Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson


Santa Cruz Sentinel (April 4, 1922)

DIED: O'BRYAN- In Santa Cruz, Terrence O'Bryan, a native of Ireland, aged 78 years.

Civil War Veteran Takes Own Life

Through best reports possible to secure, Terrence O'Bryan, a Civil war veteran, suicided by taking cyanide of potassium at his home at the Advent camp grounds early Monday morning.

As is usually the case, when this deadly poison enters the system in the quantity swallowed by Mr. O'Bryan, death was practically instantaneous, though he is said to have, as he was gasping for his final breath, explained to his wife and son the cause of his death.

Dr. P.T. Phillips was called from Santa Cruz, but arrived too late to even attempt to revive the doomed man. By Coroner W.R. Congdon's order, the inquest will be held at the Chase undertaking parlors where the body now is, at 11 o'clock this morning.

It is reported by Mr. O'Bryan's neighbor, I.N. Archibald, that on several occasions, the victim had said to his friends, "Don’t be surprised if you don’t see me again," or "Well, good by- this may be the last time you sill see me." Therefore, the news of his having taken his own life was in a way not unexpected, by those with whom he had associated with for some months past.

Matthew O'Bryan, his son, has been visiting at the O'Bryan home recently, and had arranged to return yesterday to his Arizona home. There is a belief that the contemplated departure of his son induced the father to take his life before Mat left, thereby lessening the sorrow of his wife somewhat by her not being alone to bear this great shock and sad burden.

Mrs. O'Bryan's sister, who is a practicing physician, was also fortunately with her sister when the rash deed was culminated. This lady did everything possible to prevent the fatal effects of the poison, but to no avail.

Her presence was of great benefit to her sister, who was in dire need of medical assistance and sisterly attention when the act became known.

Mr. O'Bryan was born in Ireland, though he came to this country when a very young man. During and after the rebellion, he was a close friend and frequent associate of the late Colonel W.V. Lucas. He had just passed his 78th birthday.

His property in this city proper consisted of the building on Church street once utilized as the editorial and printing plant of the Santa Cruz Surf, purchased last week by Roy Hammond for a sign shop and art poster headquarters.

During the 10 years that he has resided at his present home, he has made many acquaintances and gained many close friends who will be grieved to hear that his continued ill health had induced him to end his life.

Many expressions of sorrow and regret and messages of comfort were received by the afflicted members of the family during Monday afternoon and evening.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (April 5, 1922)

Verdict of Suicide Given at Inquest

An inquest held over Terrance O'Bryan, well known in G.A.R. circles, was held yesterday at Chase's undertaking parlors before a jury as follows: W.K. Sargent, m. Amay, P.N.E. Ellsworth, F. Hattabough, C.E. Goodwin and J.D. Shorts.

The inquest was held by Dr. W.R. Congdon, the coroner, and the verdict was that death was due to suicide by poison, caused by taking cyanide of potassium.

Among those testifying were Mary Jane Loddell and Matthew O'Bryan, both of whom told of the unfortunate man's illness and of threats he had made to take his life. They also said that after Mr. O'Bryan had taken poison he notified them, and inside of ten minutes had passed away.

Dr. P.T. Phillips, who was summoned to give medical aid, fond O'Bryan dead upon arrival, and was of the opinion that death was due to cyanide of potassium poison.

Santa Cruz Sentinel April 9, 1922)

O'Bryan Estate Left to Heirs

The holographic will of the late Terrance O'Bryan was filed yesterday by Attorney W.T. Jeter. The will was executed May 4, 1920 at Safford, Arizona, with Sam Paxton as witness.

He leaves an estate to the legal heirs, one half to the wife, Mrs. Emma O'Bryan of Santa Cruz, and the rest to be divided between the son Matthew E. of Safford Arizona, and grandchildren, George A. Tood and Grace Tood of Los Angeles. He appointed by the will Emma C. O'Bryan and Matthew E. O'Bryan as executors.

The estate consists of 20,337 acres of Rancho Arroyo de Rodeo, known as the Burton tract, valued at $5,000; notes, mortgages and securities arising out of transactions in Arizona; one quarter section real property at Sumner, Kansas. The estate exceeds $10,000 in value.

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