O. H. Irish

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Orsamus Hylas Irish
O H Irish.jpg
Born 1830
New York, USA
Died January 27, 1883
Washington, D.C.
Cause of death Heart attack with complications from a respiratory infection.
Resting place Lot: 350 East, Plot: Rock Creek, Oak Hill Cemetery (Washington, D.C.)
Occupation Newspaper editor & owner, lawyer, diplomat, nursery owner, government bureaucrat
Employer U.S. Government, self-employed
Title Chief of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, Department of the Treasury, USA
Term 1878-1883
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary J. McCann
Children Anna B., Howard, Mary A.
Relatives Sarepta Myrenda Irish Henry, sister

Orsamus Hylas Irish (1830–1883) was an official in the United States Department of the Treasury who served as Chief of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing from 1878 to 1883.


O. H. Irish was born in 1830 (or perhaps 1831) and raised in New York City.[2] He was educated in Erie, Pennsylvania.[2] The 1850 US Census shows that Irish lived in the East Ward of Erie, Pennsylvania with the George Selden and his family. His age is listed as 19 and his occupation, clerk.[3] The rest of his family, mother, father and three younger sisters lived in nearby Conneaut Township, about 25 miles to the west and a few miles inland from the shore of Lake Erie.[4]

In 1855 Orsamus Irish was listed as a director and secretary of the North Western Insurance Company located at 76 Walnut Street, Philadelphia.[5]

While in Philadelphia he lived at 53 Melon Street and had another business at 320 N. 12th Street.[6]

In 1857, Irish moved to Nebraska, a territory at the time, where later was the owner and editor of The Daily Press in Nebraska City, Nebraska.[2] On May 15, 1861, he became Indian agent at the Omaha Reservation.[7] Also in 1861 (October 9) he was appointed U.S. Postmaster in Black Bird County, Nebraska Territory.[8] Irish was appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northwest in the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1864, with offices in Salt Lake City.[2]

He returned to Nebraska in 1866 as an internal revenue collector, later resuming his newspaper career as the editor of the Nebraska City Press.[2][9] In 1869, Irish was appointed U.S. Consul in Dresden, Kingdom of Saxony before the unification of Germany.[2] He was confirmed as U.S. Consul by the U.S. Senate on January 25, 1870.[10] He returned to Nebraska in 1873, entering the nursery business, a business that failed in 1875 when his nursery was wiped out by grasshoppers.[2] He then moved to Washington, D.C. to practice law.[2]

Political Activity[edit]

Active in the Republican Party, he was a delegate for the Territory of Nebraska at the 1860 Republican Convention, in Chicago, Illinois, that nominated Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.[11] During that convention Irish represented the Territory of Nebraska as a member of the convention's executive committee.

In 1864, Irish represented Nebraska at the National Union Party's (temporary name for the Republican Party) convention. He served on the party's national committee.[12]

As chairman of a fund raising sub-committee (Departments of Treasury and Justice), Irish also participated in the planning activities for ceremonies surrounding the inauguration of James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States.[13] He attended Garfield's inaugural ball on March 5, 1881.[14]

Career at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing[edit]

Irish joined the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 1877 becoming Assistant Chief of the Bureau, and Chief of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 1878.[2] During his tenure as Chief, a new building was authorized and constructed on the southwest corner of 14th and B (Independence Avenue today) streets.[15] Construction started in September 1878 and was completed in 1880.[16]

On July 17, 1861, Congress authorized the Federal Government to print currency. Prior to that time, currency was issued by banks. At first the printing was accomplished with private printing companies with some final processing done at the U.S. Treasury. It was during Irish's tenure that the Treasury Department became the sole printer of U.S. currency.

Irish held the office of Chief until his sudden death in 1883.[2] His funeral was on January 30, 1883 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Washington D.C. with his burial at the Oak Hill Cemetery (Washington, D.C.).[1]


  1. ^ a b The Late Col. Irish, Bangor Daily Whig and Courier (Bangor, Maine), January 31, 1883, p. 3 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Profile from Bureau of Engraving and Printing". Moneyfactory.gov. Retrieved January 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ Irish, O.H. (August 12, 1850). "1850 US Census". www.ancestory.uk. Erie East Ward, Erie, Pennslvania. Retrieved 10 January 2017. Year: 1850; Census Place: Erie East Ward, Erie, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_777; Page: 201A; Image: 405 
  4. ^ Irish, Horatio (January 9, 1851). "1850 U.S. Census". www.ancestory.uk. Retrieved 11 January 2017. Year: 1850; Census Place: Conneaut, Erie, Pennsylvania; Roll: M432_778; Page: 473A; Image: 443 
  5. ^ "Advertisement". Milwaukee Daily Sentinel. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. April 19, 1855. p. 3. 
  6. ^ M'Elroy, A (1856). Philadelphia City Directory. p. 312. Retrieved 12 January 2017. 
  7. ^ Furnas, R.W. (May 16, 1861). "Nebraska Appointments". Brownville, Nebraska: Nebraska Advertiser. p. 2. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-1971". Washington, D.C.: National Archives. NARA Microfilm Publication, M841, 145 rolls. Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group Number 28. (Subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ "Nebraska City Is Progressing". Nebraska Advertiser. Brownville, Nebraska. November 15, 1866. p. 2. 
  10. ^ Confirmations by the Senate, The New York Times, January 25, 1870, p. 1 
  11. ^ Obituary, The New York Times, January 28, 1883, p. 7 
  12. ^ "The Union National Committee". The New York Times. New York, New York. February 23, 1864. p. 4. 
  13. ^ The Coming Gala Day, National Republican (Washington D.C.), January 13, 1881 
  14. ^ Who Were There, Some of the People at the Inaugural Ball, National Republican (Washington, D.C.), March 5, 1881 
  15. ^ Building today, Google street view 
  16. ^ BEP History, Historical Resource Center, Bureau of Engraving & Printing (Washington, D.C.), p. 6 
Government offices
Preceded by
Edward McPherson
Chief of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Succeeded by
Truman N. Burrill