He has met with uniform success, no matter what territory was assigned to him, and has been faithful and trustworthy at all times, ever alert to the good of the firm he represents. He is a man of tact, diplomacy and earnestness, a good mixer and makes and retains friends easily. He is one of the most widely known commercial travelers in the country. He has long owned a nice home in Springfield.
Mr. O'Byrne was married, September 27, 1876, in this city, to Margaret Hayes, a daughter of James Hayes, who owned a livery stable on Boonville street, Springfield, for many years, or up to a few years of his death. Mrs. O'Byrne was born in Mexico, Missouri, where she received a good education.
To our subject and wife eleven children have been born, nine sons and two daughters, namely: James Patrick died when twenty-six years of age; Ann married Edward L. Maurice, who has long operated a confectionery on South street, this city, and recently added a café; John, who lives in Springfield, Missouri, is a widely known race horse man, having for years participated in races in the United States and Canada; Margaret Ellen is engaged in the coal business with her brother in Springfield; Leo, who lives in Texas, is a commercial traveler; Edward Emmett is engaged in the coal business on Main street, this city; Joseph William is a member of the firm of Walker-O'Byrne Electric Company on East Walnut street, Springfield; Eugene is an attorney-at-law, with an office in this city; Lawrence is a salesman for the Walker-O'Byrne Electric Company; Francis Xavier is employed in Mr. Maurice's cafe; Hugh Vincent lives in Lewistown, Montana.
Politically, Mr. O'Byrne is a Democrat. He is the oldest Catholic resident in Springfield. He is a stanch friend of Father Lilly. Fraternally, he belongs to the Knights of Columbus. He holds membership in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. He is also a member of the Illinois Commercial Travelers' Association. He recalls with much satisfaction his meeting with Count John A. Creighton, of Omaha, Nebraska, on the last birthday of that well-known gentleman. During his residence of nearly a half century in Springfield our subject has seen many important changes take place here and has always been interested in the city's general welfare. Although his vocation has made it necessary for him to be absent from the city a great deal during this long period, nevertheless he is well known here and has a host of good friends.
Springfield-Greene County Library