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Judge O'Brien O'Donnell Scrapbooks, 1909-1932 - MS 1061 mf

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Order of Microfilming


The scrapbooks of Judge O'Brien O'Donnell, 1909 - 1932, were transferred for microfilming to the Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio 43403, in June 2007, with the cooperation of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library and Ona Russell, granddaughter for Judge O'Brien O'Donnell.

The scrapbooks chronicle Judge O'Brien O'Donnell's life and career as a probate court judge in Toledo, Ohio from 1909 - 1932.

This register and collection was prepared by Kathy Gardner in June 2007.

Biographical Sketch

O'Brien O'Donnell was born December 8, 1864, to Patrick and Honora O'Donnell, in Columbus, St. Clair County, Michigan where he grew up on a farm. After graduating from the Detroit College of Law, he was admitted to the Michigan bar and practiced law in Port Huron and Detroit.

O'Donnell moved to Toledo in 1896 with his law partner, Charles S. Northup, and was admitted to the Ohio bar. In 1899, he ran for Prosecuting Attorney on the Democratic ticket but lost. He was first elected Judge of Probate Court in November 1908 by a narrow margin and assumed the position in February 1909. He subsequently won each election for Probate Court judge through 1932. An indication of the high regard in which O'Donnell was held comes from the fact that he won each election as a Democrat (or Independent Democrat) even when Lucas County elected Republicans by landslide majorities.

Until 1925 when Ohio law changed, Probate Court included Juvenile Court. As judge of the Juvenile Court, O'Donnell was instrumental in beginning Big Brothers in Lucas County, which operated as a probation program that paired delinquent boys with adult males who served as mentors rather than sentencing the boys to a state institution. He was also involved with the Toledo Newsboys Association.

On May 31, 1923, O'Donnell married Winifred Jackson, the daughter of Benjamin P. and Elizabeth M'Atee Jackson. Winifred was born in Marietta, Ohio about 1892 and moved to Toledo with her mother about 1908. Their marriage license application did not provide ages or birth dates for either O'Brien or Winifred. Before her marriage, Winifred worked at the Monticello Hotel where O'Donnell lived. They had one daughter, Margaret "Peggy" who was born November 23, 1923. Winifred died August 15, 1962 in her home at 3146 Bancroft Street that O'Donnell built in 1923.

O'Donnell was a member of St. Francis Catholic Church and, after his marriage, of Gesu Catholic Church. His memberships also included the Knights of Columbus, Young Men's Christian Association, Knights of the Modern Maccabees, Inverness Club, Toledo Lodge of Elks, the Loyal Order of Moose, Lucas County Bar Association, Ohio State Bar Association and the Chamber of Commerce.

He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Toledo Mud Hens, having played as a catcher on a professional baseball team in Michigan. It was not unusual for O'Donnell to travel to the spring training camps to watch and sometimes to participate.

O'Donnell died at home on Saturday, September 9, 1933 after suffering a heart attack on August 12 while working at his office. City and county offices either closed or operated with skeleton staffs on Tuesday morning, September 12 to allow employees to attend his funeral at St. Francis Catholic Church. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery.

By Donna Christian
Local History & Genealogy Department

Order of Microfilming

Roll 1

  1. Scrapbook 1, 1909-1915
  2. Scrapbook 2, 1910-1911
  3. Scrapbook 3, 1916-1920
  4. Scrapbook 4, 1921-1925
  5. Scrapbook 5, 1926-1932

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