The O’Brien Oak is a slice from an oak tree that was in the yard of Captain George W. O'Brien. When Pearl Street was expanded, the planned street went through Captain O’Brien’s front yard. To save the beloved tree, “the deed [selling the land] stipulated that sufficient land be left around the tree to preserve it for its lifetime.” -Texas Forest Service.
Unfortunately, the tree was struck by lightening in 1975 and had to be cut down in 1978. A slice of the tree now resides in the “mini-museum” in the Jefferson County Courthouse.
According to tradition, as reported by the Texas Forest Service, the O’Brien Oak served as the first courthouse in Jefferson County. Additionally, the tree’s first owner and namesake, became the first attorney in Beaumont. Captain O'Brien was once paid for a case in land; that land was on the Spindletop salt dome.
Captain O'Brien is the great-great-great-grandfather of Jonathan Vernon. The family has been living, working, and volunteering in the greater Beaumont area for six generations.